Help me solve this battery riddle....

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Help me solve this battery riddle....

#1 Post by Jayjoans » Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:29 am

I just installed a power bimini from on my Sweetwater tritoon. We had the connections made up to a loose battery in the middle of the floor to make sure everything worked before running the wires through the railing, under the floor and back to the main battery at the rear of the boat.

We ran all the wires and hooked the wiring with inline breaker to the main battery.

Each time we turned on the switch, the inline breaker would flip and the bimini actuators would immediately stop before even starting. A few seconds later the breaker would reset and we'd try again, same thing, immediate breaker flip.

You probably think the same thing I did, while running the wires to the rear we caused a short. I don't think so.

If we run the wires directly to a stand alone battery, everything works just fine. ONLY when we attach it to the main battery posts does it flip the breaker. We even completely swapped out the batteries in the main position, same thing.

What is causing this? When wired to a standalone battery, the bimini works like a charm. When wired up to the main battery the breaker flips every time. Does it have something to do with the main battery being grounded and the standalone not? If so, what is that telling me?

I don't get this stuff.

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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#2 Post by crspang » Sat Jul 22, 2017 5:08 am

Use a meter to check continuity in the wiring harness. Set meter to ohms, disconnect the harness at the battery end and the motor end. Hold meter leads to each wire simultaneously and have someone operate the switch. If the meter shows continuity then there is a short in the harness.

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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#3 Post by JLester273 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:02 am

Sounds like a short to ground somewhere. Ground your - terminal on your stand alone and I bet it does the same.

So one of your positive side wires is shorted to ground and only when you have the frame grounded with the power source does it pop the breaker. Or so it sounds like.
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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#4 Post by guy48065 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:06 am

You may have nicked the insulation on the positive wire while pulling it through the railing. It's also possible that the motor for the power top has the negative grounded, the battery of course is grounded, and you've switched the polarity somewhere along the wiring. Now when you throw the switch your you've created a dead short.
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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#5 Post by Bamby » Sat Jul 22, 2017 9:48 am

I went to PS to see if any information was available about wiring up the unit. As I found nothing I'm assuming directions came with the top. Did they provide all the wire and components to install the top? Did the inline fuse you're attempting to utilize come with it as well? If not did they recommend what kind and amperage fuse you needed to acquire for installation?

Motors draw top or the most power on initial startup. The fuse is there to protect the wiring from thermal meltdown and or a potential fire. So assumption again... if the unit came with #10 wire you should be safe with a 30 amp fuse protecting it. But should you used a 20 amp fuse instead because it was handy or whatever you would likely experience the same frustration you're experiencing now. So my vote goes to either you got a weak proper fuse, (trips to easily) or chose the amperage fuse for the job.
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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#6 Post by Jayjoans » Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:05 am

Thanks for the responses everybody.

All parts, wires, fuse, connectors used are what was provided by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, the actuator end of the wire is sealed within the actuator, so I cannot get to that end of the wire to test continuity. We checked and re-checked the wire as we carefully passed it through the rail, at not point did we force or pull on the wire hard enough for me to think that we nicked the insulation or otherwise damaged the wire. Plus, wouldn't the potential bare wire have to then be touching the railing? I suppose it could have happened, but I'd be very surprised if it did. Seems there's no way for me to test it though without cutting the wire just outside of the actuator to get to that end.

So, my next question is if there is any harm to leave it the way I've got it set up. I carry an extra battery with me and have the bimini currently just connected to that ungrounded battery, which is alongside the main battery. I plan on using the bimini actuators twice a day, once up and once down.

Are there any risks associated with an ungrounded battery wired to the actuators that will literally be used for maybe 4 minutes a week?

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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#7 Post by rancherlee » Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:58 pm

Your main battery is grounded to the chassis? I have yet to see/own a boat that's chassis grounded like an automobile. Everything should have a return ground wire run to a common isolation block/ battery post. With that said, even with a chassis ground, the breaker shouldn't trip unless the wire got cut or isn't sized sufficiently and is creating a voltage drop big enough to push the amperage draw past the breakers rating.
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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#8 Post by Jayjoans » Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:33 pm

But, since it's working fine on the ungrounded battery, that would indicate that the wiring size is appropriate, right?

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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#9 Post by Flanker » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:00 am

When you got it working on the alternate battery were the wires still running through the railing?
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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#10 Post by rockhound » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:57 pm

do you have a double battery setup in your boat? if so are you attaching the power lead to the battery or to the positive post on the isolator?
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Re: Help me solve this battery riddle....

#11 Post by newb1 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 4:55 am

With your "alternate" battery sitting on the ground - Hook everything up - take a meter put it on DC VOLTAGE - place the negative lead on the Negative post of your alternate battery - take the positive and place it on the frame of the boat - See if you have 12 volts, then have someone actuate the switch and see if you get 12 volts - if you do, then somewhere there is a short.

The reason the secondary battery is not tripping the circuit breaker is because you don't have continuity to ground from the boat chassis to the alternate battery.

The other test you can do is put a jumper wire from the ground on the second battery to the chassis on the boat, if it trips you have a short.
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