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TOPIC: External Voltage Regulater

External Voltage Regulater 19 Sep 2007 19:26 #1

  • belandd
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I changed to golfcart batteries for my house bank on my 38xx. The current Prestolite 65 amp alternator is not keeping them charged or giving them a full charge.

I need to change to a stronger alternator with a three stage external regulator.

Have any of you had the same problem and how have you fixed it?

I have looked at the Balmar units but find them pretty expensive. There is also a company called Ample Power out of Seattle but I havn't found an outlet for them yet.

Thanks.

PS- It snowed all day today.

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External Voltage Regulater 19 Sep 2007 19:40 #2

  • Salmon Troller
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You have plenty of options - My marine electrican recommended the 100A Balmer and matching Balmer external regulator. Yes, expensive, but it has worked like a charm on my 4 GC Batteries and the 2000w Inverter hooked to them. Ample Power is a Seattle area firm with a slightly eccentric owner, who really knows his stuff. His one and only office is here, so no outlets that I know of. You can review his website for the various products and systems http://www.amplepower.com/ . I know of two more options - replace the 65A Prestolite with a 100A Delco or other - perhaps not quite a rugged as a Balmer, but workable. The last is an excellent option from our very own BOC Member Doug, who suggested that you simply switch the MBSS to ALL while running - thus using both alternators rather than just the one.

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External Voltage Regulater 19 Sep 2007 22:11 #3

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I think theproblem is not somuch the alternator as the regulator failing to finish the charge.

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External Voltage Regulater 19 Sep 2007 22:25 #4

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This is a different problem than you started with, I understood that you had such heavy draw that the alternator was falling behind. Now I hear that the 65A is keeping up with the batteries, it just never meets your expectation of "full". What exactly is the voltage where your alternator stops? I believe you are looking for 14.4v give or take some. That last 0.5v can take a long time to hit as the battery slows way down as it gets full. How long are you running? If you still cannot hit full, a replacement of the internal regulator may be needed or the rebuild shop can convert your existing alternator to accept an external three stage programable regulator.

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2005 Bayliner 289 "Jake's Wake"

External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 03:45 #5

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I barely get up to 13.0, that is not fully charged. This is after running for many hours.
If I use the anchor windless frequently then my radios start dropping off line as does my depth sounder.

I don't have any problem with start batteries (two grp 27) that are being charged off the other engine. It has the same Prestolite set up.

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 04:56 #6

  • mmichellich
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Install a 100 amp truck alternator and a second wire from alternator to battery. I had one made for my Bayliner from a Delco truck alternator with identical pully, electrical connectios, same mounting, i.e. exact fit. It's cost was about a quarter the cost of a big Balmar with external regulator. I would do this only on a diesel engine unless the grounding screens needed for Coast Guard approval on a gas engines were also installed.

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 11:57 #7

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belandd;70369 wrote: I barely get up to 13.0, that is not fully charged. This is after running for many hours.
If I use the anchor windless frequently then my radios start dropping off line as does my depth sounder.

I don't have any problem with start batteries (two grp 27) that are being charged off the other engine. It has the same Prestolite set up.


It may be anywhere in the charging circuit. Bad alternator, bad connections, bad regulator. Try swapping the output from the good alternator to the new GC's and see if you still get a low voltage. If so there is a prob somewhere between the connection and the batteries (including the batteries--say a sick cell) not in the alternator; if not, the problem is in the low alternator or its regulator and/or the wiring to the batteries. To further pin point it, attach the low alternator to the charged batteries and read the voltage at the alternator and at the batteries.

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 12:40 #8

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Is it correct to say one alternator is charging the house battery bank and you have twin engines with the second alternator only charging starting batteries?

If so, I would suggest you install a combiner so that both alternators are charging all batteries. Starting batteries are topped up quickly so the second alternator is just idling.

Here is an example: http://www.yandina.com/ The 100 amp should be fine.

I have this setup on my 3288 and it works fine.

Larry

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Larry

External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 14:15 #9

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By chance do you have a battery isolator installed somewhere in this GC system? If the alternator reads the voltage before the isolator, then the batteries will only see -0.5 to -1.0 below that voltage. Measure your voltage off the back of the alternator and again at the battery terminals. Be sure to use a good voltmeter, not the one on the dash as they are of questionable accuracy.

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 16:36 #10

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mmichellich

You say to hook a second wire from the alternator to the battery. Is that the charge wire or the sense wire that you are refering to?

My local truck alternator/starter shop has a 100 amp alternator that would be an easy replacement.
I have considered it.

I just don't want to spend the money and not get a good fix.

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 19:10 #11

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I looked at the combiner you linked to and am interested. It only shows a single engine/single alternator installation in the instructions. Do you need two of the combiners for a twin? How is your install wired?

If have just the ON-Off switches for each engine, not 1-2-BOTH-OFF.

Thanks, Art

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 19:40 #12

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Don't spend any money.

You can check out the suggestion that you may have a voltage drop between the alternator and the batteries caused by a diode by checking the voltage between the output of the alternator and the battery post. As Salmon Troller said spend a few bucks ($20-25) and get a digital meter. The drop should be less than 0.1 v or so. Most alternators with their own regulation seem to poop out at about 13.5-13.7v. This makes sense to protect the batteries is a car or truck but doesn't help those of us who put a heavy drain on them and want to charge quickly.

If you find that you have a .5v or so drop between the alternator and the batter you have found the problem. First make sure you connections are good. Then hook to sense wire to the battery so that you voltage regulator is regulating to what you want charged.

If this fails find out if the other alternator does the job.

This all should take you 30 mins and almost no money.

Good luck

Jim

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External Voltage Regulater 20 Sep 2007 19:53 #13

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The charge wire to add capacity since you are putting in a bigger alternator. An alternate would be to go up in size so it would carry the 100 amp load. The only downer in my installation is that I have to rev up the engine to about 1300 rpm to start exciting the alternator.

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Started boating 1965
Bayliners owned: 26 Victoria, 28 Bounty, 32, 38, and 47 since 1996

External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 01:40 #14

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I have a similar problem on our 32. We have 4 6 volt (set up as two 12's), 265 ah golf carts for our house batteries. We don't run long enough at cruise to charge the batteries with the 60 amp alternators on the engine (and I'm not sure we could). I thought about building a dc genset (like ample power's), but with space and weight concerns I'm thinking about adding an alternator to the mix. I'd like to mount it off the port engine, since that's the one that runs the hotwater exchanger. So if I'm charging the batteries I'll get some hot water as well.
The challenge I see is matching the alternator's output to the absorption rate of the batteries. If I get a 150amp large frame alternator and run the engine at 1000 rpm, I'll get maybe 70 amps out of it, depending on the pulley relationships. If the lead acid GC's will take 25% as an absorption rate, and their charge range is the top 50% of their capacity, then I'd need to idle for about 4 hours to charge. So, in a practical sense it's more of an absorption rate problem for me. Before I do anything, I think I'll get gel or AGM house batteries.

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External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 03:27 #15

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I am leaning towards the 100 amp truck alternator with improved wiring.

Won't be able to try it until next summer.

Thanks for all the input, it really helps.

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External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 15:23 #16

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ChancesAre;70560 wrote: I looked at the combiner you linked to and am interested. It only shows a single engine/single alternator installation in the instructions. Do you need two of the combiners for a twin? How is your install wired?

If have just the ON-Off switches for each engine, not 1-2-BOTH-OFF.

Thanks, Art


You already have two alternators running on the boat so why not use them both to charge the house batteries rather than have the one charging the house batteries, running it's ass off, and the second one on float, doing nothing because the starting battery is recharged five minutes after starting the engines?

Combiners or an ACR’s are really voltage sensing relays. They parallel the batteries for charging only and isolate them at all other times so you need one combiner to combine two battery banks (house bank and starting bank) no matter how many engines you have.

You could just switch your battery master switch in the both position to accomplish a similar effect, except this will allow for charging and discharging of the batteries. The combiner will disconnect in a discharge situation but connect when there is ample power to charge both (or either) battery bank with both alternators.

If you have two 60 amp alternators the total maximum output is 120 amps which by combiner will be directed to the house battery when the starting battery is full charge. If you install a 100 amp alternator your maximum charging current to the house batteries is 100 amps and you will have to rewire your engine with a larger alternator output wire to carry the extra current.

Hope this helps,

Larry

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Larry

External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 15:32 #17

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The situation you describe is exactly what I'm trying to fix; the stbd. alternator running its a** off and burning up belts while the port alternator loafs. I don't have a "BOTH" option, my switches are only on and off for the start and house circuits.

Do I need a combiner for each alternator or can I just run both 60 amp alternators to one 150 amp combiner?

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External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 15:39 #18

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logjim;70573 wrote: Don't spend any money.

You can check out the suggestion that you may have a voltage drop between the alternator and the batteries caused by a diode by checking the voltage between the output of the alternator and the battery post. As Salmon Troller said spend a few bucks ($20-25) and get a digital meter. The drop should be less than 0.1 v or so. Most alternators with their own regulation seem to poop out at about 13.5-13.7v. This makes sense to protect the batteries is a car or truck but doesn't help those of us who put a heavy drain on them and want to charge quickly.

If you find that you have a .5v or so drop between the alternator and the batter you have found the problem. First make sure you connections are good. Then hook to sense wire to the battery so that you voltage regulator is regulating to what you want charged.

Jim


The voltage output of an alternator is dependent on the charge condition of the battery and the power output of the alternator.

If the battery is discharged to say 11.1 volts and can take all the current the alternator can supply the charge voltages could be as low as 12 plus volts (around 12.7). As the battery charges up this voltage should slowly creep up to 13.xx and maybe even 14.xx at full charge depending on the regulator. If you charge up your house batteries to full charge then disconnect the charger they should hold around 12.6 volts with no load connected. If you start your engine at this point your alternator output should go up over 13.7 volts and again, depending on the regulator up to 14 volts or more (always under 15). If that doesn’t happen, either you have a failed diode bank in the alternator, a failed regulator or a voltage drop somewhere.

I am assuming you do not have a battery isolator installed because the voltage drop through an isolator is 0.7 volts. This would be a large finned device cut into the charging line by a third party not part of the original equipment.

Larry

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External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 15:46 #19

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ChancesAre;70830 wrote: The situation you describe is exactly what I'm trying to fix; the stbd. alternator running its a** off and burning up belts while the port alternator loafs. I don't have a "BOTH" option, my switches are only on and off for the start and house circuits.

Do I need a combiner for each alternator or can I just run both 60 amp alternators to one 150 amp combiner?


NO you only need one combiner. It is a three wire device. One wire to the positive post of the first battery bank and the second wire to the positive post of the second battery bank. The third black wire goes to the negative somewhere on the boat (at the battery?).

Some combiners have a couple of other wires that allow you to add a remote light or a switch to manually override the automatic switch but you don't need them so you just tape them up. Note that some combiners come with leads and a warning not to shorted them.

The capacity of the combiner should match the output of one alternator so a 60 amp alternator should have a combiner larger than 60 amps (100 amp is fine).

Pretty simple device!

Larry

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Larry

External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 16:04 #20

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I wonder how much horsepower a 100 or 150 amp alternator uses? At some point it makes sense to use the generator which is built for power generation.

Ample Power makes a dual alternator controller that works with one three-stage regulator to control and combine both alternators to charge the house bank. I haven't tried it but sounds like a great idea.

http://www.amplepower.com/wire/dual_alt/

This would be my solution if I ever get to it on my project list. I have an echo-charger on my Xantrex inverter (and a generator) so I really don't need the port alternator to charge the starting battery.

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External Voltage Regulater 21 Sep 2007 17:40 #21

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I would also vote for the combiner or ACR. I installed one between my house bank and the alternator on the genset. Now when I start the genset, its 50 amp alternator is contributing to recharging the house bank. I revamped the genset recharging system a few months ago, and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Before I messed around with it I had a dead factory battery charger (Pro Mariner, I believe) and the Freedom 20 inverter's charger was set for reduced charging output for some reason. I was getting about 60 amps max going back into the house batteries when I started the genset. It took forever to recharge.

I replaced the dead charger with a new Xantrex 40+ three stage charger, changed the configuration on the Freedom 20 for max charger output, and installed a West Marine combiner too. Now when I fire up the genny, I get more that 170amps going into my 830Ah house bank. I cut my recharge time (to about 85% charge level) in half, or better. I also installed a Xantrex battery monitor so I can see the rate of charge.

I'm thinking about installing a combiner between my engine alternators so both alternators can be charging the house bank while underway. I have used the "combine/jumper" battery switch from time to time if I need to charge faster while underway. That does the same thing as the combiner, you just need to remember to switch it back when you get somewhere so you don’t flatten your starting battery. :hammer The combiner makes it idiot proof since it's all automatic (I need that).

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