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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 07-15-2010
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New To The USA Alternator Regulator

I recently picked up one of the Sterling Pro Reg D alternator regulators and will eventually give it a try. Sterling products are, and have been, available in Europe for a number of years. Despite a quirky and somewhat controversial company owner they seem to build some unique products that have a decent rep in Europe.

Sterling Power Products USA

I have long been on a quest for the "ultimate" regulator but have yet to find it. I like the MC-612/614 Balmar's but it's a little quirkier in programing than I would like.

I don't think this Pro Reg D is the "ultimate" either but it has some decent features and benefits at a very fair price. I won't be able to give a full review for a while unless I install it on another boat other than mine, which I may.

Currently I am in the midst of a long term test of my own with a bank of Wal*Mart batteries and a dumb regulated alternator so I want to continue on my path to year five, next year. I will probably monkey around with this unit and then eventually install it on my boat after I am done my little experiment.

Sterling's US distributor is in Elliot, ME and can ship anywhere. Mark, the US distributor, came from Professional Mariner which is now the makers of the ProSport line of battery chargers. The Pro Reg D that I bought runs $181.00...

For those wanting or needing external regulation due to AGM's or Gels, or you just have to have it for your wet cells, due to a low volt output internal regulator such as 13.6 - 13.8V, I think this reg makes a good low cost option to the more expensive Ample Power and Balmar regulators. It comes standard with both alternator and battery temperature sensing something which is an extra option on Balmar & Ample.







Things I like:

Price!!
Alt & Battery Temp Sensing Standard
Can Be Installed In Engine Spaces (Has Built In Cooling Fan)
Works On 12 & 24V Systems
Works on Positive & Negative Field Alternators
Smart Software & Processor Means Charge Time Parameter is Set Each Time
Has An Optional Remote Control Panel (though it is pricey)
2 Year Warranty = Double Balmar
Simple Dip Switches To Choose Battery Type

Things I don't Like:

Marketing claims are flat out MISLEADING
No Small Engine Mode
No Current Limiting/Amp Manager/Belt Manger (IMPORTANT FEATURE)
8 Screws To Remove Cover = PITA In A Tight Space
Wiring Harness Is Soldered TO PC Board and Not Replaceable
Wet Cell Target Voltage is 14.8 Which Will Use A Lot of Water (you could use other settings)
Can it REALLY be installed in engine spaces?
Manual is HORRIBLE
I don't like the idea of relying on a small computer type fan, in the marine environment, to keep my regulator cool.
If that fan fails, then what?





This is NOT a review of actual performance just an overview of what I see as good and bad about the product without having yet used it. Many people do not yet know these are available in the US so I thought I would let the cat out of the bag so to say..

EDIT: 1/7/2014


I have installed a couple of these and then gone straight back to Balmar. The Balmar regs are head and shoulders above these but are also more expensive. While the price is attractive the execution is, IMHO, cobbled and without Amp Manager/Belt Manager it is a deal breaker for many installations that send the alt right into temp limiting thus resulting in very poor performance.. Sterling does make some excellent products I just don't find this one to be it when compared with offerings from other manufacturers.
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 01-07-2014 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 07-15-2010
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I'm guessing this can't run more than one alt?

I am about to complete the resurrection of a reworked genset and am looking for an affordable external regulator to manage two 125A alts simultaneously.
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Old 07-15-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omatako View Post

I am about to complete the resurrection of a reworked genset and am looking for an affordable external regulator to manage two 125A alts simultaneously.

I do not know of an affordable dual alternator regulator so you may be stuck with Balmar. Personally this would not be my choice, two alts one regulator. If I had two alts I would prefer two isolated and independent regulators. If you have two alts why depend on one regulator when you can have a full back up system. If Balmar regs were more reliable (my personal experience talking here) I may consider a Centerfielder but with the history I have had with them I'd rather use two independent regulators.

Sterling does make a neat VSR, they call it an isolator, bad terminology for the US market. This voltage sensitive relay module takes a two alt system and their outputs and combines them into one feed to the house bank and another for the start bank. It can combine the outputs of the alts internally. It also gives priority to the start battery so it charges first then it switches over and gives all alt power to the house bank. IMHO this feature is more of a gimmick than useful but certainly can't hurt.

Sterling Zero Volt Drop Battery Isolator

I recently consulted on the wiring for a Catamaran and this product, in the dual alternator version, would have been the cats meow. Unfortunately, I was unaware of it at the time..
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-15-2010 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 07-15-2010
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I very much appreciate MainSail's knowledge and experience, but his experience with Balmar regulators differs markedly from mine.

I've used an MC-612 with my 100A Balmar alternator since Sept 2001. Only one tiny glitch: it once, inexplicably, lost it's program choice setting. Simple matter to reset it to the proper program. I have installed MC-612's for clients, and have three new ones here for future clients. Never, to my knowledge, has there been a failure.

Two things:

1. Other models of Balmar regulators have had reported failures, particularly the lower-cost models; and

2. IMHO, never, never install a regulator -- or other sensitive electronic device -- in the engine room. Heat in the engine room on a hot summer day can approach 180-190 degrees F, and that's not good for ANY electronics device.

HINT: don't be lulled by the manufacturer's "specs". NO SOLID STATE DEVICE LIKES HEAT and, subjected to excess heat, will sooner or later malfunction or just quit.

Bill
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Old 07-15-2010
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Well,

I tend to agree with Maine on reliability of MC-612's...

Just got home from a 9 month cruise to the Bahamas and back.

Not very impressed with Balmar alternators and regulators...

I'm just about to install lmy 4th (!) MC-612 in less than 12 months;

The first one had a faulty connector where the harness plug connect. Would lose power and go blank.

The second one lost it's programming (P04 for AGM's) and reverted to P07 (Halogen?!?). Had to reprogram every morning before getting under way. Pain in back side.

The third one had the same problem as the first one.

I've been running on the internal regulator in the 6-series alternator for about 200 hours I installed a switch that allows switching over to the internal regulator becaude I had no faith in the MC-612)

The alternator fried itself last week (at least i think so) after about 750 hours of use and I will replace it with a new 6-series next week. Will rebuild the fried alternator and keep as spare on board.

This is the last time I will replace a failed Balmar product with a Balmar product.
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Old 07-15-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
I very much appreciate MainSail's knowledge and experience, but his experience with Balmar regulators differs markedly from mine.

I've used an MC-612 with my 100A Balmar alternator since Sept 2001. Only one tiny glitch: it once, inexplicably, lost it's program choice setting. Simple matter to reset it to the proper program. I have installed MC-612's for clients, and have three new ones here for future clients. Never, to my knowledge, has there been a failure.

Two things:

1. Other models of Balmar regulators have had reported failures, particularly the lower-cost models; and

2. IMHO, never, never install a regulator -- or other sensitive electronic device -- in the engine room. Heat in the engine room on a hot summer day can approach 180-190 degrees F, and that's not good for ANY electronics device.

HINT: don't be lulled by the manufacturer's "specs". NO SOLID STATE DEVICE LIKES HEAT and, subjected to excess heat, will sooner or later malfunction or just quit.

Bill
In defense of what Bill is saying, and per our phone conversation the other day, I too have not had an MC-612 failure which is my favorite Balmar regulator for a number of reasons. My failures were ARS-4's and ARS-5 only two of which were in the engine compartment.

Still, I am willing to try this new regulator. It also winds up being a significantly less money, of course ONLY of it holds up and does what it is supposed to. One service call or failure wipes out any benefit..

Again, PLEASE do not take the above posting as a review. It is a simple "Hey guys, look what's new.".

My ONLY experience with this Sterling, thus far, is to open it up, examine it's construction, meet with the US distributor and ask LOTS of questions, and read the manufacturers claims, which some of are bordering on questionable..

All in all I generally like what I see of the Pro Reg D. I did have a rather nasty experience with the owner of Sterling a few years back when I asked some simple questions about a regulator that found its way here on a European boat and was not operating the way I thought it should. The US office is far nicer to deal with and for me they are right in Maine which makes it easy.

IMHO any regulator should handle the engine compartment. Internal voltage regulators are inside the alternator and get screaming hot. The regulators on Leece-Neville alts are solid state and potted internally in a similar resin to Balmar yet they last for many years bolted directly to a screaming hot alternator. Cars idle on highways in thick traffic in 100 degree+ ambient temps making the engine compartment very, very hot. Bigger marine engines use lots of electronic solid state electronic controls that don't die from the heat. While I understand the principle the frustrating part is that not all boats can have, nor owners want, a regulator installed outside the engine bay without it being an eye sore or inconvenience..

Only time will tell with the Pro Reg D...
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-15-2010 at 11:45 AM.
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Old 07-15-2010
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Thanks for the heads up Maine.
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Old 06-08-2011
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MaineSail did you ever get around to testing the regulator? If so what did you find? I have the Hitatchi 80A on my Yanmar 4JH and the max I've seen it pump into my 4 Trojan T105s is apx 45-50A. That's at a discharged rate of 70%. With a daily avg usage of 115ah I can recharge with it as is, but would like to reduce the time if possible. Really don't want to replace the alt, reg, etc at this time.
Mike
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