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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 09-23-2010
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balmar regulator question

Today I instaled a balmar ARS external regulator onto a 90 amp balmar alternator on a westerbeke 46 that powers my 37 foot pacific seacraft. My 500 hour flooded deep cycle batteries are not the best and are in need of replacement. So when I run the engine at 2000rpm, the output at the alternator during the bulk charge is 14.3. My link 10 battery monitor shows 14.05, and the voltage at the battery itself is 13.9. The regulator is set to charge on the flooded battery setting and indicates that it is putting out 14.6 with a target voltage of 14.7. What is going on with all these different voltages? I think that I want to see the alternator putting out 14.7 volts but it does not seem to want to do this. Any insight is appreciated.

Grant
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Old 09-24-2010
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Grant, your issue is simply voltage drop at different measurement points. We see the same thing with our MaxCharge 612. My panel voltmeter is a tad different than my Link 2000 and the voltage shown at the regulator which is reading off the alternator output, not the house bank.

The manual explains how to adjust the bulk voltage and bulk times. Seems like you're only running on the default values. It also takes a while for the system voltage to get up to the targeted voltage based on the charging regimen described in the manual.

There's also the Small Engine Mode which we find very helpful when we first start the engine up after an anchor out night. Your manual explains it pretty well. Here's my take on it: it's better and much easier than adjusting the Belt Load Manager, which keeps the output down all the time. It's a lot easier than playing with the reed switch screwdriver thingie!

http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4669.0.html

We don't have temperature sensors on either the alternator or the house bank. The toggle switch is really easy to install - I just jumpered the temperature sensor like the link explains, no stacking required for my wiring.
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Old 09-26-2010
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Thanks for the response. I do have a bit of a run from the alternator to the batteries that could cause a bit of drop. They are in one bank but in two locations that is separated by the width of the boat. I may be dense, but if someone could explain to me why the output from the alternator positive terminal is 14.3 and the A-R-S 5 shows that the bu (battery voltage) is 14.6 that would be helpful. Perhaps I just dont understand how charge state affects these values but I am as usual confused by my electrical system. Thanks

Grant
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Old 09-29-2010
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Grant, it all depends on how it's wired. You didn't say, for instance, if you have a wire from the house bank to the regulator, or if you're reading the bv from the back of the alternator. I thought I described that in my last post.

14.3 from back of alternator - how are your reading this?

14.6 regulator reading of bv. are you sure this isn't the cv (calculated voltage)?

When are you reading this, at startup or after you've been running a while?

Since you profess confusion about your electrical system, why not reread the manual for your regulator which explains the charging system (3 stage) very well. Also download and read the Ample Power Primer from Ample Power Company Home Page, tech tab.
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Old 09-29-2010
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Grant, if you are measuring voltage in different places all with the same voltmeter, you will find the voltage directly on the alternator, from the positive output to the alternator frame (which is grounded) is the highest DC voltage. The regulator can only reduce that, and if the wiring is done correctly (yeah, sure) and the regulator has one "sense lead" that goes to the battery bank, you should be seeing 14.3-14.4 volts maximum at the batteries (+ to -) themselves.

It is possible the wiring is somehow wrong, or there may be an isolator in the lines, or the voltage sense lead may not be hooked up correctly. It is also possible that there's a bad diode in alternator, which allows some reverse current into the output. Most inexpensive multimeters will read that as an AC component and that can affect their reading when the leads are connected normally as opposed to reversed.

But before we start looking for zebras...doublecheck the wiring, make sure you are only using one meter, and that it is calibrated properly, or at least, that it reads something you can trust. Digital multimeters can be off by .3-.4 volts in either direction when you compare one to the next. If you have a known or trusted voltage source or other meter, you can compare the two and adjust the one you want to work with.
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