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  • 1 Post By Maine Sail
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Old 02-11-2013
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Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

We have a house bank of 4 T105s,(2 yrs old) plus a starting battery; a 65 amp internally regulated Bosch alternator and we monitor all this with an older Link 10 battery monitor. Our major summer load is the fridge, lighting requirements are minimal and other than that it's mainly instruments.

Looking to move into the smart regulator world, and from my reading of Mainesail's writings it seems we're a pretty ideal candidate for using a smart reg in conjunction with at least an alternator temperature sensor. Our current on-the-alternator regulator doesn't want to regulate much over 13.2 or 13.4 volts so with healthy batteries the charge rate is dismal under power.

Ample Power and Balmar seem similar priced, and Xantrex a bit less expensive, but what say those who are using any/either of these?
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Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

Add Electro-Max to your list of replacements; the ability to kick out 90% of rated output at idle makes it a winner in my book.
Your 4 t105's are 450 AH's, 25% of that for bulk charging would be 115 ah, with a echo for the rest. The Electro-Max 100 would do, and is possible without having to go with v-belt and expensive pulley mod's.

That's what I'm looking at for my set up.
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Old 02-11-2013
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

My .02..

Ample Power - Makes a reliable regulator but it really lacks in the options & programming area. They also do not answer phones and only do tech support via an on-line forum. I stopped using them a while ago due to the lack of support and lack of programming options. Still, they build a reliable regulator

Xantrex - Just google Xantrex tech support.... The Xantrex XAR regulator is made by Balmar for Xantrex, enough said... Why buy Xantrex when you can buy the Balmar and get Balmar support?

Balmar - IMHO the best support in the industry. Dale, Tom, Rick & Rich are always available and bend over backwards to help. The Balmar regs are very programmable to do what ever you need or want.



Your Bosch alt is likely internally temp compensated via the voltage regulator. Some Hitachi's, Valeo's etc. are the same way. When they heat up they reduce voltage which in-turn reduces current output. It is a self protective feature but one that leads to chronic undercharging on boats with large banks..

You may find that the alt does the same thing if using the Balmar alt temp sensor. These alts were never designed for high output applications and don't cool as well as an alt built for extended high output run times. The difference is the Balmar temp sensor can be adjusted and you can also limit the field to allow the alt to run at say a max of 50A vs. the 65A it is rated for. It can likely run at 45-50A all day long without over heating or going into temp limiting but you'd need to play with the field output to figure this out......
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 02-11-2013 at 04:32 PM.
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
My .02..

......
Your Bosch alt is likely internally temp compensated via the voltage regulator. Some Hitachi's, Valeo's etc. are the same way. When they heat up they reduce voltage which in-turn reduces current output. It is a self protective feature but one that leads to chronic undercharging on boats with large banks..

You may find that the alt does the same thing if using the Balmar alt temp sensor. These alts were never designed for high output applications and don't cool as well as an alt built for extended high output run times. The difference is the Balmar temp sensor can be adjusted and you can also limit the field to allow the alt to run at say a max of 50A vs. the 65A it is rated for. It can likely run at 45-50A all day long without over heating or going into temp limiting but you'd need to play with the field output to figure this out......
Thanks Maine... I'd be quite content if I could get up to 50AH steady while motoring... that would mean the ability to recharge the bank in approx 3-4 hours vs 10-12 it would take now... Now even with a relatively low bank, while I charge at 35A or so for 10 minutes it's soon down to 10A or less. Not satisfactory.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
Add Electro-Max to your list of replacements;
Hadn't heard of that one.. will check it out. Thx.
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

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Thanks Maine... I'd be quite content if I could get up to 50AH steady while motoring... that would mean the ability to recharge the bank in approx 3-4 hours vs 10-12 it would take now... Now even with a relatively low bank, while I charge at 35A or so for 10 minutes it's soon down to 10A or less. Not satisfactory.




Hadn't heard of that one.. will check it out. Thx.
If you are trying to get to 100% with any alternator it is still going to take 10 hours +.. You will charge in bulk faster because you are not limiting the voltage when the alt heats up...

What you are looking to do with any alt is to cycle between 50% and 85% or so state of charge. If on a long motor run then you can get back closer to full but the bank will limit how much current once in absorption mode and this current limit will continue to decline until you are putting in less than 2% of capacity per hour...
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
If you are trying to get to 100% with any alternator it is still going to take 10 hours +.. You will charge in bulk faster because you are not limiting the voltage when the alt heats up...

What you are looking to do with any alt is to cycle between 50% and 85% or so state of charge. If on a long motor run then you can get back closer to full but the bank will limit how much current once in absorption mode and this current limit will continue to decline until you are putting in less than 2% of capacity per hour...
Yes.. That makes sense.. But if I can remain in 'bulk' longer than a few minutes then we'll be much better off. As it is now we stop and shop every 4-5days and plug in to top up overnight with shore charger. If indeed we can recover 50-80 amps in a few hours of motoring I think we could lengthen that interval by a day or two.. or more... esp in areas where wind is a scarcity in summer.

We're looking at solar supplement too.. But one step at a time- no doubt like Maine we have areas and seasons where sun is less than reliable..

Thanks again
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

I agree with MaineSail 100%. As usual.

However, I believe you'd be better served if you could possibly squeeze out enough $$$ to replace that alternator, as well as add a good external charger.

You can find Balmars at decent discount prices, but one I've been very happy using with clients is the PowerMax alternators sold by Hamilton Ferris. I've been using the 125A model (about $458) and de-rating it to about 100A using the Balmar MC-612 or MC-614 regulators.

The PowerMax's are very well built and will easily put out 100A for as long as you need it. And, you don't need any fancy upgrade to the belt drive system. A single 1/2" or even 3/8" belt will do the trick at this output level.

There are good discounts available on the older MC-612 regulator, too, which I prefer to the newer MC-614.

Bill
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

I have the Balmar ARS-5 series, works great. You can save some $$ by going with the ARS-5 vs. the MC series. My boat yard said ARS does everything you need just fine. They were right.
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

You can get a 90A Leece Neville alternator for less than $200, and they make alternators for Balmar. Why spend more than you have to?
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Re: Ample Power vs Balmar vs Xantrex

On Mainesails advice we replaced our old Hitachi with an ElectroMax 100 ( last one where no sepentine belt is needed. and 614 Balmar Max regulator. The amount of amps generated by it at the lower rpm range was far superior to the Balmars. We purchased it with a temp sensor as well.

It amd the Mastervolt 3 stage charger were the last piece to complete our electrical system upgrade. Have noticed a much better greater amp charge into our 6 volt agms at normal operating ( 2700 rpm) and idle for our Yanmar 3GMF
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