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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-15-2009
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External Voltage Regulator

I have a Balmar MaxCharge external regulator looking after the charging behavior of the 60 amp alternator on BR's main engine (a Nanni conversion of a Kabota 60 hp diesel). I also have a genset with a 24 horse Yanmar to spin the generator. They use the same starter battery and only one of the engines can be connected to the starter battery at a time (i.e. the engines are never run simultaneously). By flipping the right switches I can get either alternator to charge the boat's larger battery banks, although I normally let the generator charge the batteries via AC-powered battery chargers when the genset is running.

The alternator on the genset (a Bosch 85 amp, which replaced the original Yanmar 35 amp) is acting up (15 years old) and probably needs to be rebuilt. I have two questions for the gathered cognesenti:

1/ Can the Balmar MaxCharge now regulating the main engine alternator serve double duty and also regulate the genset engine's alternator when it's running, or do I need to buy another dedicated external regulator (I know that I can get an alternator w/ an internal regulator, but IMO the Max Charge manages the big battery bank charging better); and,

2/ Assuming I get a new alternator (and have the existing one rebuilt for a spare), is there an advantage (aside from increased output) in "loading" up the genset's Yanmar with a higher capacity alternator. I've read that diesels last longer if they're run under load. The genset requires the engine RPM to be set at 1500 (far below that that would load the engine if it were used for ship's propulsion). By putting a big alternator on a small engine my guess is that we increased the load on the engine and that, according to the conventional wisdom, should be a good thing. Only trouble with buying a new high output alternator is the cost. The current 85 amp alternator was on the boat when I bought her and I rarely use it to charge the batteries, so I don't think I need the amps it puts out. So -- is it worth a couple extra hundred dollars to buy a new high amp alternator and run the 24 horse Yanmar under a greater load even if I don't need the amps? Or, should I save the money and get something closer to the OEM 35 amp alternator and continue to let the generator carry the battery charging load?

I look forward to advice from the SailNet oracle!
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Old 06-15-2009
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BillyR,

No oracle here, just some general anecdotal info.

You didn't say exactly which model Balmar regulator you have, but I think the designation "MaxCharge" usually refers to the MC-612. We installed an MC-612 on our previous boat, and as I recall the ability to handle multiple alternators was what distinguished it from the lesser models (512, etc). So hopefully you're good there.

As for the alternator - One question is how large a bank do you have -- i.e. would you get better charging performance with the larger alternator?

As for load, I would think an 85 amp alternator would load up a 24 hp diesel spinning at 1500 rpm pretty well. At that rpm, I think the engine is only putting out about 1/3 rated hp (but probably closer to 2/3 torque).
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Old 06-16-2009
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I believe the MC-612 will handle only ONE alternator. The wiring diagrams show two MC-612s when there are two alternators.

I suppose that with some creative manual switching you could wire the regulator up so it would regulate EITHER alternator A OR alternator B, but that would be kludgy and perhaps unwise.

Bottom line: you're gonna need a second external regulator and, IMHO, a matching MC-612 would be a good choice.

If your genset really has a 27HP engine, I doubt that an 80A alternator would present much of a load. 80A @ 14VDC = 1120 watts, or less than 2HP. My NextGen generator puts out 3500 watts and has a very small Kubota diesel...only about 6-8HP I believe.

John's question re: size of battery bank and a larger alternator is important....if your battery bank will accept a larger charging amperage, a larger alternator would seem to be the way to go. You certainly have the HP :-)

Bill

Last edited by btrayfors; 06-16-2009 at 06:15 AM.
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Old 06-16-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
I believe the MC-612 will handle only ONE alternator. The wiring diagrams show two MC-612s when there are two alternators.

I suppose that with some creative manual switching you could wire the regulator up so it would regulate EITHER alternator A OR alternator B, but that would be kludgy and perhaps unwise.

Bottom line: you're gonna need a second external regulator and, IMHO, a matching MC-612 would be a good choice....
Bill,

I think you are correct on that. I'm not sure where I got that impression, but after double checking I can't find any info on the 612 indicating that it will handle two alternators simultaneously. All I could find was a mention that the (less expensive) ARS-5 regulator is used for single alternator applications.

Thanks for the clarification. - John
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Old 06-16-2009
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Billy and Bill,

Just to muddy the waters a bit more, I found this info about Balmar's plans to make the 612 capable of handling two alternators:

Quote:
Recently, the practice of adding a second alternator to an engine has become increasingly commonplace, and a growing number
of companies are developing brackets and pulley sets to support
the addition of a second alternator. Balmar’s 12-volt and 24-volt Max Charge voltage regulators have been designed to provide sufficient field current to control two alternators at once. Balmar’s MC-612-DUAL voltage regulator, available in the last half of 2009, will provide two separate field
output terminals and alternator temperature sensing for two alternators, making it the perfect charge control solution for single-engine, dual-alternator applications. See our website (Welcome to Balmar) for
more information and a list of bracket suppliers.

In twin engine applications, Balmar’s Centerfielder provides an excellent solution for balanced charge control over dual alternators. By monitoring port and starboard alternators and regulators, and controlling field output to both alternators, the Centerfielder makes it possible to direct the combined
output from both alternators to charge a central house battery bank.
From here, at Page 4.

Of course, the new 612-dual would be for 2 alternators run from the same engine simultaneously. And the Centerfielder is for 2 alternators/regulators from different engines run simultaneously.

But BillyR only uses one alternator at a time, i.e. never simultaneously. So it doesn't sound like either of those solutions would apply, and we're still back to two separate regulators, unless Balmar has a solution that allows a 612 to be shared (but not used simultaneously).

What I might consider doing in BillyR's place, is wait for the 612-dual to be released, and add a second alternator to the generator (rather than a single larger-output). Assuming the battery bank would benefit.
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Old 06-16-2009
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I'd be outright afraid to use one external regulator to control two alternators. That's putting all your eggs in one basket, and if that one regulator goes, you're out of luck. Not to mention, whatever you do in the way to automatic or manual switching (if you switch it between them) adds more failure modes and chances for an "oops".
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The battery banks total 800+ amp hours and when they're connected to the alternator, the atternator sees one bank, so they'll take a heavy charge load.

Re the issue with the regulator -- the two engines are never run simultaneously so there's only one alternator sending amps to the batteries at any one time. I'll have to read the 612 manual, but the only thing I can remember that's programmed in (other that battery type) is the percentage of max output that the regulator will allow.

I will attempt to contact Balmar to see what they recommend, but something tells me they might think buying a new regulator is the best option.

Thanks for the help thusfar!!!!

I should add for clarity -- the alternator on the genset is primarily a redundant charging capability. When the main engine is on, it's alternator is charging the batteries. When the genset is operating, the batteries can be connected to either the alternator or to the AC battery chargers (same one's that charge the batts when on shore power). I have two 50 amp ProTech chargers, one connected to each of the two battery banks. That gives me both higher charging output (100 amps) and redundancy should one of the chargers fail. When the genset is running, I normally use the AC output to drive the ProTech chargers. It's only when the load is too great because of other demands for AC power that I use the genset engine's alternator to charge the batteries [e.g. if I run the desalinator (pumps have AC motors) I can't simultaneously charge the batteries with the ProTech chargers because the total amp load is too large].

Except when we're making water, genset engine alternator is really the charge source of last resort -- should the generator go down and the main engine alterntor quit.

Last edited by billyruffn; 06-16-2009 at 08:54 PM.
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Jonathan,

Thanks for the note on Balmar's plans for the MC612. I wasn't aware of that.

FYI, I actually have two of the little beasties. Just before the Annapolis Boat Show last year, the one I'd been using and which had been flawless for 6 years or so stopped working. I was singlehanding back from the Chesapeake, and anchored overnite about 35 miles south of home port. Woke up in the morning, fired up the Perkins, and ....damn...the alternator wasnt' charging at all. Zero. Zip. Did some quick troubleshooting, but couldn't find the problem, and I was anxious to get along with the tide.

Since I have a generator onboard, there was no problem with lack of charging from the engine. Came on back home. In the next few days, before I had a chance to troubleshoot the regulator further, the Annapolis Boat Show came up, and I went and talked to the Balmar reps. We kinda decided the regulator had "packed up", and they offered to sell me a replacement at a very favorable price. So I took them up on the offer.

When I finally did get around to troubleshooting my old one, I found some questionable connections in the in-line fuse connections, and I found that the program had somehow "dropped out". After fixing the fused connections, it was a simple matter to use the magnetic wand to reset the desired program for flooded deep-cycle batteries and...bingo...back in business. The old MC-612 is working flawlessly as it always has, and I have a spare one in the box in case it ever really gives up the ghost. Or, I suppose, in case I add a second alternator :-)

Bill
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