If you really want to spend the money on a good alt then the Balmar AT165 can't be beat. These are mean a$$ alts that can output tremendous current at low RPM and still run cool!!Maine Sail,
Many thanks for this, (and your many other), informative post. I've come to the conclusion that I'm going to drop plans for adding an inverter, and concentrate on upgrading the battery bank, alternator, charger, and related components for this refit. I'm also dropping plans to use the Dual Circuit Plus Battery Switch and ACR, and go with the existing switch and the Balmar Digital Duo Charge. I also like your rationale for going with 12v lighter outlets, and the idea of revamping the solar setup, (once the underlying refit is done).
In terms of my planned usage for my boat, it's pretty much all new for me. It's my first sailboat, and while I have plans for trips to visit relatives in both Boston and Miami from here in the Chesapeake, (and eventually to do the Atlantic Circle), I'm not sure how many seasons it will take for me to work up to making those trips. I imagine that this coming season she will be mostly at the dock and used for day or overnight trips, eventually stretching out to multi-day trips, as I gain experience.
In terms of the existing electrical system, not only are some of the electrical items you mentioned in need of replacing, I'm inclined to replace as much as I can with new, because some of the prior work wasn't professionally done. Some of the wiring isn't up to code, (wire nuts instead of waterproof-type crimps), so I'd like to clean it all up and have it rock solid. I figure that it's also a good time to start with some new components. You're right in that I wanted to change to specifically the Lifeline 31XT AGM batteries, because utilizing the same battery box, I could get 375ah for my house bank. I had decided to go with the ProMariner/Sterling 50amp charger, and figured that the other main decision would be the alternator.
The boat is powered by the original engine, Volvo Penta (1990), 2003 HE BT, (I'm not sure what the HE BT means after the model number, but it's on the warranty card so I'm pretty sure this is not the Penta 2003T). When I contacted ElectroMaax tech support and provided them some photos of the current engine/alternator, they said that they had the appropriate serpentine belt kit, (PK-VP2003). When I provided the same photos and request to Balmar tech support, they weren't sure. They want me to take photos with a better view of the mount, before they tell me if they have the right belt kit. (Although it looks like the ElectroMaax kit supports Balmar alternators too..) At this point I don't mind spending the money on a new serpentine kit and alternator, especially if it translates to better power transfer, less fuel use, etc.
I do know that as a tech geek, I'm always going to want cool electronics to be part of my boating experience. My plans for her include her being my new writer's office. As a result, I'm considering adding cell and/or wifi boosters as part of this refit. Also, my next electronic refit will include adding the Fusion DVD player, amplifier, new speakers with subwoofer, and a TV. I'm definitely going to want this stuff to be powered whether I'm at the dock or underway. So any work that I do to overbuild my electrical system now may be justified by my expanding usage plans, in the near future.
Balmar bought AltMount which are all Yanmar kits. They also partner with E-Maax and sell their serp kits but they are all designed by E-Maax. E-Maax sells their kits and the Balmar AT series alternators.... That said I think you would do fine with just a new regulator.....