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Mondofromredondo
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have the above Yanmar motor with the stock alternator.
I don't have any clue what it is but my question is this.

Would it be easy to install a smart regulator (perhaps a Balmar) with this existing alternator? Or does this alternator have some kind of internal regulator that would prevent me from installing the Balmar unit.

I cannot be sure but I suspect this 1988 alternator/regulator on the Yanmar is not of a "Smart Regulator" type that does the 3 stage charges. I don't even know for sure that the regulator turns off the current to the batteries when they are charged. given that I have a house and a starter battery I'm even more confused as I can only guess that the regulator is only getting feedback from one battery bank and not the other.

in the past I've had a regulator die on another boat or else it simply did not ever stop charging when motoring for a long time and it would cook my batteries.

Also if anyone has any idea what amperage this alternator puts out I'd appreciate if they could share that.

Also one additional thing as I'm fairly ignorant about this sort of stuff.
Given my Yanmar was installed and wired at the PSC factory would the alternator be routed thru the battery selector switch? In other words would the battery selector choice dictate which battery is getting charged?
Or are they both being charged at the same time. However that would complicate things as one battery could be further discharged than the other.

One would think if I chose battery one then battery 1 would get charged until the point where the voltage regulator sensed and adequate voltage and then stop charging. At least in my simple mind it does.

And I just recently read that when the engine is running I should not change the battery selector switch from one battery to the other. Is that true?



Thanks
 

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I'll leave the details to the appropriate brainiacs in that department, but if you're thinking of upgrading you might be ahead to replace the alternator AND regulator as part of a planned package upgrade (btw SNer Maine Sail can provide a great alternator and everything you need at a good price with service and backup that is excellent - even at a distance)

We tried to 'beef up' our existing internally regulated alternator but with limited/poor results. Switched to a Compass Marine custom alt and Balmar; very happy even though we've 'detuned' a 125A alternator to 80A for belt concerns.

If you're 'weak' in that department (not you, the system ;)) I'd give serious thought to this course of action.
 

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Kieth,
According to the Yanmar engine manual the voltage regulator is housed within the stock 55 amp alternator. I'm not an expert, but I think that would make installing a stand alone regulator a challenge. Also as I understand that you can direct the charge from your alternator to battery bank one, battery bank two, or both. And no, you do not want to move the switch when charging.
By the way I have an 1987 PSC 34 and the prior owner installed a stand alone regulator and a very advanced system to combine the batteries when charging, but it isolates them when there is no charge.
Steve
 

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Mondofromredondo
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221 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Given we should not switch the battery switch during a charge let me pose a hypothetical situation to confirm my belief. Suppose batter 2 is dead. Well I can't start motor with battery 2 so I switch to battery 1 and start the motor. Now I am only charging battery 1 which does me no good in getting battery 2 charged. Would this be correct? Given I am unable to switch to battery 2 during charging does it make sense that I would select "Both" in order to start with #1 and charge both 1 and 2 at the same time? then if I want to charge 2 by itself I kill the motor. Switch to 2 and restart the engine. Does this make sense? it seems to in my simple mind but I need some confirmation to feel comfortable with this procedure for charging.
 

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I don't know if any of this is helpful, but I'll share my limited knowledge...

Regarding the internal regulator question, my external regulator has an internal/external switch to move back and forth between the external regulator and the alternator's own regulator. This suggests to me that you can install the external regulator.

Regarding the battery switch, I'd say chuck yours overboard. If you are like me, you'll eventually get confused by the 1-2-both settings. (I wouldn't dare touch that thing with the engine running -- to avoid frying the alternator, which may or may not happen.) My engine battery switch (installed by Pacific Seacraft, I assume) is just on-off, with a separate bypass switch in case I should need to use the house battery for starting -- so simple for my simple mind.

I recommend Don Casey's sailboat maintenance manual. It has a long chapter on the basics of electrical systems, including quite a lot of discussion of alternators and charging systems. I think the electrics chapter is sold as a separate book.
 

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There is a wiring diagram in the PSC 34 Owner's Manual, section 10.6. That said, the only way you will know your boat's actual wiring is to trace it out. In my case it appeared that the original factory wiring was heavier than that shown on the owners manual diagram and several of the connections were different from the owners manual diagram. In addition, previous owners had made changes, and I have made changes. After ten years of working on the boat and updating the wiring drawings each time I figure a part out, I have a pretty complete set of wiring diagrams for Irish Eyes.

The operations manual for the GM-HM engines list the stock alternator as 12V, 55A. It should have a nameplate. The engine wiring diagram is in the operations manual.

Bill Murdoch
1988 PSC 34
Irish Eyes
 

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Kieth,
We have the Balmar combo (smart reg and 80 amp alt) on our 34 that was installed years ago by the previous owner. If you go the smart regulator route, install the regulator outside the engine compartment. Like all fancy electronics, they do not like heat and can die prematurely. Ours is installed in the quarter berth - forward bottom corner just behind the bulkhead lip. Wire routing is easy to that location.

I would recommend a smart regulator. I believe it is healthier for your batteries, and charges more efficiently, especially if it is your main source of recharging.

Our 80 amp alt was throwing belt dust around the engine room when the batteries were discharged (more load on the alt), and I recently installed a serpentine belt and pulleys which greatly reduced the dust. Eventually, when the Balmar dies (the bearings are starting to go), I'll replace it with a 140 amp model - something I couldn't do with the single v-belt.

I have a 3JH2E and one of the Balmar pulleys was not machined correctly. I didn't notice the almost 1/8 inch difference when it was installed and it worked great for the first 20 hours, after which I noticed the belt had skipped a groove on the water pump pulley. I had to add a spacer behind it to keep the belt from "walking" off the pulley. We have over a hundred hours on the new belt now and it has been working well.

As a side note, in the last 6 months in Mexico, I have seen one alternator mounting bolt break (on another 34), and one alt adjustment arm bracket break. The bracket arm broke on the 700 mile trip down from San Diego to Cabo. Unfortunately, we had days without wind, and without a way to keep tension on the belt you can't keep your engine water pump turning - so he couldn't use his engine for propulsion or power. Since then I have added a spare bracket and bolt to my spares inventory.

Hope that helps,
Brian
 

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Why don't you switch your battery switch while the engine is running? I switch mine all the time and never had a problem with it. It should only be a problem if your switch disconnects the batteries while switching, which mine does not. I would not think any quality switch would.
 

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given that I have a house and a starter battery I'm even more confused as I can only guess that the regulator is only getting feedback from one battery bank and not the other.
I would recommend connecting all your charging to your house bank, then connecting your starter with an ACR. Plenty of threads here on this topic if you search.

Also if anyone has any idea what amperage this alternator puts out I'd appreciate if they could share that.
I have a 3HM35F, but my stock alternator puts out about 40 amps for about 20 minutes, then over the course of an hour it drops to about 15 amps. After that it will stay at about 15 for as long as I run it.

Given my Yanmar was installed and wired at the PSC factory would the alternator be routed thru the battery selector switch?
That is how my 1989 34' came from the factory.

And I just recently read that when the engine is running I should not change the battery selector switch from one battery to the other. Is that true
Turn on a light and the switch the battery switch from 1 to ALL to 2. If the light does not blink, it is safe to switch the battery selector switch while the engine is running IMHO. Just make sure you never put it to OFF.
 

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I agree with RainDog. We replaced our batt switch with a simple on-off-emergency switch. When ON the start batt is connected to the starter and the house batts are connected to the main bus. All of our charging systems go to the house batts. We have a Balmar Duo Charge to keep the start battery topped up. The Duo Charge also allows you to mix batt types - our house batts are 6V golf cart batts and the starter is an AGM located under the nav station seat. I didn't want vented batts inside the boat.
We have been using the system full time for over a year now and it has been working well.
 

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On the external vs internal regulation of the Yanmar alternator.

Every stock Yanmar alternator I have seen has an internal regulator which would have to be disabled in order to be run off an external regulator. Yanmar does not provide the inputs to add an external regulator so adding one would require tearing the alternator apart and rewiring it. The Yanmar alternator are not that high of quality so its probably not worth it.

At the last Annapolis Boat show I purchased an Electromaxx alternator and a Balmar 614 voltage regulator from Electromax. Also acquired the Electromaxx serpentine belt kit to convert the engine from the standard belt to a serpentine.
Installation of the serpentine belt kit is well described on the Compass Marine web site.

The Electromax alternator has a internal regulator that is meant to be used as a backup. The plugs for Electromaxx are compatible with the wiring harness provided by Yanmar for their standard alternator. So you can swap out the standard Yanmar alternator, mount the Electromaxx and plug the Yanmar wire in and use the internal regulator. Since you will likely be purchasing a higher output better quality alternator you will get a charging gain from just this swap. To maximise the output of the alternator the Balmar 614 or some other smart voltage regulator can be added.

Note the Balmar alternator has a number of additional options such as inputs to montior the voltage at the battery, monitor the cast tempertature of the alternator and the battery charger - all of which provide advantages at an additional cost.


On the switching of the betwen the batteries.

The 1-2-Both battery switches I have used maintain the connection to battery which switch from 1 to both or 2 to both. So if battery bank 1 is dead and battery bank 2 has juice, start the engine on battery bank 2 and then once the engine is running switch the engine to both, could even switch it to 1 to just charge the battery bank 1 while running the engine.
This is the simpliest approach - other options exists which would likely be better for your batteries health and life but will require more reading. The Balmar 614 manual has some interesting insights. Compass Marine website has some excellent relevent articles and I imagine Nigel Calder's Boat maintenance book has some interesting insight as well.

Regards

Marc Hall
Crazy Fish - Maintaining, Upgrading and Sailing a Crealock 37 | SV Crazy Fish
 

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Mondofromredondo
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Discussion Starter #14
All of this is great info. I've been worried that perhaps I may have damaged my alternator in the past by switching the battery switch while engine running. yet I always seem to get a good charge out of it.
 

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Most alternators, and most battery switches, are designed cheap and simple for "one battery". There is usually a voltage sense wire from the alternator to the battery (single) although you can look up "1-wire" versus "3-wire" alternator setups to see the two different systems. In a "1-wire" the sense lead is tied back to the output, so there is no danger from switching, although the whole system is cruder.

In the standard 3-wire, as soon as the sensing wire is disconnected, the alternator says "Wow, that battery is low" and it goes to full output, often +17V which can destroy your electrical system and alternator in 30 seconds or less.

So switching the battery switch, while the engine is on, and disconnecting that output for a second, can spike things and damage them badly. SOME battery switches provide extra contacts to prevent this. Sometimes they work. Unlikely you'd have one, because they cost extra money.

Somewhere on your alternator should be a number plate. There's no guarantee that boat was built with it, so find the plate and check the specs to see what you've got.

It can always be modified, if you find a competent shop, to use with a proper marine regulator. But if it is over ten years old, better to retire it as a spare, and buy a proper marine alternator and external regulator that you can rely on, matched to the size and budget you need, not what some might have done 40 years ago.

"Normal" boat alternators are car alternators, because they're cheap. And car regulators are designed to "not overcharge" one SLI battery in one car, not to efficiently charge multiple deep cycle batteries on boats. You can cut your recharge time in half by putting in proper equipment.
 

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Switching batteries while charging will cause a voltage spike that can wipe out your voltage regulator unless you have a suppressor capacitor installed on the alternator. These are pretty cheap and worth the effort.
We have a 150A Hehr that has been excellent over at least 15 years. (We send it into a rebuild shop every 5 years or so for preventive maintenance.) We use a Next Step regulator, located in the engine compartment, and have had no problems in the last 10 years.
If you're cruising a lot of time is focused on keeping your batteries charged. Nothing destroys an AGM battery faster than partial charges (due to sulfation). We are proponents of a balanced approach - high amp alternator, solar, wind and a low amp usage profile (led's, small refrigerator, manual pump water, etc.). The only issue with all of this is money. I don't want to think how much we've invested in power management on the boat but it has worked very well over the years.
Good luck,
Sam and Ginger
sv Grace PSC34
 

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Agree with RainDog. There is no problem shifting from 1 to 2 to 1&2 with the engine running. Just NOT the "off" position (I can't think of any value for "off" in normal installations).

My routine: start the engine with the starter battery selected. The brief cranking uses only little power and the start battery is topped up in a few minutes. When I am clear of dock/anchor and settling down, I switch to the house battery. This battery is usually moderately depleted and takes time to charge, plus I'm draining it while operating the boat: stereo, electronics....

The "1&2" position makes little more sense to me than "off". Say the starter battery is dead. Why "combine" it with the (hopefully) good house battery as you attempt to crank? The dead battery will be draining volts from the good one. This all relates to the simple house/start installation.

One of my favorite upgrades is a Blue Seas digital amp/volt meter. I can see just what's happening: say 5 amps to the start battery after cranking, dropping to nil in a couple minutes. Switch to house: 20 amps going in, then dropping down over a half hour. Typical scenario at anchor: start battery shows full volts; house volts down a bit , using 1.5 amps. All is well.
 

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Charlie-
The actual and very real problem is that mechanical switches are machines, and machines do sometimes fail.
If your switch is set up as 1-both-2 and if the switch contacts overlap (so that "1" is connected all the way into "both" and overlaps "2", etc.) then in theory, there is always a battery connected to the alternator and the alternator will never go psycho by seeing "Ohmigod, there's no battery!" and shooting the output voltage up.
In practice, there HAVE been reports that even when a switch is built that way, or even when someone uses a special dual switch (that has a second set on contacts that can be used for field disconnect or voltage sense with two batteries), SOMETIMES those brass strips that are the actual switch contacts, either come loose from their position (mounted in plastic) or disconnect, so that even with a proper switch, you would have to routinely open it up and inspect it internally to be 100% sure that it was safe to switch while the alternator was running.

Yeah, I know, how common is that kind of failure? Who really cares, if it is one in a million, and you're that lucky millionth winner?(G) Easier to use a different switching system (like a separate toggle switch to engage each battery) or just not to switch while running, than to risk all the cursing and wrenching when you find out you're going to need a new alternator.

At least, some of us think it is easier.(G)

The more time I spend with "simple" machines, the less faith I have in any of them. Thank the gods that the dog is always hungry for whatever falls on the floor, without the constant work of dogs like that, I'm sure even gravity would break down from time to time ! (VBG)
 

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Dalestr
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This is a great string of comments and guidance. I have a few comments to add, 5 years on.
The alternators with internal regulators are typically are self-powered (once they are running) and the voltage sensing is from within too; damage from switching to OFF comes I think from a steep inverse voltage transient due to a sudden breaking of the current path for a large inductance, which a stator coil is ( like a gas engine's ignition coil and points-- though without a step-up transfomer).
For the external regulator situation, there could be a secondary cause in addition to this with the regulator getting lost in space depending on where the regulator's Vsense is connected but I don't see how the voltage sense will actually go away or go to zero as that would still be connected.
One way to protect for this is a Zap-Stop type suppressor as now sold by Balmar. This contains a special diode (TVS) that conducts the voltage spike to ground. The spike potential is related to how much charging current there is. Changing position of a battery switch when output is down at lower current levels is a lower risk though a quality battery switch should not be any risk if changing between batteries.
A second way to prevent risk is the use of a field break switch which certain models of battery switch include. This is only useful for external regulator's though. The theory is that the field circuit is broken (and thus the alternator de-energized) before one can reach the Off position on the switch.
The 4 position battery switches use 'make before break' design for the sliding contacts. As someone mentioned, over time the battery switch contacts can corrode so if you have any reason to believe the battery switch is questionable, it is a good time to renew it or dissasemble to inspect it. I like hte idea of testing it with lights, but one should use a powerful spotlight that draws at least 5A for a good test.
It would be good to have these switches offer a mechanical interlock so that one must actuate a button perhaps or push the knob inwards to move it to the OFF position. That would prevent most accidental events but the ABYC would not like that from a safety angle.
 
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