Catalina 34

General Activities => Main Message Board => Topic started by: Hawk on July 23, 2011, 05:51:28 PM

Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 23, 2011, 05:51:28 PM
Ok I was about to set out my electrical/battery/charger/alternator issues following the trip up the coast where their are few options for shore power. This really tests the integrity of your battery systems and patience at times. While all was overall wel,l I'm not happy with the performance of my system AND I can't really say I know exactly how my system is set up. My so-called reserve 4D, new last summer, was largely discharged on return despite motoring for many hours on the last day...one of several issues I need to sort out.
All to say this post is timely and I will re-read these links so I can pose some specific questions.

Thanks guys.
Oh and I have a Promariner Protech 4 1240 charger...........I know Ron and Stu, I know.......

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 28, 2011, 10:46:49 AM
I intend on installing the Xantrex Truecharge 2 and otherwise sort out, understand and likely change my electrical.

Also intend on wiring the alternator to the 3 Trojan deep cycle 12v house batteries. ( I am assessing how it is all wired htis weekend) I'm considering the Xantrex Echo Charge to charge the "reserve" 4 D as the alternator will go to the house only.

Any thoughts on use of a Balmer Duo Charge rather than the Echo?
Any thoughts on swapping out the 3 - 12v Trojans and reserve 4D for golf carts 6v as house and something else as the reserve?

I've been reading and re-reading the Electrical links.

Thanks guys...just looking for some insight from your experiences.

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 28, 2011, 01:51:33 PM

1.  Also intend on wiring the alternator to the 3 Trojan deep cycle 12v house batteries. ( I am assessing how it is all wired htis weekend) I'm considering the Xantrex Echo Charge to charge the "reserve" 4 D as the alternator will go to the house only.

2.  Any thoughts on use of a Balmer Duo Charge rather than the Echo?

3.  Any thoughts on swapping out the 3 - 12v Trojans and reserve 4D for golf carts 6v as house and something else as the reserve?

Hawk,

1.  Good idea.

2.  The echo charge is preferred, simply 'cuz it's less expensive.  Unless you're gonna mix battery types, which the duo charge is good for, there's no sense in spending the $$ ($225).  The echo charge ($148) is perfect for your application.  I believe Maine Sail has also concluded the same, and it might even be in some of the links you're reading.

3.  Sure, it's a cleaner system with 4 6V golf carts and a small automotive battery for a reserve (or start depending on how you wire it, i.e., switches).  But if your existing batteries are in good condition, I'd do that as a next step, not "required" right now.  As you may know from my dribbles, we have four batteries:  3 130 ah 12V deep cycles for our house bank and a small maybe 60 to 100 ah reserve battery.  I just replaced our batteries earlier this year (see the "Breaking in New batteries" topic) and stayed with the 3 12V to avoid having to rewire and re-engineer the battery compartments for the golf carts.

Hawk, from what you've written, it sure seems you're on top of it.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 28, 2011, 03:37:35 PM
Thanks Stu. Thats helpful to hear.

Now, of course, I spoke to my local marine electrical guy who says he figures the alternator ought to be charging both battery banks on ALL, particularly given the big 4D reserve will need more amps pushed into it than the Echo can deal with (his opinion?).......Thats what I have been doing for years BUT the 4D was discharged after 11 hours motoring recently even though the cockpit voltmeter showed 14.2 volts charging until a few hours later down to 13.6 or so........so I have a few things to consider on how its presently wired.

I am going to call the company that sold me the 4D (not a deep cycle) and ask about charging it through the Echo set-up as is recomended by most on this forum.

Any thoughts on the 4D through the Echo. I see the stats say the Echo has a 15 A max charge current.

Thanks again.......I want to head up the coast again past where Steve Dolling is currently bathing naked under waterfalls, but I need to know I can reliably be off the power for 5 to 7 days, realizing I need to run the engine most days to re-juice the house.

Hawk

Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 28, 2011, 03:59:24 PM
...says he figures the alternator ought to be charging both battery banks on ALL, particularly given the big 4D reserve will need more amps pushed into it than the Echo can deal with (his opinion?).

Nonsense!  If the 4D, or any battery for that matter, is being used as a reserve or start bank, it should always be at 98% SOC.  All an echo charger does is "borrow" 15A max from whatever charging source is there and feed it to that bank.  The battery ACCEPTANCE limits how much it will get and since it's so full already and you've only take 2 ah out of it to start your engine (if you use that one) then the 15A is way more than it will take.  Simple.  Your electrician is misleading you and doesn't know what he's talking about if he doesn't understand what you are trying to do.  When you install the echo charger, it replaces the ALL position on the 1-2-B switch, just does it automatically.   ALL or "B" is a "backup" if the ec ever fails

As Maine Sail and I have said so many times, even if you don't have an echo charger (or other automatic connector) and never put your switch on ALL, that reserve bank will stay at a high SOC for a loooong time.

I don't know what the battery manufacturer would be able to tell you that you don't already know.

Upon further review, I'd rip out that heavy 4D reserve and get yourself a Sears auto battery.  Why lug all that lead around? :D :D :D

Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 28, 2011, 04:30:07 PM
Stu,

You "Echo" my thoughts and I'll be sure to cross-examine the marine electrician on his views.....

I was wondering about the reason the PO put in that big 4 D as the Start/Reserve.....maybe thinking that the big 4D will better start the engine. But given that only 2 or 3 amps gets used to do a start that doesn't really ring true.....

Thanks again and I'll report back after I've analysed my set up. Maybe the electrician will change his tune.

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 28, 2011, 04:44:17 PM
I was wondering about the reason the PO put in that big 4 D as the Start/Reserve.....

Could it have been one of his two original 4Ds and he didn't wanna try to lug it off the boat after he'd removed the other one?   8)
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 28, 2011, 06:59:29 PM
Hawk,

Another thought after the "Nonsense..." reply.

...he figures the alternator ought to be charging both battery banks on ALL, particularly given the big 4D reserve will need more amps...

That is technically correct.  The "alternator ought to be charging both battery banks on ALL..." by itself is correct, regardless of whether AO is to the house bank or to the 1-2-B C post.

I reacted (!) to the second parts about the "needing more amps" which is wrong.

Sorry about that.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: mainesail on July 28, 2011, 07:43:32 PM
If you're truly using the 4D as a reserve/starting battery then an Echo is more than enough juice for that battery. Your engine will not even consume 1 Ah to start...

The Duo Charger is a decent device but one that has a HUGE flaw. If the battery needs more than 30A, like in a reserve situation, where you used it for house loads for a while, it shuts down and needs to be reset. Balmar knows this and as of yet, as far as I know, have not fixed this.

The Echo would just happily plug away putting 15A back in. If you ever needed to put more in simply flip the battery switch to ALL like you've done all along. You can also use an ACR, simple, effective, reliable and less $$ than an Echo charger...

It sounds to me like your marine electrician is not well versed in charging systems but don't worry many are not......
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 28, 2011, 08:08:40 PM
Stu,

What he said is what I've always done thinking it was right, ie. always motoring on ALL believing both banks were being charged. He suggested I don't need to add the Echo.

I replaced the 4 D last summer and always started and motored on ALL as Ron does. I religiously turn the battery selector to 2 which is my house bank when engine is turned off on the hook. The result was that I never tested the 4 D alone until back from the recent trip up the coast when I began to have doubts after a reluctant start on ALL after 3 days without power. I added a solar panel last year and the controller has a battery monitor funtion for the house bank and the house was down to 11.6v. As I said on return after 11 hours motoring and safely docked the 4D alone wouldn't even get the fuel pump going...not good. And I was on shore power the night before the long motoring trip.

To add to the problem I committed the error of generally leaving the Protech 4 charger on through the winter which as I now recognize may have negatively affected the batteries.

So for sure I don't trust the charger and will replace it. The Leece Neville high output alt looks OK but will check. Last I may ditch the 4 D.


So I figure the 4 D has been just ballast because the Protech 4 charger never was charging it up and the alternator either isn't charging it either or can't charge it up when depleted.

Thanks a lot. And thanks Mainesail - just read your post!
Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 28, 2011, 10:12:38 PM
What he said is what I've always done thinking it was right, ie. always motoring on ALL believing both banks were being charged. He suggested I don't need to add the Echo.

I replaced the 4 D last summer and always started and motored on ALL as Ron does. I religiously turn the battery selector to 2 which is my house bank when engine is turned off on the hook.

Yes, Hawk, that's true.  We have been suggesting the echo charge simply because, as Maine Sail said in the links above at the beginning of this Electrical 101 topic, the ec does what you describe automatically and you don't have to use the switch.  At the risk of repeating ourselves (from the links above - see, I did it again!  :D), most folks don't have the discipline you do, and we suggest the B as a Backup to the ec if it ever breaks.

And, when you get on the boat you switch on the house bank, leave it there, and turn it off when you leave.  Simple.

That was Brian's writeup in Reply #1 on Page 1 of this topic.

Don't forget: "get your AO off the 1-2-B switch."

That's the whole idea behind echo chargers, relays, combiners, ACRs and oil pressure switches (usually from "ye olden days of sail").
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 29, 2011, 09:20:53 AM
Thanks Stu,

I'm seeing that, as you say, adding the Echo reduces the likelyhood of problems with use of the 12ALL switch. However assuming discipline rules on my ship then I could leave things but install the Truecharge 2 which should do both banks and provide monitoring of both banks, correct.

Where I am foggy is when you say take the Alt Output off the switch. I get that point as why charge the switch first BUT where do I put the AO?..to the house bank, or both banks with two wires ?.....Recall my issue is as you have written in previous posts, that I want to be confidently able to charge up from a house discharged 50% when off shore power up north and know I have reserve to start the engine if I take the house too low when anchored in the middle of nowhere with no cell coverage and limited radio.

This discussion has really been helpful, believe me.

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 29, 2011, 10:22:02 AM
1.  I'm seeing that, as you say, adding the Echo reduces the likelyhood of problems with use of the 12ALL switch. However assuming discipline rules on my ship then I could leave things but install the Truecharge 2 which should do both banks and provide monitoring of both banks, correct.

2.  Where I am foggy is when you say take the Alt Output off the switch. I get that point as why charge the switch first BUT where do I put the AO?..to the house bank, or both banks with two wires ?.....

1.  Yes, BUT:  you do NOT need to have the shorepower charger go to both banks, just use one output and run it to your house bank, the ec does the reserve bank the same way it does when you're using the alternator.  That is the entire purpose of the ec: to avoid having to use the 1-2-B switch for the reserve bank and to allow the use of one shorepower output to the house bank.  In some cases, perhaps with the ec, having two outputs from the shorepower charger defeats the ec and could perhaps damage it.  RTFM when you buy it.   :D

2.  The AO goes to the house bank, only one wire, and ec provides the charge to the reserve bank.

Hawk, you really, really, really, really need to re-read Reply #1 on page 1 of this topic.  It sums it up as best I've seen.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 30, 2011, 12:57:21 AM
Thanks Stu.
Performed some informative tests with the amp and volt meters today. Lots to consider.
Will report back in a few days.
Appreciate the insight.

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 30, 2011, 03:50:08 AM
Tom, here is one of the best "simplified" wiring diagrams:  http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,4949.msg30170.html#msg30170   The "combining relay" is your echo charger.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on July 30, 2011, 01:12:16 PM
Hawk : To clear up what "Ron does"  -- I enter the boat and turn the battery selector to 1 then ALL and then 2 to check the voltage and charge status of each battery bank (before shore power is turned ON).
 
The selector then goes to ALL and stays in the ALL position for the remainder of the trip.  When were are back at the dock and leaving, I turn the shore power OFF and check each battery bank for "0" amperage to make sure nothing has been left ON.  I want to see "0" amps before I turn the battery selector switch to OFF.

That's what Ron Does !!
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 31, 2011, 02:43:21 PM
What Ron has mentioned many times before is that he has a different electrical system than most folks, so the switch position for his use will be quite different than it would be for the system we have been promoting (1-2-B switch, AO to the house bank, etc.).  I get on my boat, switch to the house bank (#1) and leave it there, and use it for everything, occasionally checking and using our reserve bank to assure its health.  'Bout as simple as one can get.  I never use ALL, and recommend that no one with this setup ever do so (unless the engine is running and charging and your "relay" - whatever it may be - has broken).  That's because if you switch to B with a deeply discharged or "broken" bank, either one, it could seriously harm your other bank.  That's why the Blue Seas Dual Circuit switch is not a good choice for a good electrical system, 'cuz it combines banks at the worst possible time.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on July 31, 2011, 05:45:03 PM
Guys : As Stu points out my electrical system is differant, but really not that differant! as my system is nearly the same as it came from the factory.

You surely won't find my wiring in "Electrical 101" because I'm a mechanic and not an electrician.
To me I think of plumbing and having the electrons flowing thru "pipes" called wires.

When I decided to upgrade to a hi-output alternator (1991/2?) I saw they made a duel out put model.  I decided to run the charging wires direct to the battery banks, thinking why charge the selector switch and it's associated wiring before dribbling the charge to the batteries -- instead go direct made more sense to me.

I also have a starting battery which also serves the windlass. It's on a manual switch from battery bank #2. It gets turned on for about 30 min a day -- as you have to "gasp" turn the switch ON and OFF.

I don't have combiners, echo charges and other expensive electrical gadgets that take power to run. I simply use the KISS principle.
 
Mine is probably not the system for others, but has worked for me for only about 20+ years. 
A thought   
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on July 31, 2011, 07:01:12 PM
Ron, actually what you have is a very good system, and your description of it really helps.  Not many people have "stumbled across" the dual alternator output method of charging banks.  As I've written many times, my "challenge" in 1998 was to figure out how to use my Freedom 15 combined inverter/charger which, contrary to many standard chargers of the time in use, only had ONE single output for charging.  Since the alternator I had ALSO had only one, I decided to use the "combiner approach" because they hadn't invented the echo charger yet.  I agree that your solution is elegant and very useful and is an option that folks may very well want to consider.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on July 31, 2011, 10:30:47 PM
Thanks Ron and Stu.
My question in Reply 31 about the AO if no Echo is used is answered at least on Ron's boat by the dual AO alternator.

It is clear that there are different approaches to setting up the electrical system on one's boat. What is very important however, certainly for me, is that you really need to know how each component is wired to the others and what is actually happening.......that quest contnues this week.

Mind you, a dead reserve, bum charger and dodgy alternator didn't stop us from heading to the outstation (no power) for two days of sun and fun. Sure liked watching the solar panel plug amps into the house though (:

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on August 03, 2011, 05:55:58 PM
To follow up I just got off the phone with the auto/marine electric company who said my external regulator was defective but the 105amp Leece Neville alt is fine so he changed the brushes. Then he said " I did you a favour and you're going with the internal regulator...all those fancy ex regs are a waste of money...don't worry, you'll be fine - no boiling batteries" - with a laugh.

So on hanging up I searched our site and this short post of Stu's from April came up:
http://c34.org/bbs/index.php/topic,6255.0.html

In that post is a link from Mainesails post to the below article which is excellent and convinced me that the marine electric guy could be bang on.
http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showpost.php?p=775433&postcount=1

The external regulator I had just added complexity and a real failure potential...but for no real gain. The article goes on to say when smart regulators are helpful but that doesn't seem to be my situation nor most of us sailors, even if we want to be off of shore power for 5 or 6 days.

Tomorrow I am reinstalling the alt but wiring it direct to the house bank ( 3-27s 345ah) catch ya later to the ex reg (at least for now until I'm convinced). The new Truecharge 2 with temp and remote monitor goes in and goodbye Promariner Protech 4. I am going to use both seperate bank outputs, one to the house and the other to the 4 D reserve. It is being charged at the shop overnight to determine if I fried it over the last year....if so, then in goes a new 4D. I will charge on ALL when motoring for both banks and the Truecharge 2 with charge both banks on shore power.
My battery selector switch is set up 1 2 ALL OFF in that order so no real danger of switching through OFF to fry alt diodes when motoring.
Last I don't see any need to add more equipment like the Echo charge other than convenience in the use of the battery selector.

Ok this is happening tomorrow at 9 PST...so fire away if something looks really nutty. But re-read the article before commenting on external regulators.(:

Thanks guys.

Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on August 03, 2011, 06:08:31 PM
Tom : I still think that you need to read Nigel Calder's article in the July Sailing about why alternator and battery temps should be info that is fed to your voltage regulator so it can compensate.

I'm sure Mainsails article was correct for when it was written - 1999. 

Have fun with your installation tomorrow.  A thought
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on August 03, 2011, 06:54:45 PM
Tom,

My battery selector switch is set up 1 2 ALL OFF in that order so no real danger of switching through OFF to fry alt diodes when motoring.

As long as you wire your AO to your house bank, this issue is moot.  You can turn the darned switch off with the alternator running and not cause any harm.  That's one of the great advantages.

All you're doing is using the manual B on the switch to charge your reserve bank instead of an echo charger.  Good for you.  Just realize you don't have to do that all the time, since the reserve bank is almost always full.  You could run on just your house bank on the switch when motoring, since when you plug back in you'll soon recharge your reserve bank.

Your system, and the way you know how to operate it, is just fine.

Have at it and have fun.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on August 03, 2011, 10:44:07 PM
Stu,

Thanks for that clarification that there is one less concern, re: the fried diodes since the alt will connect direct to the house. Even better.

And Ron it is the August issue of Sail as I have it in front of me and had read it last week with interest...some good cautionary comments. But Calder does say regarding thermal runaway that, "But as we put ever larger battery banks, heavier loads and more powerful charging devices on our boats, then push charging systems to the limit with "smart" multi-step regulators, we bring ourselves ever closer to the edge."  Perhaps there is more danger with smart regs that are set for too high voltage for too long in the bulk stage (ie 14.8-15v). I believe the "dumb" internal reg is set for constant 14.4v. He talks about keeping batteries cool (not in engine rooms and not in different locations that create varying temps in different batteries).
Lastly he does say that v regulators for powerful charging devices  should include temp sensors at the batteries. He doesn't really define "powerful charging device".

But I agree Ron that its something to consider.
The question I have asked is "Could there be a problem if I motor for 11 hours straight as I did 2 weeks ago running the 105a alt wired to the house with an internal reg set for 14.4 The answer I got was no...and the article in my last post didn't suggest otherwise. So.....not 100% sure on that one but thanks again for mentioning it. Any thoughts?
Hawk
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on August 04, 2011, 10:39:52 AM
The question I have asked is "Could there be a problem if I motor for 11 hours straight as I did 2 weeks ago running the 105a alt wired to the house with an internal reg set for 14.4 The answer I got was no...and the article in my last post didn't suggest otherwise. So.....not 100% sure on that one but thanks again for mentioning it. Any thoughts?

Nope, you shouldn't.  The battery acceptance (there's that pesky little thing, again) will generally govern the amperage that you can put into your house bank.  I'd certainly only turn your 1-2-B switch to ONLY the house bank when you're motoring like this, since the reserve bank is almost full after you've started your engine.  In fact, with your system, I'd run off the house bank all the time anyway and only use shorepower to top off your reserve bank when you get back.  Think of it this way, with a 100 ah reserve bank, and 2 ah for each start, how many starts can you get from ONLY the reserve bank before you hit 50% of its capacity?

Maine Sail has made the point many times that automotive alternators do just that and are set for that voltage but don't fry car batteries.

Just check you battery water levels regularly.
Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on August 04, 2011, 06:55:03 PM
Hawk : A couple of things:

The Perko battery selector switch ( I assume that's the one you have) is a "Make before Break" type switch.  I was concerned 20+ years ago about "dirtying up the contacts of the switch" by changing the battery selection with the manual switch. Had a long talk with Perko tech dept and found out there is no problem in changing selections with the engine running because the switch makes contact with the new position before leaving (breaking) with the old position.

On your motoring for 11 hours - you'll be golden with an internal regulator set at 14.4 V.  Where that "automobile type internal regulator" will kill you is on short runs of only having the engine on for an hour or two.  You won't be able the even replace the amps used during that period by the fridge and forget about staying at anchor overnight - your battery bank won't last after a couple of days because they will never be recharged!! 
If you plan on going to a marina and plugging in everyother day - by all means get an internal regulator.  That's why power boats can live with an internal regulator - they have the engine running all the time!!

The whole idea of a smart regulator whether it be shore power or for the engine is to ramp up to a bulk charge and stay there (socking as many amps as the system will safely take) in the shortest period of time.  Then the smart regulator goes to a float charge.  The internal regulator stay just above a float charge All the Time.

A few thoughts - Your boat your choice!! 

Title: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ralph Masters on August 05, 2011, 07:50:22 AM
Ron,
Thank you for the information.  It's all very enlightening.
Ciao Bell still has the orignal battery charger, 55 alt and only two batteries.  I'm slowly piecing together the information I need to upgrade the system to allow us to do week end trips away from the grid.  Now I know why you need to increase the size of the alt and go to external reg.

Thanks,

Ralph
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on August 05, 2011, 10:21:52 AM
Disclaimer (for noworries)

I have split this topic, which used to be an extension of the "Electrical 101" topic.

I wrote to Tom and asked for and obtained his permission to split his contributions into a separate topic, since I intended the "Electrical 101" topic to be a reference source of links, rather than a specific discussion of one particular system for an individual boat.

Thanks, Tom.  As promised, I've added a link to this topic in the 101 thread, in Reply #1, renamed "Various System Designs."

Stu
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: waterdog on August 05, 2011, 08:06:35 PM
Tom, I think you need to stop spreading rumours, chill down some nice Okanagan Spring Pale Ales, and invite me and my volt meter over...
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on August 06, 2011, 11:50:16 AM
Steve,

Does it have an ampmeter and presume you will be decent now that you are back from Desolation Sound, or are you?.......if yes to both then you're on.

Ron

The install is completed and as I mentioned to Stu the only equipment glitch is the Truecharge 2 remote is not displaying any battery capacity lights for my bank 1 reserve althought the charger is pushing amps to the reserve. It's easy enough to remove it and see if I can get it replaced...otherwise not sure why nothing is lighting for bank 1 on the remote. I don't have a monitor on the reserve so the remote would be nice but its not critical. Anyone else had problems with the remote display?

 Ron you nailed the central issue for me which is I DO need to feel comfortable off shore power for up to a week. That is what led me to do this system upgrade. But I was concerned when the alt/electrical experts told me to ditch the external regulator and then looked further to find Mainesails excellent discussion on regulators posted above and here again for convenience:
http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showpost.php?p=775433&postcount=1

You suggest that the internal reg won't charge a depleted bank in 2 hours motoring and I'd need to plug in every other day...the battery bank won't even last a couple days...which expresses my concern. However that seems contrary to Mainesails comments where he says:

 "While the Ample power regulator might produce a higher field voltage is it necessary? No it is not, at least in the experiments I conducted with many different dumb regulators. I spent quite a few hours at a friends alternator shop where he has a $30,000.00 alternator testing machine. I loaded random alts into it and tested them for max alt rated output. EVERY single internal dumb regulator applied enough field voltage to achieve the max rated output of the alternator, EVERY ONE. You may be able to apply more field voltage, as Ample Power does, but you can't exceed the alternators rating. If the alternator can hit its maximum output rating with a dumb regulator then a smart one will NOT increase charging times in bulk phase. Simple stuff.

8- ABSORPTION - Absorption is the set point LIMIT of voltage of the regulator and any charging that continues beyond this voltage set point is voltage limited or "regulated" to this voltage/pressure set point.

9- FLOAT - Float voltage is a further reduced voltage LIMIT applied by a smart regulator. Dumb regulators do not do float. If you feel you need it, motor a LOT more than you actually sail, you'll also need a smart regulator.


All of the above is based on what I have seen, read or heard most people misconstrue. You may not have misconstrued any of it but it is good to get out there.

In Practice:

If you take two identical 100 amp alternators and two identically discharged battery banks and one smart and one dumb regulator both set to 14.4 absorption volts they should both charge at the same speed in bulk. No magic here just basic stuff.

Why? 14.4 volts is 14.4V is 14.4V is 14.4V. As I mentioned above the "smart" regulator is a constant voltage or voltage "limited" device just like a dumb one is. Some manufacturers give you time limits on "bulk" and give you a time limited option of 14.6V or 14.8V bulk charging before they time limit to 14.4 or 14.2, depending upon the settings YOU choose, but the truth is they do not charge faster if the voltages are set equal. They CAN charge faster if you set the absorption voltage higher, which you can do because you have a float feature after a high absorption voltage. You would not want a high absorption voltage setting, actually the only setting, on a "dumb" regulator. All they do in the most basic sense is turn on and off very fast to keep the voltage to its limit. When you dumb it down there is nothing fancy about voltage regulation/voltage limiting. Smart regulators do not charge faster, when set at the same voltage set point, and all other things being equal."


He also says typically we sailors do not need a float stage:

"For the amount of time you, a sailor, are charging off an alternator and the potential amount of hours spent at 13.2 - 13.6 float levels being so VERY, VERY limited. I personally find very little utility for sailboat alternators to have float voltage, for wet cell batteries, on the alternator unless your batts have high acceptance rates and you also have an alt that can deliver lots of amperage. "

So I appreciate your comments Ron as that issue concerns me greatly as the further up BC you go the less power is available. But if you are right I will need to change out the internal for a smart ext reg.
I measured 55 amps going to the house and 15 amps to the reserve yesterday with the alt/internal reg setup. I thought that looked good. Do you have any comments on Mainesail's article because you raise a really important issue. Thanks

Hawk

Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on August 06, 2011, 06:42:52 PM
Tom : Right now I'm faced with some computer router problems, so you'll have to bare with me.

I'm no too sure how "smart" you internal V regulator is.  My Balmar ARS V has to be told:
1. What type battery (gel/flooded/AGM)
2. Max amps to be charged based on the engine belt size.
3. Alternator case temp
4. battery temp

Do those sound familiar?  They are the same parameters asked by you AC Truecharge 20. 

You mentioned 55 amps, it almost sounds as though your battery bank was discharged, 55 amps for how long?

Glanced at Maine Sails article of 1999.  As I mentioned I'm not an electrician, only a good mechanic.  I've had my similar electrical set up since 1992? and am very happy with it. 

If your internal regulator is as smart as your Truecharge 20 then you should be OK. 

Let me get my router problem solved.   Ron
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: mainesail on August 07, 2011, 10:49:53 AM

Glanced at Maine Sails article of 1999.  As I mentioned I'm not an electrician, only a good mechanic.  I've had my similar electrical set up since 1992? and am very happy with it. 

If your internal regulator is as smart as your Truecharge 20 then you should be OK. 

Let me get my router problem solved.   Ron

Ron,

I think the article referenced was a lot later than that, and was written in December of 2010. It is here:


Musings Regarding External Regulation
http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showthread.php?t=125392 (http://forums.sbo.sailboatowners.com/showthread.php?t=125392)


My C-36 alternator article is older but does not delve as deeply into the topic of regulation..
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on August 08, 2011, 01:05:12 PM
First I must apologize to Maine Sail for stating the wrong date on his article.  It was in Dec 2010.

I found the article both interesting and very nformative.  I guess that I've always/only been exposed to the 13.5V internal regulators that are found on autos and boat engines from the 1990s.  Also the regular alternators of that time frame were not made to sustain hi amperage outputs for any extended period.  Guess that progress has passed me by!
I didn't know that there was an internal V regulator that could be installed that was in the 14.4 V range.

I've always used gel or AGM batteries and got 8 years out of my last set of AGMs.  Maybe I'll have to go back to flooded batteries - if there is another battery change left in my sailing career.

So Hawk, try what MaineSail professes, just make sure that your alternator can put out 55 amps for a period of more than several nanoseconds and sustain a hi amperage output.   

 
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: mainesail on August 08, 2011, 02:10:07 PM
First I must apologize to Maine Sail for stating the wrong date on his article.  It was in Dec 2010.

I found the article both interesting and very nformative.  I guess that I've always/only been exposed to the 13.5V internal regulators that are found on autos and boat engines from the 1990s.  Also the regular alternators of that time frame were not made to sustain hi amperage outputs for any extended period.  Guess that progress has passed me by!
I didn't know that there was an internal V regulator that could be installed that was in the 14.4 V range.

I've always used gel or AGM batteries and got 8 years out of my last set of AGMs.  Maybe I'll have to go back to flooded batteries - if there is another battery change left in my sailing career.

So Hawk, try what MaineSail professes, just make sure that your alternator can put out 55 amps for a period of more than several nanoseconds and sustain a hi amperage output.



   

 

Ron,

This regulator is a bolt on adjustable regulator direct from Leece-Neville. They are adjustable from 13.8V to 14.6V and can upgrade just about any of the Motorolla style alts commonly found on Universal diesels to a higher output voltage.. They generally ship from the factory at about 14.2 V..

This regulator does bulk and absorption but lacks float and temp sensing..
(http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/image/110668640.jpg)

Ron if you're tied to a dock regularly and have a shore side charger than 8 years out of AGM's is darn good performance. Try getting that life when off cruising full time and only ever getting back to 80-85% SOC or living on a mooring with no solar or wind.

This is the life expectancy direct from Lifeline's Justin Gobar.

"Put broadly, there are four ways that will yield different lifetimes based on daily 50% deep cycles:

       1. Fully charge after each discharge. Estimated life: 6-9 Years.
       2. Fully Recharge at least once a week and equalize once a month. Estimated life: 4-6 Years.
       3. Only recharge to 85% and equalize once a month. Estimated life: 2-4 years.
       4. Only charge to 85% and never equalize. Estimated life: 1 year."

Most boaters on moorings, & full time cruisers, which we have a lot of up here in Maine, fall into category #4 though I see average lifespans of 2-4 years if not on a dock.....

Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Mike and Joanne Stimmler on August 08, 2011, 03:57:47 PM
How bout this. I bought 2 combination deepcycle/start batteries from costco three years ago and have never had to add water to them. They are my only batteries and are used with the 1-2-B switch and are also connected to a charger 24/7

Is this strange or what?
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on August 09, 2011, 09:59:05 PM
Mainesails photo of the integral regulator is exactly what the alt co. put on my 105 amp alternator, getting rid of the external reg.

Two nights ago, after considering Ron's recent concerns, I checked my house bank which was at 12.4 v which Trojan says is about 70%. I turned on my chatplotter, depth and autopilot and motored around for 2 hours. I noted on the monitor that the house was at 14.2v which I assume indicated that the alt regulator was set at 14.2v which is what Mainesail said was the factory setting. After two hours the house bank (345ah) was right up to 12.8. I left everything off and unplugged for 2 days and tonight the house is comfortably sitting at 12.6/12.7v which is 95-100%.

Two things come to mind, the alt with Mainesail's int reg took my house bank from 70% to basically full in 2 hours motoring. Thats golden and no fancy ex reg.
Also my house bank is holding the charge well after the likely abuse I unintentionally inflicted on it over the last year with a defective external reg and defective Promariner charger.

Also I performed a battery qualification that has the charger assess the battery banks and suddenly my bank 1 light on the display was on so there does not appear to be any problem with the remote charger display.

One question if Mainesail is reading is how do you change the integral reg setting to something other than the factory 14.2?
And is there any reason to do so?

Thanks for all the help and I believe this is one heck of an upgrade from what I was limping around with.

Hawk
Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: mainesail on August 10, 2011, 04:50:25 AM
Mainesails photo of the integral regulator is exactly what the alt co. put on my 105 amp alternator, getting rid of the external reg.

Two nights ago, after considering Ron's recent concerns, I checked my house bank which was at 12.4 v which Trojan says is about 70%. I turned on my chatplotter, depth and autopilot and motored around for 2 hours. I noted on the monitor that the house was at 14.2v which I assume indicated that the alt regulator was set at 14.2v which is what Mainesail said was the factory setting. After two hours the house bank (345ah) was right up to 12.8. I left everything off and unplugged for 2 days and tonight the house is comfortably sitting at 12.6/12.7v which is 95-100%.

Two things come to mind, the alt with Mainesail's int reg took my house bank from 70% to basically full in 2 hours motoring. Thats golden and no fancy ex reg.
Also my house bank is holding the charge well after the likely abuse I unintentionally inflicted on it over the last year with a defective external reg and defective Promariner charger.

Also I performed a battery qualification that has the charger assess the battery banks and suddenly my bank 1 light on the display was on so there does not appear to be any problem with the remote charger display.

One question if Mainesail is reading is how do you change the integral reg setting to something other than the factory 14.2?
And is there any reason to do so?

Thanks for all the help and I believe this is one heck of an upgrade from what I was limping around with.

Hawk

Glad it's working out for you and glad your shop knew about that regulator. Here's how to test and set the voltage.

#1 Bring batteries to FULL CHARGE as in accepting less than 2% of their Ah rating but preferably below 1%.

#2 Turn off ALL loads. Nothing should be on when adjusting the regulator.

#3 Run engine at 2000 +/- RPM and measure the voltage at the B+ or alternator output post with a DVM preferably one that is accurate to the tenths.

#4 Adjust voltage using the white slotted screw pot in the bottom of the regulator. Give it a few minutes to react and test again. If voltage still not where you want it, adjust it again.

#5 You can also turn the screw all the way up to 14.6V then back it down a little at a time.

#6 I would advise a setting of 14.4V as this will keep you from gassing off too much but put more amperage into your bank in absorption stage than 14.2V will... 14.6V can work too, and be faster, but you'll want to check the electrolyte more often.

Remember the absorption setting is really only coming into play at charge levels above 80% SOC or so. Below that % of charge the alt should be in BULK and applying full field to the alternator. It is only after the battery voltage has risen enough that the alternator begins "limiting" the voltage to the absorption set point.

Title: Re: Hawk's Electrical System
Post by: Hawk on August 10, 2011, 10:45:46 PM
Mainesail,

Thanks so much for this.
Mind you the assumed 14.2v on the reg sure seemed to work the other day.

Now I'll switch threads and figure out if the Rocna I bought in Vancouver last summer is Chinese or Canadian!

Hawk