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Old 04-17-2018, 10:00 PM   #1
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Balmar is junk

Just discovered that the Balmar 3 step regulator has failed on my trawler! This is the 3rd such regulator on my last three boats that has failed. It also is built so that it cannot be repaired. Balmar stuff is basically expensive junk.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:05 PM   #2
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Problem is the more reliable ones aren't as adjustable.

Maybe a more stock dumb VR just for a cheap Starter batt, use a Sterling DC-DC to coddle the House bank.
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Old 04-18-2018, 04:42 AM   #3
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Were your regulators installed within the engine room or somewhere cooler? I have had 2 x twin sets of balmar regs, Centerfielders & duo chargers not because the 1st set failed but because I chose to upgrade when newer versions became available. I think they are high quality items & far from "junk"...but epoxy-potted electronics don't like heat. I wouldn't bother with Balmar alternators though...I'm a big fan of Leece Neville for that role.
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Old 04-18-2018, 06:32 AM   #4
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Some Balmars (including my 100A unit) are basically Autolites (Ford) painted white. I use a Transpo (also Ford) regulator that is adjustable via a little pot on the unit. Regulator cost $35.00 and has been rock solid reliable.

I set volts to 13.8. A three step would be nice, but this is good enough. After a day of running when I go on the AC powered charger, the adsorption phase draws few amps, so batts are nearly topped up.

Seen a good number of Balmar regulators not functioning on boats I sea trial. Could be lightning, surges, maybe just a crappy unit, whatever. But that replacement cost is staggering.
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:22 AM   #5
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So far mine has been fine for 5 years. Knock on wood.
It's located in the engine room but it lives in New England where it's a little cooler.
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:43 AM   #6
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Geez Ski you are a myth buster. Re-badging is oh so common in the electronics business as basic components get reconfigured.and bundled together.
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Old 04-18-2018, 07:50 PM   #7
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I've always thought Balmar regulators seemed pricey. Bought a Sterling regulator to use with my Leece Neville. First one died within 4 months. They sent me a second one before for I sent the first one back. Second one has been rock solid. There units look to have a substantial heat sink with a cooling fan to withstand engine room temperatures.

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Old 04-18-2018, 09:42 PM   #8
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I had a Balmar on my last sailboat. At the time it was quite new, very pretty, with the board encased in resin, attached to a humungous finned heat sink. DId its job very well for the 5 or so years till I sold that boat.
When I went back into the market for my present boat, I ended up with Ample Power. Newer, but not nearly as pretty. Still going strong after 24 yrs.
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:53 PM   #9
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I had a Balmar on my last sailboat. At the time it was quite new, very pretty, with the board encased in resin, attached to a humungous finned heat sink. DId its job very well for the 5 or so years till I sold that boat.
When I went back into the market for my present boat, I ended up with Ample Power. Newer, but not nearly as pretty. Still going strong after 24 yrs.
YEP - I went ample power in my old ketch and it lasted 18 years and maybe more
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Old 04-18-2018, 09:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ski in NC View Post
Some Balmars (including my 100A unit) are basically Autolites (Ford) painted white. I use a Transpo (also Ford) regulator that is adjustable via a little pot on the unit. Regulator cost $35.00 and has been rock solid reliable.

I set volts to 13.8. A three step would be nice, but this is good enough. After a day of running when I go on the AC powered charger, the adsorption phase draws few amps, so batts are nearly topped up.

Seen a good number of Balmar regulators not functioning on boats I sea trial. Could be lightning, surges, maybe just a crappy unit, whatever. But that replacement cost is staggering.
YEP highly expensive jukaroo! and some units are just repainted Ford stuff marked up 500%
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Old 04-19-2018, 04:49 PM   #11
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YEP highly expensive jukaroo! and some units are just repainted Ford stuff marked up 500%
The Bslmar Smart Gauge is a rebadged Merlin from England at double the price. You can get one from England delivered in no more than four days.
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Old 04-19-2018, 05:10 PM   #12
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The Bslmar Smart Gauge is a rebadged Merlin from England at double the price. You can get one from England delivered in no more than four days.
We bought the Merlin Samrt Gauge when we were in Fort Pierce this past February and saved $100 plus USD. I don’t remember who suggested it here on the Forum, but thank you!!!

Can you say, “rebranding”?
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Old 04-19-2018, 06:15 PM   #13
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FWIW, I am currently using two Balmar Duochargers on my boat. One for the genset battery and the other for the Thruster bank. Each has been on the boat for maybe around 7 years. I've had no problems with them EXCEPT, the Balmar chargers and controllers don't seem to get along well with the Cummins electronics. So don't use one for a start battery on a newer Cummins.
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Old 04-19-2018, 06:38 PM   #14
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Were your regulators installed within the engine room or somewhere cooler? I have had 2 x twin sets of balmar regs, Centerfielders & duo chargers not because the 1st set failed but because I chose to upgrade when newer versions became available. I think they are high quality items & far from "junk"...but epoxy-potted electronics don't like heat. I wouldn't bother with Balmar alternators though...I'm a big fan of Leece Neville for that role.
I believe my large frame Ample Power is a Leece Neville.....

Your point on cooling is well taken. I installed by Balmar regulator in a Carlon box along with a number of other relays, and put a small pancake fan on top to blow air into and out of the box.
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Old 04-19-2018, 09:26 PM   #15
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My Balmar regulator is on the roof of the engine room above the engine. Cetainly the hottest place it could have been in the entire boat.
Installed by the PO, it must be 15 years old, with 5,500 hours on it.
Never a problem or hiccup.
But like everything, new versions may not be as reliable.
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Old 04-20-2018, 09:07 AM   #16
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Specifically about the VRs.

Yes the failure rate is higher than it should be.

But the MC-614 is the most adjustable out there.

If you need it you need it.
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Old 04-20-2018, 10:49 AM   #17
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I've used two Balmar 3-stage regulators with a Balmar Centerfielder for the last 12 years. No problems so far.
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Old 04-20-2018, 06:20 PM   #18
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Specifically about the VRs.

Yes the failure rate is higher than it should be.

.
Great example of how "fake news" is spread on the 'net. Not one jot of evidence offered for this damning statement which is at odds with the majority of the posts on this thread by actual users.

Just saying...
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Old 04-20-2018, 08:00 PM   #19
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Great example of how "fake news" is spread on the 'net. Not one jot of evidence offered for this damning statement which is at odds with the majority of the posts on this thread by actual users.

Just saying...
I have had 3 Balmar regulators fail. Is that evidence?
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Old 04-20-2018, 08:56 PM   #20
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I'm actually defending them against overly generalized negatives.

Maine Sail has posted dozens of detailed comments and instructions for how they should be mounted and calibrated for a given setup to protect against overheating.

That factor is likely responsible for the vast majority of failures.

The MC-614 specifically has many protective features, but of course you need to use them properly.

But there certainly is enough accumulated recorded hive-mind experience across the forums to lay some of the blame on Balmar's design and/or QA processes.

I still wholeheartedly recommend their VRs when good profile adjustability is required, or with small-frame alts needing de-rating protection from high-CAR banks.
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