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Old 10-20-2016, 11:47 AM   #1
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Alternator Not Charging

I have a 180 amp alternator and a Balmar NC-614 regulator charging my inverter battery bank. I recently installed a Balmar Smartguage, and now I have a better picture of how the alternator is performing.

In short, it's not. It begins charging when I start the engine, but then tapers off much too early. This morning, the batteries were at 49% when we woke up. We got underway at 0645, and the alternator charged the batteries up to 73% but then essentially stopped charging. I had to start the generator to get them up to 85%.

I recently changed the program on the regulator. It was set to a default program, and I changed it to lead acid batteries, which is what I have. I didn't make any other changes to the programming.

Anyone have any idea what is going on?

Thanks, Mike
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Old 10-20-2016, 12:28 PM   #2
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What is the final or float voltage on output terminals of alt? Do you have a diode based isolator in the system?
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Old 10-20-2016, 01:29 PM   #3
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I wouldn't rely on your new meter yet. Check your state of charge manually either with a hydrometer or digital volt meter in a rested condition.
Using a hydrometer might help you find a bad cell too.
Also, depending on the size of the bank vs: alt size, your regulator could be cutting out b/c of temperature.
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Old 10-20-2016, 01:35 PM   #4
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Mike, could your setting be such that your regulator goes to float after "X" number of hours? If you turn the engine off, then back on, does it return to it's normal bulk/absorption charging profile?

I think mine is set to go to float after 4 hrs. I believe I changed that from the default of 2....could be wrong, but that's my best recollection.
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Old 10-20-2016, 04:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski in NC View Post
What is the final or float voltage on output terminals of alt? Do you have a diode based isolator in the system?

Ski,

I'll have to check the voltage tomorrow. When I noticed that the alternator was no longer charging, the Smartguage was showing a battery voltage of 12.9.

I'm afraid I don't know the answer to your second question.

Mike
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Old 10-20-2016, 04:36 PM   #6
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Mike, could your setting be such that your regulator goes to float after "X" number of hours? If you turn the engine off, then back on, does it return to it's normal bulk/absorption charging profile?

I think mine is set to go to float after 4 hrs. I believe I changed that from the default of 2....could be wrong, but that's my best recollection.

FlyWright,

First, I have an ARS-5 regulator not the NC-614. It does have an initial preset time for each stage, but then it goes into a calculated stage that is supposed to stay in bulk/absorb/float until the voltage parameters are met. They are 14.6 for bulk, 13.9 for absorb and 13.4 for float.

I'll try to take readings off of the regulator tomorrow and see if it is getting to these values.

Mike
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Old 10-20-2016, 04:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I wouldn't rely on your new meter yet. Check your state of charge manually either with a hydrometer or digital volt meter in a rested condition.
Using a hydrometer might help you find a bad cell too.
Also, depending on the size of the bank vs: alt size, your regulator could be cutting out b/c of temperature.

Brooks i.e.,

I have both alternator and battery sensors. I check the alternator temp when I do my engine room checks. It is never more than about 125 degrees.

Mike
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:50 PM   #8
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Mike, Did you ever find the issue with your charging?
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Old 02-15-2017, 02:51 PM   #9
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Mike, Did you ever find the issue with your charging?


Not entirely. The Balmar tech walked me thru some adjustments. They helped but didn't solve the problem. However, as you suggested, it resets when I turn the boat off. So I think it will be OK when I get it adjusted properly.
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Old 02-15-2017, 03:26 PM   #10
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Mike, I know you have the ARS-5 not the MC-614, but there may be some similarities in some of the settings. Don't know if you've seen this yet, but here's a thread that's been helpful to me in understanding all the features.

Balmar MC-614 Regulator Settings
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Old 02-15-2017, 05:10 PM   #11
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In diagnosing this problem, I would start by totally ignoring what the Smartgauge tells you. It infers amphours used and state of charge and does not measure them directly.

Use resting voltage values, specific gravity readings, etc. to determine the state of charge of your batteries not the Smartgauge. It may simply be that the Smartgauge needs more time to learn its inference parameters.

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Old 02-16-2017, 06:56 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by FlyWright View Post
Mike, I know you have the ARS-5 not the MC-614, but there may be some similarities in some of the settings. Don't know if you've seen this yet, but here's a thread that's been helpful to me in understanding all the features.

Balmar MC-614 Regulator Settings


Thanks for sharing. I think this will help me to get it dialed in.
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:22 AM   #13
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I saw a bunch of bad Balmar regulators, enough to make me change my mind about getting one. It might be necessary to check the reg itself to see if it's still actually working.

I was under the impression that the price of Balmar stuff would accurately reflect its quality but so far this doesn't seem to be the case. This should be thoroughly understood by now and if a Balmar tech can't get you joy...?

Maybe they're just going through a bad patch? I see this as fundamental to successful boating and I wonder why they would drop the ball like this?
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Old 06-01-2017, 10:42 AM   #14
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So I am still messing around with my regulator. Bumped the bulk and absorb voltages each up .1 and it made a big difference. I'm still not getting to 100% SOC though. So I am thinking about bumping one of them up an additional .1. My question is which one...bulk or absorb or does it matter?
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:23 PM   #15
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I'm messing around with some similar problems with an MC-624 (24v version of your regulator).

It sounds like it is switching out of bulk/absorb too soon. One of the key controls is the alternator output level before the switch is allowed. Depending on your batteries, the acceptance current will drop to around 2-5% of the battery's capacity when they are done charging. As an example, let's say that's 20A.

Then you need to figure what your operating house load is on the alternator to power everything while underway. Let's say that's 15A.

So when your alternator output drops below 35A (20A acceptance charge, and 15A house load), the batteries are charged. This gets programmed into the MC regulator as a percentage of the alternator's full output current. So if it's a 100A alternator, that's 35% that needs to get programmed into the FbA parameter. The default is either 65% or 77% depending on what part of the Balmar manual you read. It is self contradicting. If you leave it at the default, it will switch to float at 65A or 77A, which is too soon.
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