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Old 06-24-2013, 03:53 PM   #1
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Balmar alt and smart regulator questions

OK, I installed a Balmar 80 amp alternator and a ARS-5 smart regulator. Been running it one week.
I have it "de-rated" by using the belt load mgr at number 8 which is 40% derated. It puts out 30 amps (+ or -) at my cruising speed which is more than enough to keep my batts charged to full.
I called the BAlmar tech line and went thru the readouts on the regulator and he said they were good.
However I get readouts saying my batts are at 20 volts during running, and when that happens my Link Lite says I have 15.6 to 16 v on both banks. It also says I am charging approx 30 amps.
Alt temp is within specs, no batt temp probbe, but so far I am not boiling water out.
When I shut down I see 13.7 or so on my Link Lite gage, then after a while it gets to 12.8 and seems to stay there a while.

Do the readings sound OK with what other folks get?
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:46 PM   #2
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Is the Balmar regulator telling you that your batteries are at 20V or is it your Link Lite.

Try measuring with a decently calibrated VOM and compare.

Something is screwy here. It is not ok with what I get with a Balmar alternator and regulator.

David
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:36 PM   #3
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The Balmar regulator readout is saying 20 V and my Link Lite says 16 v.
My volt meter always agrees with the Link Lite within a couple of tenths.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:47 PM   #4
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No expert here but you don't need 16v. and you don't want 20v ever. So double check with a known good voltmeter b/4 you cook your batteries. How about your sense wire, if it reads low voltage (bad connection, whatever) the regulator puts out more voltage.
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Old 06-25-2013, 12:07 AM   #5
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At first read I'd say there is a problem with the regulator. Since this is new get ahold of Balmar and tell them immediately that there may be a problem and what is going on.

Also do as suggested and use a DMM at the batteries and measure the voltage that the batteries see. Note at the same time what the readouts say also .

I've been surprised at the accuracy of some quite cheap DMMs. You don't have to spend a lot to get an accurate unit although it may not stand much abuse or mishandling compared to the more expensive ones. I've got several meters ranging from ~$20 up to $500.00 and when compared the $20 unit is only different by a bit, maybe 0.1V. It just can't do a lot of what the expensive meter can, but for low voltage like needed here it works as well.

If the sense wire, as pointed out, is not quite right it may mean the regulator thinks it has to jack up the voltage to make up for a perceived voltage loss such as through a splitter. However what you are seeing is too much.

The fact that the two readouts are ~4 volts apart says something is not right. Two different meters will likely read a bit different but not 4 volts. I would expect a max. of ~0.1 to 0.2 V different.

Have you got the voltage sense wire for the two readouts attached at the same place?
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Old 06-25-2013, 05:55 AM   #6
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Is the V reg hooked to the house batts and the alt output hooked to the start batts?

With a transistorized battery combiner lots of strange things happen.

Can you rotary select ALL and mechanically combine the sets , and measure the results?
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Old 06-25-2013, 06:35 AM   #7
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All my batteries are combined, no combiner gizmo.
My digital multimeter seems to read fine, it agrees with the Link Lite readout and otherwise appears to be reading correctly.
It is only the regulator readout that says 19 or 20 V at times. The "calculated" voltage by the readout is around 13.7 which seems fine and that's where the batteries are after I shut down.
I will check the sensing wire connection which I believe is the blue wire in the harness. by the way the readout always says 0 % of field output to the alternator which the Balmar tech said was fine.
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Old 06-25-2013, 02:40 PM   #8
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Agree with C lectric at post #5...report a possible problem to Balmar immediately. I am a big fan of their gear and have a lot of it on board...their tech support is industry-leading & their products are first-rate, but faulty products can and do occur. No way you should be seeing 16,19, 20v or anything like. You need to put a volt meter onto the batteries at the same time the Balmar reg is showing 20v and if you see anything higher than about 15v, something is wrong. A local marine electrican can check that sense wires are connected ok and if he doesn't spot anything, you need to arrange return of the new reg to the supplier or to Balmar direct. Don't let this drag...really easy to ruin your batteries if those voltages are in fact what the batteries are getting
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Old 06-25-2013, 04:07 PM   #9
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Was underway today and talked to a Balmar tech 3 times.
When I did the measurement he asked me to do, blue wire to ground on the regulator, he did not believe me when I told him I had 18.8 volts. He had never heard of that before. It was not even on the scale.
He said the regulator was completely shorted out and advised I unplug it.
So after we did the paperwork for him to send me a new regulator to the marina I"d be at, I hung up then unplugged the regulator.
I still was getting 30 amps and 16 volts on the Lite monitor.
After some time on the phone with Ralph Yost, I called Balmar back and told the same tech what I was getting.
He said he had never heard of that situation and was completely dumbfounded. He wanted to cancel the regulator saying it was an alternator problem, but again with Ralph's encouragement I still have the regulator comming tomorrow afternoon to try to rule out the regulator or the alternator...or the installation.

So stay tuned.

Also maybe related....would those high voltages cause my electric engine temperature gages to read a little high? I cleaned out the heat exchanger this morning, and checked some other stuff because I am getting 190-195 F on my gages and they were reading 180 like they should when I started my trip....and when the volatges were "normal".

They seemed to have crept up following the high voltage problem.

Thoughts?
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Old 06-26-2013, 01:24 AM   #10
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I just installed a Balmar 100 amp with external charge controller and saw 16v when I was running the sense wire to the house bank and the alternator was connected to the start bank with a Blue Sea ACR isolating and combining banks. This sensing configuration confused the charge controller when the ACR had not combined banks at times. It saw a partially charged house bank and kept throwing voltage at it but the ACR had not combined banks yet so all the voltage was going to the start battery. The charge controller didn't see any voltage rise on the sense wire from the house bank so kept ratcheting up the output voltage. The solution was to move the sense wire to the start bank. So my question would be are the battery banks always combined and are they truly in a parallel relationship? The charge controller seems to be sensing a discharged battery bank but is unable to raise the voltage on that bank so increases the output.

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Old 06-26-2013, 06:05 AM   #11
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Yes different voltage from "normal" will make some gauges read higher or lower depending on their internals.

Usually the difference between a charging batt and a fully charged batt is not noticible as the dial E gauges are not very accurate anyway.
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Old 06-26-2013, 10:12 AM   #12
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>>>sense wire to the house bank and the alternator was connected to the start bank <<<

Why would you do that? The sense wire needs to go to load that the alternator is connected to. Our setup has always been to connect the alternator to the house bank because that usually needs charging more than the start battery. The ACR or Echocharge will then take care of charging the start battery.

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Old 06-26-2013, 11:57 AM   #13
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Well I believe the problem has been resolved thanks to the instructions Ralph got with his Balmar regulator which are different than the ones I got.
His had a good explanation of how to wire the oil pressure switch, which I had done incorrectly.
I was basically putting full battery voltage to the field terminal on the alternator.
All the tests run per the book now, so we'll see what happens tomorrow when I get underway. I'm hoping that running at normal voltage will make the temp gages read correctly thus solving my "running hot" concerns.

Thanks for all the help here
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Old 06-27-2013, 12:51 AM   #14
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Bob,

That was Balmar's suggestion and the mechanics, but didn't work in my situation.

Tom
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Old 06-30-2013, 06:55 PM   #15
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Update..back to charging properly again thanks to my Leece Neville alternator. Now I can cruise in peace.
Balmar alt is fried, will only put out 13.2 V max now. Will try to get a replacement, we'll see how that goes tomorrow, but if I do it won't go on until my cruise is completed.
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:43 AM   #16
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Jay you might call and see if DD or Kenworth have the truck 150A units .

I believe they are Leece Neville and real quality that will do their rated output HOT.
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