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Old 06-17-2015, 09:16 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by SCOTTEDAVIS View Post
Read the link I posted, Mainsail has it to a shiny nut. That's what I did and it's spot on.
I agree, Scott. I have read that article before and found it greatly helpful. It's a great explanation...but there are MANY other adjustable settings that need to be considered. I'm away from the manual now, but can post some examples later.
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Old 06-25-2015, 04:52 AM   #22
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I read some of the article and agree with what was written.

My first consideration is what are the battery makers charge specifications ?
included in this spec is the temperature / charge voltage graph, I haven't seen this talked about.

So where I live last night it was minus 5 C / 21F and in the summer it can be 35 C / 80 F

so I don't know where you keep your battery, most standard Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) likes to be at 15 C /60 F and any variation from this ideally requires 'temperature compensated charge regime' to get the most life.

So ask your supplier your battery's spec and if they don't know buy your battery elsewhere, I consider it a biggie.

So with this and a battery temperature monitoring regulator you have the chance to have much closer monitoring and with the result that your battery will last alot longer.

So what does it mean to you the end user if you have a well set up battery temperature compensated charging system ?

1)you can charge as fast as your battery can handle rather than nearest safe guess that a non temperature compensated system can deliver in worst case situation.
2) You have a much higher chance of not creating such a dangerous environment when your battery is in a hot engine room say 50C / 120F
3) Your battery will last longer and if your alternator has the grunt to do it then you will charge faster with no resultant loss of battery life.

The following is a little of topic but may still be relevant / useful

regarding a backup secondary voltage regulator in case of failure.

Piece of cake as the MC214 is set up to take a ford plug so buy a ford regulator and mount it beside your MC214 pull the plug off the mc214 and plug it directly onto the ford. Talk to your local sparky if you wish and they'll confirm what regulator will suit. I'd suggest you turn power off to the regulator before switching.


Checking your Flooded Lead Acid (FLA)

one way to check if your system is overcharging in rough seas without a meter is to touch the negative battery terminal if it feels warmer than ambient temperature and or you can smell rotten bananas it's probably overcharging. Another way is to monitor your electrolyte consumption, it should use a little each month, if this stops or increases , I'd be wondering why.
Best Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) battery tester of the lot including hundreds of dollar battery monitors with computer support I've found is a $15 temperature compensated hydrometer and a notebook, test monthly during your steam home when you're wondering how you'll spend the catch keep a 1.5 soda bottle full of fresh water next to you during testing in case any acid gets on your pants. I use a torch and mirror for the difficult to see cells.

re alternators with built in regulators and temperature compensation

I suspect the temperature compensation talked about in the article is both to protect the alternator and the battery as these regulators most probably originated from an automotive application where often the battery lives under the same bonnet in the engine compartment so reducing the voltage when the alternator and probably the battery gets hotter is usually a good idea, often after a run in summer the under bonnet hot soak temperature will often exceed 100 C / 212F.


a word on alternator RPM

All alternators have an optimum RPM
Faster equals more cooling (so you can work it harder without letting the smoke out) and higher charging at lower engine revs ( say 2kts trawl speed).
Faster equals more HP required to drive it.
Too much faster equals more chance of the alternator rotor winding letting go.
most alternators run happy as between 6 and 9 000 rpm
some bosch load handler 1.5+kw alternators will run alot faster
again consult the alternator supplier, often alternators are now supplied with rpm / output curves.


Most automotive alternators retrofitted into the marine environment last if they are only run as hard as 2/3 max output so keep your 90 A leece Neville at 60 A and it'll last till you're an old fart.

If I can keep my hand on the central laminated portion of the alternator while running for 1.5 seconds or more I'mn happy.

The Balmar are rated at full output continuous.


How to tell if your alternator pulley is slipping ?

When you stop the engine put your hand on it and compare it to the rest of the alternator, a lot hotter , it's probably slipping
If you want to know when your steaming then buy a infared temperature gun from ebay $20~30 measure the pulley (paint your measuring spot a matt colour or a piece of masking tape for accuracy and repeatability (google emistiivity and infared temperature measuring if interested why)
also these temp guns are handy as a quick check of your freezer temperature or each exhaust runner to see all pots running nice.
Any tighter than enough to stop slipping is using up bearing life on all the belt run.


A word on FLA Depth of Discharge (DOD)

Despite the glossy brochure to get maximum life / number of cycles don't discharge your FLA more than 30% from fully charged
(70 % remaining) so yes 2/3 of your battery is useless



When is a battery considered it's time to replace ?
that's up to you,
often this is when it is 80% or less of new condition.



A cool engine room is a happy engine room
and may your fish hold runneth over


Kind regards Donald
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Old 05-01-2016, 10:50 AM   #23
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1. Say you want to start from factory defaults after messing with various settings....

---change the battery type to something else, like from flooded to agn, let it save, then switch back and let it save again.

2. Another good trick is to do your programming without the engine power on and the oil pressure buzzer running.....

---make a long jumper wire with two female spade connectors at one end, enough length to get to a positive voltage point, and an alligator clip on the other end. I used Red wire and the blue sized crimp connectors.

--- Turn the Ford plug upside down and plug in only to the very bottom male spade connector until the regulator. Now the black wire end of the ford plug is connected only.
---
Connect the two female spades on the wire you just made up to the two regulator connectors next to the black ground from the Ford plug. Connect the alligator clip to a positive voltage source. Take your time and program away!

3. Always let your changes get SAVed by letting it cycle through the settings a few times and waiting for the SAV.

4. Always measure the wire length from the battery positive to the regulator and the regulator negative to ground. Look up the right size wire, go a size larger. I had wire, breakers, and dash gauges all sized for 60 amp max. The 100 amp alternators kept getting fried. Every time the breaker tripped the field collapsed, like a coil on a car , and the voltage surge had to go somewhere like the diodes. Also fried a couple stators due to this. I had the balmars installed by a diesel mechanic but it took almost a year and two alternator rebuilds to figure out they didn't up size the gauges, breakers, and wire gauge.

Breaker should be 125% of alternator output so I needed a 125 amp breaker.

Dash gauge stopped at 60 amp, new gauge went to 100.

Disconnect the jumper wire, flip the Ford plug over, and go cruising! It sure was nice to see the dash gauge go to 90 amps !

Regards,
Tom
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:50 AM   #24
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Followup to my original post

Thanks everyone for the helpful tips in the responses above. I learned a lot! I also want to add a follow-up to my original post on some of the trickier parts of setting up a Balmar.

The article from the Sailboat Owners Forum “Musings Regarding External Regulation” implies that for many if not most boat owners you rarely go into float. While this is generally true, especially if we consider that a full absorption charge to 2% of battery capacity can take 6 or more hours which when combined with a bulk charge is more that most boat owners run their engine at a stretch, there is an important case for float and that’s when you pull away from the dock with fully charged batteries for a long run up from say Seattle to the San Juans in my case. The last thing you want is for your regulators to hold a high voltage on the fully charged batteries for the 5 hours it takes to get there. So at least for me it’s important to have the regulators correctly go into float for the case of leaving the dock with fully charged batteries for a long haul up the Sound.

Which leads to one of the tricky settings for the Balmar regulators. How do you target when the regulators should drop to float? The catch of course is that alternator load is not just the load of charging the batteries but also includes the load of running the boat. This would all be much easier if external regulators could read the same ammeter my battery management system does and determine the charging regimen by the battery CAR. Or if they had a switch for “going to float now” since I can see the CAR via the BMS. But they don’t. They can only sense (via the field strength) the output of the alternator which includes both charging the batteries and the power required to operate the boat. So after running my boat after leaving the dock with fully charged batteries (so that I know all of the load is running the boat) and the radar and lights on I got an estimate of my hotel load and set the FFL (the field strength below which the external regulators drop to float) to 40 amps: 15 amps for the 2% battery CAR at “fully charged” plus 25 amps which is the most I ever saw my boat use. Since my boat often uses a little less than this I will tend to undercharge the batteries but I’ll never charge the batteries at full charging voltage pulling out into the fog in the early morning hours from the dock.

The other somewhat less tricky setting is from going from bulk to absorption. Again the article points out the switch to absorption is simply when you reach your voltage limit and you start limiting your field to maintain the voltage. This is true, however, Balmar regulators allow you to set not only the voltage limit but also the field percentage or Fba at which you switch to absorption so that you have to hit both the voltage and the output for the switch from bulk to absorption. This matters because during the bulk charging phase Balmar regulators just pour out the amps while in the absorption phase they switch back and forth, don’t ask me why I’ve just seen it happen, between absorption voltage and float voltage and very gradually approach a full charge. In other words, if you set the regulators to switch to absorption when the target voltage is reached with full field (however it might be adjusted by derating and alternator temperature) they depending on how large your alternators are relative to your battery bank your batteries won’t be very charged when you switch to, at least in the case of Balmar external regulators, a much slower charging regimen since it will spend about half the time in the “absorption” phase actually in “float.” In my case I use the Fba to target about a 90% charge rate before the switch to absorption.

Hope this helps!
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Old 05-03-2016, 02:25 PM   #25
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Just noted this thread and it seems there is a lot of confusion around this. I can help to clarify much of it later when I have more time.
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:48 AM   #26
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Monitoring battery current...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ReedStr View Post
.....

Which leads to one of the tricky settings for the Balmar regulators. How do you target when the regulators should drop to float? The catch of course is that alternator load is not just the load of charging the batteries but also includes the load of running the boat. This would all be much easier if external regulators could read the same ammeter my battery management system does and determine the charging regimen by the battery CAR. Or if they had a switch for “going to float now” since I can see the CAR via the BMS. But they don’t.

....
ReedStr: I too have noted this issue with common regulators - they just have no way to tell what is happening back at the battery. Add not only the common loads you describe, but some boats also run heavy cyclical loads via an inverter: AC Refrigerators / freezers, washer/dryer units. It makes it very difficult for a voltage only regulator to understand. Looking at field drive strength can help some (only if used in conjunction with RPMs truth be told), but still that only gives an indication of what is being produced - not where it is consumed.

I do not post too often here, we are fill time cruisers and web forums are hard to gain access to from remote areas. But I did want to comment that not only do I think you are spot on, that I too had this same issue (and more seriously with the regulator going into Float too soon leaving the batteries consistently undercharged), and that I have created an open-sourced alternator regulator which does sense battery acceptance current as you described. With that am able to fully implement battery manufactures recommended charging profiles. It is currently being used in several deployments using not only LA batteries but increasingly LiFeP04 technologies.

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Old 07-30-2016, 11:39 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by ReedStr View Post
I though I would start a thread on how to set up Balmar MC-614 regulators. I've searched around and can find very little about it. To kick this off, here's how I set mine up:

I target the Charge Acceptance Rate with the Fba and FFL settings rather than time spent charging with the Blc and Alc settings because the Balmar Regulators always run through their bulk and absorption timers at least once and I don't want to over charge when I pull away from the dock with full batteries. If I set Alc to 4 hours then I will get 4 hours of absorption charging even when my battery banks are full. I know this is true. I checked with Balmar. So I leave Blc and Alc at their default settings of 3 (18 minutes).

I set Fba to 40% because in my system 40% field yields a switch to absorption at about 80 amps which given my battery bank size and my hotel load of 25 amps the 55 amp cutoff means the batteries are charged in bulk mode to about 90%.

I set FFL to 20% because that yields a switch to float at about 40 amps which with a 25 amp hotel load gets my 630 ah lifeline agm batteries pretty fully charged but still leaves me 15 amps of room to not over charge the batteries. The general idea is that I want to err on setting the FFL a little high and not fully charging the batteries since setting the FFL too low would cause the regulators to never switch to float.

I also derate the alternators to B2 although I have a alternator temp monitor so this should not be necessary.

One thing I noticed about the Balmar Regulators is that while they do a continuous Bulk charge they do a "bouncing" absorption charge. That is when they go into absorption charging they charge at the absorption voltage for a while and then fall down to float before reaching the FFL of 20%. Then they absorption charge some more and fall to float again. Eventually, when they reach 20% field while in absorption charge mode they fall into float mode and stay there. Consequently I target 90% charged in bulk mode since the "bouncing" in absorption reduces the rate of charge.

Thoughts? Different ways I should be setting up the MC-614? Am I wrong to target CAR and not time? Is there some way to set them up to achieve a really full charge but not over charge them when pulling away from the dock with already full batteries?
BRAVO! Thank you for starting this thread. I have arrived at the same conclusion you've reached. We have to adjust the "Fba" parameter to something less conservative otherwise the regulator gets fooled into thinking the battery bank is at a higher SOC than it is.

I really wish Balmar would help us with some guidance on how to refine that parameter to meet the needs of a specific bank capacity and usage.

I'll post my own results as I get there.
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:52 AM   #28
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"Breaker should be 125% of alternator output so I needed a 125 amp breaker."

As you have noticed a breaker in an alt output will usually require new diodes.

With all the electronics out there does no one make a breaker that can monitor the alt OUTPUT and then cut the FIELD current ?
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Old 06-01-2017, 04:17 PM   #29
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Just restarting this thread....

Reedstr, for the past 3 years I too thought Ffl was the current threshold for the absorb to float transition, but after talking to Balmar today, I learned that it isn't. Their documentation is really quite poor in explaining all this, with sloppy use of terminology, and contradicting statements. Here's what I learned

First ffl sets the field threshold for transitioning from Float to Abs. It does NOT play a role in the transition from Abs to Float. The problem I have been having is 24hrs into a 56hr cruise, the regulator kicks back into absorb every time someone uses the microwave. The load causes the alternator output to rise, exceeding the ffl threshold, and it goes back into abs mode. To solve this, ffl should actually be set to a high value, allowing heavy external loads on the alternator without going back into absorb.

Second, Balmar's notion of Bulk and Absorb do not correspond to the industry norms for those terms. It's probably better to think of it as one single phase that encompass both.

Their Bulk stage runs until all three of the following conditions are met:

1) the bulk voltage is attained. Using industry standard terms, this is when "bulk" ends, but it is NOT when Balmar bulk ends. The next two conditions must also be met.

2) the bulk time has elapsed. This sets a minimum time in bulk mode.

3) the field voltage had dropped below FbA. This is where Balmar has smushed together the industry definitions of bulk and absorb. By industry norms, dropping below a threshold acceptance current is when absorb ends. So when this happens on a balmar, your batteries are charged, assuming you have this value set correctly.

So when a Balmar comes out of Bulk, by all other industry definitions is is actually coming out if absorb since it has BOTH achieved. The target bulk/absorb voltage, and the battery acceptance current has dropped to a prescribed level.

Now Balmar's "absorb" stage begins, and is really just a top off before going to Float. The same three criteria above must be met, except it uses the absorb voltage (Av) rather than the bulk voltage. And the regulator will only let you set the absorb voltage to something less than the bulk voltage. So all absorb really does is continue bulk/absorb for a little longer at a slightly lower voltage. Critical to note, exiting Absorb and going to float is based on FbA, just like transitioning from Bulk to absorb.

It's no wonder people find these things hard to program, or not performing as expected.
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Old 06-01-2017, 11:46 PM   #30
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As a quick follow up, earlier today I increased the Ffl parameter from 40% to 80%. Given my new understanding of this parameter, this change was intended to prevent varying house loads from kicking the regulator from float back into absorb all the time. It worked. We did several loads of laundry which runs the alternator pretty hard, and the regulator stayed in float the whole time.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:07 AM   #31
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Over the years I spent many, many hours on the phone with the late Michael Frost, the engineer who designed the Balmar regulators. I was forced to do this because the folks at Balmar had a tough time answering the questions I often had. Michael was a great guy, passionate bout his designs, and he designed a very good feature packed voltage regulator that was, and by many respects still is, way ahead of its time compared to other commercially avaible voltage regulators.

If you want one that does transitions based on current or voltage, and you are an electrically minded open-source experimental type, contact Tomasonw who posted above, in this thread, or see his blog:

Arduino based Alternator Regulator

I have one of Al's regulators and unfortunately have not had enough time to begin testing and experimenting with it. Sorry Al I promise I will get to it..



A few quick points to consider...

#1 I cut open a lot of dead & murdered batteries. I have yet to see a quality AGM "dried out" by overcharging, even on trawlers that leave a dock with full batteries. What I do see however are piles and piles of chronically undercharged batteries. The undercharged batteries out number over-charged AGM's by about 99.9% to .1% in my market.

The last few percent of charging takes many hours. All the energy removed from a battery should ideally be returned, plus Coulombic efficiency losses, before transitioning to float, this is nearly impossible to time exactly with voltage only regulation. There are also numerous poorly designed shore based chargers that will pop back to a 2 hour or 4 hour "egg-timer" absorption when an on-board load kicks in. Still, I rarely see batteries die from over charging. Can it happen? Yes but it is almost always due to a non-regulation issue rather than regulated even if too high.

For example a Lifeline battery using "return amps at absorption voltage" (also often called tail-current) 100% SOC is considered 0.5% of Ah capacity at 14.4V (temp compensated). This means that until you see 0.5A on a 100Ah battery, at 14.4V, the battery is not "full"..

Manufacturers such as East Penn and Enersys/Odyssey want to see 0.3% of Ah capacity for 100% SOC using "return amps at absorption voltage".

In the marine industry we have been lulled into accepting 2% as "full" by Ah counting battery monitor makers. Unfortunately a tail current of 2% is not full and will not yield the full capacity of the battery but it is, for many cruisers, full enough so as not to waste fossil fuels pushing beyond that last 1.5% to 2% of tail current. Unfortunately regularly & repeatedly not returning this last 2% can lead to sulfation, more rapid capacity lost and PSOC walk down..

Even with lab grade equipment, in ideal conditions, meaning no premature floatulation, battery at 77F etc., when charging a slightly used Lifeline AGM (100Ah battery still delivering about 96% of capacity), it still takes about 5.5 hours at a .4C charge rate (40A for a 100Ah battery) from 50% SOC to 100% SOC. The last 4% takes the longest. If you dropped to float at 2% the time to full could easily be well in excess of 8-10+ hours depending upon where you set float voltage. Set it too low and it could take 14+ hours. As your batteries age and sulfate......

For example a 100Ah Lifeline charged from 50% SOC for 2 hours at .4C (40% of Ah capacity) can achieve approx 96% SOC in just two hours. This is tremendous! The remaining 4%, to get to 100% SOC, takes another 3.5 hours...! This is why batteries are rarely over charged because even a slight removal of capacity requires many hours to replenish.

#2 Adjusting the field transitions is, as some have discovered, tedious and time consuming and not always very accurate or reliable because your loads on the vessel are variable.

If you want to use field threshold transitions I would strongly urge a considerably higher float voltage than you use at the dock with an IC or shore charger. This will still allow your battery to remain slightly below gassing but still actually do some charging, if you're still dropping to float prematurely.

Unfortunately, with the highly litigious society we live in, most voltage regulated charge sources in the marine industry suffer from "premature floatulation". With premature floatulation the battery makers win & you lose cycle life. A float voltage somewhere in the 13.8V range to 14.2V range, for Lifeline's, is going to be a reasonable figure for an alternator regulators float setting. The lower the float voltage the longer charging will take.

I threw a used AGM battery in my wife's classic Mercedes a number of years ago. The Bosch alternator in this car pumps out 14.47V -14.49V steadily (Fluke 289 NIST Calibrated). That battery, despite being used when I threw it in there, now has over 70,000 miles on it...

Keep in mind that a marine alternators float voltage does not need to be the same as a continuous use shore chargers float setting, where it would floated indefinitely, because on an alternator it won't be floated indefinitely. Unless you are motoring across an ocean, non-stop, set your float high enough to "finish" charging the battery in a reasonable time, if you can't program your regulator to prevent premature floatulation...

#3 Balmar has a second temp sensor port on the MC-614. This can be *creatively used, with a dash switch and resistor, to simulate the batteries going over temp. I have only done this once when an owner insisted he was going to over charge his batteries. I did it, and it made him feel better. Flip the dash switch and the resistor on the battery temp sense circuit simulated an over-temp situation creating an artificial float type reduction in target voltage.

I have been bugging Balmar/CDI for a while to offer this as a piece of mind option. In my scribbled notes I think I may have used a 2.21K resistor but don't quote me on that one.. *If you don't have a good grasp of electrical work please don't try this on your own..

#4 You can also install a dash switch and interrupt the brown/ignition wire for the first 30 minutes or so from the dock (or depending upon planned motoring duration) then flip it back on and you're now well within your not exceeding your desired duration back to full from a high SOC.

#5 b1c and A1c are timers that run out the clock duration you set them for. Calculated bulk and calculated absorption can either extend these times or end after the clock for b1c or A1c run out. They work in relation to being able to maintain voltage set point for more than 2 seconds and if threshold has either been met or not.

#6 BV, AV & FV must be set 0.1V apart from one another. If you need to adjust down, such as for LFP batteries to 13.8V +/-, you need to work backwards meaning you drop FV first then AV then BV.

#7 The Balmar regulators essentially have two absorption stages. I understand why Michael called the constant voltage stage of b1C "bulk voltage" but it is not correct terminology for a constant voltage stage and he even admitted this to me. When he created these there was nothing else like it so it was named what it was. Sadly other manufactures have now followed this lead further muddying the waters. Sounds good for marketing purposes though...

Bulk charging is generally referred to as constant-current or CC. If we go by DIN definitions bulk is "I" as in IUoU charging..

I = Bulk-Constant Current-CC-Max Potential
Uo = Absorption-Constant Voltage-CV
U = Float-Constant Voltage-CV

When we apply this to alternators I tend to prefer to describe Bulk charging as a maximum potential. Unlike a charger the output of an alternator is governed by such parameters as RPM and temperature. In "bulk" an alternator regulator is producing the most it can (it's max potential) while increasing battery terminal voltage. In bulk, voltage is not held constant unless we improperly define "bulk". For an external regulator bulk just means it is driving the alt as hard as it can.

Having two absorption voltage stages or constant voltage stages; IUoUoU is actually a nice tool. For short duration run times you can set a higher short duration voltage, and pack more energy into the battery before turning off the motor or dropping down to a longer duration absorption voltage. I will sometimes program for 0.1V to 0.2V over battery makers suggested absorption voltage recommendation for 6-36 minutes +/- or so, depending upon application, battery type and how the alternator and vessel are used.

#8 Belt Manager or as it was previously called "Amp Manger" is a field reduction based on field potential. Field potential is essentially your battery voltage. Many folks assume a belt manager reduction of level 3 is an across the board 15% reduction of a 100A alternator making it an 85A alternator, but it's not. It is a 15% reduction in the maximum field output based on the available field voltage to the regulator.

Belt Manager is a great first line defense for keeping the alternator within a safe working temp range, on your boat, and not continually pushing the temp limit leading to an early demise of the alternator. Dialing this in, and setting up BM can be achieved by forcing the alt into bulk with an inverter and space heater while the running the vessel, with engine room closed, and a temp probe connected to alt, at cruise speed. Give it a good 40 minutes to 1 hour run at cruise speeds and monitor the alt temp remotely. If it pokes above the desired limit, dial it back another 5%. You then stop the boat and let the engine run at high idle, still under full load, and make sure temp does not creep up again (lower fan speeds at fast idle). If it does, dial BM back another 5%....

#9 If I recall correctly, in about 2012 Michael re-coded the regulator for improved alt temp sensing. For what it's worth there are more than 15,000 lines of code in an MC-614.. The new code allows the regulator to hone in on the maximum sweet spot the alt can work at for the environment. Every engine bay and demand is different and belt manager is really only first level protection. Alt temps sensing in conjunction with BM creates the ultimate insurance policy for long alternator life. I call this new coding Adaptive Alternator Temp Compensation or AATC. The Balmar marketing team has largely ignored this industry leading feature, but they should not.


When the optional alternator temp sensor is used the MC-614 will find the maximum output the alternator can safely run at, for the surrounding ambient temps, and the demand being placed on it. Other commercially available external regulators simply cut the alternators field by 50% or by 100%, when they are up on the temp limit. As such these regulators will ping-pong back and forth off the high temperature limit for as long as needed.



100% Output > Cut to 0% > Back to 100% > Cut to 0%, over & over


or


100% Output > Cut to 50% > Back to 100% > Cut to 50%, over and over


This antiquated method of temp sensing digs into an alternator performance and becomes very, very annoying. Heck Balmar's old 50% cut was annoying but the regs that drop to 0% are even worse. In contrast the MC-614's processor decreases the alternator filed in small increments (both down and up in 5% steps) until the optimum output is attained to maintain the temp at a safe level. As the alternator cools or accepted current drops off the output increases to maintain the highest output that is possible at all times. AATC means you're getting the fastest possible charging and the most out of your alternator as you can at all times. Most are completely unaware of this feature but it is a tremendous tool.

#10 The regulator B- wire or black wire in the Ford plug is the other half of the voltage sensing circuit. While the MC-614 gives you a dedicated non-current carrying positive volt sense lead it can only correct for half the drop... The Balmar manual is incorrect on the optimal location for the regulator B- wire. It needs to be connected to the battery bank negative terminal or your missing the negative side volt drop.

Alternators and Voltage Sensing

#11
The Balmar regulators feature an "advanced programming" menu. Please do yourself a favor and use it.... The factory lawyer safe settings are just that "lawyer safe". They are far too conservative to maintain healthy batteries, and get the most cycle life out of them, in a PSOC use application.

#12 If you have a large bank and buy a 100A alternator please don't expect it to run at 100A in bulk. If you want or desire 100A as your design output in bulk, you buy a 120A to 140A alternator. This is especially true with any small case alternator. There is no small case alternator out there I have not seen cooked by continuous demand. I've also seen large frame "school bus" type alternators fried by continuous duty demand so even they benefit from belt manager.. The growth of LiFePO4 batteries has really exposed the myth of the continuous duty alternator output. The only way I know of to push an alt to full output, for long duration's, more than 45 minutes to an hour, is to remove the rectifier and rectify the alternator remotely. Bottom line if you expect 100A buy 120A+ and limit it with belt manager.. If you expect 150A buy 175A+ and limit it with belt manager. This will yield a good long service life.
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Old 06-03-2017, 06:59 PM   #32
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CMS: a great post and worth rereading! The Mods should mark this one with a "sticky". Thanks for putting a lot of effort into this!

So how does solar charging factor into the equation? Sometimes the voltage doesn't get as high as might be desirable. Does this result in sulphation, or is it better to continue to take advantage of the solar charging regardless?

Jim
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:31 AM   #33
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CMS: a great post and worth rereading! The Mods should mark this one with a "sticky". Thanks for putting a lot of effort into this!

So how does solar charging factor into the equation? Sometimes the voltage doesn't get as high as might be desirable. Does this result in sulphation, or is it better to continue to take advantage of the solar charging regardless?

Jim
Solar is never going to hurt anything and can only help. What will help more is if you can pause loads long enough to allow your solar to charge the bank to 100% SOC, and do so more than once per week. Partial state of charge cycles for more than a week really cut into cycle life.

The more frequently you can get back to 100% SOC the better off you are. If you can't get to absorption voltage daily, and hold it there, you really only have a few choices;

#1 Buy batteries more often
#2 Reduce your loads/consumption and be more efficient
#3 Increase the size of the PV array
#4 Extend your morning engine run/dino fuels charging duration

If you ever want to get back to 100%, even if it is just every third day, your sun up PV energy output needs to exceed day time loads, plus used loads overnight by the amount you need to restore + charge inefficiency....
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Old 06-04-2017, 04:38 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMS View Post
Solar is never going to hurt anything and can only help. What will help more is if you can pause loads long enough to allow your solar to charge the bank to 100% SOC, and do so more than once per week. Partial state of charge cycles for more than a week really cut into cycle life.

The more frequently you can get back to 100% SOC the better off you are. If you can't get to absorption voltage daily, and hold it there, you really only have a few choices;

#1 Buy batteries more often
#2 Reduce your loads/consumption and be more efficient
#3 Increase the size of the PV array
#4 Extend your morning engine run/dino fuels charging duration

If you ever want to get back to 100%, even if it is just every third day, your sun up PV energy output needs to exceed day time loads, plus used loads overnight by the amount you need to restore + charge inefficiency....

CMS: Thanks for that. That is pretty much what I am doing already. We seldom go below 80% SOC overnight, and usually just to 90% SOC. On a sunny day we can get to 100% by late afternoon. But the voltage doesn't get much above 13.5 and often less than that.

Jim
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Old 06-05-2017, 10:35 AM   #35
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CMS: Thanks for that. That is pretty much what I am doing already. We seldom go below 80% SOC overnight, and usually just to 90% SOC. On a sunny day we can get to 100% by late afternoon. But the voltage doesn't get much above 13.5 and often less than that.

Jim
How are you determining 100% SOC??

If the voltage is never getting above a float level (or out of bulk) it is pretty difficult to attain 100% SOC...
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