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Old 12-30-2018, 11:08 AM   #41
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Maine Sail, RC, Rod, or CMS but not "Marinesail".....
Oops...I'll blame the autocorrect. I suppose there are worse names to be called.
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Old 12-30-2018, 12:40 PM   #42
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Yeh, I mentioned Marinesail because Flywright mentioned it...and I'm on my third reading of your really excellent alt/reg HowTo articles

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Maine Sail, RC, Rod, or CMS but not "Marinesail".....

There are two recent alternator related articles in the alternator and regulator section of the site. I hope they can help..

MarineHowTo - Alternator & Regulator Articles








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Old 12-30-2018, 01:24 PM   #43
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Just restarting this thread....

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.

It's no wonder people find these things hard to program, or not performing as expected.

Aha! That's something I missed, and it makes perfect sense, as I've experienced the very same sequence of operation while underway. I'll be changing mine! I, too find the Balmar documentation a bit lacking, and I'm sure it's in response to creating a manual that folks will use. I'm afraid too much detail will overwhelm the typical user. I agree fully that setting a default on these versatile but complicated devices isn't enough. It takes a good bit of tweaking to get it right, that involves some persistence and an understanding of what the regulator is tasked with. I expect that the majority of end users have little interest in tweaking, and are more than likely intimidated to the extent they'll avoid it for fear of breaking stuff.

Another feature that is minimally documented is the "Slope" (SLP) setting (advanced programming) for a regulator that monitors battery temps. Since most banks live in the hostile environment of the engine room, temperature monitoring of the bank will prevent damage from overcharging at higher temps. The down side is that the OEM setting probably doesn't match the temperature curve that the battery wants, and there's no explanation of how to determine the correct setting for the bank's published curve. Further complicating things, different manufacturers follow different temperature curves.

I experienced chronic undercharging while underway, and eventually related it to the SLP setting: it was set too high, and did not allow the float voltage to go high enough to fully charge. There is scant information about this setting; ultimately I had a conversation with Balmar support and received some guidance on the function as well as a recommendation for a new setting that more closely matches the temp profile of my batteries. It's not one size fits all, the profiles for different manufacturers' products vary enough to warrant tweaking the setting for the published profile.

I confess, my understanding of the setting is limited to obtaining the desired result. As explained, the setting is PWM related, the decimal is superfluous; a higher value sets a higher temperature difference per degree C. From where the difference is referenced, I am unaware. From my notes, the OEM setting is about 037, my setting for Full River L16-2V batteries was changed to 023. It made a significant difference in the charging behavior, eliminating the chronic undercharge. At the end of a day's run, I'm routinely seeing 100% SOC.

An important takeaway from this discussion is, as others have pointed out, that you should know the charging profile for the battery you're using, and strive to match that profile to gain the optimum benefit that the regulator is capable of providing. It's not enough to simply install and set a preset, unless that preset happens to meet the profile for your system, an unlikely coincidence!
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Old 12-30-2018, 04:41 PM   #44
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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.
TT, would you post your specific settings for your LFP bank? Some of this still baffles me.
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Old 02-21-2019, 07:41 PM   #45
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Balmar MC-614 Regulator Settings

...still baffled?? I am quite baffled as well.
Got a Centerfielder II and the required regulators a year ago. Still staring at them in the box. (Deer in the headlights.)
I have the old GM type alternators probably 80 amp max each on the twin Perkins.
Just replaced all batts last year. Two 12v 4D starts and four 275A 6v golf batts in series for the house. All lead acid. A 12v system.
PO had combo 4D LA starts and two 8D AGM house
All were dead, but one of the INTERSTATE 4Ds was still all good at 15 years!!
Needless to say, the fridge would not be running in the am on the hook. No genset onboard.
I like to do things myself, but iíve convinced myself that I could really screw this up. The low output alternators may be my saving grace if I donít get the programing just right.
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:24 PM   #46
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...still baffled?? I am quite baffled as well.
Got a Centerfielder II and the required regulators a year ago. Still staring at them in the box. (Deer in the headlights.)
I have the old GM type alternators probably 80 amp max each on the twin Perkins.
Just replaced all batts last year. Two 12v 4D starts and four 275A 6v golf batts in series for the house. All lead acid. A 12v system.
PO had combo 4D LA starts and two 8D AGM house
All were dead, but one of the INTERSTATE 4Ds was still all good at 15 years!!
Needless to say, the fridge would not be running in the am on the hook. No genset onboard.
I like to do things myself, but iíve convinced myself that I could really screw this up. The low output alternators may be my saving grace if I donít get the programing just right.
Check out some of the YouTube vids on programming. Yes, thereís a learning curve, but itís logical. Also, Balmar tech support is excellent.
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Old 02-21-2019, 10:05 PM   #47
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I had the jitters before installation of my Balmar alternator and regulator so I hired a local tech to work with me through the steps. He didn't have direct Balmar experience but he and I had each studied the manual beforehand. He had enough to help me make sense of it all and was willing to make all the connections for me.

I have many pages printed from CMS's page and others to work me through a total understanding of all the settings as an ER reference. (I can't read my tablet on my back in the ER!) But with the minor changes needed, the programming really wasn't that tough for the LA batts.

It was money and experience well worth it. My stbd alt charges my 660AH house and my stock port alt handles the single G31 start batt. You should easily be able to start both engines on a single 4D, but it would require some big cable mods. You could cheaply convert to 2 G31s next time around if you wanted.
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Old 02-22-2019, 09:06 AM   #48
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Thanks guys,

I will get out the manual, and see what I can discern, then most likely call in for some help. I may do the separation of one to one -starts and house on different alternators. We do troll on a single engine quite a bit, but I do not think that would be of huge impact, and we do alternate the troll side to side.

The hitch is that when on the hook, the house will drain, and I may need both alts to recharge for the next night....

I did consider the 31s Al, but decided for a little extra kick, and the price wasn't bad. The start batts are each dedicated to one engine. Knot Salted has a momentary 'combiner switch' to join the two start batts so in-case one dies, I can still start both engines.

I went with Crown brand made nearby. Not well known, but seem to be of good build. The rep even installed them and took cores away at no charge!!

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Old 02-22-2019, 10:12 AM   #49
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Thanks guys,

I will get out the manual, and see what I can discern, then most likely call in for some help. I may do the separation of one to one -starts and house on different alternators. We do troll on a single engine quite a bit, but I do not think that would be of huge impact, and we do alternate the troll side to side.

The hitch is that when on the hook, the house will drain, and I may need both alts to recharge for the next night....

I did consider the 31s Al, but decided for a little extra kick, and the price wasn't bad. The start batts are each dedicated to one engine. Knot Salted has a momentary 'combiner switch' to join the two start batts so in-case one dies, I can still start both engines.

I went with Crown brand made nearby. Not well known, but seem to be of good build. The rep even installed them and took cores away at no charge!!

If your alts arenít adequate, you can upgrade them pretty cheaply. I bought two Delcos rated at 100 amps each from Hucherson in Tampa. Think I paid about $100 each for them. Theyíre very easy to work with and can customize the alternator to fit your engine.

I also installed one of these to charge the start bank.

https://shop.pkys.com/Balmar-DDC-122...SABEgIvOfD_BwE

It only does so after the house bank reaches a set voltage, so the majority of the time both alternators are available to charge the house bank. Our house bank is 1248 a/h and we are always fully charged after a dayís run.
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Old 02-22-2019, 12:02 PM   #50
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Ok this just a thought since I'm redoing our bank and have ordered the Balmar SG200, we already have the a balmar alternator and MC-614.. It seems it would not be too much of a leap to tie the regulator and the battery monitor together. You would then have the feedback necessary to dynamically control the alternator....
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Old 02-25-2019, 11:10 AM   #51
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Thanks guys,

I will get out the manual, and see what I can discern, then most likely call in for some help.

No need to call anyone, there is a full programming tutorial, including videos, at the link below. It also clarifies some of the things that are often misunderstood in the Balmar manuals.

Programming a Balmar External Voltage Regulator (LINK)





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Old 02-25-2019, 11:41 AM   #52
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Thank you.
I will study up!

Trying to upload a pic to learn more about my existing setup....
What is the purpose of the resistor? In upper left with the single tiny wire from the alternator and two larger green wires on the other end?? Seems to be ceramic body.
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:46 PM   #53
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If your alts arenít adequate, you can upgrade them pretty cheaply. I bought two Delcos rated at 100 amps each from Hucherson in Tampa. Think I paid about $100 each for them. Theyíre very easy to work with and can customize the alternator to fit your engine.

I also installed one of these to charge the start bank.

https://shop.pkys.com/Balmar-DDC-122...SABEgIvOfD_BwE

It only does so after the house bank reaches a set voltage, so the majority of the time both alternators are available to charge the house bank. Our house bank is 1248 a/h and we are always fully charged after a dayís run.
Yes, My alternators are rated at 72 amps. Not a lot, but having both online at the same time with the Balmar controller should help. I will be looking into stronger units. Noticed some black dust, and have not changed belts recently. Looking at the power twist and accu link urethane belts. Has anyone tried them?
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:36 PM   #54
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I am trying to figure out if I can even use my existing alternators with the Balmar 614s. They are Delco 10si models, 72 amps. The internal regulators need to be removed/bypassed - and Balmar customer service is not sure what I should do, and I called a reman company to see about getting a harness made, and they said they would not know how - that nobody wires up external VRs, Just the opposite...
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Old 03-05-2019, 03:58 PM   #55
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Dunno about your Delcos but most good alternator shops should know how to set up an external regulator, I would think.

I have a Balmar 621 alternator on my stbd engine that actually has an internal reg and is set up for external regulation. I was just reading today about the brown wire that is the internal/external regulator excite wire. I plan to install a switch as shown on page 9 here as a backup for external reg failure. If the ext reg fails, I can throw a switch at the helm to utilize the internal reg. (What can I say...I'm a big fan of redundancy.)

http://www.balmar.net/wp-content/upl...1/sup-0207.pdf

Perhaps something similar could be set up on your Delco???
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:34 PM   #56
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The problem with converting OEM alternators to external regulation is that if the regulator isn't programmed to go easy on the field strength, or the alternator isn't fitted with temperature control, it can quickly overheat and fry it. Quickly being a matter of minutes. Maybe more than a couple, but it doesn't take long at full field. They just aren't built for that kind of service. Temperature monitoring will prevent that, worth the extra $$ and effort to implement.



I'm not sure I'd trust a shop that says that external regulation isn't possible. It's not rocket science.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:34 PM   #57
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Thanks Al and Maern

I will plan on temp sensing.
The switch to reactivate the stock reg is interesting!

Ultimately i should opt for higher power better cooled alts.
Not this year unless I must.

Curious as to how to run a field wire without going through the old regulator, but clearly I understand precious little about all this.
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Old 03-06-2019, 05:47 AM   #58
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I am trying to figure out if I can even use my existing alternators with the Balmar 614s. They are Delco 10si models, 72 amps.
The 10SI can be converted however the way most shops do it is to tap into the brush and pull a wire out through any old hole in the case. We have seen numerous instances of these shorting to the case. If a shop can't figure out how to convert an alternator to external regulation they really are not qualified to set your alternator up to the duty you desire.

The other issue with a stock 10SI or 12SI is that the factory stators and rotors are using a low grade magnet wire with a relatively low temp tolerance insulation. Under high heat conditions it can literally melt the insulation. They also use light auto duty rectifiers that also can't really handle the heat. We build a line of 10SI frame alternators, for external regulation, but we are custom making the regulator plates, so the build is done in a professional manner. Even though we can have stators and rotors wound to produce more current, we will only build these frames to 90A, as above that point they don't tend to cool well enough.
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Old 03-06-2019, 06:42 AM   #59
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Makes very good sense of this. Thank you CMS
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Old 03-13-2019, 03:09 PM   #60
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Still searching for reasonable and readily available alternators to replace my two 10si models to go with Balmar set-up - Not going for the Balmar alts.
Found a local shop with good reputation, in business a long time.
They suggest a stock Denso model that should fit my mounts and gave me a core to try. Will update on that fitment. not sure of amperage, but they think around 100 max. Idle not so much.... my 10si (two) each put out 72 amps max - idle rate unknown.

online, Mechman tech said that if they modify their S model 170 amp for external regulator, there will be no warranty. so I think they are out of favor.


With regard to Battery temp sensors feeding Balmar regulators, are they all the same? I presume a bi-metal strip feeding two wires. Is Balmar worth the $47 vs $20? I will need three, I think ---Port Start, Stbd Start, and House bank- so not a huge deal either way. I am curious though.
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