Two Thumbs Up

IDUNA’s alternator regulator is a Balmar ARS-5. After 1 year (19 operation hr), the unit stopped charging. I called Balmar and shipped the unit back last Thursday. They received the unit today, diagnosed the problem, fixed the unit and will ship it back tomorrow. Two Thumbs Up for supporting their product.

can you walk us thru what the amps produced are and what you are charging and how long it takes Rod. I have agms and feel I could ramp up the charge speed but have to be cautious I don’t fry them.

The faliure rate on the high output Balmar systems, and I have had experience, would lead me to suggest that you may wish to find some alternative solution.

The most obvious, and overlooked, solution is that you probably don’t need all that charge capacity anyway; just husband your equipment a little better, and the standard Yanmar unit will provide great service.

I attended the 3 day course at Mack Boring that I am sure many of you have attended,also. When the subject of high output alternators came up for discussion, Larry, the instructor at Mack Boring, suggested that the Yanmar engine is not designed for the estra load that a high output alternator places on the front end of the engine and cautioned against their usage.

Patrick
S/V Nereus

Yanmar offers an equation of sorts to calculate the allowable pto for loads on the front of the motor. It considers whether you will belt drive or coaxial drive with a pillow block(much more capacity this way). I’ve just finished my calculations, built the bracketing, and now have twin 100 amp alternators mounted. This falls well within the Yanmar specs. Remember also that these specs reflect what they are willing to back under warranty, surely a conservative estimate of capability. FWIW, I’ve had good experience with ARS regs and thinnk they are a good product. Just for curiosity, how big an alternator was your ARS controlling, Rod?

IDUNA has four 6V golf cart batteries (Trojan T105) that serve as the battery bank. Total rated capacity is 450 amp/hours. The alternator is French Sevyior rated at 35 amps. IDUNA’s electrical loads are low, hence this setup works just fine. Should the house bank go flat, we can hand crank the engine. KISS

steward:

You wrote: “Can you walk us thru what the amps produced are and what you are charging and how long it takes Rod? I have agms and feel I could ramp up the charge speed but have to be cautious I don’t fry them.”

Before I discuss our experience with charging ramps, let me list the systems we have used:

Custom built Flicka African Moon:

Engine: 6 hp Farymann diesel
Alternator: 100 amp Powerline
Regulator: Ample Power

Engine: 6 hp Farymann diesel
Alternator: 100 amp Powerline (rebuilt under warranty)
Regulator: Heart

BCC IDUNA:

Engine 10 hp Sabb diesel
Alternator: Sevyior Alternator

steward:

You wrote: “Can you walk us thru what the amps produced and what you are charging and how long it takes Rod? I have agms and feel I could ramp up the charge speed but have to be cautious I don’t fry them.”

Before I discuss our experience with charging ramps, let me list the systems we have used:

Custom built Flicka African Moon:

Engine: 6 hp Farymann diesel
Alternator: 100 amp Powerline (3-stage regulator)
Regulator: Ample Power (failed and the warranty replacement failed)
Batteries: Group 27 gel cell

Engine: 6 hp Farymann diesel
Alternator: 100 amp Powerline (rebuilt under warranty)
Regulator: Heart (3-stage regulator)
Batteries: Group 27 flooded cell

BCC IDUNA:

Engine 10 hp Sabb diesel
Alternator: 35 amp Sevyior (standard regulator)
Regulator: Sevylor - attached to alternator (failed after we purchased the boat)
Batteries - gel

Engine 10 hp Sabb diesel
alternator: 35 amp Sevyior (standard regulator)
Regulator: Balmar ARS-4 (failed) (3-phase regulator)
Batteries: Trojan T-105 flooded cell

Engine: 10 hp Sabb diesel
alternator: 35 amp sevyior
Regulator: Balmar ARS-5 (failed and fixed under warranty) (3-phase regulator)
Batteries: Trojan T-105 flooded cell

Our experience with all these “smart” regulators is as follows:

Charging ramps: We observe about 31-35 amps during the bulk phase regardless of the system listed. This phase is very short lived, perhaps 5 minutes. After the bulk phase, the acceptance phase continues for a long time. The charging amps slowly ramp down from 30 amps to about 4 amps before the regulator switches to the float phase.

When I installed the Balmar regulator, I thought the the bulk phase would last a long time because of the low amp rating of the alternator compared to the 450 amp-hour capacity of the battery bank. As reported this was not observed.

The boat was cruised for 6-7 years by the second owners - the McKays. The third owner cruised her for 1.5 years and sailed her extensively for another 5.5 years and the forth owner sailed her for two seasons in Maine. When we purchased the boat, the electrical system was simple - 9 circuits - depth sounder, GPS, tricolor and interior lights. The charging system was simple - 35 amp Sevyior alternator with external Sevyior standard regulator. This systems served the previous owners well.

My thoughts on smart charging systems, large alternators and high capacity battery banks are as follows:

  1. Smart regulators are a must for gel and AGM batteries but over rated and subject to failure,

  2. The current thinking that the amp rating of the alternator should be 25% of the capacity of the battery bank is more marketing driven than a necessity,

  3. Electrical demands of cruising boats are too high and the systems are too complex.

We have tried to keep IDUNA’s electrical system simple. We added a level of complexity when we installed the refrigeration system. The only reason we installed the frig is because good clear block ice is very difficult to find anymore. We have one place in Baltimore and two place in the solumons that we can purchase clear block ice. A 130 lb load would last about 1 week in the summer and about 1.5 weeks in the fall before we needed to started thinking about finding a source of ice. If clear block ice were readily available, I would not have installed a refrigeration system.

Rod

good solid stuff guys, got a few issues going here…

I have a High output alt largely as we have a fridge, its nice to have and we enjoy fresh food where possible.I do note a bit of rubber depositing on the engine from the fan belt. Output from the alt 105 amps but dumbed down for the agms to accept. Charge to batts mostly 40 amps when we allow about 50% level to time the recharge. we use from 85 to 50% as the working range to max out the bat life. Total capacity 400 amps or thereabouts. The charging amperage quickly drops and we get back into the 85% level in about 40 minutes which seems acceptable. I hate using the engine just for charging.

What does a 35 amp alt give out in real amps Rod, and how long does it take to charge your 450 amp bank.

I would love to see pics of a double alt set up whisper, and it was interesting to hear that the front end was not overloaded. I like the idea of built in redundancy. But you know for high output alts the belts have to be really quite tight! If they slip at all the output just plummets.

In my first (BCC) life I ran Yanmar 27hp with their standard Yanmar alternator. I was regularly coating the engine room with belt dust. Poorly adjusted belt with a bit of corrosion on the inside of the pulley seemed to be cause.

Here is a photo of Beta’s dual amp setup.

https://picasaweb.google.com/103725185501852189216/RoseRebuildPhotos#5614467941407700530

The alternators are twin small footprint 70 amp Denos. The pulleys are aluminum double grove for 1/2 inch A section belts. The second one mounts on a platform catilevered off the port forward engine mount. Due to interference issues the oil filter is remotely mounted (black under the hose bundle on port side engine room bulkhead).

Best
David

Interesting thread and very timely. We have been reviewing alternator sizing om Kikorangi, which has a 3GM30F (27HP). Electrical was all upgraded two winters ago with 3X100Ah house AGMs plus 1X100Ah cranking. Removed the 55A Hitachi alternator and installed a single-pulley 100A Powermax with 2-step regulator, following the usual wisdom that “more is better”. However, I have been in several situations since then when I have had only marginal engine power (HP) in reserve, which caused me to look into our set-up. I also had a belt give out last season, and when this happens of course, it does not happen at anchor or at a dock but when you need your engine. Also, belt dust even with caree given to adjustment. Anyway, this has been a nagging issue.

Two weeks ago I made two calls. First was to a top RI diesel outfit that does lots of Yanmar work. I asked what they thought of a single-pulley 100A alternator on a 3GM30. Immediate answer…“It will eat belts” and “you’ll lose a lot of power” and “you should have a double pulley system”. Best estimate was between two and four HP lost with the upgrade from 55A (I understand the basic math is one HP per 25 additional amps)but that percentage power loss varies with RPM etc.

Next call was to the main tech guy at Mack Boring in Mass. who does public triage. He was equally emphatic…100A alternator “pretty big” for a 3GM30, should have dual belt set-up, could contribute to overheating, awful lot of load, probably reducing available engine power by 10% or more, will go through belts.

We use ice, not electrical or mechanical for fridge, so our usage is low…mostly lights and instruments. Our priorities are #1 removal/reduction of any additional risk factors for mechanical failure (e.g. belt when engine is needed) and #2 full rated engine HP availability.

As a result, we are in the process of removing our nice, new 100A alternator and reverting to the original 55A charging system. Along the lines of what John Cole suggested, we will be that much more mindful of our usage but will rest easier.
FWIW,
Geoff Robinson

i kinda remember a “parameter” relationship between the alternator amperage and the engine horsepower. which is why i have an 80amp alternator matched to my new 30hp yanmar. anyone care to refresh my memory about why that is?

I just copied these equations from the internet:

Amps x Volts = Watts
Watts / 745.7 (one HP) = Electrical HP Produced by the Alternator
HP x 15% Efficiency Loss = HP Loss
HP + HP Loss = Total HP Used

Example:
57A x 14.9V = 849.3 Watts
849.3 Watts / 745.7 = 1.14 HP
1.14 HP x 15% = 0.17 HP
1.14 + 0.17 = 1.31 HP Total

Based on the above, a 105 amp alternator requires about 3 hp at full output.

Steward:

Our electrical loads are minimal, hence we have never depleted IDUNA’s battery bank to 50% capacity. When charging, we normally observed the following charging ramp:

~31 amps bulk phase for 5 or 10 minutes

25-15 amps acceptance phase for 30 minutes or more (the acceptance phase slowly tapers off to about 4 amps)

Float phase.

Until we installed the refrigerator, we did not bother about keeping detailed charging notes. We have not tested the frig on a 1 or 2 week test.

Last summer we did not use the boat as much as we should and this year may be the same.

Rod

Steward:

Our electrical loads are minimal, hence we have never depleted IDUNA’s battery bank to 50% capacity. When charging, we normally observed the following charging ramp:

~31 amps bulk phase for 5 or 10 minutes

25-15 amps acceptance phase for 30 minutes or more (the acceptance phase slowly tapers off to about 4 amps)

Float phase.

Until we installed the refrigerator, we did not bother about keeping detailed charging notes. We have not tested the frig on a 1 or 2 week test.

Last summer we did not use the boat as much as we should and this year may be the same.

In short, we have sailed since 1984, rebuilt one boat and completed outfitted another boat. We may be entering another phase of our lives that does not include a boat. We shall see what the future brings.

Rod

As we all know, this subject is very subjective(sorry) and depends a great deal on the intended use. We intend liveaboard, extended cruising including tropical climates. We have a 675 A/h battery bank plus start battery. We are not a complex boat at all but intend to run the motor only weekly for charging(plus operate a relatively high output 12V watermaker of my own modification). As far as power loss, it’s interesting to me that we tend to speak of power loss while at the same time talk about the excessive wear and tear on a motor running unloaded at or near idle. When we start our motor, our battery switch is on “Start”. If we need HP for a sudden move, we simply leave the switch on “Start” and the alternators are using minimal HP because the start battery is close to full charge. If we want to charge, we switch over to the “House” bank and the alternators start making their magic. Our charging is, like usual, at low RPM’s and keeping the alternator output around 25-30% of battery capacity assures the best chance of keeping charge times(fuel consumption, noise, heat, vibration) to a minimum(we also have 120w of solar aboard and a towgen). We will almost certainly get some belt dust but weighed against the cost and mounting considerations it will be acceptable. We use Gates ‘Green Stripe’ belts and have run 110 amp units in the past with very little dust. Alignment, belt tension, absolutely clean pulleys, and HEAT are the things to consider. Rod’s system takes an entirely different approach because it’s an entirely different use. Here are a couple of pics of our setup, still needs final cleanup and paint. Note the fuel tank in the background, I’ve had a 10 gallon extension welded on. As if I haven’t gotten carried away already, I’ll cover one final point. Most manufacturers recommend separate regulators for each alternator(in fact seperate alternators for house and start batteries). This is unacceptably wasteful on a cruising boat. After much research I’ve found that most double alternator setups include a high output unit added in addition to the stock unit. These alternators conflict with each other at low RPM’s because their ‘start’ RPM and their charging curves are very different. Mounting twin units eliminates this conflict and allows the use of a single regulator controlling both units.

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well we got the debate goin quite nicely. I am just back from the tropics and the fridge was hungry, it needed a few amps to keep the beer cold and the Technautics guys reckoned that their unit could function on 21 amps per day. I suspect we used a fair bit more than that in a well insulated fridge. Put on a few other items like lights, chart plotter, occasional use of inverter to charge phone computer and drills etc and it is not hard to eat some amps.

We run an ample power V3 smart regulator and one can dial it back to give more power as needed to the engine. This is nice we have 29 horses under the hood. Interestingly we were never short of power (mostly) except when we went surfing! It seems that its prudent to try and get the best configuration out of ones system, for me I suspect its the max amps out of the alt that the AGM’s will be able to handle. We use green gates and have had good luck with them, they do kick out a bit of dust but not unacceptable. I was surprised how tight they needed to be and what a difference it made when they were tight. They did need to be retigthened periodically and one belt stretched such that it wouldn’t be able to be tigthened anymore as the adjustment ran out.

If one was running radar, chartplotter and vhf etc when in fog the batteries would be depleted quite quickly, we have 300 house and 100 engine. Management of the system was fine with a link 2000 and it provided excellent info as to what device used what and that was quite illuminating! We did budget about 100 ah perday which almost means recharge everyday or two.