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Thread: External regulators?/starter trivia

  1. #1
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Question External regulators?/starter trivia

    **I am going to put in an unregulated alternator this winter, as I further upgrade the boat's electrical system. Have any of you had experience with the Balmar or competing units (the Alpha, for instance)?
    I plan to keep the original 50 amp Motorola {regulated} alternator as a backup. A local alternator shop in Portland routinely builds higher amp alternators for marine use, and they say they can make one for me for less than $200. I now have a 240 amp-hour house bank and need an alternator that can produce 50+ amps output during the bulk charge phase of the charging cycle, to minimize engine run time. (The Admiral has visions of refrigeration in our future...)
    ** Some starter trivia I learned this week -- I just took the starter in for a preventative maint. rebuild, and the technition told me that it is *lots* better to go thru 'em before they run out of brush and damage the comutator, a common problem when they finally fail. The brand is Nippon-Densu (sp?), and is evidently quite common on small diesels like my Universal M25XP. He said to expect the rebuild to run a tad over $100.
    I figured that with about 14 years and 1500 hours of use, it was time to cross something else off "Murphy's list" before next year's cruise north. (!)
    Thanks for your help,
    Loren in Portland, OR
    Olson 34 #8



  2. #2
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    I have used the Alpha for several years. It has been very reliable.

    The downside of the Alpha is that it is only semi-smart. The amount of time spent in the "bulk charge" mode is determined by the amount of time you manually set in the regulator. The problem is that this is always the same interval until you manually change it, regardless of the state of the batteries.

    I think that the Balmar stays in the "bulk charge" mode until the batteries reach a given level of charge regardless of how long or short this interval is.

  3. #3
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    Question How smart is enough?

    If the Alpha is reliable and semi-smart, one wonders if there is some proportional gain in reliability over the *smarter* units. The other choices seem to have more abilities ("smarts"), including sensing battery temperature. Or, one could wonder if they all use a variation of the same "chip" with about the same potential for failure?
    (I have seen several critiques of the Balmar units for being short-lived, and am wondering about the i.c. used in these devices)
    In contrast, the standard internal regulation may be rudimentary, but seems to have a very long life...
    Thanks again for your comments.
    Loren

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