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Old 29-01-2013, 15:10   #1
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Northern Lights Complaint

After 6 weeks of going around in circles trying to get a replacement regulator of my alternator, I finally get this email the parts dept at Northern Lights;

"Lorenzo:
We cannot sell you the parts as we only sell thru our dealer network. The part in question would cost you $499.00 and you could order a brand new take-off alternator part number 185046320-8 for $285.00."

We're talking about an alternator just like any alternator you can buy anywhere for $100 and a replacement regulator the sells for $25. I already replaced my old alternator with a Hitachi I got from a friend, but I would like to repair my original for a spare.
What's going to happen if I ever need some serious work done on that unit?
My advise? Do not buy a Northern Lights generator.
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Old 29-01-2013, 15:28   #2
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

Sounds like typical OEM parts.

I'm not aware of any OEM that doesn't do something similar.

That's why "aftermarket" parts are so popular.
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Old 29-01-2013, 15:45   #3
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

Unlike some generators, Northern Lights has a very good reputation for quality and performance, not to mention a known quality service organization, so you may have a hard time convincing people to stay away from them.

Only selling parts directly through a dealership network is common - how many parts for your automobile have you bought directly from the headquarters or manufacturing plant? You probably cannot get parts for your main engine unless you go through a dealer network or other aftermarket source.

It sounds like you are talking about a secondary alternator for charging a start battery or some other auxiliary function. Why a regulator would cost more than the entire alternator/regulator combo I don't understand.

However, if this is just an auxiliary alternator connected through a secondary pulley on the main generator engine, then any old alternator will do - as it seems like you have discovered with the Hitachi.

If you want to get your original rebuilt, just take it to any autoelectric shop.

Is the aux alternator even necessary? If it is just charging a start battery, you could accomplish that with a voltage sensitive relay.

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Old 30-01-2013, 06:44   #4
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

In the past 6 weeks I have been to 4 alternator repair shops, spoken or emailed 6 dealers, and exchanged 4 emails with Northern Lights. The bottom line is that you can not repair the alternator Northern Lights has chosen for its' generators because the parts are not available. That means you have to throw away the whole alternator because you can not buy the diode. The general consensus among the electrical techs I spoke to is that this is deliberate.
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Old 30-01-2013, 06:58   #5
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

I am amazed. NL has a great reputation and builds quality products. I don't understand why you are having such a problem with them. I wonder if we have all the facts?
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Old 30-01-2013, 07:11   #6
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

The part number is 185446277
try your luck
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Old 30-01-2013, 07:45   #7
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

Just for fun, did a quick search.

Three phone calls,.... Torrenson, TOA, and then Trans Atlantic Diesel.

Best (only one) I could come up with was $446.84 from Trans Atlantic. Showing one unit available and it would take them 5 to 7 days to get it in their hands from England.

Appears to be a Perkins engine, correct?

Seems like a new take off for 285 might be your new spare part.
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Old 30-01-2013, 08:41   #8
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

We found that replacement part costs on our NL generator were hideous IMHO. The part that failed was the board that regulates the field strength and that board should not have failed.

It was intermittent for about a year and we spent many hours troubleshooting the whole mess with calls to the NL technician before we figured out what was going on. It was not a very satisfying experience.
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Old 30-01-2013, 08:50   #9
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Re: Northern Lights Complaint

If your problem is just a diode, is there anyway you could mount one external to the alternator proper? Diodes are dirt cheap, even high current/higher voltage ones. If you do mount it outside, consider mounting it on a heat sink. Strange, a good alternator repair shop should easily be able to do this.

Another comment--- this reminds me of trying to do business with Xantrex. They will provide you with nothing other than pointing you to one of their authorized dealers. This kind of crap only lasts so long. Aftermarket manufacturers and product competition soon puts these companies out of business.
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