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Old 26-05-2012, 04:39   #1
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Alternator Help Please

Folks:
During refit 3 years ago in Portland, OR, my boatyard bought me an 80 amp Balmar alternator (just alternator--no kit) and installed it. I was told it had an internal regulator. I am dumb when it comes to electricity.
It does not seem to charge batteries quickly enough--i.e. after 8 hours engine running the batteries (starting at 75% charge) only creep up to 80%). I have tested open circuit voltage with multimeter and have a Xantrex LinkLite which agrees with multimeter. Voltage readings begin at 12.7 and barely move upwards over time.
I emailed Balmar 1 week ago but no reply.
Questions:
--if it does have an internal regulator, how do I adjust and should I?
--should I get an external regulator?
--no instructions came with alternator and I cannot find the model number on Balmar website. No idea how to adjust internal or external alternator.
The numbers on the alternator are:
LR180-030
11 9573 77201
12v-80A
Cost from Portsupply was $435 in 2009
It has dual feet if that means anything.
Maybe there are numbers on the bottom of the alternator but I have not looked there.
I check water regularly in batteries (brand new flooded cell, 110 A-hour each) and need to add a bit of distilled water every 6 months or so which seems to indicate lousy charging rate (to me).
Any help appreciated and thanks for reading.
Pete
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Old 26-05-2012, 05:19   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rigormortis
Folks:
During refit 3 years ago in Portland, OR, my boatyard bought me an 80 amp Balmar alternator (just alternator--no kit) and installed it. I was told it had an internal regulator. I am dumb when it comes to electricity.
It does not seem to charge batteries quickly enough--i.e. after 8 hours engine running the batteries (starting at 75% charge) only creep up to 80%). I have tested open circuit voltage with multimeter and have a Xantrex LinkLite which agrees with multimeter. Voltage readings begin at 12.7 and barely move upwards over time.
I emailed Balmar 1 week ago but no reply.
Questions:
--if it does have an internal regulator, how do I adjust and should I?
--should I get an external regulator?
--no instructions came with alternator and I cannot find the model number on Balmar website. No idea how to adjust internal or external alternator.
The numbers on the alternator are:
LR180-030
11 9573 77201
12v-80A
Cost from Portsupply was $435 in 2009
It has dual feet if that means anything.
Maybe there are numbers on the bottom of the alternator but I have not looked there.
I check water regularly in batteries (brand new flooded cell, 110 A-hour each) and need to add a bit of distilled water every 6 months or so which seems to indicate lousy charging rate (to me).
Any help appreciated and thanks for reading.
Pete
The LR180-030 serial number is for a Hitachi 80 amp alternator with internal regulator. Are you sure it is a Balmar? The dual foot you describe is also indicative of a Hitachi-style alternator. Not to give you bad news, but I bought a LE180-30 for $110 new off eBay (not Balmar brand).

As for performance, the general rule of thumb is you want your alternator sized to 25% of your batteries capacity for standard flooded lead acid batts. In other words an 80 amp alternator is appropriately sized for a 320 amp hour bank.

You can convert this alternator to external regulation. A search on here should find it. I'd post a link but I'm on my iPhone.

Hope this helps-

Frank
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Old 26-05-2012, 06:49   #3
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Re: Alternator Help Please

What engine speed were you running at and what kind of a load did you have on the electrical system during those 8 hrs?
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Old 26-05-2012, 07:01   #4
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Re: Alternator Help Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoPowers View Post
The LR180-030 serial number is for a Hitachi 80 amp alternator with internal regulator. Are you sure it is a Balmar? The dual foot you describe is also indicative of a Hitachi-style alternator. Not to give you bad news, but I bought a LE180-30 for $110 new off eBay (not Balmar brand).

As for performance, the general rule of thumb is you want your alternator sized to 25% of your batteries capacity for standard flooded lead acid batts. In other words an 80 amp alternator is appropriately sized for a 320 amp hour bank.

You can convert this alternator to external regulation. A search on here should find it. I'd post a link but I'm on my iPhone.

Hope this helps-

Frank
Here's that link for converting to external regulation:

Smart Regulator for Yanmar Alternator

And I meant to say "LR180-030", not "LE-180-30", sorry for the confusion- tough to type on the iPhone so early in the morning.

Frank
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Old 26-05-2012, 08:18   #5
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Re: Alternator Help Please

Frank:

Some models of the Balmar alternator have an internal regulator, but are really designed t use with their external regulator and has a female socket on the back to plug in an external regulator. The external regulator should give you the fast charge capability you are looking for.

It is unfortunate that Balmar didn't reply to your email. But that is the corporate world. I have generally found that their telephone support is very good and knowledgable. Call them with your alternator in fron of you and they can confirm if it is one of theirs or not.

An easy way to check is to look on the back. There should be a female socket for the external regulator. If not you have an internally regulated alternator like the Hitachi. It can be modified but I wouldn't recommend it. Balmar and other manufacturers of high output alternator use heavier windings to handle the continuous high current output.

BTW, find someone else to do your electrical work. The yard doesn't know what they are doing.

David
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Old 26-05-2012, 11:52   #6
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Some Balmar alternators (eg the 600 series) are designed to work with an external regulator or the internal regulator - which one is active can be controlled with a simple SPDT switch. Normally you would use a smart external regulator like the Balmar MC614 but the internal regulator is always available for backup. Dont know if yours would work the same way.
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Old 26-05-2012, 12:09   #7
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Re: Alternator Help Please

You likely need a good external regulator to drive amps into the batteries hard. Too bad on your bad deal, but that happens to us all early on.....
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Old 26-05-2012, 13:34   #8
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Re: Alternator Help Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by rigormortis View Post
Folks:
During refit 3 years ago in Portland, OR, my boatyard bought me an 80 amp Balmar alternator (just alternator--no kit) and installed it. I was told it had an internal regulator. I am dumb when it comes to electricity.
It does not seem to charge batteries quickly enough--i.e. after 8 hours engine running the batteries (starting at 75% charge) only creep up to 80%). I have tested open circuit voltage with multimeter and have a Xantrex LinkLite which agrees with multimeter. Voltage readings begin at 12.7 and barely move upwards over time.
I emailed Balmar 1 week ago but no reply.
Questions:
--if it does have an internal regulator, how do I adjust and should I?
--should I get an external regulator?
--no instructions came with alternator and I cannot find the model number on Balmar website. No idea how to adjust internal or external alternator.
The numbers on the alternator are:
LR180-030
11 9573 77201
12v-80A
Cost from Portsupply was $435 in 2009
It has dual feet if that means anything.
Maybe there are numbers on the bottom of the alternator but I have not looked there.
I check water regularly in batteries (brand new flooded cell, 110 A-hour each) and need to add a bit of distilled water every 6 months or so which seems to indicate lousy charging rate (to me).
Any help appreciated and thanks for reading.
Pete
Sounds like you have a Hitachi alt not a Balmar. Perhaps why the guys at Balmar did not call back?

One thing not mentioned yet is bad batteries. Heavily sulfated bad batteries will accept considerably less charge current and thus it can be hard to raise the voltage on a low or heavily sulfated bank. I just had this situation on a boat where the bank at 10.5 volts was taking just 3-4 amps from the alternator at 3500 engine RPM and it was difficult to get it much above 13 volts. The marina told the owner he needed a new alternator.

Bank was tested, shown to be in very poor shape and replaced. Alternator was then pumping out 26A at idle and the only change was new healthy batteries.. Alternator was perfectly fine and actually produced 8 amps more than its rating when cold..

If the voltage actually changes but can't hit absorption voltage the check all connections, have the batts tested and then the alt tested if the batts are bad ..
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Old 27-05-2012, 10:10   #9
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Re: Alternator Help Please

Sure sounds like a Hitachi. Although Balmar has been known to take "everyone" on the boat show circuit and leave no one to answer their phones for a whole week.

Pete, if you can find the receipt for that, it would be interesting to know what they sold it to you as.

"Voltage readings begin at 12.7 " Something is very wrong here, because 12.7 would represent brand new batteries at full charge. Unless you mean, the alternator output is 12.7, which would indicate a bad internal regulator, belt slipping, wrong pulley size or engine speed, or some other issue in the alternator side.

Internal regulators cannot be adjusted. Externals do a better job for deep cycle batteries. But I think I'd suggest first simply taking the alternator off the engine and into any auto chain store (Autozone, Pep Boys, etc.) to have it bench tested. Let's start with seeing if the alternator is working properly, then look at installation and other factors to see why there's no power getting to the batteries.
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Old 27-05-2012, 21:48   #10
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Re: Alternator Help Please

Folks:
Many thanks for all replies and I agree with you that it must be an Hitachi alternator although I can't see any brand marking. I think the bench testing suggestion is a good one and I will try and find a shop here in Phuket that might be able to do the job.
My scooter was stolen yesterday and it is pouring rain so spirits are slightly dampened but one carries on.
Pete
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Old 28-05-2012, 05:58   #11
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Re: Alternator Help Please

Apparently, there is a small repair shop in Tilok Uthit 2 (that's the road to the side of Royal City Hotel). Corner unit about opposite the Cashew Factory. Looks more like a home than a repair shop. Reportewd as the “cleanest/best equipped repair shop” ever seen. They specialise in Alternators and Starters.

See also:

Electrical Marine
Supplier and service centre for all major marine suppliers. Fully equipped and trained for warranty and service work on all well-known brands of electronics. At the Boat Lagoon. Call 076 239112 or email damian@electrical-marine.com.

Octopus Electrical Service
Electrical repairs, service and rewiring jobs. All types of electrical installations, including GPS, navigation equipment, autopilots, fishfinders and communications. At the Boat Lagoon. Call or fax 076 273 379, or contact Mick Kealy on mobile 01 396 0785, email info@octopusasia.com.

***

FWIW: Installing a diode in series with the Sense wire will "fool" the internal regulator into thinking the battery voltage is about 0.6 volts lower than it actually is.

***

ALTERNATOR VOLTAGE TESTS:

1. Set Voltmeter to DC Volts (20V scale), and connect the DC Voltmeter test leads to the battery post (Red lead to Positive Post, and Black(or Yellow) to Negative). With engine “off”, read and note battery voltage.

2. Start the engine, and at “Idle” RPM, check the voltmeter reading. At very low speeds the alternator output may be lower than the regulator setting; hence you will expect to read the battery voltage.

3. Increase engine RPM, and note increasing voltage reading to a maximum of about 14.2 - 14.4 volts (12V Nominal System - expect 29.5V in 24V system).

If no voltage increase noted, you likely have a bad voltage regulator, or poor wiring
(Alt’ to Batt.). Go on to test 3B.

If Voltage increases go on to test 4.

3B. With engine “off”, connect Positive test lead to Alternator Output (“B+”, or “A”), and Negative Lead to the Negative Ground Post (“Neg”, or “E”) of Alternator. Start engine. If Voltage increases with increased RPM, your regulator is OK, and the problem is in the wiring. Go on to test 3C.

3C. Discharge the Battery to less than 12.5 Volts. Check for Voltage drop between the Alternator and Battery, as follows..
Connect the Positive Test Lead to the Alternator Positive Output Terminal (B+) and the Negative Lead to the Positive Battery Post. Crank the engine, and increase RPM to a fast idle. Observe Voltage. If the voltage climbs to as much as 0.02 Volts (or more), the positive cable has a high resistance. Repair or replace cable.

Check for voltage drop in the negative cable, as above - but: connect the Positive Lead to the Alternator’s Negative Output Terminal, and the Negative Lead to the Negative Battery Post. Analyze as above.
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