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Old 01-11-2013, 07:43   #1
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alternator not charging

I discovered yesterday that my alternator isn't charging (with the engine running for 15 minutes still had negative amps on my battery monitor). I don't know how long this has been going on but my wife says I checked the amps a couple of weeks ago while motoring home.

The batteries were already charged so I didn't expect to see a lot of amps in, but expected since that since the regulator has a minimum time at various stages that it definitely wouldn't be a negative amps on the monitor and the voltage didn't really come up any with the engine running (the solar was charging and it also never indicated that there was another charging source operating).

I have a 90 amp Balmar with a Balmar ARS-4 regulator.

I checked connections and didn't find any problems. Checked the fuse and it was good.

All the LED lights on ARS-4 were lit, which I don't remember as normal.

This weekend is probably the last time I will run the engine till spring so would like to find the problem and will go though the troubleshooting steps in the ARS-4 manual. But figured it would be good to ask for suggestions.
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Old 01-11-2013, 15:00   #2
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Re: alternator not charging

Reading the manual, having all 8 LEDs lit means that the regulator is in start-up and it is only suppose to stay in that for about 3 seconds. So it looks to me that mine isn't getting out of start-up.

Has anyone ever seen this?

I send an email to Balmar and maybe will get a response. But I bet this means the thing is dead.
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Old 01-11-2013, 15:44   #3
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Re: alternator not charging

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
Reading the manual, having all 8 LEDs lit means that the regulator is in start-up and it is only suppose to stay in that for about 3 seconds. So it looks to me that mine isn't getting out of start-up.

Has anyone ever seen this?

I send an email to Balmar and maybe will get a response. But I bet this means the thing is dead.
yep, time for a new boat<smile>..just in time for xmas!!1

looks to me like you have a voltage regulator or alternator is toast. Make sure the excitation voltage is getting to the alternator cause without that it won't produce. I've had problems with broken wires inside the insulation. The wire looks good but inside the plastic insulation it is broken. Caused I guess from the vibration over time.

best wishes
Britt
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:17   #4
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Re: alternator not charging

Check the battery voltage, then start the engine, if the voltage doesn't go up very soon, the system is not charging. If you have some jumper leads, connect battery positive to the alternator field post. If you start charging, it's the regulator (or regulator wiring), if you don't start charging, it's the alternator...
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:20   #5
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Originally Posted by bfloyd4445 View Post

...

Make sure the excitation voltage is getting to the alternator cause without that it won't produce. I've had problems with broken wires inside the insulation. The wire looks good but inside the plastic insulation it is broken. Caused I guess from the vibration over time.

best wishes
Britt
You can easily test this by very briefly (seconds) connecting field wire to a battery positive. If the alternator springs to life and produces output then the alternator is functioning. Only do this very briefly because output will be unregulated which can cook your batteries or overheat alternator if allowed to run long.
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:25   #6
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Re: alternator not charging

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You can easily test this by very briefly (seconds) connecting field wire to a battery positive. If the alternator springs to life and produces output then the alternator is functioning. Only do this very briefly because output will be unregulated which can cook your batteries or overheat alternator if allowed to run long.
Not necessarily. It's called a "full field" test, and bypasses the regulator, thereby making it a useful diagnostic tool. The output will not be regulated by the regulator, but will follow the throttle, so you could motor on home charging all the way, but monitor your voltage, and keep it under 14.2 or so with the throttle.
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Old 03-11-2013, 20:48   #7
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Re: alternator not charging

which battery bank is your battery monitor measuring and which battery bank is your alternator connected too? it's entirely possible the alternator is fine and charging the starter battery, but it's not getting to your house bank via acr etc.

every boat owner should have a multimeter. measure voltage at alternator and engine battery with and without engine running. a clamp on current meter will read actual current coming from alt.
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:16   #8
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Re: alternator not charging

Balmar provides an excellent troubleshooting guide to id the problem. I suggest you use it to determine if it is the regulator, or its supporting system, or the alternator.
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:36   #9
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Re: alternator not charging

You need to do some work with a multi-meter, it might be anything gone, battery monitor, diodes if fitted etc. Work from alternator out to find where the voltage dies.
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Old 04-11-2013, 11:23   #10
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Re: alternator not charging

It was the regulator; no field current out. There was no need to full load test the alternator etc. etc.

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Old 04-11-2013, 11:32   #11
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Re: alternator not charging

My suggestion might seem almost too obvious: Have you checked the tension on your alternator belt?
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:29   #12
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Re: alternator not charging

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My suggestion might seem almost too obvious: Have you checked the tension on your alternator belt?
of course I did

I was 90+% that it was a regulator problem before I even got out my multi-meter and the Balmar troubleshooting guide because all the LEDs were on the regulator. Later I measured the there was no field current out of the regulator and it wasn't a wiring problem.

Balmar did get back to me and said that if all the LEDs stay on the regulator is dead.
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