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Old 01-11-2013, 16:32   #1
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alternator smart regulators

Looking for experience and opinions on smart non-Balmar alternator regulators. Not that I have anything against the Balmar, but there has to be be other choices worth considering.
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:05   #2
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Next Step is highly regarded technically. I've used them for about 12 years and had good experience with them, but they are a very small company and appear to be just barely staying in business now.

The upside to BalMar is they dominate the market and thus are more likely to be around when you need support.
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Old 01-11-2013, 17:53   #3
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We've got an ample power regulator. It works really well and is quite flexible
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Old 01-11-2013, 18:03   #4
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Re: alternator smart regulators

Interestingly enough most units from the original "Tri Cycle" from Cruising Equipment Incorporated (later Heart) to the latest Balmar MC-614 work well and have been well supported. That said, the Balmar is as reliable as any and better supported. We've had VERY good luck with them and with their global support for the rare failed unit.
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Old 01-11-2013, 19:03   #5
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Just to clarify. Next Step regulators are an Ample Power product.
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Old 01-11-2013, 19:17   #6
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Re: alternator smart regulators

I have used a Sterling one (the second generation series) and it was very good - worked just like any shore power 3/4 stage charger does.

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Old 03-11-2013, 10:00   #7
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Re: alternator smart regulators

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
I have used a Sterling one (the second generation series) and it was very good - worked just like any shore power 3/4 stage charger does.

b.

These look interesting.

The ProReg-D price is 56% of a Balmar ARS-5, and the ProReg-B is only 28% of the ARS-5.
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:06   #8
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Re: alternator smart regulators

Ample Power and Next Step are great units. (same company)
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:26   #9
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Re: alternator smart regulators

I've used a Sterling smart alternator regulator (the more expensive version of the ProReg-B) for the past seven years and can thoroughly recommend it - see http://sterling-power-usa.com/12volt...rycharger.aspx for the model. My batteries are also seven years old (conventional lead acid) and still going strong. An hour or so motoring every 2-3 days plus the 4.5 amps/hour input from two solar panels is enough to keep them (440 a/h total) up to charge pretty well indefinitely.

You might need to upgrade the cable from your alternator to the unit to avoid overheating (we did) and it's vital to install the temperature sensor, which was an optional extra at the time we bought the unit.

We previously used the UK equivalent of the ProReg-B and it wound up frying our batteries (but then we didn't have a temperature sensor fitted, so it could be our fault). In my opinion, it's worth the extra for the more expensive unit.

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Old 03-11-2013, 12:28   #10
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Re: alternator smart regulators

so after reading the various installation manuals I decided to just get a Balmar ARS-5 as the ease of installation offset the cost difference far as I was concerned
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Old 03-11-2013, 18:44   #11
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Re: alternator smart regulators

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
These look interesting.

The ProReg-D price is 56% of a Balmar ARS-5, and the ProReg-B is only 28% of the ARS-5.
No.

These:

Sterling Power Products: Alternator to Battery Charger

b.
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Old 03-11-2013, 18:50   #12
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Quote:
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so after reading the various installation manuals I decided to just get a Balmar ARS-5 as the ease of installation offset the cost difference far as I was concerned
That's what I have, good stuff. Just install it somewhere nice and cool and dry.
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Old 03-11-2013, 19:24   #13
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Re: alternator smart regulators

Cool and dry is important. I've had a Balmar MC-612 failure that I attribute to being in the engine compartment where it did not run cool. It was dry, though.....
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Old 03-11-2013, 19:30   #14
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Re: alternator smart regulators

Mark Grasser also sells regulators. They are similar (but not identical) to the Sterling ProReg-D, with a couple extra features.

Mark Grasser - DC Power Solutions, LLC.
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Old 05-11-2013, 19:40   #15
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Smart regulators are quite nice, and a number of good products to choose from, but also think about what you are going to do when it fails...almost certainly in a remote anchorage. My good old Next Step, which had kept my house bank well tended for 9 years, finally crapped out on me in the San Blas islands this year...not a lot of dealers there...jury rigged a manual regulator out of spares. I plan to build a better manual regulator to keep aboard as a backup.
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