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Old 17-08-2015, 18:23   #1
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Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

A year or so ago I installed a 100 amp Balmar alt and a 614 ext reg. The house bank is made up of (4) T-105's, and the starter is an Interstate 4d. There's also a Blue Seas ACR in the system.

I should say that's what the starter battery was! Motoring back across the straits this weekend my charging light on the instrument panel began to flicker. While trying to figure out what was going on, the light went on steady. Fan belts turning, no unusual noises, but a real slight smell of burnt electrical. Charging isn't happening at this point from the alternator, but the DC panel says it's charging (solar).

The next day I start looking at everything and found I had a dead cell in the starter battery by taking SG readings. I also found the positive post on the starter battery was loose.

I'm not great at electrical theory and am more of a nuts and bolts guy. What the hell did I do?
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Old 18-08-2015, 10:00   #2
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

One of the most destructive things that can happen on a boat is a loose connection where high current has to go through. For one it is a major cause of fires on boats. I had to rewire a boat because of one loose connection on the back of a high output alternator. He almost lost the boat. It could have overheated the battery. But you don't give enough other info to get to a real cause. You should go through ALL the big wire connections on the boat and make sure they are tight. It should be a religion for you. A hard tug is often enough to determine before you put a wrench on each one.
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Old 18-08-2015, 11:10   #3
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
You should go through ALL the big wire connections on the boat and make sure they are tight. It should be a religion for you. A hard tug is often enough to determine before you put a wrench on each one.

Yes, it has now become exactly that, a religion. I have since been going through a lot of equipment installs and am indeed finding a few loose fasteners here and there. Loctite should have been used more liberally when I first did some of the installs.
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Old 18-08-2015, 11:14   #4
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

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But you don't give enough other info to get to a real cause.

I'm pretty sure the loose connection was the cause......again, maybe not the theoretical reason, but good enough for me.

Now I have an intermittent charging regime happening. Alternator goes off line, then back on again repeatedly.
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Old 19-08-2015, 10:41   #5
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

If the shorted cell was next to the loose terminal, you can be pretty sure it was the cause.

To determine what is happening now, read the Balmar 614 manual about 5 times and follow the troubleshooting steps.
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Old 19-08-2015, 11:30   #6
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

Loose connection may have cooked the diodes in the alternator. Not a hard thing to repair if so. Alternators do not like being disconnected from the battery even for a few milliseconds.
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Old 20-08-2015, 11:28   #7
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

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If the shorted cell was next to the loose terminal, you can be pretty sure it was the cause.

To determine what is happening now, read the Balmar 614 manual about 5 times and follow the troubleshooting steps.
You're absolutely correct, it was the cell next to the loose terminal.
I've indeed ran all the diagnostic tests that Balmar suggests, and have in fact solved another future problem because of it.

I also wish I had seen Maine Sails page recently, since he addresses this exactly. I also did his fix on the sense wire connections.

What's bugging me now is that a loose connection on the starter battery crashed my charging capabilities on the house bank. That's doesn't seem like a good thing.

Maybe some diodes as spares, huh?
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Old 20-08-2015, 11:31   #8
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

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Loose connection may have cooked the diodes in the alternator. Not a hard thing to repair if so. Alternators do not like being disconnected from the battery even for a few milliseconds.
I suspect you are correct, and I have fried some diodes. I've never done a diode replacement before. Would it be better to get an alternator shop to do it? Where would I get the diodes? Balmar?

Thanks for the input.......
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Old 20-08-2015, 16:28   #9
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

Most alternator shops can replace diodes. Also, they can check it for other problems. That's usually the cheapest and fastest solution.
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Old 20-08-2015, 17:54   #10
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

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Most alternator shops can replace diodes. Also, they can check it for other problems. That's usually the cheapest and fastest solution.

Just got off the phone with the shop. I'll be bringing it to them for an inspection and repair.
That is one expensive loose nut
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Old 20-08-2015, 18:38   #11
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

If possible call more than one shop to get an estimate. Replacing diodes and doing a load test for an alternator should not be a jaw dropping cost But sometimes cruisers are in places with only one shop.
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Old 23-08-2015, 18:11   #12
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

I had a similar experience with a Balmar regulator and also a solar panel regulator operating at the same time. The Balmar regulator shutdown and took out the tachometer at the control panel. When I disconnected the solar panels/ regulator everything returned to normal. Looks like the Balmar is sufficiently smart/sensitive to detect another charging system.
As a fix I plan to shut-off the solar panels with a relay when motoring.

May not be relevant to the particular event on this thread but it is something to be aware of.
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Old 24-08-2015, 08:24   #13
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

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I had a similar experience with a Balmar regulator and also a solar panel regulator operating at the same time. The Balmar regulator shutdown and took out the tachometer at the control panel. When I disconnected the solar panels/ regulator everything returned to normal. Looks like the Balmar is sufficiently smart/sensitive to detect another charging system.
As a fix I plan to shut-off the solar panels with a relay when motoring.

May not be relevant to the particular event on this thread but it is something to be aware of.
It's relevant! I questioned the same thing earlier, but haven't found or heard an answer yet. I have a Morningstar PWN type solar controller and I turn it off now when the alternators running. I turn it off at the device though......what kind of relay do you mean........?
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Old 24-08-2015, 13:06   #14
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

re: Relay for Solar panels
The relay would be an automotive style: 12vdc coil, 30A rated contacts (depending on the size of the solar panels/regulator).
The coil would be connected to some part of the engine system (e.g. fuel pump) so that it is "on" when the engine is running.
The contacts would be used to connect the solar panels to the batteries, using a "normally closed" contact. When the engine is not running (relay "off") the normally closed contact connects the solar panels to the batteries. When the engine is running (relay "on") the contact opens and disconnects the solar panels.

Hope this helps.
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Old 24-08-2015, 13:08   #15
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Re: Balmar 614 regulator / Balmar Alternator help

There are two types of automotive relays, one is for very high amp loads, but intermittent. Starter relay is an example, but if you leave a starter relay energized for a long time, it will burn up.
You need a continuous duty relay
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