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Old 07-12-2014, 06:53   #1
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Balmar alt/reg issue - Incorrect Field Voltage

I've been having problems with my new balmar 100amp alternator and ARS-5 regulator. Even if I motor all day long (8+ hrs @ 2300 rpm), I get to the anchorage and my batteries have taken very little charge. I'm determined to figure out what's going on - and I think it may be a wiring issue? I have 3 flooded 12v 105Ah batteries. I am running the regulator at the defaults for flooded batts but have decreased output by 20%.

I did a little sleuthing and found a few things that were weird ("symptoms"):
-when I initially start the engine, I get a battery voltage "Bv" reading on the regulator BELOW my actual house bank (I.e. 11.9v vs. 12.4v).
-within 10 minutes, the Bv on the regulator has increased to 14.4v, but the batteries themselves (with a multi meter) read 12.6
Sounds like an issue with the field wire reading??

At anchor I did the recommended tests in the regulator manual. With the ignition switch off (aka no power to the regulator) using a multimeter you should read battery voltage for red, 0v for blue and 0v for brown. I am reading battery voltage correctly for the red wire (12.6v), but I am also getting 0.9-1.2v for blue, and 1.9-2.3v for brown.

Any ideas? I would really appreciate the help on this one. We are sitting in an anchorage on the GA coast slowly working our way south. Thanks in advance!!
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:11   #2
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

When did this problem start? Wiring usually doesn't change by itself except for shorts or broken wires so if it used to work OK and now it doesn't it's not likely a wiring issue.

How are the batteries? Batteries do change by themselves and a battery that's good one day can be bad the next (or even sooner).
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:13   #3
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

You need to wire the field and ground wires directly to your battery because you getting too much voltage drop on the cables.

I had the same problem.

You also should increase the time in the bulk and absorption phase on the regulator


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Old 07-12-2014, 07:13   #4
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

I had the same problem when my new alternator and regulator was installed after a lightning strike. It was a simple wiring problem. I did not install it myself and when I returned a few months later the technician fixed the problem in a few minutes. Something to do with the brown wire if I remember right. I know this is not a technical answer but I am posting so that you know it's not a difficult problem. The technician read the instructions again and voila re-wire and it was right.

RTFM and re-wire. Hope it works out for you.
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:26   #5
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
I had the same problem when my new alternator and regulator was installed after a lightning strike. It was a simple wiring problem. I did not install it myself and when I returned a few months later the technician fixed the problem in a few minutes. Something to do with the brown wire if I remember right. I know this is not a technical answer but I am posting so that you know it's not a difficult problem. The technician read the instructions again and voila re-wire and it was right.

RTFM and re-wire. Hope it works out for you.
Yes, I just worked on this same setup the other day with the same symptoms and the problem was that the internal regulator was wired in with the external regulator.

I'm betting that this is a Balmar 6-series with an internal regulator and that you have the brown wire connected somehow back to the ARS5. This brown wire from the alternator should not be connected to anything.

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Old 07-12-2014, 07:30   #6
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

Your voltage readings sound totally normal for the starting battery. Which is provably were the voltage sense for the reg goes

How are your batteries set up? How do you get charge from the engine battery to house battery?
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Old 07-12-2014, 07:51   #7
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Yes, I just worked on this same setup the other day with the same symptoms and the problem was that the internal regulator was wired in with the external regulator.

I'm betting that this is a Balmar 6-series with an internal regulator and that you have the brown wire connected somehow back to the ARS5. This brown wire from the alternator should not be connected to anything.

Mark
Ah yes, it's coming back to me now. These new alternators can also be internally regulated. Another great leap forward by Balmar.
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:36   #8
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
This brown wire from the alternator should not be connected to anything.

Mark
Yes and no...... the brown wire is the exciter wire run to the ignition..
When Installing mine, I installed a switch to ues either regulator, with ability to change from one to the other..
Normally I'll use the internally regulated unit, but if I know I'll be mototing for a distance, over an hour or so, I'll switch to the external regulator for a more controled charge..
Both brown wires, from the external unit (ARS-5) and internal unit are run to a rocker switch with the ingition wite running to the center of the switch, giving you the option of flipping from one to the other.
Just dont flip the switch while the motor is running...
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Old 07-12-2014, 08:54   #9
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

Thanks for the responses tout le monde!

More background:I believe this has been going on since install over 2 mos ago. I blamed the old batteries not accepting charge and replaced them last weekend (now we have ruled out the batteries

I reconfirmed the wiring after checking the manual - the brown cable running from the alternator is not connected to anything (per the instructions) as it is instead the brown wire from the regulator being used. Mark/colemj - is there anything else I should look for to ensure that I haven't wired the two regulators together besides the brown wire?

Interesting point about the voltage of the starter battery, however when I check with multimeter, my starter battery is reading 12.7v (as opposed to 14.4 being read by the regulator).

Sailorboy - can you give more details on how I should wire directly to my battery? Right now the field and ground wires run from the regulator to the alternator itself...(as part of the wiring harness)

Thanks a million guys!
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:15   #10
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

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Originally Posted by markperil View Post
Thanks for the responses tout le monde!
More background:I believe this has been going on since install over 2 mos ago.
What did the alternator replace. Are your Pos. and Neg. cables from the alternator to the battery bus connections large enough? Are they fused?

Quote:
Originally Posted by markperil View Post
Sailorboy - can you give more details on how I should wire directly to my battery? Right now the field and ground wires run from the regulator to the alternator itself...(as part of the wiring harness)
The Red and Black wires should be attached as close to the batteries as possible, probably to your + and - bus bars. They should be fused (at least the hot lead should be fused, some prefer to fuse both wires).

There are some articles of interest for you at this link.
Compass Marine How To Articles Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:35   #11
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

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Originally Posted by markperil View Post
...............
Interesting point about the voltage of the starter battery, however when I check with multimeter, my starter battery is reading 12.7v (as opposed to 14.4 being read by the regulator).
Look in the manual (RTFM!) for BATTERY SENSE wiring. Your regulator is reading that 'cuz it's reading from the back of the alternator, NOT from your house bank.

From one of my Electrical 101 topics:

Important Reminder:

Once you do either of these changes, make sure that the BATTERY SENSE wire from your regulator goes to your house bank. The instructions with external regulators gives you an option to connect it to the back of the alternator. This will NOT work, since it will be reading almost if not more than a volt LESS than if it was properly placed at your house bank.
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Old 07-12-2014, 11:49   #12
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Look in the manual (RTFM!) for BATTERY SENSE wiring. Your regulator is reading that 'cuz it's reading from the back of the alternator, NOT from your house bank.

From one of my Electrical 101 topics:

Important Reminder:

Once you do either of these changes, make sure that the BATTERY SENSE wire from your regulator goes to your house bank. The instructions with external regulators gives you an option to connect it to the back of the alternator. This will NOT work, since it will be reading almost if not more than a volt LESS than if it was properly placed at your house bank.
If it is reading a volt or more than a volt less at the battery than the alternator then the Pos. and Neg. power wiring is to small for the job (unless of course there are diodes in the circuit). I would suggest you don't want to drop more than 3% at rated output or 0.36 volt from battery to alternator.

OP, check your power cabling for size and length both ways from your alternator to your batteries (bus bars) and compare them to a wire sizing chart for a 3% drop.
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Old 07-12-2014, 12:12   #13
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - incorrect field voltage

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.............. They should be fused (at least the hot lead should be fused, some prefer to fuse both wires).
Using fuses or circuit breakers in both ends of a circuit is bad practice. With the negative protection tripped or blown, the entire circuit is still hot up to that point.

There is nothing to be gained from using two fuses or circuit breakers in a single circuit unless the size of the conductors change or the smaller fuse is to protect a device.
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:23   #14
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - Incorrect Field Voltage

Mark, have you made any progress?
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:42   #15
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Re: Balmar alt/reg issue - Incorrect Field Voltage

I have been working on it again this morning.

I have the alternator positive post wired using an orange wire. I used what was done for the previous alternator. Wiring standards say this is from ammeter to alternator. There is a similar gauge red wire traveling with it in the same wiring harness that is attached to the starter positive terminal (which also has a thick red wire coming off my 1-2-both switch).

When I disconnect the small red wire from the starter, I no longer get a voltage reading at alternator orange wire. This suggests the power runs from battery to starter, then starter to ammeter to alternator...is this possible? It doesn't make sense to me that you would push current from the alternator to the starter positive terminal???

Clearly this boat is new to me ( as is marine electrical), but I just replicated what had been done with prior alternator.

Suggestions?? Just take the Orange wire off completely and wire alternator directly to 1-2-both switch?

Thanks guys
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