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Old 27-11-2016, 00:30   #1
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Balmar alternators or standard?

Hi, on my last boat I had lots of cool gadgets. One was the 70amp Balmar alternator and smart regulator. It worked well for most of the 7 years I cruised on Freeform.
The boat I'm in the process of purchasing has the standard 80amp Yanmar regulator (Hitachi?).
How much better is a Balmar or equivalent?
Keep in mind a majority of my charging will come from solar, and the batteries are sealed lead acid.
What I liked about the balmar regulator was it delayed charging and ramped up current slowly when starting the engine, also I dialed the current produced down to 50amp, which was easier on the belt.
I intend to buy a second alternator as a backup (non fitted) but I really don't know if a smart system makes that much difference in the real world?
Some keep things simple and do quite fine.

Cheers Dale.


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Old 27-11-2016, 01:20   #2
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

The 80 amp Hitachi alts don't deal with being pushed hard by a smart reg. They won't run for extended periods at anything like their "rated" output.
A smart reg is the single best improvement you can make to a charging system on a cruising yacht IMO. It can halve the charging times required. Solar and wind are great as well, but everything has its weaknesses.
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Old 27-11-2016, 05:04   #3
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Hey Dale, Sailmon here (F 38 Her Diamond). We are refitting for retirement cruising - just bought a 100 amp Balmar Kit including smart regulator from PKYS for $885 US - out the door and delivered. What Is the new boat? Are you leaving Freedom behind?
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Old 27-11-2016, 05:56   #4
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

As as been said, the standard Hitachi alternator is not suitable for bulk power production.

You can replace it with various small-frame heavy duty alternators (you might need to upgrade the drive system), or if you have room to fit a second alternator, then by far the best solution is to use a large frame heavy duty school bus alternator.

I don't think Balmar is the best bang for the buck. Most of these are, if my information is correct, just relabelled Leece-Neville school bus alternators which you can buy as such for 1/3 or 1/2 the cost.

Shop around, and don't end your search at Balmar!


Whatever you do with the alternator, smart charging regulation is a must!
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Old 27-11-2016, 06:53   #5
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Depends on your funds, if you don't expect to need the engine for charging, then why spend the bucks? It adds up to quite a lot of money.

No small frame alternator that I have seen will give close to rated output continuously, there are turned too slow and the heat build up either burns it up, or the power is reduced to keep heat under control.
If little lightweight alternators could provide high output, then the old large frame heavy alternators would go the way to the DC generator, and they haven't.
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Old 27-11-2016, 07:21   #6
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Balmar alternators or standard?

The newish small frame AT Balmar small frame alternates deliver their 165 /200 amps continuously.

What Yanmar engine are you getting, some Yanmars come with a serpentine belt drive and (Veleo?) 120amp alt that you can upgrade to multi-stage regulation with special kit from Balmar.
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Old 27-11-2016, 07:35   #7
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Hitachi/Yanmar Alternators: (by Maine Sail)

Some alternators though, such as those made by Hitachi and found on Yanmar diesels, are dumber than a pound of beetle poop. Actually, to the alternator, they are pretty smart but to your batteries and the speed of charging they are flat out stupid. Why?

Hitachi alts with dumb regulators, and some others, limit voltage but also reduce voltage based on alternator temperature. This is a self protective feature installed in the internal dumb regulator to prevent the alternator from cooking itself. Remember voltage is the pressure that allows more current to flow. So, if we reduce the absorption voltage, then we also reduce the current the alternator is supplying.. The battery simply will not accept the same current at 13.4V that it did at 14.4V and as a result the alternator will run cooler. What do you suppose this does to your batteries over time.......?

The problem is that when cold you will get 14.3V to 14.4V out of the Hitachi but as the alternator heats up the dumb regulator begins to reduce the CV/voltage limit based on the alternators internal temperature. It is not uncommon to find a Hitachi alternator at 13.4V when hot. This is REALLY, REALLY DUMB....

If you have a dumb regulator, and notice the voltage dropping, it is likely a temp compensated dumb regulator. Get rid of it or plan to buy new batteries more often.

If you have a temp compensated alternator or a Hitachi alternator on a Yanmar you really are in dire need of external regulation if deep cycling a larger battery bank.

This is from:

Musings Regarding External Regulation | SailboatOwners.com Forums

and these, too:

Hitachi Alternator and Smart Regulator Instal Question


Most practical way to upgrade Yanmar alternator?
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Old 27-11-2016, 08:12   #8
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Alternator problems are in general related to cooling(engine room may be very hot after a while). And an internal regulator is not suited for heavy demand for long periods. So, A good 3 or 4 stages smart regulator is almost mandatory on a boat, in my opinion. As for the alternator itself, any heavy duty, alternator will do the job, and Balmar are just that, at a much higher cost. An HD alternator has a good inside cooling fan, Heavy duty diodes, and superior bearings. After beeing tired of paying huge price for my Volvo alternators that could not cope with long charging time, My friendly alternator shop built me one using the Volvo alternator frame: New HD stator, new diodes with outstanding heat sinks, new HD bearings et voila!. A Balmar H612 very smart regulator that displays everything, and no more problems!.... At a fraction of cost of the Balmar solution. And there are many HD powerfull alternator very cheap on the market. Just look at Ebay!...
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Old 27-11-2016, 08:59   #9
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daletournier View Post
Hi, on my last boat I had lots of cool gadgets. One was the 70amp Balmar alternator and smart regulator. It worked well for most of the 7 years I cruised on Freeform.
The boat I'm in the process of purchasing has the standard 80amp Yanmar regulator (Hitachi?).
How much better is a Balmar or equivalent?
Keep in mind a majority of my charging will come from solar, and the batteries are sealed lead acid.
What I liked about the balmar regulator was it delayed charging and ramped up current slowly when starting the engine, also I dialed the current produced down to 50amp, which was easier on the belt.
I intend to buy a second alternator as a backup (non fitted) but I really don't know if a smart system makes that much difference in the real world?
===

Your least expensive (and easiest) solution is likely to be a Delco CS144 alternator which has been reconfigured for external regulation (like the Balmar regulator). Here's a web site that specializes in custom CS144 installations:

https://alternatorparts.com/cs144-se...lternator.html

They'll work with you to get the configuration you need, and the CS144 is much less expensive than any of the Balmar alternators. I have one on my stbd engine that has been trouble free for over 6 years and I carry another for a spare which has never been used. For more than 80 amps you will need either a serpentine belt or dual belts.

My port side engine has a 320 amp Leece-Neville fire truck alternator with 3 belts but that is way more than you need.
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Old 27-11-2016, 09:21   #10
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

The core of the system, wherever you get the alternator, is a smart regulator that can be programmed, the Balmars being the most obvious. The alternator can then be programmed for a flood charge time appropriate to the size of your bank, and will do nice things to keep your batteries happy the rest of the time. It's a system comparable to the smart battery charger that you use when on shore power.
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Old 27-11-2016, 09:25   #11
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Great info in this thread.
Also, you must actually test your charging system to know what it is doing.
Keep a log of tests every hundred hours.
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Old 27-11-2016, 09:26   #12
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

This forum might have some interest on alternators
Leece Neville Alternator Failures - School Bus Fleet Magazine Forums

it's somewhat dated
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Old 27-11-2016, 10:04   #13
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

This interesting thread has really got me thinking. I've a Yanmar engine with an Hitachi 80 Amp alternator, to which I've fitted the Sterling external regulator. But it's the regulator model without the alternator temp sensor. I was aware that there's a danger of an alternator melt-down, but, until reading this thread, I had assumed (I know, never assume...) it would run for a longer period than it apparently does before any damage occurs.

I do also have 325 watts of solar, and a drop-down hydro-generator, and on the only two occasions that I needed a serious boost whilst at anchor I've used my portable petrol generator (plugged into the shore-power inlet), so I've never tested it in anger.

But this thread has really got me thinking about an occasion where the house-bank (400Ah) has a low SoC, and I'd possibly have no option but to run the engine - a cloudy windless day perhaps, with a storm approaching and me looking to move to a better anchorage? Would I end up frying my alternator in less than 30 mins, even with my hydro-generator deployed?

Thinking as I type, I noted in an earlier response that the internal regulator of the Hitachi is disconnected in order to connect the external regulator. Well I'm pretty sure this was not the case when I fitted mine - I simply added another wire that feeds from the external regulator. In which case, I assume (yes, assuming again...) that under such circumstances I could simply 'turn off' the external regulator to prevent it from frying the alternator, leaving the internal one to take over?

I don't wish to divert this thread, but would be interested in views on this approach, which may be of interest to the OP too.
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Old 27-11-2016, 11:56   #14
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Hitachi/Yanmar Alternators: (by Maine Sail)

Some alternators though, such as those made by Hitachi and found on Yanmar diesels, are dumber than a pound of beetle poop. Actually, to the alternator, they are pretty smart but to your batteries and the speed of charging they are flat out stupid. Why?

Hitachi alts with dumb regulators, and some others, limit voltage but also reduce voltage based on alternator temperature. This is a self protective feature installed in the internal dumb regulator to prevent the alternator from cooking itself. Remember voltage is the pressure that allows more current to flow. So, if we reduce the absorption voltage, then we also reduce the current the alternator is supplying.. The battery simply will not accept the same current at 13.4V that it did at 14.4V and as a result the alternator will run cooler. What do you suppose this does to your batteries over time.......?

The problem is that when cold you will get 14.3V to 14.4V out of the Hitachi but as the alternator heats up the dumb regulator begins to reduce the CV/voltage limit based on the alternators internal temperature. It is not uncommon to find a Hitachi alternator at 13.4V when hot. This is REALLY, REALLY DUMB....

If you have a dumb regulator, and notice the voltage dropping, it is likely a temp compensated dumb regulator. Get rid of it or plan to buy new batteries more often.

If you have a temp compensated alternator or a Hitachi alternator on a Yanmar you really are in dire need of external regulation if deep cycling a larger battery bank.

This is from:

Musings Regarding External Regulation | SailboatOwners.com Forums

and these, too:

Hitachi Alternator and Smart Regulator Instal Question


Most practical way to upgrade Yanmar alternator?
Thanks Stu, haven't read through the attached links yet, but will. Some great responses here.
In regards to mainsails comments, I totally understand what hes saying, the dumb alternator will look after its self first at the cost of the batteries. Now, is this such a bad thing if the alternator isnt the main charging source? On my last boat the only time I used the engine to charge my batteries was when I had to motor anyway, even then I had the the smart regulator dialled back to 50amps to go easier on the belt and so it didn't run so hot, and regularly had it turned off. I personally think 80amps is just to hard on single v belts.
So, getting back to the dumb alternator, does being dumb result in less chance of cooking alternator thus greater reliability? at no cost to battery life as other charging methods take care of 90% of charging? ie. Solar (mppt) and honda generator through smart charger.
Thoughts?

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Old 27-11-2016, 11:59   #15
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Re: Balmar alternators or standard?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Depends on your funds, if you don't expect to need the engine for charging, then why spend the bucks? It adds up to quite a lot of money.

No small frame alternator that I have seen will give close to rated output continuously, there are turned too slow and the heat build up either burns it up, or the power is reduced to keep heat under control.
If little lightweight alternators could provide high output, then the old large frame heavy alternators would go the way to the DC generator, and they haven't.
This is my thinking but not just funds related but also is the simple dumb regulator longer living as explained in my reply to Stu's post.

I don't know that they are longer living, just speculating with limited knowledge.....lol...pretty much the way I live my life.

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