Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 13-12-2010, 07:14   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2010
Boat: Beneteau Oceanis 351 (1995)
Posts: 1
Balmar ARS-4 Smart Regulator Under-Charging New Batteries

Hello smart guys,

I just replaced my house bank. Now 4x 3K T-105 golf car batteries, 6V 225Ah each, wired in series and parallel to produce a single 450Ah house bank. 90A Balmar alternator, with Balmar ARS-4 smart regulator.

At 80% charge (~12.35V), running my Yanmar 3GM30F engine at ~2,500 RPM, the smart regulator is limiting the charge going into the batteries to ~20 amps (16 amps observed, corrected for 4 amps of load), and the measured voltage on the batteries (and the alternator) is between 12.8V and 13.0V, well short of the 14.4V or so I would expect to see in bulk cycle. Further, the batteries do not seem to be charging at all when the engine is idling, and only build up to this weak charging current when higher revs.

ARS-4 automatically goes into bulk cycle when engine is started, and stays there for at least 36 minutes (longer if the minimum voltage has not been met yet). The default minimum voltage is 14.1V, and I have increased this to 14.6V (and then to 15.0V) using their silly magnet-driven procedure. No impact. The lights on the ARS-4 indicate that it thinks it is in bulk cycle, so these voltage configuration steps should be irrelevant.

Volts on the power, ignition, and field wires going into the smart regulator were 12.88V, 12.80V, and 3.55V, respectively when I measured with the batteries at ~95% (12.66V with the engine off).

When I short the field wire to the power wire (manually raising it from 3.55V to 12.8V), the alternator kicks into high gear and charges at ~40-50 amps. Voltage tops out around 14V (on the batteries, not on the alternator). To me, this indicates the alternator is ok and the problem lies with the smart regulator. I believe this also confirms that the cable from the alternator to the batteries is adequate?

Key questions:

1) In bulk cycle, with batteries at 80% charge, and the 3GM30F at 2,500 RPM, and the smart regulator indicating bulk cycle to boot, shouldn't we be seeing more than 20 amps coming through (when the full continuous output of the 90A alternator is surely closer to 40-50 amps)? I thought the idea behind bulk cycle was to allow something closer to the full output through to the batteries.

2) Once bulk cycle is selected based on battery voltage, what other factors are considered such that the ARS-4 could arrive at a field wire voltage of 3.55V (on a scale of 3 to 11)? What else might I look at - tachometer?

3) Should we be charging our new batteries full speed ahead until they reach 14.4V before continuing to absorption and float cycles? If so, should we continue to do this even after our Mastervolt Battery Monitor reads that we've replaced all of the amp hours that we used (counting down and back up from the 450Ah total capacity).

4) When I short the field wire (and alternator output increases to 40-50 amps), I can smell something like burning rubber. I assume this is due to added stress on the V belt (which is new), but have not looked into it further, as I have only done this bypass a couple times for less than a minute. Should I be concerned about this smell? Any obvious issues if I were to jury-rig a switch to allow me to manually bypass the smart regulator, and plan to turn this on until batteries reach 14.4V while charging?

New sailor and first post so apologies in advance for my inevitable blunders. Any ideas? Would any additional information be helpful?

Thank you,


adamwible is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-12-2010, 13:08   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Oriental, NC
Boat: Mainship Pilot 34
Posts: 1,429
Have you talked to Balmar. Their technician is pretty good.

But the first thing I would do is to discharge the batteries to about 25% or less than 12.0 V and then try the full field test at 2,500 rpm. If you don't get something near 80 amps then something is wrong with the alternator or wiring.


djmarchand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-12-2010, 13:17   #3
Senior Cruiser
Jim Cate's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2008
Location: cruising SW Pacific
Boat: Jon Sayer 1-off 46 ft fract rig sloop strip plank in W Red Cedar
Posts: 9,149
Send a message via Skype™ to Jim Cate
G'Day Adam,

You might check the voltage sensing wire and the ground wire for the regulator. Bad or incorrect connections of either of these could result in your symptoms.


Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
Jim Cate is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-12-2010, 14:45   #4
Senior Cruiser
DeepFrz's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Winnipeg
Boat: None at this time
Posts: 7,066
You don't mention if you have temp. sensors on the alternator and battery. If you do they may be limiting the output. Check your temps. with an infrared temp. sensor and then try disconnecting the temp. sensors one at a time if your temp. readings are okay.

The smell of burning rubber is never a good thing. Check your belt tension. New V belts will stretch.
DeepFrz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-12-2010, 07:44   #5
Registered User
cuthbert's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2010
Boat: Catalina 350
Posts: 96
What is the current output from the alternator and the voltage across the batteries (each 6V x4) when the batteries are fully charged by other means.

As per the 2nd post what is the current and voltages when charging a partially charged battery (I would recommend going to 50% discharge).
cuthbert is offline   Reply With Quote

balmar, regulator

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Smart Regulator for Yanmar Alternator Celestialsailor Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 34 01-08-2014 09:20
Balmar Alternator / Regulator Problems ckoretsky Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 8 14-11-2010 16:27
Stock Universal M25 Alternator with Balmar External Regulator ? sgtPluck Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 2 31-03-2010 09:04
Install Balmar 3-Stage Regulator motion30 Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 5 22-09-2009 00:06

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:10.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.