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Old 04-09-2006, 17:08   #1
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Balmar or Jack rabbit.

Which company does a better job? I need to upgrade my charging system amd Pat Nevermonday told me not to buy a Westerbeke alternaror so who should I buy from?
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Old 04-09-2006, 17:45   #2
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Both companies have provided excellent customer service in my dealings with them.

Ballmar - I had asked very technical questions about their alternators. They have dedicated engineers standing by ready to help you with any type of question you might have. They take time and really answer your question, rather than just cut and paste in canned responses. Very helpful.

Jack Rabbit- A nice small company. I've had the pleasure of visiting their shop. They are also very helpful. They take time to help you manage your boat's entire power system. They help you with energy calcs, and have quite reasonable prices. I bought a set of twin 90AMP Iota smart charters from them. Good people.

So... I would compare based on what you are looking to buy. For an alternator, and some charge controllers, take a look at Ballmar. For more complicated systems including inverters, battery charters, and any number of electrical needs, I'd take a look at Jack Rabbit.

PS: I should add that Jack Rabbit sent me 2 chargers that were scratched up and damaged. As it turns out, there was a fire at the Iota warehouse, and I got 2 chargers that were rescued. When I raised the issue, they ordered me 2 new chargers without batting an eyelash. They put customer satisfaction at the top of their list.
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Old 04-09-2006, 23:20   #3
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I bought an amptech 125 from Jack Rabbit along with link 10 battery monitor and xanterx regulator. I have atomic 4 that required some fabrication to mount an alternator with a 1/2" pulley to a 3/8" drive and belt on the engine. The situation got even more complicated by the fact that same 3/8" belt was driving the water pump">raw water pump (of the FWC system)and the three pulleys were making everything very tight and out of allignment. This caused the belt to slip weekly for about a year. During all this I really didn't get the kind of help from Jack Rabbit that i would have liked. I admit that my situation was very complicated but they didn't make it any simpler. anyhow here I am 2 years later and I have found alternate means to drive the raw water pump while allowing the alternator to have a required 1/2" belt. I can finaly see output in the 90's without slippage. I am just glad I also bought the temperature sensors(battery and alternator) Probably saved the alternator on many occasions.
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Old 05-09-2006, 04:00   #4
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Cost effective

I would go to http://www.thebatteryshack.net/ for my alternator and Balmar for their ARS-5 regulator. The Battery Shack will sell you the same alternator as Balmar but without the paint for 1/2 the price and a lifetime warranty.
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Old 05-09-2006, 06:10   #5
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We have Balmar on our sloop. After we installed the alternator and smart regulator our charging system was finally "fixed". Yes, Balmar has and make their own designs for regulators (good designs and easy to use), but their alternators are not theirs. Not sure who designed them, but I think they are made in Brazil. If you can find the same thing cheaper, as Jentine mentioned, all the better.

(bookmarking thebatteryshack)...
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Old 05-09-2006, 13:05   #6
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Well I just spent about a hour on the phone with Balmar. They were very helpfull. But it is going to be a very hard job to change may charging system to use their products. I have just called the Westerbeke distributor to find out if using their products will be easier.
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Old 05-09-2006, 13:46   #7
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JR sells Balmar... but they do provide a wider scope of services and products than Balmar.

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Old 05-09-2006, 19:16   #8
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Balmar beware....

The only downsides I know of with the Balmar is that the regulator is preset to a specific distance from the alternator and their alternators are painted.. Don't know if you can splice wires in to add length or not.

We installed the Ample Power system purchased from JR a couple of years ago. At that time they suggested the "non painted" alternater and I liked all the comments on the Ample power systems; so we leaned that way. Have emailed and spoken one the phone with JR and Ample Power, both good. JR told me they had to discontinue APower becuase Ample Power Company was "demanding" that they only carry their products. Too bad.
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Old 06-09-2006, 07:11   #9
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Balmar's wiring harnesses are about eight feet long. If you need to to locate it farther from the alternator, just wire it with thicker guage wire. No big deal. Even then, I cant imagine a situation where it needs to be located more than eight feet. The regulator is not wired to, and does not need to be mounted near, the batteries, except for the temperature sensors (if you use them), even then they can be extended with thick guage wire (easier to extend than the harness). But, maybe there are boats out there with more than eight feet between the alternator and the nearest bulkhead to mount the regulator ;-).

Programming blamar regulators is quite easy. No buttons, just a magnetic reed switch activated by a magnet (which they supply on the end of a screwdriver). Use it to control the menu driven display.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:12   #10
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I have an alternator from batteryshack. usually he insists on putting an internal regulator because people drive the alternator beyond 75% of the rated output and fry the diodes. I used it the first year after my power upgrade. Now I use it as a spare but I need to still remove the internal regulator. I would say that for its price, its a good deal. But for my living and power needs I had to get a larger alternator.
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Old 06-09-2006, 08:25   #11
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Balmar told me that I need a 210 amp unit. Westerbeke sells a 190 amp package that just bolts on my engine. The guy that I talked to at Marysville marine said that the westerbeke unit was likely made by Balmar. Pat Never Monday is getting me a price. I have bought from him before and been very happy with the way that he worked with me.
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Old 06-09-2006, 11:56   #12
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Watch out! Depending on the belt off your engine, if you put that size unit on one belt most likely it will slip or go through a lot of belts. I'm speaking hear of the traditional V belt.
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Old 06-09-2006, 12:49   #13
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It will be a duel belt system. I will be interested to know what this setup will cost.
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Old 06-09-2006, 16:07   #14
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"It will be a duel belt system." There's a reason the auto industry stopped using dual belts. Mainly that they duel to see who will carry the load and then burst, taking both out.

Tensioning the two together, replacing them together, checking tension on them both with a tension guage not just a thumb...

It really is more reliable to use a ribbed belt, even if that means machining up new pulleys to match it. Dual belts work...they've just been obsoleted by something better. Heck, even simple V-belts are getting hard to find in the auto shops.
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Old 14-01-2008, 21:46   #15
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I wanted to update my system and I went with Jack Rabbit and bought a Balmar through them. They sent me complete and easy to understand drawings of the new system. I followed the directions, talked to them a few times, jack rabbit gave good suggestions and asked questions that I had not thought of. Well the damn thing worked!! and worked well. Very happy, and I know where all the wires go, know what they do and how to test and change the system!!! Thanks Jack Rabbit
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