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Old 17-07-2011, 14:18   #16
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

My Balmar alternator has a back-up internal regulator. I have wired a switch to allow access to that regulator should the external fail, which it has done. I also carry a spare alternator and regulator when cruising
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Old 17-07-2011, 14:37   #17
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

You can emote all you like about how the regulator "ought to be marine grade" or "ought to be able to take it" or "it's rated at 145 degrees F safe working temp", but you're really sticking your heads in the sand (bilge?).

ALL SOLID STATE DEVICES ARE SUBJECT TO INCREMENTAL DAMAGE BY HEAT.

Doesn't matter what you'd LIKE them to be, they ARE what they ARE.

Balmar publishes the "145 degree F safe working temp" in the specs for their MC-612 and MC-614 regulators and, they also say very clearly, that there must be good airflow around the heat sink. Why do you think that is?

And, it isn't hard at all for temps to reach 145F in the engine room. With ambient temps around 100 degrees in summertime or the tropics, and with your diesel working hard with an operating temperature of 180-190F, you could easily see that much heat.

Moreover, ANYTHING approaching that level of heat is going to have some effect....perhaps over a long time period....on solid state devices. Transistors fail because of high junction temperature. They MUST be kept below critical temps; the lower the better.

No doubt there are many examples of Balmars or other regulators installed in engine rooms which have had long troublefree service. And, there are others which have been installed in cooler locations which, for whatever reason, have given a lot of trouble.

Still, if you're going to install a new one why not try to put it in a location which is more conducive to long life, rather than one which will test the manufacturer's specs?

IMHO,

Bill
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Old 17-07-2011, 15:30   #18
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

So in a nutshell, the balmar, being electronic should not be used, even though it is installed according to the mfr. Good airflow and all.

It is not worth the effort to move the unit into the cabin, reroute all the wires, etc to gain 25 degrees or so

Even when I called Balmar last year when it failed the first time, I told them it was in the engine room, they asked if it iwas near the exhaust manifold or anything. I said no it was several feet from it in the front of the bay, high on a bulkhead. They said that was more than fine, just as long as it was not near something hot (exhaust manifold, etc).

So I left it there when I got the new one.

Power, being everything at sea, I am not going to screw around with. If it can't take it, the original, unused, Yanmar alternator may be going back in.

Thank goodness I had the 'dumb' backup regulator to charge the batteries for the trip home. But 3 regulators in 3 years is a bit much, I think.
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Old 17-07-2011, 16:32   #19
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

So, maybe a different location might be beneficial. The alternator with the "dumb" regulator wont do your house batteries any favors.
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Old 17-07-2011, 17:00   #20
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
So, maybe a different location might be beneficial. The alternator with the "dumb" regulator wont do your house batteries any favors.
Thats why it is an 'emergency' regulator...good enough to get you home.. http://balmar.net/PDF/regulator%20info%20s/ERS.pdf

Where the regualtor is located now is the coolest, and has the most airflow. Short of moving it out into the cabin (soooooo not going to happen), there is not really a better location.

I guess I could put a small 12v computer fan blowing across the unit. At the same time, if the unit is not that robust to take where it is located now, it might be better to just yank the setup and be done with it.
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Old 17-07-2011, 17:25   #21
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

We seem to be having several conversations. You mentioned yanking the Balmar regulator and putting the original alternator back it. That alternator has an automotive style regulator. That regulator wont do your house batteries any favors. That is the point I was trying to make.
I know about the built in backup regulator in some Balmar alternators.

Anyway, good luck.
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Old 17-07-2011, 18:07   #22
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

I am just trying to figure out if I should stay on the balmar-a-year plan or another solution.

Since the balmar doesn't seem ready for prime time, then I don't know what other alternatives there are, other than the Yanmar original one.

This weekend I did use the emergency regulator to get home though. worked well.

Hope I can get another regulator from balmar to finish the season, then I can explore other solutions

what is the downside to using the yanmar alternator over the balmar, et al? You mention not doing it 'any favors'
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Old 17-07-2011, 19:21   #23
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Re: Speaking of Balmar.. another regulator bites the dust..

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Originally Posted by Kapena View Post
Balmar just sticks its label on the xantrex unit. I had great success with the old xantrex smart regulators but very poor longevity out of the new ones.

This is not the case. Balmar manufacturer their own regulators, in house, as well as the Xantrex regulator for Xantrex.

To say the Balmar is a Xantrex is simply not the case it is the other way around. The Xantrex XAR is manufactured by Balmar.
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Old 18-07-2011, 18:59   #24
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

"How many hours should a balmar 612 regulator last? "
According to some ancient tests the USAF ran, properly designed and engineered solid-state component electronics (not ICs) should last 100 years. ICs should last 1000 years.
Of course some will fail in a cure well before (and after!) that but with two failing so quickly, either there's an inherent flaw, or an environmental factor. Heat, load, spikes, evil spirits...

I'd suggest a long heart-to-heart with someone at Balmar. It is more likely that they got a batch of bad components, or their potting is causing an overheat (and potting makes examining failed components damned hard), than it is for them to blame the failures on evil spirits. Whether your engine spaces are ventilated well enough, or too hot, is something to really look into. A $20 IR thermometer might be a good investment, because it can take the "he said, she said" out of the discussion and tell you how hot that potato really IS getting when the engine is running.

Or perhaps it just needs to be installed athwartships and within ten inches of the waterline. (yeah, right.)
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Old 18-07-2011, 19:10   #25
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Re: Speaking of Balmar.. another regulator bites the dust..

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Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
My alternator is installed in a hot nasty location and it does not fail and I dont expect it to fail. And I expect my regulator to perform in the same environment as the alternator.

Why does the regulator have to be installed in cool dry location with lots of air. mine isn't and I would not buy one that does.

Its a boat, life is tough
+1!! My Balmar regulator is located in the same tiny, hot engine compartment as the Balmar regulator. It shares a bulkhead with my fire suppression system and my dual Racor filter assembly. I expect all those components to outlive me.
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Old 18-07-2011, 19:17   #26
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

have a call in with balmar, waiting for a call back.

Both failures I have had were different.

The first time the unit died dead - no lights, etc

This time, there are bizzare lights (see my video in a post above) and can not get in to programming mode.

With a 2 square foot opening directly above the unit, and a big vent in the rear of the engine bay, there is no way there is a lack of airflow remotely too hot.

Will call balmar back if I don't get a reply.

Still, what is the downside to going back to the stock yanmar alternator?

Paul
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Old 19-07-2011, 05:44   #27
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

My first 612 bought in 02 kicked the bucked in 09 and was replaced and the new one moved to the bulkhead above the alternator. I haven't measured the temp at that location, but in the summer the engine box is hot as hell. I assumed the blades from the alternator would at least keep the air the vicinity moving. Reg 2 failed after 54 hours and two summers of very light use.

I got a new 614 and am about to install that one and am considering a cooler location in the engine box which is still reasonable accessible. That is the major challenge. Don't know why #1 and #2 failed but heat might have been a factor. #1 lasted through some very hot periods. #2 seems to run when it is cool.. ir when I arrive at the boat. Works fine for about 10-15 minutes and dies. That in itself couldn't be from high heat... could it in 15 minutes? But it could represent some components that are now outside of spec and go off when subject to SOME heat. it's all a mystery.

There is a possibility to wire in the alarms and then move the unit to a cooler location which is less accessible. The Link20 will pretty much tell me when the reg has stopped working, but that's at the nav station and when I am in the cockpit it just not in plain site.

I'm still puzzling this out and will install it this weekend.

Any suggestions?
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Old 19-07-2011, 06:57   #28
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef View Post
My first 612 bought in 02 kicked the bucked in 09 and was replaced and the new one moved to the bulkhead above the alternator. I haven't measured the temp at that location, but in the summer the engine box is hot as hell. I assumed the blades from the alternator would at least keep the air the vicinity moving. Reg 2 failed after 54 hours and two summers of very light use.

I got a new 614 and am about to install that one and am considering a cooler location in the engine box which is still reasonable accessible. That is the major challenge. Don't know why #1 and #2 failed but heat might have been a factor. #1 lasted through some very hot periods. #2 seems to run when it is cool.. ir when I arrive at the boat. Works fine for about 10-15 minutes and dies. That in itself couldn't be from high heat... could it in 15 minutes? But it could represent some components that are now outside of spec and go off when subject to SOME heat. it's all a mystery.

There is a possibility to wire in the alarms and then move the unit to a cooler location which is less accessible. The Link20 will pretty much tell me when the reg has stopped working, but that's at the nav station and when I am in the cockpit it just not in plain site.

I'm still puzzling this out and will install it this weekend.

Any suggestions?
at least I am not alone

the one I have now giving the flaky readout (video above) sometimes will work when you turn the ign on, then 5-10 minutes later (or less) it will flake out and give the readings on the video (and not charge).
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Old 19-07-2011, 11:06   #29
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

jef-
"Works fine for about 10-15 minutes and dies. That in itself couldn't be from high heat... could it in 15 minutes? " Suggestion, sure. TEST IT.
Take an old sweatsock, fill it with crushed ice or crushed dry ice, or make up an ice slush of some kind, and a way to secure it on top of the regulator. (Dry icce will avoid that water-and-electricity business.) That should keep it cold, or at least cool, way longer and that would test the question of thermal issues.

Electronics and thermal problems can be quite baffling, because sometimes things go out of spec, but sometimes there is a physical fault like a cold solder joint, that opens up and breaks the circuit--only when it is hot. On the 90's I chased down FOUR of these simple mechanical faults in one SONY radio. A properly soldered board doesn't have any of them, but Sony had switched to a new manufacturing plant, new hand labor, and someone had messed up at least four connections in the one small radio. As each one cycled..."Soap, no radio!" to paraphrase the old joke.

So it could be going out of spec, or have gross errors hidden by the potting. But some type of objective temperature measurement (the IR thermometer will find other uses!) along with some temporary way to ensure it is running within spec...and you should be able to get some idea of what's going on.

I've seen temperature related issues happen in a car. Do you have any idea, how many components scattered across how many locations "might" be the one that is heatsoaked and failing? <G> Treasure hunt, oh boy! At least you know which part the villain is.
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Old 19-07-2011, 11:26   #30
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Re: Speaking of Balmar . . . Another Regulator Bites the Dust

My MC-612 has lived in the aft cabin in a plexiglass-front teak box for the past seven years. It seems happy there wherever I've travelled (Caribbean and Maine to Florida and Bahamas).

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Note the robust ATC fuseholders and the liberal use of adhesive heat shrink tubing on the connectors.

The grill next to it is an air intake for the Espar.

The teak box has ventilation top and bottom.

This solution has worked well for me, and it looks a heck of a lot better in person than in these pix :-)

I carry a spare MC-612 onboard, but have never had to use it.

Bill
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