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Old 21-07-2011, 20:51   #46
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

My Yanmar has a stock 55A Hitachi alternator with stock internal regulator that charges the starter batteries happily for 17 years now.

In addition to that I have 2x Lestec Brute 210A alternators bolted to the engine for a total of 420A charge to my house bank... how about that?! Now, what regulator drives that? These beasts need 7A field current each so 14A field current total. My Ample Power SAR regulator is doing that job for 8 years without a hickup now, after a long history of replacing burnt up Lestec regulators.

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Old 27-07-2011, 11:24   #47
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
My Yanmar has a stock 55A Hitachi alternator with stock internal regulator that charges the starter batteries happily for 17 years now.

In addition to that I have 2x Lestec Brute 210A alternators bolted to the engine for a total of 420A charge to my house bank... how about that?! Now, what regulator drives that? These beasts need 7A field current each so 14A field current total. My Ample Power SAR regulator is doing that job for 8 years without a hickup now, after a long history of replacing burnt up Lestec regulators.

ciao!
Nick.

This system of yours is nothing short of Bad Ass Nick! Im hoping to get most of my charging from solar and wind but I have a dual alternator set up on my Perkins 4-154 now. Im using a Motorola 70amp alt with a simple external regulator to charge my engine battery (4D Gel). This simple regulator just has a little rheostat type control that allows me to get the voltage right for the gel battery, no smart charging. I then have a 100amp balmar with a balmar 614 regulator with alt and bat temp sensors to charge my house bank which presently is just 200ah of wet cells. The 4D gel engine battery came with the boat and was in great shape so I opted to build its charging system to be able to keep it happy and also I can use the motorola as a back up alternator for the house bank. I figure when the gel fianlly dies I will replace with a wet cell. When we take off cruising we will up the house bank to (8) T-105's. I guess with a centerfielder I could maybe run both alternators in parrallel?

Im slowly getting accustomed to wet cells but have always hated battery acid. While I would prefer to run AGMs or Gels to get away from the acid I can never see my system having the ability to produce the high charge acceptance rates that make the AGMs beneficial. I figure with an 800ah bank I would need something like your 420amp alts to appreciate the high CAR, certainly at least 200amp right? I also worry about the ability to regularly float the AGMs using a primarily solar and wind charging system.
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Old 28-07-2011, 21:29   #48
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

New 614 installed today.. ran it for 5 hours from Marion to Cuttyhunk.. no wind.. regulator worked quiet well. Hope it stays that way!

tiny note the 612 has an extra black wire that is not used on the 614. Just needs to be secured. Thought I was going crazy wondering where this extra wire went

Nice it has a readout for the temp for the alternator and battery (still would be nice to have a remote display)...but it is in C not F..

Great that the tech guy there gave me his personal email, and has been supporting me all night with questions I have had.

Above and beyond customer service!
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Old 29-07-2011, 03:17   #49
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

I've been following the developments in battery monitoring, and power management for years. I upgraded the basic charging setup 20 years ago and several times since then. I now have 2-agm 8G8D as the house bank, a link 20, Balmar 614 running a AmpTech 120 amp alternator. The start bank is on an Echo charge and the is a 110 watt solar panel with a PV14 regulator... all with clean connections and proper wire size. Seems like this would be a decent and reliable system. But it's one which seems to have ghosts running around in it. Recently I installed a cut out switch for the solar panels because I believe that when then engine started up the 614 would be fooled by the 13"v that the solar PV 14 was putting into the system. Since the *smart* regulator senses batt condition from the voltage... even if it is down and being charged it will show a higher voltage and the *smart* regulator will act dumb and not get on will pouring out lots of amps to get the batts up faster.

I am not sure if the above reasoning is sound. Balmar suggested the cut out switch for alternative charging sources... I think based on the above logic. I'll see what happens now. But it also occurs the me that even when you kill the alt sources your system may be left with a "surface charge which could still fool the smart regulator.

The reason I write this is that my alter really doesn't ever put out the kind of amps it can according to spec. This would mean that the batts are simply not very discharged and so there is no need for pumping out 80 amps. And this makes sense. On say a typical day time we use no 12v power except the nav instruments and the AP... when we are sailing... no pumps... no lights.. and no fans since we're in the cockpit. So before we head out in the AM we also have used very little amps... a few seconds of a pressure pump for fresh water... perhaps the radio.

I've come to the conclusion that we don't really deeply discharge the batts on a typical day. And if there is sun the solar is adding a few amps per hour min to the system.

Nights are different. At anchor we run lights, entertainment... use the inverter for that...and fans. But when we turn in the batts are still reading 12.65 which is pretty topped up.

The big draws occur with the engine running and the alternator pumping out amps... windlass or radar. The later could be in without the engine... especially in the evening... but this is atypical. In *close* situations, the motor is on for *safety* reasons or simply because we are motoring in channels etc.

So in observing the alternator output, I virtually never see it put out anything like 80 amps for 10 minutes let alone hours on end. I would think one would have to have a very large bank which was being used heavily. We simply don't have those conditions.

I'm now thinking we are *oversized* for our typical use, but perhaps OK for evening sailing, but it's hard to say. I would prefer that when the reg kicks in the alt throws out 80-100 amps and quickly gets the batts topped up... why dauddle around beginning at say 30amps and ramp down from there. I suppose these programs know what they are doing.

I did have the former MaxCharge 612 fail apparently from heat exhaustion... and so the replacement 614 is now mounted outside the engine room where it is definitely never warmer than 90 F on the hot summer days. This is well under spec so I am not expecting a heat related failure. I can also easily read the display which reports the bat and alt temps and so forth.

The other issue with batts is of course, that they get *hardening of the arteries* so to speak... They age and lose their *range*.. something about the number of charging cycles... sounds to me like age reduces their capacity so that if you begin with a 250amp bat over time it might effectively evolve into a 100amp one. I don't know if there is a means (simple) to determine what batts real AH capacity is. The Link seems to be based on values YOU program and works from there... so it is more than capable of producing garbage in equals garbage out quality data... in terms of AH capacity. I don't trust those displays at all. The volt reading and the amp in or out seems accurate.

I have to say that the batts have been doing well for old codgers and are pushing 8 years. There on a shore power charge in the winter and the solar year round and really never deeply discharged... but it has happened once or twice when the bilge pump drained them with no charging for weeks on end. I do dread the day when the 8D8Gs die and I have to haul them out and put in replacements. Not fun. Aside from the weight there are oodles of wires in there.
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Old 29-07-2011, 12:39   #50
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

So in observing the alternator output, I virtually never see it put out anything like 80 amps for 10 minutes let alone hours on end. I would think one would have to have a very large bank which was being used heavily. We simply don't have those conditions.

You've done well, very well. For most folks without solar, after a night on the hook with a fridge, their 400 ah house bank could well be down 100 ah, which would have their alternators max out at battery acceptance of what could well be up to over 80A. By having your house bank fully charged most of the time, you're simply, and intelligently, avoiding this issue. Would that more folks could understand the basics of a good quality electrical SYSTEM.

You're my poster boy!
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Old 29-07-2011, 12:54   #51
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

Defjef...so no refirgeration?
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Old 29-07-2011, 18:48   #52
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

My refer is engine drive Grunnert.. going strong after 20 yrs!

When I planned to go offshore and live on the hook I did a bit of thinking an realized that I would normally use the engine each day for any number of reasons... going to the dock... motoring in and out of an anchorage... and motoring when the wind pooped out and I wanted to make a landfall before nightfall.

So I also decided when living on the hook and being one who likes a hot shower... I would have a routine in the AM where I would crank up the engine, turn the refer on, take a shower and do vacuum the boat with the inverter on. I would also do a run to the fuel dock in the AM.

I found that an hr a day could keep the refer cold and it was a freezer temp cold plate so it would go way down if it is run for several hours. Run as I do it keeps the refer at above freezing and much colder against the plate. Works for me.

When I weekend I take several plastic containers of frozen water which we use for ice or ice water as it melts but it holds us until we start the refer.

I hate running the engine as much as the next guy, but I make sure when do it's doing a log more than spinning the prop. I don't think I would use 12v refer unless I was living dockside... which I won't.

The evening can drain the batts especially with entertainment sys or the SSB.. but this is not every night and we are early to bed and early to rise types anyway... so lights are out early.

So... short answer.. YES to refer.. but it's engine drive!
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Old 12-07-2012, 11:52   #53
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

I’m reviving an old thread, sorry.

This spring I had of the three stage alternator regulators fail. In my case it was a Xantrex 84-2006-01 XAR Digital Alternator Regulator that I bought in 2005. When it began to fail the reed switch first became inoperable although the regulator still functioned. Months later, the LEDs stopped lighting and the alternator stopped charging, but when the large connector was wiggled, the LEDs lit and the alternator resumed charging. After several weeks of wiggling, wiggling no longer worked, and I replaced the regulator with a standard Ford external regulator to get us home from the Bahamas.

I read this thread and the most common suspected cause of failure of these three stage regulators was overheating.

My regulator was mounted in the engine compartment of my Pacific Seacraft 34, forward and high on the port side. While it was warm there when the engine is operating, I have touched it and doubt that it exceeded 120F. After removing the regulator, I could see a crack in the potting material at the Power Sense (red wire) terminal.

I heated the green potting material with a hot air gun until it was soft and leather-like, then while hot I broke it up and peeled it away from the circuit board with a small sharp screwdriver, a dental tool, and a pair of needle nose pliers. Surprisingly, I was able to remove almost all of it with little damage to the board. (I broke off the reed switch, cracked an electrolytic capacitor, pulled the top off a trimmer pot, and pulled off a component that I lost in the pile of potting chips.)

It appears that the regulator failed due to corrosion along the side of the circuit board where the reed switch was mounted and where four major terminals were connected. The potting material was a waxy substance. It was not adhesive. It had separated from the aluminum heat sink/mounting and from the Power Sense terminal. Water (?) had entered through the crack and corroded the copper traces along the edge of the board and attacked some of the components in that area including the reed switch, several resistors, an IC, and the copper traces.

The regulator was mounted with the corroded edge of the board down. If water was present, I would expect it to collect there. However, I have never seen water in this area of the engine compartment and would have thought it to be one of the driest places on the boat. Either the water got there unseen by me, or perhaps it was condensation developed during temperature swings.

This is the regulator with the upper potting material removed. The circuit board of the Xantrex regulator was labeled “BALMAR MASTER LP REV K”.

The potting material on the bottom of the board enclosed a large bubble around the two power devices that were touching the heat sink. Although the inside of the bubble was stained, there was little corrosion here. The staining was confined to the part of the bubble that would be the lowest when the regulator was mounted on the boat.

The bottom of the board was nearly corrosion free.

The corroded area on the top of the board extended from the rectangular pad on the left where the reed switch was mounted, past the four surface mount resistors, the IC, and the single resistor. It then resumed near the four connectors on the right where it attacked the traces and several more resistors. The reed switch itself was also corroded.
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:03   #54
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

Thanks for the detailed analysis. Very helpful.

If you haven't already done so, I think it would be good to get this information directly to Balmar (the regulator "manufacturer").

Bill
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Old 12-07-2012, 15:44   #55
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

I would not have posted this here had I not called Xantrex beforehand. Their technician speculated that the potting material had separated from the heat sink and the Power Sense terminal due to vibration and suggested that I regularly spray the regulator with an anti-corrosion spray.

The regulator was mounted with a 1/2" layer of soundproofing (foil/foam/lead/foam) between it and the underlying plywood. The four sheet metal screws were tightened only enough to bring the regulator lightly into contact with the soundproofing. I would describe the mounting as loose. The wiring harness had quite a bit of slack in it. I would not consider the location to be high vibration.

In post #23 another member states that the manufacturer is known to him and is not Xantrex, Balmar, nor Electromaax.
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Old 13-07-2012, 00:57   #56
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

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I would not have posted this here had I not called Xantrex beforehand. Their technician speculated that the potting material had separated from the heat sink and the Power Sense terminal due to vibration and suggested that I regularly spray the regulator with an anti-corrosion spray.

The regulator was mounted with a 1/2" layer of soundproofing (foil/foam/lead/foam) between it and the underlying plywood. The four sheet metal screws were tightened only enough to bring the regulator lightly into contact with the soundproofing. I would describe the mounting as loose. The wiring harness had quite a bit of slack in it. I would not consider the location to be high vibration.

In post #23 another member states that the manufacturer is known to him and is not Xantrex, Balmar, nor Electromaax.
wsmurdoch,

Whether you know it or not you have just diagnosed your problem!

Regulator need to disperse all heat that they generate, especially regulators made with discrete components. The epoxy potting will start to separate at temperature above 130F. This will cause a vacuum when cooling that can suck in moisture laden air, more if it's salt air....all the worse. Diodes have a critical junction temp. which causes failure.

I always mount my Balmar Regulators on a separate 1/4 aluminum plate, with stand offs of at least 1 inch, sometimes if they are installed in an engine room I will add a fan mounted to the back of the plate.

Lloyd
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Old 13-07-2012, 01:32   #57
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

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wsmurdoch,

Whether you know it or not you have just diagnosed your problem!

Regulator need to disperse all heat that they generate, especially regulators made with discrete components. The epoxy potting will start to separate at temperature above 130F. This will cause a vacuum when cooling that can suck in moisture laden air, more if it's salt air....all the worse. Diodes have a critical junction temp. which causes failure.

I always mount my Balmar Regulators on a separate 1/4 aluminum plate, with stand offs of at least 1 inch, sometimes if they are installed in an engine room I will add a fan mounted to the back of the plate.

Lloyd


An engine room install, each of the 614's have a 12v axial fan and surface mounted snap switch mounted behind.

Lloyd
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Old 13-07-2012, 09:00   #58
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

The regulators come with pretty long harnesses. After reading about failures in engine spaces, we installed ours as far away as possible. While it is probable that some boat designs don't have good places to mount regulators immediately outside engine spaces, extending the wiring harness seems to be a simple thing to do to avoid potential failures.
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Old 14-07-2012, 20:21   #59
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

I bought a new Xantrex regulator. It was interesting to examine knowing what I do about the one that failed. Wetting the surface of the potting compound to make a hazy patch in the potting compound clear, I could read “BALMAR MASTER LP REV K” on the circuit board. The potting compound was separated from the black heat sink/mount along 80% or so of both sides. Looking in from the top it was easy to see (but difficult to photograph) the darker spots where the potting compound touched the sides and the lighter areas where they did not touch. From the ends the separation was plainly visible. Light from a flashlight passed completely through the cracks from one end of the regulator to the other. The circuit board was (except for a few tiny bubbles) fully wetted out by the potting compound on its visible upper surface.

In this photo the cracks between the potting compound and the heat sink/mount on the new regulator can be seen on both sides. The other end was similar.

In this photo I placed a flashlight at the far end of the new regulator and used a cloth to keep the light from shining around the regulator and into the camera. Light easily passed through the crack the entire length of the regulator.

From what I have seen, I think I know how my regulator failed. Water vapor condensed on the surface of the regulator and wicked into the crack between the potting compound and the heat sink/mount at the bottom of the regulator easily reaching the edge of the circuit board. Over time the potting compound began to separate from the top surface of the circuit board and the water began to creep onto the board. The components closest to the bottom edge of the circuit board were destroyed by corrosion; first the reed switch, then the copper traces near the four main connectors. Our use of the boat may have accelerated the failure. We have traveled south on the ICW from North Carolina to Miami each of the last five years leaving in late January. The boat was unheated and for much of the trip the interior was dripping with condensation.

I will make some changes when I install the new regulator. I will move it out of the engine compartment to put it in a lower temperature spot as many in this thread have suggested. I will spray it with Boshield to fill the cracks with oil/wax as the Xantrex tech recommended. I will mount it solidly in a vented plastic fronted aluminum box to protect it from splashes and increase the heat sink area following other ideas mentioned in this thread.

And just in case, I’ll keep my $17 Chinese knock off of a Ford external regulator with my spares.

Bill Murdoch
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Old 14-07-2012, 21:26   #60
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Re: Balmar Regulator Failure

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Originally Posted by phantomracer View Post
New 614 installed today.. ran it for 5 hours from Marion to Cuttyhunk.. no wind.. regulator worked quiet well. Hope it stays that way!

tiny note the 612 has an extra black wire that is not used on the 614. Just needs to be secured. Thought I was going crazy wondering where this extra wire went

Nice it has a readout for the temp for the alternator and battery (still would be nice to have a remote display)...but it is in C not F..

Great that the tech guy there gave me his personal email, and has been supporting me all night with questions I have had.

Above and beyond customer service!
I spoke to the guys at the Miami Boat Show and complemented them on how fantastic the systems are working on our boat but a pity not to have a remote display panel in the cabin. He advised that they have one being launched this year ...
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