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Old 02-07-2013, 18:26   #1
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Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

I have 6 golf cart batteries in a 2X3 seriesXparallel arrangement to give me a 12V 660 AH bank. When I use my new Magnum Energy inverter/charger they are completely charged in 12-14 hours from 50%. If I use the engine with its 150A alternator and Ample Power SAR-V3 regulator they never completely charge even after running the engine for 53 hours (last passage).

Does anyone have a regulator and AGM batteries that works better?

Thanks in advance.

Salty Doug
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Old 02-07-2013, 20:37   #2
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Re: Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

Need some more information to adequately address your question.

The Ample Power SAR-V3 is a capable regulator, if installed and set up correctly.

1. How do you know your batteries are/are not "fully charged"?

2. What is the voltage output of the alternator in the absorption phase (measured directly at the output of the alternator)? What is the voltage as measured at the batteries?

3. Are the three SAR-V3 dip switches set correctly for the type of batteries you're charging?

4. How much amperage are you getting out of the alternator when the batteries are depleted a bit, and you're presumably in the bulk or absorption phases? Measure this with a clamp-on ammeter. When 50% depleted, Lifeline AGMs will easily take their CA rating for a few minutes before cutting back a bit, i.e., well over 600 amps. So, your 150A alternator should be putting out near full power if correctly set up, before it heats up and reduces output a bit.

5. Is the voltage sense wire set up properly?

6. Do you have a dedicated negative cable -- same size as the positive cable -- directly from the alternator to the house batteries (i.e., NOT going thru the engine ground)?

7. Are all connections/connectors between the alternator and the batteries clean and tight? Ditto for the regulator?

You might not need another regulator, at least not until you've checked all of the above.

If you DO find the regulator defective, a good bet for a new one would be the Balmar MC-614.

Bill
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Old 02-07-2013, 21:28   #3
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Re: Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty_Doug View Post
I have 6 golf cart batteries in a 2X3 seriesXparallel arrangement to give me a 12V 660 AH bank. When I use my new Magnum Energy inverter/charger they are completely charged in 12-14 hours from 50%. If I use the engine with its 150A alternator and Ample Power SAR-V3 regulator they never completely charge even after running the engine for 53 hours (last passage).

Does anyone have a regulator and AGM batteries that works better?

Thanks in advance.

Salty Doug
As noted, the Balmar 614 is a very good unit, but I also suspect the Ample Power unit is not set up correctly. I would go through the wiring diagram, paying close attention to any connections ensuring they are all solid - especially any crimped connections. Is this temperature compensated with a sensor? If so, make sure the sensor is where it should be and is working. You really should figure this out as AGMs don't like being undercharged, which is clearly happening. The only question is why. Is the alternator putting out what it should?
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:13   #4
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Re: Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

Hi Bill,
Thanks for the detailed reply.
1. I use my Xantrex Link 1000 battery monitor to measure AH in/out and voltages through the three charging phases. I also monitor the battery voltage when the load is low. We are living aboard so it is not convenient to let them "rest" for 24 hours.
2. The absorption and float voltages are correct as per the factory specs taking into account the battery temperature. I am cruising in the Caribbean so the batteries are often at 90 F.
3. The dip switches are set for Concord AGM batteries. I also tried the "thick plate" setting as well.
4. Using the Link 1000 to measure the current, I see 100-110 amps initially that falls off to 85 after about 15 minutes.
5. The battery sense wire runs directly to the positive terminal with an in-line fuse at the screw post.
6. The alternator has a 00 cable (negative) screwed to the case that runs to the shunt. The positive 00 cable runs from the B+ on the alternator to a 200A fuse on the battery terminal.
7. Last month I checked all the connections including the temperature sense. I did find that every negative terminal on the batteries were corroded. I cleaned them, re-connected, and sprayed them with corrosion protection. The charging was better but still not great.

The boat is put up for the hurricane season in the Rio Dulce.
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:58   #5
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Re: Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

Salty Doug,

Thanks for the details. They help a lot.

I have just 3 observations:

1. Check especially the fuse connections -- the 200A fuse (I assume it's an MRBF since you said it was on the battery terminal) and the inline fuse on the battery sense wire. These can develop surface corrosion which you can't even see.

2. The charging amperages from the alternator seem about right.

3. I would NOT trust the battery monitor to tell you when the batteries were "fully charged". They are notoriously unreliable unless frequently calibrated.

How to tell when they're "fully charged"? Put them on a good battery charger (like the Sterling) for at least 24 hours.

It takes quite a few hours to reach "full charge", even with a big charger capacity.

Your 50A Sterling charger at full output represents only about 7.6% of the capacity of your 660AH AGM battery bank, and that's without taking account of other loads which may be present.

Here's what a 10% charger looks like on Concorde Lifeline AGMs during the first couple of hours charging a 50% depleted battery (the blue line):

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And here's the percentage of CA accepted using different size chargers...sorry I don't have a 10% charger figure, but you get the idea.

Click image for larger version

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As to CAPACITY remaining in those AGMs, the only way to tell for sure is to do a controlled load test, preferably with a fixed C/20 load over a 20-hour period. Failing that, a good capacitance/inductance tester like the Midtronics series will give a decent approximation. See if you can borrow one.

Bill
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Old 03-07-2013, 21:32   #6
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Re: Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

Thanks again Bill.
1. I have checked the fuse connections and compared the voltages with my new Fluke 178 at the batteries with the Xantrex and at the SAR-V3.
3. I am not using the Xantrex AH in-out as the only measurement. I am watching the battery voltage over days watching the voltage at the same time each day.
4. What is a "Sterling Battery Charger"?

Thanks.
Salty Doug
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Old 03-07-2013, 22:28   #7
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Re: Best Regulator for Lifeline AGM Batteries.

Sorry, Doug, about the Sterling charger. Had you mixed up with another thread in which the OP had a Sterling 50A smart charger.

Otherwise, good. Sounds like you're on the trail.

Happy 4th.

Bill
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