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Old 24-12-2014, 12:54   #16
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Re: Charging Problem

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post

A quick test, quite safe with an internally regulated alternator, is to build a little jumper to go from the B+ to the field terminal. Put a little toggle switch in the jumper. You should then be able to turn the alternator on and off at will. If that works then there's something wrong in the ignition switch/wiring to the alternator field.
its' an internal regulator. there is no field post. if the exciter is wired through a warning light. and you bypass and run 12v straight in. that is probably not going to end with good results as the bulb limits the current.


some alts have a straight 12v ign feed. and some have both a 12v ign feed and a bulb feed. they are all different. and we don't know what he has.


most of the yanmars and small sailboat engines have a T connector with both a ign feed and bulb feed. with the plug disconnected and key on you'll have 12v on both
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Old 24-12-2014, 12:59   #17
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Re: Charging Problem

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Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
the exciter normally feeds thought the battery warning light bulb. if the bulb is dead the alt won't work (stupid but how many are done including cars).


I'm not sure why you have a relay on an internal reg alt.


I'm not sure why people are saying take loads off. alternators should be tested with lots of battery load. if batteries are full with no load then the alt doesn't need to do anything. if you put a 50a load on the batteries you should be getting 50+ amps out of the alt. measured with a clamp on ammeter. that is how you test an alt.


also lots of alts won't excite at idle. you need to rev up the engine.
I was saying take the load off because I misunderstood their problem. I thought the alternator was being loaded down by a faulty load (shorted appliance etc) since it bench tested good.

Also, on newer alternators like they would have on this boat, you shouldn't have to "rev it up" like you did with your old Ford back in the day.
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Old 24-12-2014, 15:29   #18
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Re: Charging Problem

Dsandurel and btrayfors have given you good advice. However if you need more info try an internet search using "troubleshooting an alternator" and you will get lots of information including videos and pictures that should help you solve the problem.
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Old 24-12-2014, 16:09   #19
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Re: Charging Problem

Ok, Here goes, Leopard 40m with a push button ignition (no key) we have both idiot lights and gauges. The battery warning light is out on both sides. Port alternator has to get to about 3000 RPM before it will start to charge. With the stb alternator was having to go to about 3500-4000 before it would start to charge. Both side are wired up the same... prt has a heavier ground cable the stb but that should not matter. The way I have to gauge when they come on line is by the Alt gauge. The AMP Meter (stb) would bounce from around 10-50 amps when it would work depending on the state of the batteries. Will start looking into the control panel tomorrow....
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Old 24-12-2014, 18:17   #20
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Re: Charging Problem

Might be useful to know the alternator model number. And/or the post markings.

Lot's of guessing going on and unfortunately troubleshooting requires lots of questions. Lacking specificity, one has to go with theory.

Internally regulated alternator requires a sense voltage so it can run at 13.X volts. If the sense is very close to the alternator and the measure is near the batteries there can be a difference in sense due to system resistance. Because you care what the batteries or the system bus is getting you'd ideally sense near the bus or the battery. In your case let's assume the system is designed adequately.

If you run both alternators at once one will be producing higher just due to variation and system installation. The second alternator will already be sensing adequate voltage and down-regulate. The same would occur if your solar or other charge sources were providing adequate system voltage.

If you were running the suspect alternator in isolation - the second one off, you still could be getting confounded with solar.

If not done so run the suspect alternator in isolation with a fairly known battery state - i.e. needing a charge, and then add some relatively known loads for good measure - I'd try to get up to 20 amps or so. You could do that by covering the solar, isolating the solar or disconnecting the solar (if you have it) and then turning stuff on until the amp meter is showing a known drain.

Then start the engine with suspect alternator. It should provide enough amps to cover the loads (say if you had 20 amps going) and then sufficient amps to charge that battery. The additional amps will largely depend on system voltage at the time it comes on line - if the batteries are well charged and up around 12.6-7 the charge (amps) may not be alternator full rated but system voltage should be up around 13.5-7.

If the alternator does not come on line at slightly above idle, say 1200 RPM, then I'd say there is an alternator problem.

In a 3-wire alternator there is sense, field and supply. If the alternator bench tested good then you pretty much are left with the basic troubleshooting of connections, clean and tight, and wiring - not deteriorated and or failed.

There are relays and switches involved and with a proper schematic, or understanding of the system, these can be bypassed for troubleshooting, troubleshot be metering or hardware can be swapped from port to starboard engine to see if the trouble follows.

At this point I'd guess normal confounding by possibly 3 different charge source (until it is confirmed the alternator displays the issue in isolation) or that there is a sense or field wiring or connection issue. I'd personally rule out engine panel issues by bypassing them for troubleshooting if the problem persists in isolation of other charge sources.
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Old 25-12-2014, 00:47   #21
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Re: Charging Problem

Is this 2 engines each with an alt feeding a different battery bank? Or same start bank? Or 2 alts on same engine? Different or same batteries?

If there is no key switch. Are the alts feed ignition power through an oil pressure switch? (Could be the high rpm problem)
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Old 25-12-2014, 02:23   #22
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Re: Charging Problem

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Originally Posted by Tom and Maje View Post
Ok, Here goes, Leopard 40m with a push button ignition (no key) we have both idiot lights and gauges. The battery warning light is out on both sides. Port alternator has to get to about 3000 RPM before it will start to charge. With the stb alternator was having to go to about 3500-4000 before it would start to charge. Both side are wired up the same... prt has a heavier ground cable the stb but that should not matter. The way I have to gauge when they come on line is by the Alt gauge. The AMP Meter (stb) would bounce from around 10-50 amps when it would work depending on the state of the batteries. Will start looking into the control panel tomorrow....
Since you bring up that the warning lights don't work, again not all alternators are like this, but the Hitachi on my Yanmar is wired this way

The initial voltage to excite (start the alternator working) comes from the battery voltage through the warning light. Once the alternator starts producing electricity the voltage to run the field coil comes from the alternator and then the voltage across the light bulb is the same on each side and goes out.

Residual magnetism in the coils can eventually produce enough voltage to self excite when the alternator is spun fast enough.

Diagram showing light bulb used to start the alternator producing electricity.

https://www.google.com/search?q=alte...ml%3B771%3B402


If the amp gauge is bouncing 10-50 amps after it self excites, I think that you probably have additional probems beyond the gage bulb being out.
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Old 26-12-2014, 20:25   #23
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Re: Charging Problem

After trying most of the suggestions, Tom finally switched the alternators. It did not work on the port engine, but the older one worked on the starboard engine. We're sending it back for a replacement.

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Old 08-02-2015, 09:52   #24
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I am helping another boat, he has destructed 4 sets of alternator diodes, in 2 different alternators. These are Delco-Remy units, one 100A, one 200A, with a Balmar ARS 5 regulator. The owner is quite technical and watches his voltage. I checked through his system, 2 battery banks, new batteries, wiring in excellent condition, voltage very much the same at each battery bank and at the 12V panel. He is charging with wind and solar now as the installed alternator is again dead and he is afraid to change it. My idea is that either too much heat, or for some reason the voltage is spiking. Have advised him to get a suppression diode and a temperature sensor. Am I missing something here? The replacement diodes are Transpo brand, I am going to get the part number and see if I can find the amp rating.
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Old 08-02-2015, 11:49   #25
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Re: Charging Problem

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Originally Posted by leehaefele View Post
I am helping another boat, he has destructed 4 sets of alternator diodes, in 2 different alternators. These are Delco-Remy units, one 100A, one 200A, with a Balmar ARS 5 regulator. The owner is quite technical and watches his voltage. I checked through his system, 2 battery banks, new batteries, wiring in excellent condition, voltage very much the same at each battery bank and at the 12V panel. He is charging with wind and solar now as the installed alternator is again dead and he is afraid to change it. My idea is that either too much heat, or for some reason the voltage is spiking. Have advised him to get a suppression diode and a temperature sensor. Am I missing something here? The replacement diodes are Transpo brand, I am going to get the part number and see if I can find the amp rating.
Need additional info, like:

  • How,exactly, is boat wired?
  • A single regulator (AR-5) for both alternators?
  • One or two alternators in use at a time?
  • Cables routed thru a switch or directly to a battery?
  • Cable size?
  • Length?
  • Routed directly to house battery or start battery?
  • How are they connected?
  • Fusing?
  • Ground cable from alternator(s) connected to?
  • How are solar panels and wind generator connected?
  • Regulators for each? etc.
IMHO, the diodes were most likely to have been killed by somehow removing the connection to the batteries while the alternator(s) were running. That will kill off diodes pretty quickly, much more likely than "voltage spikes".

Bill
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Old 08-02-2015, 12:38   #26
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Re: Charging Problem

Not to argue about AKC standards for unicorns, but when you say:

" Port alternator has to get to about 3000 RPM before it will start to charge. With the stb alternator was having to go to about 3500-4000 before it would start to charge"

That immediately begs the issue that these may be wired up from the factory as "one wire" configuration, not the usual automotive "3 wire" configuration. This is typically done to avoid switching that sense lead as the alternator is switched between battery banks.

In a "1-wire" system the wiring is simpler (and cheaper) because the voltage sense lead is tied back directly to the alternator output lead. Which means the batteries never charge properly (there's no real voltage sensing) and ALSO that the alternator never kicks in at low idle speeds, it is often necessary to "gun" the engine after starting, in order to excite the alternator enough to turn on. Arguably there's some advantage in that the engine has no alternator load on it when cold & starting up.

But before you troubleshoot further, I would find out if the boat was wired for "1-wire". If so, that would explain everything and the answer would be "gun the engine after you start it" or, arguably, get rid of the cheapass 1-wire system in favor of a conventional system (with sensing switches if the banks switch) that will also give you much longer battery life.

(You know, the question is whether I actually HAVE a unicorn, no one really cares if it meets AKC standards, do they?)
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Old 08-02-2015, 19:40   #27
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Re: Charging Problem

Did the previous alternator display the same problem and do you have a meter to read ohms? solarsam
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Old 08-02-2015, 20:26   #28
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Re: Charging Problem

[QUOTE=btrayfors;1744372]Need additional info, like:

  • How,exactly, is boat wired?
    One alternator, the second is a spare, one ARS 5 regulator.
  • A single regulator (AR-5) for both alternators?
  • One or two alternators in use at a time?
  • Cables routed thru a switch or directly to a battery?
    1-2-both switch.
  • Cable size?
    #1
  • Length?
    8' to switch about 18' one way to batts.
  • Routed directly to house battery or start battery?
    House battery, there is a second alternator for engine batt.
  • How are they connected?
    Nice looking #1 wires.
  • Fusing?
    No
  • Ground cable from alternator(s) connected to?
    One to batts, another to engine.
  • How are solar panels and wind generator connected?
    Oddly, solar to one bank, wind to the other.
  • Regulators for each? etc.
    Solar has Blue Skies controller, wind has internal regulator.
IMHO, the diodes were most likely to have been killed by somehow removing the connection to the batteries while the alternator(s) were running. That will kill off diodes pretty quickly, much more likely than "voltage spikes".


I was considering that any voltage spikes might come from some connection problem disconnecting the batteries, but the cables look great.
Lee
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Old 08-02-2015, 20:33   #29
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Re: Charging Problem

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Originally Posted by solarsam View Post
Did the previous alternator display the same problem and do you have a meter to read ohms? solarsam
Yes to both. Alternators seem to work for a few weeks, then destruct.
Lee
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:47   #30
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Re: Charging Problem

Lee,

OK. That helps. Understand, though, without a wiring diagram and a full understanding of the complete system it's very hard to diagnose things or offer comprehensive advice.

From your answers, I've noted the following issues:

1. Alternator cables should be routed DIRECTLY to the batteries, not thru a 1-2-ALL switch. If someone -- inadvertently or otherwise -- operates the switch while the engine is running, POOF...there go your diodes. Even the switches which are intended to make-before-break for alternator protection are not foolproof. Of course, appropriate fusing is required on the alternator cable, very near the battery.

2. Alternator ground should run directly to the battery negative.

3. The #1 cables you mention for the 8ft plus 18ft one-way run (total 26 feet one way or 52ft round-trip) are MUCH MUCH MUCH too small for either the 100A or the 200A alternator.

4. Because the cables "look good" doesn't mean they are good. Were the lugs professionally installed with a good crimper? Are the lugs closed at the end? Was adhesive-lined heat shrink used to vapor-proof the lug-to-wire connection? Are the connections clean and tight? In any case, they're way too small even if perfectly constructed and fitted.

You & your friend need to consider the whole system, possibly seek the help of a professional MARINE electrician, calculate the need and install new much larger battery cables, etc.

You didn't mention the type of batteries in the house bank or the total AH capacity. A large bank and, particularly, an AGM bank can easily absorb enough amperage to burn up an alternator unless it is protected by a temperature sensor and/or some sort of output throttling (such as is available on the Balmar MC-612 and MC-614 regulators).

The ARS-5 regulator also has throttling capability, called "Belt Load Management", allowing you to program the desired percentage of reduction in field current. You can (and should) also fit temp sensors on the alternator (especially) and the batteries, and connect these sensors to the ARS-5 regulator.

Hope this helps a bit.

Bill


[QUOTE=leehaefele;1744711]
Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Need additional info, like:

  • How,exactly, is boat wired?
    One alternator, the second is a spare, one ARS 5 regulator.
  • A single regulator (AR-5) for both alternators?
  • One or two alternators in use at a time?
  • Cables routed thru a switch or directly to a battery?
    1-2-both switch.
  • Cable size?
    #1
  • Length?
    8' to switch about 18' one way to batts.
  • Routed directly to house battery or start battery?
    House battery, there is a second alternator for engine batt.
  • How are they connected?
    Nice looking #1 wires.
  • Fusing?
    No
  • Ground cable from alternator(s) connected to?
    One to batts, another to engine.
  • How are solar panels and wind generator connected?
    Oddly, solar to one bank, wind to the other.
  • Regulators for each? etc.
    Solar has Blue Skies controller, wind has internal regulator.
IMHO, the diodes were most likely to have been killed by somehow removing the connection to the batteries while the alternator(s) were running. That will kill off diodes pretty quickly, much more likely than "voltage spikes".


I was considering that any voltage spikes might come from some connection problem disconnecting the batteries, but the cables look great.
Lee
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