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Old 11-05-2012, 15:55   #1
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Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

I am upgrading my engine alternators on my two Yanmar 56HP engines to two 100 Amp alternators. (I am on a Cat!)

My question is ..... how do I wire the new alternator to charge the house batteries?

At the moment I think that the alternators charge both the house and starter batteries until such time as the Starter battery is full. Then it seems that no more charge flows.

Do I need to wire in a manual change over switch to enable the charge to flow to the House batteries?

I would like this to be automatic however, and when I run the engines, the new alternators supply 100 Amps each into my 880 AH battery bank. Is there any way to do this?

As you may have gathered, I am a complete novice in this area!

Many Thanks
John
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Old 11-05-2012, 17:20   #2
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

I would hold off until you get a total solution fixed. Running two alternators to one bank @ 200 amps (it won't be that high ever) is a lot of power. You need to regulate the alternators so they don't send more amps than the batteries can accept. Charge state determines acceptance. Too many amps too fast boils the batteries (very bad). You can add a combiner to charge the starting batteries such that they can't suck power from the house. You also don't want to over charge the starting batteries either. Over or undercharges shortens lifespan.

I don't know the setiup for regualting 2 alternators though I regualte a solar panel array and an alterator OK. The alternators should be externally regulated rather than self regualting. Battery type and size plays an important role and how you use your 880 amps hours matters too.

You won't be a novice before it's over! Don't be impatient or impulsive. 880 amp hours is a large chunk of change these days and you want them treated like babies.
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Old 11-05-2012, 18:02   #3
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

What brand alternators? What brand/type regulators (three stage)? is your wiring size sufficient to handle the load? After answering these questions you can probably do what you want to do with your battery selector switch (s) and where you introduce the incoming charge power. Depending on your systems wiring of course...think solar maybe...or wind...
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Old 11-05-2012, 18:23   #4
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

I think you should talk to the folks at Blue Sea Systems. Manual Battery Switches - PN - Blue Sea Systems
I think you can simplify the management of your battery charging system using their Add-A-Battery kit. Blue Sea Add-A-Battery Kit 7650
You would probably need an additional Automatic Charger Relay as well.
Give Blue Sea a call they're nice folks.

Another option is the Newmar battery isolators. Their model 2-3-120 would be a very simple fix for your situation. The draw back is that you lose a little charging voltage going through the isolator. If you call Newmar ask for Kap. He really knows his stuff.
Newmar also makes a good ACR, they call it a battery integrator. They have a good explaination of both ACR's and Integrators on this page: DC Power Onboard with Newmar’s Battery Isolators and Integrators. Newmar’s Battery Isolators allow the charging of multiple batteries from one or two alternators. These are rated for 12-48 volt negative ground DC systems. The Battery Inte
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Old 11-05-2012, 19:49   #5
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

Let's assume for now that your new alternators are high output types with external three stage regulators.

Wire these to the house battery bank. Then use a battery combiner or an Echo Charger to charge your starting battery.

You will almost certainly need to upgrade the wire size from the alternator. #6 will handle 120 amps so don't go any smaller than that.

David
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Old 11-05-2012, 20:04   #6
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

Ample Power Company Home Page The Tech Tabs have lots of wiring diagrams.
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Old 11-05-2012, 20:23   #7
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

John,

Be very wary of well-meant but --- there's no other way to say it -- erroneous advice you may get in response to your question.

It would be good if you'd mention the model alternators you will be fitting, and whether they are internally or externally regulated.

You also didn't mention what type of batteries you have in the house bank: are they flooded, AGM, gelled, or other?

However, even without those details it can be said that:

1. there's absolutely no way of furnishing your 880A house battery bank "too much charging current", unless in the unlikely event that the alternator's regulators allow the voltage to exceed proper levels for the state-of-charge of the batteries. The batteries, given proper voltage control, will accept the charging current they're going to accept, irrespective of the size of the charging source. Period. Even if you had 1,000 amp alternators they'd accept the same current, provided that the charging voltage were correct. And, that's the job of the regulators, internal or external.

2. You could wire both alternators directly to the house batteries, with appropriate size cable and with an ANL or MRBF fuse located near the batteries. This would work OK...not optimum, but OK.

3. The only concern might be about getting the most out of the alternators when in the acceptance charging stage. Since almost all regulators determine battery charging stage by the voltage of the batteries under charge, and since it is highly probable that one alternator would be putting out slightly higher voltage than the other, one regulator would sense a higher voltage and be "tricked" into reducing its output. This is true of ANY charging source....solar, battery charger, alternator, wind generator, etc. HOWEVER, by this time the battery's acceptance would likely have fallen sufficiently for either one of the alternators to provide as much current as they will accept. So, it really doesn't matter.

The above is true if you have flooded batteries.
If you have gels or AGMs, their charging acceptance is much higher, and you'd want to try to get your alternators to be optimized for long-term output at high amperage levels.

Blue Sea Systems makes a charge controller called a "Centerfielder" which is specifically intended to make two alternators play nice with each other when charging a single battery bank. This is a particularly good solution where AGMs or gels are used, but it's also good to have alternator temperature sensing set up -- or an alternate means to reduce the current output -- to be sure the batteries don't manage to overtax the alternators and burn them up.

4. As for automatic switching so the start batteries can be kept topped off, there are several ways to do it. The most elegant is to use a little voltage-follower device which senses a charge on the house batteries and bleeds off enough charging current to keep the start battery topped off. These products, e.g., the Xantrex EchoCharge or the Balmar DuoCharge, are pretty simple to install. You'd need two of them if you have two starting batteries.

There are many threads on battery switch setup, charging, combining, etc. on this and other Forums.

Bill
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Old 11-05-2012, 21:00   #8
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

alternator powered battery charger

As mentioned above, we have no indication as to size of current equipment but I have installed the 210 Sterling unit on my boat and it works very well and keeps 20 c/f of refrigeration and 9 c/f of freezer, drawing 130 amps at 12V going while I am cruising.

It is essentially a 12V charger, it receives all the output from the alternator and boosts it and checks the engine battery every 15 minutes, brings it up to where it should be, and then, sends to the house bank for 15 minutes and checks the engine battery etc... It checks battery voltage, temperature constantly.

I had an electrician install it.
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Old 11-05-2012, 21:12   #9
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

alternator powered battery charger

Just looked at website, sounds like a really expensive regulator to me.

Clever wording "Alternator-to-Battery Charger" I have to get me one of those.
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:10   #10
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
John,

Be very wary of well-meant but --- there's no other way to say it -- erroneous advice you may get in response to your question.
........

The above is true if you have flooded batteries.
If you have gels or AGMs, their charging acceptance is much higher, and you'd want to try to get your alternators to be optimized for long-term output at high amperage levels.

Blue Sea Systems makes a charge controller called a "Centerfielder" which is specifically intended to make two alternators play nice with each other when charging a single battery bank.
.......

There are many threads on battery switch setup, charging, combining, etc. on this and other Forums.

Bill
I agree with Bill except on a couple of minor points.

1. I don't think it matters in acceptance of AGM vs Flooded regarding the alternators fighting each other for dominance - particularly during absorption. A 800Ahr AGM battery bank is not going to accept more than 100A of input by the time its voltage has reached the absorption voltage and they both will behave identically during bulk charging unless you get much larger alternators.

2. I think Balmar makes the Centerfielder, not Blue Sea. And the Centerfielder requires specific Balmar regulators to be used with it.

Mark
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:29   #11
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

I think Ample Power also makes a dual regulator setup. With a high output regulator, I've had a lot of problems running 100 amp alternators on one belt. Some people havent though. (which may be a function of how much their regulator asks of their alternator, I had Ample Power Reg's and they push an Alternator real hard) For that reason you might consider dual 75 amp alternators if you are running two anyway. Not a necessity, but just a thought...
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Old 12-05-2012, 21:40   #12
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

Mark,

Just back from working on a major upgrade to a boat's electrical system all day on the Bay....beautiful day!

I agree with your two points....normally, it won't make much difference whether AGM or flooded, unless the AGM bank is particularly large and it's acceptance in the absorption phase exceeds what a single alternator can do without damaging itself; and

Yes, the Centerfielder is a Balmar product, and requires Balmar regulators. Guess I had Blue Sea Systems on my mind 'cuz I sure used a sh_t load of their products today :-)

Thanks for the catch.

Bill
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Old 13-05-2012, 17:15   #13
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

I can not thank everyone enough for all this advise. Being anchored in Antigua I am afraid my internet is only on about once a week!

In answer to a couple of questions my battery bank is 4x220 AH AGM Lifeline batteries.

I do not know yet about the alternator, I will find out tomorrow I hope and get back.

John
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Old 13-05-2012, 17:45   #14
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

John,

The only 220AH batteries in the current Lifeline lineup are 6V golf-cart size batteries. If, indeed, this is what you have, then you do not have 880AH. These batteries must be installed in series/parallel to give you 440AH total @ 12VDC.

A 440AH AGM house bank will still take all the current you're likely to be able to throw at it....400 amps or more if the voltage is high enough.

An optimum setup for two engines with 100A alternators and this house bank would utilize the Balmar Centerfielder device. That requires two Balmar smart regulators as well. Quite an investment, but maybe worth it over time.

If you don't already have Balmar smart external regulators, I'd probably just try out the two alternators connected together to the 440AH AGM battery bank, and see how it works out.

A good AC/DC clamp-on ammeter would be helpful in monitoring the output of each alternator at various stages of charge. The best of these is the Fluke 337. A much less pricey but very good product is the Mastech MS2108 which can be found online for about $100 with free shipping from the U.S. This is a very capable instrument with many uses.....it's invaluable for troubleshooting electric systems onboard.

Best wishes,

Bill
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Old 14-05-2012, 17:15   #15
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Re: Engine Alternator to charge House batteries?

Bill,

My mistake! My batteries are 12V Lifeline AGM 210 AmpH batteries (not 220 as I had said!).

The alternators are Electromax Sm-100-ar 100AMP High Output Marine Alternators with dual stage internal regulators. (see: https://store.electromaax.com/index....tegory&path=36 )

John
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