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Old 21-04-2014, 16:50   #1
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High Rated Alternator with Alternator to Battery Charger

Folks,

In my old Yanmar 3HM35, and with the goal of being able to more efficiently charge the service bank of 300Ah gel batteries while at anchor, I am planning to replace the current Hitachi LR155-20 55Amps alternator with a more powerful and high rated alternator, specifically I am thinking in a Balmar 60 Series of 100Amps.

And in order to get the most out of the more powerful alternator, and to more efficiently and under control charge the batteries, in stead of an external regulator I am thinking in using an Sterling Alternator to Battery charger -specifically the A2B12130-, which should avoid to make any connection inside the alternator, would directly accept back the old alternator as spare in case of need, and should behave quite similar to an external regulator (despite I read that Maine prefers these last ones )

I have read all I could and in principle I believe everything should work fine and quite balanced, however, I wonder if anyone has experienced such a combination of Balmar alternator and Sterling A2B and could provide any inputs. And of course, any thoughs or comments from you about this combination will be very welcome.
Best regards,

Javier
Barcelona-Spain
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Old 21-04-2014, 17:29   #2
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

You will be much better off with a Balmar regulator.

The Sterling is a regulator that fools a non externally regulated alternator to put out more current than it otherwise would. The Balmar regulator will do a better job with a Balmar alternator.

David
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Old 29-06-2014, 03:07   #3
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

Javier - how did you get on with the above idea ?



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Old 30-06-2014, 00:58   #4
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

Hi,
The idea came out while investigating all possible ways to efficiently charge batteries from the engine´s alternator.
Since the problem is to charge BOTH the service and the engine start battery, I took the problem from an overall espective, hence I started looking at alternative methods, including conencting relays, modules that derive part of the charge in one battery to the other, etc... But none of them really convinced me.
The sterling, in principle acts already as a battery separator, providng an "intelligent" charge to the service bank, while providing also a maintenance charge to the engine battery, with priority to this last one.

Now that I have the installation set up and working, the service charge seems to work fine (still more extensive testing needs to be done), however I see that the voltage being provided to the engine battery does NOT contains the voltage drop shown in the Sterling A2B leaflet, but it is exactly the same voltage coming out from the alternator that is applied to the engine. This may be too high for the engine battery if applied for long motoring hours. Hope will decrease at some point, that is. the A2B will take care also of the engine battery, beyond giving it priority with the charge, otherwise the battery may be overcharged.
Also, the switch to the float voltage stage in the service bank was taking too long, since with a low charge (1.4A) in a 300Ah system, the A2B was still insisting in providing the Absortion voltage, whcih again may be tto high if it dos not change to the float voltage soon.

I send several questions to Sterling but the answers were not complete and always too brief, so it is hard to make in advance a good idea of how the system will exactly behave.
After I extensively experience the system on board by myself through the next weeks, I will post the outputs.

Cheers
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Old 30-06-2014, 02:49   #5
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

Thanks for the update Javier ... interested to see how it goes...
Did you fit the bigger Balmar 100 amp alternator then ??

I am reticent to fit a new alternator as the engine tacho is driven from the alternator. Not sure how to calibrate them back together. Did you overcome this ?

I am about to fit an A2B on my stock Hitachi alternator. I had issues with volt drop from my dodgy shoreline battery splitter. I had a Sterling external reg on the alternator but that didn't seem to help out. I will be switching it out and going to an A2B. See if that helps.

I have 3 battery banks, so according to Sterling, I am dropping in a Sterling 'low volt drop' splitter into the mix as well. This means the A2B Service feed will go direct to the Sterling splitter, then on to all 3 battery banks. lets see how that goes ! ...
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Old 30-06-2014, 08:52   #6
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

Quote:
Originally Posted by d4raffy View Post
I am reticent to fit a new alternator as the engine tacho is driven from the alternator. Not sure how to calibrate them back together. Did you overcome this ?
The pulley ratio will determine whether your calibration changes. Order the new alternator with the same diameter pulley as your old one and your tach will not change. Alternately put your old pulley on your new alternator.

This assumes that you will be staying with a single belt like is used with your old one.

Mark
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Old 30-06-2014, 09:45   #7
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

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The pulley ratio will determine whether your calibration changes. Order the new alternator with the same diameter pulley as your old one and your tach will not change. Alternately put your old pulley on your new alternator.

This assumes that you will be staying with a single belt like is used with your old one.

Mark
thanks Mark - just to clarify - I have a white wire coming out from the internals of the Hitachi Alt (told it was an internal alternator pulse). This feeds the Tacho
I have a 4JH4-TE engine BTW.
Is this driven by the shaft rotation or some alt internal circuit ? ... so do Balmars have the same pulse wire ? Thanks in advance ....
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Old 30-06-2014, 09:55   #8
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

I don't know the specifics on the Hitachi alternator, and need to modify my post to say that if the new alternator uses a different number of poles, then the calibration will also be off.

The Balmars have a terminal that provides the pulse for the tachometer.

Mark
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Old 30-06-2014, 10:11   #9
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I don't know the specifics on the Hitachi alternator, and need to modify my post to say that if the new alternator uses a different number of poles, then the calibration will also be off.

The Balmars have a terminal that provides the pulse for the tachometer.

Mark
Yeah - thats my quandary ... this 'pole' difference thang !

Hopefully somebody else may have actually done this and can chip in ...

cheers ..
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Old 30-06-2014, 12:48   #10
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

Wow, lots of good info, but lots of mis-info.

The Sterling regulator is like a MPPT charger for solar panels, but in reverse. The MPPT takes a higher solar panel output voltage (in order to get more watts) and converts it to a voltage suitable for battery charging- typically 13-14 V.

The Sterling regulator presents a low resistance to the alternator so that the alternators dumb regulator will put out more current. But the voltage will be too low to charge the batteries. So it converts the lower (maybe 12 or so volts) to the 13-14 volts needed to charge the batteries.

You can leave the starting battery connected to the alternator side of the Sterling regulator. But until the house batteries get fully charged, the alternator voltage will be too low (below 13V) to do any charging.

So like I said in my earlier post, the Sterling regulator is an elegant kluge that lets a non external regulated alternator put out more current. But a high output alternator will always do better with an external regulator such as Balmar's.

And the Balmar regulator, not the alternator will solve the tach problem. The regulator has a frequency divider circuit that take the Balmar alternator's 16 pole (I am guessing here) output and converts it to 12 or whatever the original tach was expecting.

With Balmar's external regulator (or the internal regulator for the OEM alternator)there are several proven solutions to charging the starting battery while protecting it from discharge: combiner, ACR (same thing), Echo Charger, Duo Charger, etc.

David

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Old 30-06-2014, 13:09   #11
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Wow, lots of good info, but lots of mis-info.

The Sterling regulator is like a MPPT charger for solar panels, but in reverse. The MPPT takes a higher solar panel output voltage (in order to get more watts) and converts it to a voltage suitable for battery charging- typically 13-14 V.

The Sterling regulator presents a low resistance to the alternator so that the alternators dumb regulator will put out more current. But the voltage will be too low to charge the batteries. So it converts the lower (maybe 12 or so volts) to the 13-14 volts needed to charge the batteries.

You can leave the starting battery connected to the alternator side of the Sterling regulator. But until the house batteries get fully charged, the alternator voltage will be too low (below 13V) to do any charging.

So like I said in my earlier post, the Sterling regulator is an elegant kluge that lets a non external regulated alternator put out more current. But a high output alternator will always do better with an external regulator such as Balmar's.

And the Balmar regulator, not the alternator will solve the tach problem. The regulator has a frequency divider circuit that take the Balmar alternator's 16 pole (I am guessing here) output and converts it to 12 or whatever the original tach was expecting.

With Balmar's external regulator (or the internal regulator for the OEM alternator)there are several proven solutions to charging the starting battery while protecting it from discharge: combiner, ACR (same thing), Echo Charger, Duo Charger, etc.

David

David
David .. Are you sure you are talking about the right Sterling device ?!
The Alternator to Battery Charger (A2B Devices - not the external Sterling regulators) I understood, have Start Battery priority charging and 4 step Domestic Bank charging which are isolated and individually regulated internally.

Interesting on the Balmar frequency divider circuit tho....
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Old 30-06-2014, 13:44   #12
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

And whilst i appreciate the broader advice - the topic in question is regarding the Sterling A2B device - not suggestions to procure alternative vendor options ... which is not an option .... thanks
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Old 30-06-2014, 17:56   #13
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

The purpose of my last post was to discourage others from doing what you did: install a nigh output alternator and hobble it with an inferior regulator. It is entirely consistent with your first post asking for comments about the combination of a high output alternator with the Sterling regulator.

David
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Old 01-07-2014, 14:36   #14
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
The purpose of my last post was to discourage others from doing what you did: install a nigh output alternator and hobble it with an inferior regulator. It is entirely consistent with your first post asking for comments about the combination of a high output alternator with the Sterling regulator.

David
Hi David, in response ..
It would appear you are confused ? I have not fitted an alternative alternator, perhaps you are referring to the OP ? You are obviously entitled to your opinion - but I am not sure I agree that Mr Sterlings Products are aimed at 'hobbyists'. I think we all now understand you are obviously an exponent of the Balmar Regulator and i understand your reasoning. Enough said. So lets try and not crash this thread and get back to some healthy discussions, specifically for those that have already sunk their pounds into an A2B Charger and maybe evaluating other alternator options ....
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Old 04-07-2014, 23:44   #15
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Re: High rated alternator with Alternator to Battery charger

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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
The purpose of my last post was to discourage others from doing what you did: install a nigh output alternator and hobble it with an inferior regulator....
David
You are so right to discourage this....

The Sterling is a clever BODGE for alternators that would otherwise have to be taken apart and modified to be able to control the field wires. But in doing this it will suck out all the power it can and then provide a higher voltage to charge the batteries. This will over stress and over heat the maybe already OLD alternator whose overall power output would then be much reduced and it may well fail earlier than it should.

So if you have an alternator with Field wires accessible then please use a proper external regulator, not a Sterling A2B 'regulator'.
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