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Old 05-06-2014, 23:09   #31
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Regulator for an Alternator?

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Originally Posted by Rusty123 View Post
An opinion shared by Nigel Calder, as well.

It's also the opinion of many marine electricians unfortunately as well.

Cheap car type alternators have no place in the marine environment.

Dedicated start battery alternators provide no redundancy and spend their lives contributing very little.
There are plenty of solutions these days to maintain a start battery (because that is what you are doing, maintaining it, not charging it as it so rarely is actually discharged) that provide redundancy without dedicating an engine mounted alternator to spend 96% of its life spinning around for nothing.
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Old 05-06-2014, 23:31   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuss View Post

It's also the opinion of many marine electricians unfortunately as well.

Cheap car type alternators have no place in the marine environment.

Dedicated start battery alternators provide no redundancy and spend their lives contributing very little.
There are plenty of solutions these days to maintain a start battery (because that is what you are doing, maintaining it, not charging it as is so rarely is actually discharged) that provide redundancy without dedicating an engine mounted alternator to spend 96% of its life spinning around for nothing.
Everyone will have to decide for himself, of course. I do agree actually that an echo charger is probably an ok way to charge a start batt. But I personally do not think that a dedicated start batt alternator "spinning around for nothing" is a "waste of resources". A lot of important things on the boat do nothing 96% of the time. It's not as if this alternator costs a fortune or weighs 100kg. A dedicated start batt alternator means less chance of failure, less complexity, less dependency on other systems - all solid design values for a system your life could depend on.

The designers of my boat also put in a completely separate AC charger for the main engine start batt (a nice Newmar one, too). So in the extremely unlikely chance of start batt alternator failure, I can charge from the big alternator via the inverter, or off the genset. Or jump off the genset start batt (yes, also completely separate, with its own dedicated alternator).

All this redundancy is entirely justified in this crucial system, IMHO. And yes, I carry a spare starter, too.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:35   #33
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

"Simple, redundant, and good system design, in my opinion."
I'd argue not.

Simple?
It is simpler to replace that first alternator, than to bolt up a second one and a second mount, for the typical small craft engine bay. Often alternators are built in a series with the same diameter case, same mounts, just a longer body for the higher amperage versions. So a 35-50-55-60-70 amp series may all vary only in the depth of the case, and the output power. Making it very easy to swap them out.

Good design?
Not really, it means the bearings in the redundant alternator are being worn constantly, along with everything else. Keeping the old alternator on-line and in-use is just wearing it out, and that's not good design unless you need a hot spare immediately online. Which few if any pleasure craft do.

Oh, and that needless useless second alternator, will be dragging the engine and wearing a belt, leading to earlier failure or more frequent belt changes. Pointless.

For the typical recreational sailboat? A second alternator is like the 160-mph speedometer on a sports car. Pointless macho bragging point.

Just one man's opinion.
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Old 07-06-2014, 00:23   #34
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
....It is simpler to replace that first alternator, than to bolt up a second one and a second mount, for the typical small craft engine bay.

.... and that needless useless second alternator, will be dragging the engine and wearing a belt, leading to earlier failure or more frequent belt changes....

Just one man's opinion.
I agree.

A starter battery needs so little to recharge it that the alternator would be working for 99.99% of the time doing nothing.

My solution is a 5 watt solar panel just for the starter battery. It has charged my 37 Ah Red Flash AGM for 10 years.
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Old 07-06-2014, 01:38   #35
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Regulator for an Alternator?

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Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
I agree.



A starter battery needs so little to recharge it that the alternator would be working for 99.99% of the time doing nothing.



My solution is a 5 watt solar panel just for the starter battery. It has charged my 37 Ah Red Flash AGM for 10 years.

Yes, that's right and a good solution with no moving parts

Just imagine if that whole 10 years an alternator had been spinning around just for the start battery.... It's nearly enough to make me cry.

I can't really imagine that Nigel Calder disagrees with this.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:05   #36
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

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Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
Yes, that's right and a good solution with no moving parts

Just imagine if that whole 10 years an alternator had been spinning around just for the start battery.... It's nearly enough to make me cry.

I can't really imagine that Nigel Calder disagrees with this.
Such depth of emotion and pity, just for an alternator!

LOL. But the alternator on your car has nearly the same duty. It's what they're made to do! When did you last even hear of, much less experience, a failed alternator bearing? The belt has got to be there anyway, since it drives your fresh water pump. So the alternator makes a good idler pulley, if nothing else

To each his own, of course, but I'm with Nigel Calder in preferring this simpler, totally redundant setup:

"By far the best setup is to incorporate two alternators, generally with a factory-supplied, 12-volt alternator wired to the cranking battery, and an add-on 24-volt alternator wired to the house bank. This greatly simplifies wiring and circuitry and builds in an excellent measure of redundancy."

-- Nigel Calder, Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual, p. 62
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:29   #37
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
....To each his own, of course, but I'm with Nigel Calder in preferring this simpler, totally redundant setup:

[I]"By far the best setup is to incorporate two alternators,.....
When I looked at a second alternator it was 500$ for the mounting kit! I call this a very expensive option for a 'totally redundant setup'.

Mr Calder's latest book is now 9 years old and I think he is not fully in tune with the times.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:41   #38
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailinglegend View Post
When I looked at a second alternator it was 500$ for the mounting kit! I call this a very expensive option for a 'totally redundant setup'.

Mr Calder's latest book is now 9 years old and I think he is not fully in tune with the times.
I don't think the times have changed anything with regard to this.

However, of course, there are other acceptable solutions, and cost is a big consideration.

My boat was built like that to begin with, so there was no cost involved for me.

If someone is going to install a high output, large frame, "schoolbus" alternator, which unlike car-type alternators can be run at full output for long periods of time and at high temperatures, and so is well suited for charging house banks, then usually it's not possible to just install it in the same brackets as the normal alternator. Usually these alternators need dual belts and different brackets. In such cases, why not leave the original alternator for charging the start batt, and implement Nigel's recommendation? No cost at all. In fact, if you ripped out the original alternator, you'd have to add an idler pulley for your fresh water pump, on top of the echo charger, so it would actually cost you money.

If, on the other hand, you're not going to install a large frame alternator, and you're just going to upgrade whatever you've got in the same location, then sure -- might not be worth installing a second one just to have redundant charging. In such cases, in my opinion, an echo charger is ok.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:48   #39
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

Frankly, I can not see that a second alternator to charge the start battery has better innate reliability than one high output alternator and an echo charger. The echo charger seems to have good reliability, while adding a non-stock mounting, plus a second alternator has many failure modes and adds considerable expense and bulk in crowded engine spaces.

Dockhead, you must remember that not all cruisers share your budget or available space for systems. And while I respect Calder's expertise, he is not infallible in his wisdom... I think he wrote that opinion before the marketing of the Echo charger was widespread.

Cheers,

Jim

Edit: Hmmm... seems like we were typing at the same time, and not in such awful disagreement!
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:10   #40
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

I don't believe the 'factory' alternator serves the role of 'redundant'. Redundant implies having 2 equals. But, the factory alternator does serve as a backup, something that can provide some level of service until repairs to the primary system are made. This, IMO, is a better choice than depending solely on a single point of failure. Having a backup, especially in the marine environment where lots of **** happens, will serve better in the run. It's a design choice. Posturing with blather about belts/bearings/brackets is just, well, blather.
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Old 07-06-2014, 06:40   #41
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
Cheap car type alternators have no place in the marine environment.
Yet there are millions of them out there doing just fine.... It all depends upon what you need from an alt that determines what alt you will need.. I have many boats where I actually talk customers out of wasting money on a gourmet system that is simply not necessary for their intended use. Some factory alts really suck and some are quite suitable. To lump them all together does no one any good.

I will not rip a customer off by force feeding them a dire need for gourmet alt & reg if they simply don't need it. Some do need it and many don't...

I sell four brands of high output "marine" alternators and am a dealer for three and the manufacturer of the fourth.. I still don't promote gourmet systems on customers who don't need them...

I always find it interesting that the "marine environment" is actually a lot less abusive to alts than a New England winter where wet highly corrosive salt spray is forced into engines and alts at 75mph for five months per year...

Vehicle #1 1996 176,000 miles - original alt
Vehicle #2 2006 165,000 miles - original alt
Vehicle #3 2008 140,000 miles - original alt

I also have numerous customers with original factory alts on boats over 30 years old......

Until I went lithium I used a stock dumb regulated alt on our own boat. Shocker, I know... Worked perfectly for the use charging flooded batts but would fail miserably feeding an LFP bank.... The previous owners cruised our boat for five years 24/7/356 from Labrador to South America to Alaska on that same auto type factory alt logging 2700 engine hours/charging during that time. That alt still works perfectly and is in a box in my barn.....
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Old 26-10-2014, 04:04   #42
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

Update. I got the existing rebuilt and a regulator installed. When we took off from the marina a while later, the voltage gauge showed a steady increase in volts depending on our RPMs. When we hit our normal RPM of 1750, the beast was at the top of our meter hitting 16 volts. I couldn't go any higher on my meter!
Hoping to see it drop in a while(new regulator), it let it run for an hour or so. Seeing no decline, I finally disconnected the leads from the alternator and just kept on moving.
We pulled into a marina a few days later and I had an electrician come out and look at it. He checked all the leads and reattached those I took off. He attached his volt meter and we started the engine. At 1200RPM, we were hitting about 13.4, by 1500RPMs, we were up to 15 and by 1750, we had hit the top of his scale also at 16 volts. We stopped the engine and took out the alternator. The electrician took it off the boat, sat down on the dock and took it apart. Everything looked fine but the guess was that the regulator was just faulty. He set off the repair it.
He called the next day and told me in a mixture of Chinese and English(I'm out in Malaysia) that he couldn't repair it. It just kept gong up to 16 volts every time he cranked it up on his bench. With that being said and no knowing if I was getting conned, I told him to get a new one and bring it out. He showed up about an hour later and installed the new one. We fired up the engine and all looks fine with it running at just over 14 volts at any RPM. I got the old one back and will take it to another electrician in Langkawi in a couple of weeks to see if it can be rebuilt or not.
Anyone got any idea what the heck was wrong of did I get conned into buying a new alternator?
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Old 26-10-2014, 10:05   #43
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

from before the time i bought this formosa until i received and wired in my rebuilt engine, there was no regulator for the alternator.
ok.
so when i motorsailed we saw charging numbers in the 16's... oops.. no wonder my house bank died prematurely.
ok dont wanna overcharge
so now i have one.
i think mebbe it is a really good idea.
dont wanna fail systems too soon.
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Old 26-10-2014, 12:15   #44
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

m-
If that was the typical alternator with integral regulator? You only get 16v out if the voltage sense lead is disconnected (which tells the alternator to just provide maximum power) or if the regulator has failed. An integral regulator can be a $25-50 part, wholesale, but you aren't likely to find them stocked in any retail store.
I had a failed alternator that needed a new (integral) regulator. I got one, wholesale, fitted it and had the regulator bench tested to confirm it was good. Keep it as a spare for maybe 8-10 years, and then when I needed it...it also failed all tests! Which bogs the mind since these are fairly dumb and stable devices that just don't go bad on the shelf.
Were you cheated? Damfino. Sometimes with alternators you just do what you have to do, and don't question it afterwards. They'll drive you crazy.
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Old 26-10-2014, 14:29   #45
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Re: Regulator for an Alternator?

My reaction to reading this thread was two-fold.

First was that the so called "electrician" who recommended removing the regulator was a fool, masquerading as a professional. I can think of no justifiable rational that assumes an engine will only be run for a few minutes. The same logic would suggest the complete removal of the engine cooling system for the simplification that would provide.

My second thought was that running an alternator unregulated for a long period of time would probably cook the alternator, as well as the batteries. I cannot reconcile this with the subsequently described over voltage problem being observed by the OP, except to wonder about if the insulation on the copper windings haven broken down in some way that is causing a short. In the case of the symptoms displayed I would be looking for some kind of short circuit into the field of the alternator, though I suspect I would be doing so simply for interest's sake as it does sound like the device was cooked to death.

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