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Old 18-01-2011, 12:15   #1
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Smart Charge Regulators

Firstly can someone please explain to me what a smart charge regulator is, and make a specific recommendation for manufacturers /models to look at?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 18-01-2011, 12:21   #2
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A smart-charge regulator is used to control the output of the alternator. It usually has 3-stages: bulk, acceptance or absorption, and float.

The idea is to maximize the available power from the alternator in relation to charging the connected batteries as rapidly and fully as possible.

Some "smart regulators" are fully programmable, for type of battery chemistry (flooded, AGM, gelled), maximum output, maximum voltages, etc., etc.

Some regulators can sense the temperature of the batteries and the alternator, and have cut-offs to ensure that dangerous limits are not exceeded.

I favor the Balmar MC-612 MaxCharge external regulator, and have found it to be an excellent product which does everything you'd want an external regulator to do.

Bill
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Old 19-01-2011, 02:18   #3
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I have had two & have determined the following.First they are VERY EXPENSIVE,indicating they are smarter than the buyer.Secondly they are complex,when working great when not royal PITA.Personally prefer simple single pole alternator.marc
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Old 19-01-2011, 02:46   #4
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Right. This device, basically, pumps up the alternator output when the battery bank can accept more charge, then cuts back the output when the battery bank can't accept so much charging. In theory. The result is that you can charge your batteries much faster when they are down.

Without a smart charger, it can take an awful long time to get your batteries up.

I have an Adverc, and it works as advertised.
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Old 19-01-2011, 03:01   #5
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There are some good articles on Charles Sterlings website to demistify the subject:

Sterling Power Products: Alternator Information

Sterling Power Products: How effective is advanced battery charging on a battery and can it damage the battery?

He wants 110 for an advanced alternator regulator on line, interestingly his products are cheaper through a normal chandler.

https://sslrelay.com/s74222713.onean...dex.shopscript

I suposed it depends how much you value fast charging either by mains battery charger or alternator. With 30 amp hours to be replaced last August we set off motoring across a flat calm English channel home. After 6 hours our Volvo 50 amp alternator had nearly caught up with the battery deficient but it took a total of 10 hours to replace the last few amp hours. Thats a long time and down to the alternator charging at 14 volts which is what its designed to do. It didn't matter to us because with no wind we had to motor anyway, but if I had been sat at anchor it would have been annoying. Indeed we use a genny and Sterling Digital battery charger in harbour or at anchor to charge.

In contrast to the alternator our Sterling 40 AH battery charger thumps the amps in with a higher voltage at 14.8v before settling down to a lower float charge for the last bit. The difference between the voltages is the faster charging and therefore shorter time.

He also has some interesting views on batteries which some folk agree with and some don't . I do. However, watch the warning about fast charging and the need to replace water if you are using higher voltages like 14.8v with some batteries.

Sterling Power Products: What is the best battery to use for an auxiliary charging system?

Pete
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Old 23-01-2011, 15:19   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svfinnishline View Post
Firstly can someone please explain to me what a smart charge regulator is, and make a specific recommendation for manufacturers /models to look at?

Thanks in advance!
The previous post explain it well. I have an Ample power reg and alternator combiner. Works great. Even with these though you would have to run your engines at least 6hrs to fully charge the batteries. That last 20% go so slow. That is where wind generators or solar panels are good.
One thing to look out for is the alternators getting to hot and stopping. I thought I would save some money and just use off the shelf alternators.
They can't handle the output for to long. There is a current reducing circuit that I hooked up and lowered the output. Now I know why they get those high prices for the hot alternators like the Balmars and Ample power.
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Old 20-02-2011, 06:10   #7
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First it is an automatic charger. 3 stage charger that can be custom calibrated.
Best new Charger is MASTERVOLT.COM

For Alternators look at AMPLEPOWER.COM
they also have a very smart regulator. You really need to have a temperature monitor
at your battery linked into your charger. New equipment now includes these monitors.
MASTERVOLT won the Practical Sailor award. Mastervolt has good reading info.

Hope this helps
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Old 27-09-2011, 16:02   #8
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post

I favor the Balmar MC-612 MaxCharge external regulator, and have found it to be an excellent product which does everything you'd want an external regulator to do.

Bill
I just saw that Balmar is now making a dual smart regulator for engines with both engine & house batt. alternators. Anyone with first-hand experience? Difficult for a layman to install?
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Old 27-09-2011, 16:23   #9
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

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Originally Posted by svfinnishline View Post
Firstly can someone please explain to me what a smart charge regulator is, and make a specific recommendation for manufacturers /models to look at?

Thanks in advance!

I've just bought one of their 180amp alternator kits, can't wait to try it out!

I can do no better than point you to the website www.electromaax.com/ to read up on high output alts and smart regs!

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="YouTube - Broadcast Yourself" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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Old 27-09-2011, 16:34   #10
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

The primary point of smart alternator regulators is to improve the absorption phase.( ie to make it quicker) A fixed output regulator, typical of internal regulators, will be set to 14.2 or 14.4 volts. Of course during bulk phase the actual voltage is determined by the battery input impedance.( often 13.6-13.8). A smart charger in reality cant get more current out of a particular alternator, but it can work the alternator longer and harder.

Many alternator regulators raise the absorption phase to 14.8, which can cause gassing, but allow the absorption phase to complete quicker. Unless you do that the absorption phase ( about the last 20% or so) can take a long time, ie 8-12 hours. Hence many ordinary regulators leave deep discharge batteries at the 80% mark, which on an ongoing basis is very bad for LAs. Unfortunately even with smart regulators, the absorption phase is often much longer then people are prepared to run their engines. So often not that much is achieved by such regulators.

Dave
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Old 27-09-2011, 17:14   #11
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
There are some good articles on Charles Sterlings website to demistify the subject:

Sterling Power Products: Alternator Information

Sterling Power Products: How effective is advanced battery charging on a battery and can it damage the battery?

He wants 110 for an advanced alternator regulator on line, interestingly his products are cheaper through a normal chandler.

https://sslrelay.com/s74222713.onean...dex.shopscript

I suposed it depends how much you value fast charging either by mains battery charger or alternator. With 30 amp hours to be replaced last August we set off motoring across a flat calm English channel home. After 6 hours our Volvo 50 amp alternator had nearly caught up with the battery deficient but it took a total of 10 hours to replace the last few amp hours. Thats a long time and down to the alternator charging at 14 volts which is what its designed to do. It didn't matter to us because with no wind we had to motor anyway, but if I had been sat at anchor it would have been annoying. Indeed we use a genny and Sterling Digital battery charger in harbour or at anchor to charge.

In contrast to the alternator our Sterling 40 AH battery charger thumps the amps in with a higher voltage at 14.8v before settling down to a lower float charge for the last bit. The difference between the voltages is the faster charging and therefore shorter time.

He also has some interesting views on batteries which some folk agree with and some don't . I do. However, watch the warning about fast charging and the need to replace water if you are using higher voltages like 14.8v with some batteries.

Sterling Power Products: What is the best battery to use for an auxiliary charging system?

Pete
What this Sterling fellow says is completely at odds with what battery manufacturers say.
As I understand it his regulators are constant voltage regulators and to be that way they must be current limited.
Batttery makers will tell you that you need a 3 stage regulation...bulk phase, absorption phase and float.
Bulk phase allows the alternator to deliver the maximum current that the battery will accept (limited of course by the alternators maximum output), until the terminal voltage reaches a preset level (eg 14.4 for a wet LA), the regulator then reduces the alternator output to maintain this voltage for a preset time (absorption phase) or a calculated time based on how long it took to get the voltage uop to 14.4V.
At the end of that time the alternator then switches to float where only a trickle of current is need to keep the voltage at 13.3 or so....
ALL battery manufacturers reccomend this system.
Mr Sterling is a bit out there with his oddball systems.... Balmar, Ample Power, Victron, Vetus all use this 3 stage (or IUOU) regulation as RECOMMENDED BY BATTERY MANUFACTURERS.
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Old 27-09-2011, 17:33   #12
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

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Originally Posted by Albro359 View Post
What this Sterling fellow says is completely at odds with what battery manufacturers say.
As I understand it his regulators are constant voltage regulators and to be that way they must be current limited.
Batttery makers will tell you that you need a 3 stage regulation...bulk phase, absorption phase and float.
Bulk phase allows the alternator to deliver the maximum current that the battery will accept (limited of course by the alternators maximum output), until the terminal voltage reaches a preset level (eg 14.4 for a wet LA), the regulator then reduces the alternator output to maintain this voltage for a preset time (absorption phase) or a calculated time based on how long it took to get the voltage uop to 14.4V.
At the end of that time the alternator then switches to float where only a trickle of current is need to keep the voltage at 13.3 or so....
ALL battery manufacturers reccomend this system.
Mr Sterling is a bit out there with his oddball systems.... Balmar, Ample Power, Victron, Vetus all use this 3 stage (or IUOU) regulation as RECOMMENDED BY BATTERY MANUFACTURERS.
I dont follow your logic, Sterlings units are IU chargers, like most "smart ones". Whats to suggest any difference.

your comments

"Bulk phase allows the alternator to deliver the maximum current that the battery will accept"

Batteries are not self limiting , hence the charger must be sized to ensure it doesnt overcharge during bulk mode.

"until the terminal voltage reaches a preset level (eg 14.4 for a wet LA"

In reality you need to go into the gassing point to get quick absorption charging. Its a decision thats regulator/charging companies make, some limit absorption to 14.4 to ensure that gassing is limited or non-existent, especially where temperature compensation is missing. Charles Sterling correctly identifies that a higher absorption voltage is actually needed, and that fast charging costs water.
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Old 27-09-2011, 17:59   #13
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

OK, maybe I missed his point....he's talking about absorption voltage ??

Its confusing when he talks about voltages..eg 14Volts as being where most alternators start from.....that's not correct..alternators are current producers...when an alternator starts to charge a battery, the voltage is determined by the battery and as it accepts current from the alternator the voltage will rise...and rise and rise, until something (the regulator) tells it to back off (by reducing the field current).
The amount of current a battery will take is dependent on the battery during the bulk phase.....you can have a 200 A alternator charging a 500A battery..the current inrush will be limited by the battery acceptance rate (and the alternator output, if the acceptance rate is higher than the alt is capable of putting out), but the voltage will rise quickly...much more quickly that if you had a 100A alternator.

So if his regs are IUOU types, fine, but i can't see where he states that.
And if all he is talking about is absorption voltage playing a role in how much current is charging the battery during absorption..well there's nothing new about that and most regulatoirs allow that voltage to be adjusted.

Seems like we're having a conversation about nothing !
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Old 27-09-2011, 18:09   #14
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

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Originally Posted by Albro359 View Post
OK, maybe I missed his point....he's talking about absorption voltage ??

Its confusing when he talks about voltages..eg 14Volts as being where most alternators start from.....that's not correct..alternators are current producers...when an alternator starts to charge a battery, the voltage is determined by the battery and as it accepts current from the alternator the voltage will rise...and rise and rise, until something (the regulator) tells it to back off (by reducing the field current).
Well yes and no, The alternators isn't a perfect current source. Also LA battery voltage will not rise infinitely, thermal runaway takes place first. So all chargers must have max voltage limit on a constant current charge phase. ( or a current limit, which in effect is carried out by voltage control)

Quote:
The amount of current a battery will take is dependent on the battery during the bulk phase.....you can have a 200 A alternator charging a 500A battery..the current inrush will be limited by the battery acceptance rate (and the alternator output, if the acceptance rate is higher than the alt is capable of putting out), but the voltage will rise quickly...much more quickly that if you had a 100A alternator.
hmmmm, batteries are like dogs, given enough food they will gorge themselves to illness. Batteries acceptance rate is a specification, its not a limit. The Battery chemistry does not impose it. It will accept current up to the explosion point.

Quote:

So if his regs are IUOU types, fine, but i can't see where he states that.
And if all he is talking about is absorption voltage playing a role in how much current is charging the battery during absorption..well there's nothing new about that and most regulatoirs allow that voltage to be adjusted.

Seems like we're having a conversation about nothing !
Cheers
Like much of Sterlings stuff, he tends to make a meal out of the basic or ordinary , essentially trying to proclaim something new in a product range thats very similar to others, I think its called "marketing".

What is does say is that relatively high absorption voltage is needed if you want to fast charge,since absorption phase is the defining time in most high current charge applications.

Dave
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Old 27-09-2011, 18:11   #15
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Re: Smart Charge Regulators

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The primary point of smart alternator regulators is to improve the absorption phase.( ie to make it quicker) A fixed output regulator, typical of internal regulators, will be set to 14.2 or 14.4 volts. Of course during bulk phase the actual voltage is determined by the battery input impedance.( often 13.6-13.8). A smart charger in reality cant get more current out of a particular alternator, but it can work the alternator longer and harder.

Many alternator regulators raise the absorption phase to 14.8, which can cause gassing, but allow the absorption phase to complete quicker. Unless you do that the absorption phase ( about the last 20% or so) can take a long time, ie 8-12 hours. Hence many ordinary regulators leave deep discharge batteries at the 80% mark, which on an ongoing basis is very bad for LAs. Unfortunately even with smart regulators, the absorption phase is often much longer then people are prepared to run their engines. So often not that much is achieved by such regulators.

Dave
The funny thing is that most external regulators I see installed are running absorption psettings that are hardly any different than the regulator they removed thus giving no faster charging.

When I set up a regulator like an MC-612/614 or ARS-5 it takes me a good deal of time to dial it in just right for the bank it is charging. Often times the pre-sets are a horrible guess at what your bank needs or can take. The Balmar 612/614 have two absorption time parameters so you can do say 30 minutes at 14.8V then drop to 14.4V etc. The set up of these is the most important aspect if you want the best performance. Voltage is pressure and higher voltages mean faster charging but you should do this carefully.
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