Just a quick note that may help someone out there. My Balmar
ARS-4 voltage regulator
failed recently. I was carrying a Balmar
as a spare which is also defective (used, but it was operating when stowed in my parts
bin). I have a twin-engine catamaran
so I was able to switch out to the good ARS-4 regulator which is working fine. Still short one voltage regulator, I bought a single
stage Ford external regulator, model F540E-1, here in Rio Dulce, Guatemala
for 75 Q (about $10) and took it back to the boat expected to have to do a lot of wiring
changes but was happily surprised to learn that the main, 4-wire Balmar harness plug
is a Ford connector with the correct spacing between the terminals. All that I had to do was cut the black ground wire on the Balmar harness, crimp on a ring terminal and ground it using the bulkhead mounting screw. So far, I haven't bothered to hook up the (I) terminal that would have received the black ground wire and which is provided for an indicator light on the Ford models using this regulator.
The regulator is set for 14.2 volts and seems to be working just fine--not optimal since it is single
stage, but cheap
and available. A little shopping
on the web will reveal several heavy duty models of this same regulator if your alternator(s) is/are greater than the 90 amps that this stock unit is rated for.
Given my experience with the Balmar regulators, $10 seems like a cheap insurance
policy. Today I ordered two Sterling Power 4-stage regulators for less money
than one Balmar regulator. I will post my experiences on the forum to let everyone know how they work out but rest assured, there will be spare $10 Ford voltage regulators on board just in case. As far as the shortcomings of a single stage regulator, the boat is equipped with 550 watts of solar
using a three stage Trace charge controller and an a/c powered 50-amp Freedom Heart inverter/charger so topping off is usually not a concern.