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Old 02-08-2009, 20:54   #1
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XAR Digital Alternator Regulator - Over Charging

XAR Digital Alternator Regulator
i have just had Brewers install the above smart regulator - intially worked ok -seeemed correctly set up for the gel batteries on my sail boat - however after a few days i noticed that once the alternator kicked in the bulk charge phasis seemed to fluctuate wildly between 14.8 volts and 13.4 volts and house battery bank seemed to overcharge going up to 14 .9 volts and an warning buzzer getting set off on my APC bank manager 11 battery monitor .
also the freedom 10 inverter remote display show a flashing battery warning light ,
i have ample 4023 alternator .
what is problem - could the regulator be reading a faulty battery - is the alternator at fault - is the regulator at fault ---
paul carey
brewers yacht haven stamford ct
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Old 02-08-2009, 21:17   #2
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First place to look is the voltage sensing and grounding wires-- measure between these at the regulator and compare to battery voltage--if the regulator is seeing the right voltage, it must be defective.
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Old 02-08-2009, 21:32   #3
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do you mean the battery is defective or the regulator ?
paul carey
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Old 02-08-2009, 22:36   #4
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The regulator. The purpose of the regulator is to adjust the alternator output so as to maintain the proper voltage at the battery terminals--the bulk phase for gels should be about 14.0-14.1 volts. The regulator needs to know what that battery voltage is, and the best ones have a separate sensing wire to run to the battery itself which carries almost no current and thus has no voltage drop.

The cheaper regulators like the XAR sense voltage from the same wire that provides them with power (they draw about 1-5 amps) to provide the field current to the alternator. If they are sense too low a voltage, they will provide more field current to the alternator, which will draw more current from ther power wire, which will lower the voltage they sense. This can cause oscillations like you are seeing if the power wire is too small or has a weak connection, even though the regulator may be OK. Make sure that Brewers used at least a #12 wire, and followed the XAR installation instructions.

The other side of the circuit is the ground. Make sure that Brewers connected both black wires to the alternator case ground, and not somewhere else. Sometimes oscillations can occur if the alternator ground connection is not strong enough, and can be cured by running a separate ground wire (#4 or bigger) from the negative ground terminal to the alternator case. You can test this by just connecting a battery jumper cable from the alternator case to the battery NEGATIVE terminal.

Finally, even if there are good connections, the control circuits in the regulator can be bad, but usually the problem is in the installation.
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Old 05-08-2009, 11:59   #5
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update on xantrex regulator/electric system issues

below details background and progress todate /would welcome comments

Background to Problem
background to problems with electric system --- On my vacation cruise ,during which i live aboard for 3 weeks ,the yacht got more than
usual use not least the electrics - this heavy use probably trigger the problems and knowledge of this background may help with diagnostics . We also managed to cause some sparking when clearing the water filter in engine comparment [metal tool crossed DC terminals on fuse panel accidentally ] -this resulted in a fuse blowing which we replaced and influenced the diagnosing of regulator problem by Brewers in Greenport set out below.

Symptoms
During the vacation and after the sparking event mentioned above i noticed that the alternator was not charging -we put into Brewers Greenport and they diagnosed a smart regulator problem and swapped out the old for a new Xantrex unit --- subsequently the system seemed to work well --- however after 3 days alternator was again temperamental and delayed kicking in for long periods and when it did [seeming after period of batteries being plugged into shore power ] its voltage tended to fluctuate erratically between 12.6 - 14.9 volts

The freedom 10 charger/inverter remote at the navigation table also started to show a battery problem light [ could be under-charge or over charged ] and an audible alarm went off in APC battery monitor also at navigation table for bank 1 the house batteries under rear cabin bunk .


When i got back , i checked that new regulator was properly programmed for gel batteries - it is
I check and tighten all wiring between alternator , regulator and main house battery bank-- this seemed to eliminate erratic fluctuations [ may have been a loose connection ] .

I put a load on house batteries and noticed that they seemed to run down rapidly - and when reduced to below 12.2 volts the alternator could not , i think, establish a field and didn't kick in - when i re plugged into shore power the batteries recharged , started engine and alternator kicked in without issue .

Possible Problem


The posssible problem is the main house bank batteries or possibly all the batteries which may not be able to hold their charge -- however i am not an expert and would welcome comments.

Description of System and Locations

The system consists of an ample 4023 s alternator [ which can put out 70 amps and seems OK and probably is good for its job given size of batteries ] an new smart xantrex regulator and three banks of batteries - 2 paralled 87 amp gel house batteries [bank1 ] under rear cabin bunk - engine battery 87 amp gel and 2nd house battery 190 amp gel both in main cockpit locker . the upgrade work was done to full spec by jack rabbit and is first rate.

There is a freedom inverter/charge in cockpit locker with remote control at navigation desk - charger is working but inverter doesn't - checked trip switch and doubled click switch at remote to try and get inverter operating - no luck,again this may be due to problematic batteries -- the AC outlet for inverter is in galley.

There is an echo charger arrangement for engine battery [unit in cockpit locker ] .

There is a APC bank manager 11 [battery monitor ]at the navigation table wired into the three different battery banks and it seems to work but its led display screen is not operating 100% so difficult to read
[ i am looking to find a new display unit for the APC unit which is out of production, would welcome any offers to sell or pointers where i could find one ]

rgds
Paul
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:00   #6
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update on xantrex regulator/electric system issues

below details background and progress todate /would welcome comments

Background to Problem
background to problems with electric system --- On my vacation cruise ,during which i live aboard for 3 weeks ,the yacht got more than usual use not least the electrics - this heavy use probably trigger the problems and knowledge of this background may help with diagnostics . We also managed to cause some sparking when clearing the water filter in engine comparment [metal tool crossed DC terminals on fuse panel accidentally ] -this resulted in a fuse blowing which we replaced and influenced the diagnosing of regulator problem by Brewers in Greenport set out below.

Symptoms
During the vacation and after the sparking event mentioned above i noticed that the alternator was not charging -we put into Brewers Greenport and they diagnosed a smart regulator problem and swapped out the old for a new Xantrex unit --- subsequently the system seemed to work well --- however after 3 days alternator was again temperamental and delayed kicking in for long periods and when it did [seeming after period of batteries being plugged into shore power ] its voltage tended to fluctuate erratically between 12.6 - 14.9 volts

The freedom 10 charger/inverter remote at the navigation table also started to show a battery problem light [ could be under-charge or over charged ] and an audible alarm went off in APC battery monitor also at navigation table for bank 1 the house batteries under rear cabin bunk .

When i got back , i checked that new regulator was properly programmed for gel batteries - it is
I check and tighten all wiring between alternator , regulator and main house battery bank-- this seemed to eliminate erratic fluctuations [ may have been a loose connection ] .

I put a load on house batteries and noticed that they seemed to run down rapidly - and when reduced to below 12.2 volts the alternator could not , i think, establish a field and didn't kick in - when i re plugged into shore power the batteries recharged , started engine and alternator kicked in without issue .

Possible Problem

The posssible problem is the main house bank batteries or possibly all the batteries which may not be able to hold their charge -- however i am not an expert and would welcome comments.

Description of System and Locations

The system consists of an ample 4023 s alternator [ which can put out 70 amps and seems OK and probably is good for its job given size of batteries ] an new smart xantrex regulator and three banks of batteries - 2 paralled 87 amp gel house batteries [bank1 ] under rear cabin bunk - engine battery 87 amp gel and 2nd house battery 190 amp gel both in main cockpit locker . the upgrade work was done to full spec by jack rabbit and is first rate.

There is a freedom inverter/charge in cockpit locker with remote control at navigation desk - charger is working but inverter doesn't - checked trip switch and doubled click switch at remote to try and get inverter operating - no luck,again this may be due to problematic batteries -- the AC outlet for inverter is in galley.

There is an echo charger arrangement for engine battery [unit in cockpit locker ] .

There is a APC bank manager 11 [battery monitor ]at the navigation table wired into the three different battery banks and it seems to work but its led display screen is not operating 100% so difficult to read
[ i am looking to find a new display unit for the APC unit which is out of production, would welcome any offers to sell or pointers where i could find one ]

rgds
Paul
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Old 05-08-2009, 14:08   #7
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The regulator should still kick in with 12.2 volts present. Suprising to me that an Ample Power Reg was bad, they seem bulletproof, but it's possible. Occassionally I would accidentally run a battery into the <12 volt range and the Ample reg would have no problem once the engine was started. If you suspect the batteries, charge them good on the shore power, disconnect the terminals and check them the next day for voltage. If they didnt hold they are bad. The charging fluctuations dont make sense to me though...
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Old 05-08-2009, 15:50   #8
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I agree that the regulator should still kick in unless the batteries are completely flat (<8 volts). Remember that the regulator gets both power and voltage sensing from the same wire, and if it is funky, it may keep the regulator from kicking in. It may be that there was nothing wrong with the old regulator that new wiring wouldn't have fixed, after you lit up the engine compartment by shorting out something with your wrench.

The inverter is a different problem. It will cut out at some low battery voltage, but I think its about 11 volts. Next time you are on shore power, try disconnecting after the batteries are up, and see if the inverter works then. When was the last time the inverter worked, and are there any breakers between it and the AC outlet, and does the AC outlet have a ground fault interrupter?? The inverter needs to sense a load to turn on, and you can make a tester out of a 60-100 watt light.
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