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Kalinka1 19-01-2012 06:00

Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
Hello All.
Has anyone had any experience with Sterling voltage regulators? Saw these at the Toronto Boat show and can buy about three of them for the price of a Balmar or Powerline. Looking foreward to the good and the bad.:whistling:

Maine Sail 19-01-2012 06:07

Re: Sterling smart Voltage Regulators.

Originally Posted by Kalinka1 (Post 864643)
Hello All.
Has anyone had any experience with Sterling voltage regulators? Saw these at the Toronto Boat show and can buy about three of them for the price of a Balmar or Powerline. Looking foreward to the good and the bad.:whistling:

They are decent little work horses but are limited in "options" when compared to a Balmar MC series. You get less "options" but you also pay less. They also have a few more wires to hook up. Also be careful with voltage settings. Sterling uses some very high voltages in their presets to "speed" the charging process check with your battery manufacturer for the proper charging voltages. I install both Sterling and Balmar regs, they both work.

It is my understanding that Electromaax in Canada is now selling them, so it may save you on shipping costs from Maine, USA...

colemj 19-01-2012 06:18

Re: Sterling smart Voltage Regulators.
We have two of them and they work well. Best thing is that they work with internally regulated alternators also, so you always have a fail-over regulator should the Sterling go down. They are easily hooked up to the standard OEM alternators if you just want to boost your charging ability without buying a new alternator.

I guess I'm pretty simple about charging and don't need any other options beyond a good 3-stage charging regime. I like the adaptive absorb time rather than a preset time. The factory voltage presets on the Sterling for flooded batteries are exactly what Trojan recommends for our batteries. I don't know about the gel or agm presets, but they seem correct to me. There is also a fourth preset that limits it to 14.1V.

The installation manual is very wordy and yaks on and on about stuff. This can actually be confusing because several important pieces of data are distributed throughout the yak-fest. I was a bit confused on a particular part and wrote customer support. Charles Sterling wrote back immediately with answers. It was 9pm his time.


olesenrl 21-05-2012 08:01

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
I have an OEM alternator on a Westerbeke engine. Sterling Power told me I have to open up the alternator to connect a white wire to the field. Is this really necessary. Could you explain how to wired it.


colemj 21-05-2012 08:17

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
Yes, you need to connect a wire to the field brush. It does not have to be white. The process is different depending on the alternator. For the Volvo (Valeo) alternators, one simply removes the plastic cover over the internal regulator and solders on a wire to the field brush terminal.

Access to your alternator may be different. The Sterling manual has pretty detailed instructions, but you should look at the make of alternator you have (Motorola, Rhone, Lucas, etc) and the location of the internal regulator.

BTW, the process is the same for all external voltage regulators, not just the Sterling.


olesenrl 21-05-2012 08:22

How do I know if it is a positive field or negative?

Thanks so much for the reply.



paralog 21-05-2012 08:32

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators

Originally Posted by olesenrl (Post 955464)
How do I know if it is a positive field or negative?

Thanks so much for the reply.



You Solder one wire per brush then reassemble the alternator. wire up the alternator as normal, make sure it is working normally then you check the voltage coming from both of the wires and then you only use one and cut off the other. The Sterling instruction tell you how to do it and what the voltage readings should be. After you have done this piece you follow the instructions on how to connect it up. Mine works great.

olesenrl 24-05-2012 09:46

The western eke alternator has L (aux +) and R terminals. Does anyone know where these wires go for the sterling regulator install?


WolfgangSeaLife 01-12-2012 16:54

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
In the Sterling manual it sounds like you solder the wires only in order to test whether it is a positive or negative field alternator.
All Ballmar are P-type, positive field. So I did not solder wires.
And it did not work.
But if I leave the excite wire of the alternator for its internal regulator connected, it works... sort of. But the lights don't work right. The second green for floating charge does not come on.
So I guess, I have to go through that soldering process????
Or forget it and get a Balmar Maxcharge regulator.

Kalinka1 01-12-2012 17:04

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
Hi. If your Alternator is a balmar you might be better off with their regulator as everything should be plug and play! I have a sterling regulator that might be smarter than me! but I can not get the bulk charge to stay on long enough to charge up the batteries quick enough and there is no way to adjust this.

colemj 01-12-2012 17:48

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
You will not have to go through the soldering process on your Balmar because you are correct that it is a P-type and it already has a field wire coming out of it.

Is this a 6-series Balmar? If so, you will need to not connect the internal regulator and connect the Sterling field wire to the Balmar field wire. Try connecting the brown Sterling wire that is supposed to connect to the D+ terminal directly to a 12V source and see if that makes it work. If so, you will need to find a switched 12V source to connect it to.

It is rare that you will get to float unless you are motoring for a very long time with no other loads or have just left the dock with completely charged batteries.

Any regulator will drive the current until the batteries reach a set voltage point and then regulate the current to keep it at that point. If the bulk charge is short, then the regulator sense wire is seeing the set voltage point. Make sure the sense wire is seeing the true battery terminal voltage. When the regulator goes into absorption mode, measure the voltage on the battery terminals themselves to see if it matches the setpoint on the regulator. If the sense wire is connected to the alternator output post and the wires to the batteries are undersized, this will cause a short bulk period and rapid decrease in current output during absorption.

More telling is how much current is still being applied in absorption mode. If much current is still going into the batteries, then they are being charged well. If the current is cut back dramatically, either there is a problem with the sense wire feedback, or there is a large voltage drop across the wires to the batteries or your batteries are not well.


WolfgangSeaLife 03-12-2012 09:43

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
Thank you Mark, connecting the brown Sterling wire to a strong power source (13.2 V fully charged batteries) and not connecting the Balmar internal excite wire worked. We connected the white Sterling wire to the wire of the Balmar alternator that BalMar instructions say is for external regulator.

However, then we connected it to the ignition switch wire, which only read 12 V, although batteries were 13.2 V. That did not work, no charging.
(Also, we took the alternator to a shop who benchtested it and said it did not work. Obviously that was wrong. It is only 2 years old as the engine.)

Presently, we are checking all the connections and wires to and from the
engine panel and ignition switch, why it only reads 12 V.

Hard to understand is: When the engine and alternator are running the V from the ignition switch is over 13 V, but if we switch wires from the 13.2 V source to the wire from the ignition switch, charging stops. Is there a difference between the V from the ignition and from the battery?

colemj 03-12-2012 12:31

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
I suspect that while the static voltage on the ignition switch is 12V, it is much lower when a load is applied to it because of a bad connector or bad wire or the connection point you are using is supplying current to something else also. Try running a new direct wire to the switch terminal to rule out the first two problems.


noelex 77 03-12-2012 12:44

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
The Sterling alternator battery controlers are also worth a look. Does anyone have practical feedback on these?

WolfgangSeaLife 03-12-2012 15:12

Re: Sterling Smart Voltage Regulators
Mark/ Colemj
Yes, the V from the engine panel is below 10 V, when ignition switch is turned on. We will test with a 12 V wire to the ignition switch.

As I said, it works well if the brown Sterling wire is connected to a high V source.
However, the battery charging light on the engine panel does not go out.

The # 1 green Sterling light stays on, also the yellow light (and the red AGM light), although batteries are full.

Amps go down after a while from 20 to 15, to about 5, but charging V is 14.3. That shows the regulator works somehow, but should it not go down more? A user question in the Sterling manual (only in the German Q&A section !!!) is answered: The standard regulator (internal?) takes over from the Sterling, which no longer regulates. Please install a separation diode with voltage drop. Now the Sterling regulator can regulate. " This borders on the ridculous. I had two electricians working one day and now one another day. Buying the Balmar plug and play regulator would have easily saved its addional cost of $ 200. What do you think? I very much appreciate your expert opinion.

Could you please take one look at our regulator connections:
We connected:
Yellow Reg wire to to red engine panel + wire. (When the engine is running this shows full voltage 13.2 to 14.3)

White (Sterling manual: "should be connected to field wire you fitted earlier"... As you told me, we did not fit that soldered wire to a brush). So we connected it to Balmar "external field wire Blue". Wrong?

Brown: To another 12 V source (now 13.2 V), not yet switched. Install a switch and light?

Black: Ground at alternator

Red:to "Both" on the rotary master battery control switch.

Thanks again

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