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Old 21-01-2024, 18:09   #1
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Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I am starting this thread with the hope to help us Gem owners make more informed decisions when upgrading our boats to a lithium battery bank. A lot has changed in the past year that make upgrading to LiFePO4 easier and yet most boat forums continue to offer ďstaleĒ recommendations. I will document each upgrade as it occurs to our Gem.

Every boat is different and each person wants something a little different, but this is what we wanted our upgrade to entail.

1. Batteries. We wanted to use (3) 24 case size LiFePO4 batteries that fit in the exact space that the present AGM batteries are in. Did not want lengthy high current wires and batteries running everywhere as we have a 3,000 watt inverter/ 150 amp charger. We wanted batteries that have a Bluetooth connection so we can see the exact state of charge, voltage, cell balance and temperature, amp hours used, current to and from the battery, time to discharge and time left to recharge. We also wanted batteries that the output can be turned off with an app. We wanted batteries with internal heat so they can be charged and discharged in cold weather. We also wanted batteries that will protect themselves from overcharge by turning off the charging circuit in the BMS and not turning off the output of the battery. And like all LiFePO4 batteries, they will shut down output on over current and over temp.

Many LiFePO4 batteries still sold today shut the entire battery off on overcharge voltage or cell imbalance, thus destroying your alternator and leaving you without power. I tested this on the batteries I purchased and they will indeed still output power but shut the charge mos off in the BMS on over voltage. The app clearly explains what is going on in the battery and gives error codes. We purchased 5 of these and 2 of them have been in use for a month in series (24 Volt) on our M151A2 Military Jeep. Batteries in series tend to become unbalanced and these are staying balanced due to an excellent BMS and good cell quality. The best quality LiFePO4 cells available are called EVE cells and those are the cells used in these batteries. Because of this, these batteries have an 11 year warranty.

These batteries are sold and supported here in Georgia USA. Anytime I had questions, they answered the phone. Try that with a battery purchased from Amazon! A five year battery warranty from an Amazon seller will most likely not be around if 5 years, they come and go all the time. Look for battery teardowns on you tube, there are some really shitty batteries on the market. You get what you pay for and we do not want to be 100 Miles off shore with a cheap set of batteries!

Oh yea, did not want to spend $1,000 a piece for batteries that have no Bluetooth. We purchased these on sale end of last year for $340 each, not bad for a premium battery with marine and UL approvals (important for insurance and safety reasons).

These are the batteries we purchased.
https://www.epochbatteries.com/produ...och-essentials

I have no financial interest in this company, research shows good reviews and battery teardowns show excellent quality.

2. Alternator Charging. Yes, folks are still recommending keeping an outdated expensive, heavy AGM battery on board as your start battery. Then to make it worse you have to add a DC to DC converter to that start battery and add more wiring, switches, fuses etc. to charge your new LiFePO4 batteries. Oh, the DC to DC charger now limits your alternator charging to 30 amps unless you want to add 2 of them (more expense and wiring). Short of spending over $1,100 for a Balmar alternator and regulator, these were the only ways to deal with it. Almost forgot, the Balmar will not directly fit and new brackets and spacers have to be machined, more $ and aggravation. And the balmar does not have any way to limit charge amperage or charge current vs engine rpm.

Folks, there is an easier way. Purchased this Alternator regulator. https://arcomarine.com/products/arco...ator-regulator Expensive but found a dealer that sells it for $225.00 cheaper.
This will allow you to use your current alternator (with a simple modification) to charge your new LiFePO4 batteries.
Throw away the AGM battery, DC to DC converter and wiring and use KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). New LiFePO4 batteries now have the current to start our tiny engine. Leave the battery switch to the all position and you have hundreds of cranking amps available to start your Westerbeke. My tests and manufacturer battery spec sheets show only one battery will start our engine but keeping the battery switch to all 3 will prolong the life of the batteries and BMS.

I was so ecstatic about this regulator simplifying a LiFePO4 battery upgrade, created a video today putting it through itís paces on my test bench. I have no connection or stock in this company, lol, just a great product to share with all of you. No other regulator on the market can do this and everything, and I mean everything is programmable with an app. Here is the video https://youtu.be/v-b5Dp2JcHk?feature=shared If anyone is interested on how to modify the stock alternator, I can create a video of it. However any alternator shop can add a field wire to it as well.

Unfortunately, all of the equipment we installed in Starrider in 2007 does not have Lithium profiles. So we need to upgrade our solar charge controller and monitor and the Battery amp hour meter. We will be using Victron products as they can create a Bluetooth network and the battery amp hour meter can share battery state of charge with the solar controller so the batteries are never overcharged or undercharged. Will document this in the spring when the weather is more conducive to working outside.

Hope this helps someone.
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Old 22-01-2024, 01:19   #2
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I thinks Mads on Sail life is also going to be doing a vlog on the install of the same Zeus regulator.
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Old 22-01-2024, 11:17   #3
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Thanks so much for posting this and for the video. We have been searching for a better way to protect the alternator for over a year. We found the Zeus over the weekend. I spoke with a real person at Arco today. I think it is exactly what we have been looking for.
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Old 17-03-2024, 19:15   #4
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I am also studying the new Arco Zeus regulator closely. The features look interresting, no doubt.

However, this installation guide video on YouTube advises at 12:25 that the Smart Shunt in a Victron battery system needs to be drilled and tapped, with degraded performance as a result. To me, this is a showstopper. The Smart Shunt is the hypothalamus in a smart lithium battery system and mustn't be messed with. The video's presenter was involved in the design of the Arco Zeus, so he should know what he's talking about.

https://youtu.be/zDbQ_ILbeA4?si=rDoy5LjWsXISg9dj&t=745

We need clarification from Arco on whether this advice is valid, or is connecting the Zeus' battery voltage sensing cables to the positive and negative bus bars good enough?

Another issue. Integration of the Arco Zeus within a Victron battery system needs a CANBus connection between the Zeus and the Cerbo system commander, to achieve full functionality. This could be a discrete CANBus network between only these two devices.

However, if the Cerbo is already connected to the navigation system CANBus network, via an ethernet cable between the Cerbo and a chartplotter (such as a B&G Zeus3S), it should be possible to create a new drop from this CANBus network to the Arco Zeus. Victron battery system data should then be available to the Arco-Zeus. So who is going to put their hand up to be the guinea pig? We can watch while you integrate a regulator for a second alternator into your navigation system data network. It should be fine.

I say again - I like what I'm seeing about the Arco Zeus, but the issues raised above need to be investigated. I will ask Arco directly regarding the Smart Shunt question and will post their reply in this thread.
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Old 17-03-2024, 19:54   #5
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I found this Victron system design diagram, including an Arco Zeus, on an Arco retailer's website. OutbackMarine in Australia. Does anyone know where the full resolution version can be found on Victron's website? I'll be hunting for it.


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Old 17-03-2024, 23:12   #6
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Quote:
Originally Posted by Starrider View Post
Expensive but found a dealer that sells it for $225.00 cheaper.

Your secret is safe with me. PM if necessary. :-) Thanks.
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Old 17-03-2024, 23:14   #7
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alden View Post
Does anyone know where the full resolution version can be found on Victron's website?

It's here. Be aware, this is a mixed 12V/24V system. Interpret with care.


https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...-regulator.pdf
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Old 19-03-2024, 13:17   #8
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I am working with a Zeus distributor, in full transparency, (we're looking for vendors, so let me know if interested), and directly with one of the original product development team members, who continues to do work with Arco.

I provided a play-by-play self installation of the Zeus on my personal boat, similar to Starrider, connecting to a beta-test 250amp alternator, and two DEKA 8D AGM 245AH house batteries here: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post3842012

Testing of the Zeus has proved phenomenal, especially on a recent trip when we identified that our 7+ year old AGM house bank is nearing end of life, and we were able to salvage our refrigerated and frozen goods through use of the Zeus.

We've learned a few things, which I wanted to share with this group, and may be able to answer some questions as well:

During multiple installations, we've noted best performance of the Zeus with adding the currently mandated battery shunt to the high or positive side of the battery bank, especially in 24V and 48V systems. While this doesn't currently help with current owners of Lynx Distributor and Lynx BMS installations, keep reading. Installing an optional shunt on the alternator high side is also recommended for best performance. We're routinely using Victron SHU500050100 shunts as a cost effective option.

Another note, during installation, there is a yellow and black wire on the Zeus alternator harness, "ALT GND" which is for a ground of the Zeus to the Alternator. In some installations, this has caused a ground loop, so we are advising to not connect this wire during installation and simply tuck it away.

All harness wires can be extended so that the Zeus can be mounted where it is easiest in each installation.

Now to Alden's post. Current testing is underway for an over-the-air Zeus firmware update which will negate the current requirement for a battery side shunt connection and will allow the Zeus to take battery readings from a canbus or N2K network. Likewise, recent beta-testing of Victron GX systems are populating Zeus data on the Victron system, and it is expected that the Zeus will be displayed as an additional power input to the Victron system, similar to how MPPT/Multi are currently. DVCC settings in the GX will also be able to control power input from the Zeus. Both updates are expected to be released in April/May of this year.

I hope this answers some questions and helps, we love our Zeus...now the biggest dilemma of the day when off grid is, do we run the Zeus or break out the old Honda EU2200 for our power needs.
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Old 20-03-2024, 18:47   #9
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Thanks for this news and advice, SVWalksonWater. I might just call you JC for short. :-)

Your note about preventing the ground loop problem/failure is particularly helpful and brings the Zeus back into contention (or does it? Read on.).

It sounds like you are familiar with Victron equipment, so I will describe my planned installation of a second alternator to an existing 12V system and ask for your thoughts.

The boat has three Smart Lithium 12.8V batteries in parallel, managed by a Smart BMS CL 12-100, to which the original 115A alternator is connected. This BMS has no network connection to the system's Cerbo or Smart Shunt (500A/50mV). This shunt is on the battery negative side as per usual and is network connected to the Cerbo. Three MPPTs deliver solar charging to the bus-bars and are also networked to the Cerbo. A MultiPlus Inverter/Charger is networked to the Cerbo. The Cerbo is using DVCC to manage charging across this network. It all works well.

You describe installing a new shunt, or two new shunts, to provide measurements for the Zeus. The first would be on the positive side of the battery bank and represents the mandatory shunt that the Zeus needs to be able to function. A second and optional shunt would be on the positive side of the alternator. This second, new shunt would be easy to add as part of a second alternator installation job. Installing the first, new and mandatory shunt into an existing battery system is not quite so easy.

The positive (and negative) cables from the three batteries are precisely the same length (for cell charge balance reasons) and the first point where they meet is the positive bus-bar. The simplest way to add the first, mandatory, new shunt would be to bolt one end to the positive bus-bar and use the other end as the new aggregation point for the three positive battery cables. Your thoughts on this, from a Zeus measurement perspective? It should work. I'll need to check feasibility in terms of space, mechanics and robustness. A short bus-bar side extension might be needed, as a bridge between the shunt's mounting bolt and the bus-bar's mounting bolt.

A question is, can this mandatory, new, positive side shunt be installed 'downstream' of the positive bus-bar and still provide the measurements the Zeus needs for best performance? I doubt it. In the multiple installations you describe, where has the new, positive side shunt been installed?

All things considered, it really would best if the Zeus could get its mandatory shunt data from an existing shunt on the negative side of the battery, without burning up. Or even better and as you describe, from existing network data created by a Smart Shunt and delivered to the Zeus by a Cerbo over CANBus. Right now though (March 24), I understand that Zeus boxes cannot be wired to a battery negative side shunt. That's unfortunate. Time is pressing and waiting until April/May/? for an ideal, network based shunt measurement setup might not be possible. Zeus might need to wait for the next blastoff into the unknown.

Please let me know if I'm missing something. In the meantime I'll consider further your idea of a positive side shunt installation, or two. Thanks.
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Old 21-03-2024, 05:58   #10
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Alden,

Victron Lynx Distributors and/or busbars are commonly used as a battery common, as in your installation. We have both used the appropriately sized BEP Linkbars and drilled out the holes in Lynx (do at your own risk and may void warranty) to accommodate direct connection of a shunt from both types of busbar.

Similar to the low side or negative shunt, a positive shunt just needs to be the first device from the batteries before any loads.

In the event that you have your loads coming directly off of a battery common bus, you may find the shunt bolt to be too short, they're typically M10 15mm bolts. I have both experimented with and used a M10 20mm-25mm bolt to accommodate multiple large lugs. Just make sure that it's a good quality brass bolt, as some online are subpar metals. Mcmaster-carr used to carry these online.

In a second alternator installation, you'll appreciate the wiring harness options for "Input 1" and "Input 2" wires, and ability to switch what the inputs do digitally. I am aware of one boat manufacturer who is using the Zeus as a standard option in their builds, who use these wires, switched to a ground, with a three position rocker switch at the helm. One position places the Zeus in "Generator Mode," with the middle position as regular operation as is programmed by an engine load curve in the app, and one position which disables the Zeus all together (the last option is not a function of the app and required modification of the ignition wire and disables the field output of the Alternator, making it just a big pulley with minimal load).

If you have not spec'd your alternator out yet, oversizing a bit for the Zeus programmed return with regard to amperage has been making sense, that way, during "generator mode" you receive your desired output without running the alternator to 100% capability and prolong use before any over-heating. That reminds me of another feature of the Zeus, the optional output wire, programable, I've seen a bilge fan setup to run past the alternator for cooling purposes wired to the Zeus here and programmed to cycle when the alternator temperature reads high. (Wow, Acadia's ADD must be contagious).

I believe, if you have enough "real-estate" that you can accomplish a Zeus installation currently. I will tell you, that being able to kick your alternator into full programmed output at 900rpm neutral, is a game changer. As for the upcoming firmware updates, even as a vendor/distributor of the Zeus, realistically, there's just some applications that make this just not the right product for some individual...yet.

New tech, logical progression of existing tech, and it's working...and getting better!
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Old 21-03-2024, 08:20   #11
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I have been debating between the Zeus and Wakespeed 500. But if I can get the Zeus for $225 cheaper that pretty much made my decision. Please send me a PM with details on how or who to purchase
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Old 21-03-2024, 08:37   #12
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

now 7 year winston cell 200ah no bms + eva 280ah with bms ,starter lead battery. annualy 600 hour engin clock.
no any problem alternator 110A original perkins 404d 86€ i pay alternator + shiping i think 20-30€
battery seperator victron diod
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Old 22-03-2024, 01:49   #13
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

I spoke with an Arco engineer about the Zeus this morning. To summarise, I'm feeling quite positive about the product, for use right now and down the track.

We discussed:

- the ground loop issue which is affecting some Victron installations,

- the need at present for two, positive side shunts to make Zeus perform to its potential, and

- the work being done by Arco and Victron on firmware to enable transmission of voltage and current data from a Victron Smart Shunt (etc) via a Cerbo over VE.CAN to the Zeus, along with inclusion of Zeus in the Cerbo's DVCC (Distributed Voltage & Current Control) protocol.

Victron have released a beta version of their planned Cerbo firmware update which makes provision for data transfer to the Zeus. While it is not fully featured and does not cater for DVCC by the Cerbo at this time, voltage and current data is being transmitted. The planned release of Victron's formal firmware update for Cerbo is late April 24.

With all of this in mind, a way forward for an installation right now (March 24) is:

- order and install the Zeus and a high output alternator;
- remove the positive battery cables from the positive bus-bar, bolt them to one end of a 500A/50mV shunt and connect the other end to the bus-bar using a short extension bar. Connect this positive battery shunt to the Zeus;
- insert a 500A/50mV shunt in the cable that runs from the alternator's positive lug to the positive bus-bar and connect this to the Zeus;

Once the Victron Cerbo firmware update is available I will load and implement it so that data transmission across CAN become effective. The shunt and Zeus connection that I install on the battery positive cables in the short term can be left in place, or be removed and things put back to how they were. Either approach will be fine.

I think this is good news about a really good product. Fischer Panda and Integrel will be put out by this development.
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Old 23-03-2024, 05:59   #14
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Hi Alden,

I will be beta testing the firmware for the regulator with CAN shunt data as early as next week. The goal is to have this ready by the end of April.

It is a really powerful system and we are continuing to work on improvements with even other exciting integrations soon to come!

There are many creative ways of getting analog data from a shunt and Iíve experimented with many including drilling and tapping. It all works fine, but the best method will be when all of it will be over CAN (soon to come). The information is already there so we will use it.

I havenít been a fan of shunts on the positive side because you need to protect it from inadvertent contact and fuse the shunt measurement leads from it. But this is the only option for a case ground alternator. As a bonus is the Zeus will be able to read alternator voltage from the positive shunt. This can be handy in some troubleshooting instances.

I donít work for ARCO but have been involved with this project since the beginning and continue to work with them.
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Old 27-03-2024, 11:18   #15
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Re: Arco Zeus Alternator Regulator Bench Test

Hi Folks,
Wanted to share my installation experience with my Zeus. In speaking with Nick today, the engineer who designed the Zeus there were some potential installation issues that caused damage to the Zeus. So until the potential issues were trouble shot some recommendations were made. One of those were to place the battery shunt in the positive lead. It was found that is not needed.

I used a separate shunt in the negative lead of the wire that goes to the engine block. The other side of this shunt goes to the load side of the Victron battery shunt. This shunt is connected to the Zeus battery shunt wires. This shunt will report the current coming from the alternator without having to install a shunt in the positive lead of the alternator. The other reason this was done is the Victron shunt for my battery is also fed by solar and wind generation and would not show actual alternator output, it would be the sum of alternator output and other charge sources. For my particular installation this seemed the easiest way to get true alternator output information without a separate positive shunt for the alternator. In some installations it would be beneficial to use the Positive alternator shunt. Will be installing the new LiFePO4 batteries this week and will update this post with photos to make this more clear.

The app can measure alternator voltage without using the alternator positive shunt. Simply connect the 2 wires together that would normally go to that shunt to the alternator positive terminal. Leave the alternator shunt turned off in the Zeus APP, it will still report alternator voltage this way. If you are not using an N type alternator, no need to connect the yellow black wire to alternator ground.

The system in my Sailboat is wired this way and working and verified by Nick that it is OK to wire in this fashion. Hope this helps.
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