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Old 12-25-2011, 09:03 PM   #15
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Agreed as John stated all the chargers are in parallel when enabled
Most of the time this is not a problem

I tried many different options.
The Balmar system is a great option but required a modification to the existing alternator or a replacement of the alternator with their externally regulated unit. Tried it for a while then went a different route. It's a very good system.

Most of us have two TOTALLY different battery types in our rigs, one for the Engine a "Starting" battery and another for the House a "Deep Cycle" battery bank.

Another solution is the Sterling Power BtoB (Battery to Battery) which is a proper multi stage charger designed for many different type deep cycle batteries (AGM, Flooded, etc.) and leaves alone the starting battery taper charger system. It's been a good solution and I would highly recommend it.

However there are other issues you need to consider.

I added a disconnect switch that isolates the engine alternator from the coach (house) battery bank. Stock the ignition switch activated the boost relay every time the key was turned on, connecting both battery banks together during driving. Good for most installations but NOT mine. A poor at best deep cycle battery charger system. Check out Jack Meyer's web site and the paper-back Managing 12VDC. Different battery types require a different type of charging system to optimize their charge.

My system now fits my needs
540 watts of Solar, 45 amp Multistage converter, 4Kw On board generatior and 135 amp Engine alternator

Everyone has their own unique requirements and budgets

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Ken
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Old 09-23-2012, 12:08 AM   #16
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I am new to the forum and would like to bring this back to the top with an observation.

The "average" driving day would likely be about 8 to 10 hours of time on the alternator. You would then have a period of use that would knock the batteries down significantly before you got on the road the next day.

If you were boondocking then it would seem to be a working solution. Of course the size of your bank would be a factor in the equation.

But if you plugged in at an RV park each night, then possibly it could be detrimental to your bank to then start another full day of high voltage charging.

Joe
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Old 09-23-2012, 01:31 AM   #17
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Another way of achieving exactly the same thing is to install a DC to DC three-stage charger for your house batteries. This takes whatever voltage the alternator is putting out and converts it into a three stage output.

This has some advantages over a special regular for the alternator.

** No mods to the alternator so no problems getting replacements
** Engine batteries are still looked after quite adequately for the easy job they have to do.
** install the unit close to the house batteries and voltage drop isn't a problem
** easy to fit battery temperature compensation for AGM batteries
** can use different battery chemistries for house and engine batteries

and probably the best reason you have twigged to "Guess I will look elsewhere for comments regarding three stage engine alternator voltage regulators" meaning it isn't a very common solution so you might be on your own.
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Old 09-23-2012, 08:09 AM   #18
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The three stage charging is, IMHO, not necessary if you have a good solar system. My coach batteries are not charged using the chassis charging system and at fact are not connected is any way.

The argument can be made, I suppose, that the charging feature from the alternator is a good supplement, especially on non sunny days, any my answer is using my three stage charger (converter) that may or may not be powered by a separate inverter attached to the start batteries, and utilized only when and if in travel mode is more than sufficient.

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Old 09-23-2012, 09:00 AM   #19
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any my answer is using my three stage charger (converter) that may or may not be powered by a separate inverter attached to the start batteries, and utilized only when and if in travel mode is more than sufficient.
Yes, and it makes sense in that it uses equipment that you have on board anyway. Does need some manual intervention to set it up each time unless you go to a small amount of extra complication with changeover switching.
Has some following among caravan (travel trailer) owners in Australia to avoid problems with the excessive voltage drops encountered when direct charging the house batteries from the engine via a split charge relay or similar - although now that the DC to DC units are more available and lower price, they are becoming more popular.
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Old 09-29-2012, 07:25 AM   #20
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Balmar seems to make stand alone DC to DC chargers at about the $300 mark. However they appear have to be outside of the engine compartment, away from spray. Since we do not have an inverter strong enough to power the converter, that is not an option. A DC-DC converter that handles about 10A Max would be ideal for our situation. The Morningstar MPPT controller and 185W high voltage panel is sufficient for our modest needs so I may well disconnect the feed from the TV.
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:50 AM   #21
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I've started to use a few of the Sterling Power BtoB chargers and they are wonderful
Got a nice a 12v to 24v one installed in my fishing boat with a 12V main battery and a 24V trolling motor battery - When you want to properly charge deep cycle Vs starting batteries these things are great

Check them out at Sterling Power USA Battery to Battery Chargers - DC powered, onboard, on the run charging solution
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Old 10-04-2012, 12:23 PM   #22
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KJ,

I do (did) boat work. Mostly setting up retired racing keelboats as performance cruisers. I have used several Balmar regulators to great success. They do work and provide a significant gain over the single voltage OE regulator.

There are two issues you should be aware of:
- The regulator is programmable and does have to be programmed to operate correctly with your final system.
- A single V belt is only good to about 100 amps @ 12V. So if it has only one V belt, get ready to set it up as a double.

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Old 10-05-2012, 10:36 PM   #23
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Dave,

Thanks for the details they are greatly appreciated

I ordered and will be installing the Balmar MC-614 Multi stage programmable voltage regulator and their #622 130amp temperature compensated marine alternator sometime in the next few weeks.
Sure there will be some customization but that is what I live for. The technical guy there at Balmar has been GREAT.

I really enjoy these kinds of projects and am always ready to try something new. I am lucky to be in a position in life where time and money are not a concern. I was hoping to hear from others that had paved path before me with this installation in an RV.

I understand how and why the charging system in RV's is the way it is. The fact that they simply tap off the stock charging system to try and charge deep cycle batteries has been my concern. Many of the other compromises within the electrical system are also of concern. Biggest thing was the converter which has been taken care of.

Ken
Ken, this may be oversimplifying things, but, why not just install a three stage charge controller, like the Xantrex, C-60 in line with the chassis battery feed. When the coach is running, the charge controller would see, the 14.x vdc and then regulate it acordingly. when not running it would be like night on your solar panels. Just a thought.
K.
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:22 AM   #24
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Here is my 2 cents. If you have a good generator and charging system on board do your alternator a favor and let the converter do the job. Seems simpler since it is already there.
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Old 10-07-2012, 12:49 AM   #25
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Here is my 2 cents. If you have a good generator and charging system on board do your alternator a favor and let the converter do the job. Seems simpler since it is already there.
I think this is only accurate if you have an automotive style alternator or what I refer to as a small frame alternator. Certainly heat can kill them quickly. But there are many heavier duty alts that will charge merrily away at high amps and not be damaged. In the boating industry we call them cruising alternators. There are even some in the small frame category, but mostly they will be large frame with double pulleys. Running a large diesel generator to simply charge a house bank can damage the generator by not putting a sufficient load on it.

The rule of thumb that I use is the genny should be running a 60% of max output to be happy. This gets it properly hot enough to burn the fuel efficiently so as not to carbon and coke the rings.

Gas gennys are more forgiving of this.

Remember that a diesel is mainly a air compressor with the intake fully open 100% of the time. All this air cools the combustion chamber and prevents good, full combustion. 60% or higher for a long life.

Joe
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:19 PM   #26
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Well Joe, Monaco has their opinion and as mentioned, my 2 cents too. I work on automotive electrical systems every day. Alternators are designed to bring back starting loads quickly and not supply hundreds of amps to 6 empty batteries. Running my 8KW diesel generator at less than 1/2 half load is just fine. Yes you can put on dual alternators or extremely large ones but doing so as an aftermarket "upgrade" on a large MH seems like a lot of extra trouble.

Check out the PDF in my previous reply from the MFGR.
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