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Old 11-18-2010, 10:32 AM   #1
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Engine alternator regulators

Hi,

I am looking to upgrade my engine alternator charging capabilities. The existing DR44G current capabilities are enough at a rated 145amp but the single stage regulator does a poor job at charging the batteries.

I ran across BALMAR on the web www.balmar.net they offer a selection of fully programmable multistage voltage regulators. Any experience with these folks?

My question
Has anyone installed a three stage alternator regulator in their rig?
What issues have you ran across?
I am sure there are vendors on the market - any suggestions?

Thanks for the help
Ken
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:48 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJINTF View Post
I am looking to upgrade my engine alternator charging capabilities. The existing DR44G current capabilities are enough at a rated 145amp but the single stage regulator does a poor job at charging the batteries.
Ken, You're still under warranty. Not sure if you are wanting to disregard that.
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Old 11-18-2010, 11:05 AM   #3
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Warranty is not an issue
Looking to properly charge the batteries while driving

Just now finishing up on the solar install and replaced the converter
A few details to wrap up including:
System software configuiration and installing the panels on the roof
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Old 11-18-2010, 07:19 PM   #4
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Most automotive alternator charging output to batteries are limited by OEM wire size. This 12VDC wire size calculator CarPC - Everything you need for your CarPC
is a good tool for determining what wire size is appropriate.
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Old 11-19-2010, 07:59 AM   #5
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Hi all

Guess I did not make myself clear enough
The stock alternator, voltage regulator, wiring sizing, etc are all functional
Problem is the stock system contains a simple low cost "aka Cheap" single stage voltage regulator which outputs a constant voltage of 14.6 Volts.

I was looking forward to hearing the experiences of others that have replaced the stock voltage regulator and/or alternator with a proper three stage voltage regulation system.

After some additional research the Balmar stuff looks really good
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:53 PM   #6
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I have not worked on many new motorhomes, but have worked on most everything else that goes on or off-road. Have yet to see a properly operating automotive regulator that did not scale back the output as needed.
Most dash gauges aren't very accurate so you may want to have a shop check your charging system.
If you are indeed getting 14.6v with no accessories on and the batteries charged you system is faulty. You may have a large power demand causing your regulator to output the additional voltage.
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:06 AM   #7
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Thanks all
I agree 14.6 Volts is too high, but not that setting it lower is the solution. The proper solution is to charge the battery with a higher voltage until they start gassing or the charge current drops to a predetermined level them reduce the voltage after a predetermined duration. I installed a Morningstar MPPT-60 as the charge controller for the on-board solar system. Check them out the configuration flexibility is really great. I am looking for something similar for the engine alternator charging system. A proper THREE stage voltage regulator. The intent is to make sure all on-board charging systems treat the batteries identically. Already upgraded the "Converter" which was simply a 12VDC power supply that did nothing more than boil the batteries. I replaced it with a nice three stage programmable battery charger that also acts as a converter.
Guess I will look elsewhere for comments regarding three stage engine alternator voltage regulators
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:25 AM   #8
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Ken, the link shows the XANTREX RV 3 stage Inverters/charges which is what you are looking to do with your batteries, The XANTREX FREEDOM 458 is a very good modified sine wave unit in 2000, 2500 watts which should handle anything you want to do with your RV.

RV Inverter Charger | Recreational Vehicles | Xantrex

Good Luck - Glenn
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Old 11-22-2010, 08:29 AM   #9
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Boating forums would probably be the best place to look. I have never heard of anyone complaining about the engine alternator over charging the batteries. It certainly wouldn't hurt to put in the 3 stage alternator system, but it looks like it is expensive. Being that you have a GM motor, you can probably get one of their alternators.
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Old 11-22-2010, 09:26 AM   #10
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Ken,
Historically, chassis charging systems are designed to only recharge the starting battery which is designed differently from a deep cycle battery. The tapering charge design is adequate for starter battery. The recreation community has simply tap'ed off the chassis charging circuit to charge the house batteries. Most chassis charging sytems are designed to operate in a 13.8 to 14.5 voltage range.
For some chassis system alternators you can purchase a regulator that shifts the charging voltage up to around 14.6 volts (still a taper charging model). These modified systems are intended to be used with a digital isolation module. They account for the 0.7 volt voltage drop across the digital isolator.
As you found, you can procure 3 stage systems for the chassis system. While rarely seen in the RV community, they are popular in the marine community. Because a chassis alternator is not designed to run at high amperage for extended peiods, most 3 stage systems are designed to use the the alternators the 3 stage manufactures supply. They are beefier and have temperture monitoring built in which the 3 stage regulator monitors. Stock chassis alternators rarely have a temperature monitor circuit. A 3 stage regulator monitors the alternator temperature and will lower the output if it gets to high.
Because the 3 stage chassis system is not popular in the RV community, you will find most information (feedback) in boating forums.
Dave
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Old 11-22-2010, 09:52 AM   #11
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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
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:30 AM   #12
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Like the people found out on a cruise ship recently, it is not so easy to call a tow tug at sea like a tow truck on land. The charging system is expected to perform double duty in the marine community therefore is more of a concern. Chassis mfg simply does not know what modifications/additions the coach mfg's will make to the final implementation therfore, chassis designers only focus on chassis needs (limited to a starter battery). Marine Mfg/designer sees power plant as an intregal part of the complete design therefore they address the charging system as part of the initial design. Each coach mfg however takes a different approach based on marketing and end user desires. Based on your request, I suspected you already knew more about all this than many. Good luck.

Dave
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Old 12-25-2011, 03:27 PM   #13
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Ok, I'm a newbe, I've read Bob's blog, RV Electric these forums and I have a good grasp of the solar system and what needs to be done. As this thread states, the solar system doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are 4 charging systems and 2 discharge systems.Charging: Alternator, Genset, Shore Power and Solar. Discharge: 110v and 12v.
Ken has looked at the non-solar charging system and examined the interaction with the solar system in his rig. I have been wondering the same thing. I am looking at a 2000 Holiday Rambler Imperial and am not sure what is going on with the non-solar controller. Does alternator/genset/shore power all feed into the inverter/controler. Are people just connecting the non-solar controller in parallel with the solar controller? If this is true then what happens when multiple sources are feeding power to the batteries?

I know this thread is old, but I can't find any other discussion about the alternator and the manufacturer's charge controller. I'll start a new thread if that is what I should do.

John
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Old 12-25-2011, 07:34 PM   #14
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Yes, the solar power charges in parallel with the converter/charger and the engine alternator. When the generator is running the solar is charging in parallel with the converter/charger. They all contribute to charging the batteries.
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