Nov 29, 2020 > Electrical
Who needs a high-output Balmar alternator?
Anyone disappointed to find that their stock 80A Hitachi alternator will never deliver 80A – or anything close
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Product review Balmar High-output alternator
REVIEWED BY Steve Holloway 7 reviews, 3 followers
Hans Christian 48 Fair Isle
Firstly on advice from experienced marine engineers that you get much more longevity by running the alternator at below full capacity I set the 'belt manager' to 3 on the regulator. This means you will not get full capacity out of the alternator but it will be less stressed and last longer. having the belt manager on 3 is supposed to drop the output by 21% and it seems I get about 95 Amps at cruising revs when the batteries are able to accept full charge so that seems about right. There are also some comments on the alternator film that people have experienced Balmar failures due to excessive fan belt dust. I would always do everything possible to avoid creating fan belt dust, that's why lining up pulleys and tensioning the belts properly is important. You need a tensioner on a twin belt system, levering the alternator over and tightening it up won't cut it! In real life use, after a night at anchor I'm typically at 60-70% state of charge on the house bank (580AH AGM) So running the engine to leave the anchorage and raise the sails, usually about 1 hour, gets my state of charge up around 15% so 75-85% This is about right as the internal resistance of the battery goes up to a level where bulk charging is slowed to such an extent that solar is a much better option anyway. A no wind passage where you're motoring for a period of time will easily bring the batteries back to full charge which is good for the batteries. We get enough days like that in the Med. to give the batteries an occasional full charge so we don't have to rely on shore power to do that. Basically then I think the alternator is doing the job it needs to do & I'm happy. I'm still a bit shy of total power for long term voyaging without resorting to the Generator. We only used the Genny once in the last 4 months. But the power I'm short of is more the lower amperage long term charge which for me will probably be more solar. We could go to wind, but I'm very reluctant because of the noise, even the best modern designs are intrusive to some degree. Hydro is also an option, but difficult to fit on a canoe stern. Also reducing power draw is always something to look at. I've done everything possible for the moment I think, but there is one big saving we could make which is to fit wind vain steering at not use the autohelm. This is an attractive option for all the other benefits it brings, but it has the same problems of fitting to a canoe stern and is expensive.
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