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Cheap LiFePO4 BMS?

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1 hour ago, cuthound said:

 

Seeing as @WotEver thinks we should capitulate to American electrical phraseology, shouldn't those be "ground pounds"? ?

Speaking of earth, I recently stumbled across a very tidy electrical installation...

605C715B-F901-4925-BA2B-B4988595125B.jpeg.b65c5198a71a0c05590226429d9acecd.jpeg

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1 hour ago, WotEver said:

Speaking of earth, I recently stumbled across a very tidy electrical installation...

605C715B-F901-4925-BA2B-B4988595125B.jpeg.b65c5198a71a0c05590226429d9acecd.jpeg

 

Reminds me of the first year of my electrical engineering course. We persuaded the "natural victim" (every group of people has one) that to earth the circuit that each student was building, that he had to run a cable from his circuit, out of the window and bury it in the flower bed outside the classroom. 

 

The lecturer was not amused but the rest of the class found it funny! ??

 

We also persuaded the "natural victim"  that a milling machine could take 3mm off in one pass. Strangely the lecturer didn't find that funny either. ?

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9 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Keep up at the back there.The last few days' posts have been discussing the fact that alternator regulators don't come with a float setting!

 

But yes I agree there would be a latent demand for what you describe. There is also a latent demand for unicorns...

 

:hug:

Keep up at the front there :) 

 

I was trying to encourage peterboat to post a link to the alternators he is talking about. If he is right, and they exist, I’m sure we would all like to know. If he isn’t, we won’t see a link.

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2 hours ago, Richard10002 said:

Keep up at the front there :) 

 

I was trying to encourage peterboat to post a link to the alternators he is talking about. If he is right, and they exist, I’m sure we would all like to know. If he isn’t, we won’t see a link.


Oh sorry, i being feek today!!! 
 

 

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7 hours ago, Richard10002 said:

Keep up at the front there :) 

 

I was trying to encourage peterboat to post a link to the alternators he is talking about. If he is right, and they exist, I’m sure we would all like to know. If he isn’t, we won’t see a link.

Thats because we had one built by MAES to do the job Richard which is what I first posted, they modded a reg pack to suit the voltage John required for his LifePo4s

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1 hour ago, peterboat said:

Thats because we had one built by MAES to do the job Richard which is what I first posted, they modded a reg pack to suit the voltage John required for his LifePo4s

You started off by saying that your mate had one that did absorption and reverting to float, built by MAES, thus bespoke but, in #183 you said:

 

"but most alternators drop to float after bulk charging older ones anyway,"

 

and that is where most people disagreed with you. My own perception is that my regulator makes its way up to 14.4V at about 34A, then it remains at 14.4V and the amps reduce. The voltage doesn't reduce, no matter how long the engine runs for.

 

My point is that, if you can't buy one off the shelf, and most alternators don't do what you suggest, it's not much use for us lay people.

 

I wonder if MAES just built in something like the circuitry that Sterling provide in their alternator to battery controllers, in which case, the simplest solution could be to fit a Sterling gizmo to a low power alternator to achieve the same result?

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On the basis that "a picture paints a thousand words", I've found this young lads youtube videos quite interesting and informative. Not averse to admitting when he has made a mistake, or could have done something better, which is always refreshing:

 

 

He also has videos on actually making the batteries and balancing them, as well as lots of other off grid electrical stuff. I particularly liked the fact that he has identified off the shelf BMSs, and I like the look of his ISDT Battery Go 8 cell monitor and balancer:

 

https://uk.banggood.com/ISDT-BattGo-BG-8S-Smart-Battery-Checker-Balancer-Receiver-Signal-Tester-Quick-Charge-Function-p-1177825.html?gmcCountry=GB&currency=GBP&createTmp=1&utm_source=googleshopping&utm_medium=cpc_bgcs&utm_content=garman&utm_campaign=ssc-gbg-all&ad_id=332556156911&gclid=Cj0KCQjwgNXtBRC6ARIsAIPP7RtR0hwEmlsRHz4MNW-l4GRSMNGbtYi67v7stqFpgpeVr33ahu7-D2MaAhTREALw_wcB&cur_warehouse=UK

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On 24/10/2019 at 19:28, Dr Bob said:

The drawback of your choice of the cell monitor (that will work with the latching relay) and the latching relays, is that you will still have a problem if you try and use the latching relay with other monitoring sources ie the total voltage of the system. You really need to control on total voltage so a BMV battery monitor or a 12V monitoring board ex amazon will still require the interface MP was offering. Not sure if your cell monitor does overall voltage.

Not sure why you would need protection based on total voltage in addition to cell voltage? Just seems to add extra complexity. We're happy our last line of defence protection is provided by the aus bms that monitors cell voltages only. We do have alarms based on total voltage though and low soc (and high/low cell voltage, and cell differential voltage). The alarms are mainly for our information though - particularly low total voltage and low soc. Cell differential voltage alarm can be useful to know if/when balancing might be required. 

 

On 24/10/2019 at 22:22, Dr Bob said:

 

I prefer to have the flexibilty to set my cut off at 13.8V or 13.9V as it fits my charge sources better. Each set up will be different.

Reacting to total voltage is cheaper than cell voltage. Do you really need to spend £80 or £130 on a cell monitoring board? For a cheap solution, I dont think it is necessary.

 

I sort of agree. I think for a budget install, protection based on total voltage would be cheaper and perfectly adequate providing you stay conservative with charge and discharge.

 

If staying in the range of 20-80% (possibly pushing up to 90%) easiest and cheapest method would be just parallel with existing LA bank, add some form of auto disconnect based purely on total voltage, and you have a complete system. Coupled with £25 cell monitor/alarm then you have a workable system with very little modification and cost. 

 

For complete protection and peace of mind however, and particularly if charging to 100% regularly, then a bms based on monitoring cell voltages gives the best protection. Ideally coupled with all charge sources being configured to not overcharge in the first place (however that is done!).

 

I do think it's a case of needing one or the other though, not both!

 

On 24/10/2019 at 22:31, Dr Bob said:

I would definitely have a cell voltage meter.

Something like this

https://www.hobbyrc.co.uk/isdt-bg-8s-battery-checker

That's the one I am using. £25. I am thinking the £80 I spent on the cell voltage control board was just a nice to have as it has never been needed. Belt and braces.

As I wrote above for a simple install, that cell monitor is very useful, and even gives a rough soc based on voltage, as well as very loud alarms!

 

Overall I'm happy we spent the money on the cell monitoring and protection board we did though. For us this was a one off chance to install lithiums, and very unlikely to be able to afford the chance again in the foreseeable future! Because of this, maximum protection was paramount for us, even more so as there was very little information and experience to draw on of using these batteries on narrow boats at the time we were planning (other than the very expensive victron system that was way outside our budget)!

 

Had we listened to some of the nay sayers on here, about how they were so fragile they were likely to set fire and burn a hole through the boat at the slightest chance, how impossible it would be to charge then, how the slightest thing would render them completely useless, and how the alternator would pack up every week etc etc we may never have installed them in the first place! After a year's experience I'd be happier now to consider using slightly less belt and braces protection. 

 

On 25/10/2019 at 00:22, peterboat said:

Thats the issue Mike, Valence say the board in the battery requires a BMS to control it Geeks from the USA say that if you connect the batteries together with the leads the batteries do talk to each other, all I know is that the board is live but changes when the puter is connected, however even when reaching 100% and the puter not connected the cells are well balanced...

 

By the way that listing is for LA batteries

I don't know if it's the Valence bms keeping them in balance, the fact that Valence chose very well matched cells, or the design of your batteries which use hundreds of much smaller cells - either way they do appear to stay well balanced for you which is what matters. I did initially look at using those Valence batteries myself when I first saw then advertised, but was very wary of the lack of information available, and how reliably they would work without the propriety bms connected. Seems my concerns were unfounded in the end! I do notice the price is very much higher than when I first saw then come on the market 2nd hand though!

 

As to the battery equaliser I posted a link to, in the description, it states suitable for a range of battery types, including lead acid and lifepo4. I guess it doesn't really matter on type, it just works to equalise the voltage across all inputs regardless of voltage level or battery type. It certainly seems to work well for us, and has solved the slight imbalance issues we were having when approaching 100% soc (which we do occasionally to sync the bmv).

 

On 25/10/2019 at 09:04, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Which highlights the next issue. 

 

Initially I intend charging my lithiums using the Whispergen and solar only, as both are manually configurable to suitable voltages. The alternator typically is not. Your solution is your Sterling A to B (IIRC), mine is to just isolate the lithium bank from the LAs when I run the engine.

 

Neither of the above is really satisfactory as a basic solution for yer average boater interested in being an early adopter of lithiums, so what IS the current thinking on how use a 14.4v alternator to charge Li batts on a day-to-day basis? Use a relay to disconnect the Li bank at a given voltage and rely on an LA batt in parallel to protect the alternator? Buy a Sterling A to B? Learn how to program a RasPi? Or something else?

 

Well a127 alternators are very easy to either change the regulator for one like discussed earlier, or disable it to use an alternative external reg. I do think alternators pose one of the biggest hurdles for the average boat looking to change to lithiums though. 

 

The 2 suggestions you make appear to be the only easy option for most people if not wanting to modify existing alternator. Cheapest and potentially easiest, is to use a simple voltage control board (available from Ebay/Amazon for around £10), to control a standard relay, making sure to keep a lead acid connected to alternator output to prevent damage. Standard high power relay not a problem for this as would only be energised when charging so power consumption not relevant. 

 

On 26/10/2019 at 23:47, MoominPapa said:

Swerving slightly to the related topic of "does charging lithium batteries blow up your alternator", I have to report that I've just had to do a transplant of the stator and diode pack in my A127 alternator. I've not done a post-mortem, but clearly one or more diodes have failed. Our cruising pattern over the last month or so means that the alternator has been turned up to 11 for pretty much the whole time the engine has been running.

 

 

MP.

  

We've had problems with our a127 alternator as well. Diode pack and rotor on ours! Ours is usually charging at max output when engine running though. Luckily we have a 2nd unmodified (starter battery) alternator that is connected during bulk charging that also provides a backup when main alternator fails.

 

 

On 27/10/2019 at 08:35, MoominPapa said:

We've very rarely seen the batteries full, so whenever the engine has run, the alternator has been on maximum output. 

 

The large amounts of fluff in the cooling-air path around the diodes probably didn't help either.

 

I think my spare alt now has a sufficiently large fraction of U/S bits that it's time to Ebay a brand new spare, 55 of your earth pounds.

 

MP.

 

ETA The dead alt was bought as a 70A job, but it seems to max out at more like 60A

Sounds similar to us, although we do see 70a out of our 70a alternator when just above tickover! Thinking we should consider dialing back the max output slightly, or reducing the max alternator temp settings in our controller. 

 

As you mention though, at around £55 it's not break the bank money if (when!) it fails. Depending how long this one lasts now we're back in winter again, depends if and how much we change the settings in the controller. It's a case of cost vs convenience, fast charging vs alternator change! Just need to make sure we've got the right balance. Luckily changing the alternator only takes around 10 mins!

 

Tom

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On 28/10/2019 at 01:52, Richard10002 said:

I think that's the updated version of what me and Dr Bob are using. I think it's not quite as good as the earlier one we use - possibly something to do with configuring alarm functions. I'd also be very wary of using it to do any form of balancing. They're designed for small batteries as found in rc models, not the sort of sized banks found on boats!

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On 24/10/2019 at 12:48, MoominPapa said:

Out of interest, how many people here would be interested in a module to control the BDS-A bistable relay from a single input? Total guess at costs might be £25 or £30 if I made a dozen or so.  No promises.

 

MP.

 

Wish I'd had that offer when doing my system! If you do make any of these, I'd be interested in at least 1 of them. For comparison, there's a commercial version here: https://www.solar4rvs.com.au/rec-bi-stable-relay-driver-bslrd-for-bottom-end-sw

 

On 24/10/2019 at 12:57, WotEver said:

No, because looking at the wiring diagram the switch-off command is simply to remove the switch-on signal. So it must be drawing a tiny current (probably only a few mA, but I don’t know for sure) just to ‘know’ that it must remain switched on. 
https://www.bepmarine.com/en/~/media/inriver/331804-20482.pdf

I'm sure I found the specs for this switch somewhere but can't now! Seem to remember it was in the region of 10-15ma but that might have been another component I was using!

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6 hours ago, Tom and Bex said:

I think that's the updated version of what me and Dr Bob are using. I think it's not quite as good as the earlier one we use - possibly something to do with configuring alarm functions. I'd also be very wary of using it to do any form of balancing. They're designed for small batteries as found in rc models, not the sort of sized banks found on boats!

The newer version, the one Richard linked to, only has a low voltage alarm whereas the older version has both low and high level alarms. The newer version has 3places of decimals rather than two which is slightly easier to look at cell imbalance. No big issue though. In the end I bought both to get the high voltage alarm and have both connected. 

Agree with Tom. The cell balancing would be pretty useless on a 300Ahr + bank.

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7 hours ago, Tom and Bex said:

 

As you mention though, at around £55 it's not break the bank money if (when!) it fails. Depending how long this one lasts now we're back in winter again, depends if and how much we change the settings in the controller. It's a case of cost vs convenience, fast charging vs alternator change! Just need to make sure we've got the right balance. Luckily changing the alternator only takes around 10 mins!

 

Tom

There's probably room at the front of the engine to fit a second alternator, and I have considered going from one 70A to two 55A. On an 18HP engine, there's not really sufficient spare power to generate much more juice than we are now, but a second 55A that could be switched in would be useful when the engine is not working hard. and a 55A A127 is presumably less heat-stressed than the 70A version. The main thing that's stopping me is the need to fabricate more bracketry.

 

MP.

 

ETA, treating boat alternators as service items if definitely the way to go. I always carry a spare. I try to dismantle, check and clean the in-service one once a year, That check git missed this year, which may have been a mistake.

 

Edited by MoominPapa
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7 hours ago, Tom and Bex said:

The 2 suggestions you make appear to be the only easy option for most people if not wanting to modify existing alternator. Cheapest and potentially easiest, is to use a simple voltage control board (available from Ebay/Amazon for around £10), to control a standard relay, making sure to keep a lead acid connected to alternator output to prevent damage. Standard high power relay not a problem for this as would only be energised when charging so power consumption not relevant. 

 

Thanks Tom.

 

Trouble is, I hardly understand any of this! Could you, or anyone, expand into detail please? Are you proposing simply using the high power relay to disconnect the alternator charging output when the lithium battery terminal voltage rises to a certain pre-selected level?

 

If so, the voltage control board would need to be one which opens a switch when that pre-selected voltage is reached. I wonder if there would be any 'chattering' effect if the LA batts cause a slight fall in voltage on disconnection.

 

The accuracy of such a voltage control board would need to he high. I'll have a look on ebay now.

 

 

This one perhaps?

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DC-12V-Relay-Switch-Control-Board-Module-Voltage-Charging-Discharge-T-vi-Hc/352779529756?hash=item52234c6e1c:g:eMwAAOSwKEhbtiz1

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Features:

Digital display DC voltage detection, control the relay output.

Adjustable voltage limit: 0-99.9V.

When the measured voltage is lower than the lower limit or higher than upper limit value, the relay works.

Can be used for voltage detection switch, battery over/under voltage protector or discharge meter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Mike the Boilerman

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26 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Thanks Tom.

 

Trouble is, I hardly understand any of this! Could you, or anyone, expand into detail please? Are you proposing simply using the high power relay to disconnect the alternator charging output when the lithium battery terminal voltage rises to a certain pre-selected level?

 

If so, the voltage control board would need to be one which opens a switch when that pre-selected voltage is reached. I wonder if there would be any 'chattering' effect if the LA batts cause a slight fall in voltage on disconnection.

 

The accuracy of such a voltage control board would need to he high. I'll have a look on ebay now.

 

 

This one perhaps?

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DC-12V-Relay-Switch-Control-Board-Module-Voltage-Charging-Discharge-T-vi-Hc/352779529756?hash=item52234c6e1c:g:eMwAAOSwKEhbtiz1

 

 

 

The idea is to connect the alternator to the battery by a NO (power-to-make) relay. Powered only when engine is on AND voltage is less than x. So the relay only takes power when the engine is running. However I think your point about chatter is entirely valid - there would have to be sufficient hysteresis in the voltage measurement to prevent it. That is not a difficult problem though, if you can “do” simple electronics.

 

And of course it means that once your batteries are charged but you want to keep motoring, the alternator is doing nothing and boat loads are being powered by the batteries. Not an optimal solution.

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7 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

And of course it means that once your batteries are charged but you want to keep motoring, the alternator is doing nothing and boat loads are being powered by the batteries. Not an optimal solution.

 

This is partly why I was worrying about the hysteresis. Apart from chattering the relay, if the hysteresis is too small the boat electrics being powered will have the alternator being turned on and off every few seconds, potentially. And no mention of hysteresis in the PCB spec so this might be another module for MP to design and market!! 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

This is partly why I was worrying about the hysteresis. Apart from chattering the relay, if the hysteresis is too small the boat electrics being powered will have the alternator being turned on and off every few seconds, potentially. And no mention of hysteresis in the PCB spec so this might be another module for MP to design and market!! 

 

 

This would be another advantage of using a modern regulator IC such as the one I linked to earlier. They have a thing called LRC (Load response control) which is a soft start and soft ramp-up thing. As well as waiting a couple of seconds after start before increasing the current , it sets a maximum rate of increase of current and hence mechanical load (around 2 or 3 seconds) if the engine rpm is below some value. So if you are at idle or just above, it won’t suddenly switch to demanding max output making the engine struggle, hiccup or possibly even stall.

 

Maybe not too important if you only have a 50A alternator, but definitely relevant if you have a 175A one as we do.

Edited by nicknorman

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Thanks Tom.

 

Trouble is, I hardly understand any of this! Could you, or anyone, expand into detail please? Are you proposing simply using the high power relay to disconnect the alternator charging output when the lithium battery terminal voltage rises to a certain pre-selected level?

 

If so, the voltage control board would need to be one which opens a switch when that pre-selected voltage is reached. I wonder if there would be any 'chattering' effect if the LA batts cause a slight fall in voltage on disconnection.

 

The accuracy of such a voltage control board would need to he high. I'll have a look on ebay now.

 

 

This one perhaps?

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DC-12V-Relay-Switch-Control-Board-Module-Voltage-Charging-Discharge-T-vi-Hc/352779529756?hash=item52234c6e1c:g:eMwAAOSwKEhbtiz1

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Features:

Digital display DC voltage detection, control the relay output.

Adjustable voltage limit: 0-99.9V.

When the measured voltage is lower than the lower limit or higher than upper limit value, the relay works.

Can be used for voltage detection switch, battery over/under voltage protector or discharge meter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The instructions for this module are a little lacking, so some time back I wrote these notes:

 

 

long press set: output logic invert (can only be done if input voltage is not in hysteresis band)

enter - toggle between displays:
1 Live Voltage
2 Minutes output has been on for

Set key steps through settings:
1 Voltage measuremet
2 Upper voltage, above this relay will turn on
3 Lower voltage, below this relay will turn off (this cannot be higher than Upper voltage)
4 calibration +/- 0.5V
5 dl display shutdown delay in minutes

Input pins (top right):
 When input is active, relay will come on irrespective of invert setting
 Jumper configures:
   Short to activate
   External 5V to activate



Notes:
At power on, output will always be off.
At power on, if voltage is in hysteresis band, it will default to off.
Hysteresis band can be configured so that output behaves like a triggered latch by setting one of the thresholds to an unrealistic value
Crossing a threshold occurs when voltage has passed through the threshold and next digit is displayed i.e
  if lower threshold is set to 12.0, then the switch will operate at the boundary between 11.9 and 12.0
  if upper thershold is set to 12.0, then the switch will operate at the boundare between 12.0 and 12.1

Power Consumption:
18.67mA relay off
49.5mA relay on
8mA display removed
39.6mA Relay on and display removed
15-20mA from 5V (output of regulator display dependent)
7mA from output of regulator with no display
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4 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Thanks Tom.

 

Trouble is, I hardly understand any of this! Could you, or anyone, expand into detail please? Are you proposing simply using the high power relay to disconnect the alternator charging output when the lithium battery terminal voltage rises to a certain pre-selected level?

 

If so, the voltage control board would need to be one which opens a switch when that pre-selected voltage is reached. I wonder if there would be any 'chattering' effect if the LA batts cause a slight fall in voltage on disconnection.

 

The accuracy of such a voltage control board would need to he high. I'll have a look on ebay now.

 

 

This one perhaps?

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DC-12V-Relay-Switch-Control-Board-Module-Voltage-Charging-Discharge-T-vi-Hc/352779529756?hash=item52234c6e1c:g:eMwAAOSwKEhbtiz1

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Features:

Digital display DC voltage detection, control the relay output.

Adjustable voltage limit: 0-99.9V.

When the measured voltage is lower than the lower limit or higher than upper limit value, the relay works.

Can be used for voltage detection switch, battery over/under voltage protector or discharge meter.

 

Exactly something like that, but envisaged sensing voltage from alternator side of relay. That way when it opens voltage would rise so avoiding relay chatter. Power supply could be taken from ignition switch or alternator side of warning light, so relay was only powered when engine running. 

 

You also need to get out of the lead acid way of thinking. It really doesn't matter if the batteries are supplying boat loads after they are charged. You don't want to keep the batteries at 100% and leave the alternator supplying all loads. Unless you have a really small bank, and high usage, there should be no problem leaving the alternator disconnected after voltage hits set point. If it was really going to be a problem, then manually restarting charging wouldn't be too onerous.

 

Remember this was looking for solutions for a cheap basic install. Your more complex and costly installation could involve modified alternators, external regulators, sterling a to b etc. 

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3 hours ago, Tom and Bex said:

You also need to get out of the lead acid way of thinking. It really doesn't matter if the batteries are supplying boat loads after they are charged. You don't want to keep the batteries at 100% and leave the alternator supplying all loads. Unless you have a really small bank, and high usage, there should be no problem leaving the alternator disconnected after voltage hits set point. If it was really going to be a problem, then manually restarting charging wouldn't be too onerous.

Agreed 100%. It really isn't too onerous to press a button when you decide to charge up. A simple cut-off when a pre-set voltage is reached is adequate. It's also useful to be able to manually turn off the alternator when for example, you find yourself going against the flow on a river and wish to shed some load from the engine to help keep the temperature down.

While travelling, having the domestic loads supplied by the batteries after the alternator has "cut-out" really isn't an issue either, just a different way of thinking compared to LA.

 

The easiest and safest way of shutting down the alternator is to de-energise the field as is a relatively low current and trivial to switch with a standard automotive relay.

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14 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I'm getting more bemused. What button is this, please?

 

 

Sorry, I was being a little metaphorical. The "pressing of a button" implied taking a manual action such as operating a switch on the dash board.

This might be done after engine start, but ultimately, the decision of whether or not to run the alternator is with the helmsman.

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5 minutes ago, Craig Shelley said:

Sorry, I was being a little metaphorical. The "pressing of a button" implied taking a manual action such as operating a switch on the dash board.

This might be done after engine start, but ultimately, the decision of whether or not to run the alternator is with the helmsman.

 

Oh I see. I'm posting in a hurry so not really getting the subtleties. Besides I have an impediment, I'm a feek plummer and all this electrical stuff is rather alien!

 

Belling ringing in half an hour.....

 

 

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1 hour ago, Craig Shelley said:

 

The easiest and safest way of shutting down the alternator is to de-energise the field as is a relatively low current and trivial to switch with a standard automotive relay.

Totally agree. On the a127 thiis is very easy to do and easily reversible. Not so sure on other alternators though, so need a simple fits all solution. 

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3 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Oh I see. I'm posting in a hurry so not really getting the subtleties. Besides I have an impediment, I'm a feek plummer and all this electrical stuff is rather alien!

 

Belling ringing in half an hour.....

 

 

Dung!

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