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Dr Bob

Prestolite Leece Neville alternator control

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We are in the process of getting a new bote (and selling our old one) and are looking at one with a Prestolite AVi160 240A domestic alternator. I've been trying to do a bit of digging on how this is going to work with my LiFePO4s.

The marketing bumph says "Remote sense capability. Can be used on remote sense applications to optimize alternator output and increase battery life."

Tried to dig into this but struggling to find out. Anyone clever here who can give me some input?

The alternator is rated to 125°C so that is a bonus - so I guess when used with some bilge cooling it should be able to bang the power out or in, as it were.

I will try and give Prestolite UK a call tomorrow but keen to see if our experts on here can advise @nicknorman @Sir Nibble, anyone else?

 

Here is a link to the sales bumph

https://elreg.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/AVI160 Series Alternators Brochure.pdf

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9 minutes ago, Dr Bob said:

The marketing bumph says "Remote sense capability. Can be used on remote sense applications to optimize alternator output and increase battery life."

Tried to dig into this but struggling to find out. Anyone clever here who can give me some input?

It simply means that it can be battery sensed. So instead of it regulating its output according to the B+ terminal it regulates it to the actual voltage at the battery. 

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3 minutes ago, WotEver said:

It simply means that it can be battery sensed. So instead of it regulating its output according to the B+ terminal it regulates it to the actual voltage at the battery. 

Thanks Tony.

Does that mean then if the sense wire is connected to something other than the battery, you could then control the alternator by connecting something to it where you can vary the voltage?

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It will try to control the voltage on it's sense input at the regulators set voltage, so compensating for voltage drops in cables, connectors blocking diodes etc. Yes you  could alter the charging voltage by connecting it to something else.

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19 minutes ago, Dr Bob said:

Does that mean then if the sense wire is connected to something other than the battery, you could then control the alternator by connecting something to it where you can vary the voltage?

Kind of but not what you’re thinking ;)

 

Its internal regulator sets the voltage on its output, compared to that which it reads on the sense wire. If the internal regulator is set to say 14.6V and you feed 15V down the sense wire then I think the alternator would simply shut down. @Sir Nibble or @Tony Brookswill know better than me though. 

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15 minutes ago, Dr Bob said:

Thanks Tony.

Does that mean then if the sense wire is connected to something other than the battery, you could then control the alternator by connecting something to it where you can vary the voltage?

Don’t know if this helps but when I got my boat with a leece neville alternator it was connected to an external sterling regulator. The idea was if you went on a short trip you could flip a switch and it would make the alternator work harder increasing the charging of the batteries. However the sterling failed at some point and as I didn’t use it I’ve not bothered to replace or repair it.

I’ve got lifepo4 batteries now and the leece Neville charges them ok. 

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2 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Kind of but not what you’re thinking ;)

 

Its internal regulator sets the voltage on its output, compared to that which it reads on the sense wire. If the internal regulator is set to say 14.6V and you feed 15V down the sense wire then I think the alternator would simply shut down. @Sir Nibble or @Tony Brookswill know better than me though. 

I think that is what I was looking for. Once I get to a set voltage ie 14.0v, I feed 15.0V down the sense wire and the charging stops. Now, how do I feed it with various voltages. I think Plato's reply is a clue.

4 minutes ago, plato said:

Don’t know if this helps but when I got my boat with a leece neville alternator it was connected to an external sterling regulator. The idea was if you went on a short trip you could flip a switch and it would make the alternator work harder increasing the charging of the batteries. However the sterling failed at some point and as I didn’t use it I’ve not bothered to replace or repair it.

I’ve got lifepo4 batteries now and the leece Neville charges them ok. 

What type of alternator is it and did it have this 'sense' wire?

What sort of volts and Amps do you get when you charge your Li's and how does it cut off charging once the Li's are full?

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"The alternator is rated to 125°C so that is a bonus"  you shouldn't get close to this!

 

The operating temperatures quoted for automotive parts is the ambient temperature, almost always -40 - +80 C in cab, -40 - +125 C under bonnet. 

 

As part of product validation it will have been put in an oven and left to cold soak  to -40C started up and run for a couple of hours, then ramped up to +125C and held there for a couple of hours while operating, , then ramped down and to -40C turned off  and the cycle repeated. Normally while be vibrated at the same time. All the time it will be monitored, any errors it fails.

 

The case and internal temperatures will get considerably hotter than 125C 

 

 

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If you want to raise the charge voltage can't you just reduce the sense voltage with a simple resistor network? with careful consideration for current draw on the sense input etc.

Also careful consider all failure modes, what happens if any component fails? , will the charge voltage increase to a dangerous/battery damaging level?. Can any failure be detected

and the charge stopped?

 

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1 hour ago, Dr Bob said:

We are in the process of getting a new bote (and selling our old one) and are looking at one with a Prestolite AVi160 240A domestic alternator. I've been trying to do a bit of digging on how this is going to work with my LiFePO4s.

The marketing bumph says "Remote sense capability. Can be used on remote sense applications to optimize alternator output and increase battery life."

Tried to dig into this but struggling to find out. Anyone clever here who can give me some input?

The alternator is rated to 125°C so that is a bonus - so I guess when used with some bilge cooling it should be able to bang the power out or in, as it were.

I will try and give Prestolite UK a call tomorrow but keen to see if our experts on here can advise @nicknorman @Sir Nibble, anyone else?

 

Here is a link to the sales bumph

https://elreg.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/AVI160 Series Alternators Brochure.pdf

I hope you are buying a whole boat this time not another tiny one 😎

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1 hour ago, Steve42 said:

"The alternator is rated to 125°C so that is a bonus"  you shouldn't get close to this!

 

The operating temperatures quoted for automotive parts is the ambient temperature, almost always -40 - +80 C in cab, -40 - +125 C under bonnet. 

 

As part of product validation it will have been put in an oven and left to cold soak  to -40C started up and run for a couple of hours, then ramped up to +125C and held there for a couple of hours while operating, , then ramped down and to -40C turned off  and the cycle repeated. Normally while be vibrated at the same time. All the time it will be monitored, any errors it fails.

 

The case and internal temperatures will get considerably hotter than 125C 

 

 

I keep my current alternator at no more than 95°C so having the ability to go a bit higher is the bonus. I have a blower rigged up to blow cold air from the bottom of the engine bilge.

 

1 hour ago, Steve42 said:

If you want to raise the charge voltage can't you just reduce the sense voltage with a simple resistor network? with careful consideration for current draw on the sense input etc.

Also careful consider all failure modes, what happens if any component fails? , will the charge voltage increase to a dangerous/battery damaging level?. Can any failure be detected

and the charge stopped?

 

I dont want to raise the charge voltage, I want to be able to reduce it when the battery circuit voltage rises to  14.0 - 14.2V ish (exact voltage to be decided when I know what sort of current is going in). Current draw on sense input is obviously important. How do these work? If I say use the temp function on the BMV 712 to measure temp on the alternator and if it gets above say 100°C, it switches the sense input to a 15.0V source, does it matter if the voltage drops on the sense wire from 14.0V to zero (ie open circuit on the relay switch) and then up to 15.0V? WIll that blow anything. Similarly if i measure voltage on the BMV and it gets over 14.2V on the battery circuit, could I switch the sense lead to a 15.0V source so the alternator regulator then goes to float?

Ideally is there an alternator controller that would work with the sense wire in this way? I will check out alternator controllers on google and look what is available to work with the AVi160.

1 hour ago, mrsmelly said:

I hope you are buying a whole boat this time not another tiny one 😎

Nearly. Defo longer this time!

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Personally I think you would be better off bringing a feed/earth wire from a brush outside the alternator and open circuiting that to give zero amps charge, but what you are thinking should not damage anything. In theory 15V on the sense lead is likely to cause the regulator to shut down but I can not be sure it will so experimentation is called for. If you drop the sense voltage to zero then the alternator is likely to go to maximum voltage and that may well be an "emergency" voltage higher than the regulated voltage.

 

If you disconnect any alternator's onboard regulator then any external regulator that allows you to program the regulated voltage would limit the regulated voltage to whatever you want but I cant see how it would produce a zero charge.

 

I suspect something like a Raspberry Pi measuring a variety of inputs and operating a relay in the rotor/brush feed would be easier and leaving the inbuilt regulator to control maximum charging voltage.

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Can't open the link! But if this is the machine I think it is then it's actually a Motorola design, taken over by prestolite and often badged leece Neville or mastervolt. There's an adjustable regulator available (I will look it up) and it shouldn't be difficult to shut it down at 14V using a cheap external reg to trigger a latching relay. I'm not sure if leece Neville make anything other than labels!

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1 hour ago, Tony Brooks said:

Personally I think you would be better off bringing a feed/earth wire from a brush outside the alternator and open circuiting that to give zero amps charge, but what you are thinking should not damage anything. In theory 15V on the sense lead is likely to cause the regulator to shut down but I can not be sure it will so experimentation is called for. If you drop the sense voltage to zero then the alternator is likely to go to maximum voltage and that may well be an "emergency" voltage higher than the regulated voltage.

 

If you disconnect any alternator's onboard regulator then any external regulator that allows you to program the regulated voltage would limit the regulated voltage to whatever you want but I cant see how it would produce a zero charge.

 

I suspect something like a Raspberry Pi measuring a variety of inputs and operating a relay in the rotor/brush feed would be easier and leaving the inbuilt regulator to control maximum charging voltage.

Thanks Tony. Good info as always. I will look to see if there is a commercially available regulator to do the job. Programming the rasp pi is a bit beyond my pay grade. So 2 ways to stop the charge.

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1 hour ago, Sir Nibble said:

Can't open the link! But if this is the machine I think it is then it's actually a Motorola design, taken over by prestolite and often badged leece Neville or mastervolt. There's an adjustable regulator available (I will look it up) and it shouldn't be difficult to shut it down at 14V using a cheap external reg to trigger a latching relay. I'm not sure if leece Neville make anything other than labels!

Thanks Sir Nibbs. I would be eternally grateful if you could see if there is an adjustable regulator. Yes they are made by Prestolite in the U.K. I guess the must be an external regulator that could be hooked up to the AVi160. I will pm you later with the details of the alternator.

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1 hour ago, roland elsdon said:

Just stand the ecofan on the rocker box and aim towards the alternator. The rush of cold air will cool the alternator, because as we know they dont push hot air.

No, tried that but significant issues.

Number 1. When I put the deck boards back down, said deck boards interfered with the designed rotation of the fan and made a horrible banging noise that upset Mrs Bob. Mrs Bob does not like loud banging noises.

Number 2. The rocker box cover is only at 70deg C therefore the heat required to spin the fan was not reaching th lower limits of accepatability, thus not providing the necessary cooling.

Number 3. The only bit of the engine hot enough to drive the fan is the alternator itself, and with the fan sat on the alternator, it was even closer to the deck boards. See point 1.

Number 4. Unfortunately the alternator is round in profile so said fan does not fit properly to get adequate heat transfer from hot alternator surface to bottom plate of fan so fan rotation is severely compromised.

Number 5. There is no number 5.

Number 6. Given the base of the fan is not magnetic - a serious drawback in the design of these articles- it cannot be mounted sideyways without the aid of some other supports. I did try some plastic tie wraps but unfortunately these melted causing the fan to fall of and make a load banging noise. See point 1.

Number 7. When I finally tied it on sideyways with a bit of string, It did rotate but unfortunately this was in the wrong direction i.e. In a plane parallel to the alternator but not impacting on the alternator instead. Maybe some form of duckting might work. This time the duck was not impressed. The duck doesn't get impressed often.

Number 8. I did wot Peterboat told me and bought a bilge blower with a pipe that directs the cold air from the bottom of the bilge for <£50. It doesn't make a noise so the duck and Mrs Bob are happy.

Number 9. The motor on the fan (a 5 blade baby equaliser) is b**gered again so it's currently on the naughty step.

Edited by Dr Bob
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1 hour ago, roland elsdon said:

The reason I know you made that up is because you havent changed the boat name, under your title, and no ejit would let you play with their boat that much.

😃

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OK, seen it now. Let me get this right,what you want is two modes, LA where it will run as standard and Li where it will run full field, flat out unregulated until it hits 14.2V at which point it will switch off completely and remain off. Is that correct?

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this could be interesting. I will have to look into it further but I have an idea you can move the voltage up and down with the signal from a five quid PWM generator! Let me investigate.

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1 hour ago, Sir Nibble said:

OK, seen it now. Let me get this right,what you want is two modes, LA where it will run as standard and Li where it will run full field, flat out unregulated until it hits 14.2V at which point it will switch off completely and remain off. Is that correct?

Not quite.

LA mode would be standard charging for a 600Ahr LA bank

Li charging is to charge till the voltage rises to 14.1 (maybe 14.2V dependent on what the charge current is) and then switch it off completely and remain off.....but during the charge, I dont want to overheat the alternator so if it is rated at 240A....I guess not exceeding say 120A would make it so it didnt overheat (particularly if the engine is running at tick over while we are at locks).....so it would be good if the regulator could reduce the power the alternator would normally put in.


This is what my Sterling AtoB does on my current 90A alternator on a Beta 43 - when I put it in the US gel setting it charges to 14.1V and then goes to float and during the charge it charges at 40A (goes down a bit as the alternator gets hot).

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On 14/02/2020 at 19:17, Sir Nibble said:

this could be interesting. I will have to look into it further but I have an idea you can move the voltage up and down with the signal from a five quid PWM generator! Let me investigate.

I’ve been talking to Dr B about this. Using the sense wire seems a good idea but of course from a designers point of view, it would have been envisaged that the remote sense wire on the battery, would always be at an equal or lower voltage than that of the alternator B+. How confident are you that the regulator would respond favourably to a sense wire voltage greater than B+ - could it be that the designers have specifically eliminated that response because a sense voltage greater than the B+ is seen as “unreasonable”?.

 

Am I right in thinking that the actual voltage being sensed by the regulator is some combination of B+ and remote sense voltage, so that the regulator doesn’t go wild if the sense wire is disconnected?

 

(Edit: actually is it B+ or D+ used for sensing, probably D+ I suppose?)

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Sense wire disconnected on some units shuts the thing down, on some it goes to a default setting, on others it appears to have no effect at all! Frankly I am not at all confident without having the machine to play with. I would be inclined to bypass the regulator completely and use something either designed for the job or custom built. As for limiting output I can't see any way to do that except by reducing voltage or replacing the stator. Even that would only reduce current by dropping voltage. I don't have the knowledge of lithium battery charging to be confident in any advice I could give. Perhaps the only way to get the required derating would be a on off duty cycle of alternate full chat and shut down for cooling.

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20 minutes ago, Sir Nibble said:

Sense wire disconnected on some units shuts the thing down, on some it goes to a default setting, on others it appears to have no effect at all! Frankly I am not at all confident without having the machine to play with. I would be inclined to bypass the regulator completely and use something either designed for the job or custom built. As for limiting output I can't see any way to do that except by reducing voltage or replacing the stator. Even that would only reduce current by dropping voltage. I don't have the knowledge of lithium battery charging to be confident in any advice I could give. Perhaps the only way to get the required derating would be a on off duty cycle of alternate full chat and shut down for cooling.

Ok well that pretty much confirms what I’ve told Dr B - he has to suck it and see. I’ve suggested adding a small 1.2v NiCd cell in series with the top cell, and connecting the sense wire to that, so it sees battery voltage plus 1.2v. If that drops the charge voltage by 1.2v then there is hope for a more permanent solution. No point in getting carried away with detailed solutions until the principle is proven.

 

I think an on off duty cycle would be feasible since the thermal time constant on these devices is significant, and presumably the alternator is designed to be able to produce full output for a while at least. So the duty cycle period could be several minutes at worst. Trouble is I suspect that if the alternator is fully shut off the light/alarm will activate so steps would be needed to prevent that being a nuisance. And if the rev counter was fed from that alternator, it would probably stop working. Overall it’s not a very elegant solution!

 

 

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