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Switch on the kestrel 90


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Can anyone tell me what the switch in the side of the kestrel 90 alternator control does (see pic). I have no idea whether it should be up or down and I’ve just swapped out my batteries so I want to make sure it is not in a mode that might damage them over time.

i gather there are all sorts of fancy modes for charging as the batteries reach close to capacity so suspect the switch may be related to this.

 

any ideas ?  

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I think it resets the high charging voltage timer so you can have another go at boiling your batteries if we open cell or destroying them if sealed. I think the Kestrel just gives a higher charging voltage for a set time so that switch allows you to start it again. I suspect its just a press down and let it jump back up type switch.

 

With modern alternators I feel there are more sophisticated devices than that - if one is needed at all.

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I had one of those way back in the early nineties!  Very crude early alternator controller. Something like the Adverc or even the sterling (shudder) does a much better job....kinder to your batteries and the connected kit. The kestrel raises the voltage to

about 15.5v  

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You might find this thread interesting...


This thread is also worth reading even though it’s not specifically relevant to the OP. 

 


One thread 9 years old, the other one 13 years old and they’re both as relevant today as then. 

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Thanks

 

the switch doesn’t jump back.

 
I will give acorn a call and spend a little time reading those other threads. 

I’m about to add solar so I may well bite the bullet and replace the alternator controller to something from this century. 
 

Thanks. 

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How go I go about choosing a new alternator controller? I have 2x120Ah leisure batteries and have room for a third (which I am considering). I will shortly be adding a couple of solar panels. 
we generally live aboard for part of the week and in the summer boat most days and in the winter a few hours every fortnight - not that all that info will make much difference I suspect. 
also are they easy to fit (or should I say difficult to screw up) ?

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12 minutes ago, Strettonman said:

How go I go about choosing a new alternator controller? I have 2x120Ah leisure batteries and have room for a third (which I am considering). I will shortly be adding a couple of solar panels. 
we generally live aboard for part of the week and in the summer boat most days and in the winter a few hours every fortnight - not that all that info will make much difference I suspect. 
also are they easy to fit (or should I say difficult to screw up) ?

As you have a kestrel one of the harder parts...adding an extra wire to an alternator brush should be done...but it’s best to check it’s been done properly. Other than that if you can follow a wiring diagram it’s just a question of connecting it in and following instructions. I personally would recommend an adverc over one of sterling’s poor gcse project boxes but other people seem to like his kit. If you phone adverc they are helpful...if you know the model and type of alternator that’s even better or indeed send them a picture. 

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When we first aquired our boat I fitted a Kestrel, but after two trips on the Thames, at a time when the lock keepers insisted that you turn the engine off in locks, I ditched it. The problem was that it reset itself to deliver full power every time the engine was switched off and re-started, eventually burning out the alternator's own internal  regulator, which was not helpful. Fortunately I had very robust Golf cart deep cycle batteries which could take the high charge, so they were not damaged. After repairing the alternator several times, I removed the Kestrel and fitted an advanced  Sterling Regulator, which was still working well when we sold the boat some fifteen years later.

 

 

Edited by David Schweizer
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1 hour ago, Strettonman said:

How go I go about choosing a new alternator controller?

Firstly measure the output of your alternator and see if you need one (see those other threads). If your alternator does have a very low output voltage then see if changing the alternator would be a more cost-effective solution; it’s certainly a more elegant solution. 

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13 hours ago, frangar said:

I had one of those way back in the early nineties!  Very crude early alternator controller. Something like the Adverc or even the sterling (shudder) does a much better job....kinder to your batteries and the connected kit. The kestrel raises the voltage to

about 15.5v  

 

3 hours ago, frangar said:

As you have a kestrel one of the harder parts...adding an extra wire to an alternator brush should be done...but it’s best to check it’s been done properly. Other than that if you can follow a wiring diagram it’s just a question of connecting it in and following instructions. I personally would recommend an adverc over one of sterling’s poor gcse project boxes but other people seem to like his kit. If you phone adverc they are helpful...if you know the model and type of alternator that’s even better or indeed send them a picture. 

You clearly have an antipathy for the  Sterling battery regulator, I would be interested to learn the basis for making that assessment ?  Interestingly in the lumpy water world, the two seem to be compared quite equally for performance.

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If the alternator does have a low output, say 14.0V or less, a much cheaper and easier option is to replace the regulator.   A 14.6V regulator for example can cost about £15.

 

I fitted one to my vetus alternator many years ago, and disconnected my Stirling advanced regulator and I reckon it does a better job.  Whilst the Sterling did help, for all its flashing lights it didn't seem to do much more than the Kestrel,  basically acting as a timer and dropping into float much too early.  It didn't seem to matter how low the batteries were, it went into float after about three hours regardless.

Edited by dor
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44 minutes ago, dor said:

If the alternator does have a low output, say 14.0V or less, a much cheaper and easier option is to replace the regulator.   A 14.6V regulator for example can cost about £15.

Or, if such a regulator isn’t available for your alternator, replace the 30 year old Kestrel with a diode or three - about a fiver. 

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57 minutes ago, dor said:

If the alternator does have a low output, say 14.0V or less, a much cheaper and easier option is to replace the regulator.   A 14.6V regulator for example can cost about £15.

 

I fitted one to my vetus alternator many years ago, and disconnected my Stirling advanced regulator and I reckon it does a better job.  Whilst the Sterling did help, for all its flashing lights it didn't seem to do much more than the Kestrel,  basically acting as a timer and dropping into float much too early.  It didn't seem to matter how low the batteries were, it went into float after about three hours regardless.

 

Not trying to be picky but assuming the Sterling was no an A to B device then normally it cant drop to a true float voltage but will drop to the inbuilt regulator's setting and unless its a very old 13.8V alternator it will be at least half a volt above typical float voltages. saying drops to float is oen way of looking at it but I don't think it helps much.

 

I agree a 14.6 volt regulator is far cheaper and a more elegant way to go.

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By "float", I was referring to the light on the controller.  True it wasn't a true float voltage as the internal regulator held it to 13.9V, but it did mean the Sterling was being nothing but a box with pretty coloured lights. 

Incidentally,  the Vetus alternator is only five years old,  but still regulated to ~14.0V.

 

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22 minutes ago, dor said:

By "float", I was referring to the light on the controller.  True it wasn't a true float voltage as the internal regulator held it to 13.9V, but it did mean the Sterling was being nothing but a box with pretty coloured lights. 

Incidentally,  the Vetus alternator is only five years old,  but still regulated to ~14.0V.

 

 

Another Charlesism then.  Bloody marketeers!

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3 hours ago, David Schweizer said:

 

You clearly have an antipathy for the  Sterling battery regulator, I would be interested to learn the basis for making that assessment ?  Interestingly in the lumpy water world, the two seem to be compared quite equally for performance.

My basis is the terrible build quality of the controller. Bare metal edges...no strain relief on the cables...lots of lights to make it look pretty. General poor build quality. I was asked to fit one for a customer when I was boat fitting...I did on the understanding there was no warranty from us on the unit. 

 

My other issue is the attitude of Mr Sterling...I had another friend who had some issues with a flicking voltmeter after having a sterling controller fitted...not by me....when I phoned up to query why this was so Mr Sterling said they had a batch that did that...I could send it back and have it sorted for a cost...in between swearing at me when I questioned this...then telling me I should fit his products as I’d make more money...when I said I would decline...I was called an F’ing idiot...I hung up at that point...if that’s how he treats customers he can keep his crap. 

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11 minutes ago, frangar said:

My basis is the terrible build quality of the controller. Bare metal edges...no strain relief on the cables...lots of lights to make it look pretty. General poor build quality. I was asked to fit one for a customer when I was boat fitting...I did on the understanding there was no warranty from us on the unit. 

 

My other issue is the attitude of Mr Sterling...I had another friend who had some issues with a flicking voltmeter after having a sterling controller fitted...not by me....when I phoned up to query why this was so Mr Sterling said they had a batch that did that...I could send it back and have it sorted for a cost...in between swearing at me when I questioned this...then telling me I should fit his products as I’d make more money...when I said I would decline...I was called an F’ing idiot...I hung up at that point...if that’s how he treats customers he can keep his crap. 

 

 

Not my experience of Charles Sterling.

I had one of that "batch" of controllers that hunted, it was due to a tolerance build up in the components, and Charles sent his chief engineer and his helper to Macclesfield.

They spent the day getting to the bottom of the problem, finding the cause, which helped all with this fault, and were extremely helpful.

They fitted a new regulator which is still on that boat, 23 years later and still working well.

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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12 minutes ago, frangar said:

My basis is the terrible build quality of the controller. Bare metal edges...no strain relief on the cables...lots of lights to make it look pretty. General poor build quality. I was asked to fit one for a customer when I was boat fitting...I did on the understanding there was no warranty from us on the unit. 

 

My other issue is the attitude of Mr Sterling...I had another friend who had some issues with a flicking voltmeter after having a sterling controller fitted...not by me....when I phoned up to query why this was so Mr Sterling said they had a batch that did that...I could send it back and have it sorted for a cost...in between swearing at me when I questioned this...then telling me I should fit his products as I’d make more money...when I said I would decline...I was called an F’ing idiot...I hung up at that point...if that’s how he treats customers he can keep his crap. 

There was nothing wrong with the build quality of the controller I had, and I have always found him to be helpful and polite. I have heard of people who say he is rude, but I understand he does not suffer fools, and can get quite hostile if people criticise his products or his advice. Perhaps both you and your friend upset him. I had the same ammeter flickering problem,when i fitted a more powerful alternator. After speaking to him, he sent me a free later mosel replacementsent.

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15 minutes ago, David Schweizer said:

There was nothing wrong with the build quality of the controller I had, and I have always found him to be helpful and polite. I have heard of people who say he is rude, but I understand he does not suffer fools, and can get quite hostile if people criticise his products or his advice. Perhaps both you and your friend upset him. I had the same ammeter flickering problem,when i fitted a more powerful alternator. After speaking to him, he sent me a free later mosel replacementsent.

By “suffer fools” maybe he needs to take criticism of his products to improve them....especially by those of us who know what we are talking about! My friend didn’t ever contact him!
 

If that’s the way he wishes to run his business that’s up to him but in turn he didn’t get my business....my opinion of both him and his company stands...in contrast I’ve nothing but praise for adverc on every time I’ve contacted them with a query...even when a customer spectacularly fried a controller when changing an alternator it was repaired For a very good price and timescale. 

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