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2 DBelectrical 220 Alts dead, something is up


hawaiianstyln

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First thing to note, this is the first year the wife and I have hit the sandbar/party cove more than flying high 80' behind the boat all day.  They normally want us to play the music, so we do for hours.  This means, we have beat up the batteries probably more than ever (5 Optima batteries 3 seasons now).  1st DBelectrical 220 amp lasted 2 years until last month.  Worked like a champ and nothing wrong with my factory alternator, in fact when my big Alts died, I swapped back to the MFG alt no issues with the original.  Local Alt shop said all the solder was melted on the 220 DBelectrical (takes 450+ degrees to melt solder?).  Had to purchase a new Alt thinking maybe I just got a bad one and went past the 1 year warranty.  installed a replacement and it lasted maybe 4.5 weeks in the boat, roughly 20-30 hours worth.  I admit, I tightened the heck out of the belt and I thought maybe I blew the bearing, but I won't know the outcome because DBelectrical warranties or replaces but doesn't tell you Root Cause Analysis.  BOOO!

Setup:

-BIG loud Exile system (no need to lay out all my amps, it's overly powerful and quality install job) - if you need details I can elaborate

-all 1 gauge wiring which includes 1 gauge jumped at the batteries in parallel format and 1 gauge from Alt to Starter to Batt switch

-4 house Blue Top Optima (maybe I need to go XS power?).  The house is actually wired to see two banks for charging purposes 2 optimas wired in parallel seperate from the other two.  I did this because the promarinar had only 3 banks (start+stereobank1+stereobank2), but the dual battery switch doesn't care or see the house being split into two banks.

-1 Start red Top Optima

-Perko Dual batt Switch (no I don't have an ACR and I know this will get attention)

-Promariner 20+ sport 3 bank.  Always always plugged in when I get home and I always see 13.3 volts on the dash before I start her up.  Then I read 14.4 volts during runtime

While I don't think just because I do not have an ACR inline with this setup, the past few summers I would still pull up to the sandbar and pound on the stereo for 4+ hours, drove away no issues without batteries dipping below 11.9 or alternator fails

This summer has been different, i've driven away and the house batteries were alarming the helm at 11.9.  Which means I drove away forgetting to change over to the starting battery.  This is the part where i'm told to put an ACR in and forget it.  Which is warranted and I get.  However, that is not the root cause here (adding an ACR).  Maybe I killed the 2 Alternators because I've been draining 4 optimas that are not the right battery for my needs and it overworked the alternator heading back to the dock for the day?  Or maybe I killed a few blue tops that are sitting with the house bank.  If I isolate each battery, they do read 12.2+, but I haven't load tested them.  

ideas?  I guess if this new replacement Alt last, then I just had bad/odd luck with both of those Alternators, but doubt it..

 

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Certainly possible that it's just bad luck.  I'm a fan of Db but also know you get what you pay for (and there's a reason they must be half the cost of anyone else.)  

I recently started having voltage problems and traced it back to a bad battery.  I was running some BIG 140ah AGM batteries I picked up from a local solar installer.  4 years old but when I went to investigate what was going wrong it was obvious -- one of them was swollen on 4 sides and was now more spherical than cubic.  Not good!

So that's where I'd start -- isolate all your batteries with a full charge, wait a few days and see if one of them has a significant drop.  It wouldn't be too far-fetched that one battery in your bank could drag down the entire system and cause the alternator to become overworked.  

You may also consider isolating your stereo bank from your starting battery.  Use shore-recharging to keep the stereo side in good condition and save the alternator to make sure your starting battery is always full.  I don't think you can drain your stereo bank in 3-4hrs no matter how hard you might be pushing it.  I know it seems impractical since you spent good money on a big alternator -- but if you're not willing to buy an ACR (<$100), this would be the "cheap" way to protect your starting bank from getting beat up by the stereo.

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1 hour ago, Fffrank said:

Certainly possible that it's just bad luck.  I'm a fan of Db but also know you get what you pay for (and there's a reason they must be half the cost of anyone else.)  

This is actually a good point, most nicely made high output marine alternators are barely 90-100 amp for the same price as what DB is selling for a 220 amp Alt.  Hmmmmm..

I will be buying an ACR soon.  I will also pull the batteries and get them load tested properly.  Unless we think the promarinar onboard charger can charge one at a time, then leave the other batteries unhooked and play the stereo in the boat for an hour while working in the garage, see how each battery does after an hour isolated.  I'm tempted to leave my DB 220 Alt replacement I got in the mail today in the box, leave the original stock Alt on for the rest of the season (another month-ish) and see how that handles.  The starting Red Top OPtima that is isolated from the 4 house seems fine.  They have been isolated with the switch, but I have been at fault occasionally on the water by not isolating them everytime from the perko dual batt switch.  could be a learning lesson if I killed the Alts from that.

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I don't think you even need to go through the hassle of load testing.  A bad battery is going to become obvious pretty quickly if you just leave it disconnected for a week (or even isolate and use it to play garage tunes for an hour or so.)  You shouldn't see any significant voltage drop in either scenario.

I only say this because when I was replacing batteries a few weeks ago (I decided to go with the Walmart AGM H8 90ah batteries as replacement -- bless their warranty process) they had a returned battery that tested within spec on their load tester (and was now 50% off.) The receipt from the load tester was two weeks old so I asked the tech to retest it to give me some peace of mind -- and he hooked it up and it was only at 9.5v.  

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It doesn't really make sense to me that you can melt the solder inside an alternator.  It seems like maybe they just put a huge rectifier and regulator on a normal alternator and call it 220 Amp rated.  The regulator should limit output at some safe maximum.  I blame the alternators.

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15 hours ago, justgary said:

It doesn't really make sense to me that you can melt the solder inside an alternator.  It seems like maybe they just put a huge rectifier and regulator on a normal alternator and call it 220 Amp rated.  The regulator should limit output at some safe maximum.  I blame the alternators.

agreed, I think I will put the new/warrantied 220 back on and if that thing magically stops working again, I will take this one to a local shop to find root cause and also have them tell me how this thing was built and why it would go bad.  Why with the same setup does my stock MFG alternator work just fine....

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