Wind Generator Problems

by Matt

I am not sure about this appliances that place high loads on the system. Here is s what happened. After a recent cruise my wind generator seemed to bombed out. It had been running perfectly for nearly a year.


The only additional thing I have added is a pop up toaster and a cappuccino machine for the wife. Both of these draw nearly 40 amps out of the system sometimes more. I always run the engine so the alternator can supply most of this charge. The batteries are AGM all same type, total 300 ah. I turn to both when I am going to use a lot of amps. (I am currently installing another 3*150ah AGM batts)

The Airex is still in warranty but I am going to bench test it myself before sending it off. My question is could the unusually high surge associated with a pop up toaster have any thing to do with the Airex Wind Generator bombing out? I have surge protectors on the batteries i.e. to help protect against lightning or shorts, but should I do something else?

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Sep 08, 2007
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More on wind generator solution
by: Matt


The engine is part of a bonding network for the negative ground, but it is not the central point of attachment, it is just one attachment point in the bonding network which includes an external lead keel and the the fuel tank.
My feeling was that this was probably Ok, but I think given what you said I will check it again and maybe install some new wires in the bonding network.

The multi-stage regulator has no effect on the alternator's output capability. The advantage comes in obtaining the final 20% or so of charge, when battery current demand falls off. The higher charging voltage keeps more amps flowing into the battery in the final charge stage, then steps down after full charge is reached.


I was wondering though, what would the external regulator do to the voltage output of the alternator if the battery switch was turned
off? I am thinking it will increase the voltage just like an internal alternator regulator? I couldn't see anything on the Ample power web site to say that the Next Step V1 does anything
special re spikes.

I guess I should really fix this open circut spike issue once and for all since accidently turning the battery switch to off can also cause a spike. Apparently as the switch gets older even changing settings 1 to 2 to both can sometimes result in an open circut.

So I am thinking I need to do these things.

i. Install voltage/surge arrestor on back of alternator (fixes surge from load changes and open circut spike)

ii. Fix automatic distribution i.e. automatic paralleling solenoid so that there is less need to move the 1,2,both switch.

iii. Check all connections, ensuring distribution posts are not overloaded and in particular that inverter connections
are all sound. Check all ground connections.

iv. Perhaps install new positive distrubution post with a high current voltage regulator between the posts, with all sensitive equipment running off the protected post. (The wind gen could then go on the protected side.)

What do you think, should this do it?



Sep 08, 2007
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Wind generator solutions
by: Matt

Thanks for your insights. Voltage surges are the result of large loads being disconnected. Ok, so it is possible this is the problem.

Surges will not normally occur in a DC system having a battery bank of any significant size in relation to the loads being powered. The batteries are a powerful filter. I have 3 100ah newish Lifeline AGMs. So I am thinking this
300ah is perhaps inadequate but not grossly inadequate, as long as any demand (40amps)is supported by the alternator (85amp)? Now, that said, consider the situation with the alternator running to power the loads, and poor integrity of wiring and/or connections between the alternator and battery bank.

All connections/wires are new and slightly oversized. But the number of wires coming off the distribution posts may be a problem. I think I can improve this area even though it already
has been partially refurbished.

You probably know that if you disconnect the battery while the alternator is operating, a voltage spike will occur (possibly up to more than 100 volts) which can damage all kinds of electronic equipment on board, including the alternator itself and, yes, the regulator or diode(s) in your wind generator. A similar situation will occur with your large loads and poor battery connections, also with a battery bank of far inadequate capacity, or batteries that are not in servicable condition.

Yes good point! I do know about alternator spikes and I see now that a sudden change in load might cause an alternator spike in the same way a an open circut would.

I think I have read about some device that goes between some of the alternator terminals that will prevent this over voltage. So I guess that would be a solution.

If I check all my connections, install one of these over voltage arrestors, and install some more AGM's do you think that will be enough?

Thanks for this Nate since if it is due to the alternator, using a single high current voltage regulator to separate out the anchor winch and inverter, would not have worked.

Proper cabling layout is fairly important, the engine block should not be used as a central ground point. Alternator output cable (either from alt. or isolator) should go direct to battery, not to the panel or other junction point.

My alternator cables go to two new distribution posts about 12 inches away from the battery bank. All cables are slightly oversize and the runs are very short. The arrangement is similar to that suggested in the Ample Power installation. But based on your comments
I think you are suggesting that I bypass all this and run the output direct to the battery?

Sep 08, 2007
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Wing Generator troubleshooting
by: Anonymous

Voltage surges are the result of large loads being disconnected. Surges will not normally occur in a DC system having a battery bank of any significant size in relation to the loads being powered. The batteries are a powerful filter. If any equipment is damaged by a surge caused by one of these appliances, it will be the inverter.

Now, that said, consider the situation with the alternator running to power the loads, and poor integrity of wiring and/or connections between the alternator and battery bank. You probably know that if you disconnect the battery while the alternator is operating, a voltage spike will occur (possibly up to more than 100 volts) which can damage all kinds of electronic equipment on board, including the alternator itself and, yes, the regulator or diode(s) in your wind generator. A similar situation will occur with your large loads and poor battery connections, also with a battery bank of far inadequate capacity, or batteries that are not in servicable condition. Proper cabling layout is fairly important, the engine block should not be used as a central ground point. Alternator output cable (either from alt. or isolator) should go direct to battery, not to the panel or other junction point.

The multi-stage regulator has no effect on the alternator's output capability. The advantage comes in obtaining the final 20% or so of charge, when battery current demand falls off. The higher charging voltage keeps more amps flowing into the battery in the final charge stage, then steps down after full charge is reached

Sep 08, 2007
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Wind Generator Question
by: Matt

Thanks Nate, for your response.

The problem is slightly different, i.e. I was asking a different question but perhaps I did not express myself very well.

The problem is my windgen airex with integrated regulator is caput. I was wondering whether surges associated with placing very high and sudden amp demands on the DC system which
also end abruptly could have caused the demise of the wind gen.

If surges are indeed the cause then I am worried that after fixing the windgen it could happen again. The windgen worked fine for around 2.5 years, but I have made more demands on the
DC system recently. The failure of the windgen may of course just be coincidence.

I have a 3 step external Ample Power Next Step regulator for the alternator, which seems to work ok but doesn't seem to have significantly higher amp output.

I am thinking that perhaps I should love/separate the high demand items on to one post and move everything else to a new post and then put a surge protector between the posts.
This way the voltage would be constant on the side where all the sensitive gadgets are. Then the high demand stuff like inverter and anchor winch could be isolated from the rest of
the system. If the voltage varied on the high demand side then no big deal.

One way to stop it is I think to beef up my battery system and (eventually) the alternator system to cater for the high demand items, so this might stop voltage drops.

I guess the question boils down to this. When you turn of a very high demand on a battery/alternator system does the voltage spike or rise? Sure it will drop with high demand, but will it spike with a sudden cessation of that
demand?

Firstly, of all I don't really know if this (spike on switch off) is a problem. Secondly, if it is problem then I am not sure that voltage
regulators and isoaltion are the answer. I don't have John's book in front of me so am not sure what he says about this. I would really appreciate anyone's ideas on this.


Sep 08, 2007
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Peak loads on battery system,
by: Nate

The answer (mine, anyhow) to your specific question is: Not likely. Unless the unit was driven by extraordinary winds (and staying in one piece), it would not be capable of producing enough current to damage itself. Most installations have a regulator (charge controller), and all have a diode (an electrical one-way valve). These components, which could be integrated in the generator, are more susceptible to failure. Even when built or sold as a package, these frequently have 'just adequate' capacity in relation to the generator itself. When a separate diode is used, often it is not provided a sufficient sized heat-sink, and can handle the generator's maximum output for only short periods without stress or failure.
I hope that sends you in the right direction

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