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REC and WS500 User Forum

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How does the WS500 work on a dual alternator setup?

What do I do if I have two alternators?  Do I install one WS500 for both?  If not, what keeps them from fighting with each other?

In a dual alternator setup, each alternator gets its own WS500 Smart Regulator.  This way you do not end up with a single point of failure and the regulator can monitor and control each alternator to get its maximum output.  The WS500 includes CANBus and OSEnergy communications protocols which allow the regulators to talk to each and share important data so as not to fight with each other, potentially reducing their outputs unnecessarily.

It's also possible to run the Config app twice on the same screen so you can monitor both Smart regulators at the same time!

 

Maybe Al can expand on this!

@al-thomason

High Rick,

 

Yes - a question we get a bit.   So, there are perhaps two flavors of this:

  1. Two alternators on the same engine.
  2. Two engines, each with an alternator.

For the 1st case (Two alts on one engine):  If they are of the same type, then often one can simply parallel them and drive both with one WS500 regulator.  If need be a custom High Field Amp cable may be ordered to support field currents up to 30A    To be honest, we do not see this install very often.

For the 2nd case, two engines - each with an alternator, then yes, two WS500 may be installed - one for each engine and alternator.  In this way each install may be customized to the given equipment, even if the two alternators are not the same model / capability, set up each WS500 to match what its alternator needs.  Then by linking the two WS500's with a CAT-5 cable (remember to install terminators as well), the regulators will talk with each other and settle in where one in effect becomes the master with the other working under its direction.  You will be able to see the Master still blinking the LED as Green, while the Slave will blink out a kind of orangeish / yellow color.  When in this mode a few things will happen:

  1. Both reg will work towards the same charging goals, as defined by the master regulator
  2. If the battery does not need the full output of both alternators, the regulators will work to scale back equally -- ala, both running around 60% of its allowed capability vs one hard and other turned off.

A note:  Some times folks alternate running on one engine and then the other.  The CAN also helps here.  If you have been running on one engine for a while and want to switch over to the other, start the other, let the WS500 warm up and get in sycn with the already running one.  Maybe a minute or two.  Then when you turn off the 1st engine, the new reg will have already picked up the status of that 1st regulator and carry on in the same charge mode as opposed to just starting all over with no transfer of information.

Hope this helps some!

-al-

 

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Deleted user

Hi Rick and all,

I have a twin power motor yacht with two Caterpillar 3126’s, each rated at 420 hp. One engine has two x 12v 190 amp alternators. The other has one of the same alternators plus a 24v 50 amp unit which supplies the starter batteries for the main engines only.
I have two WS500 units which I have yet to instal.

how should I connect the 12v side of these two systems? Appreciate any help with this.
also, I am currently running Deep Cycle Lead Acid batteries and intend replacing them with some 48v LIFePo banks when they finally fail.
Any tips on setting up for my current system (lead acid) would be appreciated.
thanks,

Phil

Sorry Phil, I just caught this one.  I didnt get flagged as it was just a comment on another post.

From what I understand all 3 12v alts feed your house batteries and you have 2 WS500s.  On that basis I would suggest you connect the engine with 2 alts to one WS500 and have it drive the fields together in parallel.  The WS500 is rated for 30 amps on the field so it can power both.  Then connect the single alt to your other WS500.  Then connect the two WS500s together with an RJ45 quality cable, so the two can communicate over CAN bus.  This will allow all three alts to work together as one large alternator and not fight each other.

Hope this helps 🙂

 

Rick

Hello Rick,

About dual alternators on a single engine.  I'm wondering why Al said this:  "To be honest, we do not see this install very often."

I have a single engine monohull (w/ Yammar 4JH4-HTE) and want to make changes to support a large LFP house bank, probably change my House to 24v, and then install two 24v x 185a alternators.  The idea is to push big power into my House during my routine movements, which is lifting or setting anchor, and some limited motoring while setting sails.  The more I push in with alternators, the less generator time I'll need - and hopefully I can eventually ditch the generator.  (yes.. I have very little solar...  I don't like the appearance of my boat with large amounts of solar.)

I'm thinking to install 400-600AH of 24v House capacity (two Victron Smart 24v x 200AH, or possibly 3 units).  But even with just two, each battery can handle the ~150-160amps from a 185a alternator.  Yeah?

But, the regulator...  Is there a supported design that's similar to what you describe above...  e.g.  two high-output alts managed by a single WS500, pushing dual power into one House bank?

What are the pros/cons, and why does Al say this:  "To be honest, we do not see this install very often."

Sincerely,

Randall

I recall talking with Al about this about 5 years ago and he was saying that it would be great for this application but most dual alternator setups seemed to comprise leaving the factory alt. on the engine to service the cranking battery and using a bracket set up to drive a "house only" high output alt.

Times have really changed since then and it sounds like your application may be a good one for this configuration as you have a matched set of alternators powering a single cell pack.  There is even the high output alternator harness that was designed for this application.

The only factor to consider would be to decide how important redundancy was for your application.

I think redundancy is pretty important once I’ve tossed the Genset…. So maybe a spare WS500??
I believe the dual alternators would by default be operating as a fault-tolerant scenario… as nothing would need to change if one alternator failed.  Correct?

For the starter battery…. Would a B2B be sufficient, or a Sterling CSVR?

My first choice would be something like an Orion B2B.

And yes, a single alt failure should not affect the output of the other unit.

And one other item that Ben reminded me of, in this config both of the temp sensors are used for alt temp monitoring, so no battery temp sensor is available, but in an LFP installation this should be handled by the BMS.  Thanks Ben!

 

Hi @rick_tech_support@al-thomason,

I'm planning to install this weekend my new Balmar alternators with two WS500 on my boat (with Victron Smart Lithium battery bank, VE.Bus BMS and Cerbo GX).

Can you please confirm that my plan (simplified to focus on this part of my project) is correct or if I need to change something?

Thanks!
Eric

Uploaded files:
  • Boat-Rewiring-with-Wakespeed.png

One thing I forgot to mention... I need to derate (using WS500) both of my alternators from 100A to 75A because of the small belts/pulleys that I have on my engines.

Should I go instead with the configuration proposed in the manual with the shunt on the DC negative side?  The only thing I don't like with this configuration is having separate B+ wires unfused from the alternators.

Uploaded files:
  • Screen-Shot-2022-05-20-at-11.45.45-AM.png

Eric,

 

For your install I would refer you to the Victron Lynx website - it has a few very extensive examples of how to install the Lynx BMS with dual alternators and the WS500.

In order to reduce belt loading the simplest way to to reduce the Max Field Drive to a lower value.  If you are using White-box WS500 (Simplest to use with Lynx installs, make sure to use a cross-over cable on the RJ45 connectors between Wakespeed and Victron), then DIP #8 may be turned on to restrict field drive to no more then 75%    That alone might get you what you need; but if you need finer tuning either manually edit the config.txt files (refer here, towards the end of guidance on how to edit the file to reduce max filed drive:  http://www.wakespeed.com/CU/ConfigurationUtilityGuideWeb.pdf  )   or use our Wakespeed app to create a fully customized config for your system:  Battery, BMS and ALt.  You can toggle on the 'limit max field drive' and enter the % there.

Installing an alternator shunt is another approach, though is getting into some more advanced designs.  For most folks, simply capping the max field drive works very well for the need you talked about.

 

 

 

Quote from Al Thomason on May 25, 2022, 5:55 pm

Eric,

 

For your install I would refer you to the Victron Lynx website - it has a few very extensive examples of how to install the Lynx BMS with dual alternators and the WS500.

In order to reduce belt loading the simplest way to to reduce the Max Field Drive to a lower value.  If you are using White-box WS500 (Simplest to use with Lynx installs, make sure to use a cross-over cable on the RJ45 connectors between Wakespeed and Victron), then DIP #8 may be turned on to restrict field drive to no more then 75%    That alone might get you what you need; but if you need finer tuning either manually edit the config.txt files (refer here, towards the end of guidance on how to edit the file to reduce max filed drive:  http://www.wakespeed.com/CU/ConfigurationUtilityGuideWeb.pdf  )   or use our Wakespeed app to create a fully customized config for your system:  Battery, BMS and ALt.  You can toggle on the 'limit max field drive' and enter the % there.

Installing an alternator shunt is another approach, though is getting into some more advanced designs.  For most folks, simply capping the max field drive works very well for the need you talked about.

Thanks Al  for your answer.

But I’m not using the Lynx BMS, I’m using the VE.bus BMS.  What you see on my diagram is the Lynx Shunt VE.Can.  And I don’t think I can connect the « current sense wires » from the WS500 to this Lynx Shunt?

But if this Lynx Shunt connect to the Cerbo GX with the CANBus and if I connect the WS500 to the Cerbo GX on the same CANBus (I have purchased the crossover cable), then do I really need to connect the « current sense wires » or I can leave them disconnected and the WS500 will get the same information on the CANBus from my Lynx shunt?

I really hope I can avoid to have to add another shunt inline with my existing Lynx shunt just to connect these wires, because I’m tight on space and my Lynx system (Power In, Shunt and Distributor) is already nicely integrated/connected?

What exactly these « current sense wires » do?  And if it doesn’t work using my configuration with the Lynx shunt and CANBus, what would be the risk (or downside) of not using these « current sense wires »?

including Al in this last request for clarification

@al-thomason

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