Ask PYS: Power

Bob, on Mar 17, 2010 asked:

My 33 foot Chris Craft has dual inboard gasoline engines with stock 55-amp alternators on each. What is your advice on getting a better charge rate from the alternators?

Hi Bob,

Whenever a client wants to get better charging from an engine(s), my first recommendation is to make the best use of the DC-generating capacity you have. Swap the internal (automotive style) regulator on the alternator for a smart three-stage regulator. Most alternator shops will modify the stock alternator for a nominal fee.

Since you have dual inboard engines you'll need a three-stage regulator that can drive two alternators at the same time. Most three-stage regulators don't have sufficient amperage on the field voltage connection to drive two simultaneous alternators. AMPLE Power, based in Seattle, has a regulator module (DAC) designed to drive dual alternators.

Upgrading to a higher-output alternator is a common next step. The alternator needs to be properly sized to the specifications of the engine manufacturer. Note that a larger output alternator may be limited by the alternator bracket and the belt size.