Next Step Regulator problem

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Next Step Regulator problem

Postby lfawcett on Tue Jan 17, 2012 4:42 pm

Our Next Step regulator came with our boat which we purchased about 4 years ago, and I have no idea how old it is.
It has not given us any problem until now.
Two weeks ago we headed home after being anchored overnight and using our furnace (so the house batteries were low), and noticed that we weren't getting a charging voltage. The Regulator error light was flashing 1 sec on, 3 secs off. We were close to our marina so we continued on. When we returned the following weekend to investigate further, everything seemed to be working OK again. The error light was off, and the voltage went to 14.4 with the engine running. I field tested the alternator and got an appropriate response. I checked the field wire and there was no indication of a short.
However, I had brought along your troubleshooting guide and I proceeded to test the voltages at the various points on the regulator. Everything tested as it should except the Field connection which tested 5.43 (off), 6.05 (on), and 6.05 (running) with a battery voltage of 13.79.
We plan to take a bigger trip this summer and will be relying on our batteries, so we need a good regulator and alternator system. Do these readings indicate a need for repair/replacement?
Lawrence
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby Coulomb on Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:45 am

That could point to a bad regulator, but since it appears to regulate, at least some of the time, then another possible problem could be an intermittent problem with the alternator brushes. How old is the alternator?
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby lfawcett on Wed Jan 18, 2012 1:45 pm

The alternator was bought new two years ago (less than 100 hours on it).
I could pull it and have it checked by a shop.
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby Coulomb on Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:57 pm

Before doing that, double check the wires from the regulator to the alternator. A bad connection is often the cause of intermittent problems.
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby lfawcett on Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:53 am

Yes, I've checked all the connections and wires.
What do you make of the 5.4 Field voltage when the ignition is off?
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby Coulomb on Thu Jan 19, 2012 12:05 pm

If the regulator is not warm, then the alternator field connection is open circuit.

If the regulator is warm, then it is faulty.
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby lfawcett on Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:47 pm

I'm sorry but I don't understand the terminology.
Does warm mean that the engine room is warm (room temperature or above?).
How can the field connection be "open circuit" ?
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby Coulomb on Thu Jan 19, 2012 6:25 pm

Warm means the regulator is warm to the touch - warmer than ambient temperature.

Open circuit - alternator field circuit does not have continuity from the regulator through the alternator brushes to ground.
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby lfawcett on Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:02 am

After a 6 week absence, we were able to get back to the boat. We took it out and got it up to operating temperature. The voltmeter was reading 14 volts and the regulator green light was solid, so everything appeared to be working. However, when we got back and I retested the voltages, I found that the Field circuit terminal still showed 5.15 volts even with the ignition off. I am concerned that there may be a problem with the regulator. Also I wonder if having a constant voltage applied to the alternator will damage it.
Thanks for your advice.
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Re: Next Step Regulator problem

Postby Coulomb on Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:21 am

See the reply on Jan 19.
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