Alternators, regulators, stators oh my!!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Poncharello, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. Poncharello

    Poncharello n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo, Ca
    Sooo, not many here know me, but just take my word for how retarded I am when it comes to electronic diagnosis and generally anything wiring or testing related. Spee and SikD can attest to this if you need lolz.

    Hokay, so, here's my problem:
    I'm freezing my ass off going/coming from work so I invested in some heat gear (suuuuuuuper sweet!!!) but as of now it's too much wattage for my stock system to handle. It's draining the battery to the point where the bike starts cutting out while I'm riding it if I have full electrical power to *everything.

    Here's *everything:
    Heated grips (idk watts), Jacket liner (90w), and gloves (24w).

    Here's yet to come:
    Heated pant liner (35w) and socks (18w), HID low/hi beams (might decrease the wattage a lil??), Maybe LED brake/running light

    My initial solution:
    I figured my battery is 8 years old, prolly need a new one. So I just (yesterday) put a new Shorai heavy duty Lithium Iron battery in the Viffer and this morning riding out I got twice as far on full power (almost all the way to work!) as I did with the oem battery, however the same thing happened. Bike started to cut out due to lack of electrical power.

    :Edit:
    Here's some questions and responses I have received from my other (http://www.http://sloriders.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5672) forum:
    I try to only use my gear if I absolutely have to (at least for right now), but in the future I'd *like* to be able to use some or all of it whenever I please. All of my stuff is from 1st Gear (Warm & Safe) except for the grip warmers. This is the controller I'm running and I believe it does the pulse thing. And I've only been using the grips when I don't have the heated gloves on.

    My gear is as snug as it can be without ripping when I move, but like you said, it's disgustingly cold out there so it takes a lot to keep warm. I'm playing with different layers of clothing in between the liner & the jacket, but it's a tight squeeze.

    I've got a 2003 Honda VFR 800 (ABS Model), there is a recall on the wiring harness and brakes that I have yet to look into to see if it has been done. I'll be getting on that shortly. I do have a trickle charger at my disposal and have been using it as necessary.

    Any help/ suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks folks! :D
    #1
  2. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,576
    Location:
    Richmond, Va
    I have had the same problem running jacket and gloves on my Ninja250.

    Solutions:

    Is a headlight required to be on during daytime in your state? Unplugging it will save 55 watts.

    Switching to a 35w HID light will save somewhere around 20 watts. A bit less, since the ballest isn't completely effecient.

    Switching to an LED headlight will save between 40 and 50 watts, depending on the light.
    #2
  3. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,576
    Location:
    Richmond, Va
    Otherwise:
    Unplug running lights you don't need. Switch the tail light to an LED to save like 4 watts.
    Replacing your Regulator/Rectifier with an improved one will also help. Most R/Rs are simple ineffecient zener-diode based Shunt Regulators. Aftermarket Transistor based Linear Regulators are more effecient.

    Pretty much every Honda R/R made in the 1990s dies after 10 years. Don't know if the 2003 ones were any better, but I wouldn't put much faith in it, and it's not an expensive upgrade.
    #3
  4. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,367
    Location:
    Nor Ca.
    It boils down to stator output. First you need to find out how much it takes to run the bike. If it is FI, it will take more to run the ecu, pump and injectors. Then add lights and all the heating gear.

    The stator output is AC power, usually in number of watts. To convert to DC (12 volts) multiply by 14. The r/r converts AC to DC to run all the gadgets. It is rated in amps but will always be enough to convert whatever the stator is capable of putting out if the bike is stock.

    A larger capacity battery may prolong how long all this works, but only because it can store more energy. If the stator can't generate enough to meet what electric power is being used, it will eventually run down.

    If you do not have enough generating power, the only cure is to increase the power it can generate or decrease what is being used. You may need to change the R/R, but only to handle the power a new stator can produce.

    Generally you can get more juice out of a stator by increasinng the number of wire windings on it.
    #4
  5. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,576
    Location:
    Richmond, Va
    Uh....what?
    To convert sine-wave VAC to VDC, you DIVIDE by the square root of 2 (1.4)
    To convert watts to amps, you divide by the voltage (usually 14 after rectification).
    He's saying he put in a different type of battery. That can have an effect on charging effeciency, which can be important. It's probably not important in this case, though.
    My point here was that R/Rs use and waste a significant amount of power. They're mounted on big heatsinks because of all the heat they waste, so changing to an effecient R/R increases the available power to the bike.
    #5
  6. GreaseMonkey

    GreaseMonkey Preshrunk & Cottony

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,663
    Location:
    The only county in Illinois with no train tracks
    Skippii,

    Shunt type regulators are designed to "waste" power, that is what they are made for. any "Efficiency" really has nothing to do with it. A regulator that is working properly will take any and all excess current above a certain voltage and turn it into heat, there is no increasing of "available power".

    In response to the original poster, the simplest thing I can suggest is to put a voltmeter on your bike somewhere and use that to monitor electrical usage. Figure out what you need to fiddle with to keep it at 12.5 or so volts. The proper way to fix this is to install a higher power stator, but personally I'd put a meter on it and see if by selectively turning things off and on you can stay warm and keep the battery charged too.</snipped>
    #6
  7. Skippii

    Skippii Milkshakes, my lad.

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,576
    Location:
    Richmond, Va


    That's exactly why I suggested replacing a shunt regulator with a linear regulator, since they are more effecient than shunt regulators.
    #7
  8. Sabre

    Sabre PrĂȘt? Allez!

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2004
    Oddometer:
    12,604
    Location:
    Ferntucky, Washington
    +1

    Some bikes may benefit from a high-output stator, and almost anyone with the inefficient reg/rec you have can benefit from upgrading that. But start simple. As they say in firefighting, "try before you pry."

    Find a place for a nice digital voltmeter. Putting one of these on the bike really gives you control over real-time power management.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. B.C.Biker

    B.C.Biker mighty fine

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    638
    Location:
    southern interior B.C.
    Was reading awhile ago on one of the forums about changing the regulator on the klr to one from a different model that had a different number of wires coming out. Was done to save power.I don't pretend to know why the extra wire was not needed tho.
    #9
  10. L.B.S.

    L.B.S. Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,882
    "...I'm freezing my ass off..."


    Location: San Luis Obispo, Ca



    LOL :rofl


    Sorry, riding around in minus 10* C (not counting windchill @ highway speed), with no electrical clothing, and seeing your "freezing" location, gave me the giggles. :D I will admit I had the heated grip setting on Deep Fat Fry, (F800ST) and was worshipping at the alter of the Blessed Heat, though:lol3

    Agree that installing a good little volt meter will at least give you a basic idea of what's going on while you are trying to best manage your power consumption. HID and LED is good, and is what I have had for the past several years on watt-challenged bikes. (ie: CBR125R :evil)

    Good hunting!
    #10
  11. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    3,788
    Location:
    Maine
    +1 on volt meter.

    What I find on the infallible internets is a VFR stator output of 460 to 490 watts. Your EFI, ABS, and perhaps the engine management for the VTEC use more energy than some simpler bikes, but that's not a small alternator. (I run a 70W jacket with alternators of 210W and 238W. On the 170W alternator I can only run the jacket at half-power.)

    There are heated grips with highlow settings of 28/40. I'll use a hypothetical 40W: 40 + 90 + 24 = 154 watts needed beyond what the bike uses.

    It is possible that your bike uses 320W and adding 154W of heat is too much. It doesn't seem likely to me. A volt meter could tell you if turning off the grips is the difference between go and no-go. It's also possible that your stator (alternator windings) have burnt out and are not producing as much power as they should.

    (A lithium-iron battery will forgive being stored while discharged, but the other responders are right that the real issue is watts in vs. watts out.)
    #11
  12. wyowillys46

    wyowillys46 Petrosexual.

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,246
    Location:
    The Front Range somewere
    That's the first thing I thought too. All that heated gear in SLO. :rofl

    If you absolutely must run heated gear in the Antarctic foggy conditions you have, run only the pants and jacket. Keeping your core warm will keep everything else warm.
    #12
  13. Poncharello

    Poncharello n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo, Ca
    Ya ya, yuck it up. Here's the temps I'm riding in... (left side of guages, Air Temp)

    [​IMG]

    These are two different mornings. The gauge stops registering when it goes below 14 F (that's -10 Celsius, L. B. S. ;-* ), and these are both at a standstill.

    [​IMG]

    I'm out of Slo but work off the 58 between Slo and Bakersfield. This is why I need the gear ladies ;-*

    I've got to run the gloves, right now I'm trying only to run them and not the jacket as the jacket eats most of the power. I plan on switching as many of the bulbs to leds as I can, just installed HID high beams, lows are on order.

    Haven't had a chance to test for power outputs while running the bike and all the different gear, but hopefully be able to do it within this next week.

    DEFINITELY gonna look into purchasing that mountable digital voltmeter :clap.

    Aside the snide comments about the beautiful weather my location normally has (and I agree, when I ride where I normally do) this has been a very helpful thread. I'll keep you up to date when/if I run into more problems. Thank you all so much for the info! :beer

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. L.B.S.

    L.B.S. Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,882

    Technically, it appears you didn't ride, as your odometer didn't change, but that's enough smack talk from me. All in good fun, no offense meant :ksteve

    [​IMG]


    This may be of some help in your investigations: http://www.vfrdiscussion.com/forum/index.php/topic/63485-electrical-output-heated-gear/

    I would suggest checking your stator's health a higher priority, and possibly swapping your 90w liner for one that's a little less intense?

    Are you using heatroller type adjustable thingies to regulate your gear, or just on/off?

    I know they can look like a real eyesore to some, but what about wind deflectors for yer hands? For me, the least aesthetically horrifying are the OEM V-Strom ones, for a street bike. :D

    As another possible alternator-itive (heh heh) is to go with lithium battery powered gloves/jacket liner. (ie: Mobile Warming) http://www.ridersdiscount.com/mobile-warming/

    I know, I know, I'm sure all of your arguments and objections are exactly the same ones that I am trying to battle with in my own decision making befuddlement on the topic.

    But hey, ya never know until you try, right? :freaky No one likes being :vardy



    ps

    Oh, and for sure I would be swapping the lowbeams to HID! That's what, an extra 40 watts or so to free up? As it is, just having the Highs HID isn't doing you any good for savings (unless of course you are presently running your high beams on instead of, or in addition to, your Lows, which would be a bit of a clue as to why you aren't getting enough juice to your gear...)
    #14
  15. itsatdm

    itsatdm Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,367
    Location:
    Nor Ca.

    You are right I meant amps. Mine claims 17 at the stator. Times 14 =238 watts of power. My point was if all his gadgets use more power than that, all the regulators and bigger batteries in the world won't create more than what the stator will provide.

    What is surprising is how much FI bikes comsume just to run. Not easy to find that number. For a F800gs it is around 150 watts including the lights.
    #15
  16. Poncharello

    Poncharello n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo, Ca
    My speedo isn't functioning so the gps unit you see in those pictures keeps track of my speed and mileage for the time being. Those were two different days I assure you. That link was very helpful, thank you for sharing!:clap

    Going to start looking at replacing the stator and rectifier/regulator, I think they are fried. Battery seems to be having significant trouble maintaining a charge after my commutes when I use any gear (right now it has moderate trouble when I use just gloves, when it has been fine running the jacket and gloves before, but no trouble when I don't use anything). Suggestions on who to go to for heavy duty components?

    I gave a link to the heat troller I was using in my op, it's the kind that uses power intermittently instead of constant-on.

    Wind deflectors are a last resort...I'm trying not to look that retarded :eek1 :ear


    I've never seen the lithium battery powered heated gear......definitely interested. Might be swapping out my stuff for that, or at least trading my 90W jacket for a 65W.

    Low beams on order, to be installed shortly :deal. And yes, I am presently running all my lights (no way to turn off lows when highs are engaged) as I'm commuting on curvy back roads in teh early morning darkness with all sorts of critters crossing my path.
    #16
  17. L.B.S.

    L.B.S. Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,882

    Ahh! I see now. I can definitely imagine how all that wattage including your gear is a little overwhelming for the bike's system!

    Saving about 80 watts via all HID's sure won't hurt, and trying to weasel out a few more with LED's here and there could just tip the balance in your favour :D

    Have you got single or double "city" lights (or "running" lights, whatever they're called...) in the headlight bucket? Have you swapped those out to Led yet? Same with always-on front turn signal running lights-those would be a good candidate for a Led swap. (If your bike has them of course)

    You will more than likely need to replace your stock flasher relay with an electronic one, to make them work/flash at a proper rate, remember. Those are cheap, easy, readily available plug and play, no fuss things thankfully, at least.

    I would caution about Led rear tail/brake bulbs and rear turn sig led bulbs. The cheap replacement bulbs I have ever tried absolutely sucked. They either were impossible to see in the daytime, and/or started failing very quickly. So either go for the very spendy ones, or look into entire tail light circuit board style replacement, with a great mass of individual led's instead of simply a bulb conversion.

    Again, best of luck, and keep a watchful eye out for the critters on your commute for sure. I totally understand! I still have reflexive nightmare flinches from my near splat encounter this past summer, with the big pointy bits on some kind of pissed off giant deer type beast. :eek1
    #17
  18. Poncharello

    Poncharello n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo, Ca
    Planning on getting led bulbs for everything I can, which is just braked and turn signals atm. Good call on the flash relay, someone else suggested that to me too. Without it, you don't really save any wattage right? Bc the lights are flashing twice as fast?

    Double headlights and high beams, only running lights are the front turn signals and the top light in the rear brake.

    Will do sir, thank you and pray for me lol

    Also, went in to Cycle Gear and was talking batteries with them and they seem to think that the Shorai battery I bought is a piece of crap for what I'm intending it for and that it's only for track bikes. Is there any merit to this? What's the general consensus? All Shorai's material points to CG being full of shit? :huh
    #18
  19. ~DC~

    ~DC~ An Internet Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    528
    I've had a couple Viffers, they are notorious for Regulator/Rectifier issues. If you're not a regular on VFRd, spend some time researching the subject there, lots of good info. :deal
    #19
  20. Poncharello

    Poncharello n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    9
    Location:
    San Luis Obispo, Ca
    Just tested voltage @ the battery and here are the results:
    Just sitting, the battery registers at 12.1v with no measurable leakage.
    Idle is 700-1000 rpm @ 12.5v
    2500 rpm @ 12.8v
    3000 rpm @ 12.8v
    4000 rpm @ 13v
    5000 rpm @ 13v

    So something is obviously wrong with the charging system. I have yet to test the stator and regulator/rectifier.

    Talking with CG, they are suggesting replacing/upgrading these components with ones from Electro Motorsports that claim a 20% charging gain over OEM parts. Any thoughts on that? I'd include a link to the parts, but I'm unable to find Electro Motorsports online. New R/R and stator are running for $239.90 (S = $139.95, R/R =$99.95)

    Also, they ripped me a new one for going with the Shorai battery instead of a much cheaper gel cell. They said the Shorai battery is probably half my problem as the power curve has a sharp drop off(?), I didn't really follow it all too well but basically they were saying that it's a race battery for race applications and no wonder I can't power all my stuff. In which case my thought was, well no battery is meant to run all the electrical stuff on its own, that's what the stator & r/r is for, right?? Ugh, now I'm getting that all too familiar headachy feeling

    Getting a multimeter tomorrow and testing the Stator and R/R. Found my Haynes repair manual this morning.

    Also, Cycle Gear was telling me that it's an 8 hour r&r on the stator & r/r as they were saying the components were probably buried, but after looking in the repair manual it looks pretty straightforward to me, everything is accessible by simply removing the side fairing and all I need (other than the replacement components) is a gasket for the main outer cover. Might need to find someone locally with a belt strap wrench(?). Shiiiit nyukkas, I GOT this!

    :knocks on wood:
    #20