soren-petersen avatar image
soren-petersen asked

Use Orion-TR Smart DC-DC 12/12 30 directly between alternator and two lithium banks?

I have shifted to lithium only on my sailboat. So I need to decrease my engine alternator to 14.2 V for all batteries. I.e., I cannot base the installation on a source and an aux. battery, as suggested in the Orion TR Smart manual. Instead, I want to connect Input to the alternator and Output to the main POS/NEG pins on the consumption side.

Is this possible with the Orion-TR Smart?

My setup:

- Bank 1: 200 AH lithium charged directly by solar panels, through dedicated MPPT regulator.

- Bank 2: 200 AH lithium charged directly by wind generator, through dedicated HRDI regulator.

I have a battery bank selector (with 1, 2, and Both) that selects which bank to consume from and consequently which bank the alternator charges to.

The engine starter is connected to the selector, so I can start with either bank, or both.

This has worked perfectly through a standard Balmar alternator regulator when I had lead batteries. So, I really just want to replace the Balmar regulator with a "lithium-specific" regulator.

orion-tr smartOrion DC-DC Converters not smart
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2 Answers
Justin Cook - Bay Marine Supply USA avatar image
Justin Cook - Bay Marine Supply USA answered ·

@soren Petersen, I'd actually be interested to know whether or not this would technically work, but more to the immediate point, this is not a supported connection method and would therefore void your device warranty. The Orion-Tr Smart is rather particularly a battery to battery charger, not an alternator to battery charger. With respect to Victron (and believe me, I do love my Victron components) this would be a better place for a Sterling Alternator to Battery Charger like the AB12120... careful, because certain models have an LFP charging profile and others don't, but the AB12120 is one of the models that does indeed have the LFP profile that you need.

Again... offhand I can't say that I think your proposed solution wouldn't possibly work, but it's definitely not an application for which the device was designed, nor an application for which it's supported or warranted, so I'd be much more comfortable if you used a device that is specifically designed to do what you're trying to do.

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valden avatar image valden commented ·

Hello Justin, Soren. Re using the Sterling Alternator to Battery Charger, I discussed an application like this with an engineer at Sterling, who said, 'not recommended'. The problem is the Sterling device doesn't protect the alternator from the high rate of charging the lithium batteries will draw. The alternator will overheat and fail. The Sterling engineer suggested that the Balmar current limiting regulator is the only viable solution he knows of. It uses a temperature sensor to make sure the alternator doesn't cook itself.

I'm planning to use an Orion-Tr 12/12-30 battery to battery charger to draw current from the engine start battery and direct it to the lithium house bank. Seems odd, I know, to be charging lithiums from the engine start battery! But this charging will only occur if the engine start battery is already fully charged and the alternator is producing current. It won't be a high rate of charge, but will help, and will save the old-fashioned alternator from the new-fangled and hungry lithiums.

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Justin Cook - Bay Marine Supply USA avatar image Justin Cook - Bay Marine Supply USA ♦ valden commented ·

@Valden that's an interesting bit of information... given that the AB12120 specifically has an LFP profile, I am greatly confused by this, since this is exactly what the thing is designed to do. I'm not sure if the Sterling engineer you spoke to was confused about the particular model you were discussing, or if we're all super confused about what the LFP profile on the AB12120 is for... good info though, thank you!

In the meantime, yes, I'm quite certain the Orion-Tr Smart will work well for you (please make sure, when ordering from your dealer, that you're ordering the Orion-Tr Smart, as the Orion-Tr is not a B2B charger... only the Orion-Tr Smart is a charger). It's worth noting that you can of course connect multiple units in parallel if you need a higher-than-30A charge current to your house bank.

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soren-petersen avatar image
soren-petersen answered ·

Thanks, Justin. Your answer made me look for simpler solultions, until I found the ultimate answer: The latest Balmar alternator regulator. Beautiful video for my specific need:

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