Graeme Polley designed and built the ZM4 smart alternator regulator for his marine application. Over 400 ZM4 have been produced
My professional background is in aircraft engineering, but one of my passions is boating. After experiencing battery charging problems in my own launch and suffering the premature failure of one too many batteries, I started researching why.
It was a local battery manufacturer here in New Zealand who tipped me off about the problems that arise from using automotive alternators in a marine vessel designed for heavy loads such as anchor winches and bow thrusters or huge house batteries running overnight services. This must be a well kept secret because alternators configured for cars seem to be extremely common in boats!
I then started researching the solution: ‘smart’ voltage regulators. But I found the cost prohibitive – north of $500 for complex systems with far more features than I needed. Using true Kiwi ingenuity, my scientist son and I decided to just do it ourselves. Together we designed and built our own unit, intended for our own personal use. And it worked perfectly.
Shortly after, friends with boats discovered what I’d made and I soon found myself making ones and twos for friends.
As a hobby venture for me, it provides a wonderful opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, learn what they’re doing and help them solve their battery problems.
I’m sure you’ll find that the ZM4 Smart Alternator Regulator does a fine job for you, as it has in my own launch since 2004.