Why do I need a Smart Regulator
So, people ask why do I need an external smart regulator, surely the automotive industry have managed for many years. That is correct, a start battery which by nature has a high current draw for a few seconds, however when we add a house battery which draws a little current for a long time the standard automotive alternator just does not handle this extra house battery bank
Here’s the dilemma. To charge your battery efficiently, you need a relatively high charging voltage (±14.7 V).
But if you stay at that voltage permanently, you will overcharge and damage the battery.
Conversely, if you use a lower charging voltage (<14V) you will prolong the battery life but will take a long time to reach full charge – in some cases, you might never actually reach full charge!
The solution is an adjustable, multi-stage voltage regulator for your alternator.
The ZM6 allows you to configure the optimal charging voltage for your specific battery, and after a set time will automatically switch to a lower ‘healthier’ voltage. The best of both worlds!
In order to fully grasp the theory, we have found this simple graphic on the internet which explains it clearly
In simple terms, Mr Ohms is the resistance in your wiring and Mr Volt is pushing the current along, so the greater the voltage the more current (amp) flow which is countered by the resistance which will slow it all down.
Another simple analogy for battery charging is for all battery types (except LifeP04 chemistry) Think about filling a water tank with your hose (alternator) feeding pressure in from the bottom of the tank, the fuller the tank gets the more back pressure there is on the alternator. With a LifeP04 chemistry it is like filling that same tank from the top of the tank so there is no backpressure. Most internal regulators have two characteristics which don’t help, 1/ they don’t fight this back pressure rather throttle off the voltage and 2/ The standard alternator regulator has a heat sensor in it so the hotter the engine bay the lower the charge voltage is being produced.
These two characteristics are not conducive to charging a house bank of batteries
With LifeP04 chemistry a standard alternator produces x amount of voltage for as long as the engine is going, this is not good for LifeP04 chemistry.
We recommend that a decent battery computer ($250>) is a must to knowing the battery capacity of your battery after a typical overnight or days battery drain.
We often have people ring to chat about their needs and they have no idea what charge voltage or charge amps they are producing. When they do find out they are shocked at how bad their charging system is.
So if you don’t have a house battery and or your batteries are lasting 6 years+ or you don’t have to motor for hours on end or leave your engine running when at anchor then you most probably don’t need a smart regulator.