It's winter, and for many North American fleets that means having to deal with low-battery no-starts due to frigid temps. Colder temperatures not only place a heavier load on batteries, but also make them more resistant to charge.
International Marketing Inc. (IMI) has developed a product to address this problem. Smart Sense is a regulating unit designed to improve the electrical charging system capabilities of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. The company says the product's introduction has been made possible by the recent addition of remote sensing capability to alternators.
IMI explains that because heavy-duty truck batteries are housed independently from the alternator with its built-in voltage regulator (a wire connects the two), the distance between them often means that each component is subjected to different temperatures, resulting in an under-charged power source. Smart Sense bridges this gap by controlling the regulator setting and voltage output of the alternator based on the sensed ambient temperature of the batteries at their remote location.
Smart Sense can be easily installed on newer alternators that have an existing remote sensor terminal and a lead wire. It can also be phased-in on one-wire alternators equipped with remote sense capability, according to IMI.
Building alternators with higher outputs has become a priority for alternator manufacturers, according to Robert Bosch Corp. The company explains that one of the problems with today's alternators is that they have only 30% to 40% of rated output at idle, which often leads to deep cycling (draining the battery and then recharging it). Alternators with higher output ratings at idle reduce this deep cycling, leading to longer battery life.
Another trend is developing alternators that can withstand the hotter operating temperatures of emissions-compliant engines. Three months ago Bosch launched the LH 160, a new-generation alternator for longhaul applications that can operate at temperatures up to 221-257° F.
Early last year, Leece-Neville Heavy-Duty Systems Division of Prestolite Electric released a high-temperature version of the 110-555 (Triple-Nickel) heavy-duty alternator. Model 110-566 is approved for operating in ambient air temperatures up to 115 degrees C. (239° F.)
Delco Remy has recently released two new heavy-duty brushless alternators. The 24SI is designed to optimize power output and service life in today's high-temperature engine compartments. It features Remy's new Maximum Cooling Technology design, with dual internal fans and high-flow front and rear air vents. According to the manufacturer, this configuration delivers superior performance over a temperature range of -40 degrees to 221°F.
Developed for transit buses, the company's 50DN model combines the benefits of vibration-resistant brushless construction with a new Long Life Stator (LLS) assembly. LLS, the manufacturer says, significantly enhances unit performance and reliability. The new model also reduces heat-related performance issues by incorporating increased-diameter copper leads and removing lead insulation, resulting in greater surface contact with internal cooling oil.
DENSO is also offering high-output brushless alternators for Class 7-8 trucks. The 130-amp model features a new pad-mount design that provides durability in high-vibration applications because it is mounted directly to the engine block. A J180 hinge-mount configuration is also available. The 130-amp alternator produces 80 amps at idle.
In the not too distant future fleets can expect to see even greater output and efficiency from alternators, as well as more functional regulators. According to Bosch, these “smart” regulators not only have low-battery sensing capabilities, but actual data interchange with the electrical system to control consumption of power items like air conditioners and other accessories.
Bosh is also working on a new brushed alternator that should be on the market in about six months. It will have the same longevity benefits as brushless models, but with a higher efficiency rating and lower cost.
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Robert Bosch 316
Denso Sales Of California 317
IMI (Intern'l Mrktg Inc.) 318
Remy International 320