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Flickering LEDs on gen

Discussion in 'Generators' started by Pascal, Aug 30, 2020.

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  1. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Today every 120v LED on the boat is flickering at various rate. Stand alone light bulbs, ripe light, microwave hood light even the fridge interior led light.

    generator is running perfectly. 240v +/- 1 volt, frequency stays between 59.6 and 59.9...

    The few incandescent lights i still have are fine. So far everything else seems fine too (chillers, AH, fridge etc.

    What could be the issue? I would have guessed Frequency but the digital meters show good frequency never varying more than 0.3 hz
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Sounds like an issue with the connection of your nuetrals, possibly. Check electrical output connections on generator and at the panel.
  3. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Every thing is nice and tight. Two year old new tinned wiring with shrink tube on every connector. All breakers are about two year old as well

    it s almost as if it was running a modified sine wave inverter which is obviously not the case.
  4. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    How many drivers (LED DC power supplies) are you using? 1 for or many separate drivers on different ACv legs? I've got an O Scope I can send down if you know how to use one and ensure a clean DCv and Pretty ACv wave.
    On your Hatt or the ship you push? If the one you push, how bout on the other gen set or shore power?
  5. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    That’s on my Hatt with the Norpro gen (marathon electrics) The DC powered LEDs are fine. It’s only the 120V leds. No drivers no black boxes. Some are standard bulbs in household style lamp sockets. Others are the LEDs inside the 2 year old fridge... or 120V rope lights. Even the leds on the blue sea panels are flickering.

    yet voltage and freq are pretty stable.

    i guess it could be an issue with the voltage regulator on the gen. I m using an original Marathon regulator which I had as a spare after the failure of the one I had and of the Chinese replacement i tried.

    i just don’t see Why they d be flickering with correct voltage and frequency. What am I missing ?
  6. v10builder1

    v10builder1 Senior Member

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    As Capt Ralph said, your 240 VAC power would show a recurring transient voltage decrease lasting a few milliseconds if viewed on an oscope. Your voltage and frequency meters, by design, do some averaging, and will not be able to detect this type of disturbance. Neither will all your equipment except the LED lights - due to space constraints, the DC power supply in a LED bulb is more sensitive.

    Suspect generator voltage regulator or possible loose connections there. Hard to figure anything wrong with the generator itself since everything else works.

    There is a slim chance that the disturbance is being caused by some other equipment on the boat. Can you isolate stuff to see if the LED problem will go away?

    Good luck - all stay well.
  7. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Actually it s not just the LEDs. I can hear a very faint variation in sound in the 120v fresh water pump and in one of the air handler.

    going to replace the VR. I m using a old spare after the original one failed and the cheap chinese replacement lasted 30 hours. I don’t remember where the current one came from, I had replaced it about 15 years ago. Different failures btw the other two wouldn’t maintain correct voltage.
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    It was the regulator... got a new one this afternoon from Americas Generators here in Miami. Popped it in and no more flickering.

    it s branded McPherson controls. But no marking as to where it s made. $125 so I ve got a feeling it s China. Americas Generators which has been in business for a long time (my Norpro was installed by them around 2002 right before I bought the boat) claim they are quality regulators... keeping my finger scrossed.
  9. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Glad all worked out.
    AVRs do a lot of wave shaping, trimming and more, just from a little & very ugly 12v exciter signal.
    Just takes some thing out of spec and the house of cards come falling down.
    Got to ask, your AVR bolted directly down or suspended in a hanging multi rubber mount system?
    Vibration does seem to be a failure accelerator.

    Half of my AVR spares come from China, by way of Cummins / OhNo.
    The other half, straight from China or South Korea. I just learned to buy direct on some models and save a few hundred bux per unit.
    Got tired of the OEM Kohler AVR/Controllers and started using the much cheaper (in cost) Chines units on the Kohlers. Some mods to the box and wires and it runs with no further adjustments, perfect signal. Have to ad some relays for the fault shut down that is built into most Kohler AVR/Controllers also.
    These Chines AVRs may have a better quality than OEM Kohler units. Not one failed yet in many, many years (hours).
    Seems just after warranty the OEM units fail.
    One day I'll try my idea on some old round OhNo lil gen-sets.
  10. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Lol. Since Koehler can’t seem to make a gas genset that doesn’t chew its plugs and impellers in 100 hours why am not surprised.

    the VR is mounted with two screws inside the generator end enclosure. Since the components are sealed in epoxy I don’t think vibrations are a problem. Heat maybe ...
  11. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Ah, despite that epoxy or bake-light case, Vibrations do take a toll. The first is usually that cheap carbon or wire wound strip in any rheostat or Potentiometer.
    Then solder joints to any crystal package. Then solder joints to any wire or connect pin that comes out of that lil box.

    Vibration not just from the motor, but the astronomical amounts of wine and the harmonics from within. Thank goodness for the poor hearing that people have. Lots of gen-sets bother dawgs.