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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Came across this device on Amazon. Although the OEM publishes no 5V output current capacity, the $6 price makes it a no brainer.

61qa2GW9rYL__SL1000_.jpg


Volt meters can provide meaningful information about battery and electrical system health. For example, battery level displayed with the key in ACC position is an early warning system once the driver has base line values to refer too. IME I've seen many a unloaded lead acid battery display <12.1 followed by what appears to be normal operation when starting the vehicle, only to see a battery failure a short time later.

And voltage delivered by the alternator has obvious benefits.

Always curious about accuracy, a simple test confirms this things relative accuracy.

20150608_111248.jpg

After measuring low and high ranges, this device was within a tenth's or hundredth's of a volt.

Here's what it measures the 06. Ignition key in ACC position followed by engine running.
20150608_132835.jpg

20150608_132848.jpg

Couple weeks back, there was a post about Honda's ELD schema. Looks like the Ridge doesn't employ it the way passenger cars do. So all you mega amp guys can relax. The Ridge's electrical system *should* supply voltage needed for any current hog to deliver its rated output.

EDIT: BTW, the reason the display is turned sideways in the vehicle is to avoid the accessory port flap. After using it for a few days, it's easy enough to adapt to the sideways orientation. And it accomplishes its primary purpose of supplying voltage to USB devices.
 

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Cool, I have one of these but it is only the voltage meter, and I am always at 14.0 and when heavy bass hits I see it drop all the way down to 12.3, but the one I got I am not sure how accurate it is, maybe I should buy one more accurate like the ones from stinger.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Cool, I have one of these but it is only the voltage meter, and I am always at 14.0 and when heavy bass hits I see it drop all the way down to 12.3, but the one I got I am not sure how accurate it is, maybe I should buy one more accurate like the ones from stinger.
Interesting. What I've observed is when the electrical system is loaded up with all lights on, hi beams engaged, flasher on, AC compressor clutch on, blower motor @ MAX and 3 Zapco amps producing near uncomfortable SPL, voltage remains steady between 13.7 and 14 V that pulses with low frequencies but always high in the 13V range.

An analog meter would likely do a better job of displaying more granular supply variations but for my purposes, this little guy does the trick as I'm mostly concerned about electrical system health than squeezing more juice outta my amps.

An ammeter would be handy to understand what kind of current demands an audio system is making on the electrical system, especially the peak to peak demands of a low frequency amp but that's venturing into the hyper-geek domain. :act024:
 

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Amazon is out of these devices. I did find some over here:

http://uneedautoparts.com/tag/meter/

But it takes you back to Amazon to pay for it where it says it will ship later in July. So apparently they are 'out' but I am not in a hurry.

I should have ordered when you first started this thread. Anyway, there is a thread on installing a USB socket between the 2 power sockets on the lower dash. I was considering installing this instead which will serve in both capacities.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
eBay has plenty. Here is one that could be installed in the console between the front seats, and powered off the rear power outlet. (I would prefer not to have the blue light shining at night).

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Motorcycle-...H_DefaultDomain_2&hash=item28005b8929&vxp=mtr
Yah. I got that package from Amazon as well. Tested the gauge as a stand alone under the thread "testing a cheap volt meter" in this folder. Haven't decided what to do with it yet, but it'll probably go in the motorhome outside cabinet for easy phone charge access and house battery monitoring while outside the coach. Water proof is nice for that application too.

The blue LED in this thread is very small and just bright enough to see in full day light without being a distraction at night, so I don't mind it. Nice that it's portable from vehicle to vehicle too. OH, and according to the blister pack it came in, the OEM offers blue, white, red & green LEDs but I didn't see that option on Amazon. One more thing, this particular device ships directly from China so there's a bit of delivery delay. This was cheap enough I ordered several as gifts and to carry in the power/cable bag when on business travel.
 

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I wanted to bump this thread. Using a voltage display device, with my volume close to 90%, on music with constant bass, while driving I noticed a drop to about 12.4 volts, more when I was at stop light than when driving at higher RPM,s.

I am estimating about peaks of over 650 watts easy or 50 amps or no less than 45 amps with the 2 small amps I use, and 900 W max potential at 4 ohms. I am not knowledgeable I think Head lights, AC or typical car devices and less than 300-400 watts may not quite get to 40 amps.

Just guessing that the ELD may be getting confused with a large load of 45 amps and that is why I see that drop to 12.4 volts, maybe keeping the alternator from charging the battery for a brief period with the engine on, once I turn the volume down, it takes a while to quickly go over 14 volts, or perhaps after driving above 2000 RPMS, it really depends.

Again I not an expert of amperage limitations and what Air Conditioning, lights and other minor devices will generate, based on what I read on line, head lights generate no more than 10 amps AC is way under 10 amps.

I guess this tells me that those with amplifiers generating over, 700 Watts will experience the drop below 13 volts once exceeding 50 amps, I did not even have my headlights or AC on when I noticed this.

I may find that thread I started with the issue, being a Honda thing, if posting here is not quite on topic. No big deal, I would think as long as it does not drop below 12 Volts.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I wanted to bump this thread. Using a voltage display device, with my volume close to 90%, on music with constant bass, while driving I noticed a drop to about 12.4 volts, more when I was at stop light than when driving at higher RPM,s.

I am estimating about peaks of over 650 watts easy or 50 amps or no less than 45 amps with the 2 small amps I use, and 900 W max potential at 4 ohms. I am not knowledgeable I think Head lights, AC or typical car devices and less than 300-400 watts may not quite get to 40 amps.

Just guessing that the ELD may be getting confused with a large load of 45 amps and that is why I see that drop to 12.4 volts, maybe keeping the alternator from charging the battery for a brief period with the engine on, once I turn the volume down, it takes a while to quickly go over 14 volts, or perhaps after driving above 2000 RPMS, it really depends.

Again I not an expert of amperage limitations and what Air Conditioning, lights and other minor devices will generate, based on what I read on line, head lights generate no more than 10 amps AC is way under 10 amps.

I guess this tells me that those with amplifiers generating over, 700 Watts will experience the drop below 13 volts once exceeding 50 amps, I did not even have my headlights or AC on when I noticed this.

I may find that thread I started with the issue, being a Honda thing, if posting here is not quite on topic. No big deal, I would think as long as it does not drop below 12 Volts.
For the sake of clarity: fans, lights, AC clutch, audio amps, ETC. don't "generate" current, they consume it.

On the topic of power and current requirements for mobile audio:
There's a simple reason car audio OEMs publish amplifier specifications in Ad Hoc format: higher numbers attract buyers.

They literally bank on consumers not understanding what they read.

For the most part, mobile audio OEMs are dishonest when publishing performance specifications. A clue to their slight-of-hand-deception is contained in their own numbers.

For example, a typical car amp spec is expressed this way: Max RMS: 2 x 150Watts, 2 Ohms, <.5% THD @ 1kHz

To place this deceptive format in context, ask yourself: how often do you look forward to listening to a 1kHz sine wave? The spec is *nearly* meaningless. And intentionally so.

Why? Because understanding the frequency component(s) of output characteristics expressed in watts & THD is helpful, but choosing to tie those numbers to a cheery picked 1kHz "sweet spot" is pure deception. No human listens to a fixed wave form for very long, but they do listen to complex & dynamic wave forms of speech and music for long duration's. The deception is rampant in the industry only because competition for consumer dollars demands printing numbers perceived to be "good" by unaware buyers - and so "every" OEM participates in (and passively endorses) the deception of publishing the "best numbers" - as long as those numbers are defensible in a court of law.

A more meaningful spec would be expressed something like: Max RMS: 2 x 150Watts, 2 Ohms, <.5% THD, 20Hz to 20kHz. Since we listen to broad spectrum, we want to know distortion and power across a wide range - not just a puny, narrow 1kHz test tone. Same goes for dedicated/band limited class D sub amps, we want to know power and distortion across their range of operation.

Some OEMs take another step deeper into deception by burying power supply voltage deeper in installation "requirements". If input voltage is mentioned at all, it's usually expressed as "12VDC" on the input barrier strip/clamps of the amp itself - but rarely is it mentioned that - for the amp to reach its rated output, it requires greater than 13.5VDC supply.

Adding to the "issue" of vehicle voltage regulation and amplifier spec confusion is another simple fact:
no vehicle can deliver steady state voltage under all use conditions. When a heavy weight audio amp is driven hard, voltage is pulled down as current demand increases. Even in tightly regulated systems, reduced voltage caused by impulse current demand makes for a crazy mix of chasing voltage and current simultaneously. The alternator is good at providing steady state power, but impulses have to be drawn from the battery. The relationship becomes a stupidly wild series of impulses temporality demanding current at the cost of available voltage and visa versa.

Add another layer of complexity to the mix:
amplifiers are low duty cycle components. Depending on myriad variables - including environmental noise floor and speaker system efficiency - it's not unusual for a mobile amp to operate around 15/20% (average) of its rated output. What that means is: seeking to improve a modern vehicle electrical system in order to achieve a steady state 14 VDC supply at all times under all load conditions might seem optimal but is unrealistic in the real world.

Add another layer of complexity to the mix:
you'll notice the portion of output power expressed as "@ 4 Ohms". Most speaker systems have significant resistance curves as they respond to frequencies they are fed vary. So in practice, there is no flat "4 Ohm" load presented to any amplifier when it plays music. There are averages, but there is no constant load EXCEPT when an amp on a bench is shunted to a fixed value.

Add another layer of complexity to the mix:
regardless of specifications, numbers can't express the sonic characteristics of an amplifier. Many amplifiers have same or similar specs, but sound very different when installed in a system. Said another way, specs set the compass but do not describe the destination. Specs such as rise time, damping ratios, inter-modulated distortion, dynamic range, ETC only go so far in describing what an amp sounds like. The final judge is ALWAYS your ears.

Honda and other OEM DC generation systems are optimized for the vehicle as a whole. They also design for margin giving owners the ability to add generic accessories. The RL alternator is capable of delivering a consistent 130 amps should it be asked to by every accessory connected to it. Voltage available at any given time is dependent of accessories in use & alternator RPM. Turn on AC on a hot day forcing the RL's twin engine compartment fans to engage and they'll demand a peak of ~50 amps from the system during initial spin up. Add head lights, turn signal and brake light -there's enough current flowing thru the system to make a 10 penny nail glow red. That's a pretty robust system by most measures.

Amplifiers and other low duty cycle components, place impulse current demands on the vehicle electrical systems. Unless one is competing for bragging rights or trophies (or both) sweating out a couple of peak watts is a very costly exercise with a very low return on effort and $ investment.

My $0.02 specific to DC power for audio systems: if high quality sound is the goal, be frugal but don't cut corners. Take appropriate steps to ensure your system is properly cabled, configured and connected to the OEM DC system. Leave the OEM DC system alone - but do ensure it is operating as designed. Relax and enjoy the ride.
 

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Ok, along these lines, would a Capicator "Cap" allow the leveling out of the voltage issues. I've never done any sound system installs similar to either of you, but my college roommate, Engineer type, built many systems, including a really sweet setup in his brand new, '92 Accord Sedan, at first he wasn't going to get too crazy, but ultimately, he had (4)8" subs in a custom self built box, and other than the trunk, walk up and it was completely stealth, including the dummy OEM face plate he made to hide the removable face plate, Pioneer HU, so it looked completely stock looking thru the front windows. When the Amps & Sub box went in, he also installed a CAP, so the lights wouldn't dim when the 8's hit, and if you were in the back seat, it would knock the air out of your lungs.

He was also was the first person I knew of to have an Optima Red Top, which in that vehicle, a Tacoma Double cab, was to hopefully avoid needing a CAP & associated wiring..
 

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Very few experienced car audio guys use capacitors anymore. If they need more amperage then they get a high output alternator. If they need more than what one alternator can supply then they add a 2nd alternator. Some of the alternators are even high voltage since some of these amps can handle 16v to 18v on the input side. Add a dozen specialized batteries and you end up with a competition vehicle.

 

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Ok, along these lines, would a Capicator "Cap" allow the leveling out of the voltage issues. I've never done any sound system installs similar to either of you, but my college roommate, Engineer type, built many systems, including a really sweet setup in his brand new, '92 Accord Sedan, at first he wasn't going to get too crazy, but ultimately, he had (4)8" subs in a custom self built box, and other than the trunk, walk up and it was completely stealth, including the dummy OEM face plate he made to hide the removable face plate, Pioneer HU, so it looked completely stock looking thru the front windows. When the Amps & Sub box went in, he also installed a CAP, so the lights wouldn't dim when the 8's hit, and if you were in the back seat, it would knock the air out of your lungs.

He was also was the first person I knew of to have an Optima Red Top, which in that vehicle, a Tacoma Double cab, was to hopefully avoid needing a CAP & associated wiring..
"Back in the day", out board storage caps had their place in car audio. The idea was to improve instantaneous voltage available for the spiky demands audio places on power systems. But caps can do little if anything to supply current demanded by beefy amps operating near their limits. From a test/measurement perspective, results are barely measurable - audibly even less so.

Psychologically, people "hear" a difference mostly because hardware eye candy is a mind bender. When eyes see a beautifully wired system replete with gold plated connectors, silicone jackets, clear plexi wrapped chrome cased 2 liter sized capacitors connected to high end amplifiers occupying the a$$ end of a highly detailed show car, how could one NOT hear the benefits of in-line capacitors? It's like smelling a gourmet meal before tasting it. Human senses are totally awaiting the delicacy they are about to partake in.

Years ago at CES, there were two vehicles ostensibly configured identically with very nice equipment of the day. One with, the other without nifty capacitors (don't recall brand/type/size). Observers were invited to listen to both system in two discrete, 4 listening sessions - one knowing which system they were hearing, the other not. When listeners compared Car a to B knowing which was which, they almost universally chose the cap'd system. When they didn't know which, the results were mixed to the point where there was no clear conclusion. Interesting stuff.

Keep in mind, these were show prepared vehicles, so their electrical systems were operating properly. Although I don't recall if they were "optimized" for audio - I assume they were more or less stock.

In your example - I can relate. In a younger day, it was more important to me to get my system up and running than it was to worry about the overall health of the DC power system. I would have spent $ of a fat cap for my system before even bothering to clean, treat and re-seat alternator and battery connections.

Your engineering pal was probably way more aware of details than I was at his age. Every high end system build for my use always taxed the electrical system - but then again, I was driving a 68 VW bus, 67 Ghia, 70 Challenger, or a 72 Fiat 131. Oil changes took a back seat to $ spent on audio, so every system I ever had put on a faux light show keeping beat with the music, even when running freeway speeds.

Newer amplifiers - even class A/B amps - are much more current efficient than days gone by. The amps in you buddies delux system were likely more demanding of the power system they were connected too than they would be today.

Anyhoo.... in the crazy world of "chasing the dragon" its always a matter of balance. As Robert_J points out, dragon chasers go nuts sometimes.

Competition audio tends to set the trends for DIY enthusiasts - vehicle power systems have vastly improved, equipment is more efficient so storage caps aren't the deal they once were. But OH, the eye candy of wiring and "extra" hardware like caps...
 

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Update and Back to the topic and issue I noticed showing 12.5 V

It has nothing to do with music playing, I had the radio on and either no volume, or simply put it on a source that had no device for playback, just the radio and amps on.


The odd thing is I played with it for a while during a short city trip and it did the same thing.


Solid 12.4 to 12.6 volt displayed, regardless of music or not, ocassionaly it would show 14 volts but it went back to 12.5, it would stay longer at 12.5 V.

Maybe I noticed a sluggish ride but it may be minor or a mental state, that I could not confirm, if I accelerate it would work and react normal or similar to normal.

I decided to shift to neutral either while stopped or waiting for a green light.

EVERY SINGLE TIME I PUT IT ON NEUTRAL, the voltage went up to 14 V or normal and I did this about 10 times if not more to confirm it.

Wait
Then I noticed, the fan or air was off, near the end of my trip, every time I turnned the air on ( not AC since it was not needed) the voltage went back to 14 from 12.5 V I did this about 4-5 times and confirmed it just like when I was doing it with the air off, and shifting to neutral.


Any idea what could the the source of this voltage fluctuation?

Can anybody try to do it just to see if it's a normal thing, malfunction or low peak indication?

If it was the alternator going bad, it would had worn the battery already and left me on the road. It never does it while in park either, always shows 14 V
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Update and Back to the topic and issue I noticed showing 12.5 V

It has nothing to do with music playing, I had the radio on and either no volume, or simply put it on a source that had no device for playback, just the radio and amps on.

The odd thing is I played with it for a while during a short city trip and it did the same thing.

Solid 12.4 to 12.6 volt displayed, regardless of music or not, ocassionaly it would show 14 volts but it went back to 12.5, it would stay longer at 12.5 V.

Maybe I noticed a sluggish ride but it may be minor or a mental state, that I could not confirm, if I accelerate it would work and react normal or similar to normal.

I decided to shift to neutral either while stopped or waiting for a green light.

EVERY SINGLE TIME I PUT IT ON NEUTRAL, the voltage went up to 14 V or normal and I did this about 10 times if not more to confirm it.

Wait
Then I noticed, the fan or air was off, near the end of my trip, every time I turnned the air on ( not AC since it was not needed) the voltage went back to 14 from 12.5 V I did this about 4-5 times and confirmed it just like when I was doing it with the air off, and shifting to neutral.

Any idea what could the the source of this voltage fluctuation?

Can anybody try to do it just to see if it's a normal thing, malfunction or low peak indication?

If it was the alternator going bad, it would had worn the battery already and left me on the road. It never does it while in park either, always shows 14 V
Assume you've already done the standard stuff like inspecting and cleaning battery terminals, alternator output connector, fuse block main inputs and such?

If so, the description suggests an intermittent v_reg issue, which is inside the alternator - and may or may not have gone "bad enough" for the batt to be consistently pulled low.

Alternator and regulator circuit troubleshooting - section 4-28 of 06-08 FSM troubleshooting is pretty straight forward, but following it to the letter requires circuit load and clamp probe.

If you have access to a tester, great. Otherwise, you *could* skip that part of troubleshooting and do this:

TS_0.jpg

Here's the full context of that:
TS_1.jpg

And the next page:
TS_2.jpg

Note that additional alternator control circuit troubleshooting steps call for the HDS system.

There's also overhaul instruction, which suggests internal parts are available, but I have no direct knowledge of that.

Other than cleaning up connections and checking torque on the alternator mount, there isn't much more to do except replacing the alternator.

Pretty sure last time I wandered thru AutoZone, they were helping a customer troubleshoot their alternator with a VAT like tester. Perhaps they could help out?

Best of luck
 

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Assume you've already done the standard stuff like inspecting and cleaning battery terminals, alternator output connector, fuse block main inputs and such?

If so, the description suggests an intermittent v_reg issue, which is inside the alternator - and may or may not have gone "bad enough" for the batt to be consistently pulled low.

Alternator and regulator circuit troubleshooting - section 4-28 of 06-08 FSM troubleshooting is pretty straight forward, but following it to the letter requires circuit load and clamp probe.

If you have access to a tester, great. Otherwise, you *could* skip that part of troubleshooting and do this:

View attachment 248754

Here's the full context of that:
View attachment 248778

And the next page:
View attachment 248770

Note that additional alternator control circuit troubleshooting steps call for the HDS system.

There's also overhaul instruction, which suggests internal parts are available, but I have no direct knowledge of that.

Other than cleaning up connections and checking torque on the alternator mount, there isn't much more to do except replacing the alternator.

Pretty sure last time I wandered thru AutoZone, they were helping a customer troubleshoot their alternator with a VAT like tester. Perhaps they could help out?

Best of luck


Thanks for the helpful info, on trouble shooting the alt, I had my battery and connectors cleaned a couple of months ago, I had no error codes or unusual lights on the the cluster when this happens.

I suspected a bad ground, it will be a good idea to double check the other alternator connections also as you mentioned , the ground contact to engine block looks questionable, like 2" of exposed copper wire or no insulation, before the terminal conection at the bottom, the splash cover protects it from water, but still way too exposed( Honda could had at least put good electrical tape on that ground to keep moisture out and copper from corroding) I will remove it, clean it or sand it a bit and see what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the helpful info, on trouble shooting the alt, I had my battery and connectors cleaned a couple of months ago, I had no error codes or unusual lights on the the cluster when this happens.

I suspected a bad ground, it will be a good idea to double check the other alternator connections also as you mentioned , the ground contact to engine block looks questionable, like 2" of exposed copper wire or no insulation, before the terminal conection at the bottom, the splash cover protects it from water, but still way too exposed( Honda could had at least put good electrical tape on that ground to keep moisture out and copper from corroding) I will remove it, clean it or sand it a bit and see what happens.
You may be correct in suspecting a ground issue. Good news there is checking things out is way cheaper than parts, and its right first step in diagnosis.

When FSM mentioned checking alternator mount bolt torque, its to ensure the alternator housing is properly mated to the block, completing negative leg of the output correctly.

While you're checking things out, these pages from FSM might be helpful.

The neg line indicated in the charge circuit diagram (arrow @ bottom) here:
Alt_Circuit.jpg

Is the ground accomplished by bolts A & B shown here:
TS_0.jpg

Here's under hood ground attach points.
BattNeg.jpg

Noticed same as you on ground cables. Especially the batt neg tying to radiator support frame just behind drive side headlight bucket. It almost looks as though insulation is shrinking over time, exposing more of the conductor little by little. Although cosmetics bug me, I've decided as long as the cable, connector and attach point stay free of corrosion, no worries.

Sounds like you have a fun morning this weekend bonding with you RL. Hope all goes well.
 

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Thanks for the extra diagrams and grounding points. And I hope you are having a great weekend too.

The only ground point that looked suspicious, was good, clean brass contact at engine ground, the part with no isulation on the wire was just a bit dark nothing bad, simply used a scotch brite pad to clean all contact areas and tighten it.

All grounds and bolt holding the alt are good, I also disconnected the plug and reconnected again.


No change but this time I discovered something interesting.


Again I would like if someone having one of these devices displaying voltage, could duplicate or attempt this just to see if it is a normal issue.

Fan off, no display on the Windows, radio on. This time I drove on the freeway about 8 miles, same thing again voltage seemed normal, not long after it was displaying 12.6 V, but then I noticed this.

If I stayed over 60 mph voltage was normal up to 14.5 volts, the second I slowed down to 60 or 59 mph or lower, back to 12.6 volts sometimes 12.5 V. I did this like 10 times, and again, as soon as I turn the air fan on going below 60 mph voltage jumped to 14 plus volts, never exceeding 14.5 .6 volts. It's not an rpm thing.

Can anyone volunteer or try this? I see no symptoms of alternator failing, again no lights or error codes.

Driving with the air fan on in city driving conditions, I would say it is at normal voltage of 14 volts about 80% of the time, it displays 12.6 V but then after stop and go it goes to normal voltage.


This seems to be normal, and either the device has issues with the display or the ECM is acting normal and doing its thing to save gas or what some Honda's do or used to do.

I may be wrong if the alternator has not totally failed but I would doubt it until someone can try to duplicate issue as with the conditions I described.

A couple or more volunteers would be great assuming they have a voltage reader.


Thanks in advance
 

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Many links found with what appears to be a normal thing for Honda's, to apparently save gas and extend alternator and battery life.
Some threads got in different directions or some did not want to accept it was normal, leading to multiple alternator and battery replacements.

It makes sense, to have some voltage fluctuation as long as it does not drop below 12 or go above 15 V it would be fine, my range has been 12.5 to 14.7 volt, one time max.


A little confirmation will be appreciated but not needed. Time will tell and I'll keep my eyes open unusual changes


Voltage question...is it supposed to fluctuate while driving? - Honda Prelude Forum


Fluctuating voltage normal? | Automotive General Topics | Bob Is The Oil Guy




Battery voltage drops to 12.5 after driving for a little bit. - Honda-Tech




Random voltage drops? - 8th Generation Honda Civic Forum
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Many links found with what appears to be a normal thing for Honda's, to apparently save gas and extend alternator and battery life.
Some threads got in different directions or some did not want to accept it was normal, leading to multiple alternator and battery replacements.

It makes sense, to have some voltage fluctuation as long as it does not drop below 12 or go above 15 V it would be fine, my range has been 12.5 to 14.7 volt, one time max.

A little confirmation will be appreciated but not needed. Time will tell and I'll keep my eyes open unusual changes

Voltage question...is it supposed to fluctuate while driving? - Honda Prelude Forum

Fluctuating voltage normal? | Automotive General Topics | Bob Is The Oil Guy

Battery voltage drops to 12.5 after driving for a little bit. - Honda-Tech

Random voltage drops? - 8th Generation Honda Civic Forum
Laserguy, your observations made me curious. Mostly because I have a dedicated voltage gauge and dual port USB adapter with a built in meter - like I think you have.

Gauges.jpg

Using those as reference, I'd never observed voltage drop to anytime below 13.8, remaining @ 14.1 or 14.2 90% of the time, regardless of RPM. Then I tried your example of no interior accessories engaged. And sure enough, I saw variations. Turns out, I never drive anywhere without interior fans running, so that explains why variations hadn't been noticed.

So I got the idea to log and graph OBD voltage with the Torque app. Looky here.

Top graph is a quick trip to the store late this afternoon - no interior accessories engaged. Bottom graph is the return trip, interior fans on, occasionally engaging AC.
DCPowerTest.jpg

Raw data is also attached.

View attachment DC_Test-Trip_To_Store_20160810.xls

Couple of quick notes.

With accessories engaged (such as interior fans, AC, engine/AC cooling fans, MAX_Variation is .3V, regardless of load. 13.0 to 13.3. That's pretty tight regulation.

When accessories are OFF, MAX_Variation = 1.9V, 11.5 to 13.4. I *think* the peak V was reached as engine cooling fans engage under thermistor control.

Oddly, the built in & USB gauge read 1V higher than ODB power. I know those gauges are accurate because they was tested against a lab grade variable power supply, the USB gauge consistently reading .1 lower than the built in gauge.

The only explanation I can come up with is where they connect in the DC supply system. Curious, I've poked around the FSM and didn't immediately find termination points for the circuit powering the console accessory ports or OBD (PCM) connector. Which pisses me off, so I'm gonna find it. Just not tonight.

Thought you might want to pass along these measured results.
 
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