Zeus vs. Wakespeed Alternator Voltage Regulator
The Zeus, a new product by ARCO, is a direct competitor with Wakespeed, Balmar, and similar products that regulate the voltage from an alternator to safely and accurately charge a battery bank. In this article, we'll highlight stand-out features and what to look out for regarding this product's integration with Victron Energy equipment.
If you're not yet familiar, ARCO Marine is a 60-year-old company known for designing and manufacturing marine electrical equipment such as alternators, starters, and motors - all made here in the United States. The Zeus was developed from the ground up to fill a significant market need.
Comparison Sheet >>> How does the ARCO Zeus compare with WS500 and Balmar alternator regulators?
The result is an intelligent alternator regulator with active monitoring, customizable settings, and other top-of-the-line features that put the Zeus leaps and bounds ahead of other external alternator regulators to date.
Designed for ease of integration
Compatible with any battery chemistry, the Zeus is ready for use in a wide range of power systems, whether charging a 12V AGM battery in a Sprinter van or a 48V lithium battery bank at a timber mill. NMEA 2000 connector or CAN-Bus via RJ45 allows seamless integration of the Zeus into any existing RV, camper van, or marine electrical system.
Related Resource >>> ARCO Zeus Alternator Regulator Datasheet
The Zeus includes an alternator harness and a battery harness, as well as two thermistors (no more sourcing and purchasing harnesses separately). It works with both N or P-type alternator types, which is a software setting made via the ARCO mobile app during setup.
The Zeus is capable of integrating up to 2 standard 50mV shunts. Add one to monitor the battery's state of charge. Add a second shunt to monitor alternator output. This provides a more comprehensive view of the system's output and overall performance - without additional gear.
If your battery has allow-to-charge/allow-to-discharge output controls, the Zeus can accept those logic signals, allowing itself to be controlled directly by the battery's BMS.
Adjust engine load parameters on the fly
The most significant difference between Zeus and Wakespeed is how they are programmed. The Zeus is the only alternator voltage regulator on the market with built-in Bluetooth communications to a mobile app. From the visual and user-friendly app, you can adjust settings, update firmware, and view real-time performance data from the palm of your hand. No dip switches, no pulling out wires.
If you've used Wakespeed, you know that adjusting the alternator or battery charge parameters is challenging. As an everyday consumer, you would take your boat or RV to a technician who would physically remove it from wherever it was installed (often buried behind other equipment). They would open it up, connect it to a computer, and adjust the settings.
In stark contrast, the ARCO app walks you through the setup process during installation. Choose from a library of pre-set charge profiles or manually enter specific charging parameters from the battery's spec sheet to ensure you meet the battery's unique requirements. But it doesn't stop there; it also gives the owner/end-user the ability to enable "generator mode," which charges the battery while the vehicle is at an idle, or on-the-fly adjustments to your RPM charging curves. Do we need to be adjusting settings often? No, but there are certainly circumstances where customers may like to be a little more or less aggressive with their charge curves.
For example, when towing with my RV, the surroundings are ever-changing. Power curves for mountainous terrain should differ from what you'd need on the open interstate or during heavy traffic. Planning to camp out in the desert? The alternator may prefer to use a reduced charge current.
For a person who wants to set it and forget it, the Zeus is great because the settings are clear and accurate at the start. For the person who wants more control, however, the Zeus is absolutely the product to go with because the settings are not hidden, and you can use its app as a system monitor.
Optimize systems with data logging and live monitoring
In the past, it was acceptable to have charge parameters set for you and to have little or no insight into what the system was doing. Today, people expect to see what's going on and to have access to accurate, real-time analytics. Zeus offers us both.
The Zeus continuously data-logs a number of system parameters, viewed in easy-to-understand graphs and displays in the ARCO mobile app. This direct access to information is tremendously helpful when looking to optimize performance or troubleshoot an error. You can download a .CSV file to view and filter data logs on your computer, and you can directly share data logs from the mobile app with your team members or a technician. Knowing that you can save, export, and restore a settings file before making changes is also comforting.
Adding a battery shunt or two
The Zeus will work right out of the box without adding shunts. For lead acid applications, this would be fine, and while ARCO doesn't require it for Li-Ion batteries, it should be added for more accurate charging parameters.
Where to install the shunt/s?
If you only want to monitor alternator output, you would install a shunt between the alternator and the positive bus bar. This shunt will be wired into the alternator harness. Likewise, if you're interested in SOC or battery current, you would install a shunt at the battery. That shunt would be wired into the battery harness. Do you have to choose one or the other? No. When you install two shunts, it gives you the best of both worlds. You can see SOC and calculate charge times along with viewing overall performance.
Zeus-Victron Energy integration
ARCO is currently collaborating with Victron Energy. When complete, the Zeus will be seen in the Victron GX device list.
What does this integration aim to enable?
- Accurate DVCC logic
- Battery SOC & current flow information displayed on the GX screen
- DC charger current displayed on GX screen (sneak peak below, integration in process)
- Data points tracked and displayed on the VRM dashboard
Pro-tip: The Cerbo GX has an optional SD card slot. If your system is on a boat or vehicle that is not connected to the internet while in use, but you want to take advantage of this data-logging functionality, the SD card will data-log for you. When you return home and connect to the internet again, the data will automatically upload that data once again to VRM.
We're all familiar with external alternator regulators of the past. The Zeus is blazing a new trail, offering cutting-edge technology and a completely different user experience.
With an intuitive app-based setup, installers can be confident that all parameters have been set. Along with user-friendly data collection and interactive on-the-fly customization, the end user will be wow-ed (and who doesn't love that.)
If you have quotations about the Zeus by ARCO or have a question for our team about your application, shoot us a message here.