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 Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster

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AA
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PostSubject: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:54 pm

This may be of interest to all those trying to improve electronic performance with the "Big 3" wire mod. Replacing your wires with bigger gauge can cost $50 or more, with results that aren't always measurable. Edit: while this mod will increase sagging voltage, it will not increase delivered current (amps). For high-powered stereo installs, large gauge power cables are recommended.

Here's an inexpensive way to increase the voltage from your alternator that can definitely be measured with a scanner or voltage meter. ZZP sells a product called a "Stage I" voltage booster, which costs $15.99 + shipping. This unit is supposed to plug in line with your existing turn-on/voltage sensing input. This is the 3-wire plug that connects to the back underside of the alternator. Here's what the ZZP unit looks like:



This unit works with most 3800 V6 engines with 2 and 3-terminal plugs, but the Riviera has a unique 3-wire design that is not compatible. Since I ordered the ZZP unit not knowing this, I decided to make it work by splicing in the booster to my stock wiring.

Cracking open the ZZP voltage booster, I found simply 3 wires between the plugs, a red, a black, and an orange. On the orange wire, there's a diode soldered in line. On the Riviera's plug, there's red, grey, and light blue wires. The light blue corresponds to the orange, so I cut the light blue and spliced in the diode from the ZZP unit, crimped it, and taped it up.

Sure enough, voltage now reads 14.5 volts; used to be 13.9. The way this works (I think) is the light blue wire runs to a thermistor at the battery. If the the battery should get too hot, it increases voltage on this lead, and the voltage regulator compensates by lowering it's output voltage. If the voltage on this wire should go low, the alternator will increase by a proportionate amount. The diode decreases voltage by .6 volts, so that's where the voltage boost comes from.

To do this mod, you don't have to buy the ZZP unit, just buy a diode from Radio Shack for a dollar or two. Get a power diode, they look like this:



It's a good idea to disconnect the battery first. The cathode (silver) end goes in the direction of the the alternator. Just cut the light blue wire and solder or crimp the diode in-line. Use heat shrink tubing or electrical tape for insulation. I used split loom as extra insurance.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera 268k miles 298 HP/370 TQ 0-60: 5.79s ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 4087 lb 20.1 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley AL104 plugs 180 t-stat FWI w/K&N 1.9:1 rockers OR pushrods LS6 valve springs SLP headers ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts MaxAir shocks Addco sway bars UMI bushings GM STB Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus SS lines Brembo slotted discs DHP tuned Aeroforce Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO 49k miles 0-60: 4.8s 16.9 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun


Last edited by AA on Tue Dec 20, 2011 6:09 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Mr.Riviera
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Mon Oct 15, 2007 9:00 am

good to know, but since we are the only 3800 (i am aware of) that has a battery under the back seat, does this put us at any new risk of having the battery over charge and leak? or gettin too hot?
are there any negative sides to this mod? (no pun intended)

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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Mon Oct 15, 2007 10:03 am

I think the only negative side is the alternator (voltage regulator) will be working slightly harder to make the extra voltage. I remember from the car stereo days that most amplifiers are rated to run at 14.4v, but my car only makes 13.6-13.9v when running. Most newer cars operate above 14 volts I think.

When I notice things like the turn signals affecting my idle RPM, I wonder if the extra 1/2 volt might help. Whatever the case, my car is running at 14.4-14.6 now, and I don't think it hurts anything. I'll let you know if there are any problems.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera 268k miles 298 HP/370 TQ 0-60: 5.79s ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 4087 lb 20.1 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley AL104 plugs 180 t-stat FWI w/K&N 1.9:1 rockers OR pushrods LS6 valve springs SLP headers ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts MaxAir shocks Addco sway bars UMI bushings GM STB Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus SS lines Brembo slotted discs DHP tuned Aeroforce Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO 49k miles 0-60: 4.8s 16.9 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:29 pm

Aaron, I'm glad you got this because I didn't want to be the test lamb for this one. Let us know if you have any issues with this mod or notice any improvements.
I thought you could tune the PCM to increase the alternator voltage output...?

Note to those who do this mod... make sure you have a healthy battery and cables in decent shape or the alternator will be strained - It takes a lot more energy to keep an unhealthy battery charged with a higher voltage base (ie. 13.x V. to 14.x V.)
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Wed Oct 17, 2007 9:57 am

Great Mod. I might be installing a stereo so this would help without doin the "big 3"
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PostSubject: Poor voltage on your Riv?   Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:45 pm

Not sure if this applies to the Rivs, but there was a cool find on the Bonnie's recently that came from when I changed my waterpump.

On the alternator in the 96-99 Bonnies there are two wires. One turns on the field and the other tells the PCM to turn on the trouble light.

Here's the thing.. when I added the 00+ alternator I added the third pin that they have in 00+ it is the "S" or Sense pin. A couple of the Bonnie guys have now hooked up a +12V reference from the ignition circuit (ign on, they used EGR etc. I used the BCS circuit) where the wiring passes the alternator in the factory loom.

Before adding the wire, we ran about 13.2V on average and now with the Sense wire hooked up 14.5V is the average.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:34 pm

From zzp's site: FREE MOD: Higher voltage!
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:26 pm

Keep an eye on your mileage and let us know if you notice a drop.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Tue May 06, 2008 7:15 pm

Just wanted to bump this.


Thanks Aaron. I put it in as per your instructions and now my alt reads
between 14.5-14.7. Every little bit helps.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Tue May 06, 2008 9:43 pm

I've contacted both ZZP and Easy Performance about putting together a plug-in booster that will fit our cars correctly. I'd much rather do that than cut/splice in a diode, but that's just me.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:35 am

What did ZZP say about making a plug in unit for our RIV?
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:58 pm

Voltage. Give me amperage.

The Big 3 is not meant to boost voltage by any means, just amperage. The stock wiring in almost every car is pathetic at best. Take for example the Riviera. You have an 8 Ga wire running from the alternator to the battery. 8 ga wont support 140 amps come hell or high water.

This is not a replacement for the fundamental defect.

Sure extra voltage is nice when dealing with amplifiers- it helps put out more power with an unregulated power supply. But if you DONT have the amps to back it there no use in it.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:08 pm

Before the price of copper went sky high I bought 50' of 4 gauge welding wire from the local welding supply store with plans for adding amplifiers and rewiring the cable from the Alt. to the Bat..
Probably a little overkill for the Alt. wire but that's what I have and as long as I can find the correct terminal ends and enough room to run the cable that's what I'm going to use.
As Ryan said, it's mostly about unchoking the biggest restriction which is the 8 gauge wire and allow the amps to flow. Then if needed, I'll add the resistor to the alternator for an additional volt.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:44 pm

EASHER wrote:
What did ZZP say about making a plug in unit for our RIV?


Not gonna happen.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:04 pm

Ryan is correct about the amperes. This voltage booster mod does not increase amperes, only voltage.

However, I don't think our Rivieras are as bad as some other cars, because our batteries are in back, you have the advantage of a "storage tank" very close to the power amps. With most cars, if you run an 8 gauge cable from the trunk up to the battery, you can have problems with big systems because of the loss from the long cable run, but with our battery under the seat, the cable run is only 3-4 ft to the power amps. and I still use 4 gauge to be safe.

True, the alternator will not charge the battery as quickly with 8 gauge as it would with 4, but the reserve battery power is there. It's not as bad as choking power to the amps with a long, narrow cable run.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera 268k miles 298 HP/370 TQ 0-60: 5.79s ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 4087 lb 20.1 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley AL104 plugs 180 t-stat FWI w/K&N 1.9:1 rockers OR pushrods LS6 valve springs SLP headers ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts MaxAir shocks Addco sway bars UMI bushings GM STB Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus SS lines Brembo slotted discs DHP tuned Aeroforce Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO 49k miles 0-60: 4.8s 16.9 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:15 pm

Im going to have to disagree with the previous statement.

The bottom line in audio is power. Your alternator is going to put out about 14 Volts roughly. Now if your relying on the battery as your "storage container" now you have about 12.6 Volts- not the 13.8 Charging voltage. To charge the battery the voltage applied must be greater than the voltage of the battery at rest. Compounding this is the fact that if your pulling that many amps your down to battery power you are damaging the alternator- which begins at 125% of rated output.

In conclusion there is no quick fix for power. It all starts with amperage. If you cant produce or flow the needed amps you are simply SOL. upgrading the stock wiring to 4 ga minimum should be the first step for ANYONE with a system or drains on their electrical caused by "accessories".

www.knukonceptz.com

And on a side note, if you cant afford the wire you shouldnt buy the big amps. The wiring is the CHEAPEST part of any system. Likewise if you cant afford the proper amplifier dont buy that huge sub...
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:22 pm

Given 14.4 volts and 140 amps (potential output of alt.) simple Ohms Law states you should have no more than 0.103 ohms resistance in the cable run from the alternator to the battery.
Now I know that's in a perfect world or vacuum but the point being the least resistance you allow between the two the closer you come to optimum performance for everything; Alt., Bat., Amplifiers, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:33 pm

Maybe if you want to compete, play test tones all day, or run some really big power, you might have a problem, but I still believe our Rivs are better than most cars out there with smaller alternators and front mounted batteries. Not saying we are perfect, just better than a lot of smaller, less optimum electronic charging systems. Our battery, being where it is, functions a bit like a stiffening cap.

I've run a 400 RMS system on stock wiring, battery, and alternator for 150k miles. My original battery is 10 years old and is just now starting to ask for replacement. My head lamps are upgraded from 50W to 80W. I've never had problems with dimming lights or any other issues, so I really can't complain.

_________________
'98 SC Riviera 268k miles 298 HP/370 TQ 0-60: 5.79s ET: 13.97 @ 99.28 4087 lb 20.1 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:30
3.4" pulley AL104 plugs 180 t-stat FWI w/K&N 1.9:1 rockers OR pushrods LS6 valve springs SLP headers ZZP fuel rails
KYB GR2 struts MaxAir shocks Addco sway bars UMI bushings GM STB Enkei 18" EV5s w/ Dunlop DZ101s F-body calipers
EBC bluestuff/Hawk HP plus SS lines Brembo slotted discs DHP tuned Aeroforce Hidden Hitch


'05 GTO 49k miles 0-60: 4.8s 16.9 avg MPG Nelson Ledges Lap: 1:26
Because fun
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:44 pm

That's good to know, experience always prevails over analysis.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:08 pm

Well the facts still remain. Given the possible output of the amplifier and the current wiring, it cant support 140 Amps. maybe burst but in no way could it sustain it for any period of time.

The power forumla never changes and you cant push an elephant through a straw.

I guess Im not really seeing the usefulness of the product this thread was to talk about. So your adding something in the circuit to cause the regulator to up itself to produce more voltage? And? We rob peter to pay paul...
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 4:09 pm

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!!!
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:26 pm

Well if you had an upgraded alternator without an external regulator - and an unregulated amplifier then I could see the benefit of this.

But if someones telling you to do this instead of upgrading the stock wiring they are simply dead wrong.

4Ga isnt that expensive...
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:33 pm

Don't misunderstand Ryan, I plan on changing my wiring to 4 gauge, already have the wire.
Just waiting until I'm ready to install amps and components. I'll do it all at the same time.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:55 pm

With the stock electrical system there shouldnt be a need to upgrade. But ya like you said once you start adding amp you need to upgrade.

I think the alternator is starting to go in our Rivi. I checked it at the batt and it was at 15.1V charging...lol Its all stock also. So the voltage regulator is probably taking a dump.
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PostSubject: Re: Write-Up: Stage I Voltage Booster   Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:15 pm

FYI I have two of those ZZP resistor wire voltage boosters that have fallen apart from GTPs. I would make my own if I were going to bother.
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