Northern Lights WaveNet, & Sterling Power Regulator Remote

Northern Lights WaveNet NMEA 2000 generator control.jpg

When Westerbeke developed a NMEA 2000 monitoring and control head for its generators way back in 2006, I thought the other generator manufacturers would follow right along. The approach seemed to simplify cabling and make it possible to at least monitor a generator from other displays if not actually go to the next level where, say, a NMEA 2000 inverter could turn the generator on and off as AC loads changed. To my knowledge that sort of advanced control has not happened yet, though in fact a check of NMEA’s database of standard PGNs suggests that it is possible (look in the “power” category).  One problem is that so far only Northern Lights seems to have followed Westerbeke’s lead, with the WaveNet panel seen above

At that link Northern Lights makes the claim that WaveNet “creates a window into the operation of its generator set that has never been available before” and you can find out even more about the product because the good folks of M/V Dirona are early adopters and they’ve blogged about it. There you’ll learn that Northern Lights can also set up WaveNet to interface with a Lugger wing engine and that, in fact, you can control either generator or wing engine from any panel on the boat’s backbone. Nice!

Though not NMEA 2000, I think the Sterling Power regulator remote I just learned about yesterday is related in terms of advanced monitoring and control of power systems. In fact, I don’t know of any “smart” regulator that can reveal what it’s doing like the very smart seeming Sterling ProReg-D that works with this little panel. Apparently Sterling is a U.K. company that’s only recently set up a U.S. division (in Maine, as a matter of fact) and maybe that’s why the name didn’t come up when smart regulators were discussed a bit last week. Has anyone had experience with Sterling power products? Should Balmar, PowerLine, and AmplePower be concerned?


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

11 Responses

  1. Tim Allen says:

    I installed a Sterling ProReg-D (but not the remote control) last fall along with new batteries (Odyssey) and a new alternator (Amptech), and so far have been very happy with the system. Bruce Schwab helped me spec it all out. In answer to your question, “Should Balmar, PowerLine, and AmplePower be concerned?,” I would say yes!

  2. Chris s/v/ Pelican says:

    Any idea if Wavenet is backwards compatible with 3 year old Northern Lights gensets? I can’t find any info on their site and don’t know if your info was provided by a Northern Lights person or a press release… If I could just get my Northern Lights genset and my Yanmar 4JH3E networked to my plotter for info…

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Chris, my sources were just the sites linked to above, but I did just shoot Northern Lights an email with your question and some others. I’m curious if there is a J1939 to N2K gateway involved in WaveNet and also if it costs a lot more than conventional panels.

  4. Rick R says:

    “inverter could turn the generator on and off as AC loads changed. To my knowledge that sort of advanced control has not happened yet,”
    Actually, I think this technology is available
    This unit monitors battery charge, and automatically starts the generator whenever the battery needs recharging. This is the same technology that is in the Chevy Volt.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Rick. It’s neat how smart the Outback is about starting a generator — there’s even an “exercise” mode — but the actual connection to the generator is a little crude I think. Instead of just inserting a relay into a generator’s “On” button circuit, a NMEA 2000 command doesn’t take additional cabling and is potentially more sophisticated.
    For instance, the folks on M/V Dirona noted how a WaveNet Start command automatically puts their Lugger through its warm up cycle before actually cranking. But then again everything has to be NMEA 2000 while the Outback looks like it can be made to turn on most any generator.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Chris, Sounds like WaveNet can be yours. And thanks to Scott Putnicki of Northern Lights for answering my follow-up questions:
    * Is a WaveNet backward compatible to earlier generators (actually a question from a Panbo commenter)? “WaveNet is completely retrofittable on NL generator sets, and we sell kits for field installation.”
    * Besides Lugger, are there other base generator engines that support WaveNet? “WaveNet is available only on Northern Lights generator sets 5-38kW.”
    * Are you using some sort of J1939-to-NMEA2000 gateway to support WaveNet? “WaveNet control modules have CAN data communications circuitry specifically configured, tested and certified to NMEA 200 communications protocols.”
    * Finally, does using WaveNet cost a significant premium over conventional panels? “Pricing on WaveNet, and all of our other, analog-based control panels, is available through our dealer network. The substantial increase in utility of the WaveNet system does carry a higher retail price over simpler, analog controls.”

  7. Kettlewell says:

    Any update on how the Sterling regulator is working out?

  8. Tim Allen says:

    John, all I can say is that the Sterling regulator certainly seems to be doing what it is supposed to be doing. It has a bunch of status lights that tell you what it is doing, but I haven’t studied them — I just watch the amps being pumped back into my batteries with my battery monitor. One thing I like is the delayed soft start feature — It doesn’t energize the alternator until about 3 minutes after the engine has been started, in order to give the engine a chance to warm up first.

  9. Chris Dunphy says:

    Does anyone have any idea what ever happened to WaveNet? It seems to have been discontinued, and not replaced with a newer alternative.

    All information has been scrubbed from Northern Light’s site on this.


    – Chris

  10. Ron says:

    I chatted with NL about this very thing and they told me they would not install a remote start system on any marine genset. One guy pointed me to this product which NL sells under their own name plate

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