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Author Topic:   Northstar F210 Fuel Instrument
wadams posted 09-09-2008 05:32 PM ET (US)   Profile for wadams   Send Email to wadams  
I was thinking of getting a Northstar F210 fuel flow instrument. [Give me your] opinion on them.
jimh posted 09-09-2008 08:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Northstar F210 Fuel instrument is essentially the same as the old Navman 2100. The Navman 2100 is similar to the Navman 3100, but it lacks the input for speed and cannot compute the instantaneous fuel economy in miles per gallon.

I have had a Navman 3100 for four season and I truly love it. Northstar seemed to drop the 3100 for a while but they now have brought it back as the F310. I would consider upgrading to the Northstar F310.

I believe these products use the same fuel flow transducer. It has been reliable and effective in my experience. Knowing your fuel flow rate is important if you want to optimize your boat's fuel economy.

jimh posted 09-09-2008 08:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
By the way, there are hundreds of comments in the archives about both the Navman 2100 and 3100 fuel instruments which will give you opinions about them.

Follow this link and read the many articles it finds:

http://continuouswave.com/cgi-bin/sw.pl?Search=navman+3100+2100

wadams posted 09-10-2008 03:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
[Apparently after the initial article was posted] I talked to Northstar Technical Group, and they said their unit was not really accurate for a flow rate of less than 7-GPH. With my E-TEC 90 I would rarely burn over 6-GPH, so [the Northstar F210] would not suit my needs. I think the Lowrance fuel measuring device is very similar and probably not very accurate for less than 7-GPH. Guess the only real option would be to spend [more] on a Floscan system. Their measuring unit is more sensitive.
jimh posted 09-10-2008 08:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you have an E-TEC 90 of model year 2008 or newer the motor has an Engine Management Module (EMM) that supports NMEA-2000 networking, and you can probably get information about the fuel flow rate from the EMM. That data is imputed fuel flow based on the throttle setting and the stored fuel map data, not actual measured fuel flow.

FLOSCAN fuel flow devices tend to be quite a bit more expensive than the Navman or Northstar units. I don't know if the higher cost is justified by greater precision in the resolution of their fuel flow sensor or not.

I am curious how you came to know about the resolution of the LOWRANCE fuel flow sensor. Did you get any data about it or did you just pull some number out of thin air for it?

jimh posted 09-11-2008 09:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am quite confused by your report that a representative of NORTHSTAR told you that the minimum fuel flow accurately measured by the NORTHSTAR F210 is equivalent to a rate of 7-gallons per hour (7-GPH). That citation is in direct conflict with the published specifications for the device:

• Flow
2.5 to 160 litres per hour
0.5 to 43 US gallons per hour
0.4 to 36 imperial gallons per hour

Source: http://www.northstarnav.com/upload/Northstar/Documents/F210.pdf . page 10.

The published specifications state a fuel flow range as low as 0.5-GPH. This is more than TEN TIMES greater sensitivity than you have reported as being cited by a Northstar representative.

My initial reaction is that someone has made an error in reporting the accuracy of the device. I tend to go with the published data, and on this basis: if the fuel flow transducer or sensor needed a minimum of flow equivalent to 7-gallons-per-hour to register accurate fuel flow, the device would for all practical purposes be useless in any application where the power of the engine was below about 70-HP during the operating cycle. Having used a NAVMAN device which is of similar design, I cannot provide any corroboration of the sensor being so coarse and imprecise. In fact, my experience is quite the opposite. The sensor seems able to give readings of fuel flow with reasonable accuracy at rates far below 7-GPH.

This product and its predecessors have been sold for several years, and I do not recall a great number of complaints about the resolution of the flow sensor being so coarse that 7-GPH flow was needed to get accurate data. If that is really the case, a lot of boaters have been being fooled for a long time.

jmorgan40 posted 09-11-2008 09:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for jmorgan40  Send Email to jmorgan40     
I would have to echoe Jim's concerns. I recently installed the Lowrance EP-60 and LMF-400 unit on my outrage. When I researched the Northstar and Lowrance units they both reported being accurate down to .5 gph.

Since I was already using a Lowrance GPS/Sonar unit that was NMEA 2000 compatable, I went with the Lowrance system.

Although I know Jim has the Navman unit, I think he would probably agree that you should consider the Lowrance unit since you are running an eTec. Lowrance makes an eTec module that will plug your outboard right into the NMEA network. You will then have the ability to monitor a multitude of engine functions in addition to the fuel flow.
Joe

wadams posted 09-11-2008 01:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
I have no numbers on the Lowrance unit, just "assuming" it is similar to the Northstar unit because both sensor units are plastic and similar in design.

I first read someone's response that said he found the Northstar unit to not be that accurate with a fuel flow of less than 7 gph. I talked to my local Electronic dealer and he recommended I talk to Northstar before I bought one to see what they said. I took his advice and called Northstar and talked to someone in the technical dept and they confirmed it was not that accurate for low fuel flows. The Floscan unit cost about 2 to 3 times as much but I think their sensing unit is a better built unit and likely more accurate for low flow.

I understand the published data says it will read the lower flows but sometimes these claims can be overestimated. I appreciate the Northstar tech being up front and honest with me, raises my opinion of Northstar's tech dept.

jimh posted 09-11-2008 04:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Just to satisfy my own stake in this matter--I own the NAVMAN 3100--I called Northstar technical support on the telephone myself. The gentleman I spoke to told me that the fuel flow measurement over a range of 1.4 to 35-GPH is accurate to 1-percent after calibration for the particular installation. This is more or less congruent with the specifications on the website, which state 1.3 to 36-GPH. Further, he said the sensor in the F210 is the same as in the NAVMAN. Finally, he said that this representation has been their position for five years. When the unit measures below 1.3-GPH the accuracy degrades.

With my 225-HP two-cycle motor the minimum fuel flow is probably about 2.5-GPH at dead slow idle, so I am always operating in the 1-percent accuracy region.

While one would like to think that a unit that costs three times as much would deliver some benefit, I have not seen any representation that the FLOSCAN is more accurate or over a wider range based on anything but speculation.

wadams posted 09-11-2008 05:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
I have not used any of the units and obviously we talked to different people at Northstar, two different opinions from the same department, not that unusual. Just looking at pictures which is not a very accurate assessment, the floscan seems to be a higher quality product thus the difference in price. I called floscan and talked to Ed and he said they do make different sensor for different flow rates which in my opinion would be better than a "one fits all" sensor. My flow rate would be on the lower end of the accuracy scale with teh Northstar but not sure it would really make that much difference, the main thing I would be looking for would be best mpg at crusing speed with the different loads I might carry. I appreciate you sharing your opinions and information.
jimh posted 09-12-2008 09:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Just for curiosity I looked at the FLOSCAN website. They specifically caution about use of their instrument with the E-TEC or other fuel-injected motors where there are two fuel pumps. Apparently the FLOSCAN does not provide for a dampening factor or long-term integration of flow measurement prior to display. In this regard it seems ill-suited for the application with an E-TEC or other fuel-injection outboard motors.

These observations offered here that the FLOSCAN must be higher quality because it costs more don't seem to be founded on anything. The FLOSCAN devices look like they're made in low volume production. That probably accounts for their higher costs. At one time I believe FLOSCAN had this instrument market all to themselves. The NAVMAN (now NORTHSTAR) instruments seem to have taken over on price and features.

wadams posted 09-15-2008 11:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
I believe if you read a little deeper into the [Flowscan] you would see that they are suitable for the E-TEC. They do consider the dampening factor and provide hardware for the different fuel pumps setups used on the E-TEC. Not sure how you observed the "low production" of the sensors or how you got that information, was your observation founded on anything other than opinion? Guess I have more faith in something not made from plastic. I know in the calabration work I deal with you are better to have an instrument that measures from 0 to 10 units instead of one that measures from 0 to 43 units if your measurement is going to be around 5 or 6 units.
jimh posted 09-15-2008 10:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
quote:
Not sure how you observed the "low production" of the sensors or how you got that information, [sic] was your observation founded on anything other than opinion?

It was my observation based on seeing their products. They have a certain home-made look about them. It is based on personal first-hand observation, and a lot of experience in electronics. You can tell when something is made in lots of thousands and when something is made by hand.

As for suitability for fuel-injection, I simply refer to the statement of FLOSCAN:

quote:

"Important note for the following outboard engine owners:
- Evinrude E-Tec 2-cycle
- Mercury Verado 4-cycle
- Suzuki 4-cycle
- Yamaha 4-cycle

"Please confirm whether your outboard engine listed above has one or two fuel pumps (low and high pressure pump). Earlier versions of these engines typically have a single fuel pump where a FloScan system can be used.

"Newer model engines with two fuel pumps (low and high pressure) may cause the FloScan instrument's GPH or LPH readings to fluctuate between 0 GPH/LPH and approximately 25-50 GPH or 95-190 LPH depending on the lift pump and engine size. This is due to the engine's lift, or low pressure pump, cycling on and off while filling the vapor separation module. Though the GPH/LPH readings may not be usable under this condition, the FloScan instrument will accurately record total fuel consumption as displayed in the totalizer window."


That's where I got the idea that they're not quite perfect for an E-TEC.

jimh posted 09-15-2008 10:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am not sure how to proceed here. What I see is that we have testimony that contradicts all the published web information about two products.

In the case of the Northstar F210, their website, their owner's manual, and their technical support personnel all agree the unit is useful and accurate over a range of at least 1.4 to 35-GPH, and we have the experience of many users for what accumulates to hundreds of years of use affirming it. In complete contradiction we have a citation of one person saying that information is all wrong and the unit is basically worthless for any accurate measurement of less than 7-GPH.

In the case of FLOSCAN we have their own website saying use caution when applying these devices to fuel-injected motors such as the E-TEC, then an unspecified rebuttal that they're more accurate and better suited.

I don't know how to resolve these conflicts.

In any case, as mentioned before, fuel flow measurement with the E-TEC via an external sensor is something of an odd situation because most of the larger E-TEC motors offer fuel flow calculations via an NMEA-2000 network instrument connection. You don't need an external sensor to measure fuel flow.

To get back to the original topic, the Northstar F210, I think they are a great device. Their cost is very modest, and in most cases you will spend more on fuel in one day of boating than the Northstar F210 costs. On that basis it hardly seems like much of a decision. Get the F210 if you want to track your fuel flow rate and use that information to improve your fuel economy. It won't cost you much and the information you get, even if not precisely and absolutely accurate but still relatively accurate, will allow you to tune your boat for better fuel economy.

wadams posted 09-20-2008 01:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
I have an even better solution, I just purchased my etec 90 and my dealer said they would hold the warranty turn in to see if another promotional deal was offer. Just my luck the fine people from Evinrude offered a new incentive plan and I will now be getting the extended 5yr warranty and a free I-Command set up because I am repowering. The I-Command will fill all my needs and will give me GPH fuel usage and it's all free! Top that!

We each have our opinions and if I had purchased one I think I would have gone with the Floscan, just think after talking to the people there that it is a better unit, just my opinion.

wadams posted 09-20-2008 01:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
You said:

"In the case of the Northstar F210, their website, their owner's manual, and their technical support personnel all agree"

Obviously you are disregarding the response I got from the Northstar technical personnel I talked to when you say "their technical support personnel all agree". If you talked to one of their technicians and I talked to one, then you could just as easily conclude that 50% of their technicians support my claim and 50% support your claim.

I never disputed what the manual and web site state.


You said:

"In complete contradiction we have a citation of one person saying that information is all wrong and the unit is basically worthless for any accurate measurement of less than 7-GPH."

I never said this, I never said the information was "all wrong." I did report what I had read and been told by the Northstar tech. I never said it was "basically worthless for any accurate measurement." I don't mind discussing these issues but please keep your comments accurate and don't write what you think I might have meant. Thanks.


jimh posted 09-20-2008 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I see the problem here. Let me explain:

When I write:

"In the case of the Northstar F210, their website, their owner's manual, and their technical support personnel all agree,"

you cannot pull out a fragment of that sentence and insist that I wrote

"their technical support personnel all agree."

That is completely misleading and does not accurately quote me or reflect what I said.

Then, again, when I write:

"the unit is basically worthless for any accurate measurement of less than 7-GPH"

you cannot pull out a fragment of that sentence and insist that I wrote

"the unit is basically worthless."

That is completely misleading and does not accurately quote me or reflect what I said.

You have demonstrated here that you misunderstand or intentionally misquote things you read. I will extend that to things you hear, and by that I am beginning to suspect that you perhaps misunderstood whatever it was that was said to you by Northstar.

wadams posted 09-26-2008 09:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for wadams  Send Email to wadams     
In other words I can't quote you on what you write? Because that is just what I did, I pulled your direct words from your statement and repeated them, and that's unfair??? Misleading??? I have to assume most people that visit this site are smart enough to browse up a paragraph or two to see where the quotes (your direct words) I am using come from, how could that possible be misleading. I quoted your exact words, unlike you, who re-phrased what I had said.

Some one here has certainly shown that they "misunderstand
or intentionally misquote things", go look in a mirror and you will find that person. I can't believe you have made this so personal and made such insinuations in your comments. This is not the type of exchange I would expect to find on a column where boaters are to share comments and information about boating, I hope you are the exception to the group!

jimh posted 09-26-2008 06:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I wish I could browse up a few paragraphs and hear exactly what Northstar told you, but I can't.

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