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Old 05-30-2011, 07:50 AM   #1
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An alternative to isolators/separators?

I've read through this forum carefully as I plan the upgrade to the 21st century for the electrical system on my recently aquired '92 SMB. I've installed a bank of four group 31 AGM batteries under the van. With all I've read (and experienced), isolators won't give a full charge and separators seem to have their problems. I was trying to think of a way to keep the van starting battery and electrical system indepentant from the house batteries. No room to install an auxiliary alternator. I was thinking of installing an inverter powered from the starting battery (I would use a voltage sensing relay to power the inverter so it will come on only after the starting battery is up to 13.8). Then run the 3-stage 30A charger that I use to charge the house batteries when shore power is available, which is usually only when we're home. We mostly do dry camping and I plan to install solar panels, but it would be nice to gain a few amps when going down the road without relying on an antiquated OEM system to take care of my new AGM house batteries.

Is this another one of my crazy hair brain schemes? I love this forum. You guys are great. All your experience and knowlegde is "Priceless". Once I get things operational, I sure hope we'll have a meet sometime soon.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:43 AM   #2
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

Or, buy good separator...

The power loss on the invertor, plus the power loss on the charger, well you're going from New York to New Jersey via Anchoridge... seems like you'll wind up killing your starter battery to charge the house, and what you really built with the voltage relay is a homebrew separator albeit with gobs of power loss.
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:18 AM   #3
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

I agree with Jage, you are designing a much more complicated system with lots of power loss. It is all the voltage sensing stuff that makes the newer separators more prone to errors.To keep it simple just Solenoid relay and pick it with the run circuit. So if the van is running, batteries are combined, the van is not running then they are separated. You could then add a relay so that you could force it on when not running. As with anything the more complicated you get, the more problems. The trombetta 114-1211-020 is the same dc contactor used in the SurePower 131X - 200. You can find for a little over $40.00 bucks.
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Old 05-30-2011, 12:34 PM   #4
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

Unlike the Surepower separator which I had many problems with, the magnetic relay from Blue Sea has yet to give me any trouble at all. I don't know why I had the problems with the surepower relay. Others have had good success with them...I gave up and switched to blue sea 7622 and am glad I did but I'm still in the testing mode.

I also upgraded my alternator and get a great charge from it while at idle or on the road. I had an MCI 200A model but switch to a 240A Nations alternator. It's a higher quality unit and has a much better rectifier system. Nations worked with me on a personal level which was nice.
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Old 05-30-2011, 07:33 PM   #5
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

The latest marine solution to the isolator/separator question appears to be an ACR (Automatic Charging Relay). I tried to interest SMB in installing one on my '08 when they built it but there didn't appear to be any interest. Blue Seas has one: Part # 7610. They also have a more robust model; #7620.
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:37 PM   #6
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

The Blue Sea is standard in SMBW builds now.

Guess you didn't jump up and down enough Bill.

I talked them into installing the 7622 with remote control but had to help Leo wire it correctly. SMB tries to talk people out of the remote mainly because the separator can be easily switched by kids or accident by owners. The remote isn't necessary because the relay itself has a full control knob on it, but mine is very difficult to get to. I also like that I can see the indicator lights showing it's closed or open. It also has a trouble indication mode that has helped me figure out a problem I was having. I also have it configured to open during engine start. Again this isn't necessary, but I want to know when I have a chassis starting system problem such as a poor battery or bad connection. If I need assist jumping, I just manually close the seperator...I just have to remember to put it back in automatic mode
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:50 AM   #7
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

Thank you all. I think my typing fingers were in gear before the brain was engaged. I'm a big fan of the K.I.S.S. theory. The new Blue Sea seems like the way to go. They have a model #7620 in stock at the local marina. I'll remove the 20 year old SMB isolator, and redo it with the appropriate wire gages. I got a feeling the OEM alterenator will need to be upgraded. I'll check with Nations to see what they suggest. Thanks again for your help you all.
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Old 06-01-2011, 09:20 PM   #8
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

bayhead, I think the 7620 a good choice. Although I do not have one, I have yet to find a product from Bluesea that I did not think was of the highest quality. I concur with daveb you should also get the PN 2146 - Remote Control Contura Switch. It is worth it just to have the LED indicator IMHO. I would also recommend a Blue Sea PN 6007 M-series Switch. Using this switch would basically make it like a 7622 but with some key advantages While you would be able to connect and disconnect manually like the 7622. The separate switch brings some extra's to the table. First, you may be able to move it to a more accessible location, and second to get around failures. I can think of two failure modes where the built in manual switch of the 7622 would not get around, contact resistance and welding together of the contractors.




The SurePower is not a bad unit, it is rated for 50% less cycles then the 7620. It is also continuous duty versus a magnet latch (No power across the solenoid coil to keep the plunger in) . The external comparator unit adds another connection point to fail. Also SurePower was brain dead when coming up with the start assist mode. SMB should never had wired it up either. I believe that function caused more problems then it ever helped (IMHO).

I have added a pdf of various separator implementations.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Battery Separtators.pdf (192.6 KB, 11 views)
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Old 06-01-2011, 10:55 PM   #9
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Re: An alternative to isolators/separators?

Good schematic and picture Greg. So far I haven't added the manual (mechanical) bypass switch even though I did purchase one but the electrical remote switch has served me well and until I have a problem I'll wait. But I'm still beta testing the setup. I have no idea how well the contacts of the relay (what I had problems with the Surepower) are going to perform, but so far I'm happy. Time will tell.

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