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Old 01-25-2011, 01:43 AM   #1
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Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

SMB Indiana installed the Sure Power 1315-200 battery separator, which, according to the Sure Power installation sheet, connects the house and engine batteries whenever EITHER of those batteries reach 13.2 volts. I have solar and an inverter, both set up for AGM batteries. Now when the engine is off, solar when it's sunny or the inverter when hooked up to shore power can/will impose a voltage of 13.2 or higher on the house batteries, causing the separator to connect the engine battery. But the engine batteries are not AGM's, so is it a good thing to connect everything together?

The Sure Power manual also describes the 1314-200, which connects the batteries when ONLY the engine batteries reach 13.2 volts. Although it would be great to get all the batteries charged whenever possible, I am afraid that something may be happening that is detrimental the way it is hooked up. I am almost positive that Chad in Indiana told me at some point the way solar is supposed to work is that it never charges the engine batteries.
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Old 01-25-2011, 01:22 PM   #2
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

It's a good point you bring up. Some experts claim you should keep different makes of batteries from being tied together because wet cell batteries are charged slightly differently than some AGM's. I don't really see it as much of a problem but it is possible to shorten the life of a wet cell battery if its water is reduced due to evaporation and or over charging. But most battery manufactures suggest batteries are typically damaged more by lack of charge rather than keeping a light charge on them. An alternator will not usually allow the battery to reach the float state but a solar controller should be able to keep from overcharging while keeping your batteries at thier float level. Because of this, most of the SMB's with solar are set up to keep both systems up at peak charge. Some RV sites claim it's best to have one solar system for the chassis battery and another for the house system. I don't really agree with that mainly because we don't have huge solar arrays to deal with but understand their point. Yet if you think about it, both your on board charger and alternator charge both systems at the same time. Personally I prefer to have my solar keep both systems up. I will say that I did loose my starting batteries early on and am not sure if the solar contributed to it. I now have AGM starting batteries installed in part due to the point you bring up.
Actually I don't think you need to worry about it. Then again others might not agree with me. If you want full control over your charging methods, the Blue Sea 7622 ACR with the remote switch is the way to go but manual switches can be cut in if you want that. I think SMB east is wrong if you have the SP 1315 and my guess is your solar is charging both systems in your van.

[edit] It might be possible that SMB wired the separator to not function and stay open if the ignition key is in the off position. I would call them to confirm this.
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:28 PM   #3
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

I like that feature of the SurePower Separator. Solar keeps all the batteries charged.

If you are concerned about overcharging the starting batteries, adjust the setpoint of the solar controller to trip off at a lower voltage. I set mine at 13.6V (as low as it would go).

When the sun comes up, the solar starts to charge the house batteries. When the house batteries reach 13.2V, the Separator then connects and starts to charge the starting batteries. When all the batteries reach 13.6V, the solar stops charging - protecting any type 12V battery from overcharge.

Since the solar supplies some charge everyday, I'm not worried about cutting of the charge below 14V; I don't need that surface charge.

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Old 01-25-2011, 06:00 PM   #4
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
I like that feature of the SurePower Separator. Solar keeps all the batteries charged.Mike
Maybe it is just a case of personal preference. I would like to dedicate the solar system to completely charge the house batteries as quickly as possible in order to be ready for the next night, which is what the 1314 will do. I live in the PNW and in the winter the days are pretty short, cloudy and rainy. Let the engine batteries just be taken care of by the alternator---works fine with any vehicle as long as those batteries are in reasonably good shape. Remember, both the 1340 and 1350 can connect the two batteries together when the house batteries have a higher voltage than the engine batteries WHEN AND ONLY WHEN the ignition switch is on, i.e. cranking the engine. To do that there is a wire that has to be connected to the ignition switch. Seems like the best of both worlds.
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:41 PM   #5
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
I now have AGM starting batteries installed in part due to the point you bring up.
Actually I don't think you need to worry about it. Then again others might not agree with me. If you want full control over your charging methods, the Blue Sea 7622 ACR with the remote switch is the way to go but manual switches can be cut in if you want that. I think SMB east is wrong if you have the SP 1315 and my guess is your solar is charging both systems in your van.
Yes, having only AGM's may avoid a headache trying to figure it all out. And whether or not one wants to have batteries connected when the engine is not running, they ARE connected when it is. So the question about AGM and wet batteries being connected will exist one way or another.

Yes, my list of Blue Sea electrical components is growing when considering what SMB did not do in the area of house batteries and solar. Also a nice heavy duty switch to separate house batteries + from all loads (hefty for when the house batteries are called upon to help start the engine---a feature of both 1314 and 315 Sure Power separators). Other switches and fuses on the Solar system too.
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Solar: 540 W of Kyrocera w/ Blue Sky 3024iL, 3x100 AmpHr AGM's
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:17 PM   #6
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

My solar controller is set to 13.5 (13.3-13.5), from what Lifeline/Concord suggests as a float voltage is supposed to be.
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:47 PM   #7
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coyotearms
SMB Indiana installed the Sure Power 1315-200 battery separator, which, according to the Sure Power installation sheet, connects the house and engine batteries whenever EITHER of those batteries reach 13.2 volts. I have solar and an inverter, both set up for AGM batteries. Now when the engine is off, solar when it's sunny or the inverter when hooked up to shore power can/will impose a voltage of 13.2 or higher on the house batteries, causing the separator to connect the engine battery. But the engine batteries are not AGM's, so is it a good thing to connect everything together?

The Sure Power manual also describes the 1314-200, which connects the batteries when ONLY the engine batteries reach 13.2 volts. Although it would be great to get all the batteries charged whenever possible, I am afraid that something may be happening that is detrimental the way it is hooked up. I am almost positive that Chad in Indiana told me at some point the way solar is supposed to work is that it never charges the engine batteries.
Thanks for all the input to my initial post quoted above. I ended up going with the 1314-200 and with it a "start" button on the dash. So only when the start button is pressed or when the alternator is running and delivering 13.2 volts or more to the engine batteries will the isolator connect engine and house batteries together (house batteries get charged while driving). The key advantage, as I see it, is that when off the grid for extended periods of time all solar goes toward charging the house batteries with not one photon wasted on the engine batteries. If it turns out when I am finally out of food and water and have to leave paradise, but cannot start the engine because I did not feed the engine batteries, I can just press the "start" button.
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Solar: 540 W of Kyrocera w/ Blue Sky 3024iL, 3x100 AmpHr AGM's
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Old 03-10-2011, 09:27 PM   #8
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

The loads to start a diesel engine are a bit hefty. After you install the separator, you might want to do a test to see if the house battery will have enough juice to start the engine with dead starting batteries. The dead starting batteries will absorb some of what the engine needs to start the vehicle. This was explained to me at SMB some years back. But they use too small of wire going from the house to separator to starting batteries IMO. I'd run 1/0 wire if I was building a DYO system. I think mine is #4, and would probably get pretty hot attempting to start a cold engine while also pumping in power to the dead battery system. It might not have enough crank over the engine but at least with my Blue Sea I can join the batteries for several minutes which will supply a light charge...very similar to when a tow truck jumps your vehicle. Generally they let the alternator supply a few minutes of charge to the dead battery before you attempt to start yours. Just food for thought.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:01 AM   #9
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

Daveb, I agree about worrying a little with the size of the cables SMB installs which also seem to me to be about #4 (but not completely sure). But the one-page Sure Power Install Manual (attached) does indicate that 4 gauge between the batteries is o.k. for distances of 10 ft or less. However, I was so worried about the amount of current flowing from the house batteries when engine starting OR running high power AC stuff with the inverter on, that I had the puny main ground for the entire house battery circuit moved from the fender and routed through the floor and attached directly to the frame. I had read stuff from folks into high power audio system, that fender grounds are bad because the current path is only through spot welds in most cases. Also, the non stainless steel bolt that was installed through the fender was in the worst spot possible for corrosion being inches away from the wheel with no attempt to seal things. And about 1.5" of thread from the bolt was pointing right toward the tire in the wheel well---they could have at least installed it with the head of the bolt in the wheel well!

High current AC stuff: I do things a little weird for hot water, which is an AC 1500W Sinkerator unit (usually installed by SMB for folks who only camp where there is shore power). On days we drive, I just leave the inverter and hot water tank on so it is mostly "free" juice from the alternator that is used to heat water, and when we stop for lunch and stuff, when the heater cycles on it draws 1500/12=125 amps from the house batteries. Heating water that way is similar to how folks who just have the hot plate heat exchanger do it too, but much less expensive and less complicated to install with all that plumbing needed under the vehicle ready to freeze in cold weather. We also have a 700W microwave that is used off the grid too (plan to put the water heater on a rheostat so if we run the microwave when the water heater has cycled on, the house batteries are not turned inside out---inverter is only 2000W).

Getting back to the topic at hand, also note connecting the engine and house batteries together to do a little "charging" of the engine batteries before starting the engine is still possible with the button on the dash and the Sure Power isolator. According to the schematic (attached) pushing the button that was installed on the dash at any time should connect engine and house batteries together, which I suppose is how the Blue Sea unit works too.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Sure Power Install Manual.pdf (81.5 KB, 7 views)
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Cruiser II Top, 6'7" inside, full-time upper bed w/ kind'a EB50 layout, cozy 4-season rig
Solar: 540 W of Kyrocera w/ Blue Sky 3024iL, 3x100 AmpHr AGM's
Electrical: 4 cf fridge, nuker, water heater, compressor
Propane: stove top, furnace Travel: http://www.lugnutlife.wordpress.com
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:39 PM   #10
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Re: Do I have the Wrong Battery Separator Installed?

I'm far from an expert on vehicle electrical systems so take this for what it's worth. What I worry about is what the starter actually pulls in amps. Maybe Caringb has the stats on the cold cranking amps a 6.0 starter pulls. Newer starters might pull less that older models. I would guess between 300 and 500 amps, but I really don't know and that's a large spread. That's where the voltage drop comes in. The seperator connects the house battery to the start batteries with #4 wire. From there the current must travel to the starter over the stock Ford wiring system, all the while the dead starting batteries are sucking up juice as well. Now you got a lower voltage feeding a starter, and that will cause the starter to pull more amps I would think.

I don't know what the length of time that the sure power separator can withstand a heavy in-rush of amperage over 200A which is what the 1314 and 1315-200 is rated for. Usually engineers over rate their products to handle higher loads than what the unit is actually rated for. Some go a 1/3rd some go double, but with these separators, time in cranking will also be a factor. At work I typically let loads run 120% of full without fear of something burning or blowing up at full duty. I just don't know what these separators can take, which is why I would rather let the starting battery absorb some charge for a few minutes before attemping to start the vehicle. Come on solar. Sitting and cranking an engine with a dead starting battery with a starter that's pulling 500 amps for 15 seconds might be OK or might not. The contacts might melt together. An interesting experiment anyway I guess.
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