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Old 01-29-2009, 10:15 AM   #1
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My master disconnect switch does not work right

When I switch the battery disconnect to off, with the solar panel in full sun:
the lights do not go out till it gets dark
the box that has all the fuses clicks every 10 seconds
the battery voltage goes from 13.1 to 12.8
with every ckick the voltage jumps from 12.8 to 14.1 then back to 12.8

I took the problem to Premium R V in La Habra. They have done good work for me in the past and they do everything inc installing solar systems. Rick, the owner, said the solar panel should be wired to the down side of the battery disconnect or directly to the battery. The solar is still feeding into the system but not into the battery. With the switch off while I am away for a month the solar will not keep my battery charged.

I called Peter at SMB and Rick explained it to him. Peter told me that they rarely install a battery disconnect so the installers connected the solar like they always do. I can take it back to SMBW for them to fix or pay $200 and have Premium RV do it. Rick was going to do it quickly while I was there getting something else fixed (that is another story) but they could not easily find and get to the wires which are somewhere behind everything.

I do not want to have SMBW play with it. Does Premium RV's fix make sense?

Angel
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Old 01-29-2009, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

It does. You understand what they're saying, they understand what you want. If what you said is correct, SMBw hasn't done this before, so they have no more experience with wiring the disconnect- the only advantage is them getting to the system, knowing how or what to take apart.
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Old 01-29-2009, 12:27 PM   #3
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

My first question would be, why do you want to disconnect the batteries if your solar is charging? If you run the solar straight into the house batteries (ok, through the solar controller) and open the master switch, you will no longer charge the starting batteries.

As long as I have some sun on the solar panel, I charge both the house batteries and the starting batteries. And I like that.

What do you gain by the disconnect? I can see that if you had a catastrophic short circuit, you could remove the power with the master disconnect - but, other than that (or maybe some electrical work being done) I would never open it.

Mike
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:51 PM   #4
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

If I had a cutoff switch I would want it to kill the 12 volt portion to the conversion part of the van so something that is left on by accident would not kill the batteries. I would keep the solar connected to the batteries so they stay at full charge. The solar controller will not let the batteries be overcharged. It sounds like the separator is sampling the voltage and is engaging and disengaging for some reason. Have they told you what is making the noise?
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Old 01-29-2009, 01:58 PM   #5
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

My goal was to be able to disconnect the house battery, as if you took off the cables, so nothing would drain it when I am gone for 1 or 2 months at a time. I feel safer if everything is off while I am gone. I did not think about the solar keeping it charged. I did not think about the starting battery. If any battery is dead when I get home, it has always been because it is too old and needs replacing.

I had no idea the solar charged the starting battery. I thought the isolator allowed the starting battery to use juice from the house battery if the starting battery was dead and that would be the only connection between them. I need a whole course in how the electrical system works in the SMB.

The best is to have the solar charge both batteries with everything disconnected. Is that possible?

Angel
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Old 01-29-2009, 02:08 PM   #6
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

Dave B,

I did not notice the noise till this morning when I was checking the voltage and saw it jump to 14.1.
After that happened several times, I realized there was a clicking sound just before it happened. I had to use a listening stick to even find out where it was coming from. I am sure no one else heard it but I put in a call just to see. If I get any more info I will post it.

Angel
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:21 PM   #7
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

I suspect the clicking noise the battery isolator and the solar trying to charge the starting batteries. With the house batteries switched out, the solar voltage goes high and the isolator switches to charge the starting batteries. Since the starting batteries are a lower voltage (~12.5V), the house voltage drops below the threshold and the isolator quits trying to charge the starting batteries. The house voltage rapidly rises (no load or batteries to buffer it) and the cycle repeats.

Throw the master switch to ON and see if the clicking slows way, way down.

We've had our van parked for long periods, and the solar keeps all the batteries charged. That seems like an ideal solution.

Even when we are camped and using electric power daily, a couple of hours of sun keeps everything charged.

It would be difficult to isolate the batteries completely, yet allow the solar to charge all the batteries in the van. The simplest way might be to remove all the SMB fuses. That should disconnect all electrical loads while still having the solar and batteries linked together.

I think your master disconnect has created a problem, rather than solving one.

Mike
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Old 01-29-2009, 03:50 PM   #8
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

When the switch is to "ON", there is no clicking and everything is fine. Only when I turn it to "OFF" and the battery is supposed to be disconnected, the clicking occurs and the lights do not go out and everything stays on till dark outside. I have not tested it to see what happens when it gets daylight after being off all night.

I guess I really do not have a battery disconnect even though SMBw charged me for one.

Angel
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Old 01-29-2009, 04:21 PM   #9
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

Quote:
Originally Posted by Angel
When the switch is to "ON", there is no clicking and everything is fine. Only when I turn it to "OFF" and the battery is supposed to be disconnected, the clicking occurs and the lights do not go out and everything stays on till dark outside. I have not tested it to see what happens when it gets daylight after being off all night.

I guess I really do not have a battery disconnect even though SMBw charged me for one.

Angel

Actually, you have a battery disconnect. It's just the solar is powering everything, not the battery. Since the clicking goes away when you turn the switch to 'ON', that implies everything is working normally.

It sounds like you asked for a 'Battery Disconnect' and that is what you got. But, it sounds like you wanted to disconnect everything except the battery from the solar. Just leave the switch 'ON' and let it be. That is what works for most of us (no master disconnect).

Mike
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Old 01-29-2009, 05:19 PM   #10
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Re: My master disconnect switch does not work right

Angel,

Could you use the 110v and 12v circuit breakers to make sure nothing is drawing any juice?

....and that would leave the solar charging the house batteries and should allow the house batteries to keep the starter battery charged.

.
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