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Old 08-09-2013, 12:32 PM   #31
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

Myself, I have enough solar to charge both battery systems. I had nothing but trouble with Surepower and after several units replaced I went with the Blue Sea 7622. I have had no issues since. I also purchased the remote kit but if you have access to the separator it has full controls on it. By having the separator connect while the van sits outside not in use, the solar keeps both battery systems fully charged. Usually by morning my all systems are fully up w/I two hours. With the blue Sea, if either battery banks fall below 12.8, the separator opens. In the open position the solar only charges the house bank. Once the house bank is up, the separator closes and charges both systems as normal. The solar controller ramps down as the banks reach full charge. Batteries the routinely cycle up and down generally loose their life faster over time so solar helps unless there is a problem with one of the batteries. It's why you need to check the charge from time to time no matter how and what you charge with. One thing I did do was to install AGM starting batteries. I've never had issues with the Lifeline 4-d's I have on board but the wet cell starting batteries were nothing but trouble. My system is set to charge AGM's not standard wet cell types and I think that was possibly an issue but can't swear to that. After switching to AGM starting batteries I haven't had any electrical issues with my charging schedule(s) since 2009.

BTW, I never found the reason why the Surepower units failed. Many members use them with no problems and I'm not out to trash the product, only that my setup was problematic using them and the Blue Sea has been trouble free.
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Old 08-09-2013, 12:43 PM   #32
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

I use a Sure Power p/n 15778 120 amp isolator Installed it in April 2004 (9+ years ago). The OEM battery in the 2000 Express van was replaced for the FIRST TIME this year at the age of 13 years. Normal battery life for our vehicles has been in the 7-8 year range. I don't think the isolater added life to the battery...it just didn't take it away. When I added the penthouse I gave away my old 7 year old house battery and replaced it w 2 batteries that are now 5 years old w no noticeable capacity loss .... yet.

At idle the OEM alternator is supplying 15.2v to the isolator (center post) and the diodes have about a 0.8v drop (end posts). I am charging the house and vehicle batteries at about 14.4 volts.



i'm very happy w the Sure Power Isolator. Would be open though to try something different if the price came in about the same or better yet lower.

Price check: PPL Industries has a 55-9419 120A w exciter for $68 plus connector kit $23 plus shipping $10 ............ So a replacement would cost $101 (although as a replacement - not new installation = I wouldn't need a connector kit)
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:40 AM   #33
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

If I was to choose the Surepower separator I would go for the 1314-200 or if I was willing to spend more I might look at the Surepower 3104. It has more features, higher capacity and latching solenoid, and very configurable. You can make it bidirectional or unidirectional, plus more. The $300.00 price tag seems to be what makes questionable. I don't think the automatic bidirectional features of the 1315 make it a good choice with solar, but that is my opinion. I do really like the Blue Sea Units but they are a bidirectional. I do use a BlueSea 7701 instead of the Bluesea 7620 it is just the magnetic latch solenoid used in the 7620. It is a little more difficult to hook up, as it does not do the voltage sensing. The failure mode I had with the Surepower was pretty much in line with a high current solenoid, they did have a recall after having at least one unit catch fire, I believe they thought it was a manufacturing problem.

I would check to see if you are getting similar readings to Len on your current isolator. Not all alternator systems compensate for the diode drop as well as his. If your isolator is getting older, and you looking at a preventative replacement. I would certainly go with a separator of some version. I believe they are easier to trouble shoot and more configurable than an isolator.

To change over to a separator from a isolator, I would go back to a stock alternator to battery connection. The separator can be installed inside the coach, chances are that you are going to want to beef up the cable going to the house battery anyway, especially if you plan on using as an emergency jump source. You will want a fuse accordingly. The connections on the Surepower 1314 or 1315 are 3/8 while the Bluesea products are 5/16 (so even if you can use the existing cable you may need to change the lugs)

If you choose the *1314 or 1315 I would add a switch to the ground input. This will effectively disable. You can also add a switch to force it to connect, using the start assist tab. If I had the 1315 I would wire the start assist with a momentary switch, the 1314 I would be inclined to go with as standard SPST. In either case you want to make sure that these switches are located in a position that they can not be inadvertently switched.

-greg
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:10 PM   #34
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scalf77
I don't think the automatic bidirectional features of the 1315 make it a good choice with solar, but that is my opinion. -greg
Why do you say that? I really like the bi-directional feature. My solar panel keeps my starting batteries fully charged because of that feature, and I can't think of any drawbacks.

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Old 08-11-2013, 09:36 AM   #35
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

Mike,

I generally agree with the two posted by rockbender a couple of post back.

rockbender wrote:
Otherwise, with a 1315 that closes when it sees voltage over 13-ish from either side (I don't remember the exact number) you can have a scenario with very discharged house batteries and when the sun comes up the solar panels raise the voltage to a point on the house batteries that they connect to the van battery. Now you have your van battery and house battery trying to equalize each other and effectively discharging your starting battery.

Also, the isolator solenoid itself pulls about 1a. When you only are getting 2-8 amps (depending on sun and your solar array) the last thing you want to do is give up 1a just to power a switch.

.


The other thing is that it can tend to mask problems with the starter battery, until these problems become bigger and thus maybe causing issue's with the expensive house batteries they are connected to.

As far as keeping the starter topped off? does it really need that all the time, if I am going to leave the van parked for a longer period of time I can turn the solenoid on manually to top it off before a trip.

So for me the positives don't outweigh the negatives. That said, I would not go out and replace the 1315 to a 1314 for just these reasons. But, if looking to purchase new I would choose the 1314 over the 1315.

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Old 08-11-2013, 11:56 AM   #36
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

The batteries won't try equalize each other.

When solar charging has the house batteries up to 13.2V the separator will connect the house and starting batteries. The starting batteries will be at a float level around 12.6V and will start to accept charging. If the house batteries were so low that the starting batteries will discharge into the house batteries either the separator would never connect, or it would disconnect when the battery voltage dropped below 12.6V.

My van seldom gets used between trips and the self discharge of the starting batteries could be an issue if the solar panels didn't keep them topped off. Of course my van is a diesel and needs more battery power to start it, but I've had no battery issues and the starting batteries last 6+ years. And the fully charged starting batteries make life easier for the FICM.

I will agree the start assist feature can mask issues with the starting batteries and I have never connected that part of the separator.

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Old 08-13-2013, 02:24 AM   #37
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

I have to kinda agree with Mike on this. I really don't care if the battery banks "bond" together because I have AGM's all around. Sure they are different sizes but it hasn't become a problem for me since I made the change. One issue that I've already posted is that in the RV world (& boating world) the best solution is having completely separate solar charging capabilities for each bank and only a tie switch for emergencies to assist starting. I still believe banking different battery types is a poorer setup but I don't need the perfect solution; only something that works for me. Since my Blue Sea separator is configured to separate during startup I have no issues telling when the starting system is failing. Jeesh, if you think about it why not have separator between the starting batteries on a diesel to protect them from each other? Sometimes keeping things simple makes sense, but I have to admit I do like as much control as possible. The separator (when working correctly) keeps both banks at 12.8 or higher and today I'm OK with how it functions. YMMV.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:20 AM   #38
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

Thanks for a very informative thread, I've come back to it a few times to become more familiar with my vans electrical system. I've recently developed a phantom drain that leaves my starter battery dead unless I connect it to the trickle charger at night.

From what I've read, I must have a separator since my house batteries are not affected by the drain. I'm going to take it into the shop to have the issue tracked down and fixed, but I'm very interested in setting things up to use the house batteries as a backup to start the vehicle if something like this ever crops up while I'm out in the boonies.

When I picked up the van last summer, the previous owner gave me what I now recognize is a Blue Sea 7620 battery separator. The folks at Sportsmobile had sent it down to him as a fix to some electrical problem that he was having that apparently worked itself out (don't recall the specifics of the conversation as anything electrical tends to go right over my head...) Deductive reasoning tells me that I already have a Blue Sea installed and that it's working?

Question:
-Where would it be installed? I know I could follow the wires but it's pretty tight under the hood (2002 7.3L Powerstroke).

-Will the Blue Sea allow you to use the house battery to start the vehicle? If so, how do I go about this?

The van originally came with a full solar system. The original owner (not the owner i bought the van from) apparently kept the panels when he sold the van. It still has the solar controller so I'm hopping in the future I'll be able to simply mount and plug in new panels and be ready to roll.
-Will the Solar Boost 2000E my van has along with the Blue Sea I'm assuming is in there somewhere top off my vans starter battery as well as the house batteries; or would I need to rig up something additionally to make this work?

Thanks for any input & sorry if I'm repeating anything that was previously gone over in the thread. I re-read the original post but haven't gone through any recent postings since first finding this thread.

-Mark...
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:53 AM   #39
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

Mark,

Where would it be installed? I know I could follow the wires but it's pretty tight under the hood (2002 7.3L Powerstroke).
Being a 2002, it would not have had a Blue Sea Separator installed from the SMB, for that fact it would not have had a Surepower 1315 either as they started in 2004. I would suspect they used a surepower isolator, but it may have been changed along the way. Isolators are usually installed in the engine bay, while a separator would not have to be. Mine was installed inside the van, in close proximity to the inverter/charger. For my van that is under the side gaucho.

-Will the Blue Sea allow you to use the house battery to start the vehicle? If so, how do I go about this? .

Yes, it is possible to wire in a switch to give you manual control. I don't think SMB installed them with the switch unless requested.

-Will the Solar Boost 2000E my van has along with the Blue Sea I'm assuming is in there somewhere top off my vans starter battery as well as the house batteries; or would I need to rig up something additionally to make this work?

The BlueSea is bidirectional so it will do that by default.

There is a good picture of a isolator posted by Lens in this thread a little ways back. It goes between the alternator and both house and van batteries, while a separator like the BlueSea goes between van batteries and house batteries, with the alternator going to the van battery.

Greg
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Old 08-30-2013, 11:43 AM   #40
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Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?

Greg, thank you so much for the quick reply .
From what I remember of the conversation, it sounds like the Blue Sea was to replace the separator. He was pointing out under the bench to where it sounds like the separator would be found.

It looks like I'll be asking the shop to instal the Blue Sea with a switch while they're under the hood chasing down the short... I'll consider the extra labor to be coming from the money I'm saving not buying a shiny new Blue.
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