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Old 01-02-2015, 11:55 AM   #1
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Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

Trying to troubleshoot what sounds like my separator clicking several times over a one minute span. Would appreciate any help/thoughts on the below. Equipment and conditions follow:
Equipment:
-2 x AGM Batteries (less than 6 months old)
-2 x Solar Panels w/Zamp ZS-30 controller
-Magnum Remote Control/Battery Charger
-Magnum 2000W MS Series Pure Sine Wave Inverter/Charger
-Separator

Conditions/Readings:
-Cloudy skies
-Van on shore power
-Magnum RC reads "Full Charge" 12.9V
-Zamp ZS-30 reads 12.6V w/charging light on. Lights also indicate battery 3/4 full/equalization charge
-Norcold 3E Fridge (2.7 CF) on but not cycling.
-CO detector on

Event:
-Magnum RC continues to read "Full Charge" 12.9V
-Zamp ZS-30 reads 12.6V. Separator clicks. 15-20 seconds later another click is heard
-Zamp ZS-30 reads 12.8V at 30-35 seconds
-Zamp ZS-30 reads 12.9V and then hits 13.0V at 60-65 seconds. A click is heard and the ZS-30 drops back to 12.6V
-This cycle then repeats itself.

Note:
-When the van is unplugged from the shore power the successive clicks stop.
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Old 01-02-2015, 02:21 PM   #2
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

A couple of questions?
What kind of separator do you have?
When you are plugged in do you have the Magnum set to charge correct? sounds like it.
Try turning off Zamp controller, and just have the Magnum set to charge.
At the Separator, if you have a DVM please measure both Battery inputs, one should be the house battery and one should be the van batteries. If you don't have a DVM could you plug the standard Sportsmobile plug in meter into a Van Battery powered socket and compare the two battery levels.


greg
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Old 01-02-2015, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

Many thanks Scalf77. No reason to think the Magnum is not set to charge right. I've monitored the charge cycles before and they match those laid out in the Magnum manual. Separately, I understood from SMB that the solar panels would not attempt to charge when the van was plugged in (could be wrong here). Unfortunately, there is no feature on the ZS-30 solar power monitor that allows you to turn the panels off (crazy I know). Is it possible the monitor is bad? Responses follow:

Equipment:
-Model 1215-200 Separator (pulled this from the SMB manual)

Conditions:
-Unplugged the van from shore power.

Event:
-Magnum RC read 12.9V
-SMB plug in digital battery monitor plugged into house 12V socket read 13.1V and indicated full charge
-Zamp ZS-30 read 12.7V
-SMB plug in digital battery monitor plugged into van 12V socket read 12.7V
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Old 01-02-2015, 04:44 PM   #4
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

well, if the separator is cycling and it sounds like it is, then we have to assume that it is working as expected and acting on the actual voltage levels that are presented to it. (this could be a large jump in faith seeing the history of the SurePower Unit ( I expect it is a 1315-200).

I don't have a Zamp controller or a Magnum Charger, but it initially sounds to me like the Magnum is not charging, because it should be able to provide a much higher voltage out. That said there must be something going on, as you said if you unplug it goes away.

Since you can't Turn off the Zamp, note( I see to ZS -30 controllers on their website 30A & 30AP )

Try covering up your Solar Panels, yo eliminate it as a power source. I expect that this would stop the cycling, or I bet the cycling stops when the sun goes down. If this is true it gives us some idea that the ZAMP is causing the issue. This may be a case where the Zamp output is not high enough, and the actual power usage of the Separator causes the battery output to drop enough to go below the off point, and thus causing the whole cycling issue. So I can make a case in my mind where the Zamp could be causing the cycling, and be working correctly.

I do not understand why the Magnum Charger is not pulling it's weight. I can only suspect that it is shut down do to another power source. I will need to read the Magnum Manual a bit to see what I can find out.

And last, I expect that this is a relatively new condition. So everything has worked before, so now we need to look at why things have changed.
This could be just because of the winter cloudy skies, additional contact resistance in the separator that has increased load when it has closed, or something else that has broken. It may take a little bit to figure out.

Be nice to know what the voltage is at night with the van plugged in?



-greg
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:20 PM   #5
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

Greg, thanks again for your responses. I've also read and reread your earlier posts on battery separators and solar charging results to try and make sense of all this. Its dark out here on the East Coast and I since went back and plugged the van in. Its now "Float Charging" at 13.7V 3A per the Magnum RC (another indicator the Magnum is functioning as designed). The separator is no longer clicking. That said, the batteries have yet to enter the "Full Charge" mode that was present when the repeated cycling occurred. I checked the house batteries with the SMB plug in battery charger and they read 13.9V. The van battery reads the same. Comments follow:

-The Zamp ZS-30 manual states that there can be a +/- 0.2V difference between actual battery voltage and the readout. Somehow I ended up with the Zamp controller that is consistently -.2V. I don't know what effect this has on the electrical system, if any, but it sure would be nice for all of the monitors to provide the same readout.
-Your comment regarding the Zamp output not being high enough stuck a chord. Its winter and was quite cloudy here today so the panels were not producing much of a charging current (we'll have similar conditions tomorrow so I'll get a chance to measure the charging current via the ZS-30 (something I didn't do today)). It could be that the entire system is functioning as designed and the power use of the separator or something else (under "Full Charge" conditions while plugged into shore power) was causing the cycling issue.
-What didn't make sense to me was that the solar panels should not have played a roll in this as the van was plugged in. I rechecked the SMB manual and it clearly states that the solar panels will not charge the batteries when the van is plugged into shore power. Yet it was the ZS-30 that was reading the fluctuations in voltage as the cycling occurred (these same fluctuations were not present in the Magnum RC or the SMB plug in monitor during the cycling). The fact that the cycling occurred as the ZS-30 readings changed led me to believe the solar panels were a root cause.
-Finally, I'm sure that this has occurred, or will occur, to another owner so hopefully this thread is beneficial to all. I'll provide an update in the AM.
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Old 01-02-2015, 06:35 PM   #6
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

That's way different than my build but it's an 06. My old SP separator would close anytime it saw a positive charge voltage around 13.2 no matter if it was solar, alternator, or shore charge or all three combined.


I've had a couple of these SP separators do what you're saying both on the road and on shore power. I never really found the cause but didn't spend too much time looking either. There is supposed to be a lag time to prevent rapid chattering and that failed for what ever reason. Since I ditched that brand and went to the Blue Sea separator, it's never happened again. Not saying there might not be a problem causing this either. I did have a slow open and closing of the SP separator in the past when on solar only... the charge would build up, the separator would close then w/i a minute or so the separator would open back up. This would continue to do this and the problem was a shorted cell in one of my starting batteries. YMMV
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Old 01-02-2015, 08:40 PM   #7
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

tig,
Ok I have read the magnum manual and believe I understand somewhat why this is happening. Your Magnum Inverter/charger is in full charge mode. This is a battery saver mode, that tries not to stay in float forever, this will happen after the charger has been in float mode for at least 4 hours. Also looking at your first post, it clearly states that Magnum is in Full Charge Mode. This essentially turns off the charger and monitors the voltage if it drops below 12.7 it will go back into float mode for a additional 4 hours. So during this time your Magnum is essentially off. This allows your Zamp controller to kick in and provide a charge, at this time it should be at a minimal in float mode, but it is hard to say what stage the Zamp controller thinks it is in. But I expect at this point it gets the separator above 13.2 volts which enables the relay to combine batteries, here with the load of the additional van batteries and the power used keeping the relay closed causes the voltage to drop below 12.8 volts and thus opening the relay back up. Once the relay opens the Zamp now has enough power to get the voltage back up to 13.2 and the process starts again. So while the Zamp controller is not causing the Magnum to shut off, it does defeat one of the strategies that Magnum has put in place for longer battery life.

Now that we believe we have established that this is really working as we expect given the low light conditions, what state the Magnum charger is in what can we do to eliminate it from happening, because the cycling of separator is not really a good thing, and while it is specked for 50,000 cycles, the actual cycles that you are getting are the worse kind because there is little current going across the relay, and this tends to make the contacts inside the relay get really dirty and build up contact resistance, thus causing early failure in the unit. So you have a couple of things you can do, the first would be to put a switch of relay between the Zamp controller and house battery. This would enable you to shut down the Zamp in low light conditions and just be a good option. You could put a switch on the ground wire going to the surepower, without ground the unit will not operate, the negative is that you need to remember to turn it back on. You could also look at replacing the SurePower with the BlueSea 7622 or 7620. The optional switch that they provide can be used as a indicator that it is closed and also let's you manually close or open it with the switch. This would enable you to disable it if you had to, but because it is a magnetic latch relay, once closed or open the current draw would be minimal, so you may never see the cycling under the same conditions. I am not sure how old your Surpower unit is, but it would be on my list of things to change anyhow.

Hope all this helps, I will be interested in the results tomorrow. It would be great if all the things that measure the battery were the same, unfortunately that is pretty much to impossible, as it really depends on a lot of factors, I would expect the Zamp to off more then the Magnum. Also, this is a area where a good battery monitor comes in, then you trust it the most.

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Old 01-06-2015, 10:54 AM   #8
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Update: Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

Received great feedback from both SMB North and Zamp Tech Support. The system is working as designed but an adjustment will need to be made to the Magnum Inverter/Charge Rate via the Remote Controller (see below). Zamp Tech Support offered that the Zamp ZS-30 Controller is factory set with an absorption charge rate of 14.4V and a float charge rate of 13.6V. The Magnum Inverter was at its default charge rate setting of 80% (12.9V for float charge). As a result, the Zamp ZS-30 controller does not recognize the Magnum Inverter's "Full Charge" reading (12.9V) and will continue its absorption charge (14.4V) until it achieves a float charge of 13.6V (at which point it will, and does, go inactive). The Zamp panels do achieve this during partly cloudy or clear days. Zamp Tech Support did note that, "technically speaking", 12.9 was a 100% charge, but explained that the float and absorption charges needed to be higher for AGM batteries. Overall, all seem to agree that the Magnum Inverter and the Zamp Controller were confusing each other (as evidenced by the separator's actions). The difference in settings also helps explain why the solar panels were actively charging while the van was plugged in and the Magnum RC read "Full Charge". SMB North recommended that I change the charge rate at the Magnum Inverter to 100% vice the default setting of 80%. Welcome any thoughts or observations on this and if I've understood the above right.
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Old 01-06-2015, 06:06 PM   #9
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

I do not believe, or at least that is not my interpretation of that setting. The reason the magnum dropped to 12.9 is because it had been at the proper float voltage for 4 hours. It essentially no longer providing a float charge, but it is monitoring the voltage to see if it drops below 12.7 "full Power State". I don't see that changing the charge rate would cause that to directly change, and I don't think it would float the float current level.

I expect up until the magnum dropped off that both controllers were providing a float charge for better or worse, after that magnum dropped off at full charge, the Zamp controller did not have enough power to keep it at a float charge and the voltage dropped below the 12.8 setting and turned of the SurePower relay. Now the Zamp is just providing a float charge for one battery bank, the house, is also does not have the power draw of the SurePower relay. It apparently had enough available current at the time to go back above 13.2 as it reaches it's float voltage, this turns on the surepower adding the addition power and load of the van batteries. It again appears that the Zamp can not hold the voltage for that additional load and the voltage once again drops below 12.8 and thus the cycle continues until the voltage drops below 12.7 (the Magnum would go back to float) or the Zamp has enough power to keep a full float.I believe that this is influenced by the available sunlight you are getting for this time of year, and had you not been plugged in the Zamp really would have never reached that level with the power it had.

So if you could disable the "full power feature", that most likely eliminate the potential for the issue, be aware, that would be very similar to getting them both up to float and unplugging so it would be possible to still have it happen from a theoretical stand point.

I will give it some more thought tonight.
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Old 01-07-2015, 03:56 PM   #10
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Re: Question Regarding Successive Separator Clicks

I think you want to change the Setup 09 Final Charge setting from "Multi" to "Float" , this will disable the Full Charge mode that you are going into.

-greg
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