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-   -   Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches? (https://www.sportsmobileforum.com/forums/f20/battery-isolators-separators-and-switches-7991.html)

SteveW 04-06-2014 04:49 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Great thread !!!

Can anyone offer some commentary on battery combiners ??

I'm specifically considering a Yadina 100...

https://www.yandina.com/c100InfoR3.htm

Thanks,

Steve W
Southern California

coyotearms 04-07-2014 10:45 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
A battery combiner is the same animal as a battery separator. This thread talks mostly about the Sure Power uni-directional separator 1314-200, Sure Power bi-directional 1315-2000 and the Blue Sea 7622 and is also applicable to the 7620. I have also run across a HDM BAS-Series (https://www.hdm-sys.com/pdf/hdm_bas_specs.pdf) that is very similar to the Sure Power. The one you mention seems wimpy and designed for basically banks of one battery each. Read this entire thread carefully to understand some of the pros and cons of the Sure Power and Blue Sea devices and the difference between uni- and bi-directional ones. Blue Sea has numerous separators and other devices for managing battery banks---their site is highly educational! Also read up on the difference between a separator and isolator, which is a uni-directional solid state device. They can get pretty costly for high currents. I don't think you will necessarily find someone that can hand you the perfect solution for your particular situation.

REF 04-08-2014 07:56 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Thought I would chime in on this as I've just replaced the original isolator after it went bad. I went with the sure power 1315A separator, 100A continuous, bi-directional. I was originally looking for the 200A version figuring I've got a 130A alternator and will need the larger separator to match but was told by the very knowledgable folks at Smith AE that alternators do not generally run at full capacity, the separator is good for 100A continuous and up to 300A(or was it 200A) bursts. The guy I talked to said that if the 200A continuous versions do not see that kind of continuous higher amperage, the solenoids and the contacts, which are a different metal than on the 100A unit, will start building up a soot because it's not being burned off by lower amperage running through them, eventually the unit will no longer switch. So before you put those 200A units in, might want to confirm my findings.

Scalf77 04-08-2014 08:58 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
What you were told I would agree with. It does take a good amount of current to keep the contacts of the solenoid clean, this is a common problem with high current solenoids. I would still put the 100 amp version in this category. Both solenoids the last time I checked were rated at 50,000 cycles which would be in line with silver alloy contacts. Copper contacts would be more around 25,000 cycles. A bigger cause would be the current difference when making contact, I would generally agree that the 100 amp version would have a lower wetting (minimum current to keep contact clean) then the 200 amp version. The original Surepower unit that sportsmobile installed on my rig was the 100 amp version, when inquiring with them on another issue, I had sent them a picture of the Surepower unit and they informed me that I had the wrong unit and and sent me the 200 amp replacement. I do not know why they believed I needed the 200 amp version. I expect that you will be fine, with the 100 amp version, because even if you put out close to max on the alternator, a good portion of that is going to you Van System and not the house anyway. I expect if you were upgrading from a isolator to separator that your wiring would be the limiting factor. I would not try to use the house as a emergency starter.

More than a few people have experienced the dirty contact issue with the surepower units.

-greg

REF 04-09-2014 09:52 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Greg-thanks, can you elaborate on why I wouldn't want to use the house as an emergency starter. I am having that feature wired up as we speak, the only difference with wiring between the 2 units was adding a ground wire on the separator I think, otherwise, I'm good? The 100A separator should be able to handle the momentary burst of power.

Scalf77 04-09-2014 10:13 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Rick,
Sorry for my lack of clarity, using it as a emergency starter reference was more to the fact that you said you replaced an isolator. I think of that as a diode based device and they traditionally have not had the same wiring size requirements that you would need for using it as a starter. I think Surepower recommends 4 gauge if the cable run is less then 10 feet, other wise 2 Gauge for over 10 feet. The inrush current spec for the 100 amp version is 400 amps , for 30 seconds. This is with a cool off time of six mins. So yes if your wire is up to size you would be fine. I would also make sure they fuse the ground connection with a 10 amp fuse.

-greg

Scalf77 04-09-2014 10:20 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Rick,
Also to use the start assist feature you would need to run that tab to a 12 volts source (house battery ) though a momentary switch. I and others do not recommend wiring it to the start circuit of the van.

-greg

coyotearms 04-10-2014 10:00 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by REF
Thought I would chime in on this as I've just replaced the original isolator after it went bad. I went with the sure power 1315A separator, 100A continuous, bi-directional. I was originally looking for the 200A version figuring I've got a 130A alternator and will need the larger separator to match but was told by the very knowledgable folks at Smith AE that alternators do not generally run at full capacity, the separator is good for 100A continuous and up to 300A(or was it 200A) bursts. The guy I talked to said that if the 200A continuous versions do not see that kind of continuous higher amperage, the solenoids and the contacts, which are a different metal than on the 100A unit, will start building up a soot because it's not being burned off by lower amperage running through them, eventually the unit will no longer switch. So before you put those 200A units in, might want to confirm my findings.

After what I found out when updating engine batteries and battery separator, I was happy to pay the money for a marine quality Blue Sea latching type separator with the 500 A continuous, 2500 A cranking, 100,000 cycle life. Yes, those specs are overkill, but I have the "Extra Heavy Duty Alternator" according to the build sheet (I still don't know the max amps for but could be as high as 200). When I had the Sure Power 200A unit a 125 A fuse between the house batteries and separator blew, which was replaced with a 175, but I don't know if it happened during charging or emergency starting, which I had done a few times. So those currents can get up there. The Blue Sea also has a nice feature if used with a solar system that takes into account bulk and float phases of the solar system.

So what else did I not like about the Sure Power? First, I was on my 2nd unit (the 1314-200) and its emergency start circuit crapped out. The 1st one was the one that SMB Indiana put in, but because I have a significant amount of solar it took me a month or so in the summer to realize what they put in was most likely dead on arrival---did they even check?

Second of all, when it is latched I discovered it is too hot to touch. When I checked the specs, I found out the "relay drive current" is 1.5 A just to keep the contacts closed. That is 20 W or 15 AmHr every 10 hrs the solar is charging batteries after the charge controller goes above 13.2 V until it drops to 12.8. Sorry, but that seems like a terrible waste on when you live in cloudy Seattle!

Lastly, I ran across a Sure Power safety recall that I thought applied to the model I had https://www.cooperindustries.com/cont...l_info_NA.html. When I called about it and gave my serial number (10002198) I was told, no, it was the 100 A model that was being recalled and it has letters following the numbers. I was reassured that mine had no safety issues, but THE SERIAL NUMBER WAS FOR A 15 YR OLD UNIT! This time shame on Van Specialties who put the 2nd one in. Both Van Specialties and Sure Power are even both in Oregon!

It sounds like I am venting, and I am, but this forum is about passing along helpful information that I think we all want to know about, and that is especially true for everyone that has a 100 A Sure Power unit.

jage 04-10-2014 08:43 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by REF
Greg-thanks, can you elaborate on why I wouldn't want to use the house as an emergency starter. I am having that feature wired up as we speak, the only difference with wiring between the 2 units was adding a ground wire on the separator I think, otherwise, I'm good? The 100A separator should be able to handle the momentary burst of power.

I bought a 400A separator for my replacement, but you can always throw some a single small jumper cable between the posts on the separator to make the connection if you're not sure about the 100A. This is also necessary if the switch side (house in my case) has so little power it cannot connect the switch. I have no idea if 100A is sufficient to carry starting a diesel, so I can't guess.*

That said I have had bad luck with starters (a string of Autozone batteries under warranty) and have used the house batteries to jump many, many times. It's highly recommended as a backup- although the way my van came wired it originally manually connected the separator with key-on, s.t. I was jumping the starters from the house with every start. That I'm totally against because it masks problems with your starters, and when your house are flat you have nothing- it should be an emergency jump, like any jump from another vehicle- only to get you going, not an every-time-you-start assist.

*Poked around a bit and it looks like a 7.3L averages 300A-400A to start- thing here is if your starter batteries are not completely flat, then you shouldn't be drawing the full amperage through the separator, just... you know, a boost. Alternatively if your starters are fully flat, I would skip right to the one jumper cable from post to post to avoid the big draw across the separator.

coyotearms 04-12-2014 02:13 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Wouldn't it be better to just put one of those nice high current Blue Sea switches across the separator as a back up? Depending on the space available and the kind of cable (lugs on each end that need a wrench to make a safe connection or hefty clamps like on jumper cables or a jumper cable) in tight spaces could be a bit problematic with sparks flying around as the current could be substantial before tuning over the engine depending on what the problem is. I am only thinking this way because things are so tight were my separator is, I mounted it upside down (with Blue Sea's blessing as long as it is in a dry area) to keep the + terminals away from lots of other - stuff!

The 7622 is in the upper right in the shadows. Note how close the + terminals would be to the grounding post if right side up:

daveb 04-12-2014 05:26 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by coyotearms
Wouldn't it be better to just put one of those nice high current Blue Sea switches across the separator as a back up? Depending on the space available and the kind of cable (lugs on each end that need a wrench to make a safe connection or hefty clamps like on jumper cables or a jumper cable) in tight spaces could be a bit problematic with sparks flying around as the current could be substantial before tuning over the engine depending on what the problem is.

I bought one but never installed it. My plan was to wire it with an inline fuse (400A) so if the chassis batteries are dead due to a short hopefully the fuse would blow. My issue with SMB's standard install is they use too small of wire and trying to crank a starter as well as supplying the current the dead batteries want might melt down the buss wire. After I got rid of the Surepower I never had an issue with the new 7622 so the switch got put in the tool box. My 7622 is configured not to jump start during ignition. Fortunately I haven't had the opportunity use the house system to jump start the van. If I do I will let the separator sit in the combine state for several minutes so the starting batteries come up a bit. One of these days I do plan to upgrade the wire between the starting batteries and the separator. when I do I might parallel the switch in as a backup.

TAlvarez 09-16-2014 01:06 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Great thread, especially for electrical rookie like myself!

With that said, I'm in the midst of planning my 12v system and gathering parts. All points lead to the Blue Sea 7620/22 Separator's, but what about Inverters.
Can anyone offer any suggestions on reliable brands for a 1000 watt portable inverter that can be hard wired with a 12v system?
Let me know w/ thanks and if it's already mentioned in the thread please point me to it and I will study as needed.

Thanks
BT

coyotearms 09-16-2014 10:12 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TAlvarez
Great thread, especially for electrical rookie like myself!

Let me know w/ thanks and if it's already mentioned in the thread please point me to it and I will study as needed.

Thanks
BT

Go bigger, get an inverter/charger, get sinusoidal waveform. Do more homework---use the search button ---you should find lots on this topic. . .

daveb 09-16-2014 01:10 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Yes try using "inverter" in the search and see what you find. To tell the truth I'd search the web. Inverters keep changing and I'm not up to date on the best models. Maybe a new van owner can chime in but there are some things to consider:

A pure sinewave inverter is always better but many can get by with a modified sinewave inverter. Depends on what you want/need to run. The charger should have a "smart" type charger built in though. Also one with a control panel that allows you to read numerical values in amps and volts is a huge advantage for trouble shooting purposes. If you don't want to go that route, a good flush mounted battery monitor is highly recommended to supplement an inverter that just has idiot lights. You can also have a small backup or mini inverter to power small devices that don't require a pure sinewave and need only minimal amperage to run. Just having an inverter running pulls power even if it isn't running anything. The bigger the inverter, the more standby power it pulls. So if you power up a big 3000 watt inverter to charge a small item like a phone it's a waste of power. A small plug in type mini inverter works just fine and won't suck down your battery reserves as quickly. Size the inverter to your largest load you plan to use. No sense paying for a 5000 watt inverter when the most you'll ever use is 2000. Seems most people go between 1500-2500 watts. Always go bigger than your max load and figure if you are running a specific sized microwave it will pull a bit more than the stated number. Always figure for combined load as well.

rustypayne 09-16-2014 05:50 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
I'm still gathering material to rework my electrical but I'm planning to install two inverters. The larger one 1500-2000 watt pure sine wave will be turned off when not actually needed to save my batteries and then a small cheapie 300 watt inverter that can be left on to charge phones, plug in a radio and things like that.

jage 09-22-2014 09:24 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rustypayne
a small cheapie 300 watt

I've used a 150w cigarette lighter plug in inverter to charge cells for many years now. For my main I have a 2000w pure sine, the pure sine is overkill in my opinion, but the wattage is not- I've got a few smaller inverters that have been installed here and there (I put one under the tractor seat :a5: ) and nothing is worse than firing up an electric tool and having it go "Nope!" and shut down.

As mentioned in the thread, inverters get better all the time, I'd just look for good price and high watts if I was starting from scratch.

BrianW 10-03-2014 11:29 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Trying to wade through this thread and others, but am just getting more confused. I have a Sure Power 1602 isolator, installed (I assume) by SMB-Indiana back when they built the van in 1998. It's not giving me any issues - that I know of - but I figured it would be worthwhile to proactively upgrade it, as technology has changed a lot in the past 16 years!

I'm reading about isolators vs. separators, and whether or not to have the ability to use the house batteries to boost the starting batteries. That feature would be nice, but not 100% required.

So what is the recommendation nowadays for replacing an old Sure Power 1602 isolator? Stick with Sure Power (looks like they still make the 1602), or go with an isolator like the Sure Power 1315 or a Blue Sea or something? Should I go with one that's 100a or 200a capable? (I read the previous discussion, and it sounds like the 100a version would be ok).

I have a gasser engine with just the one battery. House batteries are 3xGroup 27 AGM batteries @315ah total. I have the stock Ford alternator. No solar yet, but I plan to add 2x100w panels soon, I hope.

Thanks!

daveb 10-03-2014 11:51 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Swapping to a separator might be more costly but you can mount it in the engine compartment. It's not the best spot though. A cleaner drier area is better plus some have manual controls so a place with easy access is usually a better choice. The advantage of a separator is that it gives you the option of charging the starting battery system from a secondary source like a shore power charger, generator or solar system. It also can be used to jump start the vehicle (depending on the model) but the buss wire between the house battery and starting battery needs to be taken into account. [Edit] Starting amperage to turn over a vehicle can be quite high so like the buss, the separator needs to be rated for higher current than a typical isolator which generally only supplies a lower charge current. That is why most vehicles use 200a+ rated separator models. Might want to read this Brian:

https://www.bluesea.com/articles/58

BrianW 10-03-2014 01:02 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
^^Thanks. Didn't realize that separators need to be in a dry environment. All things being equal, I'd prefer to keep it in the same location (under the hood on the right, back side of engine compartment, under the coolant reservoir) and not have to rewire.

daveb 10-03-2014 03:12 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BrianW
^^Thanks. Didn't realize that separators need to be in a dry environment.

Depends on the model/make. Most including the Surepower separators are supposed to be sealed but SMB thought one of the problems they were having (with the Surepower) had to do with dampness. You can always check the specs. Many are designed for marine use. Even though mine were never exposed to water I had a lot of trouble with them. It was a corrosion issue.

TAlvarez 10-13-2014 07:59 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Thanks everyone.
Did more research and am moving forward with the Grainger 2000W Pire Sine wave Inverter, Blue Sea separator, UB4D 200AH AGM battery, possibly two and 1 100watt+ solar panel. Should be plenty for my rig and the gear that I'll need to run.
Headed back to SMBW next month to have it all installed...

pbjosh 02-04-2015 03:28 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Question for folks:

In the past I used a Surepower to combine house and starter batteries in a Tacoma. Wiring runs were short (just a couple feet), were double loomed, all terminals were booted, and I didn't use a fuse or breaker. I used 4ga and never had a problem. Truck is still going strong, somewhere in Panamá.

For our van I am using a Blue Sea 7622 so I can use the isolation circuits, the manual override, and the dash switch, since we have a much more involved electrical system. I am planning on 4GA wiring between my house batteries (LiFePo) and starter (regular old lead acid, new from prior owner so I left 'em in). I was planning a 100amp manual reset breaker in the circuit for charging, but time is here to mount it and I realize that if I need help starting or winching off the house battery (hopefully never), that breaker won't do. Of course there are a couple options. A shitty option is jumper cables to connect batteries. OK that's a terrible option, given that I already have wiring in place and getting to the house batteries is not that trivial, it requires pulling up the mattress and unscrewing a lexan panel. Realistically, we should never have a dead starter battery as I can trickle charge the start system from our solar when desired, and we have a 140A alternator and two starting batteries which should keep up with a 12k winch pretty well.

That said, I'd rather be able to start or winch with help from the house if necessary without shenanigans. But those are a lot of amps, even if only briefly over 4GA (about 10' run total). What do folks use for fusing / circuit protection that is good for 500A (for winching) or whatever realistic cranking amps are (probably 300-600?). A bussed block of auto-resetting circuit breakers? A monster breaker? The largest Blue Sea circuit breaker I see is 200A, with a 1 second ability to surge quite high (1200A) and about 10 seconds of 200% duty surge (400A). That is close on the starting but not quite on winching, but really I can't imagine winching with dead starting batteries and the van not running. That is highly improbable, and just plain dumb.

daveb 02-04-2015 04:00 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Nothing is fused which haunted me over new years. But that said, a cold crank on a diesel might pull higher amps than what you can find in a fuse or breaker. And if you add too large of protection, you need to go with large wire so the protection trips before harm comes to the wire. That is my guess why manufactures don't fuse starting systems. My winch cable (#2 copper) was cut and spliced by Ford several years ago. They wrapped it with black tape which grounded out...the winch wire acted like a fuse but burned the Ford chassis starting harness and then those went up in flames. Nice job Ford :a7:


From the distance that most house systems are away from the winch, I'd guess 2/0 or larger would be what's needed if the starting batteries were dead for winching. As soon as you combine the two systems, the dead batteries also suck up the house reserves trying to recharge them. That pulls the voltage down even more. Not good on the winch motor.
They shouldn't give the idea that the house batteries can be used by themselves to start the engine... more that it assists the starting batteries if they need a little boost. There is a reason why Ford uses larger starting buss wire especially with batteries so far from the engine.

You could incorporate a high amp switch with larger buss and a smaller parallel fused charging circuit. Close the switch only when needed in an emergency. Sorry but sometimes the KISS phrase comes in there when we try to over engineer something. But you're going into a different environment and might need something out of the ordinary.

pbjosh 02-04-2015 04:51 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Yeah the idea of a separate switched starting system came to my mind, but I would run out of room on two different electrical posts where things hub. The last thing I want to do is find room for and mount buss bars at this point, especially in the crowded engine bay near my starting battery. Pfffffftttt.... :)

I honestly can't imagine winching off the house, really I just can't. I'm sure there's a possible situation but in every case I can think of there is a better solution.

As far as starting, I imagine we'd just combine for a while to let the house bring up the starting batteries then try turning over again, while still combined. FWIW the LiFePo batteries can deliver basically as much current as your wiring and protection solenoids allow. For us, that is limited to about 500-600A for brief periods by the wiring sizes and solenoids employed, as we don't anticipate using over 100A ever, really. But if you have LiFePo, one thing to keep in mind in designing things is that they are able to discharge at over 10,000A when shorted, so it would be fully possible to start off them if we had engineered for it.

I guess I am perhaps overthinking it. Maybe I'll stay with the 100A breaker, or maybe I'll go to a 200A just for a bit of peace of mind, though I would probably want 2GA or 1/0 to match to a 200A breaker and I'm not sure I really need/want that...

Thanks for the thoughts daveb!

Viva 02-04-2015 05:37 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
I'm just re-wiring some things on my rig. A couple of concepts that you may already totally have a handle on (if so, pardon!). Plus, I'm an amateur, so take anything I say with that in mind.

One is that you fuse for the wire. There are "ampacity charts" (for example, ABYC puts one out) that tell you how much the wire can take (and specifies whether it is solo or bundled, in engine room or not [heat]). If you find you can't fuse a wire high enough for your load, then that's your signal to go up in wire size.

With that "combiner" wire you have two big things: One is the draw for the starter motor (if you are going to use it to "jump yourself,") and the other is the alternator output to charge the house bank. On the starter motor for the V-10 (my engine), I think it draws about 180 amps or so (not counting momentary inrush current). Then there is a 130 amp alternator, although I doubt that much would ever be going back to the house bank since the Ford engine takes some of it.

I have some 1/0 wire, so that's what I'm using. That can be fused to 242 amps in engine spaces (with 105ºC rated wire) (you can "overrate the fuse" in some cases, but I'm going to stick with straight ratings), so I'm going to start with a 225 amp fuse on the start battery wire (that goes to house bank), but could move to 250 if necessary.

Then you also want a fuse on the other end of the wire (by the house bank).

There is one more concept to know about, which is AIC, or "ampere interrupt capacity." Essentially if the fuse doesn't have a high enough AIC rating, it can simply melt/fail instead of doing its job. This is not about the fuse size, but about the fuse "strength," if you will.

ABYC (agency that does voluntary standards for boats - well respected) has recently refined their methods for determining needed AIC rating. Problem was that with bigger and more powerful house banks, standard rules of thumb were not enough anymore. If your battery's mfgr. specifies a short circuit number, then you can use that to determine AIC. A Blue Sea MRBF is rated around 10,000 AIC at 12 volts, IIRC. I am fine with the 10,000 AIC of the Blue Sea MRBF for my start battery, and the holder is super handy as it can go right at the battery post (I used a marine adapter stud clamp to convert the automotive post to a stud and then put ring terminals on all of the wiring).

OTOH, with my house bank (3 Lifeline Group 31's), I need more - can't remember the exact figure but somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000 AIC. This put me into a Class T fuse for my house battery bank, on the 2/0 wire coming from the interconnects to the positive bus. The 1/0 run up to the start battery is still fine with the fuse amperage I have for the Class T, so I don't need to fuse that wire separately on the house bank end (normally you have to re-fuse a wire whenever it goes down in size).

Since #4 (presuming non-bundled but in engine spaces - which I think starts at 86º or so) is rated for only 136 amps, that might be tight on fusing (although I believe you are allowed to go 50% over, I never feel like that's so great).

At any rate, maybe that gives you some ideas. Hopefully I haven't misspoken anywhere -- been a month or so since I designed my system. Plus.... not a pro.

daveb 02-04-2015 06:11 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pbjosh
Yeah the idea of a separate switched starting system came to my mind, but I would run out of room on two different electrical posts where things hub. The last thing I want to do is find room for and mount buss bars at this point, especially in the crowded engine bay near my starting battery. Pfffffftttt.... :)

I honestly can't imagine winching off the house, really I just can't. I'm sure there's a possible situation but in every case I can think of there is a better solution.

As far as starting, I imagine we'd just combine for a while to let the house bring up the starting batteries then try turning over again, while still combined. FWIW the LiFePo batteries can deliver basically as much current as your wiring and protection solenoids allow. For us, that is limited to about 500-600A for brief periods by the wiring sizes and solenoids employed, as we don't anticipate using over 100A ever, really. But if you have LiFePo, one thing to keep in mind in designing things is that they are able to discharge at over 10,000A when shorted, so it would be fully possible to start off them if we had engineered for it.

I guess I am perhaps overthinking it. Maybe I'll stay with the 100A breaker, or maybe I'll go to a 200A just for a bit of peace of mind, though I would probably want 2GA or 1/0 to match to a 200A breaker and I'm not sure I really need/want that...

Thanks for the thoughts daveb!

I didn't ask but there is a hell of a difference starting a diesel over a gas engine. I just assume you have a diesel as your planning an out of US trip. I'm not sure exactly what the amperage rating for a hard cold start on a diesel with low starting batteries (400+ amps). The main thing is in a pinch you don't need a fuse melting out if your life depends on a quick judgement to get your vehicle out of harms way. I've had two electrical incidents and both were from poor installation tactics done by people other than me. Not that I can't FU but none of the SMB's coming out of the factory provide fused battery components unless things have changed over the year. It's a rare occurrence IMO. Now fusing is a good idea in some cases and I'd hate to hear by not doing so that you lost your van due to fire but YMMV. Viva's point is solid and probably a good idea but I'm not fusing mine...yet :b1:

On another note I'd suggest strapping down the chassis batteries if they are mounted to the frame like mine. I was horrified to find the battery boxes stressing where they bolt up. It wouldn't have been long before they dropped on their own. Too much off roading I guess. I really doubt the Ford engineers figured somebody would stick such a heavy off road conversion under the body. I plan to redesign or reinforce the way the batteries are held in place. I've already put heavy straps around my house batteries.

Viva 02-04-2015 07:39 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
I hear you on "letting sleeping dogs lie," and I have done that for awhile too. In my case I needed to do some upgrades to the stock house system, and I didn't want to actively put things back as they were without adding the fuses and upgrading the wiring. Adding the fusing was relatively painless once I figured out what I needed. The one gotcha would be if the wiring was too small to properly fuse (I up-sized).

I mentioned this above, but to elaborate slightly, I put "marine post" adapters on the Ford start battery automotive posts (this is a V-10). These are just lead battery clamps that have studs on them that take ring terminals and then a nut. I followed what I am used to which is 3/8" stud on positive and 5/16" on negative. Quite a few people make them; I have one FTZ and one Ancor (just happened that way due to stock levels, etc.)

So now I had posts. I don't know if there have been changes, but my 1998 chassis had a Ford battery cable harness with "built in" combination lug/clamps that went on the automotive post. The added wire for the run back to the house was sort of wedged in, and not looking super slick. On the positive side of the start battery, I cut the Ford lug/clamp off and put on a tinned copper lug that slips over the marine post. I also put a Blue Sea 5191 MRBF fuse terminal on the new marine post, along with a Blue Sea 5188 225 amp MRBF (fuse). This has 10,000 AIC so is good for my start battery (Odyssey Group 65 AGM).

At the house bank end, I used a Blue Sea Class T Fuse holder (Blue Sea 5502), because it has an AIC rating of 20,000 (I needed around 15,000, so the MRBF was not enough for the three Lifeline Group 31's). I used a 225 amp Class T Fuse in it, and installed it just as the positive cable comes off the battery bank (recommended within 7").

I couldn't get the Blue Sea photos to upload (too large I think), but these part numbers can easily be looked up at www.bluesea.com.

Viva

PS: I also found that where the Ford battery harness negative lead curves around to attach to the starter underneath the van, the black insulation had split at the apex of the curve and the exposed wire was a bit green. I cut off that section and spliced on a new piece of tinned #4 (it's originally #4), with new heat shrink, etc. Actually the inside of the wire wasn't hideous, but I couldn't tell until after I cut it off and opened it up. OTOH, it was not that great looking and who wants "green wire" in the starting system.

pbjosh 02-04-2015 08:00 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Yeah I have the 7.3. I'm fairly certain I'm going to let it go at the 100 amp breaker near the main starting battery, as that is better sized for the 4GA, but I might get a ~200A, still mulling. I don't have a breaker/fuse between my 7622 and my house battery, but that run is about 4.5 feet of 4ga that is mounted to our non-conductive walls with little stick down mounts and zip tie, and runs straight to the main power pole of our battery protection solenoids. If the shit hits the fan and I need to jump myself I'll move the mattress and the bed platform, take the cover off the electronics and use jumper cables. Gack. Should never happen, fingers crossed.

On the battery mounting, I bent and welded up a box out of .060 5052 sheet. Then welded on feet and built straps that hold the batteries in. It's lined with automotive carpet. Box is held to the floor with 6 x #10 stainless sheet metal screws and to the wall with a couple more via another mounting strap. They are mounted inside the van, not under. I don't think they are going anywhere. All of the electrical stuff (protection solenoids, electrical mgmt computer (from an electric car to manage the solenoids and the LiFePo batteries), a 12-24V DC stepup converter, a marine fuseblock, a large fuse for our inverter, and a solenoid for switching the stepup converter, are mounted in a box that has a screw on lexan cover.

The messy part, for me, is how close my electrical stuff is to my plumbing. I am fitting a very well fit sheet of komatex (PVC board, sort of like a substitute for plywood, more flexible, easier to work, a bit less strength, waterproof and most importantly for me, DOES NOT MOLD!) between the electrical side and the pressurized plumbing side as a splash guard. The non pressurized side of the water supply, coming from the tank, does run under the electronics, but they are protected from beneath and are off the floor in case of flood, and there are only two pex crimps anywhere near the electronics. I hemmed and hawed a lot over placement of things and decided to do this, as we have decided for the fulltime in place bed and maximum possible storage, which shrinks down the systems space...

I uploaded a couple images to imgur quicklike but the 1024 pixel restriction is killing me here. Sorry they aren't inline, follow the links!

Here is the box on top of the batteries. 54lbs for 200AH (180 usable). Battery cost was about $1200 but there are some other additional costs in the mgmt systems ($500+), the solenoids are pricey and there is some logic to avoid wrecking the batteries with over/undercharge.

https://i.imgur.com/hjQ2FvL.jpg

Here is the box installed, I welded some 1/8 6061-T6 bar stock onto the box and tapped 8x32 threads into it, then secured the straps with 3 x 1/4" 8x32 stainless machine screws on each side of each strap. Used the same trick on my strapping for my water tank, which gave me a jenga-esque securing system for the water tank that can be disassembled in place to get the tank out without pulling tons of other stuff, but lets the tanks be as large as possible for the space it is in, if that makes sense.

https://i.imgur.com/uKxPiiP.jpg

Here's the system board installed, but missing a lot of the connections. The box is built of 1/2" Komatex put together with Weld-on PVC cement (forget the Weld-on number at the moment) and brass screws. A lexan cover screws on to the front. One (vacuum side, non-pressurized) PEX pipe runs underneath all that but again it's the non-pressurized side and the box is pretty well protected from below, and the batteries and electronics are all 2" off the floor, and there will be a very well fitted splash guard between all this and the wet bits.

https://i.imgur.com/hNmGcvT.jpg

Anyways this has next to nothing to do with the thread on battery separators or my original question, but there you go :)

And thank you VIVA for the input. I have considered what you mention (more or less). I am only a very slight bit more cowboy in my way of doing things, in that I don't mind large currents through decent quality welding cable for brief periods (IE, if the situation arises, trying to jump start with cable that technically should be a gauge or two larger, where the ignition is only turned for a few seconds), but I really do like to try to build things that won't ever need to be repaired, serviced, or taken apart, at least within my abilities to forsee all possibilities, as limited as they are :)

If any of you have seen my solar thread, I pansied around and failed to drill through my roof all day long thinking about the variations of how to pass the panels' cables through the part of my poptop that is outside the poptop canvas. It's not rocket science but I'm trying to do it with the minimum of holes, minimum of profile of cables on the roof, and the ability to paint over all parts involved to make it less obvious.

Cheers anyways and thanks to all for all their thoughts on my various questions,

Josh

coyotearms 02-05-2015 11:21 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by pbjosh
Question for folks:
That said, I'd rather be able to start or winch with help from the house if necessary without shenanigans. But those are a lot of amps, even if only briefly over 4GA (about 10' run total). What do folks use for fusing / circuit protection that is good for 500A (for winching) or whatever realistic cranking amps are (probably 300-600?). A bussed block of auto-resetting circuit breakers? A monster breaker? The largest Blue Sea circuit breaker I see is 200A, with a 1 second ability to surge quite high (1200A) and about 10 seconds of 200% duty surge (400A). That is close on the starting but not quite on winching, but really I can't imagine winching with dead starting batteries and the van not running. That is highly improbable, and just plain dumb.

My "short" input given Viva's very detailed posts, is that my build came with #4 cables between house bank of three 90 AHr Dekka's, through a Sure Power and to the start bank, which in my case (diesel w/ start bank under chassis within about 4 ft of house bank). According to Sure Power install sheet #4 was appropriate. When I swapped out a dead Sure Power for the Blue Sea 7622, I considered upgrading the #4, but still felt it was appropriate for emergency engine starts so it is still #4. However, I added a Blue Sea MRBF battery terminal fuse block (P/N 2141) to that circuit and a 125 A fuse. After attempting to start the engine with a dead start bank due to a low-current short somewhere in the engine compartment (Ford's fault) I discovered that fuse was burned out. I replaced it with a 175 A one that I felt was as much as I wanted to trust the #4 cabling. That was two years ago, it has never burned out, but I have not had a serious start issue again. If that happened and the 175 A blew, I would upgrade the #4 cabling to whatever Ford uses between the starter bank and starter, upgrade the fusing for what currents expected, but would be assuming I would never winch (assuming it is connected to the start bank) without the engine running fast enough to ensure alternator can put out it's max. In that case the current draw if the house bank is pulled into the mix (probably only with dash switch connecting banks because battery voltage could be so low the isolator may not engage even with solar in the mix) would be only contributing along with the alternator and house bank as all are in parallel at that point. My last suggestion is to invest in a clamp-type ammeter, which is what I did (Craftsman Model # 82369 ~$60, AC/DC current up to 400 amps and replaces your multimeter too) to sort out such issues in the future. But remember given what I said about revving engine and pressing dash switch: never be sitting in your vehicle when winching---does complicate things doesn't it?

awiggin2 07-27-2015 11:07 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
I am a new sportsmobile owner and know very little about electrical systems. That said, I'm hoping the answer to my question does not leave me asking more questions.

I recently went camping and left my van parked for about 48 hours; fridge running the whole time and using the stereo occasionally (maybe 2 hrs/day). This amount power consumption concerned me, but I knew I had cables and a friend's diesel truck, so I viewed it more as an experiment. I left the 'radio switch' on the external/house battery the entire time, thinking if anything ran down it would be the house battery, not the van battery. To my surprise the van battery was dead, yet the fridge (the biggest power hog) was still going strong.

I've read most of the initial post, but I'm still confused as to why this happened and how to fix it. Apparently the refrigerator chewed through the van battery first and then moved onto the house battery. Why? (what good is a house battery if it is second in line to the van battery?)

daveb 07-28-2015 10:48 AM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
At least on my build the radio switch doesn't divert all power draw of the stereo to the house battery system when switched on. Also the separator will open at 12.8v when either of the battery systems drop to 12.8 provided the separator is in an automatic mode and is working correctly. Seems yours is working correctly because you state the fridge was still operating. I'm also not saying it was just the radio that caused the starting battery system to go dead but stereos with amplifiers can pull a substantial amount of power if (as in my case) they're wired into the vehicles stock fuse block. A voltage monitor (even the cheap plug in types) can go a long way when you're off shore power. The 12vDC power plugs on the dash run off the starting battery system where the outlets in the living areas typically are powered off the house battery system. You might have something else going on but my guess is it was the radio or something else you left on.
[edit] I think Greg's examples explained about the Surepower separator SMB installed years back. For several years SMB had the separator set to automatically jump start the vehicle every time the key was turned to start the vehicle. Many times it would mask a bad (or weak) starting battery. If the starting battery drops too low (completely dead) the separator would not engage to help jump the vehicle. That's a pretty rare situation but might be worth looking into. Pulling the ground wire off the separator is one way to test the starting battery. If you have that setup, pull the ground to the separator and let the van sit with no charging and see if it labors to start. In later years SMB disabled the auto jump feature and added a push button switch at the dash so the owner would have to manually force the separator to help jump start the vehicle.

Hope this helps
Dave

coyotearms 07-28-2015 04:15 PM

Re: Battery Isolators,Separators, and Switches?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by awiggin2
I am a new sportsmobile owner and know very little about electrical systems. That said, I'm hoping the answer to my question does not leave me asking more questions.

I recently went camping and left my van parked for about 48 hours; fridge running the whole time and using the stereo occasionally (maybe 2 hrs/day). This amount power consumption concerned me, but I knew I had cables and a friend's diesel truck, so I viewed it more as an experiment. I left the 'radio switch' on the external/house battery the entire time, thinking if anything ran down it would be the house battery, not the van battery. To my surprise the van battery was dead, yet the fridge (the biggest power hog) was still going strong.

I've read most of the initial post, but I'm still confused as to why this happened and how to fix it. Apparently the refrigerator chewed through the van battery first and then moved onto the house battery. Why? (what good is a house battery if it is second in line to the van battery?)

Assuming this is your first post of this problem, I found scant info on the layout of your electrical system. I basically agree with daveb that you should be suspicious of the "radio" switch and how it is actually wired. Is there an added amp that was not installed through that switch? A problem there and a not-so-great engine battery bank could easily explain what happened. A "radio switch" can also make it more difficult when getting service from a vehicle dealer if they get suspicious that an electrical problem is in the house system and not the van system.

If your van is new, call SMB up and discuss the problem with them. Unfortunately, it is typical that you now are a long way from there, so that in itself is a problem. I had quite a few electrical things wrong with my build. I had a "start" button on the dash that had contacts dangerously close to other wiring, a dead-on-arrival Surepower battery switch and the second one too hot to touch when it connected the batteries together (used 60 Watts!), I dumped it for a much better Blue Sea unit. Even the way the solar was wired was wrong. Lastly, there was no fuse between the house battery bank and battery separator that would save the day in case of some kind of disaster in the engine battery bank such as a short, so when one tried to jump start the van with the house batteries (button on dash?) an even bigger problem would be created without it! So the lesson is spend some time with a volt/ammeter crawling around making sure you understand how things are wired. Went something goes wrong on the road you will be glad you have a better idea of how things work. If you end up having an accurate electrical schematic based on you sniffing so much the better!

DonnyMeek 02-23-2016 10:58 AM

After reading that post I'm going to have to rethink my simple second battery wiring solution.
I hadn't factored in the possibility of my starting battery going bad and trying to draw current from my winch battery to run the starter motor.
The 10 gauge wiring used in the install is kind of whimpy for that kind of draw.

Dirk Mitchell 12-08-2016 09:20 PM

Scal that is the best write up I have seen about how to set up a battery isolator, thanks for taking the time to write that up. You did mention cost being a deciding factor I am looking at that as I am looking at my build.
I tracked down the items on your diagrams to compare prices and they are a bit spread out for sure.

19.89 Pico 5575pt Master Batt Isolator Switch
59.37 Trombetta 12 Volt Bear DC Contactor Part No. 114-1211-020
96.60 SurePower 120 Amp Dual Battery Isolator
107.30 Sure Power 1315 Bi-Directional Battery Separator
187.18 Blue Sea 7620 Ml-Series Automatic Charging Relay
202.76 Blue Sea 7622 ML-ACR
72.40 Powerstream PST-SSB2180 (Not available on Amazon)

I was thinking of just going with a solenoid but I am thinking that the SurePower 120Amp may be the way to go now.

Scalf77 12-09-2016 07:29 AM

Dirk,

that post is getting a little dated, but still relevant. I have moved on to a Blue Sea 7622 myself now, while it is expensive, it will provide all the options you need, indicators, diagnostic aids, and minimal power draw while connected.

A lot of making the choice depends on the rest of you're system such as alternator, and loads on you're electrical while driving. If I had a Diesel such as the 6.0 I definitely want the ability for heavy house loads to disconnect while driving. This is where the voltage sensing units are a plus.

My rig has Sportsmobile's Starcool Airconditioning, on high this is a pretty high draw on the 12 volt electrical system, add in a few other things and the total load is two high for the alternator at idle or lower RPM's. When I just had the solenoid I had to be careful to monitor my loads during stop and go traffic or the voltage levels would drop. Good luck with your build.

-greg

boywonder 12-09-2016 08:31 AM

Dirk: I used a Blue Sea ACR...smaller and less current capacity than the 7622, but they are much less $$ and come in a few flavors.

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Systems-...2XT7NEFMA&th=1

The blue sea ACRs do not have the heating losses that the Surepower separators have since there is no coil/relay/contactor

These are also available as an "add a battery" kit which also includes a manual switch.

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Sea-Syst.../dp/B01DVOH5W2

Dirk Mitchell 12-13-2016 09:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scalf77 (Post 191140)
Dirk,

that post is getting a little dated, but still relevant. I have moved on to a Blue Sea 7622 myself now, while it is expensive, it will provide all the options you need, indicators, diagnostic aids, and minimal power draw while connected.

-greg

I agree great info! I have really been looking at the electrical system and set up and since I am using the van while I build it I want to make sure there isnt any safety issues. I ran across this and it isn't the cheapest option but it is kind of a cool idea.
Newport Vessels Trolling Motor Smart Battery Box Power Center black
I like the idea of it being enclosed, and the terminals on the outside. The charge meter and the charging ports are handy as well if your building and using it at the same time. Not sure whether it is worth 65.00 but if I can find a high AH battery that will fit in it, then it may be a nice fit.

syncrow 01-06-2017 08:30 PM

syncrow
 
I have a 2006 Sportsmobile with a starter and house battery along with a Sure Power 1315-200 separator.

My issue is the separator continuously cycles every few minutes. My controller reads 12.9 volts increasing in tenths of a volt to 14.3v. When it reaches a reading of 14.3v the separator clunks and the reading goes to 12.9v and the separator clunks and the cycle starts again going to 14.3v.

I am just realizing that I am not sure if this happens while I am driving the van. I have only noticed the clunking noise while it is parked.

My batteries both read at 12.8v when disconnected from the separator. I have had my starter battery tested at two auto parts stores and both say it is good. My house battery is a 2 year old Lifeline AGM and as of now I am assuming it is good. My battery terminals and ground connections are clean and tight.

Any suggestions on how to resolve this issue is appreciated.

Flux 01-06-2017 10:58 PM

The clunking noise is when the van is running right?? Would like to know where that voltage reading comes from, maybe the house side of Sure Power??

Last and biggest question is if your alternator is your only charge source for the house battery? If so it could be cooked.

Sounds to me like the Sure Power is going into protection mode as it's reading a voltage of 12.8 or less on the house side and opening to keep the house from draining the starter.

If you have a voltmeter, test the house battery. If your alternator is your only charge source on the house battery, get an agm charger and try to revive the house battery. Something ain't right....obviously, but either your house is fried or just too deeply discharged that the Surepower is isolating it to protect the starter, or your Surepower is funky, which can happen too.

rockbender 01-07-2017 01:42 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by syncrow (Post 193656)
I have a 2006 Sportsmobile with a starter and house battery along with a Sure Power 1315-200 separator.

My issue is the separator continuously cycles every few minutes. My controller reads 12.9 volts increasing in tenths of a volt to 14.3v. When it reaches a reading of 14.3v the separator clunks and the reading goes to 12.9v and the separator clunks and the cycle starts again going to 14.3v.

Do you have solar panels?


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