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Author Topic: battery isolator  (Read 4870 times)
David Anderson
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« on: August 29, 2006, 07:23:00 PM »

I bought a battery isolator from Wrico for my Eagle.  I hooked it up--bus batteries, terminal 1.  house batteries, terminal 2.  Alternator, center tap terminal.  The isolator is down stream the starter so it doesn't carry the starter amperage.  I measured the voltage outputs as follows. 

terminal 1 and 2 are 13.2 volts.  Center tap (alternator)  reads 14.2 volts.   

The 13.2 puts me in the warning range on my dash gauge.   It always was in the 14 volt range before installation.  I called Dick and he said I need to find out where my voltage regulator senses the bus battery voltage.  I have a Neihoff 350 amp alternator with an external voltage regulator (14.2 volt setting) attached by a cannon plug to the alternator control box.    The alternator has and "R" terminal and an "E" terminal, which according to the Eagle manual are used to discern and warn between over voltage and no output.    The dash warning lights show neither.

What do I need to do to get 14.2 volts to the batteries?   The regulator is solid state, sealed, and has no controls on it.

David
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« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2006, 07:30:56 PM »

Hi David,

Would a selonoid better suite your needs for the house bank? Instead of using a isolator! Just click a switch to charge..

Maybe the isolator is causing a feedback of some sort?

Nick-
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David Anderson
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« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2006, 09:22:06 PM »

I had a solenoid.  It crapped out on me, couldn't handle the load of the roof air.

David
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« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2006, 11:01:17 PM »

David, there are heavier duty solenoids that can be connected to the relay that runs off of the relay terminal of the alternator. A relay is the only way to keep the drop down at the combiner to next to nothing.

The next best way to go is to use a Schottky Diode combiner. When hot, these will drop down to .1 to .2 volts of drop, instead of the more typical .7 volt of drop.

The worst way to go is apparently what you've got; a silicon diode combiner. This is why the voltage is so low.

There is a fairly simple cure; find the voltage sense lead of the voltage regulator and connect a silicon diode in series with it. This will drop the sense voltage and boost the regulated voltage by the amount of the sense lead drop. The diode only has to be able to handle the field current of your alternator, typically under 10 amps.

As far as I can tell, a Pathmaker gives you the best of many possibilities; they are available up to 300 amps continuous and something approaching 1,000 amps surge rating. This will monitor both banks and tie them together if the voltage on either one of the banks is within the specified charge range.

When you park, and start using battery power, the voltage drops out of range and disconnects the two banks. With this scheme, you can run slightly different battery chemistries without difficulty. Starts and deep cycles can be charged on the same regulator settings.

Check out your options.

Tom Caffrey
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Ketchikan, Alaska
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2006, 11:25:05 PM »

An adjustable regulator is not hard to find and isn't expensive.
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« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2006, 06:48:20 AM »

As far as I can tell, a Pathmaker gives you the best of many possibilities; they are available up to 300 amps continuous and something approaching 1,000 amps surge rating. This will monitor both banks and tie them together if the voltage on either one of the banks is within the specified charge range.

Sean (Odyssey bus) doesn't recommend the Pathmaker because it is too sensitive to voltage change or something like that.  He was planning to replace it with a selenoid when he replaced his house batteries which he may have already done.  He modified his Pathmaker to not charge the bus batteries from the house batteries.

I ended up buying a Pathmaker simply because I got it for less money than a heavy duty selenoid.

Brian Elfert
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David Anderson
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« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2006, 12:38:36 PM »

Dick got the skinny from Neihoff.  There are 4 settings on the back of my voltage regulator.  I had to up the voltage to accomodate the drop from the isolator.  This solved the problem.  I'm back in the black on the gauge..

Thanks,

David
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David Anderson
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2006, 02:26:45 PM »

Well I took it out for another test run and found out that the Trace SW2512 prioritizes the voltage input that is higher than my float voltage programmed into my inverter.  If the Trace float is set at 13.4 and the alternator output is at 14.2 the power will be used from the alternator first and back off the load received from the genny.  Therefore, when my genny is running and the Trace goes into float the Trace sucks the power from the alternator and lowers the AC load from the generator.  I can feel the power loss from the engine at 75mph.   It takes horsepower to turn that 350 amp alternator at that big load. 

I called Dick and he had never heard of this problem.  He contacted the engineers from Trace and sure enough the software in the SW2512 defaults to this mode, similar to selling power back to the grid.  They said they have only had but a couple of inquiries about this in a number of years.  The only way to overcome this problem is to set the float voltage above the alternator output.  This sucks because I have to reset power from the Trace everytime I turn on the engine, turn off the engine, fire the genny, or turn off the genny, hook to shore power, etc.  That is not a convenient way of doing things.  Even though the isolator works flawlessly otherwise, I pulled the isolator out and I guess will have to eat a $400 mistake.  I should have replaced the fried solenoid switch I used to have with 2 in parallel like was suggested on a different thread. 

I went to the BNO archives and searched "isolator" and out of nearly 100 threads found one mention of an inverter recongnizing and prioritizing the higher alternator voltage over the AC power from the charger.  It was posted back in 2002 by Fast Fred. 

I should have done more research before I bought it. 

Hope it doesn't happen to anyone else.

David
 
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Geoff
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2006, 03:39:51 PM »

I have a Trace SW2512MC (yours is also an "MC" motorhome/motor vessel version?) and find this thread interesting.  I don't have an isolator since my house batteries are 12v and the chassis batteries are 24v with each system having it's own alternator.  I have run my generator and had the SW in float mode and never sensed that my alternator was supplimenting the generator output-- I guess you don't either unless you use the isolator.  I wonder if yours is an MC version or not, I thought the MC versions changed the priorities so you can't sell excess power to the power company or in other words override the 120v generator imput with the alternator output.

--Geoff
'82 RTS AZ
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Geoff
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David Anderson
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2006, 11:10:31 AM »

Mine is the straight SW2512, no MC suffix.  You may not have the problem I'm having if your software is configured that way.

David
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Geoff
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2006, 01:09:12 PM »

David--

Sean installed some solenoids/relays to overcome the same problem you have-- he also bought a straight SW instead of the MC version.  You may want to drop him a line and ask what he did:

http://www.ourodyssey.us/

--Geoff
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Geoff
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David Anderson
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2006, 03:05:40 PM »

Thanks Geoff,

But I previously had a relay.  It's silly that I have to make this so complicated when I only use it when the genny is off.  A simple hand switch with an indicator lamp would have been much cheaper and easily operated.   I just made a bad decision without all the information needed.  My bad, unfortunately. 

David
« Last Edit: September 12, 2006, 07:20:21 AM by David Anderson » Logged
Geoff
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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2006, 07:31:32 PM »

Here is the link where Sean explains the MC version of the SW inverter:

http://www.ourodyssey.us/bus-e-trace.html

I am amazed that Dick Wright would sell you a straight SW and not an MC version.  I would try to get him to exchange it, even though it has been a while.  I bought my SW2512MC on eBay for $1200, it was supposedly refurbished, but it looked brand new.  Xantrex was selling off all the old Trace stock that did not have Xantrex's name on it at the time. 

--Geoff
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Geoff
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« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2006, 09:53:58 PM »

Here is the link where Sean explains the MC version of the SW inverter:

http://http://www.ourodyssey.us/bus-e-trace.html

I am amazed that Dick Wright would sell you a straight SW and not an MC version.  I would try to get him to exchange it, even though it has been a while.  I bought my SW2512MC on eBay for $1200, it was supposedly refurbished, but it looked brand new.  Xantrex was selling off all the old Trace stock that did not have Xantrex's name on it at the time. 

--Geoff


If I read this thread correctly, Dick sold him the battery isolator; not clear where he got the inverter.  Just want to be careful with a supportive vendors good rep.  It sounds like Dick went the extra mile calling vendors of products on his bus, not part of the sale of a simple isolator, to get him going.  Pretty good service!  Since all of our conversions are done differently with different goals and ideal in mind, I don't know how a vendor could advise on a nuance like this (cost effectivly or not).

Too bad about the $400, maybe you can ebay it for a partial recoup, or trade with a busnut friend for somehing else you need?

Best Regards,
Craig - MC7 Oregon
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Craig MC7 - Oregon USA
David Anderson
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« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2006, 06:38:21 AM »

I bought the inverter from Dick.   He didn't know it would prioritze the DC input over the AC input if the alternator voltage was higher than the float.   Sometimes you just don't know all the complications involved in putting these puzzles together.
 


David
« Last Edit: September 12, 2006, 07:24:32 AM by David Anderson » Logged
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