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Old 29-04-2014, 14:26   #1
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Location: Poulsbo, Washington
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Smartbank battery combiner

Triggered by Maine Sail's recent review of the Balmar Smartguage, I've been reading about other products sold by Merlin.

One such product is the "Smartbank", which appears to be a paralleling relay (similar to a VSR), but with a more sophisticated control algorithm (provided by the Smartguage if one is connected).

Compared to a plain old VSR (like the Blue Sea ACR), the SmartBank seems to offer the following advantages:

1. Priority charging of starting battery (but only if charging source(s) is connected to starting battery, vice house bank, as is the common recommendation here).

2. Emergency paralleling of banks (though that function is normally provided by a combination of on/off switches and/or 1/2/B/O switches in the configurations usually recommended here).

3. Bank paralleling (or not) based on a sophisticated combination of voltage, rate of voltage change, battery SOC, and perhaps others.

For the reasons I mention, number 1 and 2 don't seem to be too significant. Not sure about number 3. It's probably at least marginally better than an VSR, but not sure if it would really make a difference in system performance.

Anyone have any experience with the Smartbank (or Smartbank/Smartguage combo)?
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Old 30-04-2014, 00:50   #2
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Re: Smartbank battery combiner

never used it. but the bigger model bluesea acr allows battery paralleling with a remote switch. and also manual off if you don't want the acr to join.
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Old 30-04-2014, 10:10   #3
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Re: Smartbank battery combiner

We invented the Combiner in 1993 and all of those features were built in at the start. Some of the more sophisticated features like regulating charge voltage to sealed batteries and low voltage disconnect for starting protection of instruments are now standard in ours and probably in most of them.
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Old 14-05-2014, 01:23   #4
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Re: Smartbank battery combiner

While the Yandina does allow remote control to force a combine for charging, it does not use a large enough relay to use it for combining buses when starting.

The Smartbank combiner and the large Blue Sea ML-ACR 500amp models can be used in this way.

Now before you protest that you should never start off combined batteries, that's not how you would configure it.

When a boat uses a "three-switch battery management" approach, one of the switches is used for "Emergency-bus-connect" to tie the two buses (House and Engine) together. As you probably know, in such a config, when you want to start the engine from the House battery, you turn OFF the Engine battery switch and turn ON the "cross-connect" switch, as I prefer to call it (distinguishes it from the older "Battery Combining" approach).

One typically also has an ACR to tie the two battery banks together when charging. The ACR is typically connected directly to the two battery banks before their switches. If you relocate the ACR to where the cross-connect switch is, you can use the manual/remote feature of the Smartbank combiner to replace your cross-connect switch. It then allows you to eliminate the mechanical cross-connect switch with no loss of functionality. I installed that setup on a Jeanneau 45 using the Blue Sea 500-amp ACR and it works well. Since in this configuration the ACR will carry starter current if you start from your house batteries, it needs to be rated to do so. The Smartbank combiner and the Blue Sea ML-Series is, while the Yandina is not.

The Yandina is a fine device in its own right and is much smaller and less costly, but if you want to use a combiner as a remotely controlled bus "Cross-Connect" switch you need to use the Smartbank or BlueSea ML-ACR.

I can provide an explanatory diagram if need be, but don't have one handy.
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Old 14-05-2014, 08:56   #5
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Re: Smartbank battery combiner

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Sail View Post
While the Yandina does allow remote control to force a combine for charging, it does not use a large enough relay to use it for combining buses when starting.

The Smartbank combiner and the large Blue Sea ML-ACR 500amp models can be used in this way.

Now before you protest that you should never start off combined batteries, that's not how you would configure it.

When a boat uses a "three-switch battery management" approach, one of the switches is used for "Emergency-bus-connect" to tie the two buses (House and Engine) together. As you probably know, in such a config, when you want to start the engine from the House battery, you turn OFF the Engine battery switch and turn ON the "cross-connect" switch, as I prefer to call it (distinguishes it from the older "Battery Combining" approach).

One typically also has an ACR to tie the two battery banks together when charging. The ACR is typically connected directly to the two battery banks before their switches. If you relocate the ACR to where the cross-connect switch is, you can use the manual/remote feature of the Smartbank combiner to replace your cross-connect switch. It then allows you to eliminate the mechanical cross-connect switch with no loss of functionality. I installed that setup on a Jeanneau 45 using the Blue Sea 500-amp ACR and it works well. Since in this configuration the ACR will carry starter current if you start from your house batteries, it needs to be rated to do so. The Smartbank combiner and the Blue Sea ML-Series is, while the Yandina is not.

The Yandina is a fine device in its own right and is much smaller and less costly, but if you want to use a combiner as a remotely controlled bus "Cross-Connect" switch you need to use the Smartbank or BlueSea ML-ACR.

I can provide an explanatory diagram if need be, but don't have one handy.
As a live aboard for 14 years, not once did I ever have to start the engine from the house battery. Is it practical to have an automatic device to perform this function when a KISS switch will do the same thing?

If we are in a kissing competition, look at the practical side.

Yandina Combiner100 $60, Manual cross connect switch $25 total $85.
Smartbank or BlueSea ML-ACR. around $170. + remote control switch.
Warranty: Yandina UNLIMITED, Smartbank, BlueSea ?
Power consumption when OFF: Yandina zero, Smartbank ? BlueSea 40mA
Yandina 100% waterproof, others?
Yandina Cables included, others no.

You suggest there is something wrong with starting an engine from batteries in parallel but it happens thousands times a day with jump starting automobiles. For the number of times in the life of a boat that you may have to do it, imaginary damage to the batteries is the last thing on your mind .
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Old 14-05-2014, 11:48   #6
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Re: Smartbank battery combiner

At the risk of provoking a longer dialog than needed, let me clarify my post:

1. No intent to suggest that one device is superior overall to another, only to point out some options that relate the the differences between them.

2. I'm not trying to imply there is risk of damage from combining batteries only recognizing that the forum has discussed various objections, some real, some real but very rare but valid and some imaginary.

I didn't know that kissing competitions had a practical side, sounds intriguing.

Best wishes


Quote:
Originally Posted by Andina Marie View Post
As a live aboard for 14 years, not once did I ever have to start the engine from the house battery. Is it practical to have an automatic device to perform this function when a KISS switch will do the same thing?

If we are in a kissing competition, look at the practical side.

Yandina Combiner100 $60, Manual cross connect switch $25 total $85.
Smartbank or BlueSea ML-ACR. around $170. + remote control switch.
Warranty: Yandina UNLIMITED, Smartbank, BlueSea ?
Power consumption when OFF: Yandina zero, Smartbank ? BlueSea 40mA
Yandina 100% waterproof, others?
Yandina Cables included, others no.

You suggest there is something wrong with starting an engine from batteries in parallel but it happens thousands times a day with jump starting automobiles. For the number of times in the life of a boat that you may have to do it, imaginary damage to the batteries is the last thing on your mind .
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