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Old 20-09-2019, 15:56   #1
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West Marine Battery Combiner

Hi All,

After installing our new solar controller (Victon Smart Solar 100/20) I noticed that every few minutes I could hear a loud click.

I managed to isolate the clicking sound to the West Marine Battery Combiner (which at the time was switched OFF).

I am pretty sure that the battery combiner is for combining house and start bank. (Start bank usually only charges from starter alternator (we have 2 alts)).

I could also see from the voltage graph on the smart solar controller that the clicking was happening at the peak of the voltage graph, declining slowly then clicking again at the bottom of the graph and so on and so on.

I assumed the purpose of the battery combiner was to join start to house in emergency? And I would have expected that this would be a manual process based on the switch in the picture.

Why might it be switching on/off of its own accord?

Will try to trace the wires and do a picture in due course.

Cheers

Al
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Old 20-09-2019, 17:47   #2
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
Hi All,

After installing our new solar controller (Victon Smart Solar 100/20) I noticed that every few minutes I could hear a loud click.

I managed to isolate the clicking sound to the West Marine Battery Combiner (which at the time was switched OFF).

I am pretty sure that the battery combiner is for combining house and start bank. (Start bank usually only charges from starter alternator (we have 2 alts)).

I could also see from the voltage graph on the smart solar controller that the clicking was happening at the peak of the voltage graph, declining slowly then clicking again at the bottom of the graph and so on and so on.

I assumed the purpose of the battery combiner was to join start to house in emergency? And I would have expected that this would be a manual process based on the switch in the picture.

Why might it be switching on/off of its own accord?

Will try to trace the wires and do a picture in due course.

Cheers

Al
Interesting on several levels...
Level 1
I'm pretty sure that unit was designed and manufactured by Andina... a CF member... this pdf should explain what it is doing... https://www.yandina.com/acrobats/C50Data.pdf
This is either the same or a similar unit.

Level 2
Just yesterday I installed a Victron Smart Controller MPPT 75/15 on my solar.. having (cold) toasted some batts in the south last year...
I did not realise... had forgotten.. whatever... that when boat was laid up 'off the grid' with the batt switch ( the 0/1/1+2/2 switch) on 0 only one bank was getting any solar.

Had also been convinced in the meantime that MPPT was streets ahead of my previous rather dumb solar controller.

However.... downstream of the MPPT I have fitted a Victron Argofet between it and the two battery banks.... continuous amp feed ( when the sun is up.... have to put that in before the pedant's pounce) into both banks... no switching.

I think technology has advanced since your West Marine unit was manufactured....
Hope this helps
Ping
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Old 20-09-2019, 19:36   #3
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

the combiner combines the batteries for charging. based on voltage. so the solar is trying to charge both batteries but can't quite do it. so the combiner is cutting in and out.

did you attach the solar to the engine battery or house battery? based on this I'm thinking you may have it attached to the engine. I've only seen this issue while trying to charge an engine battery.

as if it's connected to the house battery, and the voltage climbs enough to engauge to a full engine battery. there should be no reason for it to click off. unless the engine battery is drained as well.
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Old 21-09-2019, 00:24   #4
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pinguino View Post
Interesting on several levels...
Level 1
I'm pretty sure that unit was designed and manufactured by Andina... a CF member... this pdf should explain what it is doing... https://www.yandina.com/acrobats/C50Data.pdf
This is either the same or a similar unit.

Level 2
Just yesterday I installed a Victron Smart Controller MPPT 75/15 on my solar.. having (cold) toasted some batts in the south last year...
I did not realise... had forgotten.. whatever... that when boat was laid up 'off the grid' with the batt switch ( the 0/1/1+2/2 switch) on 0 only one bank was getting any solar.

Had also been convinced in the meantime that MPPT was streets ahead of my previous rather dumb solar controller.

However.... downstream of the MPPT I have fitted a Victron Argofet between it and the two battery banks.... continuous amp feed ( when the sun is up.... have to put that in before the pedant's pounce) into both banks... no switching.

I think technology has advanced since your West Marine unit was manufactured....
Hope this helps
Ping
Thanks for the link. After having read it :

1. My house bank was fully charged at about 13.3.
2. Starter bank is not fully charged as we had just been cranking the engine.
3. I can see the bottom dip in the graph is 13.3v (the VSR documented voltage, at which they combine?)
4. After combining the starter / house batteries - measured voltage rises up to 14.1 (bulk charging voltage). The only charging source at this point is solar which has float set to 14.1.
5. At 14.1 combiner disconnects? and voltage drops - process repeats?

What I don't understand is why the combiner does anything if the joiner switch is in the OFF position!

I understand what a VSR is, but don't fully understand what is going on here or why.

AG
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Old 21-09-2019, 01:33   #5
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

PS: My Model is West Marine 308280.
Joins at 13.1v
Isolates at 12.8v

Manual here : http://newcontent.westmarine.com/con...structions.pdf

Not sure how this is mean to work with batteries of different types? House bank is GEL starter is FLA.

They have different charging profiles?
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Old 21-09-2019, 04:36   #6
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

The VSR/ACR/Combiner concept, invented by our ​Ann-Marie Foster @ Yandina Ltd, is to automate an on off switch.

If put in parallel (the same junction) with a manual one, it is an OR logic, either overrides the other to join / combine the two circuits.

This is a "voltage following" design, the setpoints do not change the voltage of the charge current, just allow it through, in both directions, with as little voltage drop as possible.

This was its big advantage over the old-school "battery isolators", one way flow based on diodes.
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Old 21-09-2019, 10:04   #7
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Not sure which switch is off. I don't see a switch that is off in your picture. If you want to disable the combiner put a switch on the negative connection to the combiner. That is a low current lead - the only power going to it is the voltage sense and the solenoid power.

That is a very old combiner, Yandina has said that they guarantee them for life so it is serviceable if needed. There are newer versions from many manufacturers now but the principle of operation has not changed so there is no advantage to replacing it.
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Old 21-09-2019, 10:59   #8
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAl.NZ View Post
Hi All,

After installing our new solar controller (Victon Smart Solar 100/20) I noticed that every few minutes I could hear a loud click.

I managed to isolate the clicking sound to the West Marine Battery Combiner (which at the time was switched OFF).

I am pretty sure that the battery combiner is for combining house and start bank. (Start bank usually only charges from starter alternator (we have 2 alts)).

I could also see from the voltage graph on the smart solar controller that the clicking was happening at the peak of the voltage graph, declining slowly then clicking again at the bottom of the graph and so on and so on.

I assumed the purpose of the battery combiner was to join start to house in emergency? And I would have expected that this would be a manual process based on the switch in the picture.

Why might it be switching on/off of its own accord?

Will try to trace the wires and do a picture in due course.

Cheers

Al
Picture is clear, except we need to know what charge sources are connected to the relay. Assume your alternators connected directly to start battery and solar and shore charger are connected to the combiner relay and house battery directly.

The On/off switch enables the combiner to direct the non-alternator sources to charge to the start battery. It is not for emergency backup to the start battery. The big round relay is activated making that click, whenever a charge source exceeds 14.1 V. If you switch off, no charge is directed to start battery from whatever non-alternator sources are connected to the relay, even when the relay activates, since the switch is in series with the relay.

The intermittent clicking is normal for a VSR connected to a solar panel in some cases. In your case I think the solar controller is charging the house battery and as its voltage rises the VSR activates. You have the start switch off so no charge goes there, it is an open circuit. But as the house battery voltage rises the solar controller reduces charge voltage to float level. This is below the VSR cut-in voltage, so you hear another click.

But now the issue, why does your solar controller keep raising the voltage back to 14.1 when it should be just maintaining float voltage? Could this be caused by another load on the house bank? I think your VSR is doing its job but you could investigate the MPPT controller operation by taking all loads off the house bank, keep that switch on the VSR off for the time being, and look to see if you still get this voltage cycling happening.
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Old 21-09-2019, 11:35   #9
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

@waterman46 I will check how it is all wired up and pay a picture. I was watching the solar controller charging mode during this cycling as I too wondered if it was changing modes but it wasn't.
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Old 21-09-2019, 11:39   #10
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

We had this problem with the solar panels connected to the engine start battery . Moved the wires to the house bank and the clunk from the VSR every few minutes stopped.

What happens is the house bank is depleted and disconnected from the engine battery. So the smaller engine start battery charges up quickly from the solar which enables the VSR to close and supply power to charge the house bank with a clunk. The house bank is depleted so pulls down the engine battery voltage to a point the VSR disconnects with a clunk, so just the engine battery charges up. The process repeats every few minutes with a loud clunk.

Putting the solar wires to the house bank stops this.

Pete
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Old 21-09-2019, 12:46   #11
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

AKA chatter.

Great posts here from Maine Sail

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/....php?p=2342015

http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s...0&postcount=33

http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s...tml#post625151
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Old 21-09-2019, 15:28   #12
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

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Not sure which switch is off. I don't see a switch that is off in your picture. If you want to disable the combiner put a switch on the negative connection to the combiner. That is a low current lead - the only power going to it is the voltage sense and the solenoid power.

That is a very old combiner, Yandina has said that they guarantee them for life so it is serviceable if needed. There are newer versions from many manufacturers now but the principle of operation has not changed so there is no advantage to replacing it.
I didn't notice before that you were in NZ. The cost of round trip shipping would make sending it in for repair pointless.
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Old 21-09-2019, 20:53   #13
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
We had this problem with the solar panels connected to the engine start battery . Moved the wires to the house bank and the clunk from the VSR every few minutes stopped.

What happens is the house bank is depleted and disconnected from the engine battery. So the smaller engine start battery charges up quickly from the solar which enables the VSR to close and supply power to charge the house bank with a clunk. The house bank is depleted so pulls down the engine battery voltage to a point the VSR disconnects with a clunk, so just the engine battery charges up. The process repeats every few minutes with a loud clunk.

Putting the solar wires to the house bank stops this.

Pete
Yes this is what will happen if the start battery is switched into the charge circuit. But OP says the relay is clicking even when that big switch in his picture is OFF. A circuit diagram would help, including the connection points of solar, alternator and shore power charger.

BTW I forgot to mention in my first post that if that switch is in OFF position, the alternator won't charge the house battery. That is if I understand his circuit from what I can see. Assuming alt is connected direct tostartbatt.

I suggest turning off shore power charger and see the clicking continues with just solar charging.
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Old 21-09-2019, 21:51   #14
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Ok so I finally traced the key wires in my charging system and have attached a wiring diagram.

Aside from the West Marine Combiner doing something weird, I really dont like the idea of the Delco 65A starter alternator being connected to the same charging bus as the house batteries and therefore charging them on some default factory profile which I cant change.

I assume this will be bad for my GEL's?
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Old 21-09-2019, 23:18   #15
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Re: West Marine Battery Combiner

Sorry, that is not a wiring diagram, it is a block diagram. It does not answer the question.

If the switch you are referring to is the battery switch in the picture from your first post I can help. You are not disabling the combiner control circuit. You are switching the output of the relay (solenoid) off. Why is this different? The combiner is not combining the two battery banks together but it is still closing the relay. Therefore, you hear it clicking in when the voltage rises but the batteries are not combined. Once the solar controller cuts out, when whichever battery bank it is connected to is full, the voltage drops and the combiner relay opens. Because the battery switch is in series with the relay there is no actual combining.

What you have is a very slow relay chatter. The solar charge controller drops the output voltage when it thinks the battery is full. The sense voltage on the combiner sees that no charging is taking place so it opens the relay.Sometime later the solar controller senses that the battery is not fully charged and turns back on. The combiner sees the increase in voltage and closes the relay. So you have a relay chatter in slow motion.

There are two changes that will help the situation.

1) Wire the solar charge controller to the house bank. It is the one that gets discharged and needs to be charged first. The engine start battery does not get discharged. The starter current is very high but for a very short duration. The actual draw down is insignificant.

2) If you want to disable the combiner put a switch in the negative wire to the combiner. No negative connection, no combiner function. By doing this you do not need that high current battery switch at all. You can leave it switched on or remove it. The switch on the negative wire will do the same function and won't draw power to close a relay that does nothing when the battery switch is off.

Another thing. You have two alternators. Leave the 65 amp alternator on the start battery and the 90 amp on the house bank. Let the combiner joint the two when you are charging. The two regulators have different charging profiles so the internal regulator (65 amp) alternator will drop out when the batteries voltage rises. This has only one consequence. Your tachometer, if it is driven by a tap on the internally regulated alternator will cut out when the alternator cuts out. That is a good indicator that the batteries are at or near full charge. Want the tachometer back when that happens - turn off the combiner. I have the same setup - two alternators. It takes a lot of motoring before the internally regulated alternator turns off and then I know that the batteries are at a very high state of charge.
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