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Old 02-05-2016, 09:34 PM   #1
turbopilot
 
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Default Intelligent Battery Management

My 2016 Unity MB electrical system is currently equipped with two LifeLine AGM house batteries (220ah), 5 GoPower 100 watt flex panels (up to 500 watts output), 100 ah AGM cab battery and Intellitec Isolator Relay.

The Intellitec Isolator Relay (IIR) is a "low cost" approach to managing multiple batteries. So while the device is cheap "i.e. low cost" it seriously restricts your ability to intelligently manage the batteries and electrical system in the Unity.

The IIR connects the house electric system to the cab electrical system. The device lives under the passenger seat. It's operation is very simple, it looks for the voltage on the cab side to rise above 13.1 volts for 12 seconds, then it closes the connection between the house and cab electrical system. The device does not care what the voltage is on the house side and it provides no options to connect the two sides unless the voltage on the ignition circuit is higher than 13.3v for 12 seconds.

Given the capability of my Unity electric system (particularly the addition of up to 30 amps of solar power) I made the decision to upgrade the IIR and replace it with a Blue Sea ML-ACR Automatic Charging Relay. The ML-ACR is available on Amazon for $202.94.

The Blue Sea ML-ACR offers many advantages over the simple IIR. The ML-ACR has three modes: OFF, Automatic Combine and Manual Combine. In the OFF mode the relay disconnects the cab and camper electrical system. In the Manual Combine mode the ML-ACR connects the two electrical system with a manual switch controlled by the operator.

The magic in this device is the Automatic Combine mode. In this mode the device will automatically connect the two electrical systems any time it senses voltage on either side (cab or camper) to be above 13.5V for 30 seconds or 13.0V for 90 seconds. Likewise the ML-ACR in the Automatic Combine mode will disconnect the cab and camper electrical systems anytime the voltage on either side is below 9.6V(under voltage lockout), below 12.35V for 10 seconds, below 12.75V for 30 seconds or above 16. 2V(over voltage lockout).

In the Automatic Combine mode the ML-ACR is basically looking at voltages on both the camper and cab side of the electrical system and combines the electrical systems any time the voltages are compatible with one or the other electrical systems being charged (i.e. charger, solar or cab alternator).

Here are some images of the exchange of the IIR for the ML-ACR.

This is the passenger seat pedestal. Note the installation of the awing LED and awing in/out switch was not very "fancy".



Here is a closer look at how the switches were installed:



Here is a look at the IIR as installed by LTV in the passenger seat pedestal. The solenoid and IIR controller are mounted on the board. Note cables are just held down with aluminum tape :



Here is how it looks after the Blue Sea ML-ACR is installed and the installation cleaned up:



And finally I took the opportunity to "upgrade" the switch panel on the side of the seat pedestal to include the ML-ACR control switch and provisions to monitor cab voltage when the ignition is on:



I had a Blue Sea ML-ACR in my last RV so I thought I would share some circumstances where this device provides all sorts of extra options for battery management in normal and abnormal camper operation.


- The ability to disconnect the cab from the camper for long drives during daylight. The will allow the intelligent GoPower Solar Controller to charge the house batteries avoiding overcharging the house batteries using the "dumb" cab alternator.

- The ability to use all batteries for occupied camper operation (house+cab=320ah of capacity). Can be risky but with the Magnum and Jennsen battery alarms you should never totally discharge all the batteries. In the worst case given the design of the system all you need is enough juice to start the generator to bring everything back to life including the cab to start the engine.

- The ability to drive the camper in the event of an alternator failure. Between the cab/house house batteries and the solar system there should be no problem driving the camper indefinitely during the day time with the alternator inop.

The ability to start the MB cab engine in the event of a cab battery failure or inadvertent discharge. Simply manually combine the cab and house systems and let the camper batteries start the truck.

- During daylight hours when operating on solar alone you will hear the ML-ACR cycle on and off as either camper demand for juice and/or falling solar output conspire to bring the house batteries below 12.75v for 30 seconds. When this happens the ML-ACR automatically disconnects the cab from the camper electrical system to preserve the charge on the cab battery. When conditions change (i.e. lower camper demand and/or higher solar output) the relay will reconnect the two sides automatically.

- For long term outside storage this arrange allows both the camper and cab batteries to be intelligently charged via the solar panel controller.


So as you can see this simple device makes the entire cab/camper electrical system much more robust to deal with all sorts of planned and unplanned events that can happen on the road.

Last edited by turbopilot; 02-05-2016 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 02-05-2016, 09:39 PM   #2
alichty
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Nice work
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Old 02-05-2016, 10:02 PM   #3
Peter Tourin
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

That's very cute! - seems really nicely thought out, and I hope my install work looks as clean as yours.
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:57 PM   #4
SSTraveler
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Really nice job! Thanks for the pictures, I have been wanting to move those awning switches and didn't want to open a can of worms not knowing what all is under the passenger seat. I hate the location of these switches, not very convenient, especially the light switch, which might be used multiple times at night for the lighting.
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Quote:
Originally Posted by SSTraveler View Post
Really nice job! Thanks for the pictures, I have been wanting to move those awning switches and didn't want to open a can of worms not knowing what all is under the passenger seat. I hate the location of these switches, not very convenient, especially the light switch, which might be used multiple times at night for the lighting.
I agree. I thought about moving all the switches to the overhead console in the cab just above the reading lights. But I could not figure out how to pass a large wire bundle up to that area without tearing out a lot of trim.

The Blue Sea ML-ARC is only about $100 more than the IIR and adds so much important functionality, I can't believe LTV does not include the device as standard equipment.

Last edited by turbopilot; 02-06-2016 at 02:27 PM.
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:47 PM   #6
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Very nice.
I'm waiting for my 2016 TB to be delivered. I didn't get the generator, instead got the 270 amp aux alternator with fancy regulator. http://www.nationsstarteralternator....-dak-270xp.htm
I'm looking for places inside to install "stuff" and this looks a great place. As mentioned before, I live 10 miles from AM Solar and will be working with them for my "dream" power supply system.
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Old 02-07-2016, 12:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene Rider View Post
Very nice.
I'm waiting for my 2016 TB to be delivered. I didn't get the generator, instead got the 270 amp aux alternator with fancy regulator. http://www.nationsstarteralternator....-dak-270xp.htm
I'm looking for places inside to install "stuff" and this looks a great place. As mentioned before, I live 10 miles from AM Solar and will be working with them for my "dream" power supply system.
I look forward to following the progress of your systems in the TB.
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Old 02-09-2016, 03:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

It appears that you replaced all three camper/cab batteries and that they are all AGM but it looks like they are of different ah capacities. Does this matter or is it only important that they are are all the same type of battery? I like what you have done (very nice work). You added three more flex solar panels which I assume is essentially plug and play after cleaning and glueing. Does the 2016 come with enough connectors for three more panels? I thought that I saw somewhere that the plug in connector on top of the camper had four spaces for plug in?? Also, wouldn't this work with the original new camper batteries? This is something I could do myself "except" sorting out the new wiring under the seat. I'd probably have to take it to someone to have that done so that I didn't do any unintended welding under the seat.... ;-)

Thanks, Bob
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Old 02-10-2016, 12:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodywesty View Post
It appears that you replaced all three camper/cab batteries and that they are all AGM but it looks like they are of different ah capacities. Does this matter or is it only important that they are are all the same type of battery? I like what you have done (very nice work). You added three more flex solar panels which I assume is essentially plug and play after cleaning and glueing. Does the 2016 come with enough connectors for three more panels? I thought that I saw somewhere that the plug in connector on top of the camper had four spaces for plug in?? Also, wouldn't this work with the original new camper batteries? This is something I could do myself "except" sorting out the new wiring under the seat. I'd probably have to take it to someone to have that done so that I didn't do any unintended welding under the seat.... ;-)

Thanks, Bob
Based on my experience in another RV, I don't think it makes a difference that the AGM batteries have different ah capacities. If it does make a difference I never noticed it in 5 years of operation.

Yes, a total of 5 Flex panels on the roof. Each panel comes with a "piggy back" connector so you can add any number up to 5 panels which is the capacity of the controller.

Original camper batteries are lead acid. So you at least want the same time battery to match charge and solar controller set up.

With this set up it will allow me to "harvest" some of the cab batteries ah if I ever need it to supplement the house batteries. As long as there is enough juice between the 3 batteries to start the generator, then all the batteries including the cab batteries can be charged up by the generator with this set up.

Last edited by turbopilot; 02-10-2016 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 02-10-2016, 02:03 PM   #10
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Default Re: Intelligent Battery Management

Quote:
Originally Posted by turbopilot View Post
Based on my experience in another RV, I don't think it makes a difference that the AGM batteries have different ah capacities. If it does make a difference I never noticed it in 5 years of operation.

Yes, a total of 5 Flex panels on the roof. Each panel comes with a "piggy back" connector so you can add any number up to 5 panels which is the capacity of the controller.

Original camper batteries are lead acid. So you at least want the same time battery to match charge and solar controller set up.

Will this set up it will allow me to "harvest" some of the cab batteries ah if I ever need it to supplement the house batteries. As long as there is enough juice between the 3 batteries to start the generator, then all the batteries including the cab batteries can be charged up by the generator with this set up.


Thank you for the information. Now I better understand how the roof solar panels connect. My goal is to add two more of the flex panels AND allow for me mounting a small 12v wind generator to the ladder on the back so that when I spend time camping along the gulf coast I'll get a small charge 24/7 instead of just during the day. At least I "think" this ought to be workable. All I have to do is to attach the proper male plug to the wires from the wind generator to plug into the solar array?? At least that is my plan at this point... ;-) First I'm going to see if Leisure will put two additional flex panels on top when they build my camper in May!
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