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Old 09-22-2014, 01:39 PM   #1
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Fried Battery Isolator

My battery isolator burnt up and I'm taking the rig into Camping World next week for the insurance claim. I try to do most of my own work and I thought before taking the rig into CW I'd look for some insight from this forum into what might of caused the issue.

My first thought is the Leece Neville 200 AMP alternator caused the issue or a bad solenoid but I don't know. The isolator is a Cole Hersee 48160 200AMP model. I have a battery boost switch along with a battery maintainer which I don't know the model. My 4 6v house batteries are a couple of years old and my 1 8D appears to hold a good charge. The solar charger I think works too good because sometimes both bank of batteries are 14+ volts. All the wiring connections appear to be tight.

Before my last trip the chassis radio was left on and drained the chassis battery however I was able to start the motor without trying the battery boost. What I find strange now is I need to have both battery cutoff switches "on" to turn the motor over. If I have just the chassis cutoff on there is not enough power to turn the motor.

That's about all the detail I can think of but if anyone has anything to offer I would appreciate any input.
Here are some pictures of the cabinet and the burnt up battery isolator. Sorry for the big pictures but I don't know how to make them smaller.


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Old 09-22-2014, 02:24 PM   #2
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Jack, looks like you're lucky it didn't start a fire!
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Old 09-22-2014, 02:31 PM   #3
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Thanks Joe, I do feel lucky... I opened the cabinet it was a shock. The paint is not damaged on the outside of the cabinet. The only reason I opened the door was because I saw some oil(?) on the very front edge of the cabinet.
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Old 09-22-2014, 07:10 PM   #4
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If I had to take a guess, I'd say your chassis batteries were very discharged and most/all of the current required by the starter was pulled from the house batteries and therefore through the isolator. I am relatively sure the starter is wired directly to the chassis batteries.(Normally you wouldn't pull much current form the house batteries while cranking - and the "jump" solenoid when used, would bypass the isolator diodes) If you pulled too much current through the isolator diodes and one or more failed, it/they probably shorted too, allowing the full current of the batteries to heat and melt your heatsink and plastic box.

{I see by looking at the pictures more closely, that it isn't plastic box, but the aluminum of the inside of the compartment door. If it was aluminum, it really did get hot. Glad it did no more damage!}
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:28 PM   #5
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Very interesting JeepTJ5. I have the wiring diagram for the rig and will run down how the starter is wired tomorrow. Based on what you said it makes since that both battery cutoff switches need to be on to have enough juice to start the motor. If I can I'll post a picture of the wiring diagram.

Your correct about the aluminum, The inside of the door is aluminum with a plastic diagram picture of the components attached to the door. All the components inside the compartment have a chemical residue that will need to be cleaned up. Thanks for the input.
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:29 AM   #6
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I could see if the battery boost was used that a lot of current could flow through the isolator and produce an overload. I'm wondering if my boost solenoid is defective and is staying on all the time. If this is true then it might explain why I need both cutoff switches on to crank the motor. When only the chassis cutoff switch is on there is not enough juice to crank the motor. I'll need to do some research on how to test solenoids. I was able to take a picture of the wiring diagram.
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Old 09-29-2014, 03:02 PM   #7
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I blew one of my Isolators, but it didn't burn up like yours. I think it was caused by running the microwave while I was on the inverter. If you calculate it out, a 1200 watt Microwave will pull about 100 Amps at 12 volts if it was 100% efficient. I believe the 200 amp Isolator is 100 amps on each leg, but I'm not sure on that. Anyhow I try not to use the Microwave or any other high current appliances, when I'm on the inverter
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Old 09-29-2014, 04:06 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BopMan View Post
I could see if the battery boost was used that a lot of current could flow through the isolator and produce an overload. I'm wondering if my boost solenoid is defective and is staying on all the time. If this is true then it might explain why I need both cutoff switches on to crank the motor. When only the chassis cutoff switch is on there is not enough juice to crank the motor. I'll need to do some research on how to test solenoids. I was able to take a picture of the wiring diagram.
Attachment 74721
Any chance you can post that schematic as a pdf so I can enlarge it? I'm a Certified ET with 40 yrs working on specialized vehicle electrical.
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Old 09-29-2014, 05:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepTJ5 View Post
If I had to take a guess, I'd say your chassis batteries were very discharged and most/all of the current required by the starter was pulled from the house batteries and therefore through the isolator. I am relatively sure the starter is wired directly to the chassis batteries.(Normally you wouldn't pull much current form the house batteries while cranking - and the "jump" solenoid when used, would bypass the isolator diodes) If you pulled too much current through the isolator diodes and one or more failed, it/they probably shorted too,
Quote:
Originally Posted by BopMan View Post
I could see if the battery boost was used that a lot of current could flow through the isolator and produce an overload. I'm wondering if my boost solenoid is defective and is staying on all the time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by traveler999 View Post
I blew one of my Isolators, but it didn't burn up like yours. I think it was caused by running the microwave while I was on the inverter.
BopMan
If I am not mistaken if the diodes in a "solid state isolator", (like your Cole Hersee 48160 200AMP model), are good they do NOT allow any current to flow OUT OF the batteries to which the isolator is connected.

Said another way I believe that a properly working "solid state isolator" ONLY ALLOWS current to flow INTO the batteries.

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Old 09-29-2014, 06:52 PM   #10
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If the engine is running and the alternator is putting out a voltage higher than the battery, the alternator will supply power to both the battery and any appliance connected to the battery. this current will go through the isolator
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:37 AM   #11
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BopMan
If I am not mistaken if the diodes in a "solid state isolator", (like your Cole Hersee 48160 200AMP model), are good they do NOT allow any current to flow OUT OF the batteries to which the isolator is connected.

Said another way I believe that a properly working "solid state isolator" ONLY ALLOWS current to flow INTO the batteries.

Mel
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Mel S:

Yes, if I had of engaged my mind before I engaged my fingers, I probably would have stated it correctly. You are right, the isolator keeps the two battery systems from "seeing" each other, but getting charged from the alternator simultaneously. So I'd have to modify my guessed cause to maybe one diode failed, shorted and then allowed the current from the house batteries to flow into the starting system through the second forward biased diode and perhaps overloaded it, causing the heat and damage. Again these are just guesses, but there was a lot of heat there.

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Old 09-30-2014, 02:17 PM   #12
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I guess we don't know if the diode is good or not. From the damage it looks like it is at the connection from the diode to the the domestic output. It could simply be a loose connection and it got hot under high current draw.
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Old 10-01-2014, 02:17 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by YC1 View Post
Any chance you can post that schematic as a pdf so I can enlarge it? I'm a Certified ET with 40 yrs working on specialized vehicle electrical.
Myron,
I've tried but can not produce a pdf from the .jpg. This one might have more detail:
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This one was posted above which show the components:Click image for larger version

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I don't know if the above helps.... I'll try to find a way to convert the jpg to pdf.

Thanks for looking.
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:05 PM   #14
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The rig is now being repaired at Camping World. Based on the time I was there It didn't appear they spent much time evaluating what caused the issue. My insurance agent told me my cost would only be for the isolator. The big issue is the plastic box the components are mounted in... hopefully they'll get lucky and find one.

I didn't want to do much testing before taking it to CW but I did a battery stress test with a 50 amp tester and both banks of batteries look good. I checked all the connections and they were tight. I tried to test the alternator but I don't really have the right tools. If it was a diode that failed then I would like to know why so I don't make the same mistake. I don't know if anyone has any experience in switching from a diode based isolator to a "Big Boy" type relay but it sounds more safe. Thanks again for looking.
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