Author Topic: Recommended product: Magnum Energy ME-SBC Smart Battery Combiner  (Read 3019 times)

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Tevin

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I was fortunate enough to be given (for free!) two barely-used 105 AH/20 hour rate AGM deep cycle batteries. They were gorgeous. How often does $400 worth of batteries just fall into your lap?

The problem: I already have a string of flooded batteries for my solar set up, and you can't just add random mismatched batteries to the end of the string. The quick solution was to create a new string with the new batteries and place a simple single pole, double throw switch between them on the + side.. It's very easy and inexpensive, but then I limit myself to manually switching between strings for both charge and discharge functions. It would work, but there's got to be a better way.

One evening I was wandering around my favorite solar supplier's website http://www.solar-electric.com  and by accident found the Magnum Energy battery combiner. It looked like the answer to my problem.

The ME-SBC goes between two batteries and allows them to charge each other without being directly connected, with user-adjustable high/low. If the voltage in either battery exceeds your set points, the device disconnects. It really is a set-and-forget system. 



Photo: My ME-SBC install.


For prepping/survival purposes, you could have one string of "good" batteries and use the ME-SBC to add miscellaneous salvage batteries to your system without pulling down your good ones.

I see two main disadvantages: First, it is an electronic device that adds a layer of complexity to your system. If we get into a long term survival situation where spare parts are extinct, I may wish I had that low-tech SPDT switch. Second, this device does not allow you to power a load directly from the secondary battery. All it does is allow the batteries to charge off each other. The MB-SBC does not increase your battery capacity, it increases your battery charging capacity. It's a subtle difference, but it matters.

The ME-SBC is not a complete solution, but at only $120 it's a relatively inexpensive way to add versatility to my solar power system.

I might write up a more detailed review and post it on my blog.

Available from Northern Arizona Wind & Sun.  http://www.solar-electric.com/me-sbc.html





spacecase0

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Re: Recommended product: Magnum Energy ME-SBC Smart Battery Combiner
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 04:25:18 PM »
that is quite the fun toy,
being able to forget about something like that would be handy,
I currently use power pole connections to trade out my battery sets (yes they sell high amperage ones)
it is some work trying to remember what set needs charged next when I don't use a set often,
but is super easy to trade sets when using them, if one set gets low, I can just trade to a new set easy
on charge I will sometimes connect all the sets together (after they are all somewhat full), but make sure to undo that before the sun sets

if I had that fancy combiner thing I would set up one battery set for the lights and another for the radio (to split up the load) and let it charge all of it in the morning
I also have tried 2 separate charge controllers going to separate battery sets and they are run off of the same panels, and it seems to work, but not ideal.

I do worry about EMP frying all the fancy things, so even if I had something like that combiner, I would still have switches lying around to replace it if needed)
by the way, the standard house light switches can take quite a bit of DC current and still disconnect the load
have tested to 60A (6V inductive load) and it all seemed fine
I use them at disconnect switches for the charge side of my system (the charge current is just not that high)
and the really neat thing about that kind of switch is that after an EMP, you should have lots of extra on the walls of nearly every house that no one will need

Tevin

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Re: Recommended product: Magnum Energy ME-SBC Smart Battery Combiner
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 06:26:10 PM »
that is quite the fun toy,
being able to forget about something like that would be handy,
I currently use power pole connections to trade out my battery sets (yes they sell high amperage ones)

if I had that fancy combiner thing I would set up one battery set for the lights and another for the radio (to split up the load) and let it charge all of it in the morning


spacecase0, I have EMP concerns too. But any EMP strong enough to take out this device will probably kill my controller and everything else too. So ruling out the splitter on EMP grounds does not make much sense.

You can install this affordable manual switch http://www.solar-electric.com/basw1300amp.html and eliminate the need to move plugs around.

As best I can tell, the ME-SBC will not split a load because the secondary battery string is connected to the positive of the main string through the device. This would result in pulling current through the device from the main battery. The other option, running a lead form the + side of each string directly to to a common buss, would essentially be shorting around the splitter and defeating the purpose of having it. It's a lot easier to visualize what I'm talking about if you look at the connection diagram in the manual (available on line through the link in my last post).

I was hoping to split the load too, and Magnum Energy tech support did not respond to my emailed question asking about it. I cannot figure it out. If anyone has any ideas, please speak up.

By the way, the ME-SBC has a limit of 25 amps but there is an output to operate a relay if you need to switch more juice.




spacecase0

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Re: Recommended product: Magnum Energy ME-SBC Smart Battery Combiner
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 09:39:59 PM »
I have backup charge controllers in EMP proof storage,
and switches to just do it by hand and turn it off when I here the valves of the batteries venting... (crappy but it works)

I would split the load by running 2 separate 12V buses for the loads, maybe split it up by half of the house and the other half, or lights and radio shack, or 12V direct run and the other battery bank runs the inverter for 120V, just whatever is easiest to split with your current wiring