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Old 20 June 2009, 05:54   #1
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Battery isolator switches?

Iím looking for your comments on battery isolator switches. For our small open rib, is it a safety necessity, or just a potential failure mode?

We recently had a faulty electrics (intermittent) and failure to start fault, which turned out (via a replacement battery) to be the battery isolator switch mounted directly on the battery terminal.

This begs the question of the benefits/problems of such a switch, and should I bother with a replacement. Does everyone have one?

Thanks
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Old 20 June 2009, 06:41   #2
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I thought it was particularly useful if, for example, you had automatic bilge pumps and the RIB was not used for a while, it stops the drain on the battery.

I guess also fuel and batteries are not a brilliant combination in general terms, it's helpful to turn it all off.

One the other hand...... none of my other petrol toys (cars, lawnmowers, tractors etc) use battery isolators. In fact some are left on trickle charge.
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Old 20 June 2009, 07:09   #3
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I think it's a big safety feature. If you had an electrical fire, then by a simple turn of a switch you've isolated all of the power. Of course it is handy to stop drain in a boat whilst at anchor for the reason above or when storing your boat for weeks or months during layup periods.

Spend a little bit more and get a high quality product, there is some cheap stuff around that will give you nothing but greif.
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Old 20 June 2009, 07:12   #4
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Got them in one boat , but not in the other ( smaller) . Both rigged by manufacturer - down to personal choice in my view .
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Old 20 June 2009, 07:36   #5
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Would always strongly recommend one. I've used BEP switches on a number of boats nad never had any problems. The operating lever can be removed so no-one can turn the power on without it. A good additional anti-theft feature. Think they're about a tenner.
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Old 20 June 2009, 10:32   #6
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I recommend the BEP/HELLA/Others type as well. Don't buy a cheap one as they fail quite rapidly.
The BEP/Hella type (they seem to be made in one place and sold under various names) are very good and I haven't had one fail yet.
I would be wary of any boat electrical system that had no means of isolation, batteries are powerful things if shorted.
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Old 22 June 2009, 06:19   #7
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I've only had one fail on me (slowly) after it was underwater for about 10 mins following a fairly conclusive swamping. Worked fine for about a day, then the corrosion set in - Starter died the following day, and by the third day hitting the PTT was enough for the radio to shut itself down on voltage drop .

If it's inside the console, I'll echo the other guys - a decent quality one should give years of service. If you are reallty stuck with a dead switch and have electronics you need to get home (and I include the engine management in that statement - not sure if the Etecs can run without a batt?) you could swap the two cables onto one of the terminal posts of the switch to get power to your toys / engine - just remember it will be a "live" hookup!)
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Old 22 June 2009, 06:34   #8
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Ooooo sparks!
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Old 22 June 2009, 16:13   #9
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Hi Guys and thanks for all your inputs. I takeyou point on getting a quality isolator but unfortunately I only have enough spare head space above the battery for the cheaper/keyless horizontal style ones. My curiosity got the better of me and I stripped and cleaned/sanded the old old one which now works again.

On the security front, my battery is in the padlocked seat, and if you get to it with a spanner you can easily remove it and put the cable back on. Didn't get any sparks when connecting up the new battery.

thanks again

John
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Old 22 June 2009, 17:11   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 9D280 View Post
not sure if the Etecs can run without a batt
The 90s certainly can, they have a magneto. I was running mine today with the battery isolaters in the off postion.
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