Auxillary battery legal aspects

Submitted: Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 14:08
ThreadID: 5431 Views:1577 Replies:4 FollowUps:12
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An auto electrician told me this morning that all of the solenoid type aux. battery set ups could invalidate insurance policies if a malfunction occured and caused a fire and that the only ones acceptable were the "store-bought" (rotronics etc.) type. My system is wired in correctly and he hadn't even taken a look at it so I suspect he wanted to sell me something. Does any one know if the auto elec guy is correct?
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Reply By: Member - Rohan K - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 14:39

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 14:39
Reece, just as with mechanical modifications, you'll find when push comes to shove, if the work was performed by an unqualified person, and the insurance co. can point to it and say "that caused the damage", they won't pay and you won't have recourse to anyone.Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
AnswerID: 22426

Follow Up By: Member - Reece- Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 15:34

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 15:34
Thanks Rohan
I guess that's what I figured the situation might be. I suppose it's one of those risks we accept as worthwhile, as long as we do actually know what we are doing. It might be worth getting a qualified person to check stuff like that just to get some peace of mind. Then again - the insurance co. will still pay up if a road accident is your fault won't they.
FollowupID: 14762

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 15:46

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 15:46
Ah, but you're a qualified (licenced) driver, aren't you? Will they pay if the vehicle is being driven by an unlicenced driver?Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14764

Reply By: joc45 - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 15:49

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 15:49
Why single out solenoids? What if the solenoid on your starter motor jams and causes a melt-down? Are they worried about that?
Even solid state switches; eg, Rotronics, etc can fail, same problem.
I note ARB install solenoids for battery combiners; ie, professional installation.

And I notice on the latest turbo diesel L/Cruisers that they have a cable joining the two batteries which runs across the front above the radiator with flimsy protection. In the event of a front-end prang, I would expect that if the insulation was damaged, it could short both batteries to ground. What do the insur co's think of that?
AnswerID: 22429

Follow Up By: Phil G - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 19:11

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 19:11

Just a lttle correction. The Rotronics devices have fusible links at the pos connections to each battery and current limiter inside the box, so it is well and truly short-circuit protected.

Phil G
Prado TD
FollowupID: 14798

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 21:22

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 21:22
Jock, you'll find its not the solenoid they are "singling out" - its the DIY set-up (many of which use simple solenoids instead of the full kit).Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14822

Follow Up By: joc45 - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 00:21

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 00:21
Point taken on the fusible links, Phil, but they can also be added to solenoid systems as well. Re current limiting, these are electronic devices, and work until the electronic device fails, then they don't limit. (don't misunderstand me, modern electronic devices are usually very reliable, but FETs, diodes, etc do fail occasionally, which is probably why the fusible links are added, just in case).

Rohan, the professional ARB installation which I saw recently used a simple solenoid and had no obvious fusible links in it; ie, no different to a DIY job.

Electric winch installations, which use a group of 4 solenoids, use no fusible links. Theoretically, if one solenoid jams, a melt-down could occur if the motor is then reversed.

I guess the main point I was making was that the insurance co seems to have fears about solenoids in dual battery installations, but has no fears about solenoids switching starter motors/winches. It just sounds like another escape for them if it suits them, coz I'm certain they're technically ignorant.
FollowupID: 14831

Follow Up By: Phil G - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 10:23

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 10:23

The fusible links are added at both battery pos terminals, so that all wiring and electronic devices leading forth are protected against short-circuit. Nothing to do with whats in the electronic isolator and purely here to prevent a fire under the bonnet.

If I was installing a solenoid system, I would use fusible links at both batteries as well, but you need to also install a self-resetting circuit breaker so the fusible links don't blow when starting your vehicle. This all adds cost to a simple system, so professional and DIY installers take the risk and skip this bit. Rotronics devices are current limited, and also don't cut in until the starter battery has reached 13.5V so don't have to install a circuit breaker.

You said that some professional installations are no different to DIY. I'd have to agree with you - I have seen a few dodgy "professional" installations with no covering or protection for the "live" pos terminals. I have seen two fires caused by an auxillary battery's pos terminal touching the bonnet, and its pretty ugly.

The starter motor is the only "factory" device that doesn't draw power through a fusible link. Thats because it draws 400 amps (too much for a fusible link, and too much voltage drop). That cable is top quality and comprehensively insulated, usually supported well away from metalwork. Winches will pose the same short-circuit risk and don't have fusible links because they draw 200amps.

I think the insurance company in question knows their stuff and have identified a legitimate risk. They would be the odd one out!

FollowupID: 14835

Follow Up By: joc45 - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 13:05

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 13:05
Couldn't agree more with what you say about protection, it's a very desirable thing, and I use it everywhere, except on my winch.

The very fact that starter motors and winches draw too much current to use fusible links seems to be of no concern to insurance co's. But if they fail and cause a fire, that (as Desert says) is an "accident". But if anything else fails due to overcurrent, without protection, then that is the owner's fault.

As I mentioned earlier, the cable connecting between the two batteries in the latest turbo diesel L/Cruiser is quite vulnerable to damage in an accident yet has no protection agains a short cct. Since that's the way the factory supplied it, that makes it ok, as far as the insurance co is concerned. There appear to be two sets of rules.

I've said enuf on this topic, cheers
FollowupID: 14845

Follow Up By: Brian - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 22:01

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 22:01
"And I notice on the latest turbo diesel L/Cruisers that they have a cable joining the two batteries "

Are the new Turbo Diesel LandCrusers 24 v????

FollowupID: 14873

Follow Up By: Phil G - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 11:58

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 11:58

The 100 series TD and later TD Jackaroos have dual batteries in parallel with nothing more than a big thick cable between them. They are still 12V vehicles, but are common-rail diesels and require the extra battery capacity to start the vehicles in cold weather.

They have no isolator, so their system merely doubles the capacity (and CCA) of the batteries. I assume they have a bucketload of insulation around the pos cable for protection, and its probably supported on plastic clips etc.

Limits your options for an auxillary battery.

FollowupID: 14890

Follow Up By: joc45 - Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 12:01

Sunday, Jun 15, 2003 at 12:01
No, Brian, they have two 12v batteries parallelled, location same as earler L/C's. The batteries are smaller than the earlier ones. And as I said, the cable connecting them runs across the top, just behind the radiator.
I have heard various stories as to the reason, but the general one is that the new diesel requires a high cranking speed, hence extra capacity.
More than that, I can't say.
The arrangement unfortunately stuffs up the nice dual battery arrangement of earlier tojos. Pity.
FollowupID: 14891

Reply By: desert - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 16:12

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 16:12
Lets get back to earth here. Most insurance assessors would not know a solenoid from a monkeys arse. They are also not qualified fire investigators either, and if you were to push the point, even if it was a solenoid that caused the problem, the item and the electrician who presumidly fitted it, are licensed anyway, to work on vehicles in the State. Any claim is going to be sighted by the assessor and he is going to say, "yep, it's burnt, take it away and get it fixed", He is not going to start stripping the engine bay apart looking for the cause! The assessors job is nothing more than to visually inspect the vehicle to make sure the quotation is an accurate account of the damage being claimed for.
AnswerID: 22434

Follow Up By: Member - Bonz (Vic) - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 17:35

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 17:35
What Reece is on about is what of the electrician who fitted it is you? We do a lot of work on our cars ourselves and we assume some of the risk for not taking it to a professional. I fitted mine and have been asked by a number of people who fitted it as it looks professional and I have used large diameter cables and proper terminations (done at work by a friend). I wionder too what would happen if a fire was caused by this installation but as you say Desert, the assessor looks for reality in quotes mainly. If you have a decent insurer and you have done a good job on the installation then you should be OK I think.


So many places to go!
So much work to do :0(
FollowupID: 14787

Follow Up By: Phil G - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 10:30

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 10:30

My guess is that the assessor knows that underbonnet fires are not a natural event. The insurance company will look for someone else to blame and would blame the installer. In the case of a professional installer, their insurance might foot the bill. In the case of DIY, the owner might have to foot the bill or at least fork out the excess.

FollowupID: 14836

Reply By: desert - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 11:30

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 11:30
PhilG, yes you are correct, fires are not a natural event in a motor vehicle. Indeed, they are an ACCIDENT, of which you seek to insure against. I believe that provided you have questioned the insurance company on what they are going to cover on your vehicle, and provided you have been honest and in this case specified the dual battery system, then if they baulk on any claim, and you have the extra's listed on the policy, then off to the small-claims tribunal you go.
AnswerID: 22497

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