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Discussion Forums => Topaz Topaz => Topic started by: Harry Lissimore on September 03, 2018, 04:54:00 PM

Title: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 03, 2018, 04:54:00 PM
I'm hoping that someone here knows the answer.  I'm having battery Power problems in my Topaz.  When off the grid, my 2 x Fullriver 100 ah batteries won't run my ARB and  Isotherm fridges overnight.  The batteries as the sun goes down are 100% charged and by 4 AM in the morning are 82% charged (which sounds reasonable) but when either fridge cuts in, the voltage will go down to  about 10.7V and fridges won't run.  Turn the fridges off and the voltage will come back (sometimes slowly) to about 12.5 indicating about 82% charged.

I had this problem last year and replaced both batteries thinking that the batteries (only 3 yrs old) were the problem.  Current batteries are only 12 months old.  The batteries have never been below about 80% charged and when at home, they are always being trickle charged by the Projecta 25A battery charger which came with the Topaz.

Any suggestions? I'm currently travelling through Western Australia and if I can't fix this, I will either have to always be in powered sites or only use one fridge. This is very restricting.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Jim and Lyn on September 03, 2018, 07:45:54 PM
Gday Harry,
If it's happened to two sets of batteries it won't be them. Sounds like some sort of short or you've got a device running that shouldn't be.
 Check if batteries lose charge when you're hooked up to 240 and can run the fridges off it and not them ( or have you always got the charger going and if so can you turn it off and find out).
Can you isolate a battery to each fridge to see if it happens with one and not the other.
My gut feeling is one of the fridges has an issue. Perhaps a faulty thermostat so it runs constantly. If you're running one as a freezer you wouldn't notice things freezing up!
Hope you figure it out,
Jim
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 03, 2018, 07:56:23 PM
I think you need to check each fridge separately overnight to see if you have an issue with one. Perhaps remove one from the system when you're on power and plug it in to the caravan park point to keep it running. Then run the van and one fridge overnight without power and see what happens. Do that with both fridges and report back.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Frankrhona on September 03, 2018, 08:40:54 PM
Hi Harry,
Your diagnosis sounds like a faulty cell probably caused by excessive vibration such as we do.....drive over corrugations.
When your AGM batteries are fully charged they should be at 13.0V, (12.5V=80%, 12.15V=60%). An auto electrician can do a load test to test for a faulty cell. A load test would connect a load equal to about half the rated CCA for 15 seconds and watch the voltage drop. If your battery quickly drops voltage to 11V or less this usually means the battery has a faulty cell and needs replacement.

Reading a Fullriver spec (DC105-12) the rated capacity (Ah) is taken at 25C. The capacity drops to 85% at 0C, what is the overnight temperature effect?

What can you do when the auto electrician is not around the corner? Firstly, I would isolate the batteries at night and run one fridge on each battery. Is there a significant difference in performance?
Secondly, I presume you are using one fridge as a freezer. If so it would be running nearly all the time. Run it down to -18C or as low as it will go during your charging times. Add a couple of cold packs to increase the thermal mass. At night turn the freezer up to say -4C or -2C and see how it lasts. This will significantly reduce the duty cycle. If still short of power, put the frozen cold packs in the fridge overnight and turn the fridge off. Then in the morning put the cold packs back in the freezer and turn the fridge back on.

We have done something similar when using our Engel as a freezer. We take a techni-ice soft cooler bag (esky) that is well insulated and 6 A4 size cold packs. We have 3 in the freezer and 3 in the cooler bag and swap at dusk and dawn. Works well for us.
Hope this helps.
Cheers Andrew

Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: HappyTraveller on September 03, 2018, 08:59:18 PM
It's certainly worth checking for high drain on the batteries, but it really sounds like a dead cell.

I notice that when in storage, you leave the batteries on trickle charge. I purchased a couple of Fullriver AGMs earlier this year for another camper and went to a Fullriver specialist to pick them up. As we were loading the batteries into the car, he made a very deliberate point of telling me not to leave the batteries on charge when in storage. He said if there is no load on the batteries, it will dramatically shorten the life of Fullrivers. He said to maintain the batteries: charge them for say, a day in a month. I questioned him on whether Ctek or Projecta smart chargers were OK and he was emphatic with a definite no. I don't believe this used to be the case, but maybe something has changed in the Fullriver chemistry.

Good luck with your travels.

Andrew
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 03, 2018, 10:29:00 PM
Thanks for all the replies.

I always thought that the AGMs should be trickle charged so maybe I have stuffed them again.

The puzzling thing is that the batteries run both fridges until the batteries hit 82% charge and then the voltage just drops to around 10.5 - 11.5V like the batteries are flat.  Take the fridge load off them and the voltage bounces right back to 12.5V.

I do have the ARB running as a freezer but it is set at -6 deg C and I have noted that at 25 degrees ambient temp, the ARB is running for 30 minutes then off for 30 minutes.  Temperatures here overnight at the moment in Marble Bar about 18-20 degrees overnight so the freezer shouldn't draw more than about 20Ah over night. That's 10% of the battery charge and I would expect that the Isotherm fridge would use about the same so overnight the batteries should go down to about 80% which they do, but then the voltage drains when they come on at 82%. 

I would be interested to know if other forum members leave their chargers on fulltime  when their Tvans/Topaz are in storage but don't have this problem or do hsve this problem.

I have noticed in the past with 12V connections that a faulty connection will still read say 12.6 V when no current is flowing but as soon as there is a load the voltage drops considerably.  Do you think that this could be the problem?  Should I be getting into the battery compartment and checking for loose wires?  I have done that superficially and all feels OK but the earthing side of things all goes through the shunt and I'm not sure what that looks like.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: VK3GJM on September 03, 2018, 10:41:55 PM
Hi Harry,

Have a read through this site. It will not provide the answer, but can help with some of the finer detail.

https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/absorbent_glass_mat_

Here is my view, if you are using a BMS meter e.g Victron BM700, you must resync after a solid equalisation where the batteries have been on charge with a good 7 stage charger like a CTEK M200. The charge voltage needs to be around 14.4, and even if the BMS meter suggests 100%, it does not mean it is actually 100% SOC. A float voltage will still charge a battery, infact a long float voltage will take a battery from 90-95% to 100% over several hours. Therefore when the sun is down, you may have a high terminal voltage, suggesting it is 100% SOC, but after settling, the voltage drop, in your case very low. I would use a multimeter and check at battery terminals, also check at fridge.

I have spent much time while travelling fixing other people’s bad connections, bad fuse sockets / holders and solar charge systems that actually don’t work, well if not at all.

One big scenario is so many people purchase solar systems with the regulator at the panel and run a bit of small wire with huge voltage drops from regulator to battery terminals, I have seen 10-15 metre cables from panel to battery terminals and the folding panel puts out 80-160 watts and there is a 2-3 volt drop across 2.5mm2 wire, thus a solar charge to get batteries to 100% will actually never happen. What you will see is a raised terminal voltage of 13.0-13.2 for a bit and then settle to something much lower.

AGM chemistry is near identical for most batteries, at 25 degrees C with a DOD of 20% you will get 2500-3500 cycles, when you DOD to 40, then 60 and worst case 80% DOD, you can effectively take a 1/3rd of battery life, and when you go up by 5 degrees, half it.

Even worse if a battery does not get a descent 100% charge, not just terminal voltage but a good settled voltage of 12.7-12.5.

I am not surprised at the SOC at 4am, this tells me both batteries are not at 100%. I have had 105a/h batteries on solar reg via red arc and in 4 years I have never had issues with my Previous ultimate camper.

Harry, 12.5v at the terminals does not suggest 82% SOC, it is only a settling voltage. Generally 2 batteries will equalise, if they are of the same vintage, they should be OK.

I think you issue is a slow but steady discharge ans simply not enough charge, 90% or more, thus the battery over time is simply being slowly discharged more then a good charge.

How do you have your off grid / solar connected?

Weather kind of BMS do you have?

Do you have a multimeter available to validate voltages?

Can you check current at all, I would still expect to see the battery wanting high current at 12.5v, if not and the voltage rises quickly to 13.8 or higher both batteries have an internal resistance issue, failed prematurely due to poor charge while out and about.

A good charger should go from charge 14.4-14.6 to float at 13.6-13.7 ma. 13.8, a voltage of 10.5-10.7 means that both batteries may have single cell issues or near or past 80% DOD state.



Regards

Gerald







Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 04, 2018, 09:30:39 AM
Harry, in answer to your question about leaving batteries on charge when stored, I don't. I have 2 105agm batteries in the Tvan and turn the charger on for a day, roughly once a month.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Cruiser 105Tvan on September 04, 2018, 11:59:26 AM
So Gumb, are you saying that I'm doing the wrong thing by relying on a 40W Solar panel system, to keep the batteries in my Tvan going?
That's 2 x 105Ah on an MPPT controller with 40W BP Solar Panel.  With a capability of adding more panels, when away, to increase the input.
The Batteries I've got in the 2009 camper are the Original Full River and an equivalent that was installed shortly after purchase of the Tvan. in 2010.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: mal1958 on September 04, 2018, 01:23:42 PM
Hi,
When you say that the voltage drops "to  about 10.7V and fridges won't run", where are you measuring this ?     

For example  is it at the batteries or at the Fridge ?     

Depending what voltages you are reading where will determine if it is a battery problem, or a wiring problem.

I would do all the simple things first.

1) Check all connections to the batteries including earth points and any fuses, wiring connections etc between the batteries and the fridges.   it is worth doing this with the fridges connected and running.

2) If you are using the Victron BMS, then check the shunt and the associated wiring.

3) Directly measure the voltage on the battery terminals.    (Not at the connectors, but on the terminals).

4) Make sure the voltage on the battery terminals is very close to being the same for both batteries.

If the battery voltage falls under load, they might,

a) Be not charged,
b) Both batteries have failed.
c) One or both fridges are drawing excessive current.

If the batteries are not charged, depending on the model of the projecta charger, you can initiate a conditioning charge.   (if you have the instructions for the charger, it is there)

You might have to recalibrate your Victron BMS if you have one, once you have conditioned the batteries.    (It is in the instructions for the BMS)

If the battery voltage is OK, but the voltage at the fridges has dropped, and the fridges are not drawing excess current then there is a wiring issue.

If you have a wiring issue, you just have to be systematic and work your way from the battery end to the fridge end, checking connectors etc as you go.

Please let us know how you get on.

Cheers,
Mal










 



Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Flood on September 04, 2018, 04:07:48 PM
Hi Harry

It sounds to me that you may have a “ high resistance” in the supply to your fridge(s). In my case it was a loose fuse within the merit plug supplying the fridge in your case it must be at a point common to both fridges (ie. at the battery or common fuse).
A high resistance (in most cases) will give you voltage (in my case 12.9V) however when under load (drawing current) it will give you a substantial voltage drop. That voltage drop is IxR. As R (resistance) increases therefore so does voltage drop.

Cheers Mark
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Eelezy on September 04, 2018, 04:57:13 PM
One thing left field Harry is that you might have your fridges set on the "HIGH" cutoff switch on the fridges. If i do that with our older hard start waeco 50 it will go into error mode if the voltage has dropped off a  it after a day or so with no charge. If i switch it to the low setting, yes it draws down the battery to under 12 volts for a few seconds as it starts but wont go into error. Maybe not the answer but a good tip for others providing they can isolate and monitor their battery to prevent it going too low of course!
Chris
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 05, 2018, 06:13:18 PM
I'll try and answer all questions asked.  Firstly thanks to all who responded to my problem.

I have jiggled active and earth wires where I can see them and all are tight.

The ARB fridge is set to LO voltage setting so I think it won't start if the battery goes below 10.6V

To my knowledge the Isotherm has no adjustable low voltage setting.

However this is not my issue, its the voltage dropping low after the fridges are on all night without any battery charging.

At 8 AM this morning, The Projecta 240V 25A charger has been charging the batteries for 16 hours and when all lights are off and fridges aren't running, there is only 0.1 - 0.2 Amps going into the batteries so I assume that they are fully charged.

Today at 8 AM  I have turned the charger OFF and the batteries are being charged by the 120W roof solar panel only (I can't easily isolate that) and so far it is keeping up. I will expect the voltage to start dropping normally from about 13.2V at the moment when the sun goes down. (Vitron is reading 99.7% charged atm) I have the voltmeter at the ready when the Vitron and the Projecta 240V charger (even though it's off it still measures the voltage) tell me that the voltage is getting low and I will measure that at the battery terminals.  It's difficult to meaure each battery  when fridges are running/trying to run because they are inter connected and I won't be mucking around with that when I'm half asleep at about 4 in the morning.

Each fridge is on its own circuit so if there was a wiring issue, then it would have to be in common places.  I'll check that out in the next couple of days.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: VK3GJM on September 05, 2018, 09:23:16 PM
Hi Harry,

The Victron BMS draws about 600 microamps. You mentioned that the Projecta charger is off but the meter is still up, I wonder if the projecta supply and meter combination might have an issue and it is consuming to much currrent even though it is off. Although I doubt it, this becomes a process of elimination.

If you have the BM712 with integrated Bluetooth, you might be able to obtain stats via phone app?

Regards

Gerald

Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 06, 2018, 08:09:48 PM
So Gumb, are you saying that I'm doing the wrong thing by relying on a 40W Solar panel system, to keep the batteries in my Tvan going

I'm going on advice that the batteries prefer being charged every few weeks, rather than being constantly on charge, while in storage. That applies to hooking up to 240v, not necessarily trickle charging from solar panels.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Cruiser 105Tvan on September 06, 2018, 10:43:39 PM
Thanks.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 07, 2018, 11:32:07 AM
Measured the voltage on the battery terminals at 4 am this morning and yesterday morning and voltage is 10.6 with one fridge running, which agrees exactly with the vitron and projecta charger which is turned off. The vitron indicates that the batteries are 89% charged. With fridges turned off the battery voltage is 12.5v.

I might try isolating the batteries and just run off 1 and see if they individually have the same issues. Any other ideas would be welcomed.



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Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 07, 2018, 06:43:15 PM
If the voltage is 10.6, then the fridge wouldn't be running as you said in your original post. But this post would indicate that the fridge is running ? Are both batteries at 10.6 ?

You will get voltage drop while a fridge is running and my single battery running a freezer in the car would go from 12.5 to 12.2 or thereabouts.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 07, 2018, 10:28:53 PM
Gumb, at 10.6v the isotherm fridge will run but the arb won’t. When the isotherm fridge turns off then the voltage goes back to about 12.5.


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Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 07, 2018, 10:33:59 PM
Gumb I haven’t measured each individual battery because I would have to disconnect one, hook the other one up and do the measurements. That’s a bit complicated for me at 4 am in the morning. I can’t run the batteries down during the day because the rooftop solar is keeping everything charged and I don’t know how to disconnect it. I haven’t got a ladder either to put a blanket over it.


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Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 07, 2018, 10:34:45 PM
So have you tried it with the Isotherm off? It sounds like it's drawing too much current ?
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: dave on September 08, 2018, 11:46:48 AM
Should be easy to isolate the batteries from each other by removing the fusible link at the battery that you would like to remove from the circuit.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 08, 2018, 03:08:12 PM
Either fridge brings the battery voltage to about 10.6 and they are on different circuits.
I measure the battery voltage at the bolts that hold the lugs down and not at the lugs.
What fusable link between batteries?  They are just connected by wires.


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Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Cruiser 105Tvan on September 08, 2018, 04:35:17 PM
Either fridge brings the battery voltage to about 10.6 and they are on different circuits.
I measure the battery voltage at the bolts that hold the lugs down and not at the lugs.
What fusable link between batteries?  They are just connected by wires.


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I think he's referring to the Self resetting Circuit Breakers in the tin can enclosures with the two bolts as terminals.
I haven't known Track to use 'Fusible Links'. but I may be misinformed.
They may be somewhere behind the control panel, instead of near the battery. 
It'd be a matter of following wires, and maybe marking them (the circuit breaker) when you find them, so you know next time.
You are sure there are no loose connections in the system?  That would contribute to, or create the problem you describe.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Wetjala on September 09, 2018, 10:04:59 AM
Voltage dropping down to around 10Vdc? My guess: It sounds like one of the cells in one of the batteries has collapsed. Each cell should typically be ~2.4Vdc with 6 cells (in series) producing 14.4Vdc when fully charged (i.e. like the FullRiver DC105-12). If one cell is "cactus" then that would cause the symptoms you are seeing. I say symptoms (plural) because the second indication is that your "full" charge appears to be just 12Vdc and not ~14Vdc which is what I would expect when neither fridges are running. Have you got a multimeter? If so disconnect one battery and measure the the voltages across both so see which is at 10Vdc. A battery, or battery bank, is only as good as the weakest cell will let it be! Batteries are considered undercharged when the voltage drops to ~11Vdc.

PS: Find the faulty battery fast because the other cells will be overcharging to compensate since the charger(s) are trying to get the voltage to ~14Vdc and this will most certainly reduce the life of the "good" battery!  :o

PPS: What causes a single cell to collapse? Well . . . I notice that these are relatively new batteries and you had a similar problem with the last set so my guess (again) would be you have a problem with the tug alternator or its rectifier (see an auto elec.) or there's a problem with the charging gear onboard the Topaz, but my money would be on the car! Another cause for a cell to collapse is impact which is not uncommon when off-road traveling.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Cruiser 105Tvan on September 09, 2018, 12:02:51 PM
If You do get new Batteries again, get Marine grade batteries.
Marine Grade batteries are constructed to withstand vibration and shock.
They are a more reliable in a 4WD or Camper, than ordinary batteries, and better again than so called heavy duty grade ones.

But, get the rest checked out, it won't be any good if there's something wrong with the car charging system.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: dave on September 09, 2018, 07:33:47 PM

What fusable link between batteries?  They are just connected by wires.


Ok, sounds like yours is wired differently.

My Mk3 Tvan has (from memory) about 100mm of cable from the positive terminal to a 50 amp fusible link on both batteries for protection before proceeding anywhere near the control panel etc.

I assumed (never assume) that all TT gear had the same protection.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Cruiser 105Tvan on September 09, 2018, 08:06:12 PM
Ok, sounds like yours is wired differently.

My Mk3 Tvan has (from memory) about 100mm of cable from the positive terminal to a 50 amp fusible link on both batteries for protection before proceeding anywhere near the control panel etc.

I assumed (never assume) that all TT gear had the same protection.


Fair enough.


Mine only had a maxi fuse at the front. 2009 Tvan, not a Topaz though.
When I had the Batteries moved to the back floor we used Midi Fuses instead of fusible link wire.
Basically, for ease of replacement in the bush. 
Don't know anyone that carries spare fusible links in their camper, or vehicle for that matter.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 13, 2018, 07:04:21 PM
Exmouth Autoelectrics and Marine have fixed my battery problem. They ran both batteries down to about 70% charge and tested them under load. The voltage went down to about 6V. The batteries that were just over 1 year old  (1 year warranty) were no longer functioning. Nothing I had done they say. I’m just unlucky. They suggested that I discharge the batteries down to about 50% occasionally and recharge, and don’t leave them on the charger for extended periods while at home but just top them up every month. I will be talking to Fullriver re the correct way to look after them and I’ll be chasing them for some compensation for the cost of the batteries ($930) and labour ($60)


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Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Frankrhona on September 13, 2018, 07:26:29 PM
Quote
don’t leave them on the charger for extended periods while at home but just top them up every month.
Quote
I will be talking to Fullriver re the correct way to look after them

Harry,
I will be interested in what you learn.

I'm not convinced you can not regularly charge batteries. My daily drive gets 3 hours charge every day, a taxi, bus or truck gets much more. I have had my Tvan on a small 10W solar panel for several years. It charges the battery during daylight hours, (yes even when it is overcast!), with no detrimental effect on the battery. Volt meter reads 13.6V during the day and 12.8V at night, no load.
http://www.lowenergydevelopments.com.au/solarpanels-poly-mono/solar-panels-lessthan-100w/10w-trickle-charger-alligator-clips (http://www.lowenergydevelopments.com.au/solarpanels-poly-mono/solar-panels-lessthan-100w/10w-trickle-charger-alligator-clips).

Cheers, Andrew
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 13, 2018, 10:20:54 PM
Quote from: Frankrhona
I'm not convinced you can not regularly charge batteries. My daily drive gets 3 hours charge every day, a taxi, bus or truck gets much more. I have had my Tvan on a small 10W solar panel for several years. It charges the battery during daylight hours, (yes even when it is overcast!), with no detrimental effect on the battery.
That advice came from a guy who builds batteries for a living. You can accept or ignore it, it's your decision. We are talking about having a battery on constant charge from a 240v charger when stored, nothing to do with daily driving.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Wetjala on September 14, 2018, 12:14:19 AM
If your Isuzu MU-X model is 16.5MY or later the electrical system will have a variable voltage Intelligent Battery Sensor. To properly charge secondary batteries which includes those on trailers etc. then a DC-DC charger (not a VSR) is needed (like Redarc or C-Tek units) otherwise these secondary batteries will not be properly charged which, in the case of Gel and AGM batteries that are sensitive to overcharging, will result in gas bubbles forming in the electrolyte gel that will permanently damage the battery. Is the Isuzu one of these later models and if so do you have a DC-DC converter installed in the car that feeds to the Topaz batteries? I would hope that the auto elec that you visited checked this!

Or . . . do you have the DC-DC converter installed on the Topaz and if so has the car wiring been modified to that pin 2 on the 7 pin trailer plug is used to sense when the car is connected rather then used for the reverse signal (standard arrangement)? I notice your Topaz is newer than the Isuzu so maybe the wiring mod hasn't been done to the car which probably means the DC-DC converter is not functioning as intended.

From the "Fullriver Charging Instructions" sheet:
To maximize the life of you Fullriver battery, it is important that it is properly charged. As with lead acid batteries, both over and under charging a Fullriver battery will result in shortened service life.
And . .
A constant current charger can also be used, however it is important to adhere to the termination criteria . . . . . to minimize the chance of excessive over-charge (This has implications for those of us using the older alternator types, I believe.)

Sorry, but I just don't buy this "unlucky with batteries" thing and if the core problem is not sorted (by a competent auto elec looking at all aspects of the charging systems on the car and Topaz) then you will be having this problem again in the not too distant future.

(But then these are just my opinions which are probably nothing more than vented hot air as I often tend to over think things!)

Good luck!
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 14, 2018, 11:45:18 AM
Thanks for the most informative responses and advice. I’m not sure of the wiring but the charging system uses ignition to select the Redarc BCDC 40A charger. When the ignition is off then the rooftop solar is selected. Can there be a problem with that?


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Title: Battery Power Problems
Post by: dave on September 14, 2018, 12:12:06 PM
I have had my Tvan on a small 10W solar panel for several years. It charges the battery during daylight hours, (yes even when it is overcast!), with no detrimental effect on the battery. Volt meter reads 13.6V during the day and 12.8V at night, no load.


I’m lead to believe (or overheard) that this method of keeping batteries topped up when not in use is one of the best ways long term as they get a breather each night and with each following day the batteries get topped up a little more which apparently goes a long way towards reconditioning them, but don’t quote me.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 14, 2018, 12:42:41 PM
I’m not sure though whether Track actually wired the Topaz that way or used the positive coming into the charger as the ignition. How could I find out?


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Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 14, 2018, 11:07:55 PM
When the ignition is off then the rooftop solar is selected. Can there be a problem with that?h

No problem at all, that's how my Tvan is wired and it works perfectly. The newer Redarc chargers don't use that system and can accept charge from both sources at the same time.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Wetjala on September 15, 2018, 04:34:06 PM
Well this problem has been making me scratch my head enough to get splinters in my fingers!
Let’s change tack and try to approach this from a different angle. Firstly I’ll make some assumptions – right or wrong – which you can correct and then I’ll pose a couple of questions.

Assumptions:
1.   The charging system in the car is the variable voltage type and operational (with no faults).
2.   The charging system in the Topaz is the Redarc dual input multi-stage 12V in vehicle battery charger (model BCDC1240D) and operational (no faults).
3.   The car ignition switch connects to the Topaz via the 7-pin round trailer connector on pin 2 (different pin for different style connector) and this in turn connects to the input trigger of the Redarc (which tells the Redarc that the vehicle has a variable voltage alternator).
4.   The 240VAC-12VDC converter is without fault.

Questions:
1.   Can you confirm the alternator type for your vehicle? I’ve assumed a variable voltage type however if it’s not then the trigger wire to the Redarc should not be connected to the car according to my interpretation of the BCDC1240D manual.
2.   What is the charging profile on the Redarc set to? I believe for Fullriver DC105-12 AGM batteries this should be “A” profile (shown on a LED on the front of the Redarc) which limits the maximum voltage to 14.6Vdc. The maximum voltages for profiles B & C appear to be unsuitable (too high) for the DC105-12 AGM.
3.   When in use do the batteries recharge each and every time during the day back to 100% capacity (per the Victron Battery Monitor)? (Not charging batteries back to 100% will, overtime, reduce the life of the battery although I’m not completely sure if this could be a possible cause of the problem you have experienced.)
4.   Has the Victron Battery Monitor been set up for two batteries? Otherwise the 100% will only refer to the primary battery and you will be “blind” with regards to the actual state of the secondary. (Not a cause for your problem however it’s nice to know everything has been configured properly!)
5.   What AC-DC charger is used in your Topaz when you are connected to the 240Vac and like the Redarc has the charging profile been set for AGM battery charging?
6.   When the Topaz is not being used is it kept outside, uncovered so the solar can keep a trickle charge (float) to the batteries or is it connected to 240Vdc or neither?

Regarding whether Track wire the trigger back to the 7-pin plug, well that will depend upon whether the Topaz was built or retrofitted with the Redarc by Track or whether a third party added the charger and neglected to wire it in. I think the former is the case but whether that's right or not depends on your answer to my first question.

Anyway I guess that’s about all I can think of at the moment. Maybe the answers to one or two of these will help pin-point the cause but there’s no guarantees . . . and I’m certainly do not claim to be an expert on this stuff!    ::)
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on September 17, 2018, 07:06:04 PM
Hi Wetjala,

I'll try and answer what I can.....

Projecta 240V 25A charger is set to  AGM

Redarc BCDC 40A charger is set to AGM/gel

Vitron is set to 200 ah battery

I don't think that the redarc is connected to the ignition as the rooftop solar charges the battery while I'm driving when the car anderson plug is not connected.  If it worked on the ignition, then if I don't have the car anderson plug plugged in, I would get no car or solar charging.

I think that the batteries are charged properly with the Projecta because the Vitron displays 100% and the charging goes right down to about 0.1 - 0.3 amps and ramps up to about 3 and 6.5A when each of the fridges turn on.  The voltage on the vitron and the Projecta both state 13.7V too.

The Topaz is stored in a carport and the rooftop solar is in the shade.

The car alternator - not sure how to find out what that  is but I have noticed that the car does charge the batteries up to 100% on the Vitron and then goes to float charge.

Harry
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Wetjala on September 17, 2018, 09:16:43 PM
Ohh . . . kaaaay, now I’m really stumped!

Unless there is a fault with one of the battery charging systems (car-to-trailer, solar-to-trailer, 240Vac-to-trailer) which is overcharging the batteries the only thing I can think of is excessive sulfation in one or more of the cells within the battery due to poor “storage” practices when the trailer is not in use.

Notice I put quotes around storage because people often think that shoving the trailer away for a few months with all master switches off without some form of trickle charge to keep the battery(ies) topped up at 100% implies correct storage of the battery(ies). Wrong!

A battery can be stored for an extended period without being attached to a trickle charge provided that battery is not connected to anything. In the T-Van, and probably the Topaz as well, even though all switches and the master switch are off power is still being drawn by a few electronic devices like the Victron Battery Monitor, water tank level gauge and the solar charger so without a trickle charge to keep the battery topped up it will eventually discharge. As an example I had the T-Van (and solar panel) covered with a tarp for well over a month without being connected the 240Vac charger and the charge capacity dropped to 70-75% (2 x DC105-12 batteries).

Sulfation occurs every time the battery discharges and the deeper this discharge the more intense is the sulfation. Overcharge, undercharge or left discharged for even a few days will cause batteries to rapidly sulfate. In fact batteries will discharge faster when the temperature rises above 25degC. I read somewhere that for every ~5degC rise in temperature above room temp (25degC) then the discharge rate will double as will the sulfation! Makes you think twice about leaving the trailer in the baking sun for an extended period, doesn’t it?

Anyway the point I guess I’m heading towards is that perhaps your storage of the Topaz (in a carport meaning the solar panel can’t provide trickle charge and perhaps without the 240Vac connection) has caused deep discharges of the batteries between trips and this coupled with a few deep discharges without full recharges in hot climates while on trips have caused your batteries to deteriorate at an accelerated rate. It’s just a thought because for the life of me I can’t see any other cause (other than charging equipment fault mentioned earlier)!

That’s it! I’m done. Good luck.

PS: I notice an earlier post indicated that based on advice they were given to not leave the batteries on trickle charge while in "storage". I suspect the battery supplier was referring to the storing of unconnected batteries without using a trickle charger since good quality AGM batteries like Fullriver, Trojan, Ritar, Victron etc. have a low self-discharge rate rather then storing in a situation where there is a constant draw-down of charge - like in the trailer!
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Gumb on September 18, 2018, 09:32:39 AM
Quote from: Wetjala
As an example I had the T-Van (and solar panel) covered with a tarp for well over a month without being connected the 240Vac charger and the charge capacity dropped to 70-75% (2 x DC105-12 batteries)
Something's wrong there. My Tvan can sit for a month in the garage and still show 100%, or very close to it. I just turn on the 240v supply for a few hours every month or so as recommended by the battery supplier.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: HappyTraveller on September 19, 2018, 05:20:30 PM
I found when my voltage was dropping for no apparent reason, the led in the built in USB plug was using more power than I would expect. The battery voltage dropped by 10-15% in a month or two. I put a switch on the USB plug to turn it off and problem solved.

It's worth checking for small drains like led's, radio stand-by power etc.

Andrew
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Wetjala on September 21, 2018, 04:05:43 PM
To continue my epistle . . .
 
Following on from the earlier comments regarding the potential for discharge of the onboard batteries in the Topaz/T-Vans while the trailers are not in use I found that in my case the 60l ARB fridge installed in the front storage box of the T-Van, which remains connected to the 12Vdc (my choice), continues to draw power even though it appears to be off, as “off” in this instance is actually “standby” (front panel display off, internal light off, compressor inactive but the internal circuitry still powered, much like the LCD TV when it’s in standby).

A brief test during the past few days showed that the combined battery capacity was decreasing at the rate of ~0.6% every 24hrs which added up to ~18% drop in a month and obviously more the longer it was left. After disconnecting the fridge from the power source the battery drain ceased almost completely.

So going back to the “storage” thing that I have been harping on about, maybe your fridges (I notice you refer to two of them in the Topaz) are also drawing down the battery charge – assuming, that is, they are in the standby “off” rather than physically disconnected 12Vdc source - when the trailer is sitting idle at home. And then as I noted in a prior post, maybe (just maybe) the draining/charging cycles between consecutive trips and idle periods are having a detrimental effect on the life of the batteries. It’s just a thought that may be worth considering.

(Incidentally, the power used by the Victron BMV-702 and, in my case, the Projecta Solar Charger are negligible. I’m not sure what the standby power consumption of the Redarc would be. The water tank gauge is powered from an independent internal battery.)

THE END
(Amen!)

Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Betty Ray on November 12, 2018, 01:09:29 PM
Hi Harry

We have had major issues with the electrical wiring in our 2017 Topaz with regard to the diesel heater not getting enough currant for it to start and run on 12V, my husband (who is a sparky) managed to get into the wiring to check things out, this is what he found.

The neutral (earth) was connected to a stud with several other cables, the nut securing these cables could be removed by hand, the cables could be moved around with two fingers, in other words the connection has never been tightened.
The Active was connected to a 12V circuit breaker and like the neutral (earth) had never been tightened & could be moved around with 2 fingers.
The neutral wires were run back to a screw on the battery surround with a very short piece of cable connected from the stud up to the main neutral / earth stud on the end of the shunt. The nut securing both these cables on the battery surround was not tightened at all, 4 turns of the nut were required to secure the nut.

: Further investigation found the cable supplying the diesel heater had 2 plugs and 2 soldered joints prior to entering the diesel heater compartment.
However, the cable installed from the circuit breaker to the diesel heater, around 2 meters long, contained 4 joints (2 soldered & 2 plugs) as previously mentioned BUT the cable size (gauge) changed 3 times.
The first 600mm section of cable from the circuit breaker contained:
1: 200 mm back from the circuit breaker is a soldered joint which appears to have been connected to a smaller gauge cable.

2: Some 400mm further along the cable was a plug connection, from there the cables were run through the bulkhead into the solenoid chamber via one solder and one plug connection before entering the heater compartment.

3: The crimp terminals used to secure the cables to the neutral and active back at the circuit breaker end were the incorrect size. Yellow terminals (see photo 2) were used when cable size dictated they should have been BLUE which means they could not be crimped correctly on the smaller size cable.
# There does not appear to be any reason for the soldered joint or the requirement of a plug connection outlined in items 1 &2.

3: CONCLUSION:
1: It is clear the cable size was too small to provide sufficient current to start the heater. The cables used are rated at no more than 15 amps regardless of change in gauge. Please note the fuse rating on the heater unit is 20 amps
2: The loose connections most certainly contributed to the system’s inability to supply sufficient current to start and maintain the heater.

Other wiring issues found
1)   During the process of tracing the heater cables I noticed strands of copper protruding out the back of the plug connection from the Projecta battery charger to the Redarc unit. I removed the cables from the plug, I had to solder the connections as parts of the crimp terminal had broken off.
2)   When tightening the cables to the stud on the battery surround the terminal (lug) on the cable Run    from the battery surround to the right outside wheel arch came off, the cable had only been partly crimped. The terminal (lug) connection in the wheel arch had only been crimped onto the PVC insulation and also came off in my hand
A new cable was installed back to the neutral (earth) terminal and soldered lugs attached.

I know this is not directly related to your issues, but the poor installation of the wiring in general may have some bearing on your problem. I might add that it was easy to get into the battery compartment, he had to cut a hole under the seat to gain access. Just thought it may be worth checking it out.

Cheers

Betty
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Cruiser 105Tvan on November 12, 2018, 01:59:45 PM
Betty Ray it'd be worth your time telling Track about this.
It's the sort of thing they need to know.
Sometimes I think Primary schoolers are used for crimping their wiring looms. (Hubby will know what I mean.)
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: HappyTraveller on November 12, 2018, 05:13:22 PM
I too found I had significant voltage drop causing the heater to go into fault mode when the batteries still had plenty of power. In the end I duplicated the power supply cable and the earth return and have had no troubles since.

Cheers
Andrew
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Rolcar52 on November 12, 2018, 09:40:39 PM
Hi Harry,
Are your batteries AGM's or Lead Crystal. if they are lead Crystal  apparently they go to sleep when charged the same as AGM's , and require full discharge then charged @ 30% of capacity, ie 90 AMP/Hr battery needs to be charged at 30 Amp.  We took our new Topaz Savanah Scout  on its maiden voyage recently and found that the 25 amp projecta AC/DC charger took a long time to charge batteries, we were though using 3 fridges. 

Regards Rolf. 
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Jenny on December 26, 2018, 08:23:19 AM
Harry, I would check the breakers /12 volt there are 4, sounds like you are drawing to many amps .
What they do is cut out when hot and restart the fridge to which does draw more amp off Battery
Also check the solar panel is not breaking down when hot and only allowing 1 to 2 amp input
Use a amp reader on the lead when charging to check input on solar a volt metre, will show full charge off battery / 13.2 volts
So if the breakers are the problem replace them to a 60amp breaker. The ones we had in we’re 20 and 40 amp. I changed the fridge out to a Isotherm and a trail blazer, this is when we found the problem. How much solar have you. Input should be minimum 11amps to keep batteries charged.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Jenny on December 26, 2018, 08:25:49 AM
Also you need to upgrade your projector to a minimum 40amp to recover your batteries in a 8 hour charge when on power.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on December 31, 2018, 10:50:51 AM
Jenny, I have the rooftop 120W Solar panel, plus 2 x 120 W portables.  I usually would only put one out.

The Vitron Meter tells me that everything is charging properly, I can predict how much the fridges will draw overnight and my predictions are pretty much on the mark for the % the batteries are down overnight.  When they charge, I see the voltage is around 13 volts and can max to 14.3 before the charger switches to maintenance and stays at about 13.7 with ample sunlight.

On 240V charge, 13.7 volts is stable.

Heat fuses - my understanding is that there are 3 large blade fuses for major DC power in and out and then a heat circuit breaker that takes power to about 8 heat power breakers and these breakers supply power to all peripheral devices - lights, fridges etc.  If the main heat circuit breaker tripped, all power would go out, and if an individual one tripped, I think I would notice the power going on and off, so I can't see how that would get passed me.  Also, if these heat breakers were triggering, the power used would be measured by the Vitron and as I said, the Vitron gives predictable power useage overnight.

I'll see what happens with these new batteries.  I won't leave them charging when at home, I'll just top them up every month for a couple of hours.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on December 31, 2018, 11:03:47 AM
Rolcar52,

I have Fullriver AGMs.  I did not know that AGMs go to sleep, but one thing I will be doing is take them down to about 50%charge every 3 months and then charge them up to 100% just to show them who's boss, and also to test whether they still have the capacity (as seen by the voltage dropping too low under load) to run my 2 fridges  at that level of discharge. I can only charge at maximum 25A though with the Projecta.

However, that Vitron measures all power in and out as I understand it,  whether the AGMs have gone to sleep or not and the Vitron says the AGMs are at 100% charge and the resting voltage is around 13.0 V.  They can't to my knowledge (and it is limited) be not fully charged at night before the fridges draw down overnight.  Its as if the defective 105AH AGMs were really only 30A AGMs. Take 15A out of each of them and the voltage under load is about 11V ie FLAT!

Harry
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Greyghoster on March 28, 2019, 06:42:45 PM
I had 2 105AH Fullriver's fail similar to the what was described in the first post and they have been replaced. I was quite surprised when I was looking at the Projecta display, after my new batteries were installed and about to go out on their 2nd run, which showed the Projecta was reconditioning the new batteries! At this stage the batteries were at 100% and the 2 fridges were on and cooling furiously. I had the Topaz connected to the mains and I turned the fridges on, obviously not expecting anything unusual to occur. I got the Projecta manual out it seems that if the Projecta can't get the battery to full charge it goes into recondition mode, which could happen quite a bit if running fridges while on mains. There is a power-supply mode on the Projecta (about 13.9V) which I now use when in those circumstances where I have the Topaz on mains and running fridges and turn the fridges off if I need to charge in AGM mode.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on March 28, 2019, 10:55:59 PM
The Projecta manual does say that if you're running fridges, it should be in power supply mode. In AGM mode, the projecta looks for decreasing voltage on the battery which can happen if fridges are running, so then thinks that the batteries are dying, so goes into recondition mode.

I now (after replacing 2 x 105 Fullriver batteries twice in 4 years) don't charge the batteries continuously while the Topaz is idle at home, don't charge them through the anderson plug while driving if the rooftop solar is keeping up, and often let them get down to about 65-70% charge when camping (turn the projecta 240v charger off) just to modify the charging.  In the past I tried to make sure that the batteries were at max charge all the time and that seemed to fail the batteries.

H
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: AMW on April 17, 2019, 10:09:51 PM
Thanks everyone for your posts in this topic. 

We recently bought a Series 2 Topaz and have had to do a bit of work with the batteries - after a couple of weeks with close monitoring of the battery levels using an app on our ipad, with the expertise shared here, plenty of nutting out and the help of an autoelectrician, we now have  replaced with 2 new AGM batteries, an isolator switch that we put int the bottom of the wardrobe and a separate switch to turn the fridge off.   So we can now choose to trickle charge using the solar panels that came with the Topaz which  we have  placed on the roof of our car port or can choose to close down the Topaz with no power leakage.  When out and about we like to use our  folding primus solar panel.   Feeling a bit more confident now that we will have the power that we need when enjoying the wide brown land.   Thanks everyone!!
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Frankrhona on April 19, 2019, 04:23:36 PM
Hi Harry,

I think you are now on the right track, ie charging from one source at a time.

I have had a similar experience with my auxiliary battery in the Patrol. It took two years and 'cooking' two batteries before I 'solved' the problem. My current battery I have had for over two years with no sign of deterioration.

This was the problem. The battery is connected to the alternator via a C-Tek D250s, all good. However, I also have a 105W solar panel on the roof and it was connected to the battery by a separate MPPT regulator, not so good. Basically, I  believe I cooked the battery when both controllers were trying to charge the battery. To rectify the problem the only change I made was to throw out the MPPT regulator and run the solar panel directly to the C-Tek "Solar input". Now the one controller does everything.

My personal thought is these "smart charge controllers" rely on voltage feedback, current flow etc to regulate. If there is another voltage source, ie another charger, they get a false reading and do not work properly.

Hence, I believe you are on the right track by isolating the various charging systems and only using one at a time.

The only thing different I would do is reset the voltage cutout on the fridge back up to a higher setting around 12.2V (or 60%+) to save the batteries. When I run our fridge (Engel MT45) as a freezer, I set it to max cooling during the day and get the temperature down to around -15C then set it to -5C overnight. This strategy has kept the batteries in good condition when travelling.

I stand by my previous post of trickle charging the batteries when parked up in the shed at home.

Cheers,
Andrew
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Harry Lissimore on April 19, 2019, 04:56:10 PM
Thanks Andrew. During the day when camping, the Redarc 240v charger charges the battery and the Solar mppt charger is also charging. I don’t know how to turn that off. It’s always on when the sun is shining! Both chargers are built in. If that were a problem everyone would have the same problem. My current batteries are now 8 months old. The previous ones were failing at 12 months. When I get home in 2 weeks I’ll check out the battery capacity again.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: Nomadic on April 21, 2019, 02:15:45 PM
I run two MPPT charge controllers into one battery bank and don’t notice anything abnormal with the way it charges. I view the history on Victron app and can see the max and min voltages along with time spent on bulk and float(power supply mode). I normally only run one controller so i can better monitor real solar data and not have it invalidated by Enerdrive DC2DC power source from vehicle but it doesn’t change the charge profile for the battery.
I’m running LiFePo4 which is a different profile to AGM in that it doesn’t have the absorption phase but a good quality controller should still manage it. If you are cooking batteries then I would lower charge voltages (assuming it’s adjustable) on your controller.
Title: Re: Battery Power Problems
Post by: MarkA on April 26, 2019, 09:23:34 PM
I’d just like to point out a tight terminal or earth wire does not necessarily mean a good connection. Remove clean and refit battery and earth connections. Look for corrosion or oxidation.
I had several connections on my tvan that had a poor connection.
Worth looking