Author Topic: Battery Power Problems  (Read 1831 times)

Online Harry Lissimore

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Battery Power Problems
« 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.
Formerly 2002 TVAN, now a 2015 Topaz Savannah and 2014 Isuzu MU-X LST

Offline Jim and Lyn

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #1 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
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Offline Gumb

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #2 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.
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Offline Frankrhona

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #3 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

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Offline HappyTraveller

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #4 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
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Online Harry Lissimore

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #5 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.
Formerly 2002 TVAN, now a 2015 Topaz Savannah and 2014 Isuzu MU-X LST

Offline VK3GJM

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #6 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







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Offline Gumb

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #7 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.
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Offline Cruiser 105Tvan

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #8 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.
Robert.
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Offline mal1958

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #9 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










 




Offline Flood

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #10 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
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Offline Eelezy

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #11 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
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Online Harry Lissimore

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #12 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.
Formerly 2002 TVAN, now a 2015 Topaz Savannah and 2014 Isuzu MU-X LST

Offline VK3GJM

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #13 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

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Offline Gumb

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #14 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.
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