Author Topic: Battery Power Problems  (Read 3697 times)

Offline Gumb

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #30 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.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 08:35:19 AM by Gumb »
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Offline Wetjala

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #31 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!
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 06:41:07 AM by Wetjala »

Offline Harry Lissimore

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #32 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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Offline dave

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Battery Power Problems
« Reply #33 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.

Offline Harry Lissimore

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #34 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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Offline Gumb

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #35 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.
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Offline Wetjala

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #36 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!    ::)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2018, 04:43:31 PM by Wetjala »

Offline Harry Lissimore

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #37 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
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Offline Wetjala

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #38 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!
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 10:55:09 PM by Wetjala »

Offline Gumb

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #39 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.
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Offline HappyTraveller

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #40 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
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Offline Wetjala

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #41 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!)


Offline Betty Ray

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #42 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

Offline Cruiser 105Tvan

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #43 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.)
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Offline HappyTraveller

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Re: Battery Power Problems
« Reply #44 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
TVan Mk5
Landcruiser 200