12 Volt Charging advice

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Revolvor, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. Revolvor

    Revolvor Funster

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    I would appreciate some advice on 12v Supplies.

    I have an Autotrail Excel 600B, with a Sargent EC225 Control Panel, and I want to improve the electrical situation for “wilding”.

    I am fitting a second 100Ah Habitation Battery and plan to fit Solar Panels, a “Battery Master” to keep the Habitation and Vehicle Batteries charged, and eventually, a B2B charger.

    The EC225 can accept the input from a Dual output Charge controller, but I am not sure if it will automatically charge both sets of batteries from solar, or whether I will have to manually select Hab or Vehicle.

    (I will probably not utilise the Sargent wiring as the EC225 is 2 metres from the Hab Batteries, and I understand the Charge Controller should be as close to the batteries as possible.)

    Costs for this (not including the Solar Panel(s), brackets/fittings and wiring will be in the region of:

    MPPT Charge Controller £110 (Victron)

    Battery Master £70 ( Vanbitz)

    B2B Charger £210 (Sterling 20A pro Charge B)

    Total: £390


    I have read many of the posts in the “Solar Panel” section of the forum and have come across this:

    Power Integrator:

    http://www.amperorassociates.co.uk/c-solar-regulators/PowerS-PI.html

    It is a combined MPPT Charge Controller, B2B Charger and will also trickle charge the vehicle Battery.

    A free remote display/controller is also included

    The B2B capability does not seem as good as the Sterling one, but it is still a great improvement on just charging via the alternator.

    It seems too good to be true, but from the photo appears to be a well-built unit.

    Does anyone have any experience of a “Power Integrator”, or have any comments?

    Thanks, John
     
  2. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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  3. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    I too have an Excel. (2011-670B).
    Before you go ahead and buy these add on's I would talk to Sargent as some may not be compatible with their installation.
    I spoke to them about a year ago when I was fitting a solar panel and during our discussion, as best as I can recall, they advised not to fit a B2B charger as it caused problems. (The Sargent intelligent charger is a modern charger and does the job - when on hook up ).
    I already had a Sargent Solar Panel controller fitted as standard when I purchased the vehicle as new and the leads supplied to me for a few pounds from Sargent just snapped into place on the panel and easily attached to the controller and read outs from the main control panel confirmed everything was working well.
    It automatically senses leisure and cab battery state and directs power to either set accordingly.
    I doubled up on my leisure batteries when I purchased the Motorhome (2x110) and with my 125 W solar panel have had no problem when off Hook up for 40 odd days in Moroc. last Jan-March.
     
  4. rosalan

    rosalan Funster

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    The essentials for 'Wilding' and to a lesser degree for using 'CLs' and Aires are Power, Water and waste.
    With fairly frugal use of power you should be able to last a few days but if all your lights are LEDs then you can extend that period considerably.
    One of the odd behaviours regarding solar panels, other than requiring more sunlight than the UK can supply in the winter, are shadows. If you have a satellite dish that causes a shadow on the solar panel, it can make a significant difference to the charge.
    If by 'Wilding' you mean literally wild camping, then the cassette can become an issue, which is why some people carry a spare (ugh!).
    Most modern motorhomes now carry enough water for several days unless you all shower on a daily basis. Personally we are as equipped as you intend to be and really enjoy using Aires or BritStops. With Aires we still use campsites every few days to do our washing and put our 'bits' out if it is a nice place. When in a sunny climate we do not usually need electricity but if it is very hot we do hook-up and have our mains fan running through the night, not just because the 12v fans are too noisy to sleep with.
    Alan
     
  5. SandraL

    SandraL Funster

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    Amperor power integrator looks good but in small print it says 100watt max for solar and wind inputs, ie 100 + 100. So biggest solar panel would be 100watt, could use 2 100watt panels, one using wind input, other solar input. Martin
     
  6. Revolvor

    Revolvor Funster

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    Thanks for all the advice guys.

    Tonka - Thanks for link to the Sargent Manual

    PhilandMena - the EC225 does not have a built in Charge Controller (unlike the EC325). I have however had a quote from Sargent for a lead that goes from an external Charge Controller, and plugs into the EC225. I will contact Sargent to get their view.

    Rosalan - Comments on "Wilding" noted - in all honesty I will probably just need the occasional day(s) without Mains Hookup.

    SandraL - Yes I knew there was a 2 x 100 watt limit, thanks, but that should be sufficient for my needs

    However, back to my original question, does anyone have any experience with using a Power Integrator?

    Thanks, John
     
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  7. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    Ha ! Ha! So typical, a question is asked and everybody (including me ) answers a different question. Senile demeture or what!
     
  8. jac-in-a-box

    jac-in-a-box Read Only Funster

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    It would seem no one has any experience of the item, but some useful comments came through as well!

    While I'm very inexperienced with motorhome electrics and solar power, I did pick up some useful tips and guidance on the forum in resolving my quest for solar power and integrating all the bits and pieces.

    I too have an Autotrail ('05 Dakota) and got well and truly fed up with flat starter batteries. My Sargant panel charging arrangements did nothing for the starter battery...if it should or not I'm not sure, but if it should there was nothing intelligent about the charger.

    In the end I decided to bypass the Sargant panel and keep my solar arrangements completely separate, the panel bettery charger remains off and it's now become a distribution board.
    I see the Sargant charger you have is a two stage affair...1 step up from being dumb in comparison to the latest 4 or 5 stage chargers!

    In the end I managed to squeeze two 150w panels onto the roof, fitted a 300w 25A MPPT controller and connected in a Sterling 3A battery maintainer to look after the drain on the starter battery from the tracker and alarm.
    I cannot see the need for the Sterling battery to battery charger you're intending on using...I did say I was a novice at this stuff!

    I've deliberately gone out and "dumped" power from my leisure and starter batteries to see how my set-up works...it does.

    There; I haven't answered your questions, but raised one for me and anyone else...why the need for the costly Sterling B2B charger?:)
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  9. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    it looks an interesting unit and one I would certainly consider for future upgrades.
     
  10. Stealaway

    Stealaway Funster

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    Or you could let your engine re-charge the battery's on tick over for a couple of hours @20+ amps
    £390 will buy an amazing amount of diesel.
     
  11. Revolvor

    Revolvor Funster

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    Taken from off the net (I am learning a lot from the Forum too!!) ...... The best way to charge a battery is by using a 4 step battery charging curve (which cannot be achieved from a standard alternator).This system enables one simply to attach the unit to a standard engine battery: it then fools the alternator into working at its maximum ability in order to ensure that all its surplus power is utilised to charge the auxiliary battery bank via the digitally controlled 4-step charger. This system uses only surplus power and, at all times, ensures that the power required to run the vehicle's or boat's primary system is not affected. What does it do? In a nutshell it charges your extra battery system about 5 times faster than it otherwise would and puts in about 50% extra useable power as well as increases the life of the batteries by de-sulphating them. For best effect use open lead acid batteries and avoid gel, sealed and A.G.M. Batteries. Even though open lead acid batteries are by far and away the best for fast charging and longer life using advanced charging units, there is sometimes no choice but to use gel or A.G.M.
    John
     
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