Alternator problem - connected to Solar installation?

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by Rodneyplonker, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. Rodneyplonker

    Rodneyplonker Funster

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    Hi,we are newbies Steve and Christine. We have a Hymer B654 Legend 25 and have only been motorhoming for just under two years. In that time we have toured France, Spain and Portugal twice for six months during the winter months. During the summer we also tour parts of the UK weather permitting!:thumb: We like to wild camp when possible in Europe and love every aspect of motorhoming and cannot wait to get away each time.

    Anyway, we now have a small issue (we hope) with the van, we hope that someone can help as we have no knowledge at all of auto/habitation electrics, etc. Many thanks in advance.

    I have just fitted a Shaudt LR1218 controller to the Shaudt EbL 101 in the Hymer to charge the vehicle battery from solar when wild camping. Everything seemed to work OK and the voltages and charging were correct on the DT201 panel for both the habitation and engine batteries whilst the vehicle has been parked up for the past few weeks since installation. I also sent photos of the wiring I had done to the supplier for confirmation of correct wiring, etc, which was correct.

    However, we used the Motorhome for the first time this last weekend since fitting it three weeks ago and on our way home the battery warning light came up on the dashboard. Eventually I stopped and called the AA who decided that our Alternator was rather hot and smelly and was not charging. As it was nearing dark, they decided to take us home on a transporter. I have put it with a local reliable commercial garage and they rang me this morning to say that they were getting some confusing things happen. They seem to think that the alternator, though not actually fried, is very hot and they wonder if it is getting a feed from the Solar Panel as they were getting some odd readings. I rang the supplier of the LR1218 controller for advice and he said it could only happen if the batteries were in a poor condition - which they are not! I only replaced them last year with good quality Varta ones that were designed for habitation. I also tested them myself after fitting the controller to make sure that they were getting the same charge as the Shaudt panel indicated. Of course, it may be that the Alternater is just shot and it is just a coincidence but I don't want to risk burning out the new Alternator if something else needs to be addressed. the vehicle has only done 25k. I wouldn't have been concerned had the garage not rang to say about the odd readings from their tester. Could it be something like the split relay not cutting in/out properly? Does anyone have any advice or suggestions? Thanks
    Steve
     
  2. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Stage 1: Unplug solar into the electroblock, see what alternator does.

    Blindingly obvious, maybe you have already done this.
     
  3. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    You could always test the relay as well just in case it's sticking causing an open circuit ---
    I remember on one of my vans leaving fridge on 12v while parked up and after a couple of days heard a sqeeling noise from back of van which turned out to be the charger pumping leccy into the engine battery that in turn was trying to keep fridge working on 12v -a new relay sorted it out but ever since I make sure the fridge is turned off -my mate said it could not or should not have happed but all I can say is it did :Wink::BigGrin:
    terry
     
  4. Rodneyplonker

    Rodneyplonker Funster

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    Alternator Problem

    Hi Brian, Yes, I think that was the first thing the garage did - including (apparently) a 50a (I think that was what he said) fuse in the engine compartment which links the habitation area to totally disconnect while they fit the new alternator. I decided to go ahead with the new alternator anyway because we are taking our grandchildren away for a week this coming weekend and don't want to delay that. It sounded like it was very likely shot anyway. As mentioned earlier, I really am just trying to avoid any possible issues with the new one which is already costing a fair few bob and would not have thought any more about it had the garage not phoned to mention the odd readings they were getting. Appreciate your response.
    Steve
     
  5. Rodneyplonker

    Rodneyplonker Funster

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    Alternator Problem

    Hi Terry, Yes, that is interesting and I will ask the garage to investigate. I don't have a clue about auto electrics but it seems logical to me that, if there is some sort of reverse current affecting the alternator and the only source of that current is a solar panel, then surely, it has to be some sort of control device allowing that to happen? The only such device I have ever heard of in that respect, is a relay....but, as mentioned...."I know nothing"!:Smile:
    Thanks
    Steve
     
  6. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    the alternator should have diodes to stop battery power backfeeding into it.

    if it didnt you would have a flat battery every morning at least.

    my guess...the alternators had its day.
     
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  7. Rodneyplonker

    Rodneyplonker Funster

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    Alternator problem


    That is the reply I wanted to hear! I assumed that there would be some method to stop that happening but knew not what. I guess I will just have to trust that the garage know what they are doing and leave it at that. Many thanks.
    Steve
     
  8. rainbow chasers

    rainbow chasers Read Only Funster

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    I'm with Pappajohn on this one. Alternators can give funny readings when they are on their way out. Read fine one minute, then over, then under depending on rev range, load and so on.

    It could be that your alternator is overheating at high rev range, which would point at a regulator fault, which isn't uncommon. It could also just a seized bearing within the alternator, which would allow it to get hot, but give a normal reading when cooled down.
     
  9. Rodneyplonker

    Rodneyplonker Funster

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    Alternator Problem

    Hi all,
    Have been in touch with Allan Evans at AandN Caravanservices, Conway. who supplied the controller. He has run through the possible causes and the effects that they would produce and other than the alternater getting very hot, there is nothing else damaged in the system, which leaves the conclusion that it is in fact, a fault with the alternator.
    When i bought the Hymer the previous owner had only done 9k in over 5 yrs and although I changed the batteries for new Varta's when I had the Solar fitted shortly after purchase, the alternator had probably been chugging away for years trying to keep up with batteries that were past their best.
    I am happy with that explanation as Allan has a good reputation for both his knowledge and help at such times. Never-the-less, thank you all for your input which I greatly appreciate. That was my first post and I am impressed with the speed of response. Many thanks again.
    Steve
     
  10. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    Alternator rectifer diode or diodes goosed would be my diagnosis too.

    Well done Pappajohn:thumb:
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
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