Elecktrickery help please

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by Forestboy, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Sitting around all day waiting for visas to arrive is driving me mad so thought I'd check the habitation batteries on the van. Been putting off doing it as they're under the front seats and just knew they'd be a pig to get at. As it turned out quite easy except lifting the seats off the base in such a confined space they weigh a bloody ton.

    Anyway turns out I've got 2 Gel batteries which means absolutely nothing to me, sticker on top says do not wet fill.
    So what if anything do I do maintanence wise?
    and how do I check them?
    What is the expected life of Gel batteries?
    and are Gel batteries any good?
    I could'nt find any dates on either battery.
    (See pics 1 & 2)


    Next to the batts is a invertor (see pic 3)

    2KVA Honda genny built into chasis

    On the roof 2 large solar panels

    TV and sat system all runs off 12 volt.



    Looks to me like I've got a pretty good system but it's all a mystery to me:Doh: can someone tell me what I've got and what the benefits are.
    Maybe someone with some knowledge could have a look at Newark show.
    I'm sure it all works as it's supposed to but I'd like to know how and what its supposed to be capable of.
     

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  2. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    I don't think you need do anything with gel batteries, apart from keeping the terminals clean. with your solar panels they have probably never been discharged to any extent so should last for ages.
     
  3. acting_strange

    acting_strange

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    The main thing about gel batteries is making sure they are not charged to quickly. they should only be trickle charged.
     
  4. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    i didnt know that :Eeek:

    how do you trickle charge wiith a solar panel though?

    if the sun is good it will put in whatever the battery will take, and that may be quite high current if the batteries are discharged overnight.

    Rory, that inverter is a modified sine wave jobby and not really advisable for sensitive elctronics...lap top, some lcd tv's etc.
    should be ok for Jans heated hair stuff though :thumb:

    as others have said.....keep the battery clean, particularly the terminals.
    but that applies to all batteries.
     
  5. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    As you have a Hymer, it will be fitted with a Schaudt Electrobloc 12V controller and charger. This has a battery setting switch that can be set either to Gel (Blei Gel) or Lead Acid (Blei Säure). It will have been set to the gel position when the Hymer was built. It is perfectly acceptable to use Lead Acid instead (they're a lot cheaper) although Hymer specify Gel. This is to do with German safety standards: you can turn the vehicle over and the batteries will not leak.

    Gel batteries are not actually "trickle-charged" by the Electrobloc, but it does take a lot longer on the gel setting. The difference is in the second stage of the three-stage charging regime. On the gel setting, this lasts 8 hours, but on lead-acid, it lasts just one hour. Gel batteries require a lower charging voltage than can be withstood by lead-acid. In the case of the Electrobloc, it is standardised at 14.3V whichever setting is used.

    Whichever batteries you use, it is a wise move to have them vented via a tube, especially as you are sitting above them. Although most batteries are sealed nowadays (and gel certainly are) if a cell fails at the end of a battery's life, this can cause gassing on charging. I had exactly this problem with a gel battery a couple of years back. Filled the Hymer with hydrogen sulphide and, I guess, some pure hydrogen. For some reason, Hymer do not vent the batteries as standard, but I would consider it if I were you.

    Philip
     
  6. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    agreed Philip, but what if the solar panels ARENT connected via the electroblock and have their own controller.
    more than likely they will be via the elctroblock though.:thumb:
     
  7. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    By vented do you mean a tube?
    No tube on these which surprised me, how would I go about fitting one?
    Not sure if s/panels are through the electrobloc or not
     
  8. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    Hi Rory,

    Philip is absolutely spot on with his explanation.

    The previous owner of our Hymer, had 2 x FLA and 1 x Gel connected together, with the switch on Gel. As they were all boiling dry and cream crackered anyway, I replaced them all with Elecsol FLA 100s, and changed the switch over accordingly with no trouble in the last 5/6 years now.

    Our solar panel is connected independently of the Electroblok, hence no charge going through to the starter battery previously, from the panel. That has now been rectified with the fitting of a Battery Manager.
    Purely as a rough guide, using the analogue voltmeter in the control panel above the door, when our solar charger is showing as charging, I operate the battery switch, and both the starter and leisure batteries can be seen to be peaking at 13.1 and 14.4 volts respectively. When the solar charger isn't charging the batteries show a reading of 12.8 and 13.7 volts respectively.
    When the B2B comes into play, these figures are higher again, but without overcharging.

    Taking an amps reading from the solar charger using a multimeter, on a fine sunny day in the summer, and from a 70/75 watt panel, I was getting 3.9 amps charge. Your two panels will probably double that, or more.

    Pappajohn is right about the "modified sine wave jobby". :Wink:

    HTH,

    Jock.
     
  9. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Thanks Jock maybe if you've got time at Newark you'd have a quick look at mine and explain it too me. Sure I'll be able to find you a beer:thumb:
     
  10. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Battery Venting

    Venting is achieved by attaching a tube to a plastic 'elbow' that pushes into a small hole at one end of the top of the battery. In the attached picture it is black, but mine is done with clear tubing - the type used for a fish aquarium.

    With batteries under the seats, you will have to drill a small hole through the floor in order to pass the tube to the outside under the van. It can be sealed with any mastic-type sealing compound to prevent draughts getting in through the hole.

    Philip
     

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  11. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    I'll have another look my batteries are flat on top but I assume there will be a hole somewhere.
     
  12. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    Did you know that all sealed battereies contain a self regulating saftey vent valve and do not really need holes drilling in them, any additional holes may increase the evaporation rate of the contents, seeing as you cant top em up thats not a wise move:Cool:
    Geo
     
  13. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    I would'nt drill a hole in a battery but will have a look to see if there is a hole. If there is a hole it'll be ok to attach a tube I presume?
    Is there a way to test a battery to see how much life its got left or do you just wait until they give up?
     
  14. Geo

    Geo Trader - Funster

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    In terms of what date will it expire No
    In terms of how many weeks/months /years No
    In terms of how long from full to flat Yes simple maths if the battery is 100%
    if its already on the slippery slope best guess and trail and error:thumb:
    I dont know why i made the answer so complicated :Rofl1:
    NO is all you needed:Doh:
     
  15. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    No problems Rory.

    Do you want a 06.00, or an 08.00 appointment? :Rofl1:
    Oh yes, and none of that Lager-ish stuff for me please. Only real ale, to accompany my bacon & eggs in the morning, thanks. :Rofl1:

    Cheers,

    Jock. :Wink:
     
  16. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    complicated things, these euroboxs Rory.

    much easier with an RV and a big battery bank :thumb::Laughing:
     
  17. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    You're right there John:thumb:
    Big n brutal thats the yank way:BigGrin:
     
  18. JockandRita

    JockandRita Funster Life Member

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    How big is your battery bank John?

    Cheers,

    Jock.
     
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