Leisure batteries discharging too quickly!

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by makems, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    Bear with me....
    We havea Rapido 983M currently with two 85Ah batteries (new within the last 6 months) plus two 80w solar panels. Currently in Portugal and having electrical problems.
    Once the batteries are fully charged, we only get about one hour ov TV and a couple of hours of having a couple of lights on before the panel shows the batteries at less than 12V and the alarm goes off.
    Two nights ago we went out and didn't use the TV or lights at all (candles only when we got back in). Next day solar panels had the batteries back to 12.2V (as shown) so we used candles again and didn't use anything electrical except water pump. At 5:00am the panel alarm went off showing batteries fully discharged at 11.0V !
    Last night I carried out an experiment - solar panels had the batteries back up to 12.2V again and after another evening by candlelight I turned the panel off completely using the main switch - in the morning the panel showed the batteries still at 12.2V.
    Interesting - but what the hell can be draining the juice?
    Anybody got any ideas?
    I might not be able to respond very quickly to questions or comments as I'm having to walk into town to find a cafe with wifi.
    All advice gratefully received.
    Mike
     
  2. Phill D

    Phill D

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    i'm no electrician...:Blush:. but i would expect a battery to better 12.2v when fully charged; i think:Eeek:. also if its disharging when the panel is still connected do you have a drain back through the solar panel?:Eek!: may be a diode fault? :Angry:

    but i am sure someone else will have more specific help.:thumb:
     
  3. Douglas

    Douglas Read Only Funster

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    Hi Mike, I am in the UK at the moment but I will be in my MH at Olhao this Monday night, if I can be of help get back to me and I'll see what I can do.

    Doug...
     
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  4. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    At 12.2V the batteries are virtually discharged a fully charged battery is around 13.8V. In the winter the sun is too low in the sky for solar to produce much more than milliamps in the UK, no idea about Portugal, JJ is the man for those answers as he lives there. You need a generator or mains hookup to charge the batteries properly. If you are wilding and parked up for long periods then maybe a wind generator would help. Otherwise driving every day will be needed. A number of things may be draining the power, a leaking tap, radio, alarm, outside light, fridge, inverter, etc. with 2 85amp/hr batteries you should have 85amp/hrs of useable power, assuming the batteries start off fully charges then something is using a lot of power. If you have and know how to use an ammeter then switch everything off one at a time and write down the current drawn Does the engine battery hold a charge ok
    are the sealed or lead acid batteries, if lead acid do any of the cells need topping up,
    check charge of each cell with a hydrometer.
    Check battery connections are clean and smear with vasaline.
    check inline fuses between the two batteries
    check to see if voltage rises when the engine is running
    When in full sun voltage should show at least 13V and more if not then it is insufficient to charge. The solar panel may be faulty what output is there from it, how many amps or milliamps is it charging.
     
  5. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    12.2 V is flat.

    Fully charged you want to see 13.6 - 14.5V.

    Try and get on hook-up before you destroy your batteries.
     
  6. jhorsf

    jhorsf Read Only Funster

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  7. eddievanbitz

    eddievanbitz Trader - Funster

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    Long range guess one or both of your batteries are shot

    Eddie
     
  8. spannermanwigan

    spannermanwigan Read Only Funster

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    Try running your engine for a couple of hours, to put some charge in your batteries
    if you are stationary. If this improves their conditions(level of charge), that will point to
    your solar not doing what its meant to do. You can then investigate that, but try to maintain batteries even if it means running engine or you may damage them beyond recovery.
    Candles bad idea in motorhome!!!! Go buy a torch..
    Regards
    Steve
     
  9. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    no wonder you only get a short time from your battery....12.2v is only 50% charged and is classed as flat.

    voltage should be checked an hour or so after charge and before any power is used but fully charged should show around 13.6v immediately after charging.

    check out the chart below..
     

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  10. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    Thanks for all the replies guys.
    I know that 12.2V is nowhere near fully charged, but the batteries were fully charged before that.
    We're on a hook up today so will get a full charge and then we can see where we get to.
    Now for some specific answers:
    Phill D - if its disharging when the panel is still connected do you have a drain back through the solar panel?:Eek!: may be a diode fault?
    I did wonder about whether there could be a drain back through the solar panels. Would that drain be affected by switching everything off at the panel? I would have thought that the panels would be connected directly to the batteries via the solar controller rather than via the panel (but I'm no expert).
    Wildman - If you have and know how to use an ammeter then switch everything off one at a time and write down the current drawn
    I have a multitester but I can't say I'm familiar with using it as an ammeterDoes the engine battery hold a charge ok
    Yes are the sealed or lead acid batteries, if lead acid do any of the cells need topping up,
    SEaled
    check charge of each cell with a hydrometer.
    Check battery connections are clean and smear with vasaline.
    Connections are clean-the batteries wereonly installed in October
    check inline fuses between the two batteries
    I will check this-do you mean that if the fuse is blown in effect I've only one battery?
    check to see if voltage rises when the engine is running
    When in full sun voltage should show at least 13V and more if not then it is insufficient to charge. The solar panel may be faulty what output is there from it, how many amps or milliamps is it charging.

    Will check all this.Battery going on laptop - sh*t!
     
  11. Phill D

    Phill D

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    On the drain back through the solar panel... diodes are in place to prevent this from happening however, they can fail and this will allow drain back and a level of discharge.

    from all the information you have now supplied it seems to me that your batteries were drained to the point where the poor solar panel was incapable of keeping up with the required charge in the "short sunlight" days we are having this time of year.
    also, as a thought the hook up should sort you out to a base level to establish some real facts from. however, i am not convinced a standard motorhome charging system is fully capable of replenishing batteries to an absolute full state of charge, they may need to be placed on a proper bench charger to do this. But! i could be wrong here.

    good luck with getting this sorted. will be interested to know the outcome.:Eeek:
     
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  12. makems

    makems Funster Life Member

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    WE got a full day on hook up yesterday after which the batteries were showing 12.7V.
    We decided to be a bit daring and use one of the lights! Just one mind! It is a 10w halogen and after about four hours use the panel was showing 12.6V. Not sure if should be worried about a drop of 0.1V after consuming only about 4Ah of capacity. I turned the panel off completely overnoght and the panel still read 12.6V this morning just before full light (a full bladder got me out of bed, not the compulsive need to check the panel).
    Today I opened up the battery compartment and discovered that I had 2x75Ah batteries and not 2x85Ah as told by the supplier. I'll have words with the robbing b*stards when I get home! :Angry:
    I checked and there is no in line fuse between the batteries - should there be?
    Also they needed a bit of topping up - in fact between them they took about 750ml of distilled water.
    Today has been a bit of a scorcher and during the early afternoon the panel was showing bwtween 13.0 and 13.2V-presumably this means the solar panels are now doing their job?
    Tonight we might get a bit bolder and try to watch a DVD for an hour.:RollEyes:
    I don't know if this saga is of any interest to anybody but I'll keep updating it just in case.
    Mike
     
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  13. gozomike

    gozomike Funster Life Member Life Member

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    Hi
    Obviously not good on the batteries being of a lower capacity than you were given, but they should still work.


    A fuse should always be fitted between two batteries.


    The low water level would not have helped with the capacity and may have caused some damage to the batteries.


    As you say at least it sounds as if your solar panel is working



    OK.
    Mike
     
  14. ciderman

    ciderman Funster

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    the other thing you could do is check the voltage at the batteries to see if they are equal charge if not one could pull the other down
     
  15. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    I've had some interesting battery problems recently. Check for posts under my name.

    You could change to traction batteries, which go for a lot longer than leisure batteries, but more expensive and give off hydrogen and need to be vented.

    You could go for a battery to battery charger, which ups the ampage from the alternator to charge your batteries around 5 times faster (but no good if your batteries are already rubbish)

    Might be an idea to uprate the earth from the leisure batteries, certainly won't hurt.

    And, yes batteries should show around 13.6v when fully charged but this isn't a true reading of their real charge and this figure will soon drop to the real level which should be around 12.8v at full charge.

    Good luck!
     
  16. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    in addition to this excellent advise......you should fit a fuse at BOTH ends of the connecting wire.

    reason being, if the link wire should short to earth, more probable if the batteries are spaced a bit apart (one under passenger seat, one under dinette seat), then the single fuse would blow isolating the battery with the fuse between it and the earth fault...but the unprotected second battery would still be shorted to earth.
     
  17. wizzer59

    wizzer59 Funster

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    Of course it is, keep going mate:thumb:
     
  18. motorhomer

    motorhomer Read Only Funster

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    Just another thought.

    I also have a rapido, on mine the volmeter on the panel can be adjusted, and could be reading wrongly. I looked into mine because I thought it seemed low althought in other respects it worked OK.

    Have you tried measuring the voltage across the batteries themselves, not through the panel?

    I did this on mine, and discovered that there was a large discrepancy on the leisure battery, (although not on the vehicle battery) - be careful though as you might expect a little voltage drop.

    I adjusted the panel setting for the leisure battery, and all is now well and the panel reads as it should, and the battery (only one) lasts several days including lights and occasional TV when wildcamping.
     
  19. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    I have a Rapido and the volts reading is about 0.2v lower than it should be. How is this adjustment done please?
     
  20. chatter

    chatter Read Only Funster

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    once you have sorted your batteries out, you also should look into changing your lights to leds, just as bright and use a fraction of the power halagen ones need
     
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