Leisure Battery saga part 3

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by kelpbeds, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    Well after much work I got the new Trojans fitted in their own air tight box, vented to the floor through pipework and installed nice thick 25mm wiring around to carry everything. Took a lot of work to get it all done (box of perfect size was hard to find) and I will included some pics and a big write up soon when it is all sussed.
    However, there is a big problem. The Trojans don't appear to be working very well (at least it could be the Trojans) Basically once it was all installed I charged them up using the van's mains charger over night and meter was showing 100% charge in the morning. (before I charged them my BM1 meter was showing they had 5% charge).

    Then I whacked up the heating to see what would happen. Within 5 mins the battery meter said they had gone from 100% to 80%, which I thought a little odd. Heating lasted on full whack for 5 hours then the flashing low voltage light came on the Webasto dial. Battery meter was now reading 72% charge at 12.4v - it was reading 13.7v when fully charged.

    So recharged batteries again (over night),then after they were charged I put heating on a third up to see what happened. This time lasted a little longer but not much and same results with % and voltage etc..

    Don't know what's going on now! My best guess would be a problem with the batteries, but I don't really know, could be a prob with the heater but then again on the old leisure batteries the heating ran for 24hrs and now it's running for a lot less so that would suggest the batteries are at fault. (another clue might be that when charging, the meter suggests that there is only a 0.3amp charge going into the batteries, which again seems very odd!)

    Stumped again! Sure Jon and others will have some useful advice!

    Thanks
    Tim :Doh:
     
  2. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    If its really only charging at 0.3amps then your overnight charge will only be putting in about 4 amphours so not surprising it doesn't last long. Try with another charger as it looks like your onboard charger isn't doing much.
    If the batteries were really down to 5% charge they must have been overdischarged and probably now duff, but I suspect the meter reading was probably not correct. What was the voltage before you charged them?
     
  3. JJ

    JJ Funster

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    I agree with the post above...

    My "charge meter" is notoriously inaccurate...

    My battery bank (3 x 110amp) takes much longer than an overnight charge to fill them up when low despite registering a 100% charge at the meter...

    JJ :Cool:
     
  4. CazPaul

    CazPaul Read Only Funster

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    Is the battery monitor working ok, it does sound like they need a lot longer on charge.
    Did you buy them new or second hand?

    If the 5% charge is accurate then its very poor, especially if they were new.

    We have x2 Rolls/Surrette 6 volt traction batteries fitted and live in the van, we don't use EHU either and they get charge by a combination of Sterling B2B charger, tec 29 built in genny and 280w of solar.

    Even after hammering them the SOC(State of charge) reading on the Victron battery monitor only goes down to about 80%.

    Incidently did you vent them from the vent caps, i devised a system on our last van to vent them this way, by visiting the plumbers merchant and utilising some elbow bends which fitted snugly over the caps to which i attached tubes. Not required on this van(Hymer s820) as the batteries are now in an outside pull out drawer in the skirt.

    Paul.
     
  5. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    What kind of heating have you got ?

    Is the charger matched to the batteries ie gel/wet ?
     
  6. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    Cheers for the replies.

    Nearly retired - will try another charger and see what happens. Batteries read 6.3v each ( 6 volt batteries) so 12.6v combined when I got them at 5% charge.

    Cazpaul - No idea if monitor is working ok totally, but volt reading is correct as have tested with another meter. I didn't vent from the vent caps rather put them in a sealed box. Though have since read about venting from caps so may well do this instead as it takes up less space. Mine start at 100% and then within 5 minutes of heater on they go down to 80%! Oh and batteries were brand new.

    hilldweller - heating is a Webasto diesel heater and not sure if charger is matched to the type of batteries. As far as I know there is only an on and off button on the front and no way of changing anything else.

    Do you folks think I should return the batteries? Is there some way I can test them to see if they are duff?

    Problem is I'm not sure if it's batteries, charger, heater or meter or any combination of all of those!

    Thanks
    Tim
     
  7. Ralph-n-Bev

    Ralph-n-Bev Funster

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    I'll show Ralph this when he gets home , he may be able to help if no one else does before. We have 2 x Trojans. Rarely ever do hook up .
    They get charged up through driving and the solar . I think , though hes the techy man , i have no idea. I just get in and expect everything to work:Rofl1:

    We actually left the Webasto on when we put the motorhome in storage , weekend before last :Eek!:
    So that meant the heating was on at 20deg for 5 days and nights , constant , relying just on the Trojans. No hook up.
    When Ralph went to the motorhome he thought , mmmm its lovely and warm in here.:Doh:
    Then realised.
    They werent flat , but lower than they ever have been. He can tell you the ins and outs.

    We were out this weekend in the minus temps and the batteries coped , as normal , with everything we throw at them.
    Keeping the Webasto going (which warms the whole of the motorhome without us having any cold spots ). Coping with the Tv , and all the phones laptops ipods charging and my hair straighteners etc .
    So they were not damaged in any way. They cope a lot better than normal leisure batteries , thats for sure.
     
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  8. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    I wonder if you are making a classic mistake that no one else has mentioned. When batteries first come off charge they read high due to skin effect. Try charging then leave uncharged and no load for a couple of hours to get the true battery voltage you may be surprised.
    With a low amperage charger it could take a few days to charge fully.
    The charge rate varies with the state of charge in the battery, so nearly flat a high rate and almost charged a low rate. Most chargers start around 5 amps then gradually cut back to a maintenance charge as the battery becomes charged. I don't know the webasto but think it may be a diesel fired heater in which case you are powering the fuel pump and also the fan. If a gas one then only the fans. I use my gas heater without the blown air and therefore don't use battery power. Not all heaters have that option.
     
  9. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    Bev, your setup sounds like it's doing it's job perfectly - that's what I want! Would be grateful of Ralph's input.

    Wildman, it is a diesel fired heater so yes sucks a fair bit of juice. I will whack on another charger and leave it for a couple of days, then leave it sitting for a while to see what happens. And in reply to your other point, when my van charger states that it is only putting out 0.3amps then this suggests to me that batteries are nearing end of charge cycle or maybe there is a prob with the charger.

    Thanks
    Tim
     
  10. ciderman

    ciderman Funster

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    i think you are looking at a 5 amp draw at max power usage (webasto dual top 5-65 watts ) so this could give you an idea of your power consumption for the heater then your fridge,lights tele,sat,dvd radio all these need to be factored in to your power needs


    i think i am right :Blush: in my maths

    andy
     
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  11. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    What make and type of charger is yours?

    The initial voltage readings could well have been 'surface voltage'. That will soon go and leave you with the true state of charge.
    We have a 17 amp mains charger, it takes around 18 hrs to charge our 385 Ah battery bank fully.

    It might be worth going for a drive and letting the Sterling do the job, then see the results. At least then you would have a 'second opinion' from another charger!
    Also call me a Doubting Thomas if you like, but I don't have much faith in aftermarket battery monitors.

    I would also be very cautious about the condition of your new batteries. 5% charge when you received then sound like they haven't been stored correctly and allowed to discharge in which case they could be unserviceable!
    Having said that, our batteries drop below 12V under load and stay that way for days! The voltage should be measured under no load at all. 11.66V is 20% charged but only when measured under no load.

    The best way to test your battery condition is a multimeter and battery hydrometer.
    1.227/ 12.8V is fully charged, 1.098/11.66V for 20% charge. A battery hydrometer costs about 4 quid. What you need to look for is a high voltage, but low specific gravity, this will indicate a knackered battery.

    I don't really subscribe to the knackered battery theory because you have told us the Webasto faulted at a higher voltage than it should have done. I believe the Webasto should run as low as 10V.
    This leads me to believe that-

    A) The BM1 is misleading you.

    B) The heater is either faulty or you have a bad connection somewhere.

    Would be interested to know you findings. We have just done a pre-ski trip test on ours and had some lights on and the Webasto Dualtop flat out at 30 degrees C (25 degrees over ambient) for 4 days and nights!

    The diesel cost a bit, but we needed to know the batteries were still good!:thumb:
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2012
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  12. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    Charger is a CBE 16amp charger, Italian make.

    I tested batteries with multimeter before I installed them and they read 6.3v on each under no load. It was when I installed them that the BM1 meter suggested 5% charge. Does the voltage reading suggest that the % reading is incorrect?

    I've now got them hooked up to a different charger and will leave that for tonight and all day tomorrow and will then go for a run in the van and try heating again after that to see what happens.

    Will nip into halfords tomorrow to buy a hydrometer to test them. Will then look into whether heater is faulty or not.

    Cheers for the advice Jon and thanks ciderman for your post.
     
  13. CazPaul

    CazPaul Read Only Funster

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    Did the battery monitor have to be calibrated when you fitted the new batteries?

    Paul.
     
  14. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    Hi Tim

    The charger is the same as ours. I said 17A, but had a look and it is 16A!:Doh:

    It sounds like your batteries were OK on delivery then!

    I would suggest that the percentage reading you are getting is misleading!

    Can you locate the blade fuses for your Webasto heater? If you can find them, just try measuring the voltage at those when it is running. Most blade fuses have a pair of dimples on top of them so you can touch them with your multimeter probe without removing them.

    Also, check out the negative (earth) connection for the heater too. I can see us looking for a bad connection somewhere.:cry:
     
  15. andyman

    andyman Read Only Funster

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    Can you post a photo of how thet are connected ???
     
  16. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    righto will get under van with inspection lamp now and have a look.

    Will also sort out a photo

    Oh, and can't see that you can reset the BM1, you can change the ah for the battery, which I have done

    Thanks
     
  17. Ralph-n-Bev

    Ralph-n-Bev Funster

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    Hi Tim, so sorry to hear you are still having problems with the battery setup.

    I must agree with JonandShell about your new battery's only showing a 5% :Eeek: charge from new.
    This would concern me. Not to sure to what state of discharge you can take a traction battery to but 5% sounds very low. I know Bev mentioned about me leaving our Webasto on the other week and the battery's went down showing 20% charge left on the BM-1. After this event i did some research and seem to remember reading that anything lower than 20% discharge is bad for them.
    I too have the BM-1 battery monitor and know it is very accurate and will tell you exactly what's going on regards charge and discharge so i would speak to your supplier about them supplying battery's in such a discharged condition.

    You will see an instant drop on the battery monitor as it takes around 10-16 amps to get the heater going, but after the van is warmed to the required temperature it should run around 3 amps. Even after warming up i would expect to see the monitor sit around 60 - 70% for a couple of days.

    How does you heating run while on hookup ? If its ok then it should rule out a faulty heater.

    As for your battery charger i cant see an overnight charge fully charging them.
    When i changed all our 12v system i upgraded the charger to one of these http://www.caravantechnology.com/Caravan-and-Leisure-40A-Battery-Charger-P3.aspx.
    This will charge at 40A max and drop down as the voltage rises, even with such a high amperage charger it still takes around 8 - 10 hours to fully maintain and charge up my Trojans.

    You could maybe have a run out in the van and give them a charge that way.
    If you can look at the BM-1 whilst driving you should see the alternator giving a good charge probably around 12A.

    Good Luck.....Ralph :thumb:
     
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  18. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    with only 5v in the batteries from new :Eeek: I would say they have never been recharged, while on the shelf, from new.

    batteries nearly always come fully charged and most have a 'recharge by' date for shelf life.

    instead of applying an unknown load try placing under a known load.

    a 55watt headlamp bulb will draw 4.6amps/hour so will give you a more accurate reading
     
  19. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    Just spent the last hour under the van, learned two things.
    1. It's very cold and an inspection lamp doesn't warm you up much.
    2. The heater is a pain in the rear to access.

    Jon, It's all hidden under a big plate, which I got off, but then you still can't really get access without removing fuel pipe and exhaust and inlet pipes. Exhaust was pretty much welded on and would need cutting off so I stopped there for tonight!

    Did find two sets wires going in and put the meter across both of them (with heater on)but didn't get any reading. So no more clues there.

    Will test the batteries tomorrow with hydrometer. If they are ok will prob give the place I bought the van from a ring and get them to have a look at it.

    May contact battery suppliers if test proves dodgy.

    It is pretty frustrating I must admit, just wanted it all to be right after all that work.

    Oh and heating runs perfectly on hook up Ralph and cheers for the consolations and thoughts. Pleased to see you reckon the BM1 does its job. Will leave them on charge now for over 24hrs.

    Right I'm off to find that bottle of whisky to drown my sorrows in!

    Thanks again all.:shout:
     
  20. kelpbeds

    kelpbeds Read Only Funster

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    Oh and nearly forgot photos.
    Second shot is poor as it is hard to access under the lid with all the wires in place.
    Clip on positive terminal is battery charger.
     

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