1. MotorhomeFun The best Motorhome Club in the World
     
    Register to remove adverts Register Here

    Welcome to Motorhome Fun

    MotorhomeFun is a large community of motorhome and touring enthusiasts. Our website is the busiest of its kind. It serves as a meeting place for thousands of members who share their knowledge of motorhomes and travel, as well as arrange rallies in the UK, Europe and beyond.

    It's easy to join us and takes just a minute

New to Motorhomes - Battery Charging?

Discussion in 'THE BEGINNER' started by Baker69, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    Hi there,

    We've recently bought a Swift Royale 590 (1996) which is our first Motorhome. The interior panel houses the Battery Meter and Water Level Gauges for Fresh and Waste Water. Under the Battery Level Meter is a 3-position Rocker Switch along with a little picture on either side, one shows the front of the Van so we assume that this refers to the Vehicle's Battery and the other picture is of the rear of the Van which I assume to be the Leisure Battery in the Wardrobe.

    There was no Manual supplied by the previous owners and to be honest they didn't really seem to know what the panel did, even though they had the Van for about 4 years! :Eek!:

    I assume that with the Switch in the Central position that when you hook up to the mains power on site there is no charge going to either Battery? If the Switch is pushed to the 'Front of Van' picture I assume the Charger will charge the Vehicle Battery and similarly if the Switch is pushed to the 'Rear of Van' picture the Charger will charge the leisure battery?

    Am I right on the above? Or is it that when the Switch is in the Central Position the Mains Power is charging both batteries via the charger? Does the rocker Switch simply determine what power source you use power 'from' and not 'to'?

    On our 2 short maiden voyages we have gone on mains power both times and put the switch to the 'Front of Van' which was as the previous owners told us, but I think it should have been more like I have described above. Pushing the switch to the 'Rear of Van' position the needle on the meter does nothing and having checked the voltage of the Leisure Battery it is about 8 volts and if you switch a light onit goes down to about 2 volts!

    It doesn't look good on the Battery having read that if it drops below 10 Volts it is unlikely it will recover and charge successfully again? Anyway, am I right in thinking that in order to charge the Leisure Battery the Switch should be pushed to 'Rear of Van' position? Also, does the Vehicle's battery charge the leisure battery while the engine is running and if so what position should the switch be?

    Hoping someone can advise on the above, we are going away in the Van for 2 weeks in a weeks time so we hope to resolve any issues with this during the next week. I assume there must be lots of Vans out there with these types of Panels. :Smile:
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
  2. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    24,284
    Likes Received:
    8,087
    Location:
    scarborough, nth yorks
    hi,
    yes your assumptions are right.
    center position isolates the batteries altogether...ie no charge and no 12v to the 12v sockets etc although the lights will still work if i remember right.

    if you are on hookup then the charger becomes a power supply and will run everything 12v independantly of the rocker switch position but just leave it in the 'rear' position anyway.

    rocker switch to front end and it will charge your engine battery

    rocker to the rear end will charge the leisure battery AND power the 12v sockets.

    if you are NOT on hookup and your leisure battery starts to fail you can switch to the engine battery for emergency power but dont forget if this one goes flat as well you cant start the engine:Sad:

    just re-read your thread again and i missed a couple of bits:Doh:

    you should always have the switch to 'rear'.
    your battery is totally shot.....at 8volts resting it will never recover so its spend time im afaid.
    if funds allow then buy a 110ah battery as it will fit under the passenger seat...assuming thats where the existing one is now...chances are its only got an 85ah battery now.

    regarding the engine charging the leisure battery......yes it does and just leave the switch in the rear position all the time(unless you need emergency power) but it charges independant of the rocker switch anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2009
  3. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    Thanks Pappajohn for your reply.

    I think the people we bought it off must have always gone on Electric Hook-up otherwise they would have been able to have advised me on how it works.

    I'm not sure whether I will be able to resurrect the Leisure Battery as it is so low in power now, I'll try charging it anyway. On Mains I did notice that with the Switch to what I now know to be the Leisure Battery the power needle was full in the Green. It's starting to make sense now.

    With no Mains Power attached I assume that whatever the Rocker Switch is switched to is what Battery you use for 12 volt power.

    What about my query regarding charging the Leisure Battery while the Vehicle is in motion, i.e. with the Engine running? Should I leave the switch in the Leisure Battery position? On the 2 outings I left it switched to the Vehicle Battery position as I wanted to keep the Fridge cool.
     
  4. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    24,284
    Likes Received:
    8,087
    Location:
    scarborough, nth yorks
    sorry...just updated my post...please re-read it.

    when driving the fridge will run as long as its switched on at the fridge 12v switch itself.
    only runs while the engine is running though....doesnt work on 12v battery.
    stationary it must be on gas or 230v hookup and switched to whichever power source you use.
     
  5. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    24,284
    Likes Received:
    8,087
    Location:
    scarborough, nth yorks
    i reckon they told you to have the rocker in the front position 'cos they knew the leisure battery was shot and werent prepared to give you the cost of a new one:Angry:
     
  6. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire

    Quite possibly. :cry:

    Yes the Battery is an 85ah one and judging by its housing in the compartment in the bottom of the wardrobe that's about the biggest battery that's going to fit in there.

    It's a bit puzzling in that it has one of those small circular lenses that is supposed to give you the condition of the battery, i.e Black for needing a Charge and Green for Charged, it is showing Green but I've tested it with a Digital Tester and it is showing about 8.5 Volts.

    Does the fact that it is showing Green means that it is still in good condition albeit needing a charge?
     
  7. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    24,284
    Likes Received:
    8,087
    Location:
    scarborough, nth yorks
    no...i doubt it will ever hold a charge again. the 'window' is never a reliable indicator.
    anyhing below 10v will mean a battery is beyond normal recovery.
    you can buy special chargers that MAY recover it but the cost is £stupid and much more than a new battery.

    i assumed the battery was under the seat as thats a favorite place for them on the swift vans.
     
  8. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    I'm going to give it a try anyway, can't really afford to shell out on a new battery at the moment with us going away in the MH in a weeks time. :cry:but I hear what you're saying which confirms what I'd already read.

    I'd also read that trying to charge a very low Leisure Battery from the Vehicle's engine can blow the fuse quite easily, is this correct?

    We hope to be staying on various sites over the 2 weeks that we're away so if we aren't on Mains the Vehicle's battery will hopefully suffice (we only intend to use it for lighting and the water pump anyway). The MH will be driven most days which should in theory restore any power taken out by using the lights & water pump.
     
  9. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    Well, we've had the Leisure battery on charge for most of today and so far so good, first thing this morning it was at 8.6 volts and even after a short charge it was registering at over 13 volts and holding. Am going to check it again in a while as we took it off charge before tea and it was reading at a steady 12.9 volts.

    I suppose I now need to put some sort of a load on it to see how it fares with that and how quickly it recovers?

    The levels in all cells were quite low but the plates were still covered, so have topped them up with ionised water.

    We're still hoping the battery is ok with it having been allowed to drop to such a low voltage by the previous owner. :Angry:
     
  10. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    24,284
    Likes Received:
    8,087
    Location:
    scarborough, nth yorks
    connect a volt meter across the battery THEN connect a 12v bulb across as well.

    the battery will show 12v/13v when it comes off charge but i bet it drops to next to nothing within seconds of connecting the bulb.

    a good, fully charged, 85ah battery will last maybe 20+ hours with a normal 12v 21w indicator bulb as a load.
     
  11. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    24,284
    Likes Received:
    8,087
    Location:
    scarborough, nth yorks

    take some jump leads with you just in case the engine battery gets too low to start it.

    anyone will give you a jump start but if you dont have leads they cant....
     
  12. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    I haven't been out to check it yet (raining again!). Earlier, after I had finished charging the battery I disconnected the Mains Power and selected the Leisure Battery on the Control Panel and switched on one of the Internal Lights. No dimming of the light occurred and the Needle on the Panel showing Battery Power didn't budge either. I checked the voltage again afterwards and it was at 12.9 Volts. I must admit I didn't have the light on for very long though so it does need more testing.

    I will report back once I've re-checked the Battery Voltage again with my Meter.
     
  13. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    Good idea pappajohn, thanks for the tip. I must remember to get them out of the car.
     
  14. Baker69

    Baker69

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Messages:
    85
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Worcestershire
    Well, I just went out to the MH and realised I hadn't switched the charger off! Tested the battery anyway with my Digital Multimeter and the battery was reading 13.36 Volts.

    I turned on every single light in the MH which includes 3 x Single fluorescent tube lights, 2 x Double Tube fluorescent lights and 2 x 10 Watt Reading lights. I left these on for a full 10 minutes. The reading went reasonably quickly down to just below 12 volts then seemed to stabilise at 11.74 volts but towards the end of the test it actually crept up gradually to 11.77 Volts.

    On switching all the lights off after the 10 minutes 'load' test the battery went back up to 12.14 Volts.

    I don't know how a good battery would cope under these conditions, I feel the battery is not 100% but not as bad as we initially thought it would turn out. The fact that it recovered afterwards I think is a good sign as well.

    Given that it was completely flat I think it possibly needs charging further? For the moment I'm happy with the result, we never have that many lights on anyway, ok we use the water pump mainly so that is going to be the biggest test. I think for now we see how we go with it while we are away, if we do need to get another Leisure Battery so be it, this one could always come in as a reserve battery. The fact that we will be touring and not staying on one place will help as well, as the Engine should keep it topped up. (I presume we do this by merely setting the rocker switch to the Leisure Battery?) Do we need to turn off the MH's Battery Charger or does the Vehicle Charge the Leisure Battery through it?
     

Share This Page