Advice on electrical problem> (1 Viewer)

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Feb 11, 2017
1,081
1,048
Cumbria
Funster No
47,264
MH
Pilote P740FC
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2008
I’m hoping someone can advise on this, but bear mind please that I am a complete numpty with van electrics and would not manage to use a multimeter!

We got back yesterday after 8 days away, 5 nights on EHU and 3 off grid. At about 6am on Tuesday morning an alarm sounded, which appeared to be the satellite system complaining of insufficient power, and certainly there were all the symptoms of low battery - lights flickering etc. The fairly basic CBE control panel on our Carthago C Tourer shows hab battery as 2 bars of red, then 2 of amber and then 4 bars of green - ours was showing only up to 2 amber. After later running the van engine for 10 minutes it went up to 2 bars of green, and then after we’d driven about 3 hours it was up to 4 bars of green (ie full.)

But on Sunday night we’d been on EHU, and had then driven a couple of hours, so I would have thought the batteries should have been full when we stopped on Monday?

What is puzzling me is why this should have happened - the batteries are Exide Gels, 8 months old, and probably done a maximum of 15 nights off grid, maybe 70 on EHU.

As said, I’m not technically minded, but logically I’d have thought the problem must be one (or more) of the following:

1. Excessive drain on the leisure batteries
2. Batteries shot
3. Batteries not getting charged properly

In order, I’m certainly not aware of anything pulling an unusual draw from the system - we did briefly have the fan on boost on Monday evening, but maybe 30 minutes.
As above, the batteries are nearly new, fitted by main dealer.
As for the batteries not getting a charge, we do know that there have been instances where the CBE 516 charger has not been switched back on by dealers after a hab check, and we did have a hab check on 30 November, with no nights off grid since then. The charger is definitely now switched on, but I’m not sure whether it was on when I looked after the problem occurred.

But given that the short boost from the engine and then a longer drive pushed the battery up to showing as fully charged, would it have done so if the charger had been switched off at that point? (Oh the delights of technical incompetence!!)

We’ve got the van booked in with the dealer in a couple of weeks to check out , although I’m loth to pay them for checking if it were the case that they had simply failed to switch the charger back on after the hab check!

So if anyone can suggest a way of testing where the problem lies, without use of a multimeter and without risking further damage to nearly new batteries but running them too low, I’d be immensely grateful.
 

68c

Oct 22, 2019
1,879
2,923
Southampton
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65,959
MH
2001 Pilote 270
Exp
Since 2004
Not sure you really have a problem. Just sounds like batteries not fully charged.
Two batteries take quite a while to charge fully, assuming you have 2 x 90 Ah batteries both discharged to the safe 50%, it will take over 90 hours at one amp or 9 hours at ten amps. ( I say 'over' due to the fact batteries are ineficient when charging. ) even charging at 20 Amps will take the best part of 5 hours.
I assume you have a standard van without a special Battery to Battery charger. (B2B)
Just to add, the charger only works on EHU.
.
 

tonka

LIFE MEMBER
Jul 2, 2008
10,934
21,866
Cannock, Staffs
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3,141
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A class Burstner 800
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Since 2000
Get on YouTube and watch some videos on using a multimeter, then buy one ( even a very cheap one). Once you have done basic understanding at least you can check things like battery charging etc and rule out a few things 👍
 

meanders

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Jun 28, 2008
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Why was the satellite system on at 6am. Depending on the make and model, it will have been drawing power all night. Is there no way to turn it off?

30 minutes fan I would not expect to take much out. We have run our all night on low on a couple of occasions when it been particularly cold with no noticeable negative effect on the batteries. However we do not have TV or satellite, so evenings it's just a couple of LED strips on, and perhaps a radio that runs of rechargeable batteries.

Are all your lights LED's or filament lamps. If the latter, it worth changing them out.

I have also seen many folks leaving the outside step/awning light on all night.

I also never recharge phones etc overnight unless on hook up.

What other electrical equipment do you have?
 
Dec 5, 2017
495
11,346
York, UK
Funster No
51,575
MH
Bailey Autograph 745
Exp
Almost approaching average
Why was the satellite system on at 6am. Depending on the make and model, it will have been drawing power all night. Is there no way to turn it off?
There’s a test match on in New Zealand you know…….

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Apr 9, 2022
469
470
Funster No
87,949
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Cathargo
Exp
Newbie
But given that the short boost from the engine and then a longer drive pushed the battery up to showing as fully charged, would it have done so if the charger had been switched off at that point? (Oh the delights of technical incompetence!!)
I think 68c is probably right - If your fridge was on AES and operating on 12v when you did your three hour drive only a relatively small amount may have got to the batteries - the panel lights indicate the voltage at the batteries which gives an indication of the state of charge, however during charging or immediately after charging stops the voltage will be pretty much what the charger was outputting (called surface charge), it can take an hour or two for the voltage to drop to the real level in the batteries. The main CBE charger will only be working when on EHU, when driving you will be getting the charge from the engine alternator, either through a b2b charger or if pre "stop start" (2016?) then a simple link, I'd guess these will give 20amps or less. Gel batteries are excellent hab batteries but they do take a while to fully charge to 100%. When on EHU your CBE charger will complete the bulk phase of charging up to around 80%, then give a further 8 hours of absorption charging to 100%. If you can plug the van into EHU now you are home, and leave it on charge for a min of 12 hours (button pushed in and backlit green) the batts should then be charged. At this point the panel should show 4 green. Turn everything off (charger/ehu and panel) and leave the van for a few hours, then see what the panel shows, it should still be 4 green, and should take several days with everything off before lights start going out. It is much easier and more accurate with a voltmeter measuring at the batteries, a full gel will be around 12.7-12.8 volts after standing for a while for the surface charge to dissipate, if the volts are dropping faster than this it can be because of some equipment drawing power that you hadn't realised is still on, or that the batteries or wiring have an issue, to find the cause will need a meter. I had one battery of three not connected on my last van, took me a while to realise I wasn't getting as much as I should!
 
OP
OP
S
Feb 11, 2017
1,081
1,048
Cumbria
Funster No
47,264
MH
Pilote P740FC
Exp
2008
Thanks for responses.

I’d have thought in response to 68c that as we’d been on EHU for the 4 nights previously, and hardly at the van during the day or evening, it should have been fully charged the previous day, so very little capacity to make up?

Meanders, I’m not sure how much power satellite system uses in standby and how that compares to draw of retracting the dish at night and up again in the morning? (We always retract anyway if at all windy.). All lights are LEDS, but we were recharging phones, watches & iPads, some from a power bank. But these are draws on power which we routinely have, and have ne been a problem before. Other than the brief use of boost fan during the evening there was nothing extra beyond our normal usage.
 
OP
OP
S
Feb 11, 2017
1,081
1,048
Cumbria
Funster No
47,264
MH
Pilote P740FC
Exp
2008
AdrianChen, thanks for this - I will follow this suggestion as a test, even though (as per above) I’m still puzzled why it should have behaved like this when usage is no different from previous occasions with no problem. I can confirm van has no B2B.
 
Apr 9, 2022
469
470
Funster No
87,949
MH
Cathargo
Exp
Newbie
Ah I thought there was some doubt the charger was actualy on. Can you easily check the battery wiring is tight given they are new? Oh were you happy the ehu was working properly?
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
S
Feb 11, 2017
1,081
1,048
Cumbria
Funster No
47,264
MH
Pilote P740FC
Exp
2008
Ah I thought there was some doubt the charger was actualy on. Can you easily check the battery wiring is tight given they are new?
I can certainly look at it - and will do so.
I think there is some doubt about the battery charger being on after the hab check, based on comments on a Carthago FB group from someone who had similar problems after a hab check before finding that the charger had not been turned on after it. There’s also comments online that with the CBE516 charger you need to check it’s turned on. Unfortunately I wasn’t aware of this before I started looking at the electrics in the garage so can’t be certain if it was turned on or off.
But IF it had been left off after the hab check 10 weeks ago, so that it wasn’t charging properly on EHU, the lower charge rate from the alternator would possibly not have been enough to fully charge the batteries. And we’ve only had 3 nights off hookup since then, just enough to run the batteries down?

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Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
54,869
156,965
On the coast in West Sussex
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658
MH
Carthago Compactline
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
As your batteries were right dow unless you have a B2B driving for 2 hours will only put a small charge into them you would need to be driving for 10 to 12 hours to get them fully charged.
You don't appear to be sure if the mains charger was on, I would get on EHU make sure the batteries are charging then leave them on charge for at least 24 hours preferably longer. Then once they are fully charged you can carry out some discharge tests on them.
 

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