Battery confusion (1 Viewer)

Spectacular

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Hi there, some advice needed. We have recently bought a fiat ducato bessacarr E430. On the panel above the back door is a panel with battery settings,water pump etc. On the battery settings,the options are 'mains' or 'leisure'. On advice left by previous owner it says to avoid mains so as not to drain the battery. The manual is a complete minefield. We have always had it set to leisure on electric hook up at home and stayed in it overnight with TV,heating etc on with no problem. We had our first trip this weekend, on electric hook up and leisure battery went low. We switched to 'mains' and lights instantly brightened. Should this always be on mains when on electric hook up? The print left by previous owner made me doubt this and I started to worry about the effect on the engine battery. Many thanks in advance for any advice.
 

pappajohn

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On hookup switch to mains, that will also charge the battery, run the fridge and depending on model, run the boiler.
Leisure position is for when camping with no hookup and fridge etc will be on gas.
If you only ever use hookup just leave the switch on mains.
 
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Spectacular

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Thank you for your reply, I know that makes sense, I started to worry about the mains battery meaning van battery. Big worrier. Thanks will do that from now on!
 
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pappajohn

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If the switch meant leisure or starter battery it would be marked as such.
If you want to confirm try plugging in a 230v appliance, kettle maybe, while on hookup then switch the switch to leisure and see if the kettle turns off.

If I'm wrong then it still wants to be turned to leisure as mains, while poorly labeled, will be the engine battery.
If the battery still goes flat it would appear to be a failed leisure battery (maybe due to age) or charger.
 
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Spectacular

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We had it set to leisure and had kettle on and TV but the lights dimmed after some time and the battery guage was showing low and when switched to mains the lights brightened completely. Left it on mains and had kettle on this morning. All while on electric hook up
 
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pappajohn

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We had it set to leisure and had kettle on and TV but the lights dimmed after some time and the battery guage was showing low and when switched to mains the lights brightened completely. Left it on mains and had kettle on this morning. All while on electric hook up
That does look like your leisure battery has/is failing or the battery charger is dead.
Switching to main appears to switch the 12v to the engine battery though which idiot thought of calling it main is anyone's guess.

That would also explain why the seller also said keep the switch on main.... They knew there was a problem with the leisure battery or charger.
I would get the charger checked before buying a new battery... No point if the charger doesn't work.
Using the "main" (engine) battery leaves you open to a dead starter battery next morning.
 
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Spectacular

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Thanks very much for your help, I will get the battery checked out. It makes sense why the sockets work on both.
 
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Welcome. It seems a very odd labelling system, there must surely be another owner on here who can clarify. You appreciate that you have two separate batteries one to start the engine and one for all the "leisure" items. And a 240v supply from the outside. Sometimes the 240 will supply the leisure requirement "floating" the leisure battery via a charger, this or the charger may be failing. When the 240 is disconnected that leisure battery is all that you have and 13amp sockets will be dead, but see below.
Often that same charger will trickle charge the starter battery as well as long as 240 is connected , and you are right to be wary of using that battery to power anything other than the starter motor ( you cant usually do that anyway)
The 240v however usually only supplies the 13amp sockets , such as kettle etc unless you have a complicated auto arrangement to bring in a thing called an inverter but dont lets complicate the issue
Hope this helps
Mike
 
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Aah just a thought perhaps the switch is actually deciding where to send the battery charge output and the 240 is supplying all the sockets all the time. In any case the sockets will probably be dead when the 240 is disconnected
Apologies to papajohn he said the same as me but in much less words!
"Pauciloquent" is the word !
Mike
 
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pappajohn

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If you're still reading I think I found the reason for the stupid wording on your panel.
It's a marine panel... IE: originally for a boat.

The 'main' battery would be (in a marine setting) engine start, radar, 2 way radio, sonar, nav lights etc.
Leisure battery obviously the habitation side.
 
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Spectacular

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That's interesting, could be the case. I'm going to book it in and see if the charger needs looking at like you say. Thanks again, thanks Mike also for your comments.
 
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pappajohn

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Spectacular

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Haha, thank you, and any and all answers gratefully received!
 
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pappajohn

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Before you book it in, see if you can locate the 230v fuse box and make sure all the breakers are turned on, the chargers breaker may have tripped.
Also look for the charger and see if it has an on/off switch... It may be off.
Where is it..... Anyone's guess.
 
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Spectacular

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I have a feeling it's in the locker, we will definitely look in to that. The battery is sitting at full again and has been since yesterday morning.
 
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Spectacular

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Thanks, I'll get it checked looked at. I assumed on hook up it would be constantly topped up

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pappajohn

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You would expect so but it appears to be charging when not in use then discharging rapidly when in use.
Possibly the charger can't keep up with the rate of discharge but the charger should supply any shortfall......unless the chargers been swapped for a low output, 3 or 4 amp, garage type charger which would charge the battery but not keep up with demand in use.
A proper onboard charger should provide around 15amps.
It's difficult to tell without being there with a multimeter.
 
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Spectacular

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Prior to last weekend we had spent a night in it with TV, small heater and lights on and it never faltered. The only difference this weekend was the kettle once and the water heater. Could it have been too much? I'll still get it checked out. It could be that it still needs replaced or repaired.
 
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pappajohn

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I can only assume the only thing running on battery on both occasions were the lights.

TV presumably 230v, could be 12v
Kettle 230v or gas
Small Heater 230v
Water heater 230v or gas

The last three will only work on these two options.

Its a mystery why its OK one time but not another.
 
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Spectacular

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They were all running on electric as the gas was not switched on. But not at the same time. And the TV was only on for 20 minutes at least.
 
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Your kettle will not run off the battery neither will an elactric heater unless you have an inverer and your battry will flatten in the blink of an eye!!!(well not quite but fast).

I think your panel switch is probably vehicle battery or leisure battery to feed the lights etc. To test that unplug your mains lead and try the panel switch on both positions. If the lights work on both the switch labelled mains probably means the vehicle battery (does the label say mains or main!!!) and if you use it on this you risk having no battery left to start in the morning.
 
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