Newbie with no idea about electrics!!

Matthew Creighton

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Sep 10, 2014
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Hello,

Im currently converting a transit in a camper for y girlfriend and I to travel down to the Alps in. The one issue I just cannot get my head around is the electrics. At the minute I'm not 100% about needing a leisure battery for the camper, but i think the fact I don't fully understand the process is just putting me off, and the prospect of plugging in a kettle is really quite appealing!

So this is all I know - please advise and correct me.

Im planning on buying a leisure battery (probably no more than 100ah for a few lights, occasional kettle and the odd charging of laptop/phones). The easiest way to charge and control this is for me to get a connect and forget charger. So do I simply connect this charger to the starter battery and the leisure battery, then connect a fuse box to the leisure battery and sockets to the fuse box and thats me? Is it really that easy? If so, what sort of connections do I need/how do I connect all these things together safely and properly! I really don't have a clue, so any advice would be hugely appreciated!

Cheers,

Matt
 
Apr 9, 2013
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I'm sure others can answer your questions better than me but forget boiling a kettle from a battery. That's what gas was invented for!
 

pappajohn

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You cannot get 230v mains directly from a leisure battery so the kettle idea is out.....you will need electric hookup to a campsite supply......or an inverter but that may be too much to understand at the moment.

Without a leisre battery you only have your starter battery for power....and that runs a big risk of not being able to start the engine after a day or two.

You can buy a battery to battery charger but the cost may be prohibitive at a couple of hundred quid.

As you admit knowing nothing about the electrics in a motorhome i suggest you leave it to an auto electrician or as least someone who knows the ins and outs and whats neccessary to make it work.
 
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Matthew Creighton

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Sep 10, 2014
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Ok- What can you get from a leisure battery? Enough to charge a laptop? I know the risk with running electricity from the starter, and so i am reluctant to do that! Is a battery to battery charger the same as the connect and forget things? If so Im looking at around 60 quid on ebay? Or is this a bad idea?

Cheers man,

Matt
 
Dec 6, 2011
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hi and welcome,

I am assuming the transit camper is not already set up to charge a leisure battery? you wont be using a kettle on 12v other than a special 12v heater type that will draw lots out of you battery. you really need to install the charger and battery and the Electric hook up properly. its not difficult but needs thinking through and a reasonable diy skill and basic electrical knowledge.
 
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Matthew Creighton

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Hi,

Nope, it was a transit van, Im converting it and it only has the original starter battery underneath the driver seat! I do have good diy skills, but electricity is testing me!!
 
Jan 28, 2008
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as said forget the kettle you need a leisure battery and a split charge system as a minimum or the battery will have a very limited usable period
best simple system is to use a smartcom relay to trigger a heavier relay this saves having to find a engine runs signal which isnt always easy on later vans with canbus electrics try this link
http://sbmcc.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=39496
 

pappajohn

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Ok- What can you get from a leisure battery? Enough to charge a laptop? I know the risk with running electricity from the starter, and so i am reluctant to do that! Is a battery to battery charger the same as the connect and forget things? If so Im looking at around 60 quid on ebay? Or is this a bad idea?

Cheers man,

Matt
The charger you are thinkig of is rated at 3 amps charge current.
If it is your only charge source you need something like the sterling 80amp charger at around £275.

3 amps will never keep the battery charged.

Click HERE for the one i suggest.

Does the same job but instead of having to run your engine continuiosly it may only need half an hour a day to recharge your leisure battery.
 

pappajohn

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as said forget the kettle you need a leisure battery and a split charge system as a minimum or the battery will have a very limited usable period
best simple system is to use a smartcom relay to trigger a heavier relay this saves having to find a engine runs signal which isnt always easy on later vans with canbus electrics try this link
http://sbmcc.co.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=39496
The op's own words........

At the minute I'm not 100% about needing a leisure battery for the camper, but i think the fact I don't fully understand the process is just putting me off.

All your well intended suggestions will be completely alien to someone with no electrical knowledge.
 

Wildman

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Electricity and kill and cause fires please don't even think about doing it yourself until you have at least learnt the rudiments. As your post makes it obvious you do indeed know nothing, (and no shame in admitting that) then the people that do know will be hesitant to advise you other than to recommend getting it done professionally, or at least by someone with some experience.
 
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Matthew Creighton

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Right...I think I'm in too deep with all this then! If the connect and forget 60 quid deal is useless, then I will probably leave it, a the 270 quid sterling charger is a bit too pricey for what I want! I may stick to plugging into campsites and get a cigarette 12v charger for emergencies!
 

pappajohn

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Right...I think I'm in too deep with all this then! If the connect and forget 60 quid deal is useless, then I will probably leave it, a the 270 quid sterling charger is a bit too pricey for what I want! I may stick to plugging into campsites and get a cigarette 12v charger for emergencies!
Even campsite hookup isnt as straight forward as fitting a couple of sockets
You need a fuse box and breakers (essential), various mains 3 pin sockets, a charger for your leisure battery (unless you fit ALL mains voltage appliances including lights) and all the associated wiring.
If you fit a proper motorhome fridge or heating system it needs 12v battery power to run the controls so you do really need a leisure battery and charger.
 

hilldweller

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try this link
Won't let me in but here is one on ebay
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CAMPER-VAN-SELF-SWITCHING-VOLTAGE-SENSING-SPLIT-CHARGE-RELAY-KIT-12V-30-AMP-/181160779910?pt=UK_Campervan_Caravan_Accessories&hash=item2a2e062086

To the OP find someone who will fit the above to your new leisure battery. Wire assorted LED lights to the leisure battery. Wire one or two cigarette sockets to the leisure battery. Buy a Laptop 12V power supply to replace the mains one.

You will then last a few days before you need to run the engine to recharge the leisure battery.

OR you also buy a mains battery charger, should be a caravan type with about 20A output. You run this off the campsite mains power.

Alps - have you sorted heating out ? That requires a leisure battery and a gas supply.
 
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