What could be flattening my starter battery?

Oct 27, 2017
1,005
1,878
Perth
Funster No
51,142
MH
Hymer A Class
Exp
Since 2014
Hi,

A month ago I replaced the starter battery in my Hymer B-class after a single event when it went flat overnight for no obvious reason. I drove it home 300 miles and plugged the van into the mains. Today I went to start the van and the battery is flat again.

I guess the trickle charger from the EBL29 could be U/S. There don't appear to be any blown fuses.

Equally, I suppose something could be draining the starter battery faster than the trickle charge can charge it. The only thing that has changed recently is I noted that I left the step extended. Could this possibly be draining the battery?

The Pioneer unit (mentioned elsewhere) is connected to the ignition. There's an alarm and a tracker on board. I normally leave the EBL control unit above the door switched off.

Any clues or diagnostic steps gratefully received. How can I test the starter battery for a slow discharge? I do have a multimeter to hand.

Thanks...Keith
 

pappajohn

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Aug 26, 2007
40,366
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Since 2005
I believe the EBL unit has to be left on.
If the EBL is charging the battery the voltage will be at least 12.6v at the battery using the multimeter.
 

pappajohn

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Aug 26, 2007
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As you are at home with 230v put a regular bench charger on the battery until the fault is fixed.
Finding a slow discharge will be a nightmare job but setting the meter to milliamps and placing between battery and positive lead (removed) will show any drain in milliamps.
Where the drain is will require a lot of investigating.
I still think it's the EBL.

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OP
G-RMPS
Oct 27, 2017
1,005
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MH
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The EBL is on, and the leisure batteries remain fully charged. I plan to recharge the starter battery with a bench charger, but I'd then like to see what current is flowing to/from the battery.

According to the EBL manual, the mains charger has a charging current of 18 amps, up to 6 amps of which can be directed as a float charge to the starter battery. If I understand this (though probably not!) I must have a battery drain of more than 6 amps or the EBL would keep the battery topped up.
 

pappajohn

LIFE MEMBER
Aug 26, 2007
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Since 2005
Put the multimeter on the engine battery when it's supposed to be charging and see what the voltage is.
If it's charging it should be around 13.6v.

It has a MAXIMUM 6amps available but with a fully charged battery may only be drawing less than an amp.

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bengie

Free Member
Feb 14, 2012
42
32
bournemouth
Funster No
19,821
MH
A class
Exp
1993
Have you a store/use switch. If so make sure it has been set at use. Do not know if it is the same as my Thor Ace but that will not charge starter battery off mains unless this has been done.
 
Jan 19, 2014
4,581
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south shields
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29,767
MH
Chausson 620 welcoome
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since 1990
It' been mentioned that it would be handy to check the current draw to see what drain you have and decide whether it' acceptable..
A real handy tool is a dc current clam meter.. saves having to break into circuis and will give you a fair idea . They can be picked up quite reasonable now.
Andy
 

BreweryDave

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Aug 10, 2011
3,370
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MH
None now!
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2011
Mine used to go flat on a previous van when I turned the 12v off when leaving the van. Little did I know that also prevented the solar doing its job keeping both hab and engine batteries topped up! Left it on all the time, never a problem again, also had a battery master fitted for peace of mind.

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Dare_Devil_Dennis

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Apr 22, 2017
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DUH!

First item on Amazon

Clamp Meter, Tacklife CM01S Advanced Digital multimeter Auto-Ranging TRMS 6000 Counts electric detector AC/DC 600V Volt & 600A Amp Continuity, Capacitance, Resistance Diode and Duty Cycle Tester

Last item on Amazon

ANCEL BA101 Professional 12V 100-2000 CCA 220AH Automotive Load Battery Tester Digital Analyzer Bad Cell Test Tool for Car / Boat / Motorcycle and More (BA101)

Suggest copy and paste these descriptions into Amazon

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Dare_Devil_Dennis

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Apr 22, 2017
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The first item will allow you to test the current in/out of your battery without having to disconnect it. the second will perform tests on your battery not possible with normal multimeters including Cold Cranking Amps test. It is very good for the money
 
Sep 23, 2007
1,512
1,261
Leicestershire
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347
MH
A Class
Exp
4 and many as a tugger
Had a similar problem on one of the works van. X250 ducato tracked it down to a bad battery earth.

Andy
 
OP
G-RMPS
Oct 27, 2017
1,005
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Perth
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51,142
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Hymer A Class
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Since 2014
Thanks for all of the above. The EBL manual states "switch on the automatic circuit breaker". If this means the control panel above the door, then maybe the posters above have hit on my problem.

I normally leave this on permanently while travelling, but switch it off at home over the winter. I discovered to my cost that if you drain the water and subsequently nudge a water tap it may be enough to energise the microswitch and the water pump will pump air until it breaks. Been there!

I'll leave the control panel on for a couple of days and see what transpires.

Cheers...

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maxi77

Free Member
Mar 20, 2013
892
560
Kingdom of Fife
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MH
coacbuilt
Exp
newbie
There seem to be two problems one howto get the system to provide a charging supply for the starter battery when on EHU and a drain on the starter battery. As the charging system is van specific I will avoid that and comment of the starter battery drain. It regrettably is a painstaking process unless you get lucky. Frst put a meter in series with the battery and see if there is a drain and how much it is. A multi-meter should suffice as the drain should hopefully be less than 10 amps and good for spotting small currents unlike clamp meters (certainly the ones I have used). If there is not a drain and the battery still fails to hold its charge the solution is easy replace the battery. If there is a drain we now have to identify it by one by one pulling every fuse to see which ones cause the drain and how much. A few milli amps is OK and normal for keep alive circuits in radios. clocks etc, bigger drains are a worry and once the circuit has been identified we then have to find the problem. Common places are relays and switches with indicators.
 
Apr 27, 2016
3,702
3,779
Manchester
Funster No
42,762
MH
A class Hymer
Exp
Since the 80s
A multi-meter should suffice as the drain should hopefully be less than 10 amps and good for spotting small currents unlike clamp meters (certainly the ones I have used).
Using an old-school multimeter to discover a battery-draining fault is very hit-and-miss and can be frustrating, even when you know exactly what you are doing. To measure drain current, you have to disconnect the circuit and redirect the current through the meter. Modern items like alarms, radios and ecus go through progressive shutdowns controlled by internal computer chips. When you reconnect the meter, the item will not necessarily be in the same state as before.

What you need is a meter that can measure current in a wire without disconnecting it. That's what a clamp meter does. It loops round the wire, and senses the magnetic field of the current.

When making a clamp meter, it's easier and cheaper to measure high currents, and more difficult to measure small currents. You probably have zero interest in measuring 400 Amps, but great interest in measuring 40 milliamps. So when looking for a clamp meter for this job, look for how it performs at the low current end.

The meter linked by @Dare_Devil_Dennis has a lowest range of 40 amps. This one, for a similar price, has a lowest range of 2 amps. This is more like what you want for drain current tracing.

UNI-T UT210E True RMS AC/DC Current Mini Clamp Meters w/ Capacitance Tester

Amazon product
I have one of these, and can tell you it works. I believe other funsters also use this type of meter. If you look around you can probably get it cheaper than this.

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Feb 20, 2017
660
1,610
Kent
Funster No
47,422
MH
Bailey 75-2
Exp
Tugger now Motorhome
12 volt frost heater in the tank could draw around three amps if it is switched on and it is cold enough?
 

maxi77

Free Member
Mar 20, 2013
892
560
Kingdom of Fife
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newbie
Using an old-school multimeter to discover a battery-draining fault is very hit-and-miss and can be frustrating, even when you know exactly what you are doing. To measure drain current, you have to disconnect the circuit and redirect the current through the meter. Modern items like alarms, radios and ecus go through progressive shutdowns controlled by internal computer chips. When you reconnect the meter, the item will not necessarily be in the same state as before.

What you need is a meter that can measure current in a wire without disconnecting it. That's what a clamp meter does. It loops round the wire, and senses the magnetic field of the current.

When making a clamp meter, it's easier and cheaper to measure high currents, and more difficult to measure small currents. You probably have zero interest in measuring 400 Amps, but great interest in measuring 40 milliamps. So when looking for a clamp meter for this job, look for how it performs at the low current end.

The meter linked by @Dare_Devil_Dennis has a lowest range of 40 amps. This one, for a similar price, has a lowest range of 2 amps. This is more like what you want for drain current tracing.

UNI-T UT210E True RMS AC/DC Current Mini Clamp Meters w/ Capacitance Tester

Amazon product
I have one of these, and can tell you it works. I believe other funsters also use this type of meter. If you look around you can probably get it cheaper than this.

I just fix the meter in series at negative terminal on the battery, not always that easy on some vans I know, but then it clearly shows the current. Pull fuses as required and not the change if any. I must admit though that clamp meter looks good for the job if it gives stable readings.
 

Doctor Dave

Free Member
May 18, 2015
465
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MH
None
Exp
7 years followed by a break of 11 years and then 4+ years but given up now
Don't know why links did not work. let's try again...

First link...

Amazon product
Third link...

Amazon product


If the links didn't work or appear it may be due to the fact that you (may) have an Adblocker on your computer. For some reason I have to turn mine off to see links to Amazon.

Dave

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PeteH

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Nov 22, 2007
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Rapido, 999M.
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Can I just remind, make sure that the clamp meter will measure DC voltage, not ALL do. A DC clamp meter relies on what is known as "hall effect" (Modified), Which AC devices do not always incorporate.

BTW. just found this on E-bay. Might even get one myself.? Looks identical?.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-True...858417&hash=item1ea1c5efe8:g:MWoAAOSwxH1UI-eX

Just Noticed. Direct from China, Could attract Custom Duties.?

This is dearer But seams to have a ~ amp range too.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/UNI-T-UT...371639&hash=item4b378d2a9d:g:bGAAAOSw7p5aeEl0
 
Last edited:
Aug 6, 2013
10,988
14,017
Kendal, Cumbria
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27,352
MH
A Class
Exp
since 1999
Can I just remind, make sure that the clamp meter will measure DC voltage, not ALL do. A DC clamp meter relies on what is known as "hall effect" (Modified), Which AC devices do not always incorporate.

BTW. just found this on E-bay. Might even get one myself.? Looks identical?.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-True...858417&hash=item1ea1c5efe8:g:MWoAAOSwxH1UI-eX

Just Noticed. Direct from China, Could attract Custom Duties.?

This is dearer But seams to have a ~ amp range too.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/UNI-T-UT...371639&hash=item4b378d2a9d:g:bGAAAOSw7p5aeEl0
Both have AC and DC current ranges.

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Dare_Devil_Dennis

Free Member
Apr 22, 2017
296
205
Derby
Funster No
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MH
Coachbuilt
Exp
Newbie
Please be careful with items at this price from China. It is above the VAT threshold and may incur an additional VAT charge that will be levied by the carrier (and they won't release it until you have paid). Can cause some shipping delays
 
OP
G-RMPS
Oct 27, 2017
1,005
1,878
Perth
Funster No
51,142
MH
Hymer A Class
Exp
Since 2014
Thanks again, everyone. I opened up the cab floor today to expose the starter battery in order to charge it. There's a 50 amp and a 20 amp fuse down there. The 20 amp was blown. I guess this protects the charging circuit from the EBL. I've changed the fuse and the EBL seems to be recharging the battery, so possibly a simple fix. Here's hoping...
 

Lenny HB

LIFE MEMBER
Oct 18, 2007
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On the coast in West Sussex
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658
MH
Hymer B678 Dynamic Line
Exp
Since 2008 & many years tugging
Please be careful with items at this price from China. It is above the VAT threshold and may incur an additional VAT charge that will be levied by the carrier (and they won't release it until you have paid). Can cause some shipping delays
And if it comes via DHL that slap a £25 handling charge on. Having been caught I won't order anything outside the EU now if it's more than £15.

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PeteH

Free Member
Nov 22, 2007
6,862
9,027
East Riding of Yorkshire
Funster No
900
MH
Rapido, 999M.
Exp
18+yrs plus 25+Towing
Thanks again, everyone. I opened up the cab floor today to expose the starter battery in order to charge it. There's a 50 amp and a 20 amp fuse down there. The 20 amp was blown. I guess this protects the charging circuit from the EBL. I've changed the fuse and the EBL seems to be recharging the battery, so possibly a simple fix. Here's hoping...

Hope it`s OK. but I would love to know what blew a 20A fuse?. Usually only something straight to earth will do that.
 

JeanLuc

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Nov 17, 2008
3,305
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Hymer B630 Star-Line
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Since 2007
That fuse protects the line that powers the fridge when the engine is running. The cable goes to the EBL and then another cable goes from the EBL to the fridge. Not sure about all models, but on an EBL 99 the cable from the starter battery enters via block 2 and the cable onwards to the fridge leaves via block 1. I would check the condition of those connector blocks as it is possible that some arcing may have occurred and caused the fuse to blow. It happened to mine (burnt pin) and I had to send the EBL back to Schaudt for testing and repair.
 

maxi77

Free Member
Mar 20, 2013
892
560
Kingdom of Fife
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coacbuilt
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newbie
And if it comes via DHL that slap a £25 handling charge on. Having been caught I won't order anything outside the EU now if it's more than £15.

The price has come down many years ago they used to charge a minimum of £60 for clearing any item.

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