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Woody

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Reply with quote  #1 
Just went over to the van to put some stuff in it and the step was reluctant to come out. - Hmmmmm.

Got inside and checked the vehicle battery on the EC 480 Sargent contol panel above the door was showing a warning light.

OH tried to start the van. The battery so was flat that the engine would not turn over at all.

Obviously both van battery and leisure battery are completely flat. We have one solar panel plus two leisure batteries, so with all the recent sunshine and light now the days are getting longer, they should have had some charge.

The van has only had the alarm running. it was also on mains charge over the colder weather, but has not been used since just before Christmas, and has not been on an ehu for the last 12 days.

I feel a trip to the dealership coming in next week! Any ideas from all you knowledgeable people on here?

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SANDBAGSID

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Reply with quote  #2 
Bit strange as you have a solar panel I wouldn’t have thought just the alarm would run the batteries flat. Is the solar panel showing a charge Lin ?
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tugboat

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Reply with quote  #3 
The sun is still low and hitting the panel at such an angle that there will be little solar charging going on.

12 days is quick to lose batteries though if indeed that was when they were last on charge.

I had to have a new van battery the other day.

I had to put the car on charge, too, as the alarm had drained the battery to the extent that starting was sluggish. It hadn't been run for about 3 weeks.

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Woody

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SANDBAGSID
Bit strange as you have a solar panel I wouldn’t have thought just the alarm would run the batteries flat. Is the solar panel showing a charge Lin ?


No Al. - Nothing.

I have a feeling we will be going up the ‘new battery avenue’ Geoff. We can’t risk ours not working if we are heading off across Europe for three months, especially as we hardly ever have an ehu.

We would rather be safe than sorry. However, we are concerned that there is is a fault somewhere, which is the worry. It is why we feel we need to go back to the dealership and get their service department to look at everything. The battery did run down quickly last November when we were in Norfolk, but we assumed it was because we had used the tv one evening. - We had never used it before! We certainly don’t want to buy two new batteries.... and then find out there was nothing wrong with the old ones!


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powerplus

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Reply with quote  #5 
hi

firstly how old are the batteries if they are about 4 or more years old then they may be on there way out

 i had just replaced my habitation batteries with varta lfd9o and thought my engine battery was  fine  as it seemed to work ok, but with  no real sun and no hook up for a weekend the engine would not turn over on the monday

it seems that a lot of batteries go all of a sudden nowadays


barry


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SANDBAGSID

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Reply with quote  #6 
I don’t know much about solar but i would have thought it should have some input even a small amount. Silly question but is the solar turned of or is that not possible. Radio on standby rather than turned of and with the alarm on would drain the battery quite quickly. Just a thought.
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Woody

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks Barry and Al.

The batteries are almost six years old, so maybe you are right Barry.

No radio on stand-by.....only alarm on Al. Our leisure battery cannot be turned off, so no chance that we have flicked a switch! We will have to make a trip to Westcountry Motorhomes next week I fear. 🙁

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Steptoe

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Reply with quote  #8 
If you or OH have a meter or can borrow one, the solar controller (if it's a separate unit and not built into the Sargent PSU) will have input and output terminals where you could measure the input voltage from the solar panel (up to 18/19 volts if sunny) and the output to the battery (12.5/14.4 depending on state of charge)

This will establish if the solar panel is working and if the battery is receiving a charge.

I've just had a look at my van which has the same setup as yours (solar panel & two leisure batteries) & the voltage on the battery output is 14.4 (presently very sunny here, hence the high reading) and excess current is being fed to the van battery via a B2B box.

If you're not getting any voltage on the input terminals this suggests a fault in the cable to the panel. If you're getting voltage on the input terminals but a low voltage (less than 12) on the output terminals this points to a faulty habitation battery or a high battery drain (this can be checked by disconnecting each habitation battery in turn and checking their voltage (obviously you need easy access and/or be very confident with electrickery to do this as there is always potential for shorts and bangs when removing terminals!)      

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eurajohn

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Reply with quote  #9 
If you have a decent reasonably modern battery charger, disconnect your batteries and remove them.
Put them one at a time on charge for at least 24 hours, 48 would be better, then disconnect from charger and measure the voltage, should be close to 13 volts. Leave to stand for around 6 hours and check voltage again, depending on age / condition of battery it should still be in the 12.7, 12.8 region, leave for another 6 hours and test again, if below 12.5 volts best to replace it.

That's not a definitive answer but reasonably reliable guide to the condition of your batteries.

There are other more in depth methods, also test meters that effectively put a large discharge on the battery and show the results with suggested meanings.

6 years old for batteries is pretty good, especially habitation ones that suffer lots of discharge cycles with often incomplete recharge cycles.

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Woody

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Reply with quote  #10 
Thanks Ernie and John, I think you have sorted out OH’s day tomorrow! He has a meter, and a decent battery charger, so if he follows the brilliant instructions given by you two, we should be able to find the fault.

He is of the opinion that the batteries are ‘shot’ but at least we can hopefully rule out other problems, and also check the ‘health’ of the batteries, before having to drive to our dealership.

Thanks ever so much for your help. I will let you know the outcome.

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coppo

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Reply with quote  #11 
Hope you get this sorted quickly Lin.
Our habitation batteries are x2 140AH Deta Gel and are the Concorde original fit ones March 2005, so that's coming up to 14 years old, in fact they were probably manufactured in 2004.
I know a chap with same van as ours but a 2006 model, he is Planning a few month trip abroad and has the dead same Concorde Deta x2 140AH gel original fit batteries.
He has just taken them off and put 2 new ones on because he thought they were so old they would conk out during his trip, big mistake in my opinion.
He has just sold them as well, they don't make Deta anymore but that's how good they were. Hopefully I will get another few years out of them yet.
When I change it will be gel again for obvious reasons.
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Woody

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Reply with quote  #12 
I had a brainwave last night. It doesn’t happen often!

Having contemplated the advice from Ernie and John, I decided that maybe we ought to call out the AA this morning to check the batteries! (Even if they only did the van battery). We are insured with Aviva for the van, and get AA breakdown cover with It. We are also members of the AA for the cars, but as the van is over 3.5t, the AA needed to come out through our insurers.

OH explained to the A A on the telephone that the van had been on charge overnight, so was starting now, but the battery had been flat yesterday. - It didn’t seem to be a problem that we are at home with a vehicle that would start......The mechanic arrived within an hour. - Result! He wasn’t an AA chap as such, but someone who did heavy vehicle recovery. He was brilliant. He tested all three batteries, (van and both leisure ones). The van battery needs replacing, but both leaisure ones showed 100% State of Charge. One battery had 100% Sate of Health but the other one was only 49%.

The chap was excellent. He didn’t need to check our leisure batteries.....but coffee and buscuits, plus the fact he had owned a Rhodesian Ridgeback in the 1980’s, all helped! He has advised us to get a new van battery but to buy a good one....Bosch for example. He said to get it on line, and then pay a local garage to fit it, as it will be cheaper than getting the dealership to do it. Once it is fitted we can see if all works normally.....and if not, we will know to get the solar panel etc tested.

We are not going away in the van until the end of March, so have a bit of time to try things out. I think we would feel happier if we test the panel as Ernie has suggested, (shame you don’t fancy a couple of days visiting Exmoor Ernie!), , but if a new van battery solves the problem for now, we might just take a chance all else is well. If we have any doubts though, we shall pop up to the dealership.

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eurajohn

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Reply with quote  #13 
If one of leisure batteries was less than other I'd suggest it was faulty. Isolate it from the other one and the van and go through the charge regime I suggested
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coppo

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Quote:
Originally Posted by eurajohn
If one of leisure batteries was less than other I'd suggest it was faulty. Isolate it from the other one and the van and go through the charge regime I suggested



John I presume Lin means both leisure 100% and vehicle battery 49% hence new vehicle battery only.
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Clunegapyears

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Reply with quote  #15 
Yes, lucky with the AA chap. It was your charm as well as the biscuits! Hope the vehicle battery removes the issue ... but I tend to feel if one leisure battery is lower than the other, then ....

Alpha batteries give good advice on batteries, we got our lithiums from them.

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Woody

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Reply with quote  #16 
Sorry, I didn’t explain that clearly.

It is the van battery that is dead, and the two leisure ones that are 100% and 49%. It could be because we didn’t buy them both at the same time. - One is six months older than the other, and we were away for three months in Greece with just the first one, so it could be that one that is only showing 49%. Unfortunately OH cannot remember which is which!

We will try isolating the lower one John, and see what happens. We actually have a little MOT and ehivle repair garage in our village. We use them all the time, so if all else fails we will pop the van down there in the morning. If they can help it will be a lot closer than going up to Weston Super Mare. They won’t know anything about the solar panel and control panel though.....if that is where the problem lies.

Thanks again everyone for your advice.

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eurajohn

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Reply with quote  #17 
So it is the leisure batteries that one is 100% and the other 50%.
You said earlier that you had a meter.
Isolate the batteries from each other and from the van, with the meter check the voltage of each battery, if the info your man gave you is correct one should be at or around 12.7 volts that will be the good one, the other if below 12.5 volts will be the nasty one, try charging the bad one and carry out the tests suggested earlier.
My guess is that the 50% one actually has a bad cell if that is the case then after the charge of say 24 hours the voltage will still be below the 12.7 threshold, when checked after a rest period of an hour or so you should see the voltage drop drastically probably to somewhere around 11 ish volts.

When everything is connected up in the van the leisure batteries are connected to each other and if the solar is putting a charge in, then the good one will want nothing as it holds a charge, whereas the bad one will continually call for a charge because its ability to be and hold a charge will be diminished. This causes the bad one to continually steal some volts from the good one.
For the user it means that the available use able leisure battery power is drastically reduced and if your van solar is set up to deliver available charge to the vehicle battery after the leisure batteries are charged, the van battery will never get any as the bad battery is constantly calling for a charge and the supply cannot meet the demand.

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coppo

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Reply with quote  #18 
Yes I misunderstood what Lin meant, sorry.
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Woody

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coppo
Yes I misunderstood what Lin meant, sorry.


Nothing new there Paul. - I feel I am constantly misunderstood! 😉 I keep telling OH that all the time!

Thanks again John. We shall do the tests tomorrow, but it sounds as if we will need a new leisure battery as well. We are still hoping there is no fault with the solar panel.

I will keep you all up-dated.

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Steptoe

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Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woody




Thanks again John. We shall do the tests tomorrow, but it sounds as if we will need a new leisure battery as well. We are still hoping there is no fault with the solar panel.



The golden rule with electrical problems is to check the simple things first because that's where issues normally are....

Sadly in your case, the simple issue, the batteries, are likely to be the most expensive....now did I mention elsewhere that I had a pair of Banners left over from my last misdiagnosis*...[smile]


* https://www.motorhomeowners.org/post/habitation-battery-voltages-8141329?pid=1305719103

[edited to add link]

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Woody

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Reply with quote  #21 
Up-date.

Having spent a day ringing round about batteries, we have made a decision to replace the van battery, (necessary), and both the leisure ones. We are taking your advice John and Ernie, and think it is best to replace both leisure ones, so that they balance up.

OH is now an expert on makes of batteries, battery sizes, battery output etc! After a telephone conversation with a chap this afternoon, he felt the business owner knew what he was on about, and was most helpful. He was also quite reasonable re price.. We are getting the job done on Thursday, so will let you know how the van ‘behaves’ after that. At least if we get the batteries done this week, we have time to monitor the charging before we go away. It will give us chance to get any other jobs done should it not just be the batteries!

Thanks again everyone for your advice. Let’s hope we won’t need any more!


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coppo

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Reply with quote  #22 
So which batteries are you opting for then Lin, that itself is a minefield.
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roadrunner

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woody
Thanks Ernie and John, I think you have sorted out OH’s day tomorrow! He has a meter, and a decent battery charger, so if he follows the brilliant instructions given by you two, we should be able to find the fault.

He is of the opinion that the batteries are ‘shot’ but at least we can hopefully rule out other problems, and also check the ‘health’ of the batteries, before having to drive to our dealership.

Thanks ever so much for your help. I will let you know the outcome.


remember to disconnect the solar panels from the regulator or its toast.

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BurtSner

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Reply with quote  #24 
Cover them with a blanket? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to give them a wash off as well before going away, grab as many volts as possible.
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Woody

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by coppo
So which batteries are you opting for then Lin, that itself is a minefield.


Not sure Paul. I will check with OH. I have a feeling the van battery is an Exide....Dynamic maybe? I will let you know.

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