EC328.... yes again

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Post by groundhog on Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:17 pm

The van has been parked up for three weeks, alarm on etc, we have a 100w solar panel through the EC328 which I know is putting out a charge but despite that the engine battery had insufficient charge to start the engine. 
The charger was switched on as per instructions so surely the engine battery should have been getting some charge, the weather has been reasonably bright and sunny.
The panel inside the door shows there is an input, on a sunny day it shows about 2 -3 amps which does not seem a lot to me, I doubt there is a wiring problem from the panel to the ECU as power is coming in. 
Any thoughts on what it should be doing please, is there possibly a fault with the EC328 as the solar panel has been tested and is fine.... scratch head  
Something somewhere is not right.... over to the experts confused3
Thanks
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Post by padraigpost on Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:15 pm

The batteries on my Bourton used to flatten in around 2 weeks despite the 80w solar panel so what I do now is to completely shut down the habitation side, the alarm is powered by the vehicle battery and a battery master is fitted, since doing this both my vehicle and leisure batteries have remained at full charge when parked up, the longest time being 3 weeks between use, I can only assume that the solar panel is charging the leisure battery and the battery master is transferring charge to the vehicle battery, it seems like the habitation side circuits being on standby before were draining the batteries but now no problem.
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Post by groundhog on Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:29 pm

Thanks Don
Do you have an EC328? I thought a function of the EC328 was exactly what the battery master does, if the leisure battery is charged the solar all goes to the engine battery if the charger is switched on? On the EC328 I believe you can adjust the percentage you want to go to each by a controller after removing the cover?
Maybe I am wrong??
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Post by padraigpost on Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:41 pm

Mine is the EC500 in the Bourton, my previous Surrey and then a Suffolk had the EC 328 and I had to put them on hookup about every 10 days or they would not start, I am not sure if the EC328 is supposed to do the job of a battery master as I am not that savvy with electrics, but I am sure someone with more knowledge than me will come along and explain.
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Post by groundhog on Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:48 pm

Thanks Don
Appreciate that.
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Post by daisy mae on Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:28 pm

I am not into the workings of a car battery but I am puzzled that the new vans seem to go flat in a very short time.

My van has stood for three weeks and then started first time no solar panel, is it perhaps because it is an older van, the electronics are the usual alarms etc. ? I do test the engine battery time to time , one of those little gadgets that you plug into the cigar lighter. after standing it was 12.5 only had a flattish battery once on it, once charged up again  has started every time, perhaps shouldn`t have said that knowing my luck this past week

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Post by gemdeco on Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:48 pm

Hi
  What unit would I have in my 2008 Surrey,they all seem so complicated I never know what I am doing I think I had an alarm going off at mid night how do I make life easy
 thanks Alan
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Post by bikeralw on Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:08 pm

This type of problem usually points to a battery that has had it's day. A while ago all sorts of electrical problems manifested themselves on my van, all solved by fitting a new vehicle battery.
My van has quite simple electrics, I have a regulated 100w solar panel and a battery master type control. When the leisure battery is up to 13.5 volts, an LED glows, indicating the unit has connected the leisure and vehicle batteries together, and both are receiving charge. I no longer hook up when at home, and the van starts fine even after a couple of months on non use.
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Post by -mojo- on Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:31 am

groundhog wrote:I thought a function of the EC328 was exactly what the battery master does, if the leisure battery is charged the solar all goes to the engine battery if the charger is switched on? On the EC328 I believe you can adjust the percentage you want to go to each by a controller after removing the cover?
Maybe I am wrong??

It's very nearly what a battery master does, but not quite.

My understanding is that the battery master monitors the leisure battery voltage and, if it is above a certain voltage (significantly higher than it's "resting" voltage when not being charged) then it will connect the leisure battery to the engine battery so that the latter can charge. The threshold is set high enough that this can only happen when the leisure battery is actively being charged, and when its terminal voltage indicates that it is nearly fully charged.

As best as I can establish, the solar charger inside the EC328 works on a "time slice" basis. Instead of connecting the two batteries together and trying to charge both at once, it alternates its charge output between the two. The internal setting allows you to set how much of the time it is charging one or the other. By default it is set to 50:50.

Note that you do not have to have the EC328 turned on for the solar charger to operate normally, and for it to charge both batteries (so I'm not entirely sure what you mean when you say "the charger is switched on" - because on mine there is no switch to turn the solar controller on or off).

I'm also fairly sure that the current display on the EC328's control panel does NOT include charge current going into the batteries via the solar controller (I wish I could say I was 100% sure of this as I tested it earlier this year, but sadly I can't remember for sure what the result of the test was!).

I would suggest that the first thing to check is that the connection from EC328 to vehicle battery is working Ok. If both batteries display reasonable voltages on the EC328's control panel then it's probably Ok - you can check further by confirming that when EHU is connected the van battery rises from about 12.5V to about 14.4V on the EC328's display when the charger is connected after a short delay (though note that if the van battery is fully charged then the EC328 should detect this and go straight into a lower voltage trickle charge mode).

Without EHU, you should then be able to see the effect of the solar panel on the voltage of both batteries, as displayed on the EC328 control panel. With the panel covered, both should be in the range 12-12.5V. In full sunlight, both should rise above 14V - though this may take some time if either battery is partially discharged.
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Post by padraigpost on Mon Aug 03, 2015 7:36 am

Alan, look at the front of your unit in your Surrey, it should be printed on the front.
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Post by groundhog on Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:47 am

Thanks Mojo

That is very interesting, mine does exactly as you say connect to mains and the control panel jumps up to circa 14v on both batteries so they must be connected, everything else works perfectly.

I thought I read somewhere that you had to have the EC328 turned on in order for the split charge system to work, that is probably not so then.

I also didn't know the solar input doesn't register on the control panel, mine is registering an input of 0.2 to 0.3 amps this morning, fairly bright but not sunny.

We used the van yesterday and after a six mile drive both batteries read 12.4v when we returned at lunchtime. This morning the leisure battery has not changed but the vehicle battery has dropped to 12v, this is after three or four hours sunshine yesterday afternoon and with no alarm turned on overnight.

Marquis did check the system and couldn't find a fault, something somewhere seems a little odd though so I have sent an e mail to hear Sargent to get what they think.

Don (padraigpost) you mentioned you shut down the habitation side, do you mean just by making sure the control panel is off or do you do something else. We have an 'interface?' box behind the drivers seat which is always turned on and shows a red LED, should I be turning that off as well during periods of non use of the habitation ares?

Finally one more, there is a setting on the control panel with two batteries on it which I believe selects which battery the charge goes to, it only works though when the control panel is switched on. If I leave the panel turned on and the battery selection to engine wouldn't the solar power just keep the engine topped up?

Thanks again all
'Hog
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Post by Gromit on Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:15 am

-mojo- wrote:
My understanding is that the battery master monitors the leisure battery voltage and, if it is above a certain voltage (significantly higher than it's "resting" voltage when not being charged) then it will connect the leisure battery to the engine battery so that the latter can charge. The threshold is set high enough that this can only happen when the leisure battery is actively being charged, and when its terminal voltage indicates that it is nearly fully charged.

Hi Mojo

A question, not a disagreement since I'm not good with electronics. shrugg

I was told the Battery Master monitors the state of charge of both batteries, and if the vehicle battery drops below the level of the habitation battery by more than a certain amount it will send charge to the vehicle battery. Basically it detects a difference in the levels of charge.

Moreover, if there's no charge coming in from external sources (or not enough) the Battery Master will take charge from the habitation battery to keep the vehicle battery topped up as much as possible.

If that is correct (?) would it make any difference to finding the reason for Hog's problem?

Dave

Scroll down the pdf (in the long link below) to the second page.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by groundhog on Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:24 am

Good question!  allthumbz
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Post by padraigpost on Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:58 am

Hi Groundhog,
            I do not mean the control panel, on my Sargent EC500 unit (where all the fuses and trip switches are) on the far left there is a button marked "system shutdown" when I use this the control panel is inoperative, electric step also Will not work, it shuts down all habitation systems which are drawing a small current on standby, since using this I have never needed to charge batteries between trips as the solar panel and battery master keeps everything topped up. Check and see if your EC328 has this button or maybe the interface box you mentioned.
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Post by chudders on Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:04 pm

All sorts of excellent advice given above. If you still can't resolve your query give Sargent a ring. I have done so and they have been extremely helpful.
They have a dedicated support number 01482 678981
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Post by groundhog on Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:26 pm

Thanks everyone, I sent an e mail to Craig this morning and he responded within minutes with suggested remedies which I now need to check out. As has been said excellent service, if only many more were that good!
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:01 pm

I believe Mojo has a 328 and I know he has played with the solar controller in it so he's got to be the expert.

I have a 325 but I believe the scenarios described below are the same:

On Hook Up

Panel off - Leisure battery ONLY charging
Panel on and Starter battery switch operated - Starter battery ONLY charging

Off Hookup

panel off - solar panel will charge both batteries
panel on - solar will only charge leisure battery

The current indication is the sum of the charge current to both batteries minus any load drawn.

On a clear day you can test solar operation either by covering the panel with a sheet or disconnecting the panel and monitoring both battery voltages, give about 5 mins for the readings to settle between covering/uncovering.

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Post by groundhog on Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:19 pm

Eureka!!

Thanks Peter, it would appear I have been turning the switch to on in the belief this charged both batteries when in fact I have only charged the leisure one which I wasn't using!!

up!
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Aug 03, 2015 4:30 pm

Its worth going through the full sequence of options on a bright day with a blanket to confirm it'd the same on your van.

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Post by groundhog on Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:10 pm

Just heard from Craig and as Mojo confirmed on the EC328 the position of the charger switch has no bearing on where the charge goes, it is 50/50 by default so the eureka moment was a little premature.

I am beginning to believe there is actually nothing wrong with the set up at all, everything operates and works as Mojo and Craig have said, I will now leave the van by just locking it on the key and not setting the alarm to see what the difference is, other than that just give it a quick boost on the mains if we are not using it!
Oh well, we never stop learning do we.... up!
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon Aug 03, 2015 6:42 pm

Just for clarity, the charger on/off switch is the red rocker switch on the 328 Power Supply Unit.  The 12v habitation switch is the top left button on the control panel and the starter battery switch is the one to its right.  When you leave the van and its not on hook up the position of the charger switch is irrelevant but the 12v habitation switch should be off.  If both the habitation switch and the vehicle battery switch were left on you would discharge the starter battery but there is a cut of circuit that would disconnect the starter battery before it got too flat to start the engine.

If your starter battery is gong flat then it is either worn out or the solar panel isn't charging it.

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Post by -mojo- on Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:23 pm

Apologies for the delay in replying - but I don't really have much more to add! As you've already concluded, the solar controller is not dependent on any of the settings on the EC328 control panel - it does what it does, whether the power management unit itself is turned on or off.

In your position I think I would do 2 things: Firstly, take the starter battery and have it tested - last time I had a similar problem (on someone else's van) we just took it to Halfords and they had a battery tester behind the counter.

Secondly I would have a test done to find out the current drain on the starter battery when everything is turned off. If it's like my current van, you will probably need to leave the van for up to half an hour before taking a reading, as most vehicles these days have control modules that do a staged shutdown after the last activity on the vehicle (that typically being the driver's door being shut).

Frankly I'm a bit surprised that even with a battery in a fairly poor state you could have a big enough drain that the solar panel could not top up during daylight hours - in summer my 100W panel seems to be capable of running my compressor fridge for days with no further input, so something odd definitely seems to be going on...
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Post by groundhog on Tue Aug 04, 2015 2:54 pm

Thanks again,
Marquis had a look at it a year ago and could find nothing wrong, the solar panel was changed for a new one and that was tested so nothing wrong so I really am at a loss. I also had a drop charge test on the battery and guess what - nothing wrong!!

About the only thing I haven't done is inspect all the wiring from the solar panel to the ecu as that means taking the fridge out which I do not fancy on my own.

In the meantime it is not a massive problem since I can just plug in the mains every now and again but like us all I prefer these things are correct!
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Post by Gromit on Tue Aug 04, 2015 3:40 pm

Hi Hog

Is it worth mentioning that some branches of Marquis are inifinitely more confidence-inspiring than others? Whistle1

Say no more, but I speak from experience. Might it be worth getting a real auto-electrician to have a look?

Dave

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Post by Elektroblock Electronics on Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:49 pm

The EC500/400 range has an intelligent charging system with three options 'Starter' battery (Vehicle), 'Habitation' Battery (Leisure) or 'Smart'.
The Starter and habitation battery options are obvious and when this switch setting is selected the battery is both the Power source for the Habitation area and is the one charged by the mains charger.

When the 'Smart' setting, set from the Control LCD Display, is selected and the mains EHU is connected then the Sargent ECx will charge both batteries.


For the SMART option to work the Control Display must be left powered up and obviously the Charger power switch must be 'On'.








If Solar has been installed as Sargent recommend, using the appropriate wiring harness from Sargent (i.e. NOT connected to the Habitation battery as most Solar Installers do) but plugged directly into the Sargent Power unit EC 400/500 Solar port, then Solar charging will work in exactly the same way as 230v mains charging.



Except now it obviously won't matter if the 230v mains charger Power switch is on or off and if EHU is connected.



There is confusion because some people think of the EC400/500 Power Controller range as just 'a charger', when it is so much more. So they leave 'the charger' switch on, but turn the EX xxx Power controller off on the LCD display. Obviously resulting in SMART being disabled, just reverting to the default habitation battery charge only.






On the EC325 and EC328, so long as Solar has been installed as Sargent recommend using the Sargent cable kit (£18 from Sargent) to connect the Solar panel direct to the EC325/EC328, then solar charging of both batteries will take place automatically without any other device being installed. You don't even need a Solar regulator.


However, if the Solar Installer has done as most do and wire the Solar Panel to the habitation battery, then additional equipment will be needed to pass charge to the Starter battery, plus fit a stand alone Solar Regulator.
 
Often people spend £40 on a battery master style device which is less efficient to accommodate limited battery charging when it isn't needed if wired correctly.



I would suggest the OP maybe has a none Sargent approved Solar Install?




I know this is an old thread but the same subject stills comes up today.






The Sargent manual states :

SMART – This turns on the solar smart charging feature. When a solar panel is fitted the energy from the panel [size=13][size=13]is automatically directed to the vehicle or leisure battery according charge state of each battery and the operation of the mains battery charger.[/size][/size]

[size=13][size=13][size=13][size=13]LEISURE – This setting will cause the energy from the solar panel to be directed to the Leisure battery only.[/size][/size][/size][/size]


VEHICLE – This setting will cause the energy from the solar panel to be directed to the Vehicle battery only.

Option: CHARGING MODE (SMART is the default setting.)


SMART – This turns on the smart charging feature. The energy from the intelligent charger is automatically [size=13][size=13]directed to the vehicle or leisure battery according charge state of each battery.[/size][/size]
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