EC328.... yes again

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Post by inspiredron on Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:19 am

In my experience the current reading on the EC32í does include solar panel current. I did overed that my van had the wires from the charger unit up to top front of the wardrobe and I terminated them with a small socket into which I plug a 10W panel that I prop under the rooflight. I get a current of 0.1 to 0.2A better than with the panel disconnected..

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Post by Peter Brown on Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:27 am

Elektroblock Electronics wrote:
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.


The EC325 can charge at up to 18v and will very likely damage any solar regulator or battery master connected direct to the habitation battery. The unit uses a separate power supply for the habitation electrics when charging and only connects the batteries to the charger.

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Post by spanner on Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:02 pm

Elektroblock Electronics wrote: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]




Hello, Whist not on hookup and the system  set to “Smart Charge” with the EC500 switched OFF  will the Smart Charge still operate intelligently and charge both batteries from the solar panel ?

Chris
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Post by Peter Brown on Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:24 pm

No, in those specific circumstances it will only charge the leisure battery. If the EC500 is switched on it will try to charge both.

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Post by Eltel on Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:29 pm

Seeing all the above issues I’m really lucky that my Motorhome is parked in the back garden while not in use but always with mains lead connected.
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Post by spanner on Thu Nov 02, 2017 6:30 pm

Elektroblock Electronics wrote: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]
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For the "Smart Charge" to work intelligently I thought that as long as the EC500 was ON  the EC480 display could be left OFF  which is contrary to the above.

I phoned Sargent technical help today and spoke to David Sargent who confirmed that the display can be left OFF and "Smart Charge" will still function intelligently.

I hope this information may be helpful.
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Post by Elektroblock Electronics on Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:52 pm

Spanner, you are correct, but if the Control Display is turned off, the Shutdown Button must be 'In' so that the electronics in the EC 500 are 'On'. Obviously the charger must also be 'On'.
Effectively the EC500, and the charger inside it,  are still 'live' although the display is off.  
The manual states,
"For Smart Charging to operate the PSU must be turned on (Shutdown Button in the “IN” position) and the relevant options programmed (Smart is “ON” as default)".



Some people turn off the display and then also manually Shutdown the EC500. It is easier to leave the Control panel on, and easier to explain about leaving the EC500 on, so the voltages can be monitored. The Batteries will not discharge as charging is taking place if this situation is being pursued.


 



One other bit of Info that might be useful is the process to check Smart charging is working :


"Testing
To confirm the Smart Charge feature is working, first ensure the system is programmed correctly as per the above information and that both batteries are charged above 12.4V. [i]Ensure that the Leisure Battery is selected as the active battery for charge (You should see a voltage of at least 13.6V on the Leisure Battery and the actual voltage for the Vehicle Battery e.g. 12.5V). P[i]lace a load on the Vehicle Battery, I.e. put the headlamps on, and when this load drops the Vehicle Battery voltage below 12.4V you should observe the charger switch from Leisure to Vehicle Battery (Vehicle Battery will jump from 12.3V to 13.6V\14.4V).[i] After a 4 hour period the charger will switch back to the Leisure Battery for 4 hours and will then revert to monitoring the Vehicle Battery".[/i][/i][/i]
















Note that 12.4v is a fairly discharged modern battery, the better ones sit up nearer 13v and are fully discharged at 12v, so we would suggest you don't let the Starter battery languish down at 12.5v for long. Maybe use the above 'Test' procedure to trigger the system to boost the Starter battery voltage now and again?
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Post by spanner on Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:26 pm

Elektroblock Electronics wrote:Spanner, you are correct, but if the Control Display is turned off, the Shutdown Button must be 'In' so that the electronics in the EC 500 are 'On'. Obviously the charger must also be 'On'.
Effectively the EC500, and the charger inside it,  are still 'live' although the display is off.  
The manual states,
"For Smart Charging to operate the PSU must be turned on (Shutdown Button in the “IN” position) and the relevant options programmed (Smart is “ON” as default)".



It is easier to leave the Control panel on, and easier to explain,  so the voltages can be monitored. The Batteries will not discharge as charging is taking place if this situation is pursued.


 



One other bit of Info that might be useful is the process to check Smart charging is working :


"Testing
To confirm the Smart Charge feature is working, first ensure the system is programmed correctly as per the above information and that both batteries are charged above 12.4V. [i]Ensure that the Leisure Battery is selected as the active battery for charge (You should see a voltage of at least 13.6V on the Leisure Battery and the actual voltage for the Vehicle Battery e.g. 12.5V). P[i]lace a load on the Vehicle Battery, I.e. put the headlamps on, and when this load drops the Vehicle Battery voltage below 12.4V you should observe the charger switch from Leisure to Vehicle Battery (Vehicle Battery will jump from 12.3V to 13.6V\14.4V).[i] After a 4 hour period the charger will switch back to the Leisure Battery for 4 hours and will then revert to monitoring the Vehicle Battery".[/i][/i][/i]
















Note that 12.4v is a fairly discharged modern battery, the better ones sit up nearer 13v and are fully discharged at 12v, so we would suggest you don't let the Starter battery languish at these low volts for long. Maybe use the above 'Test' procedure to trigger the system to boost the Starter battery voltage now and again?

Hello and thanks for your very informative reply.

I can't now use the "Smart Charge" feature for my increased solar panel output for the following reasons as I've mentioned in another thread but of course It will still control the charging of both vehicle and leisure batteries when on hook up  see below
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've now fitted a 160 watt monocrystalline solar panel (the largest size that will fit in the space where the 80 watt panel was) therefore I won't be tempted to route any solar power via the EC500, so a Battery Master type device will intelligently share the solar charge between both sets of batteries.
The Sargent EC500 is designed to cope with solar panels up to 120 watt maximum, according to Sargent technical a solar input of more than 7 amps could damage the EC500 or interfere with other items inside the motorhome.

From the EC480 display I'll still be able to check the battery voltages and the approximate remaining capacity of the leisure and vehicle battery but not the solar panel output. ( If I feel the need to easily view the solar charge output this can be easily done with a separate display.

Thanks
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Post by Peter Brown on Fri Nov 03, 2017 9:36 am

spanner wrote:
I can't now use the "Smart Charge" feature for my increased solar panel output for the following reasons as I've mentioned in another thread but of course It will still control the charging of both vehicle and leisure batteries when on hook up  see below
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I've now fitted a 160 watt monocrystalline solar panel (the largest size that will fit in the space where the 80 watt panel was) therefore I won't be tempted to route any solar power via the EC500, so a Battery Master type device will intelligently share the solar charge between both sets of batteries.
The Sargent EC500 is designed to cope with solar panels up to 120 watt maximum, according to Sargent technical a solar input of more than 7 amps could damage the EC500 or interfere with other items inside the motorhome.

From the EC480 display I'll still be able to check the battery voltages and the approximate remaining capacity of the leisure and vehicle battery but not the solar panel output. ( If I feel the need to easily view the solar charge output this can be easily done with a separate display.

Thanks

If installed as you suggest, the Smart Charge in the EC500 will not operate on hook up except in exceptional circumstances as the Battery Master will be continually taking energy from the Leisure Battery to maintain the charge of the Starter Battery.

Somewhere else, I think in this thread, there is mention of a charger in the EC500. The EC500 does not include a charger, the system uses a separate PX-300 charger.


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Post by Elektroblock Electronics on Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:18 am

The Battery Master way of wiring Solar was acceptable 10 years ago when there was nothing else, but is now one of the least efficient, unsophisticated solutions that is also more expensive to both buy and install.
Not only does it draw power from both batteries all the time there is no Solar charge, but it isn't 100% efficient so some of the power will also be lost during the charging process.
It is quite crude in that it will steal power for the Starter battery if the voltage at the habitation battery goes above 13.5v, even if the Solarcharge into the habitation battery is only milliamps.


So you can have a situation where the Solar charger puts a 1/8 amp into the Habitation battery, and the Starter battery steals the equivalent of 2 amps (with charging etc. losses).


They work, but there are much better, cheaper solutions. 
 




On the EC500, it is the Solar Regulator that is the limitation and is easy to access to replace or bypass.


Remove the EC500 to expose where the Solar cables go into the Solar regulator. Remove these and run them into the new Votronic MPPT Solar charger (best Motorhome Solar charger  around).
Remove the output from the EC500 Solar regulator (quite a poor unit) and feed it into the new Votronic.
The output from the Votronic now goes directly into the EC500.
The EC500 will happily take 200watts of Solar, but the old internal Regulator is limited to 100/120W.



It is a similar process to replace the EC328 regulator, which is again quite a poor unit.
The new regulator does not need to sit inside the Sargent box, it is actually better located outside but near the Sargent.




The EC500 charger is separate, but controlled from the EC500 'switch panel'.
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Post by Elektroblock Electronics on Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:31 am

Picture inside EC328 of regulator install although we have not replaced one of these yet  with the Votronic Solar charger.

A replacement exchange EC 500 is available from us with both an uprated Solar charger and the "Keep Habitation Electrics live when the engine starts" option.


  

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Post by spanner on Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:27 pm

Elektroblock Electronics wrote:The Battery Master way of wiring Solar was acceptable 10 years ago when there was nothing else, but is now one of the least efficient, unsophisticated solutions that is also more expensive to both buy and install.
Not only does it draw power from both batteries all the time there is no Solar charge, but it isn't 100% efficient so some of the power will also be lost during the charging process.
It is quite crude in that it will steal power for the Starter battery if the voltage at the habitation battery goes above 13.5v, even if the Solarcharge into the habitation battery is only milliamps.


So you can have a situation where the Solar charger puts a 1/8 amp into the Habitation battery, and the Starter battery steals the equivalent of 2 amps (with charging etc. losses).


They work, but there are much better, cheaper solutions. 
 




On the EC500, it is the Solar Regulator that is the limitation and is easy to access to replace or bypass.


Remove the EC500 to expose where the Solar cables go into the Solar regulator. Remove these and run them into the new Votronic MPPT Solar charger (best Motorhome Solar charger  around).
Remove the output from the EC500 Solar regulator (quite a poor unit) and feed it into the new Votronic.
The output from the Votronic now goes directly into the EC500.
The EC500 will happily take 200watts of Solar, but the old internal Regulator is limited to 100/120W.



It is a similar process to replace the EC328 regulator, which is again quite a poor unit.
The new regulator does not need to sit inside the Sargent box, it is actually better located outside but near the Sargent.




The EC500 charger is separate, but controlled from the EC500 'switch panel'.

Hello Elektroblock,

Our EC500 had the original Sargent supplied external basic solar charge controller which I replaced with a Victron Blue Solar 75/10 MPPT solar charge controller which definitely improved things but not enough to satisfy 200 AH leisure batteries plus the vehicle battery over winter.

Having removed the original 80 watt panel and fitted a 160 watt panel I would have much prefered to continue with the solar charge going through the EC500.


I note your comment "The EC500 will happily take 200 watts of Solar, but the old internal Regulator is limited to 100/120W." 

I spoke to David at Sargent technical this week who advised that their suggested 120 watt maximum solar panel input was to safeguard the internals of the EC500 and also prevent interference with "other" factory fitted items in the motorhome and approximately 7 amps solar panel was the limit, I did make a the point that my solar regulator was external.


I'm aware that the larger solar panel has a potential maximum of 9 amps, should I be worried or is it just a fancy fuse that is at risk ?

Chris
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Post by Elektroblock Electronics on Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:38 pm

We have not seen a factory fit external unit, so that is a first.
Seen Dealer fit external ones, who then infer they are factory fit as is done with other options.
Was it wired into the EC500 Solar connection port in the Controlling PCB?

The Solar Regs we have seen will struggle with 100w in Southern France and definitely a limiting factor.
I can't tell you why David said, " also prevent interference with "other" factory fitted items" seems an odd limitation to build into the unit don't you think?
It  doesn't make any sense to me and we repair these!!

I suggest that Sargent are either being very conservative about the power the EC500 unit will take, the board will easily take 200watts of Solar, or they are trying to discourage people from 'taking risks'?


The Victron is a great regulator and we would have expected a good improvement, but to get any Solar Setup to perform in mid Winter is pretty much impossible.
The sun doesn't rise until 9:30 and is all over by 14:30 so only a realistic 4 hour Solar day. With the low angle of the Sun a 100wat setup will deliver around 1 amp for those 4 hours, a pretty paltry 4Ah a day. Not even enough to trickle charge two batteries if an Alarm and frost protection valve are active.

Even a 400watt Solar setup in mid Winter is going to struggle to give 16Ah, and that assumes south coast and a bright day. Glasgow on a Cloudy day will be less than that.


Have a look at our Solar Power pages that show how Solar gain drops by up to 30% the further North you travel : [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

We no longer do solar power, so the webpage, as per most of the website pages are Independent advice, Not distorted info based on trying to get a sale.


Someone on here said they leave their MH on permanent EHU, so might be worth them reading our web page "EHU Full Time - Yes or No?".
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Post by Pete Taylor on Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:47 pm

"Someone on here said they leave their MH on permanent EHU, so might be worth them reading our web page "EHU Full Time - Yes or No?"."

Please could you post a link to this page? I'm struggling to find it, sorry.

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Post by -mojo- on Sat Nov 04, 2017 8:54 pm

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Elektroblock Electronics wrote:Someone on here said they leave their MH on permanent EHU, so might be worth them reading our web page "EHU Full Time - Yes or No?".

My van has been on permanent EHU for 4 years and 8 months now - the batteries don't seem to have suffered noticeably.

I guess the 13.8V float charge spec is nominal - on my specific EC328, float charge is 13.6V
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Post by spanner on Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:00 pm

Elektroblock Electronics wrote:We have not seen a factory fit external unit, so that is a first.
Seen Dealer fit external ones, who then infer they are factory fit as is done with other options.
Was it wired into the EC500 Solar connection port in the Controlling PCB?

The Solar Regs we have seen will struggle with 100w in Southern France and definitely a limiting factor.
I can't tell you why David said, " also prevent interference with "other" factory fitted items" seems an odd limitation to build into the unit don't you think?
It  doesn't make any sense to me and we repair these!!

I suggest that Sargent are either being very conservative about the power the EC500 unit will take, the board will easily take 200watts of Solar, or they are trying to discourage people from 'taking risks'?


The Victron is a great regulator and we would have expected a good improvement, but to get any Solar Setup to perform in mid Winter is pretty much impossible.
The sun doesn't rise until 9:30 and is all over by 14:30 so only a realistic 4 hour Solar day. With the low angle of the Sun a 100wat setup will deliver around 1 amp for those 4 hours, a pretty paltry 4Ah a day. Not even enough to trickle charge two batteries if an Alarm and frost protection valve are active.

Even a 400watt Solar setup in mid Winter is going to struggle to give 16Ah, and that assumes south coast and a bright day. Glasgow on a Cloudy day will be less than that.


Have a look at our Solar Power pages that show how Solar gain drops by up to 30% the further North you travel : [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

We no longer do solar power, so the webpage, as per most of the website pages are Independent advice, Not distorted info based on trying to get a sale.


Someone on here said they leave their MH on permanent EHU, so might be worth them reading our web page "EHU Full Time - Yes or No?".

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
Looking in the back of the EC500 there isn’t another solar controller and this is how it left Autosleeper 
with the external regulator plugged into the rear socket
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Post by Elektroblock Electronics on Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:51 pm

That is the regulator we normally find inside an EC500, but clipped onto a bar on which it can slide.
If you look at the rear of the PCB behind the Solar Connector, you will see the tracks are quite chunky and the connector itself is rated at close on 20 amps.
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