2005 Nuevo Batteries - Query

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Post by roli on Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:45 pm

One of our members has a problem and would like some advice please in language he can understand.  I have pasted his message below.


I really do need some "expert" advice about batteries as on our 2005 Nuevo/Boxer. I have searched the forum for answers but what I have found means little too me due to my basic lack of knowledge of this subject and what I do read leaves me even more confused. "Expert" has been defined as knowing 10% more than the other guy so everyone is an 'expert' to me!

If I raise issues which are pertinent, I have no objection to this being posted especially if it helps others in a similar predicament to myself. I have read the recent posts about control panels em230 or 500 but I can't relate to these as I have no idea what mine is. I can say that it has a horizontal row of switches marked "Master" "Veh/Hab" "Battery/water" "Pumps" and "Lights". 

So what is my issue?

We have been caravanning/motorhoming for some 25 years and when we bought our first caravan we were told by the dealer that it was OK to leave the van on EHU all the time. We are in the fortunate (?) position of being able to do this. He said that the control panel included a battery charger/conditioner which would keep the leisure battery in good fully charged condition all the time. This has always been the case and we have never had an issue. We used to own several classic cars which had occasional usage so were always fittd with conditioners leike an Optimate or CTEK. They always started first time (as they should). As our MH is not used daily, I do the same. Having the MH on EHU all the time, I connect a CTEK to the mains power inside the van and plug into a live cigarette lighter socket which I have fitted to the dash fused at 5amps. The van always starts first time every time.

Being on EHU, I assumed that the habitation control unit would keep the leisure battery similarly charged/conditioned but having read a few posts and your excellent treatise on the subject from 30th Jan 2016 I now have my doubts. Being inconveniently sited under the driver's seat, checking the electrolyte level is impossible of course. The "Master" switch on the panel is left 'off' unless van is in use. 
I have taken some readings this morning with a plug-in voltmeter (inserted into lighter socket in cab and 12v outlet over fridge (using an adaptor0 and got readings of 13.7v on habitation and 13.0v on vehicle. These sound good to me but are they? 
I've read about 'split-chargers' and 'Battery Masters' but don't understand how they work, what they are or anything really. 
I suppose I have questions.

1. When parked up out of use, does the EHU/Control panel keep the leisure battery charged correctly? 
2. Does this also keep the engine battery charged via some gagetry? Do I need the CTEK at all?
3. What (if anything) am I doing wrong?

The current leisure battery is a Fuller Powerstation UN2794 dating from January 2016. When away we are always on EHU - we are never off-grid.

Typically, what passes for an instruction manual is delightfully vague and as for most products is seemingly written by someone who assumes a certain level of knowledge on the part of the user (which he doesn't have!) - or is it me?

These issues all came to be relevant as we will need to carry a Mobicool cool box in future for dog food (Don't ask!) and intended to plug in to the vehicle 12v outlet when travelling and then switch to the leisure 12v outlet on site. 

Can you please help him with some advice?

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Post by Paulmold on Wed Oct 25, 2017 4:03 pm

1 - you don't have either a EM230 or 500, there are Sargent panels, you have an MES panel (as I do on my 2006 Nuevo).
2 - the charger will charge whichever battery you have the veh/Hab switch pointed to, it does not do both if you put the switch in central position.
3 - I always leave the 'master switch' in the 'on' position, don't know why, I do however switch the pump off (wouldn't want water being pumped if pipework developed a leak).
4 - to keep engine battery topped up, you could fit a battery-master. These work by taking power from the leisure battery and transferring it to the engine battery if the voltage between the two is different by more than a certain amount (can't remember the exact figure). You could also fit a solar panel ,as I have had done, which could charge either or preferably both batteries by means of a dual controller or battery-master (that's how mine is wired).
5 - the voltages you are getting from your plug in voltmeter are the same as mine, so whatever routine / system you are presently doing seems fine to me.

Hope I've helped in some way.

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Post by Peter Brown on Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:18 pm

To add to Pauls reply, A relay (electrically activated switch) detects when the engine is started and the alternator is generating an output and, at that time, connects the leisure battery to the starter battery. This 'splits the charge' current between those two batteries, so when the engine is running, both batteries are charging.

A battery master (which is not standard on older vans and as explained by Paul) performs a similar function when the engine is not running and the charge is coming from a 230v charger or solar panel.

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Post by Cymro on Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:30 pm

Generally, the on-board charger will only charge one battery. That will be the one to which the current has been switched at the control panel.

You may therefore wish to select the habitation battery to be charged when connected at home to the mains. And as you have a freestanding CTEK, I'd use that from a mains socket within the van to maintain the condition of the vehicle battery via the 12v socket which you've installed.

That's what I do. Bear in mind that on modern vehicles the 12v socket only allows charging when ignition is on. Yours may well be wired differently. If it won't charge via socket, connect 12v output of CTEK direct to vehicle battery terminals.

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Last edited by Cymro on Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:33 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : removed apostrophe)
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Post by BarryP on Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:52 pm

Thanks Guys, This was my query which Roger kindly offered to post on my behalf. Despite my fears, I fully and completely understand the replies and really do appreciate your combined contributions. I hope they help others as well. My only comments are that a) the mains charger seems to function on "hab" setting even if the Master is turned off. b) the socket which I have installed for the CTEK is directly wired to engine battery (via 5a fuse) so is independent of the ignition (it has a double socket which I use to keep satnav on charge when not driving). c) Keeping the LB topped up with electrolyte would be easy if only I could get to the b......y thing!!
Thanks to your comments I am content that what I am (and have) been doing for ages is OK.
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Post by Paulmold on Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:07 pm

I had one of my two cigarette lighter sockets on the dash converted by the dealer to be permanently live so I can charge a phone overnight (or the sat nav) . Didn't see the point of it being supplied with two ignition-controlled sockets.

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Post by bikeralw on Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:11 pm

Checking the leisure battery under the seat is not as daunting as you might think. Assuming you have the swivel drivers seat, swivel it 45 degrees till the four allen headed setscrews are visible, loosen them all then remove the rear two and one of the front ones, you can then pivot the heavy seat on the remaining screw enough to check the electrolyte level. This will evaporate if you have the battery on charge all the time. I never do this as I don't think the fitted charger on vans of our vintage are of the smart type.
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Post by BarryP on Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:48 am

Ah! That makes a small difference! Thanks, we will have a go at that. It does however raise more questions for me (not as simple as I was hoping of course)
1. Is the PSU/panel fitted to 2005 Nuevo of a "smart!" type or not. Does anyone have the definitive answer as what bikeralw says makes a lot of sense. If it is not a smart-charger, would AS have fitted a control panel which permitted EHU charging to be switched from "hab" to "veh"?
2. When on EHU, does the LB serve any purpose at all? or does the control panel merely convert 240AC directly to 12v DC to run the 12v circuits?
We've had our van for 2 years, the battery was as fitted when it was purchased. Would all electrolyte have evaporated away in 2 years? 
What was becoming clearer has suddenly clouded over again! 

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Post by bikeralw on Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:10 am

As far as 12 volts are concerned all the EHU does is power the battery charger to replenish any power used, nothing complex at all. I'm sure the charger, if original, is not a 'smart' type. And yes, if you have it switched on all the time it will evaporate the electrolyte within two years, maybe a lot sooner. We have a solar panel and  battery master fitted, so never connect to EHU when parked at home now. If you don't have this I recommend having the EHU on a weekly timer, coming on for say 4 to 6 hours a week.
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Post by Paulmold on Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:15 am

Agree with Al.Seem to have exactly the same set up of solar and battery-master. I also used the same swivelling method to get at the battery when I replaced it with a sealed unit.

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Post by Guest on Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:34 am

I don’t have a swivel drivers seat, just push it forward all the way to the steering wheel, gives me complete access to the battery to check  the levels, always add the date to the battery to remind me when I last checked it.
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Post by Peter Brown on Thu Oct 26, 2017 10:55 am

BarryP wrote:Ah! That makes a small difference! Thanks, we will have a go at that. It does however raise more questions for me (not as simple as I was hoping of course)

BarryP wrote:1. Is the PSU/panel fitted to 2005 Nuevo of a "smart!" type or not. Does anyone have the definitive answer as what bikeralw says makes a lot of sense. If it is not a smart-charger, would AS have fitted a control panel which permitted EHU charging to be switched from "hab" to "veh"?
The charger is an independent unit that is switched on/off from the control panel.  This particular charger does not have any really clever intelligence built in.  The charger will not overcharge the battery when you are in the van and using the 12v habitation circuits.  It will overcharge if left on whilst the van is not being used for more than a couple of weeks and eventually the battery will fail.

BarryP wrote:2. When on EHU, does the LB serve any purpose at all? or does the control panel merely convert 240AC directly to 12v DC to run the 12v circuits?
On your van the charger and battery are configured in 'float' mode.  The charger is permanently connected to the habitation battery when the engine is not running and the habitation 12v circuits are connected to them both.  The charger provides the energy to the habitation circuits for small loads with the battery topping up when higher loads are demanded.  When the demand drops the charger puts energy back into the battery until it reaches full charge.

BarryP wrote:We've had our van for 2 years, the battery was as fitted when it was purchased. Would all electrolyte have evaporated away in 2 years? 
What was becoming clearer has suddenly clouded over again!
The electrolyte 'gases off' when the battery is fully charged and a charger persists to try and top it up.  The plates heat up during this process and when enough of the electrolyte has gone, the heated plates buckle and the battery is destroyed.

A lead acid battery can be stored for a couple of years without losing electrolyte.  Modern intelligent chargers are meant to prevent this happening and many forum members can quote examples of batteries that have lasted many years in store whilst permanently connected to a charger.  Personally, I prefer a manual approach to managing the charge.

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Post by BarryP on Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:40 pm

Gentlemen, I am grateful for your various contributions and advice. 
We must have a different seat setup to Al, as the 4 Allen-headed screws are completely inaccessible under the seat runners so not a place I want to go. Anyway, my wife (who has smaller hands than me) managed to gain sufficient access to the LB to get four of the six caps off. Before doing so we disconnected EHU and took a voltage reading from LB. 13.9v showing. All  four accessible cells were de-capped and checked with hydrometer - all had electrolyte above the plates and all read "high"/OK/green. I conclude therefore that the LB is in surprisingly satisfactory condition and despite my fears does not appear to have been damaged or impaired by constant connection to EHU over last 2 years. On the theory of "if it ain't broke etc" I intend to leave well alone until..................... 

Thank you all again for not only adding to my personal confusion but also enhancing my education on this perplexing subject. I am almost tempted to say "I wish I hadn't asked" but I'm glad I did. Thanks again,
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Post by bikeralw on Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:11 pm

Glad you have it sorted in your head Barry. Regarding the seat, it seems you don't have the swivel plate, so I would've thought access would be easy, as Redwink above.
As has been said, the position of the 'Master' switch on the control panel has no effect on the Hab/vehicle switch. If you're on EHU the charger will provide power to whichever battery you have selected, provided that is, that the main 240v switch is energised along with the relevant MCB that protects the charger circuit.
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Post by BarryP on Thu Oct 26, 2017 6:44 pm

We do have swivel seats, they just appear to be a slightly different design to yours. Not at all unusual for AS in my experience. I appreciate your thoughts on the LB and charging but where I expected an issue there doesn't seem to be one. My mind is at rest on this issue now.
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