solar panel not charging the leisure battery

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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by OnMyWay on Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:31 pm

I'm relatively new to motor-homing and am learning fast but this Christmas, my hope of relying on my leisure battery was dashed after only 24 hours when I realised that the solar panel was not providing any input to the leisure battery and the battery died.  Fortunately, I was eventually able to connect to an an electric hook-up but want to solve this as I plan to travel next year.  Can anyone shed any light on why there may have been no charge?  It's been cold of course, but quite bright.
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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by -mojo- on Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:01 am

I guess the first thing to check would be to ask what power control system is installed in your van, and was the solar panel fitted at the factory? We can't assume that it's an EC500 (by Sargent) because the only Owner's Manual download that A/S have available is for a 2015 Winchcombe - but it probably is.

If so, can you confirm that you've read the section in the Owner's Manual about how the EC500 works in conjunction with a factory fitted panel? There's info there on how the charging system works, and also some trouble-shooting info as well.

Having said that, it sounds like you have a fault somewhere, because the EC500 should be charging the leisure battery under all circumstances (via Intelligent Charging when the EC500 is powered on, and directly when it is in shutdown mode).

Can you confirm that you have checked all of the fuses? Locations should be given in the Owner's Manual (though you can't rely on that always exactly matching what is fitted to your van!). When on hookup, does the leisure battery voltage show as good on the EC500's control panel?
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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by Peter Brown on Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:56 am

Mojo, the EC500 If that's what is fitted) takes its own power from the leisure battery and if its left switched on then the power supplied by the solar panel is less than that needed by the EC500 battery monitoring/smart charge system so the leisure battery discharges. The Tracker, alarm, etc then discharge the starter battery.

If the EC500 is switched off, the solar panel will keep the leisure battery up but the starter battery will still discharge as above.

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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by bolero boy on Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:54 am

this has come up many times in the short while that i have been following this forum, and this 'system' cannot be fit for purpose...a solar charging system that does less damage when turned off than when activated?
what is AS and/or Sargent doing to provide proper solar power for customers who have bought vans believing that the solar panel will assist in their camping lives?
yes, we know that the SP can be wired to bypass the Sargent system, charge the leisure batteries independently and the vehicle battery to be supported either by a 'Battery Master' type device or an intelligent solar regulator.
i wpuld not be a happy camper if this was dished up to me as a suitable system.....sorry AS fams, but not good enough im afraid.

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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by OnMyWay on Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:56 am

Hi Mojo, I do have an EC500 Sargent power control system fitted and I do have a factory fitted solar panel fitted and yes, I have read the manuals but still struggling.  I have not, as yet checked the fuses but I did find the list in the manual and will do so today.  When hooked up to the mains the leisure battery is showing as charged.
So, Peter, are you suggesting that when relying on the leisure battery only, I should select the system shutdown button?
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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by Peter Brown on Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:02 am

At this time of year, If your system is an EC500, you are storing the van for more than a couple of weeks and you cant use an EHU, then I recommend you switch the EC500 off and disconnect the -ve terminal of the starter battery.  You will of course by doing that, disable any tracker and alarm system but they will be disabled when the battery goes flat anyway.

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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by bolero boy on Fri Dec 29, 2017 10:22 am

OnMyWay wrote:Hi Mojo, I do have an EC500 Sargent power control system fitted and I do have a factory fitted solar panel fitted and yes, I have read the manuals but still struggling.  I have not, as yet checked the fuses but I did find the list in the manual and will do so today.  When hooked up to the mains the leisure battery is showing as charged.
So, Peter, are you suggesting that when relying on the leisure battery only, I should select the system shutdown button?
in order to check that there is (or isnt) charge coming from the SP, you need to put a voltmeter across the terminal of the leisure battery....it should be 14+ volts....if its 12.6 ish, this is the resting charge level of a fullish 12v battery.
similarly, you can do the same test on the vegicle battery.....at least this will establish if there is 'anything' coming from the panel.
my 100w panel keeps two large leisure batteries and a cab battery all well charged even in poor short daylight hours.
Peters suggestions are workarounds which migh help but should not be necessary with a properly installed and set up system....Id be kicking my dealer pretty firmly, as its his issue to manage and resolve if it doesnt perform as it should.
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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by Peter Brown on Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:36 pm

[quote="bolero boy"]
OnMyWay wrote:Hi Mojo
Peters suggestions are workarounds which migh help but should not be necessary with a properly installed and set up system....Id be kicking my dealer pretty firmly, as its his issue to manage and resolve if it doesnt perform as it should.

This problem with batteries while storing vans in the winter that are fitted with the EC500 has been experienced by several members and is well documented elsewhere on the forum. The Auto-sleeper manual advise that the EC500 be switched off in storage and the chassis manufacturer manual advise that the starter battery be disconnected whilst in storage. I just summarised what the both manufactures say you should do, I did not suggest a workaround.

A couple of forum members with the relevant technical expertise have modified their electrical installations so that both batteries are kept in a state of charge by the solar panel whilst in storage by switching out the EC500 and installing some overlay circuitry but they are not in a position to give details at the moment.

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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by -mojo- on Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:38 pm

Peter Brown wrote:Mojo, the EC500 If that's what is fitted) takes its own power from the leisure battery and if its left switched on then the power supplied by the solar panel is less than that needed by the EC500 battery monitoring/smart charge system so the leisure battery discharges. The Tracker, alarm, etc then discharge the starter battery.

Hi Peter - yes, I know - I was involved in those other threads!

But I ~think~ this is different. I ~think~ the OP is not saying that the solar output is insufficient - they seem to be saying that it's precisely zero.

If that's true then - in addition to the known deficiency of the EC500 taking too much power when switched on - they seem to have another problem.

I'd agree with what Bolero Boy says, though if it's overcast then the solar panel probably won't have enough output to pull the battery up as far as 14 Volts at this time of year. However, if you put a blanket or similar over the panel, put the meter on the battery and whip the blanket off, you should see some evidence of the panel causing a rise in the terminal voltage, provided there is at least weak sunshine falling on it.
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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by OnMyWay on Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:48 pm

Thanks for all your comments.  Not being a particularly technically minded person (though learning fast!) I think I will get the dealer involved as I have only had the van for 6 months and when I start travelling I don't want to have to depend on hook-up.  I thought I might have been missing something obvious; no-one at the dealership told me about the system shutdown button and the first problem I experienced was the vehicle battery dying as a consequence!  So, as that had been a simple solution, I thought maybe my latest leisure battery issue might be too but having read all of the above, I think I need someone to check everything over for me.
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Post by meanchris on Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:58 pm

Bear in mind, when potentially getting bamboozled by the dealer, that it's relatively cheap and easy to install a Battery Master or SunWorks controller to bypass the power hungry EC500
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solar panel not charging the leisure battery Empty Re: solar panel not charging the leisure battery

Post by bolero boy on Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:26 pm

Peter Brown wrote:
bolero boy wrote:
OnMyWay wrote:Hi Mojo
Peters suggestions are workarounds which migh help but should not be necessary with a properly installed and set up system....Id be kicking my dealer pretty firmly, as its his issue to manage and resolve if it doesnt perform as it should.

This problem with batteries while storing vans in the winter that are fitted with the EC500 has been experienced by several members and is well documented elsewhere on the forum.  The Auto-sleeper manual advise that the EC500 be switched off in storage and the chassis manufacturer manual advise that the starter battery be disconnected whilst in storage.  I just summarised what the both manufactures say you should do, I did not suggest a workaround.

A couple of forum members with the relevant technical expertise have modified their electrical installations so that both batteries are kept in a state of charge by the solar panel whilst in storage by switching out the EC500 and installing some overlay circuitry but they are not in a position to give details at the moment.

sorry, Peter, then to be precise its the manufacturers (sargent) that are talking workarounds....
any system that takes out more than it benefits is not what customers are looking for.
just imagine if every solar regulator used more juice to run itself than it was able to pass on...there would be little point in having it.
if the AS vans didnt have Sargent 'intelligent' control units, any customer wanting solar power to keep their cab and hab batteries charged would simply fit a panel, a regulator that either splits the charge itself, or one that charges just the leisure batteries which are then linked bia a battery master to the vehicle battery to ensure that is charged too.
even with the EC500, wouldnt it be better to unplug the lead from the panel to the back of the EC500 (as it doesnt do whats required when it is plugged in) and connect it as i have outlined?
im sure the regulator in my van isnt the latest whizzy thing on the market but it splits the charge across both sets of batteries, keeping them fully charged even in poor/limited sunlight.
any system that cant do this simple task isnt fit for purpose, IMHO.
Whether sargent suggest switching the panel off makes no difference if it then only charges the leisure batteries, who wants a flat cab battery which can only avoided by turning off all your security devices or disconnecting the battery.
i assume this issue is well known to AS? if so, why is the current (poor) set up still being used?
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Post by Peter Brown on Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:48 pm

The system is what it is so no point in discussing it, just try and help people get to grips with using it.

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Post by bolero boy on Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:57 pm

Peter Brown wrote:The system is what it is so no point in discussing it, just try and help people get to grips with using it.
my post was hopefully to 'help people get to grips with using it'....that is bypass it and let the panel do what it is designed to do.....charge batteries.....it really is a simple thing to acheive. turning of Contol Units and disconnecting batteries is a cop out, however well its dressed up.
the other thing that 'discussing' it does it to raise customer awareness, get those customers nagging their dealers and get those dealers kicking the supplier AS.....how else are we to expect standards to rise.
is this forum monitored by anyone from AS.
is anyone who moderates/manages this forum in regular contact with AS to discuss recurring issues?
i dont have an AS and am not affected by this issue but i have managed many (IT) suppliers and regular reviews of service is very necessary to continue a drive in quality upwards...otherwise, whats the incentive for AS to produce something better for 2019?
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Post by meanchris on Fri Dec 29, 2017 5:58 pm

How much does an EC500 actually draw in what we'd hope is 'standby'?
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