Solar panels

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Post by Caraman on Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:15 am

marbarsymbol wrote:Because EC700 when shutdown, defaults solar power to thr Vehicle battery instead of the Leisure battery(as was the case with the previous EC500) , Vanbitz have confirmed to me that  their "battery master" would not be a viable option for the EC700. 
When I was discussing this with Sargent they said the only reason the EC700 sends its solar power to the vehicle battery rather than the leisure battery is because Swift specified it that way.  Sargent who are responsible for the habitation electrics were happy for it to remain going to the leisure battery.  They said it would be easy to fit a switch to divert the solar power back to the leisure battery especially if it transpires that the normal vehicle battery drain when out of use but not in standby mode exceeds the likely winter solar charge.  Fitting such a switch may allow you to use Vanbitz's battery master.  It might be worth talking to Sargent about it.  I have always found Sargent to be helpful.
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Post by marbarsymbol on Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:18 am

That sounds like a viable solution
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Post by Suppersready on Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:41 am

Peter Brown wrote:You cant. It stops working when the battery goes flat. All motorhome specs are optimised for living in them. For storage, switch off and disconnect all electrics. Security should be provided by the storage service provider.

Of course a level of security should be provided by the storage service, and I’m sure this meets their insurance requirements .... but this does not necessarily mean his insurance provider will be happy with your suggestion. Best to check I would have advised.
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Post by Suppersready on Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:54 am

marbarsymbol wrote:That sounds like a viable solution

I agree it does ... but should you really have to do this in the first place. Why can’t AS take the common sense approach as Swift have done, what’s more infuriating is AS don’t seem to learn and make the necessary adjustments with later models !
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Post by Greyhound on Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:51 am

Roopert wrote:


I suspect that Sargent could be pressurised to do more to implement low-power standby modes.

A low power option isn't really needed (although would be helpful I agree) if they simply controlled the solar charging separate to their main unit, allowing the charging to continue to both batteries with the system shut down.  This is essentially what I've retro-fitted and now it works great.

The only downside is my solar is now isolated from the Sargent smart charging, but the system simply doesn't see a solar input and gets on with it anyway, which is how all my previous MH's worked with the less 'sophisticated' controllers anyway and without issue.
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Post by Wightman on Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:10 pm

Hi All

Well this is really confusing me - it doesn't take much!!!

Because EC700 when shutdown, defaults solar power to the Vehicle battery 

So how come I get a call from Sargent tracker system telling me that the battery (vehicle) has been disconnected on our ex A/T Tracker with EC700 unit!!?

Long story but shortened is Sargent (told them we got rid of the thing and did they want garage we had sold it too but they weren't interested!!?) won't give me refund on my 3 year subscription so I can still track the thing which tells me they have switched off but the vehicle battery voltage falls like a stone yet the vehicle is definitely outside

From my communications with Sargent it would appear in my honest opinion they haven't got a clue on how to cure this fault/problem

Why would you spend £50K plus and expect to have to keep it plugged in when not in use - definitely not fit for purpose in my humble opinion

Best wishes all
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Post by Roopert on Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:26 pm

Wightman wrote:I can still track the thing which tells me they have switched off but the vehicle battery voltage falls like a stone yet the vehicle is definitely outside

I don't think you can necessarily infer that the solar system charges the leisure battery during shutdown from that info, because there are also fault conditions (such as a blown fuse between EC700 and vehicle battery) that would create the same symptoms.
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Post by Greyhound on Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:22 pm

Its easy enough to test.

In daylight, shutdown the system and check the volts at each battery.  In decent sunlight the one being charged will be somewhere in the area of 14V give or take (certainly above 12.6).

If neither have that, then you have a problem as Roopert suggests.
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Post by Roopert on Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:27 pm

Greyhound wrote:Its easy enough to test.

But not if you no longer own the vehicle and it's sitting on the forecourt of a garage somewhere!
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Post by glyne lock on Wed Jan 15, 2020 7:10 pm

Greyhound I have tested with an amp meter with a ec700 turned on and blue clear sky and the sun out mid day and cleaned off solar panels . the most I got was .5 amp the same on a van with the ec500 .then a day with no sun and got .2 drain. if you shut down for winter the ec700 on the van I tested the  solar went to the vehicle and the ec500 went to the leisure. if you use the van in the winter the solar on a good day would not recover the drain at night as you would have the control on  and this tested over .5 drain at night. next job is to find what is the heavy drain ? think this is what auto sleepers should be doing.  I have only tested with more than 12volts as some things shut down auto when the battery falls bellow a set voltage ? this may stop the solar charge .the drain at night is more than I would like.  so this is  why I have been doing some test to give to auto sleepers to sort


Last edited by glyne lock on Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Greyhound on Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:28 pm

You should be getting more than 0.5A, what panel have you got? Maybe a wiring issue or the panel itself is the problem and needs replacing.

Even in winter, with a good clear sky at midday my 80w panel could pull in nicely over an amp fine. With a good days sun it should easily replace any drain from the previous night.
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Post by glyne lock on Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:42 pm

as I said when testing at night found at least .5 amps drain so 8 hours max day  light 16 hours darkness you need 1.5 amps in day light from the solar panel you are getting 1 amp max but .5 drain. the most an 80w panel at PEAK is 6amp and you will not get this with the panel flat on the roof even in the summer  .autosleeper fit 80w from new. I tested a 2018 van and a 2019  vans and parked side by side. been doing my test when working on my van adding extras to make more useable for wild camping all year round all takes time
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Post by Peter Brown on Wed Jan 15, 2020 10:50 pm

If a battery is fully charged it will not draw any current. I think this thread has lost the plot.
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Post by glyne lock on Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:24 pm

I did not say the battery was fully charged it was 80 o/o  so was taking charge. you would not be saying this has lost the plot if you had a new camper with this problem
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Post by Greyhound on Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:58 am

glyne lock wrote:as I said when testing at night found at least .5 amps drain so 8 hours max day  light 16 hours darkness you need 1.5 amps in day light from the solar panel you are getting 1 amp max but .5 drain. the most an 80w panel at PEAK is 6amp and you will not get this with the panel flat on the roof even in the summer  .autosleeper fit 80w from new. I tested a 2018 van and a 2019  vans and parked side by side. been doing my test when working on my van adding extras to make more useable for wild camping all year round all takes time

How are you testing the drain?

If you have the van unlocked etc then the ECU and circuits are all active and the drain will seem high.  When the van is locked and the ECU shuts down, the drain should drop to a nominal level.  Also if you've been following the thread you'll see the drain from the Sargent system needs to be stopped and so fully shutting down the system when not in use.

Also I didn't say I'm getting 1A max?  I said it would pull in "over an amp" and on occasions above 2 in winter on the 80W panel.  The drain during shutdown is usually compensated by this.

The problem with the 80W panel is it can struggle in winter if you have a long period of overcast days (not uncommon) which will definitely struggle to keep up, which is why I added a second 80W panel to give me 160W (potential) in total (as I discussed earlier in the thread).  If you want to wild camp for extended periods I'd definitely be looking to upgrade from the stock 80W panel.
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Post by Caraman on Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:36 am

Peter Brown wrote:
Caraman wrote:
Peter Brown wrote: It follows that batteries should not be just disconnected and left for month on end with no charge. 

Although that is exactly what the battery manufacturer does, he builds the battery, charges it and then sends to distributors who store for months without charge before sale.
Chatted about this this morning with a local supplier.  The stock they hold in the shop has a high turnover.  It would be rare for battery to sit on a shelf for more than a month.  They said it is far more likely that they would be out of stock rather than in surplus.  They said this would be the same for all suppliers.  Apparently in years past batteries were supplied without electrolyte in them so they remained inert until they were required.  Now apparently they are manufactured with the electrolyte in them at about 75% charge but free of sulphate.  This might be because the battery isn't fully activated until it is given its first charge or because the rate of self-discharge is less when the battery is not fully charged.  When a battery is sold the buyer has to charge it before it's ready for use.  If you quiz other battery suppliers you might get a different story.
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Post by Greyhound on Thu Jan 16, 2020 11:54 am

Yeah a battery from new isn't such a big deal.  It'll sit for ages without issue as there's no drain on it and no sulphate yet.

I've had batteries I've taken off vehicles before that I've stored for long periods.  I test the battery routinely to check if needs charging and when the batteries have been relatively new they've not needed any charge at all for months on end.  Only old batteries that are starting to have problems will need regular topping up.

As stated here, a lead acid can be stored for 2 years without issue and just the odd check on status:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by glyne lock on Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:58 pm

Grayhound
to test the drain is best with amp meter. I removed the earth  lead on the leisure battery and put test clamp to battery post and battery post wire connection clamp . when testing the vehicle correct as you said lock the vehicle but best  wait more then 15 mins as not every thing stops when you lock the vehicle.
when I said you I ment any person doing this test not yourself
.-5  at night and +.5 in sunlight = 1 amp
people think  when they are told it has a  solar panel it will keep it charged all year round
as you have said reqs an extra panel but you cant go over 120 w with the sargent system.
the post started with a kemerton xl 2019 like I have but only has a small amount of spare roof space so fitting an extra panel is limited
I am trying to show people the system fitted by auto sleepers reqs changes maybe like you have done to use all year round
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Post by Peter Brown on Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:53 am

WARNING!

It is potentially very risky to connect a conventional ammeter in series with a 12v lead acid battery - there are several videos on u-tube that show the possible consequences, the least of which is total destruction of the meter.

There are very many types of clamp meter that can measure the current without taking that risk:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]  

Alternatively there are blade fuse ammeters specifically designed to detect battery leakage whilst still retaining fuse protection:

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by glyne lock on Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:01 pm

Peter the clamp meter we use on a vehicle  when doing a service to carry out test in the motor trade .you need a AMP METER that is able to test the volume off amps if not as you say will damage the meter or blow the fuse if fitted in the meter . Peter I think you are talking about multimeter that most are only 10 amps and trying to test more then 10 amps
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Post by Peter Brown on Sat Jan 18, 2020 12:16 pm

Yes I am and most on this forum will only have access to an inexpensive conventional mulitimeter.  The link below is to the multimeter that I have and that has a clamp facility to measure current without intruding into the circuit.  I was surprised how accurate it was at low currents (AC & DC)

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Post by Alwaysurfing on Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:01 pm

..... so the question was .... :)

Just joking I think this was a brilliant thread.

Does anyone have a photo the roof of a corrinium?

I’m in Castillo de Banos and maybe going to get my ladder out if I can find the energy.  Sargent have said my amp meter doesn’t work as my solar only ever reads 0.1 amp (they advise a new power supply to be fitted).  Dealer said if I’m plugged in ehu then everything is already charged and therefore I would have no solar reading, or the solar available light on the control panel....

Hard to say who’s right but will need dealer to show me something working - or they need to get on and do the power supply under warranty as offered by Sargent.

My confidence in solar has not improved - after reading all the thread - my feeling is charge the batteries on the move with the alternator and plug in where possible....  solar just seems to be a folly - unless you are either lucky or have spent a large sum of money adding addition kit to the van, which was supposed to work in the first place.  Thule additional solar panel at a £1000 has to be a joke....

For me happy to hear Ec700 defaults solar to vehicle when control panel switched off - just a shame even that can’t keep the vehicle battery charged in the winter for more than 14 days....

Thinking about a Honda genny to get through the wild camping .......
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Post by Roopert on Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:15 pm

Alwaysurfing wrote:Dealer said if I’m plugged in ehu then everything is already charged and therefore I would have no solar reading

Are you on EHU? If so, the current from the solar panel is very likely to be close to zero, by design, because the built-in Sargent power supply will probably be holding the leisure battery at too high a voltage for the solar controller to allow charging.

When (as in this case) you have more than one charger connected to a battery, it's not always clear which one will "win" and inhibit the other, and which will "lose" and be inhibited from charging.


Last edited by Roopert on Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Caraman on Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:17 pm

Alwaysurfing wrote:..... so the question was .... :)

Hard to say who’s right but will need dealer to show me something working - or they need to get on and do the power supply under warranty as offered by Sargent.

For me happy to hear Ec700 defaults solar to vehicle when control panel switched off - just a shame even that can’t keep the vehicle battery charged in the winter for more than 14 days....

If your batteries are fully charged the solar charge current will be low.  

The EC700 solar charge only defaults to the vehicle battery if the EC700 PSU is shutdown.  Turning off the EC700 CP will not have this effect.
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Post by Alwaysurfing on Wed Jan 29, 2020 7:22 pm

..... ah yes quite right

That’s what I really meant to say

Ec700 shutdown.......
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