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Leisure battery how to keep it topped up.

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streetglider
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Post by Greyhound Mon Nov 16, 2020 12:10 pm

streetglider wrote:Hi all, just bought a 2017 Nuevo so a question on the same (ish) theme - does the solar panel charge both the vehicle and leisure battery ?

Thanks

Don

As Dbvwt says, it will but 80W over winter in the UK with the inefficient EC500 can leave the batteries wanting.

A few of us did a workaround by fitting a more advanced solar controller and bypassing the EC500 completely so that the batteries are efficiently charged while the whole system is turned off (and so no unwanted drain from the system).  This should keep both batteries safe over winter.

For more security and for longer off grid, I fitted a second 80W to my Symbol so I have 160W total and now have no issues regarding power, definitely a worthwhile mod if the van is off grid or in storage without EHU for decent lengths of time.
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Post by streetglider Mon Nov 16, 2020 4:16 pm

Thanks for your prompt replies. A can of worms indeed !
I'm no electrical wizard so 'solar controllers' leave me flummoxed. We use the Nuevo as often as possible throughout the year (though not at the moment obviously) so hope to keep charged with site EHUs. It's unlikely that the van would be unused for long periods and I can hook up at home if necessary. With these circumstances in mind is it likely to be a problem 
If the fitted solar panel can't keep things topped up what's the point of it ?

Don
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Post by Greyhound Mon Nov 16, 2020 5:05 pm

streetglider wrote:Thanks for your prompt replies. A can of worms indeed !
I'm no electrical wizard so 'solar controllers' leave me flummoxed. We use the Nuevo as often as possible throughout the year (though not at the moment obviously) so hope to keep charged with site EHUs. It's unlikely that the van would be unused for long periods and I can hook up at home if necessary. With these circumstances in mind is it likely to be a problem 
If the fitted solar panel can't keep things topped up what's the point of it ?

Don

The fitted solar panel can keep up, it's the EC500 that's the problem.  The controller unit drains a large amount of power when it's on (the main push button switch rather than turning off the display) and the 'smart' function switches between the 2 batteries every 4 hours.  In winter, you may only get 4 hours decent sunlight, which means only 1 battery gets a decent charge on a given day.  If that happens routinely it doesn't take long for the charge to drop.

Turn off the EC unit to avoid the drain, and the 'smart' function turns off and only the one battery is charged by the solar, leaving the second to drop over time.  So the fault is the controller rather than the solar if you see what I mean and the reason bypassing it for solar charging is a common mod.  No problem if you're not up on solar electrics though, the storage you describe should be fine.  As long as you have access to EHU you can top up the batteries every now and again to stop the problem.

When I stored mine on the driveway, I used to have a timer plug on the EHU so that every night it would come on for a few hours to give a decent top-up charge while there was no sun for the solar and worked fine.
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Post by streetglider Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:01 am

Thank you greyhound - now I understand. As you say, it seems our projected use, together with the occasional top up, will maintain both batteries together, a huge relief.
Of course it all assumes we'll be able to get away !!

Don  smile!
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Post by bolero boy Tue Nov 17, 2020 9:24 am

in addition to Greyhound's explanation, the 'point' of solar power is to allow users the choice 'not' to be on campsites with ehu...
many new users tend to gravitate to Club type campsites early in their vanning 'career' as its the 'safe' option....plenty of facilities and that orange cable....
...but, as confidence grows, and the yearning to explore places where sites are thin on the ground, might lead to (say) a remote CL (certificated location) where there is no ehu, or even onto more inpromptu stopping, especially if your travels take you abroad, where such stopping places are abundant.
this is where solar power comes into its own, allowing users to be autonomous of cables, with their own battery power for lights, water pumps, tv and gas to heat your water or keep you warm.
there is a whole world out there where being tied to a bollard (and a white post) just isnt a consideration.
good luck.
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Post by Molly3 Sun Dec 06, 2020 12:57 pm

You could  use  small smart charger  connected to mains , in my humble opinion it is not a good idea  to connect to hook up 24 /7  as it  will shorten the life of the van electronic system,  .
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Post by mikethebike Sun Dec 06, 2020 7:09 pm

bolero boy wrote:in addition to Greyhound's explanation, the 'point' of solar power is to allow users the choice 'not' to be on campsites with ehu...
many new users tend to gravitate to Club type campsites early in their vanning 'career' as its the 'safe' option....plenty of facilities and that orange cable....
...but, as confidence grows, and the yearning to explore places where sites are thin on the ground, might lead to (say) a remote CL (certificated location) where there is no ehu, or even onto more inpromptu stopping, especially if your travels take you abroad, where such stopping places are abundant.
this is where solar power comes into its own, allowing users to be autonomous of cables, with their own battery power for lights, water pumps, tv and gas to heat your water or keep you warm.
there is a whole world out there where being tied to a bollard (and a white post) just isnt a consideration.
good luck.
Yes done that all my life without a solar panel. hugegrins

Micky
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Post by bolero boy Mon Dec 07, 2020 9:03 am

...and, of course, you can...
but being off grid for any length of time depends on the relationship between the capacity of your batteries, the ability to recharge them and the power usage levels...
drive every day or two and arrive with fully charged batteries and you'll probably be OK provided you arent drawing too much 12v.
in summer time our demand is much lower as we spend more time outside and less time indoors with the tv on and heater working.
stop for several days in winter with long hours inside keeping warm and amused and things change dramatically....
however, as always theres more than one way to skin a carrot! up!
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Post by Alwaysurfing Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:44 pm

plug it in.... plug it in.... plug it in..... everything else a complete waste of time and money......   best thing we ever did ditch the storage and park at home - plugged in heating on, batteries charged    ---  oh, had to demolish a shed and rebuild a fence but hey ho....
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Post by bolero boy Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:56 pm

i park at home, always have with all of our four vans, and have access to ehu...but this hasnt meant i want to start heating the van unnecessarily and, as mentioned above, a solar panel (far from being a waste of money) opens up longer term stays on non ehu sites that wouldnt be possible without one...
in fact, three weeks at a summer THS site at £8 a night (in lieu of £28 at a typical club site) 'saves' £420 which goes a looooong way to costing that solar upgrade....so, self financing....
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Post by Tinwheeler Sun Dec 13, 2020 8:58 pm

Alwaysurfing wrote:plug it in.... plug it in.... plug it in..... everything else a complete waste of time and money......   best thing we ever did ditch the storage and park at home - plugged in heating on, batteries charged    ---  oh, had to demolish a shed and rebuild a fence but hey ho....

Not a lot of good for camping off grid though.
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Post by rgermain Sun Dec 13, 2020 9:10 pm

Having just fitted a MPPT 165 this weekend in the rain with no sun, I will be watching it during the coming week.
I have always had the van on EHU via a timer, but now hoping to use it less as we like using CL's.

EC500 now turned off, bit of a pain as you have to set the clocks and make sure the step is out, but on a good note I expect the batteries to keep topped up.
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Post by bolero boy Mon Dec 14, 2020 4:11 pm

Richard (and others) i have a question or two about the Votronic set up but dont want to take this thread off track so am starting one in the 'technical chat' section...
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