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Hook up at home or not to hook up at home?

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FreelanderUK
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Post by andyb Tue Oct 18, 2022 3:03 pm

I'm looking for general advice. I have a 2016 Bourton which I got last year with only 2500 miles on the clock and unfortunately the leisure battery has just had to be replaced. We go away a lot during summer and then school holidays  for the rest of the year. Sometimes we have hook up sometimes no hook up.  While not in use the van is kept on our drive at home.
My question is: what is the best regimen for the battery when the van is parked up at home. Should I:
A) put it on hook up as soon as I'm home and leave it on till I go away again, or
B) leave it not on  hook up until before we go away and then plug in to charge for may be two days before we leave or
C) do something else?
 
The van does have a solar panel which is permanently engaged.
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Post by burlingtonboaby Tue Oct 18, 2022 3:12 pm

I hook up to run the fridge until the fridge in the bungalow is turned on and cools down, I usually charge up both batteries every 5/6 days from my garage EHU, the vehicle battery gets charged up first for around 6/8 hours.
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Post by IanH Tue Oct 18, 2022 3:15 pm

What size solar?
Does it charge both batteries?

mine is 160w, previously in another van had 100w, perfectly adequate and with a simple PWM controller connected directly to each battery via an inline 10A fuse, kept everything 100% full all winter far less summer.

We too have EHU at home it is only used to pre cool the fridge on 230v pre trip.

Suspect your solar may be going through Sargent. If so, fit controller as above (Photonic Universe dual battery controller) and connect direct to the batts as described.
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Post by Tinwheeler Tue Oct 18, 2022 3:38 pm

A 2016 Bourton and/or a 2017 Warwick Duo? 

All I can say is that the supplied solar panels on both our Warwicks were not man enough to keep the batteries charged in winter at times of low light so the vans were connected to EHU once a week or so for a few hours.
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Post by groundhog Tue Oct 18, 2022 3:38 pm

Think you are referring to slightly longer term storage in which case we have our van plugged in on a timer switch for two hours a night and it keeps everything at full charge comfortably. We have 110w solar but even down here in Cornwall where the skies tend to be brighter it needs help in the winter months if left for a month or so.
Hope that helps.
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Post by Cymro Tue Oct 18, 2022 4:47 pm

My Nuevo (2015) is - like yours - parked on the house drive when not in use. I have an external 240v socket next to it. I made up a suitable rubber-sheathed hook-up cable, and I leave the van always hooked up. About once a fortnight I change which battery is to be charged. There is a solar panel, which simultaneously charges both batteries, but it won't over-charge. The van is still on the original batteries.

When I bought the van (new) I made enquiries of AS and Sargent about the very question you have raised. I was advised that the Sargent unit has a smart charger, which maintains the battery being charged with a float charge, and no harm will come to the battery if left on charge.

With my earlier Clubman, which had no smart charger, I used an Airflow smart charger, which I plugged into a socket in the van and connected it to the cigar lighter and thereby continually charged the vehicle battery (the socket was not wired via the ignition and so was capable of use always). Again, I swapped the battery being charged every fortnight or so (by crocodile clips to the leisure battery). Batteries were changed after 11 years because I got cold feet and didn't want to risk being stranded, though neither battery exhibited symptoms of expiry).

So tha short answer is A, but alternate which battery is receiving charge every now and again. (In summer, the 50% of the charge from the solar panel will be enough to mainatin the leisure battery, so I don't bother to alternate the Sargent setting but leave it to charge the vehicle battery only.)

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Post by rgermain Tue Oct 18, 2022 4:49 pm

I agree with IanH Same setup as us, only use EHU at home to heat water and fridge before going out.

Never had a battery go flat since bypassing the energy sucking Sargent up!
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Post by Kdc Tue Oct 18, 2022 5:25 pm

My van is kept at home and I find that it looks after itself in the summer months between trips using solar. Once the sun starts to fade I leave it connected to hook up into 13amp socket with timer which comes on for 24hrs once a week. Been fine last three winters and still on original batteries so works for me.
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Post by Dave 418 Tue Oct 18, 2022 5:59 pm

If we are not traveling during the winter and during lockdown we left the the Rienza on hook up so I can put the heating on occasionally.
Changing the leisure batteries and updating the solar controller has help keep the batteries topped up meaning don’t have to worry to much about batteries being charged.
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Post by Dbvwt Tue Oct 18, 2022 6:02 pm

Kdc wrote:My van is kept at home and I find that it looks after itself in the summer months between trips using solar. Once the sun starts to fade I leave it connected to hook up into 13amp socket with timer which comes on for 24hrs once a week. Been fine last three winters and still on original batteries so works for me.

The solar panel and solar controller upgrades mentioned are 100% the way to go, I’ve now done both and it is a complete ‘fit and forget’ setup which I highly recommend.
However, if you don’t want to spend the effort or cost of this then the above will keep things fine over winter. It’s exactly what I did for 2 years and everything was absolutely ok.
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Post by Dave 418 Tue Oct 18, 2022 6:11 pm

Looking back there were no solar panels fitted to the Duetto. Even though I used it for transport to work on my days off it was plugged in on the drive. It was nice to get in it on a frosty morning at half five and be cosy and warm on the way to work.cold
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Post by RogerThat Tue Oct 18, 2022 8:31 pm

andyb wrote:
A) put it on hook up as soon as I'm home and leave it on till I go away again

I've been doing this for donkeys years, with every motorhome I've ever owned.

Why wouldn't you smile!
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Post by IanH Tue Oct 18, 2022 9:04 pm

To re-iterate, my van is parked at home, same location of those preceding it.
Until this one all had 100w solar and dual battery PWM controller connected directly to each battery by passing anything Sargent or otherwise.
This one is only different as it has 160w solar (special offer, too good to resist!)
Not one of these have ever had any issues re battery charge summer or winter, always by mid morning both batteries 100% full.
All have had remote display showing exactly what is happening so both voltages can be constantly checked, easily.

As I said there is a power point right next to it and this is only ever used to pre cool the fridge.

Have only changed one battery in all that time, this one's starter battery committed suicide by getting so hot you couldn't touch it, close thing!

However each to his/her own, as always on here.

East Anglia isn't the weather paradise some may think but I'd say close to UK average for daylight/sunlight.
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Post by fred1 Tue Oct 18, 2022 9:40 pm

No solar leave connected on EHU till we leave for a trip just switch between batteries but left mostly switched to vehicle
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Post by RML Wed Oct 19, 2022 7:47 am

Agree with previous posts that solar in winter won't keep the batteries charged as we found out when our van wouldn't start on a December morning on the day of our trip to the ferry to Spain.  On the same subject when in Spain there are plenty of long stay campers who leave their vans on permanent hook-up for 3 months.  There's always a small current draw when parked up so watever you do just don't let the batteries go flat.
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Post by Caraman Wed Oct 19, 2022 8:04 am

On returning home I turn off and empty the fridge and shutdown the EC700.  This means any charge from the PX300 will go to the leisure battery if I connect to the EHU (as it will on the EC500) which I do if the leisure battery is not fully charged.  Once it is fully charged I disconnect from the EHU.  As the load on the leisure battery with the EC700 shutdown is limited to the tracker (variable but about 10mA), the battery should be fine without charge for up to 3 months.  In practise I use the van within this time when I always connect to the EHU 12 hours before I leave to cool down the fridge.  On the EC700 all the solar charge goes to the vehicle battery when the EC700 is shutdown and in my experience this is sufficient to keep the vehicle battery fully charged even during the winter.  You have an EC500 which when shutdown results in all the solar charge going to the leisure battery.  This should ensure your leisure battery remains fully charged indefinitely even during the winter when the solar charge is low.  Your problem will be the vehicle battery which is subject to a constant drain from the vehicle electrics and alarm if fitted.  The central locking when operated will add to the drain as will the internal cab lights when a cab door is opened if they have not been turned off.  This is no different to a car that is left out of use for a long period.  So your options for long term storage are disconnect the vehicle battery, or, charge it periodically either with an external battery charger or the PX300 when connected to an EHU with the EC500 not shutdown or by taking the motorhome for a long road run.  Another solution in your case is to replace your solar controller with a dual battery one that bypasses the EC500.  This allows you to shutdown the EC500 as before but ensures a trickle solar charge goes to the vehicle battery (which should be fully charged to start with) with the main solar charge going to the leisure battery.  Members who have carried out this easy and inexpensive modification report that this keeps both batteries fully charged in storage throughout the year with an 80W solar panel (providing the EC500 or EC700 is shutdown).
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Post by TonyB Wed Oct 19, 2022 2:17 pm

As your van is parked at home it might be worth trying the system i use.I have the standard set-up with no modifications ,i just turn off the EC500 with the black button on sunless days and switch on when it shines.Ihave had this van for over 2 years without needing to use EHU to charge batteries.Ido not have a tracker which may help.The vehicle battery holds its charge well and the solar looks after the leisure one.
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Post by Caraman Thu Oct 20, 2022 7:44 am

andyb - I have just reviewed the advice I gave above.  Taking the motorhome for a decent road run during long out of use periods is a good idea.  Not only will it recharge the vehicle battery but it will also exercise the tyres.  It is very bad for tyres to be left in one place with a heavy load on them for long periods.  It's good for the engine and its many seals and bearings and the aircon which should also be run.  As recommended by A-S, periodically flushing the water system with fresh clean water straight from the tap (not the garden hose) is a good thing providing it is then drained down again.  In short, even though a motorhome may be out of use, it still needs a bit of TLC.
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Post by Apple Sun Oct 23, 2022 4:30 pm

andyb wrote:I'm looking for general advice. I have a 2016 Bourton which I got last year with only 2500 miles on the clock and unfortunately the leisure battery has just had to be replaced. We go away a lot during summer and then school holidays  for the rest of the year. Sometimes we have hook up sometimes no hook up.  While not in use the van is kept on our drive at home.
My question is: what is the best regimen for the battery when the van is parked up at home. Should I:
A) put it on hook up as soon as I'm home and leave it on till I go away again, or
B) leave it not on  hook up until before we go away and then plug in to charge for may be two days before we leave or
C) do something else?
 
The van does have a solar panel which is permanently engaged.
There seems to be so much conflicting advice on this subject. For what it’s worth I use my van regularly with, up to now, never more than a 3 week break. I don’t usually hook it up in this relatively short time. I think if it was any longer than this I would adopt the methodology I used to employ with my caravan. 1 week on and 3 weeks off, this always has worked for me to date. Hope this helps
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Post by Eltel Wed Oct 26, 2022 7:25 am

RogerThat wrote:
andyb wrote:
A) put it on hook up as soon as I'm home and leave it on till I go away again

I've been doing this for donkeys years, with every motorhome I've ever owned.

Why wouldn't you smile!
Likewise all the time I had a caravan (25years) and a motorhome (10 years) I have on returning home after a trip connected the mains.

After having to have a replacement 240v element in the fridge this year the dealer advised it was best to turn of the fridge until you are about to go away (then put it on, say 24 hours to get fridge down to temperature) so now fridge switched off and the door left slightly open for air circulation.

When it gets really cold I have switched on a low wattage tubular heater (not sure this winter with the energy cost I will be doing that (perhaps on a timer)

Motorhome all tucked away now for the winter, Vehicle Tax removed.

Looking forward to next season 

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Post by Caraman Wed Oct 26, 2022 8:05 am

What it boils down to is whether you are happy to have something sitting unused on your drive burning up mains electricity all the time which I'm certainly not.  I've never heard of anyone leaving their fridge on when the van is out of use, other than for a few hours before a trip.
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Post by andyb Sun Oct 30, 2022 1:24 pm

Thanks for all your comments. 
I'm just back from a week away and I think I'll make sure all tanks are empty, fridge switched off  and then leave off hook up until before we go away again.  The solar panel can keep trickle charging on good days.
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Post by Caraman Sun Oct 30, 2022 1:49 pm

When the EC500 or EC700 is shutdown, the habitation step won't work.  So if the step is out when you shutdown, it will stay out.  If it's in when you shutdown, it will stay in.  I keep my step out as I frequently go in and out of the van.
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Post by IanH Sun Oct 30, 2022 2:10 pm

andyb wrote:Thanks for all your comments. 
I'm just back from a week away and I think I'll make sure all tanks are empty, fridge switched off  and then leave off hook up until before we go away again.  The solar panel can keep trickle charging on good days.
If the solar panel is 80w or bigger it'll run all the van's needs all winter, mine does as did it's predecessors up!
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Post by Tinwheeler Sun Oct 30, 2022 2:24 pm

IanH wrote:
andyb wrote:Thanks for all your comments. 
I'm just back from a week away and I think I'll make sure all tanks are empty, fridge switched off  and then leave off hook up until before we go away again.  The solar panel can keep trickle charging on good days.
If the solar panel is 80w or bigger it'll run all the van's needs all winter, mine does as did it's predecessors up!
Ours on the Warwicks never did, Ian. The sun could hardly reach the roof of the van in winter. However, when we changed vans to one not using the Sargent set up, the SP worked!
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