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Winter Charging with EC325/8

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Winter Charging with EC325/8 Empty Winter Charging with EC325/8

Post by inspiredron on Mon 21 Jan - 13:07

Apologies for repeating this post which is in the Van Conversions Forum but I felt that it should be repeated here:

The original post can be found at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and in that thread there is some background to my query.

I checked the on line Sargent manual for my EC328 (available at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] ) and then spoke to the technical guy at Sargent with specific reference to the EC328. He tells me (without any hesitation but after asking me the make of van):

1: To charge the vehicle battery the control unit MUST BE ON - ie van 12V electrics will be powered up. If the control unit is switched off then the charger defaults back to charging the leisure battery.

2: A solar panel will split its output equally between the two batteries irrespective of whether one is being charged from the mains! The solar panel will only charge the batteries if the CONTROL UNIT IS SWITCHED ON!

I find both these answers very disappointing because I don't regard it as good practice to leave van electrics on while the van is laid up. Intuitively it seems to contradict the automatic switching off of habitation electrics when the engine is started.

I will use an independent charger to keep the vehicle battery in good condition. Luckily LIDL have their intelligent CTEK type chargers at present at £13.99.
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Post by -mojo- on Mon 21 Jan - 15:36

I personally would not be too worried about leaving the control unit turned on. There are plenty of other electronic devices that are designed to be left powered on for their whole working life, and they tend to be more reliable when used that way, rather than being regularly turned on and off.

I'm thinking of doing the same as you when my (EC328-based) van turns up in March, and using a CTEK on the vehicle battery while the EC328 takes care of the leisure battery.
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Post by Peter Brown on Mon 21 Jan - 15:51

I've had a Malvern with the Sargent EC325 fitted and an 80W solar panel connected to it for over a year. The solar panel certainly does charge both batteries without the control unit being switched on. I am certain of this because on delivery, the original Power Supply Unit had a fault on the solar panel circuitry and extensive monitoring of both battery voltages was done to firstly prove it was faulty and secondly to prove the new one worked correctly.

It is a fact that the vehicle battery can only be charged by the mains charger when the control unit is switched on and the vehicle battery select switch operated. Because my solar panel has been covered by snow for a couple of weeks I gave the vehicle battery 4 hrs charge yesterday and have no hesitation at leaving the control unit switched on - it is often on for 3 weeks continuously when not moving from a site.

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Post by inspiredron on Mon 21 Jan - 19:38

pcb7ty wrote:I've had a Malvern with the Sargent EC325 fitted and an 80W solar panel connected to it for over a year. The solar panel certainly does charge both batteries without the control unit being switched on. I am certain of this because on delivery, the original Power Supply Unit had a fault on the solar panel circuitry and extensive monitoring of both battery voltages was done to firstly prove it was faulty and secondly to prove the new one worked correctly.

Peter
Interesting! The chap at Sargent was quite specific and volunteered the info that the control unit needs to be on for solar charging to operate - which contradicts your experience! I have sent a paragraph to ASOC for publication in their newsletter and Baz Wellard is checking with A/S before putting it in. Thanks for the heads up - I will refer him to your post

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Post by Sandpiper on Tue 22 Jan - 20:10

So, the panel must be turned ON for the vehicle battery to charge. Right, this explains why my vehicle battery is pretty well done for and I can't start our Broadway. This is exactly the opposite to what Marquis told us. Is there any way of turning off the internal light that illuminates the step by the hab. door whenever the panel is on? Cheers.

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Post by Robbie on Tue 22 Jan - 22:32

Sandpiper wrote:So, the panel must be turned ON for the vehicle battery to charge. .

Not only that but you must select vehicle battery on the control panel, if you have leisure battery selected it will charge only it. Can't help with the step light, surprised there isnt a separate switch or a setting on the panel to turn it off,

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Post by inspiredron on Tue 22 Jan - 23:09

Sandpiper wrote:So, the panel must be turned ON for the vehicle battery to charge. Right, this explains why my vehicle battery is pretty well done for and I can't start our Broadway. This is exactly the opposite to what Marquis told us. Is there any way of turning off the internal light that illuminates the step by the hab. door whenever the panel is on? Cheers.
The step light fooled us on our first night in our Lancashire. The switch is built into the lens. I thnk it is the left hand end that you push as the on/off switch but it may be the right!

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Post by roli on Tue 22 Jan - 23:47

Not on my van, the Sargent panel is seldom on at home and I can assure you that the panel is charging the battery. Agree 100% with Peter and we both use our vans off leccy as much as we do on ( or did when he had a decent Ford !!! LOL only joking Pete, I like Mercs too, not as much as Phil tho).

I have had issues with the Sargent panel and last year was going to get it replaced (They are very helpful company I have to say that supports its users, but sometimes - read other forums, their quality is not what it might be)
I decided to get it checked by someone with serious test gear and the matter was partly resolved.

At that time I got very familiar with the charging circuit on the van by carrying out various meter tests suggested by Sargent and AN Other (tech manager in big electronics org) and this is how I am so confident my set up charges without the panel switched on. In fact after some calibration my panel is consistantly -1v across 10 to 14v off a regulated supply which is a lot better than it was believe me ( previously - 1 to -2.5 volt error )
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Winter Charging with EC325/8 Empty Eureka!

Post by inspiredron on Sat 6 Jul - 1:37

Yesterday I made an accidental discovery.
My vehicle battery dropped to just over 11v because the front doors were left open for a couple of hours while some work was being done to the reversing camera. As a result of that I switched the EC328 to charge the vehicle battery.  After an overnight charge I went into the van to see whether I could start the engine. I was pleased that it started immediately but, once running, the Sargent control panel beeped insistently at me. I switched off the ignition and looked at the control panel feeling quite pleased that it had apparently warned me that the EHU was still plugged in. The panel told me that the internal electrics had been deactivated but, to my surprise, the panel's "on" LED was off but the vehicle battrry LED was still lit. On checking the battery voltages it was clear that the vehicle battery was being charged.
SO - if you want to leave the van with habitation electrics off but vehicle battery on charge then:
1 Turn control panel on and select vehicle battery.
2 Start engine (which switches habitation electrics off).
3 Stop engine and check that battery selection LED remains lit.

I have not had time to check that this always works, but thought I would share it at this point. Once I have confirmed it I will let Baz Wellard and ASOC know as it is not documented in the manuals.


Last edited by inspiredron on Sat 6 Jul - 1:41; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : typo!)

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Post by Peter Brown on Sat 6 Jul - 9:49

I've checked several times and it does exactly the same thing on my 325 - well spotted.

Its preferable to disconnected the hookup or switch off the charger before starting the engine as if you don't the alarm on the control panel goes beserk whilst the engine is running.

As soon as you operate either the vehicle battery switch or the on/off switch, operation reverts to normal and you have to start the process again to revert to the veh battery charge with the habitation electrics off.

An interesting point noted was that whilst in this mode, if a (LED) light is switched on it will illuminate for an instant.  That meand there is quite a bit of energy stored somewhere when all is off.

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Post by inspiredron on Sat 6 Jul - 16:00

Thanks for confirming that Peter. Yes - your findings reflect exactly what I found.

There was another odd effect that I am still investigating.  I had TSN down on Friday to fix the reversing camera fault and in the process the courtesy light was on for about 90 minutes. To my surprise the vehicle battery went down to 11V and the van would not start.  When the guy was finished I plugged in to charge and a few minutes later the Cobra alarm went off with an ultrasonic alert.  That continued so the TSN guy came back and replaced the sensors with no improvement. Unplugging the EHU solved the issue but when the hookup was reconnected I got another  ultrasonics alarm. 
After recharging all seems to be back to normal.  There is no indication in the Cobra manual of alarms being generated by low vehicle voltage.

Wierd? rolleyes

As far as the brief led light flash is concerned- that will be a capacitor in the power unit discharging through the light.  I'd guess that if you turn off the charger itself, rather than the control unit and wait about 10 minutes then the lamp will not flash - but I haven't tried it.


Last edited by inspiredron on Sat 6 Jul - 16:03; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added last paragraph)

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Post by -mojo- on Sat 6 Jul - 20:24

inspiredron wrote:
There was another odd effect that I am still investigating.  I had TSN down on Friday to fix the reversing camera fault and in the process the courtesy light was on for about 90 minutes. To my surprise the vehicle battery went down to 11V and the van would not start.  When the guy was finished I plugged in to charge and a few minutes later the Cobra alarm went off with an ultrasonic alert.  That continued so the TSN guy came back and replaced the sensors with no improvement. Unplugging the EHU solved the issue but when the hookup was reconnected I got another  ultrasonics alarm. 
After recharging all seems to be back to normal.  There is no indication in the Cobra manual of alarms being generated by low vehicle voltage.

Under normal circumstances there's no way that having the courtesy light on should take the vehicle battery that low in just 90 mins. On my last van I could (and did, several times) leave the courtesy light on overnight and the van would still start fine the next day.

What you're seeing with the alarm is probably the result of a feature that Sargent added to their panels in a fairly recent firmware release, which introduced a delay between the time that you power on the charger and it being connected to the battery. I've seen it documented somewhere on their website, but can't recall exactly where. IIRC it allows the charger to better assess the battery state, so it can avoid the pulse/bulk charge stages if the battery doesn't need it. What probably happened is that the sudden jump in battery voltage after the charger delay was incorrectly seen by the Cobra as an alarm event.
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Post by peugeotboxer on Sat 6 Jul - 20:43

undefined wrote:Under normal circumstances there's no way that having the courtesy light on should take the vehicle battery that low in just 90 mins. On my last van I could (and did, several times) leave the courtesy light on overnight and the van would still start fine the next day.


This week I washed our car.
Next day it wouldn't start.
Battery was flat.........flat that it wouldn't turn the engine over, but the central locking/radio etc still worked.

The only reason I could tell was that I had the doors open for some time while cleaning.
Therefore the interior lights were on.
Charged up for an hour and was OK.

Battery was five years old so decided to replace anyway.

Whilst I would comment that although the battery should not have gone flat, it did!

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Post by peugeotboxer on Sat 6 Jul - 20:44

peugeotboxer wrote:
mojo wrote:Under normal circumstances there's no way that having the courtesy light on should take the vehicle battery that low in just 90 mins. On my last van I could (and did, several times) leave the courtesy light on overnight and the van would still start fine the next day.


This week I washed our car.
Next day it wouldn't start.
Battery was flat.........flat that it wouldn't turn the engine over, but the central locking/radio etc still worked.

The only reason I could tell was that I had the doors open for some time while cleaning.
Therefore the interior lights were on.
Charged up for an hour and was OK.

Battery was five years old so decided to replace anyway.

Whilst I would comment that although the battery should not have gone flat, it did!

PB
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Post by -mojo- on Sat 6 Jul - 22:26

peugeotboxer wrote:
Whilst I would comment that although the battery should not have gone flat, it did!

You did quite well to get five years out of it - there still seems to be an element of luck involved, even with the most modern of batteries.

I changed out all of the cab internal lighting and the footwell light in the back for LEDs, and I reckon I would get around five times longer running time than with the original filament lamps, and as long as you don't mind waiting for them to ship all the way from Hong Kong they aren't expensive either.

Must admit the "xenon white" lighting does look a bit Corsa, but I can live with that!
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