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Old 05-21-2014, 12:37 AM   #1
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Charger concerns

Tried to search this out but electrical issues are too perplexing to me.

Problem: 45 amp charger fan is running and it's never done this before.

1. In the last 24 hours I noticed my batteries weren't getting the usual charge from my solar.
2. Since the power gauge was only at 21%, I decided to plug into shore power. I was surprised that the gauge did not immediately go to 100% (which it usually does...?)
3. After 20 secs. or so, the gauge jumped to 67% and only slowly began to rise.
4. Don't know exactly when but the cooling fan on the charger kicked on and the power gauge started rising only slowly (as if it were being charged by solar).
5. After 45 mins. or so, I'm up to 91% and the fan is still running. What is up?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 05-21-2014, 03:35 AM   #2
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Re: Charger concerns

How old is your house batt, starters? AGM? Could be one or both are not holding a charge any more or a bad solar charge controller. Isolator/separator may also have gone bad if your starter batt is being drawn down, that happened to me, replaced my separator with an isolator. Fan on the charger should cycle when plugged into shore power. Good luck!
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Old 05-21-2014, 07:44 AM   #3
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Re: Charger concerns

A couple of questions and comments.

When you say Power Gauge was at 21%, what is the power gauge that you are referring to? It sounds like maybe the plug in voltmeter SMB provided.

I suspect that your battery was so far discharged that the solar charger would not come on. You're charger fan came on because you are making it work at full capacity and that means heat, which would turn on the fan. I would suspect that the fan might go off if you reach "100%", although that depends on the power gauge.

I suspect that your house battery has gone bad, or at a minimum you have allowed it to discharge very low.

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Old 05-21-2014, 08:43 AM   #4
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Re: Charger concerns

Do you have a sure power separator, and is it set up to assist start? Also is your vehicle a diesel or gas driven van?

Sounds like a bad battery in the loop. After a good hard charge from shore power I'd feel the batteries and see if any are warmer than the other(s).
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:54 AM   #5
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Re: Charger concerns

I am with Daveb and Ref.... it sounds to me like a battery is no longer holding the charge it has in the past, and it is taking more to charge it.

I suppose there could be some resistance somewhere else in the system, but it sounds like a battery.

How old is/are the battery(ies)?

How much do they get discharged? how often?
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:10 AM   #6
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Re: Charger concerns

Thanks for the replies. Batts are only a couple of years old on my 351 and, what I believe, well taken care of. They are fully charged almost always. When in camp, they do dip to mid 40's% at night (on the solar gauge) but get back up quickly in the sun. We plug in when available which, lately, is most of the time. I'm in AZ currently and there's been plenty of sun. Just don't know why I dipped to 21%.

I have a Sure Power isolator not to assist in start up and the starter batt is never drawn down.

So I guess it's sounding more and more like the batteries but that would be disappointing. Doesn't a 2-yr. batt qualify as new...relatively?

Do I unplug from shore power before feeling the batts for heat?

Thanks again, all.
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:20 AM   #7
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Re: Charger concerns

Incidentally, I'm back at 100% (pluged in) but it took more than an hour to get there. The cooling fan ran the entire time and intermittently for a while after.
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:17 PM   #8
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Re: Charger concerns

If the cooling fan running like that is unusual, that could indicate that it was having to work harder than normal to get things recharged.

How far have they been discharged and how often?
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Old 05-21-2014, 03:45 PM   #9
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Re: Charger concerns

First I'd pull the ground off the separator and look at all the battery connections, including where the charger hooks up (usually at the separator). If the house battery came back up to full charge, turn off everything and let it sit for 24 hours without any charge including the solar, then check voltage. If the battery voltage drops to 12.5-12.8 it's in reasonable to new shape. If it drops to 12.2 or lower expect to purchase one in the near future. You should avoid letting your batteries drop below 12.2 on a regular basis w/o recharging them within 8 hours. Most CO detectors and propane detectors pull from the house system so those should be disconnected before doing the test. Before putting the ground back on the separator, try to start the vehicle and make sure the starting battery isn't going south. If the vehicle labors to start then not only is the starting battery bad but the separator is helping to start the engine. After you've figured out the problem don't forget to hook the separator ground wire.

BTW you can just throw something over the solar like a heavy blanket to stop the charge if you don't garage your van. Before purchasing a new battery, charge [the old battery] back up and take it to a shop for a load check. You might have a draw somewhere else in the van. There is no reason to buy a new battery and just kill it if there is a different problem causing an issue.

Good Luck
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Old 05-23-2014, 04:33 PM   #10
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Re: Charger concerns

And be aware that even using shore power charging a 60% discharged battery to 100% (or close to) can take hours. My converter says on "boost mode" it would take at least 3 hours to get to 90%, and several more (actually more than several) to get to 100%. And at that rate it might kick on the fan as well.
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