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Old 05-16-2009, 11:39 PM   #1
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Pop Problem

My electric penthouse top has always been slow and despite having double 4D batteries, I've always had power consumption problems.

In Moab I believe I discovered that the two are not only related, but likely causal.

First night, fully topped off from shore and having driven all day, I put the top up. Got 11.xx on the meter, not unusual as I always seem to have power problems.

Second night after driving only a short while (2-3 hours), encamp and put the top up, goes slower than usual- reading 10.4 and I attribute the problem to the low power, not vice versa. Running even the water pump drops my power to 9.7... really bad. I spend a lot of time complaining of power problems.

Third night, after driving on dirt roads all day (8 hours) the meter is reading a healthy 12 something, and we run the engine while putting the top up, mainly because it is going so slow. Strangely (at the time) the power stays above 12 with the fridge on and using only the LED lights (trying to conserve power throughout).

Fourth night, I'm thinking conservation was the thing, as we left with 12v+ still showing on the meter. After offroading all day (10 hours) things should be good right? We put the top up and all the sudden we're back at 10.xx!

So, I put the top down an inch or so and it drops about .6 on the meter. I reverse and put the top back up that inch and it drops 1.5v or more while going up.

I think either the top motor is bad, since I carry nothing on my top, or there is a short in the up side of the power lines since it eats more power going up than down. I am going to try to find the time to pull everything out and visually inspect but I'd like any advice on finding the problem.

I'm probably going to buy a meter to measure the amp draw, but apart from that if nothing is obvious I'm not sure what to do next. The previous owner did complain that leaving the top halfway up overnight killed the batteries more than once so they stopped doing it, but SMB said that is not possible when I asked about it.
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:54 AM   #2
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Re: Pop Troblem

Electrical problems - they've got to be about the worst.... I agree with SMB re leaving the top part way up can't be causing the problem (unless there's a short in the wiring). I can also see where raising the top will use more power then lowering it as it takes a little more work to raise then to lower. But, your voltages are WAY to low. I can't remember mine exactly, but after driving, my meter (I also have solar) is in the high 13's.
Raising the top will drop it to the low 13's. In the morning before the solar can really help, my meter is around 12.5 (using fridge and lights) and lowering the top will bring it to the low 12's and after the top is down it goes back up to almost 12.5
Seems like you must have either a dragging motor or a short. I don't know how tough it is to pull the motor, but if you can, take it to a good auto electrical shop and they can check it. Like you mentioned, getting an amp meter to check your draw would probably be easier. If you can get to the wiring at the motor, you might try connecting it directly to an aux battery and see how that works. That will tell you if the problem is in the motor or the wiring.
I guess this is what evenings and weekends are for....
Maybe someone else here will have a constructive idea for you. Good luck jage
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Old 05-17-2009, 08:55 AM   #3
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Re: Pop Troblem

Wow..... that does seem like a lot of drop. Our electric top hardly makes any difference at all. I will check today for a real number when we go to the ballpark.

I know you have had electrical and battery issues in the past, but it almost sounds like battery issues. For your voltage to drop from 12+v to below 11v it would take a lot of used up amps. It might make more sense if there were only one 4D in the picture, but even then it still seems like too much drop.

I wonder if the electric mechanism or motor has changed through the years. It does make sense the lifting would use more juice then controlling the descent.

I am curious to hear what you discover.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:06 PM   #4
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Re: Pop Troblem

I suppose another possibility is your house battery is either shot (has almost no capacity) or has faulty (loose, corroded) connections. Trying to run the system from an aux battery should help troubleshoot the issue.

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Old 05-17-2009, 12:47 PM   #5
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Re: Pop Problem

Jage my top only uses about 3A going up and just over 2 amps while dropping. The current draw stops as soon as the motors hit the limiter whether or not the switch is engaged. My H battery voltage stays above 13v and doesn't change much at all. Today when I tested it I had a full charge on the H battery bank and about 1.5 amps solor coming in which if figured in. (EDIT If I take away the 1.5 coming in it would equal about 3 total on the amp meter while lifting)
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:15 PM   #6
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Re: Pop Problem

Test Results :

We had been on shore power over night and then drove about 10 miles to the ballpark. We were at 13.6v when we started the top up and at 13.5v when it was finished. It was cloudy and in the 60's at the time.

When we put the top down just a little bit ago, it was partly sunny and in the 70's. We were at 13.9v even after using the microwave, satellite receiver, TV and radio between games. When the top was down and latched we were still at 13.9v.

Diagnosis : Jage you have a problem.

If the motors are drawing that much juice then the motors have some problem.

Otherwise, and I hate to say it, it sounds like a battery issue.
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:39 PM   #7
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Re: Pop Problem

Me thinks Greg is right. Jage, I know there are other threads here where you went into detail re your house batteries. If I remember right (yeah sure) you have two of 'em and I thot you only replaced one. Therein could be the problem. Dropping those suckers is not fun, But I'd sure do it and put a serious load test on each of them seperatly. Those are big batteries, so the little 50-90 amp load testers probably won't do the trick unless the batteries are really on their last legs. Maybe you should have done this last weekend when you had all those willing hands around?
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Old 05-18-2009, 04:51 PM   #8
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Re: Pop Problem

Yeah you remember correctly, I've complained about the house batteries since getting the second one put in. However I've been living with it until I have a place to work... and one of my thoughts this past week was that living with it just bit me in the rear.

However as I understand it I'm not damaging them any further... no matter what I'm doing both next time so killing them repeatedly doesn't bother me and I will just have to continue to live with it.
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Old 05-18-2009, 08:56 PM   #9
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Re: Pop Problem

I bet that the "bad" battery is getting drawn down quickly and the newer "good" battery is really shouldering the load, giving you the fast moving overall voltage readings.

I don't know what problems might occur when one battery gets drawn down significantly more than the other. It seems like charging could be problematic.

In a Hybrid or Electric vehicle battery when a "cell" or "module" drops to a voltage significantly lower than its bretheren, it can cause the good cells to suffer from heat-related charging issues. If the voltage spread gets large enough the BMS can just give up and say I don't know how to deal with this...and stop. I don't think our 'dumb' charging systems can charge one battery any differently from the other...
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Old 05-18-2009, 11:17 PM   #10
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Re: Pop Problem

attached has current and voltage taking the top down and then up, everything was turned off except for sensors. This was logged using Xantrex XBM communications software. I have empty storage box on the top of the van.

-greg
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Topupdown.pdf (13.1 KB, 6 views)
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