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Old 08-03-2020, 03:44 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: NYC
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AUX Battery -> Amp = dimming lights

Hey guys,

So I have a 2002 E250 Quigley 4x4 Converted, hard hightop van. ( I know not SMB but hoping some leads could help here)

Used to be a wheelchair bus out in Massachusetts.

The previous owner purchased it from the local transit authority and went ahead and removed lots of stuff. All seats, lift, strobe lights, any radio or door connections in the front.

I didn't realize I had an AUX battery, I thought he removed it until I saw a red wire sticking out of my floor and it sparked when it touched some metal I was moving.

I had been wanting to install my amp and subwoofers for a while, and figured I should be able to run it to this battery. I did. I ran a Kenwood KAC-7201 with two tens for a while and it ran fine. I didn't notice anything wacky, no turning off, no dimming of lights, and I was able to play it at loud volumes. I listen to a lot of Drum and Bass, tech house, house music etc.

I do some VJ-ing (Visual Jockey) and projection mapping, so I wanted to install an Inverter somewhere in the van to be able to plug projector + laptop to go projection bombing wherever /whenever we wanted.

I installed a power distributor that had 2 inputs and 8 outputs. I ran an inline fuse before hitting the distributor from the aux battery. And then ran the three power wires to each device. the amplifier , one 500w inverter (this inverter only has a pos and neg connection), and one 900w inverter. this inverter i see has a positive, neg, and ground connection)

Now, I think this is one place where I messed up. I ran the ground from the chassis into the 2nd input of the distributor. And then ran a ground to the amp, and then the grounds into the negative connections on the inverters. The 900w doesn't currently have the ground connection, connected to anything.

I switched the subs from 2 10's, to one sony 15 inch. And ran the amp in bridged mode "460 watts RMS x 1 bridged output at 4 ohms"
Sub is 400w RMS @ 4ohm

So in just driving around blasting music, I notice the amp just turns off. Not sure if it's going into protect mode, or just not getting any juice. The amp doesn't have a light or indicator that it is in fact in protect mode. I just have a blue light that indicates it's on, or off.

Also notice at night when the headlights are on, the bass really really really dims the lights.

Now, we plugged in the projector and laptop to the smaller inverter and we got something going. We kept the van idling while we did this. Now when we put the music up even a little, and the sub tried to hit any bass note, the inverter would shut off.

If you've read this far, I appreciate you. I've been reading on the way the batteries are wired for the gas vans. and I feel like could this be a dead AUX battery? a bad ground somewhere? but then I've read that maybe the AUX Battery relay could be bad and not allowing for the battery in the back to charge?

And I also thought of rerouting the negative wires from the inverter to the actual battery terminal, rather than into the ground distribution block. This should be done anyway. But I've been reading different takes on negative and ground.

The van does have an intellitec battery guard and looks like the braun circuit sentry 100A circuit breaker still installed. not sure if this has anything to do with what is happening back there.

Right now I'm playing music and It's cutting off randomly. The only thing I've connected to the inverter while driving has been a USB for an iphone as I quarantine my girlfriend to the back of the van for the time being.

Thank you for any help!

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Old 08-03-2020, 04:37 PM   #2
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Whats the battery voltage? It sounds like it's going dead.

Arctic Traveller
2001 GTRV
Advanced 4wd
Agile Ride improvement package
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Old 08-03-2020, 05:28 PM   #3
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Location: Southern New Mexico
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Just a factory head unit can draw around 8 amps, so you're putting a large strain on your batteries. Add large speakers, an inverter,... and you can really pull down your battery voltage if you're not careful. A good starting point would be to install a battery voltage monitor so you can be sure not to damage your batteries.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 08-03-2020, 06:43 PM   #4
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Location: Corvallis, OR
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I would guess a bad aux battery as well. Voltage is just dropping too low when the subs are hitting.

Also what size wiring are you running to the inverter and amps?
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 08-11-2020, 01:31 AM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: NYC
Posts: 5
So This last weekend I looked under the van and all of a sudden I found myself Under her for hours pulling this AUX battery out. and even longer trying to muscle that bish back in

Yes. PITA for sure.

I noticed the Red Power Wire I was initially plugged into, wasn't even attached to the positive terminal on the AUX battery. (you probably knew this, I wasn't expecting this).
Which made me feel like the power was never coming off the AUX. And that's why when I bumped, my headlights were dimming

the AUX was completely dead though. Took it to get tested and dead. I had never changed it since purchasing it, and I'm the sure the dude before me never cared for it since he pulled any and everything off the van.

I got a new battery, threw it back in the case. but this time I wired my power wire to the + on the aux and ran that back to the power distributor.

I ran the negative terminals from the inverters to the neg terminal on the aux battery.

And I ran the grounds to the distributor grounds.

Once I powered on, I noticed the + and - on the distributor were only showing about 12V. Does this mean the AUX battery is not charging? I'm expecting my battery to display about 12V with the vehicle off, and about 14ish V with the engine on. If so, I've been reading about the AUX charging relay underneath the main battery. I'm assuming this is the issue right now. I've also read how much of the pain in the butt this piece is to change as well.

Does anyone have any pics of this piece I would need?

Also, since this van had all of this equipment, does that mean the alternator is of a higher capacity? Just curious on how to test my alternator or how to identify it's beefiness...

Also, @carringb, I'm running 4AWG from the inverters/AMP to the distributor. And then from distributor to battery I'm using 1/0AWG for both ground and power. is this dumb?

slowly learning more but definitely not a pro on this, so I send my
Thanks in advanced!
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Old 08-11-2020, 11:43 AM   #6
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Location: Lomita, CA
Posts: 719
something is definitely odd there. I have a ton more power in my audio system (1500w rms through 2 amplifiers) and never have any light dimming or voltage issues (even with 50A of aux lighting on at night). I am running a stock 130a alternator and dual Odyssey Extreme batteries with one isolated with a PAC-200 relay and all 2/0 cables including a Vantage Optics Big 3 alternator/grounding cable kit. My factory isolator failed and caused the aux battery to die like it sounds yours has. With the changes to the cables and batteries my system is quite robust at this point.

Scott Thompson
Vantage Optics

2002 Ford E350 V10 Traveler
Vantage Optics Headlights
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