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Old 01-13-2009, 06:36 AM   #1
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Happy New Year Alpinites!

I think I have read all the posts on relays (which I've replaced), Vansco and echo chargers, but I think what I'm trying to resolve, does not fit with any previous solutions.

In my 04 Alpine, I have the Vansco, factory installed 100W solar panel and controller and no echo charger.

I understand WRV incorporated the "charge switch function" in the Vansco, superceding previous use of echo chargers.

However, I believe the Vansco must be powered to make this switch and I flip both chassis and coach battery disconnects when my coach is stored. I do this because I've had no luck keeping either battery banks charged if I leave the disconnects powered. I suspect the power draw of the Vansco and other parasitic draws are just too much.

My solar controller is wired direct to the coach batteries and keeps those batteries charged fine. My chassis batteries die after ~ 1 month.

I have considered an echo charger, but my read on the manual leads me to believe that it is designed for use with an inverter and it may not work a solar controller, because the echo charger's trip point is about the same, I think, as the solar controller's trip point (13V). (i.e. when the solar controller detects 13V "full charge" on the coach batteries, it will shut off, so any "re-direction" by the echo charger will be for naught.

I wish I had understood this when the factory installed the 100W panel, as it might have made sense to wire the smaller stock panel to the chassis batteries. The factory advised me that they connected the stock to the new panel.

I've thought about jumping the solar charging connection from the coach batteries to the chassis batteries, but I'm concerned about un-intended consequences.

Any ideas?
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Old 01-13-2009, 07:26 AM   #2
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Jim,

Do you still have the "stock" panel installed? ( I assume that you mean the small one.) If so it can be connected to the chassis batteries, that what WRV did in, at least, 2007. You could also use a battery isolator, with the generator connection hooked up to the solar and the 2 outputs to the battery banks.
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Old 01-13-2009, 08:18 AM   #3
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Jim,
I have connected my solar panel to the chassis battery. With the house battery disconnected from all loads, that stays charged for months. You could connect the batteries in parallel and that would be fine while the solar panel is charging but at night one battery could discharge the other if they are not in perfect condition. Isolating them with a diode would be good except it would reduce the output of your solar panel considerably.
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Old 01-13-2009, 10:23 AM   #4
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Perhaps this will provide you with some food for thought. An electrolytic film (conductive film) can build up on the surface of batteries that have been in service for a while. This allows a slight current to flow between the battery poles. On an older battery this can lead to a serious voltage drop after a few weeks of idle state. The film can be removed with a cloth and some water. A sprinkle of baking soda keeps the film from returning. (Donít get the baking soda in the cells or its goodbye battery). Batteries that are reaching the end of their service life often short internally and the output drops to near zero sometimes in a matter of hours or a day or two. 5 years is about the life limit for good automotive batteries (and less for low cost replacements).

A battery or 2 in parallel of the same type and service date when disconcerted from _all loads_ should maintain a useful charge for several months. Parallelling dissimilar batteries IE Coach and House batteries on a common charge line is not a good idea. A trickle charge from a solar panel _may_ maintain parallelled batteries if all of them are in a good condition, but they should be isolated to prevent reverse flow between different batteries. I leave my Coach and House batteries off line while docked. The solar panel does maintain the house batteries but I donít expect more than that.
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Old 01-14-2009, 06:48 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies!

Dale, my solar controller installed by WRV is an aftermarket unit, which they advised was needed for the additonal capacity (from 10W to 110W). I don't think my original 10W solar panel had (or needed) a controller.

John, since I rarely dry-camp, I'm thinking that I should switch the solar charge to my chassis batteries. I suspect my coach batteries do not have similar parasitic draw and would last long enough for me.

Or, connect the banks with a diode Beet?
My battery banks are relatively new and in good condition. My panels get a lot of sun exposure (So Cal). I would likely continue my practice of disconnecting both banks.

Thanks guys, I'll do a little more research and give one or both options a try.
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:34 AM   #6
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Guys,

Need a "sanity check" on the idea of using a diode to connect solar panel output to both battery banks.

Looks like a marine battery isolator fits the bill, but I'm wondering if there is any condition under which the "inter-bank" connection thru the diode (which blocks current from chassis to coach batteries) permitting current from coach to chassis via a ~10-12 gauge wire is a problem.

(i.e., in connecting the solar output to both banks, the banks are interconnected through a relatively small gauge wire. Is there a condition where the chassis batteries can create a large draw (e.g. starting) across the the smaller wire and fry it?)

Also, if there's any issue (as Beethoven mentioned) connecting dissimilar banks, the diode creates a 1-way valve for one direction of current. What about the other direction of current?
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:21 AM   #7
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As long as the diodes are good there is no reverse current, your batteries are isolated from each other.
When you start the engine you will not be drawing any current from the coach battery through that small wire.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:29 AM   #8
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Algoma,

just to be clear, I can only use 1 diode (to permit the solar current to pass), so the banks are not completely isolated, just in one direction.

Thanks
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Old 01-14-2009, 11:31 AM   #9
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Hi Jim,

I replaced the WRV 110 watt solar controller with an ugraded model cause I did not see the sense of a little red light meaning anything. I then purchased a smaller solar panel and had it wired directly to the chassis batts. Even with that change, I lost chassis batt power over 2 to 3 weeks. I installed an Echo charger and have had no problems since.

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Old 01-14-2009, 04:00 PM   #10
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Jim,
The isolator has 2 diodes and 3 terminals. The center terminal connects to the output of the solar panel and you connect terminal 1 to the chassis battery and terminal 2 to the coach battery.
A better solution would be to replace the PV controller with one that outputs to 2 batteries. Click on the following for details http://discoverpower.com/shop/...harge_controller.asp
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:45 PM   #11
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Hi Milo!

Just to be sure, you don't have shore power connected while your coach is stored?

Also, do you leave the chassis and/or coach disconnects on or off in storage?

I know the echo charger will work with the Xantrex as a charging source, but this product link suggests it's not for use with solar panels:
http://store.solar-electric.com/echo-charger.html

BUT, the echo charger manual says it's "designed to work with any DC charging source".

I originally thought a conflict between cut in/out voltages between the Echo and solar controller might be a problem, but if it works for you, it should work for me!

Thanks Algoma!,

I was mistaken, thinking of single diode isolation. I read your link for the dual bank controller and it sounds like a great solution, but I'd have to undertake another wiring run and I have no idea how WRV "snaked" the wire run between my battery compartment and controller.

The Echo charger seems to be the simplest solution, since I can install and wire inside my battery compartment.

Appreciate the help guys,
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Old 01-14-2009, 07:57 PM   #12
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Jim

I had the similar problem with my 100 panels. I changed out the solar controller with one that charges two seperate battery banks. It is designed to charge both house batteries and chassis. It has a the stage charge so the batteries will not overcharge. Check with AM Solar or the solar supplier in oregon.

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Old 01-15-2009, 06:16 AM   #13
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Thanks Sandy, that looks like the best technical solution. I like the idea of a better panel display too, but for now, I'm trying a less expensive solution (Echo ~$115, I install)that doesn't require taking my coach to a shop to run new cabling.
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Old 01-15-2009, 03:41 PM   #14
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Jim,
If you read your link carefully it says "NOT for use with solar electric panels". Sorry.
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