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Old 04-05-2016, 05:12 PM   #1
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Sick alternator and solar feeding chassis?

I posted this on the Escapee's Tech area too, but wanted to ask here.

We are getting sporadic behavior out of our alternator. Looks like it is going South quick. (12.3-12.6, with a few spikes above this.) We were losing ground fast on the chassis battery.

Our arsenal of gear!:
-1200W of solar, with MidNite Classic 150 and WhizBangJr
-Magnum MS2812 inverter/charger
>BMK Meter
>AGS
>SBC (Smart Battery Connector)
-When working, out alternator

OK, what confuses me is why the Chassis Battery was going down. Alternator not working, or on partially working, with a Silverleaf reading of 12.3-12.6 for a solid 30 minutes. To me, this means the engine was probably drawing down on the chassis battery to keep running.

We had been plugged in with MS2812 on charge for several weeks. As well as the Solar panels and MidNite Classic 150 were online too. So, we had 100% SOC reflected via both the BMK Meter and WhisBangJr readings on the Classic 150 display. I observed these values before pulling out of our site.

This would mean that the MidNite Classic 150 would not be sending power. So, the Magnum SBC would not have any power to send/split/share with the Chassis battery. (THIS LAST SENTENCE WAS MORE OF A QUESTION. THEN A STATEMENT.)

Due to the above sentence, I assume this is why I was only seeing 12.3-12.6V values on the Silverleaf.

I was not able to get up and check the current readings and charge status of the MidNite Classic 150 display, as it is in the rear bedroom, and I was in the Driver's seat.) My wife did look at the Magnum readings, and it did reflect still 100% House SOC, and a negative 12-15AH's draw.

OK, so started the generator, and within a few minutes, the Silverleaf was reflecting 13.8-14.1 readings over a 5-10 minute period of watching. The alternator gauge on the dash, was also back into the 13-14V range too.

We drove from Yuma to Tucson without any problems this way. And then today we returned from Tucson to Yuma, stopping for the night, then back into San Diego the next day. Next week I'll have sometime to run some tests to see what is going on with the alternator for sure.

So, another long Smitty post! Fact check me please:

-SBC High Voltage settings would block the heavy high voltage levels of Bulk Charge from the MidNite Classic 150. (If I had looked, I should have seen the SBC reflecting this via the HDV Status Light.)
-In Absorb and in Float, I should have seen the SBC being able to send power to the Chassis Battery. (Which should have been enough to allow us to drive along with out a negative draw to the Chassis Battery.).
-Starting the Magnum MS1812 Charger, running off the generator, did see that the House Battery were in good charge, so diverted power to the Chassis. Which is what I drove off of, and also saw reflected on the Silverleave and Voltage Gauge on the dash.

We wanted to run the generator anyways, for coach house AC.

But, what if we did not need the house AC. Is their away to have tricked the MidNite Classic 150 to send a charge to the House Battery, which then should have been shared with the Chassis via the SBC?

Sorry for the long thread, and the rambling. But having Solar and being able to feed the Chassis via the MidNite Classic 150 would be nice to do.

Best to all, and TIA for reading thru all of this. And, a silver star to anyone that knows what the heck I was asking!
Smitty
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty77 View Post
I posted this on the Escapee's Tech area too, but wanted to ask here.

We are getting sporadic behavior out of our alternator. Looks like it is going South quick. (12.3-12.6, with a few spikes above this.) We were losing ground fast on the chassis battery.

Our arsenal of gear!:
-1200W of solar, with MidNite Classic 150 and WhizBangJr
-Magnum MS2812 inverter/charger
>BMK Meter
>AGS
>SBC (Smart Battery Connector)
-When working, out alternator

OK, what confuses me is why the Chassis Battery was going down. Alternator not working, or on partially working, with a Silverleaf reading of 12.3-12.6 for a solid 30 minutes. To me, this means the engine was probably drawing down on the chassis battery to keep running.

We had been plugged in with MS2812 on charge for several weeks. As well as the Solar panels and MidNite Classic 150 were online too. So, we had 100% SOC reflected via both the BMK Meter and WhisBangJr readings on the Classic 150 display. I observed these values before pulling out of our site.

This would mean that the MidNite Classic 150 would not be sending power. So, the Magnum SBC would not have any power to send/split/share with the Chassis battery. (THIS LAST SENTENCE WAS MORE OF A QUESTION. THEN A STATEMENT.)

Due to the above sentence, I assume this is why I was only seeing 12.3-12.6V values on the Silverleaf.

I was not able to get up and check the current readings and charge status of the MidNite Classic 150 display, as it is in the rear bedroom, and I was in the Driver's seat.) My wife did look at the Magnum readings, and it did reflect still 100% House SOC, and a negative 12-15AH's draw.

OK, so started the generator, and within a few minutes, the Silverleaf was reflecting 13.8-14.1 readings over a 5-10 minute period of watching. The alternator gauge on the dash, was also back into the 13-14V range too.

We drove from Yuma to Tucson without any problems this way. And then today we returned from Tucson to Yuma, stopping for the night, then back into San Diego the next day. Next week I'll have sometime to run some tests to see what is going on with the alternator for sure.

So, another long Smitty post! Fact check me please:

-SBC High Voltage settings would block the heavy high voltage levels of Bulk Charge from the MidNite Classic 150. (If I had looked, I should have seen the SBC reflecting this via the HDV Status Light.)
-In Absorb and in Float, I should have seen the SBC being able to send power to the Chassis Battery. (Which should have been enough to allow us to drive along with out a negative draw to the Chassis Battery.).
-Starting the Magnum MS1812 Charger, running off the generator, did see that the House Battery were in good charge, so diverted power to the Chassis. Which is what I drove off of, and also saw reflected on the Silverleave and Voltage Gauge on the dash.

We wanted to run the generator anyways, for coach house AC.

But, what if we did not need the house AC. Is their away to have tricked the MidNite Classic 150 to send a charge to the House Battery, which then should have been shared with the Chassis via the SBC?

Sorry for the long thread, and the rambling. But having Solar and being able to feed the Chassis via the MidNite Classic 150 would be nice to do.

Best to all, and TIA for reading thru all of this. And, a silver star to anyone that knows what the heck I was asking!
Smitty
The voltage readings you report, (with the equipment you have... under the conditions you describe), sound normal to me.
(Methinks you're worrying needlessly).
Mel
'96 Safari
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Old 04-06-2016, 10:51 AM   #3
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Don't think I'm eligible for a silver star......

If your chassis battery is ok then you may indeed need a new alternator.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:01 AM   #4
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FWIW I wonder how many of those controllers are feeding your starting battery bank. I'd isolate the engine battery from everything but the alternator and take a drive. If everything looks normal it's something else. If not then either the battery or alternator could be the problem.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:17 AM   #5
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You don't have to trick the 150, you can go into the menu on the controller and start a "re bulk" which will start the charging stage all over again.
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:19 PM   #6
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As far as the readings of the alternator output via Silverleaf as well as the dash analog gauge. at 12.3V of output, they're lower then I've even seen, as well as the fluctuations up/down over a very short period of time. So to me they indicate either a problem with the alternator itself, or possibly the pathway connections to the chassis battery.

And yes, the Classic 150 has the ability to place back into the charge cycle. And I could also change the settings in regards to WhizBangJr to not go to Float mode based upon battery readings. Without the WBJr setting changes, the "re bulk' will shift to Float relatively rapidly.

Should be able to get some readings of the chassis battery itself, and also alternator voltage output over the weekend.

Appreciate the input,
Smitty
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Old 04-08-2016, 11:37 PM   #7
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Smitty,
I don't have all the fancy gizmos you have but I have experienced a total alternator failure. Driving along, the voltage will continue to drop way down into the 11 vdc range.

I had a failure according to the Silverleaf and watched the voltage continue to drop. The only way I could get the voltage to come up was to start the genny and then got voltage readings in the normal range. Than shutting the genny down, I could watch the voltage in its continuous decline and I would start the genny again.

Looks like you have a dead alternator and your massive battery bank and solar is keeping the chassis battery charged.... I think
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:48 AM   #8
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Closing the loop on this. No magic, pure and simple the alternator is toast! Have ordered the Remy Delco 180A unit that is a direct replacement.

Going to keep an eye on the CAT 8D 1500 CCA Maintenance Free battery for the next month or two. I had let it get down by an unknown fuse blow in my Smart Battery Combiner. Seemed to recover OK from this, but for sure it took some life out of this now 5 year old battery.

We head out on a 4-5 month trip in mid May, so if any signs of ongoing problems, I'll swap it our and move on.

Best to all,
Smitty
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:41 PM   #9
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I might get that silver star after all.......lol.
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Old 04-17-2016, 11:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
I might get that silver star after all.......lol.

I'd be pleased to send you a star vs replacing the battery!

Battery does not owe me anything, I was the one that let it get drawn down by accident. Even had two days warning, as we also have not power front inside cockpit shades. Had noted the last few times going up/down, that they were really getting slow. I called the shade manufacturer tech support, to see if I had a problem with the shades, or some setting that needed adjusting.

Well, it seems the shades motors were spliced into our chassis battery. It was the third day after I first noticed the slowing, that I realized we had a chassis battery problem! (House batteries were looking good at 100% SOC via my monitor. Of course, that does not read the chassis battery...)

So if it does end up needing replacing - it's the result of operator error...

We will see!
Smitty
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