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Old 01-04-2005, 11:23 AM   #1
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Solar and the Disconnect Switch/Charging/Phantom Loads

Here's my problem:

After storing my '04 22' CCD outside (with a 75w solar array installed using the "factory solar prewire") in the NM sun without a shore-line (no power available) for the last month or so, my Interstate group 24 deep cycle battery is "dead" (i.e. unable to even dimly light any interior lights, etc.) and the solar panel seemingly can't revive it.

rseagle and I have had a lengthy discussion on this and it looks like;

A) The "Disconnect Switch" might be bypassed by at least the LP monitor (on newer coaches than mine, the CO monitor could bypass the disconnect switch as well) creating at least a single "phantom load" that cannot be avoided short of disconnecting at the battery terminals. Somewhere on this forum I read that this is "the law".

B) When the Disconnect Switch is in "Store" mode, the solar array might be disconnected from the charge ciruit (I have been told this but have not verified yet from A/S). FYI, I thought this might be the case so the last time I was out at my trailer, I switched it to the "Use" position. The battery is still discharged even after a week in the sun. I did not have a meter with me so I could not verify anything beyond what I could visually observe.

C) A desulfator might be able to revive my battery.

Today, I contacted Randy at A/S technical support. I should know later today whether the above are true.

If true, it is an interesting situation. The solution would be to create a bypass for the solar array so that it does not disconnect at the "store" switch or leave the switch in the "use" position all the time. At the very least, A/S should include something about this in the owner's manual... I just checked and can find nothing.

Anyone have any more info or see any problems with this approach?

Given the lack of information, should I press for a battery replacement? I see that A/S specifically excludes batteries from their warranty. Do you think this a warrantable situation through Interstate (frankly, I don't)?

Other thoughts or ideas?

Danka!
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Old 01-04-2005, 12:32 PM   #2
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same happened to me. Take batteries to dealer. They can recharge. But in the future either get solar to keep batteries up or disconnect the negative battery cable. Fun, ain't it..........
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Old 01-04-2005, 01:42 PM   #3
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Randy at A/S reports that the solar pre-wire bypasses the disconnect switch so putting it in "store" mode would not stop solar charging... but he didn't sound too certain about it except to say that it made sense to do it that way.

Anyone else want to chime in?

Thanks.
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Old 01-04-2005, 02:38 PM   #4
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My batteries went flatish on 2 occasions. The cause of the first time was probably light corrosion on the fuse legs in the solar regulator. Cleaned em and saw the full charge running.

The second time was because the trunk light was left on. Short dark New England days wouldn't let the charger replenish the batteries fast enough. Perhaps there were other phantom loads that I wasn't aware of.

I'm now in the habit of turning the master switch to OFF when I'm going to be away from the trailer for more than a week.

I haven't picked up my new trailer yet. It'll be interesting to see how the solar panel (100w) works on that one.

My dos centavos.
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Old 01-04-2005, 05:05 PM   #5
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Solar By-Pass to battery

Since I'm also considering a solar panel for my 22' CCD, I'm very interested in the outcome of XRAY's situation.

I was reading my Airstream manual after talking to X Sunday night and discovered that the Disconnect Switch will isolate the battery from being charged by the AC converter/ charger while in the "Store" mode. The converter will still provide DC directly to the DC appliances and "cigarette lighter plugs", while AC is applied to the trailer. No mention was made to "Phantom" loads. No mention was made to the solar by-passing the Disconnect Switch, however, it did mention that if the 7-pin connector umbilical is connected to a running tow vehicle, the alternator will charge the house battery, regardless of the position of the Disconnect Switch.
I think I'm going to get my trusty multi-meter out and start troubleshooting.

In X's case, disconnecting the battery and checking voltage at the + and -leads, while the Disconnect Switch is open, will indicate that the solar generated DC voltage is indeed getting thru to the battery as it supposed to. Also insure that the 10 Amp in-line fuse is good. Then flipping the Disconnect Switch to "Store", check to see if voltage is still present at the battery leads. I'll be interested in the results.

The battery is probably dead. If XRAY's battery was completely discharged by "Phantom" loads, it's electrolyte can freeze at +19F, according to the manual. Not being a battery expert, I don't know if the battery can be brought back into service, if it froze.

This is going to be an interseting thread, and I hope that the A/S tech people on this forum will contribute as well.
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Old 01-22-2005, 03:08 PM   #6
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Post

I did some checking and troubleshooting this week. Here are the results.

Interstate Battery replaced my deep cycle battery without a glitch. In fact, I called their warranty department and while I was on the phone, the Interstate rep called their NM delivery truck and found him in Santa Fe. Within minutes, my new battery was delivered to a nearby dealer. It was in my hands within 30 minutes. Talk about good service!

I also talked to my solar system manufacturer, Go Power Solar, suspecting something might be awry with my solar charge system and that it was the cause of the bad battery... They advised me to check the panel outputs at the charge controller with a voltmeter. I was looking for about 18V output and was happy to see that it was fine - within spec. So, I installed the new battery and, whallah, everything is working great again. Turns out I was able to verify that the factory solar pre-wire does bypass the "Store/Use" switch, which is a good thing to find out. I think you will agree.

Today a PowerPulse desulfator arrived (bought on eBay) so I am installing that this afternoon (see pic). I am hopeful that this will be a benefit to battery life.

I am confident that my CCD will be back to 100% within a couple of hours.

Thanks for all the feedback and info,

X
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Old 01-22-2005, 06:44 PM   #7
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hey x ray,

did you ever resolve the issue of "phantom" loads with the electronic switch panel?

does the lp detector stay online when you put it into store mode?

my excella has a manual battery disconnect behind the sofa, it completley disconnects the batts. it is too old to have the required lp detectors hard wired in.

the only problem i've encountered with this system is blowing the radio fuses if you disconnect the batts with the univolt plugged in.

john
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Old 01-23-2005, 08:46 AM   #8
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Hold everything!

I just got back from installing the PowerPulse. Battery's down again.

I suspect my solar charge controller is bad... Or, the Store/Use switch really does cut off the solar connection to the battery.

Going to do some more troubleshooting today.

Will advise,

X
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Old 01-23-2005, 08:58 AM   #9
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Hi Jay,

Sorry to hear about your continuing problems with the battery charging.

What kind of Solar Charge Controller do you have? Does it have the Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) technology?

Bob
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Old 01-23-2005, 12:55 PM   #10
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Bob,

I just pulled the battery and charge controller/regulator and brought them home. The battery is on a charger now. I am going to call Go Power Electric tomorrow and run through the symptoms with them. I suspect now that I have a bad charge controller and they will have me send it to them for servicing/replacement.

My charge controller is here (scroll down the page to GPR-22).

The owner's manual for the charge controller is here (pdf).

No MPPT that I can discern.

Appreciate the input. Will keep you posted.

J
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