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Old 07-16-2021, 01:02 PM   #1
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Lithium & Solar Issue

After much angsting, I took the easy way out, and asked the dealer to install Lithium batteries and a new solar controller in our 2009 Classic 34. We got the unit back last week, and we already have a problem.

The dealer installed 2, 100AH Battle Born lithium batteries; a WFCO 9855 LiS converter (); a Victron SmartShunt; and a Victron SmartSolar controller.

When I went into the Airstream yesterday evening, the trailer was as dead as nails. No 12V devices worked, the Victron app couldn't see any devices, and even the AC circuits were dead, even though the trailer is plugged in to shore power. So I checked the shore power connection and reset all the 120VAC breakers (none were tripped but I reset them all anyway), and the AC side came back to life...but not the 12VDC side. After further investigation I discovered that, for some reason, they plugged the converter into a switched outlet, and somehow the switch got turned off. Flipped the switch on, and the 12VDC side came back. I was then able to see the SmartShunt in the Victron app, and it showed the batteries at 11.5 VDC, and state of charge of 100%. However, the app does not see the SmartSolar controller.

This morning I went back to check things out, and noticed that the converter fan was not running, but after 12 hours of charging and everything off except the refrigerator, the battery voltage hadn't gone past 11.7 VDC. And the SmartSolar controller still doesn't show in the app.

A call to the dealer got me nowhere...the tech who does those installs is on vacation until next week.

So...does anyone have any suggestions for how to proceed from here? I'd like to get those batteries recharged, and I'd like for the solar controller to start working again.

Also - how in the heck does the Victron SmartShunt show state of charge at 100% if the battery voltage is only 11.7 VDC???

Thanks for any suggestions.

Jim
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Old 07-16-2021, 02:44 PM   #2
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Hi!

I recently installed 500 watts of solar with a Victron 100/50 MPPT controller and a BMV-712 Smart Shunt so I've been on the same learning curve.

According to the BMV-712 manual, page 6: "When powered up for the first time the BMV will by default display 100% state of charge."

So that initial 100% state of charge at 11.7 volts doesn't worry me. But I would expect on subsequent days (solar charging cycles) that battery voltage at 100% state of charge would be close to normal for the type of battery if the BMV has been properly programmed.

After installing my gear I went camping for 5 days. It was cool to be at 100% state of charge by 10 AM every day without running the tow vehicle or the genset. Hope your system settles down and does the same for you.

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Old 07-16-2021, 03:59 PM   #3
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You need to get a digital multimeter and check a few things. With your trailer unplugged and everything off check the battery voltage with the multimeter to determine its true voltage. If it really is that low than either your converter or solar charge controller should be charging your batteries, so either plug in or pull out in the sun , and check the voltage at the battery again, it should be somewhere between 13.5 and 14.6 volts. If not then then check the voltage at the converter or charger to see if they are working. Hopefully that helps narrow things down.--Frank
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Old 07-16-2021, 05:46 PM   #4
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Hi

How much current does the 712 show going into the batteries? Assuming it's installed correctly, that number will tell you a lot about what's wrong. If you are plugged into shore power with an 11.x V battery, it should show 30A or more ....

Bob
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Old 07-16-2021, 06:30 PM   #5
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The cheap analog multimeter confirms +/- 11 volts after resting, disconnected from shore power, a couple hours.

The Victron app shows zero amps going in with the converter powered (and itís fan is running). Tomorrow with the light of day Iíll check all the wiring to make sure thereís nothing disconnected, and Iíll test the converter output. Maybe Iíll end up getting the converter I wanted to begin with, and not that cheap WFCO converterÖ.

Thanks for the tipsÖIíll update tomorrow.

As for the SmartSolar charger. The manual says it should be powered up if receiving voltage from either the battery or the PV panels. The multimeter on the battery connections at the solar controller shows voltage coming from the battery (albeit only ~11 volts). Would the voltage be too low to power up the solar controller? If not, why doesnít the Victron app see the solar controller? Any ideas? Iím certain the panels wonít be generating any wattage as the Airstream is parked in complete shade.

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 07-16-2021, 06:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamJim;
The dealer installed 2, 100AH Battle Born lithium batteries; a WFCO 9855 LiS converter (); a Victron SmartShunt; and a Victron SmartSolar controller.
got it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamJim;
When I went into the Airstream yesterday evening, the trailer was as dead as nails. No 12V devices worked, the Victron app couldn't see any devices, and even the AC circuits were dead, even though the trailer is plugged in to shore power. So I checked the shore power connection and reset all the 120VAC breakers (none were tripped but I reset them all anyway), and the AC side came back to life...but not the 12VDC side. After further investigation I discovered that, for some reason, they plugged the converter into a switched outlet, and somehow the switch got turned off. Flipped the switch on, and the 12VDC side came back. I was then able to see the SmartShunt in the Victron app, and it showed the batteries at 11.5 VDC, and state of charge of 100%. However, the app does not see the SmartSolar controller.
got it, ok. progress. not so cool that they didn't wire it to it's own 15A circuit but ok.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamJim;

This morning I went back to check things out, and noticed that the converter fan was not running, but after 12 hours of charging and everything off except the refrigerator, the battery voltage hadn't gone past 11.7 VDC. And the SmartSolar controller still doesn't show in the app.

Alright. So you are on shore power. Have AC power. Have DC power, but batteries are not charging, victron shows 11.7v at the batteries. You can bluetooth to your BMV SMartShunt but not your solar controller. Got it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamJim;

So...does anyone have any suggestions for how to proceed from here? I'd like to get those batteries recharged, and I'd like for the solar controller to start working again.
I am very pretty familiar with victron components after using them for 8+ years in 2 different trailers. It chalelnging to diagnose without understanding how they wired (or intended to wire ) the system. What you are explaining sounds potentially like (1) your BMV smart shunt is not cabled to your battery correctly and/or (2) your solar controller is not wired to the system correctly and/or (3) your batteries were drawn down to 20%, internal relay cut them off to prevent over-discharge/damage and they are not recovering when the converter putting out voltage.

Question: Were things working when they turned the trailer over to you after install? Or is this a new problem that has occurred after they delivered a working system?

If you get at where they installed everything and take some pictures / trace various wires that would be helpful.

Here is where to start:

1. Check that your battery store / use switch is set to on push it up, it should click.

2. Get a volt meter and check the voltage at the battery terminals. Should be 12.8 - 13.2. If not, your batteries are frozen after discharge, not taking a charge, call battleborn to go through recovery process. (this is unlikely)

3. If batteries have voltage 12.8 - 13.2... check the BMV wiring. Make sure it is wired to the batteries on the correct side and you are getting the same voltage at the BMV as you got at the battery. If you are getting good voltage at the BMV, then your BMV may have gone bad (this is possible, I had a new one be faulty on install once). If voltage at the BMV is < your batteries, then it is not wired to your batteries correctly. Trace the main negative and small positive wires back to the batteries and the other negative back to the bus bar for the trailer. check all connections.

4. For your solar controller - look at the device itself - any lights on? if yes, that is good. If no, it is not wired to the system on the battery side / not seeing power. It should always be alive if the system has 12v power either from the batteries or controller. If no lights, you will need to trace the wires back to the system bus.

Report back what you find... it sounds like they left something disconnected, I am suspect of the shunt connections.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamJim;

Also - how in the heck does the Victron SmartShunt show state of charge at 100% if the battery voltage is only 11.7 VDC???
This is possible if it was never setup correctly or calibrated after the install, or it may have gone bad (rare bu possible).
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Old 07-16-2021, 07:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
Were things working when they turned the trailer over to you after install?
Yes, everything was working as it should.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
1. Check that your battery store / use switch is set to on push it up, it should click.
Yep, that was the first thing I checked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
2. Get a volt meter and check the voltage at the battery terminals. Should be 12.8 - 13.2. If not, your batteries are frozen after discharge, not taking a charge, call battleborn to go through recovery process. (this is unlikely)
Theyíre at 11.7ish.

Are you referring to the ďLow Voltage DisconnectĒ Iím reading about in the BB site? If yes,then Iíll try to restart the battery using the procedure they outline (basically, just connect a known good 12V battery to the BB to ďjump-startĒ the BB).

However, they are very clear that if the BMS has gone into Low Voltage Disconnect, then you will read zero volts with a voltmeter. I am reading 11.7 volts, so that leads me to believe theyíre not in Low Voltage Disconnect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
4. for your solar controller - look at the device itself - any lights on? if yes, that is good. If no, it is not wired to the system on the battery side / not seeing power. It should always be alive if the system has 12v power either from the batteries or controller. If no lights, you will need to trace the wires back to the system bus.
I tested the voltage at the battery connection on the solar controller; same voltage as on the battery posts, so itís getting voltage from the batteries. But I donít see any lights lit.

Thanks for your thoughtsÖIím all ears.

Jim
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Old 07-16-2021, 08:27 PM   #8
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Got it.

OK what we have here is an under-voltage lithium battery protect situation (LVD - low voltage disconnect) with your battleborns.

They have internal switches to cutoff current flow if they go too low - set to 20% of capacity. This is to protect the cells. If you were to fully discharge lithium to 0 they are toast / do not recover most of the time. Hence the 20% buffer.

So you will need to go through the "jump start" procedure per the battle born site.

https://battlebornbatteries.com/low-voltage-disconnect/

Do that, and report back. Should be able to use your car battery.

This happens from time to time. smart engineers put measures in place to protect your investment

I am surprised that your WFCO cannot wake them, but try your car battery.

PS - store/use switch alone won't disconnect the batteries from all 12v draws. In a 2009 the propane detector is wired directly to the battery, and is a constant draw. if you don't have one you should install a blue sea or similar 300A rated mechanical disconnect switch. You can mount it to the side of the battery box if that is where your batteries are.
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Old 07-17-2021, 09:12 AM   #9
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Hi

Is the output fuse on the converter / charger blown? It's between the converter and the output leads. You can see voltage on the output (from the battery) and have a blown fuse.

The stock wiring for the converter charger on the "typical" AS is to route it directly to the breaker panel. No switches between the panel and the converter charger. That wiring (and breaker) *should* still be there. Yes, it's AS so who knows .....

Low voltage disconnect on most lithiums takes them to zero volts output. They will happily accept a charge under just about any conditions.

Another thing you might check: Pull one of the output leads on the converter / charger and see if it actually is putting out anything. I'd bet it's not.

Since the 712 *should* be the only thing between battery negative and chassis ground, they had to do some moving of wires there. If there is a ground wire floating, you might start looking for voltage on the various ground points ....

Bob
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Old 07-17-2021, 09:50 AM   #10
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So...progress is being made, on diagnostics, anyway. I'm confident I have the general principles of the cure, but the specifics elude me.

In short, they wired the thing all wrong.

First, the only thing going through the SmartShunt is the negative cable from the battery to the inverter. Shut off the inverter and the shunt will show nothing leaving the battery, while everything else in the trailer happily depletes the battery. Now we know why the Victron app shows no current going out, but the batteries were depleted.

Second - they crimp-spliced two pieces to make one battery's positive lead wire. The splice failed and the wires were disconnected. So one battery wasn't contributing anything because it wasn't even connected.

I've drawn a crude diagram of how it's currently wired; see attached. As I'm unfamiliar with the names of the various components, I've taken photos of the components designated "A", "B", and "C" on the diagram; those photos are also attached. I'm guessing that "A" is a positive distribution bus, "B" is the negative bus, and "C" is the 12VDC fuse panel. Please correct me if I'm wrong, and if I'm right, would someone explain why there's both "A" and "C"? It seems redundant to me.

(By the way - this unit has a mechanical battery disconnect switch. But is it in the right place on the diagram?)

What I need to know is how to re-route the wiring so that I have a proper, working setup.

Thanks to all for your tremendous assistance so far.

Jim
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Old 07-17-2021, 09:54 AM   #11
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Can you post a few pictures:
  1. Picture of the smart shunt and how it is wired to the batteries (assume that battery are in your stock battery box so is the shunt in there?)
  2. Picture of the solar controller and any inline fuses?
  3. Picture of the DC distribution area
Also what temperature are your batteries showing on the smart shunt? I was recently in very hot weather when my AC died. I ended up turning off my manual cut off on the batteries while trouble shooting. The batteries would not turn back on until I manually turned on my Multiplus to get a 12v supply (my stock converter is disconnected and use the Multiplus). It was only 40 C / 100+ F in the trailer and they should technically work to 135F.
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Old 07-17-2021, 09:59 AM   #12
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Sorry just saw your pictures... looks like wiring could be cleaned up a bit. I would find someone more proficient and have them correct it.
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Old 07-17-2021, 10:08 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter C View Post
Can you post a few pictures:
  1. Picture of the smart shunt and how it is wired to the batteries (assume that battery are in your stock battery box so is the shunt in there?)
  2. Picture of the solar controller and any inline fuses?
  3. Picture of the DC distribution area
Also what temperature are your batteries showing on the smart shunt? I was recently in very hot weather when my AC died. I ended up turning off my manual cut off on the batteries while trouble shooting. The batteries would not turn back on until I manually turned on my Multiplus to get a 12v supply (my stock converter is disconnected and use the Multiplus). It was only 40 C / 100+ F in the trailer and they should technically work to 135F.
Given what I discovered this morning about how the setup was (mis)wired, I think everything I've seen on the app was not indicative of the true state of the batteries. I could take more photos, but it's an indescribable rat's nest in there and you wouldn't be able to follow the wires in a photo; I had to trace them by hand. I believe that once I fix the wiring, things will start to fall into place.


Thanks,
Jim
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Old 07-17-2021, 10:13 AM   #14
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Wow. I've got nothing to add toward solving your problem but that looks like a mess. Those busbars are pretty busy. Victron makes a Lynx component that helps organize the connections which ideally would be labelled.

In September I am getting a large solar/lithium setup installed by AM Solar which is very expensive but it looks like it might be worth it.

I think you need to return the trailer to the installer and have them clean up and fix the wiring once you get everything sorted out. The installer should supply you with an electrical diagram illustrating the work done and for future reference. And he should do a walkthrough to demonstrate how it works and that all the components in fact do work.
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Old 07-17-2021, 10:23 AM   #15
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Yes your wiring is a mess. I would start by properly wiring you batteries in parallel with one main negative going from one battery to the shunt and one main positive coming from the other battery to a positive bus bar, and no other wires to the batteries. Then all other negative go to the other side of the shunt and positives to the bus bar. I'd include a disconnect either on the negative before the shunt or on the positive before the bus bar. --Frank
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Old 07-17-2021, 10:34 AM   #16
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Hi

Yikes !!!!

If you are going to fix the battery cable issue (and hook the two together) you need to get them *both* charged to the same level. If you hook them together with one at 13.5 and the other at 11.7 there will be a massive amount of current flowing out of the "good" battery. This is not a good idea.

It's still unclear what's going on with your converter charger. If it's functional you could use it to top up both batteries. It would take some re-wiring and a bit of time. Since they are lithium's,

I would not use a normal lead acid charger on them. Various folks (Victron is one) will sell you plug in the wall chargers that work with lithium batteries. It's not the sort of thing you find at the local big box store .....

I agree with the posts above, that install job is an utter disaster. Whoever did it was not up to speed on how to do this sort of thing. I would avoid that dealer in the future. The basic wiring stuff can be done by any RV tech. Once you get into the 712 or other solar specific stuff .... who knows .....

Bob
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Old 07-17-2021, 10:36 AM   #17
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If you are getting nothing from anything and since it is a new system with new components, then it may be an install issue. Odds of everything not working properly due to defective components is remote.

Looking at the wiring - it looks like it may be install issue. i have attached a diagram that may help.

You said that the Victron SmartSolar controller does not show up on the Victron Connect bluetooth app? It should. If the controller does not show up then do a search for new devices and it may show up.

You might check the terminals.
The battery terminals should be the the same as the battery voltage. This should power the controller and transmit the bluetooth data.

The solar (PV) connections should show a higher voltage coming from the solar panels. If there is no voltage on the PV side then there is a break in the line from the panels. Also, look for a breaker between the panels and the controller. Often, good installers will install a breaker so the panels can be easily disconnected should the batteries need to be disconnected. ALWAYS DISCONNECT THE SOLAR BEFORE DISCONNECTING THE BATTERY - ALWAYS CONNECT THE BATTERY BEFORE CONNECTING THE SOLAR. Otherwise you can burn out the controller.
If you have battery voltage and panel voltage - then the controller should show up in Victron Connect app and it should charging data for the battery.
If not then you may have a bad charge controller.

Since you are showing 11.7V on the batteries then the battery BMS is functioning.
How to check to see if the solar or the charger are working using the SmartShunt...

First thing you do is turn off the charger and the solar controller.


Turn on the charger. You can go to the Victron Connect/SmartShunt app and see if the converter/charger is working. When you run the converter off shore power, you should see an increased charge at the battery. Turn it on and you will immediately see a positive jump in the amps and watts. If not, then the charger is not working.

Next, turn off the charger and turn on the charge controller. Same thing goes with the solar panels. If they are putting in energy, you should see a positive jump.

hope this helps
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Old 07-17-2021, 12:39 PM   #18
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Lithium &amp; Solar Issue

Here is another basic diagram on how to wire a shunt to the factory system.

The employee at the dealership is incompetent when it comes to 12/120v electrical / ABYC standards and Iíll leave it at that

Also adding a second diagram that includes a proper battery cut off switch so you donít end up draining your batteries again.
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Old 07-17-2021, 03:14 PM   #19
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These diagrams are very helpful. Thank you both.

I realize the person who did this is not competent. Either that, or he had a really bad day.

That said, Iím in a bit of a bind. I did not look around to find the lowest cost to get this done. I wasnít looking to cheap out on the job; I donít mind paying to get a job done well. But I also donít want to spend more of my hard-earned money getting it fixed. I put a lot of money (for my retired budget) into this install, and I should get what I paid for.

I feel I need to bring it back to the installing dealership and insist they make it right. Iíll spell out exactly how it should be wired, and insist that the ratís nest be cleaned up. Iíll insist that there be no unnecessary splices, and each wire run should take the shortest route from A to B, with a little extra length/slack in case something needs to be moved or adjusted in the future. When I pick it up, Iíll verify that all is wired correctly and working before I drive off the lot.

Fortunately I donít have any trips coming up that would need to be canceled.

Jim
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Old 07-17-2021, 03:23 PM   #20
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Lithium &amp; Solar Issue

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirstreamJim View Post
These diagrams are very helpful. Thank you both.



I realize the person who did this is not competent. Either that, or he had a really bad day.



That said, Iím in a bit of a bind. I did not look around to find the lowest cost to get this done. I wasnít looking to cheap out on the job; I donít mind paying to get a job done well. But I also donít want to spend more of my hard-earned money getting it fixed. I put a lot of money (for my retired budget) into this install, and I should get what I paid for.



I feel I need to bring it back to the installing dealership and insist they make it right. Iíll spell out exactly how it should be wired, and insist that the ratís nest be cleaned up. Iíll insist that there be no unnecessary splices, and each wire run should take the shortest route from A to B, with a little extra length/slack in case something needs to be moved or adjusted in the future. When I pick it up, Iíll verify that all is wired correctly and working before I drive off the lot.



Fortunately I donít have any trips coming up that would need to be canceled.



Jim


Agreed bring it back - they have a responsibility to do it right. As a business they need to absorb the cost of poor employee performance. It is what it is for them.
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