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Old 06-08-2020, 04:42 PM   #1
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Houston , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2020
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Clicking Noise. Solar Controller?

I've been traveling extensively in a 2018 basecamp for two years and love it. But I knew the day would come when something went pear shaped: I recently noticed a clicking noise coming from the area of the battery. When I pull the access panel, I can see a small device (about the size of my fist) screwed to the cabinet above the battery. I'm not sure whether the device is a solar charge controller or a solenoid or something else. Tracing the wires makes me think it is part of the solar charging system. The device clicks every few seconds and a small LED light on the device changes from green to red and back to green, in time with the click.

Need help understanding what is causing the clicking. Some clues:
- The Basecamp was in strong sunlight when I noticed the noise. I do have solar panels on the roof.
- Does not seem to matter whether the main battery selector switch is on or off. The clicking persists, regardless of the selector switch setting.
- Putting a a load on the battery (turning on all the lights) makes the clicking noise increase in frequency
- Plugging into shore power makes the clicking stop.
- Batteries are fully charged. Showing about 12.7 Volts when not connected to shore power.

Do I have a problem? Or should I buy a good set of earplugs?
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Old 06-09-2020, 07:32 AM   #2
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2018 Basecamp
North Conway , New Hampshire
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by WDavidB View Post
I've been traveling extensively in a 2018 basecamp for two years and love it. But I knew the day would come when something went pear shaped: I recently noticed a clicking noise coming from the area of the battery. When I pull the access panel, I can see a small device (about the size of my fist) screwed to the cabinet above the battery. I'm not sure whether the device is a solar charge controller or a solenoid or something else. Tracing the wires makes me think it is part of the solar charging system. The device clicks every few seconds and a small LED light on the device changes from green to red and back to green, in time with the click.

Need help understanding what is causing the clicking. Some clues:
- The Basecamp was in strong sunlight when I noticed the noise. I do have solar panels on the roof.
- Does not seem to matter whether the main battery selector switch is on or off. The clicking persists, regardless of the selector switch setting.
- Putting a a load on the battery (turning on all the lights) makes the clicking noise increase in frequency
- Plugging into shore power makes the clicking stop.
- Batteries are fully charged. Showing about 12.7 Volts when not connected to shore power.

Do I have a problem? Or should I buy a good set of earplugs?

I just noticed the same thing on my 2018 BC that we just bought. It was in driveway, went in to load some gear, and heard clicking from battery area, the solar charging panel showed 100%, but the bottom light was red and noticed it was blinking in time to the clicking. Following for any insight.
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Old 06-09-2020, 08:16 AM   #3
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2018 25' International
Slidell , Louisiana
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 2,330
Sounds like the solar controller is cycling on and off from "full charge" to "maintain". Tell us the model number or take a photo so we can know if this is normal for that controller.
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Old 06-11-2020, 02:28 PM   #4
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Houston , Texas
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Here is a picture of the clicking bandit.
Click image for larger version

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Old 06-11-2020, 02:58 PM   #5
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2018 25' International
Slidell , Louisiana
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Thanks for the photo. So that is a SunExplorer II and unfortunately it operates with a relay exactly as you describe. Here is the Data Sheet. Earplugs may be in your future. Fortunately it won't do that between 6 pm and maybe 9 or 10 am.
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Old 06-18-2020, 09:56 PM   #6
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Thanks BayouBiker! That data sheet really comes in handy. After a close reading of the data sheet, I think my clicking bandit can be easily diagnosed.The clicking is constant, 20 or 30 times a second. Normal operation (as per the data sheet) is once every 4 minutes at most. From the sheet, trouble shooting steps are below.

Problem: Module is constantly clicking on & off. Battery voltage
is less than 12.7VDC and PV voltage is greater than 16VDC.

Solution: Check the Battery voltage on the battery posts to see if
it is fluctuating up & down or remaining steady.
When the voltage on the battery positive post is fluctuating
between 12.7VDC and the solar panel voltage the battery may
have a bad cell, have the battery tested.

When the voltage is steady, then check voltage on the battery
cables. If it is fluctuating up and down, clean the connections
between battery post and battery cables.

When the voltage is steady, check the voltage on the battery
buss bar inside the trailer, inspect for water damage or oxidation
which can cause a high resistance between controller and battery.
Clean and grease connections with NoALOX™.

When the voltage is steady at the buss bar (main termination or
connection point) then check the voltage at the charge controller
between the red and black wires. If fluctuating at the controller
then test the battery side of the connector, if stable replace
connector. If fluctuating, test both sides of the fuse holder to
ground (black wire) if stable on battery side of fuse. Replace fuse
holder. Any of these connectors could have some oxidation in the
connections or fuse holders due to moisture.

When the PVCM25D is still clicking 20-30 times a minute, after
replacing the connection (bat + red wire) at the controller and at
the positive buss bar, we recommend connecting the controller’s
bat + red wire to the battery using a 10 gauge wire to rule out a
hidden connections that could be causing the problem.

The PVCM25D controller monitors battery and solar voltage to
know when to charge the battery and when to stop charging. If
the voltage is fluctuating between 12.7VDC and 14.2VDC, 99% of
the time it is a bad connection between the controller and the
battery or a bad battery.
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Old 06-18-2020, 10:33 PM   #7
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2017 25' Flying Cloud
Bushnell , Florida
Join Date: Jul 2015
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Solar controller

I had the same controller on our 2017 Flying Cloud. I kept noticing it quit charging the battery when it hit 12.7 volts. It seemed it never went into absorption level and it would even show not charging or going back and forth between very low charge rate and none at all when the sun was directly overhead. Then I started getting higher voltages showing on the display, as in not good higher voltages, and erratic clicking. I contacted Abner Jenkins at Atkinson and he was great. We ran thru essentially the same troubleshooting procedure you mentioned. It turns out the controller was acting up. He offered for me to send it back for warranty replacement, and I did do that, but I also took the plunge and went with their newer model that isn't a mechanical relay, but is solid state. I'm now charging even on cloudy days, getting absorption and float charging from the rooftop panels.
Abner was very patient with me as we had a long email thread going over a period of a couple weeks. I eventually talked to him on the phone and he was very helpful with a newbie like me.
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Old 06-19-2020, 05:22 AM   #8
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2018 Basecamp
North Conway , New Hampshire
Join Date: May 2020
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It was solar controller

I wrote that had same issue. I called Airstream of Nashua where I purchased and they said warranty ended on May 31, 2020. They were fantastic and said would still honor (we bought in mid-May), replaced controller with new one and did a few other minor repairs, including part of black molding by driver's side rear window that started peeling off on drive down to dealership (was doing about 75 so that may have been it). No charges for any work! Shout out to Airstream of Nashua (NH) for amazing customer service and great service department!
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Old 06-19-2020, 06:33 AM   #9
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2018 25' International
Slidell , Louisiana
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Sounds like y'all are on your way to get it sorted. Sorry for your troubles, but happy camping
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