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Old 03-30-2023, 11:02 AM   #1
Plymouth Doug
 
2018 Basecamp
White Horse Beach , Massachusetts
Join Date: Mar 2023
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Solar overcharging my battery

Hello fellow Base campers: here’s my problem:

I heard my propane detector sounding from outside my BC. I investigated confirming all propane was off at source. After further looking at the detector I could tell something was wrong..possibly electronic or electrical. Knowing it’s hardwired to run even with the battery switch off I decided to check my solar station display. It was there I noticed it was flashing and it was apparently reading the charge in the battery at 17.2 volts and still charging at a rate of 6.5 amps.

If I turn the battery switch to on, the solar charge regulator trips and stops charging the battery….only to come on when the battery drops to about 13.2 or so and then cycles every 2 to 6 minutes or so for about 10 seconds of charging. The propane sensor cycles back to green. Leaving the battery switch on the on position seems to alleviate the problem for the time being. Battery is back to 13.4.

I am assuming my solar regulator switching device must be faulty. and/or some issue with the battery?

Any assistance to help diagnose this s issue will be appreciated. Before I call my local Airstream dealer I would like to have some idea as what is failing.

Until I can get it in for service, what can I do. My thought is to disconnect the solar panels at the roof ports.

Thoughts?
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Old 03-30-2023, 07:43 PM   #2
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If you have the solar package and have the Victron MPPT solar controller, look on the bottom of the unit and there’s a rotary switch to designate what type of battery you have. Looks like it should be set to 2, but even at other settings it shouldn’t go to 17.2 volts…

Or pull the fuse on the output of the solar controller to see if it stops. If it continues, then something else is wrong.

https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...ual-pdf-en.pdf
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Old 03-30-2023, 07:48 PM   #3
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Better yet, if you have a multimeter (or go get one) check the actual voltage at the battery and off of the bus bars. If all of those show a different voltage than the monitor id be concerned it’s the controller.
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Old 03-31-2023, 01:51 PM   #4
Plymouth Doug
 
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White Horse Beach , Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hn387 View Post
Better yet, if you have a multimeter (or go get one) check the actual voltage at the battery and off of the bus bars. If all of those show a different voltage than the monitor id be concerned it’s the controller.
Thanks for the advice. I will check that out. I suspect it is the controller. I unplugged the solar panels at the roof junction box and all is back to normal…except no solar charging. Before that, I couldn’t even plug into shore power as the surge protector wouldn’t trip to green, I had a flashing caution light, until I got the solar to trip to off. As soon as I did the shore power clicked on. About 15 minutes later the solar power clicked back on eventhough I was full shore power and the battery was getting overcharged again. I am going to pull the panel and get a look at the controller. I believe it’s the old mechanical type because I can hear the relay click. Be back in touch soon…
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Old 03-31-2023, 03:02 PM   #5
Plymouth Doug
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hn387 View Post
Better yet, if you have a multimeter (or go get one) check the actual voltage at the battery and off of the bus bars. If all of those show a different voltage than the monitor id be concerned itís the controller.
WellI got in there. All voltages are the same across the board, from buss bar, terminals, posts and junctures. They remain the same, in the 13s whether battery switch is on or off, when on shore power or not all when the solar panels disabled/unplugged on the roof.

When I did cut the shore power the voltage did drop evenly across all spots from 13.7 to 13.2. It was at this point the lights on the solar controller went from green charged to yellow and red saying med/low.

I plugged the solar panels back in on the roof and the controller went immediately to charging mode and the voltages across all points rose evenly but quickly through 15 and headed higher.

I pulled the fuse on the controller and it went dark and all the voltages dropped evenly back to 13.2

The connections on all the battery terminals etc look clean and tidy.

My thoughts are it must be a faulty/worn controller. Iíve owned the rig for a month now and it just started doing thisÖ.though the controller was clicking every 30 seconds or so in strong sunlight since I bought the rigÖso perhaps it was getting ready to go.

Ive added pictures of the set up. What is my next move? New controller install? Recommendations?
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Old 03-31-2023, 04:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loyal032 View Post
WellI got in there. All voltages are the same across the board, from buss bar, terminals, posts and junctures. They remain the same, in the 13s whether battery switch is on or off, when on shore power or not all when the solar panels disabled/unplugged on the roof.

When I did cut the shore power the voltage did drop evenly across all spots from 13.7 to 13.2. It was at this point the lights on the solar controller went from green charged to yellow and red saying med/low.

I plugged the solar panels back in on the roof and the controller went immediately to charging mode and the voltages across all points rose evenly but quickly through 15 and headed higher.

I pulled the fuse on the controller and it went dark and all the voltages dropped evenly back to 13.2

The connections on all the battery terminals etc look clean and tidy.

My thoughts are it must be a faulty/worn controller. Iíve owned the rig for a month now and it just started doing thisÖ.though the controller was clicking every 30 seconds or so in strong sunlight since I bought the rigÖso perhaps it was getting ready to go.

Ive added pictures of the set up. What is my next move? New controller install? Recommendations?
What kind of solar controller is it? I didnít see any pictures.
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Old 03-31-2023, 11:45 PM   #7
Plymouth Doug
 
2018 Basecamp
White Horse Beach , Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hn387 View Post
What kind of solar controller is it? I didnít see any pictures.
Hi, for some reason I am having trouble loading pictures.

It is similar to Airstream Solar Controller Part #
513247-101 as seen on Woodland Airstream. It appears to have a separate relay . I am going to see tomorrow if that can be pulled and replaced than having to replace the entire controller. The relay is $2.99 a new controller is $385.00
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Old 04-01-2023, 06:02 AM   #8
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be sure to select the correct setting on the MPPT. if you selected the correct battery, it will not overcharge
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Old 04-01-2023, 09:56 AM   #9
Plymouth Doug
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waninae39 View Post
be sure to select the correct setting on the MPPT. if you selected the correct battery, it will not overcharge
Thanks for your advice. I only have just bought this Base Camp a month ago. I havenít changed any settings on anything. As I am new to the solar charging aspect, my question is what is a MPPT ? Perhaps a setting is off? Everything was working when I got the trailer outside of the solar charger checking/cycling for a 4 second interval to the battery every 30 seconds or so when in full sunlight. It would only rise to 14.1 and then switch off. Now it clicks on and stays on and the charge goes up to 17.9Öobviously way to high and cooking the battery.
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Old 04-01-2023, 10:08 AM   #10
Plymouth Doug
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waninae39 View Post
be sure to select the correct setting on the MPPT. if you selected the correct battery, it will not overcharge
Ah, I looked up MPPT, I donít have a digital controller , mine works with a mechanical automotive relay.
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Old 04-01-2023, 10:09 AM   #11
Plymouth Doug
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hn387 View Post
What kind of solar controller is it? I didnít see any pictures.
Here is a picture:
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Old 04-01-2023, 10:24 AM   #12
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2020 16' Basecamp
Louisville , Kentucky
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Atkinson Charge controller

Every solar charge controller has an algorithm for charging profiles based on battery voltage and sometimes current draw. Sometimes these can be altered by the user, sometimes not. If you research your controllers algorithm, it might help you understand what the charge controller is doing. Iím not sure which Basecamp you have, but our 2020 16x came with a similar controller and despite knowing the charging algorithm, I was not sure it ever worked correctly. I pretty quickly installed a Victron BMV 712 battery monitor and Victron MPPT charge controller. It was relatively easy and inexpensive to do and has ended a lot of frustration for me. I have been delighted with this setup.
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Old 04-01-2023, 04:20 PM   #13
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What type of battery(s) do you have?
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Old 04-02-2023, 11:16 AM   #14
Plymouth Doug
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolind View Post
Every solar charge controller has an algorithm for charging profiles based on battery voltage and sometimes current draw. Sometimes these can be altered by the user, sometimes not. If you research your controllers algorithm, it might help you understand what the charge controller is doing. Iím not sure which Basecamp you have, but our 2020 16x came with a similar controller and despite knowing the charging algorithm, I was not sure it ever worked correctly. I pretty quickly installed a Victron BMV 712 battery monitor and Victron MPPT charge controller. It was relatively easy and inexpensive to do and has ended a lot of frustration for me. I have been delighted with this setup.
I now plan to pull this one out as I donít trust it. I have ordered the new version from Atkinson that Airstream puts in the 2020s trailers. It is pretty much plug and play. If that doesnít do the trick, and I hope it does at 4 bills for the controller and new display panel, I will then buy the one you recommend. Cheers for the help and advice!😊
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Old 04-02-2023, 11:17 AM   #15
Plymouth Doug
 
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Originally Posted by Silvr_Bullet View Post
What type of battery(s) do you have?
Here is a pictureÖI believe they are lead acids and may be the originals.
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Old 04-05-2023, 09:21 AM   #16
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I had exactly the same problem with my 2018 Basecamp, I replaced the controller and problem was fixed
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Old 04-05-2023, 03:28 PM   #17
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The issue is the solar controller must have the battery connected to work properly, as you indicated, when you turned the battery switch on it recognized the load and the voltage dropped.
I had the exact same issue with a Tab teardrop with a cheap solar charge controller. If it didn’t have a connection to the battery the voltage would climb up as yours did. It fried the control board for the furnace. It was not designed to be connected to the solar panels and not be connected to the battery.
Yes those are lead acid batteries

It will also overcharge the batteries if left connected to the battery as it will keep a float charge once it reaches full charge, then reset the next day when the sun comes up and attempts to charge again.

The cheap solar chargers are PWM, not MPPT so they are not as efficient. It works fine if you use it, and keep the batteries connected. It’s not great for storage.
You are replacing it now, but it was wired wrong. Typical for early solar installations.
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Old 04-06-2023, 05:36 AM   #18
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We replaced our solar controller twice

We had the same problem with our original solar controller on our 2013 Classic - the first on our maiden voyage. We had the same issues with high voltage and our refrigerator kept shutting off. After realizing the problem, I cut the wire on the controller and all back to normal voltages.

We have since replaced the controller with Victron energy controller - no issues since.
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Old 04-06-2023, 06:01 AM   #19
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I had a similar problem with an Airstream installed Atkinson solar charge controller. Battery voltage reading on the airstream display indicated 16V. The controller indicated it was in equalizing mode. I was concerned because equalizing mode should be 15.3V but I let it go on for a day. The next day the charger is doing the same thing. I used a multimeter and measured the batteries, 12.6V but the airstream display was saying 16V. I then measured the output of the controller and suddenly it reset the airstream display to a normal reading. That was enough for me to trash the Atkinson charger and install a Victron charger. That was three years ago and problem never occurred again. Happy Battery Charging.
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Old 04-10-2023, 07:36 AM   #20
Plymouth Doug
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wross View Post
The issue is the solar controller must have the battery connected to work properly, as you indicated, when you turned the battery switch on it recognized the load and the voltage dropped.
I had the exact same issue with a Tab teardrop with a cheap solar charge controller. If it didn’t have a connection to the battery the voltage would climb up as yours did. It fried the control board for the furnace. It was not designed to be connected to the solar panels and not be connected to the battery.
Yes those are lead acid batteries

It will also overcharge the batteries if left connected to the battery as it will keep a float charge once it reaches full charge, then reset the next day when the sun comes up and attempts to charge again.

The cheap solar chargers are PWM, not MPPT so they are not as efficient. It works fine if you use it, and keep the batteries connected. It’s not great for storage.
You are replacing it now, but it was wired wrong. Typical for early solar installations.
Hello Wross,

So I have the new Atkinson MPPT all wired in and it seems to work well enough, though it does keep a float charge on when the battery is topped up. As the Base Camp is now sitting in the driveway waiting our next adventure, I decided to disable the system, pulled the fuse, until I need to use it ie boondocking.

I noticed, when I enable the new MPPT system, that it monitors/charges the batteries regardless as to whether I have the battery switch set to on or off.

I followed the same wiring pattern that was, I assume, performed at factory. After having re-read your comments/advice I noticed that you mentioned the wiring could be wrong from factory/early solar installations.

My charge wire coming from the controller to storage is mated at the positive buss bar at the same (relay?) as the propane leak detector. (It now makes sense the propane detector was acting erratically when the last controller was overcharging the batteries). You can see the lead running from controller to the positive buss bar in my photos.

My follow-up question is this: Should I reroute the controller positive charge line directly to a positive post on one of the batteries instead of linking at the buss bar?

Cheers,

Doug
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