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Old 05-11-2019, 08:16 AM   #1
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2016 30' Classic
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 66
LP Propane Detector and Sunexplorer Question

I have a '16 Classic 30' and noticed a sequence of events. The Sunexplorer controller goes through a routine every morning at about mid-morning (10am) the unit boost the charge voltage and shows the battery voltage spikes to about 16 volts and drops back to normal range of 12.7 volts to 13.1 volts for the remainder of the day. Also when the controller dose this the Atwood LP detector blinks red during this period. I guess a couple of questions....1.)Is this normal?, 2.) What is the Sunexplorer actually doing and why once a day....
Thanks for any responses.
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Old 05-12-2019, 01:47 PM   #2
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Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

If the solar charger really can / does take the 12V line to 16V, that's a *bad* thing. It should never get / be able to get the batteries much over 14.5V. You can see damage to various bits and pieces of electronic gear once you get up around 16V.

Bob
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Old 05-12-2019, 03:53 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

If the solar charger really can / does take the 12V line to 16V, that's a *bad* thing. It should never get / be able to get the batteries much over 14.5V. You can see damage to various bits and pieces of electronic gear once you get up around 16V.

Bob
UBob I agree...it is a short spike and the batteries return to normal...it is not (I think) long at all...the manuals for the sunexplorer don't say how it operates....I may be seeking AS help or email manufacturers to find out what the heck is happening....
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Old 05-12-2019, 06:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenMike View Post
UBob I agree...it is a short spike and the batteries return to normal...it is not (I think) long at all...the manuals for the sunexplorer don't say how it operates....I may be seeking AS help or email manufacturers to find out what the heck is happening....
Hi

If the batteries can *get* to 16V on even a short spike basis, that suggests they are shot. The solar charger should *never* try to put that sort of voltage out. If it does, it's broken.

How it works:

It runs up to 13.6V until the current tapers off. Once that happens it drops back to around 13.2V. Once and a while (like once a day / week / month) it runs up to around 14.4V for about an hour. That assumes there is enough sun to get all that done.

Bob
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Old 05-13-2019, 05:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

If the batteries can *get* to 16V on even a short spike basis, that suggests they are shot. The solar charger should *never* try to put that sort of voltage out. If it does, it's broken.

How it works:

It runs up to 13.6V until the current tapers off. Once that happens it drops back to around 13.2V. Once and a while (like once a day / week / month) it runs up to around 14.4V for about an hour. That assumes there is enough sun to get all that done.

Bob
Many thanks for the information....I guess I will check the AGM batteries and then go from there.....
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:56 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenMike View Post
Many thanks for the information....I guess I will check the AGM batteries and then go from there.....
Hi

Unfortunately there's not much to check on an AGM battery. They don't have fluid fill issues like a flooded cell. (at least not normally). The only way to fully check them is to pull them and haul them into a dealer. ( .. yuck ...).

About the closest you can get quickly:

Charge them up fully and check the voltage with a multimeter. A few hours after they come off charge it should read above 12.6V at 70 degrees. It will be a bit lower if it's hot out.

Find an appliance that pulls about 600W. (= 400 to 800W range) Turn on the inverter and plug that in. 600W at 12V is 50A, so likely 60A into the inverter.

The batteries *should* handle that load for over an hour. Handle it means that the inverter does not kick out. It also means that at an hour you shut things off, wait an hour and then check voltage on the battery again. It should be above 12V. Anything under 11.5V or the inverter cutting out is in the "worry about it" range.

With a heavier load, your magic time to run the test goes down with a higher load it goes up. Since it's a very approximate test, don't try to make it exact. You are only getting a rough idea of the batteries.

A more formal test ( = way more boring ) would be to find something that pulls 5 to 10 amps, measure its draw and run the test for a lot more hours. Monitor the voltage once an hour and watch what happens. At a 10A rate, new batteries should make it to 10 hours before hitting 12V. ( heavier discharge rates mean fewer amp hours).

======

Best guess - the magic SunExplorer panel is lying to you (= it's broke ) or there's some sort of weird loose wire somewhere.

Bob
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:32 AM   #7
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Again great information and many thanks. I will go through the test and see what happens.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:22 PM   #8
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2016 30' Classic
Livingston , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Unfortunately there's not much to check on an AGM battery. They don't have fluid fill issues like a flooded cell. (at least not normally). The only way to fully check them is to pull them and haul them into a dealer. ( .. yuck ...).

About the closest you can get quickly:

Charge them up fully and check the voltage with a multimeter. A few hours after they come off charge it should read above 12.6V at 70 degrees. It will be a bit lower if it's hot out.

Find an appliance that pulls about 600W. (= 400 to 800W range) Turn on the inverter and plug that in. 600W at 12V is 50A, so likely 60A into the inverter.

The batteries *should* handle that load for over an hour. Handle it means that the inverter does not kick out. It also means that at an hour you shut things off, wait an hour and then check voltage on the battery again. It should be above 12V. Anything under 11.5V or the inverter cutting out is in the "worry about it" range.

With a heavier load, your magic time to run the test goes down with a higher load it goes up. Since it's a very approximate test, don't try to make it exact. You are only getting a rough idea of the batteries.

A more formal test ( = way more boring ) would be to find something that pulls 5 to 10 amps, measure its draw and run the test for a lot more hours. Monitor the voltage once an hour and watch what happens. At a 10A rate, new batteries should make it to 10 hours before hitting 12V. ( heavier discharge rates mean fewer amp hours).

======

Best guess - the magic SunExplorer panel is lying to you (= it's broke ) or there's some sort of weird loose wire somewhere.

Bob
Hello uncle_bob,

Well due to moving around and changing job sites from NC to now back in NH I haven't had the time to do this check on the battery. And I can only kick myself in the head for it because now we have a new problem. The PVCM controller is flashing low led (but wait to end) and it appears from the panel display the batteries are not receiving any solar charge.

I think something is very wrong in my setup. Either as you said a bad controller or bad AGM's.
I am pulling my AGM and hauling them to a Battery Plus and Airstream in NH on Wed. to test them.
If one or both are bad, at least I know that. But my concern is still the controller. What if that was the problem? Any way to know this?
I was wondering also if my setup on the batteries are correct. See photo.
As I look at the photo and thr actual AS manual something doesn't look right. Thoughts? I assume solar is entering on the bottom and house lines are top. I was thinking the house should come from the lower battery...but maybe that doesn't matter?

Well as I went under couch while write this to you and to gather photos of the setup the controller went back to green. No explaining on what caused it. I basically was just moving wires to get photos.

I am now thinking something is loose or not. My new thought is to haul the AS to the local dealer in NH for a good diagnosis. This is difficult as we live full time. I hope they can work magic in one day.

But I still have a question on diagram and wiring. The green 10 ga goes to a bus bar inside and not to the negative on what is the left battery. Is this true on your setup?

I do see a black 6 ga coming off buss bar but haven't been able to track if this goes to negative....thoughts.

Hoping photo helps...

I understand if you are confused and would rather hold on making any suggestions. I wouldn't want to put you in a position of feeling guilty for suggesting anything. Right now I am leaning on a one on one discussion with service tech at AS dealer in NH and go from there. I just like to continue to educate myself on my camper and this is my first TT AS with solar. I am coming from a basic 5th wheel with no solar.

Any information and thoughts are greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:49 AM   #9
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Hi

Ok, the wiring can be a bit confusing. The solar from the roof joins into the system through what looks like a terminal block under the couch. It's in the same vicinity as the stuff you took the pictures of. The block is actually a fuse block, but the fuses are self resetting and not easy to recognize. It's the "bus bar" gizmo you mention in your post.

There are two inline fuses in your pictures (the white body gizmos). I'd check to make sure both are still ok. There also is / may be / might be / could be a fuse in the box on the roof. The owner's manual diagram is not very trustworthy in this respect.

The solar controller is a black plastic blob bolted to the floor. The easy way to spot it is to trace the wires from the solar panels to it. Usually they are the green / yellow pair. They should have a tag on them identifying them as solar. I believe you have correctly identified them already.

The magic panel that reports stuff sometimes needs a reset. The so called "easy way" to do this is to unplug it. There is a cable that looks like a telephone cord that hooks it up. You can either unmount the panel from the wall and unplug one end or unplug the other end at the controller if that is easier to get to.

If the controller is shot, it's a pretty easy fix. Dealer just pulls the old one and pops in a new one. At least in the trailers I have seen, it's a drop dead standard part and noting strange or unique to Airstream. There is nothing crazy about it so a DIY replacement is also an option.

A somewhat more advanced DIY option is to upgrade to the controller used on the newer trailers. They will not report anything to the magic panel on the wall. Some versions will report all the data to your phone via Bluetooth. You *might* see a 10% improvement in solar with the newer controller.

The existing controller you have is pretty cheap. The Victron (newer) controllers are in the $150 to $350 range.

=====

What has not been talked about so far is the converter / charger in your trailer. They are much more likely to fail than the solar gizmo. I would most certainly put it on the list of things to check as you dive into all this.

Quick converter charger check:

Turn off shore power (unplug the trailer).

Note the battery voltage (hopefully something like 12.6V)

Turn on shore power

Note the battery voltage (hopefully it goes up by at least a few tenths of a volt).

You want to measure all this with a multimeter on the battery posts.

If you don't see the increase, go back to the converter it's self and repeat the measurements. If you see a rise at the converter, but not at the battery, check wires and fuses. If you still see no rise, put a new converter on the shopping list.

Aftermarket converters run anywhere from $100 up to over a thousand dollars (for inverter / charger versions). I would very much advise staying away from the "cheapest thing on Amazon" models. Get one from somebody you can talk to on the phone. You still might have problems, at least there will be help as you do .....


Lots of fun !!!
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:53 AM   #10
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Hi

Comments inline so likely hard to spot ... sorry about that.

Bob


Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenMike View Post
Hello uncle_bob,

Well due to moving around and changing job sites from NC to now back in NH I haven't had the time to do this check on the battery. And I can only kick myself in the head for it because now we have a new problem. The PVCM controller is flashing low led (but wait to end) and it appears from the panel display the batteries are not receiving any solar charge.


Not a good thing.

I think something is very wrong in my setup. Either as you said a bad controller or bad AGM's.
I am pulling my AGM and hauling them to a Battery Plus and Airstream in NH on Wed. to test them.
If one or both are bad, at least I know that. But my concern is still the controller. What if that was the problem? Any way to know this?
I was wondering also if my setup on the batteries are correct. See photo.


Looks very normal / fine to me


As I look at the photo and thr actual AS manual something doesn't look right. Thoughts? I assume solar is entering on the bottom and house lines are top. I was thinking the house should come from the lower battery...but maybe that doesn't matter?



Both batteries are wired together. It does not matter what goes to which one. Positive and negative are all you need to worry about.


Well as I went under couch while write this to you and to gather photos of the setup the controller went back to green. No explaining on what caused it. I basically was just moving wires to get photos.

I am now thinking something is loose or not.


Yup, sounds like a loose wire.


My new thought is to haul the AS to the local dealer in NH for a good diagnosis. This is difficult as we live full time. I hope they can work magic in one day.

But I still have a question on diagram and wiring. The green 10 ga goes to a bus bar inside and not to the negative on what is the left battery. Is this true on your setup?


That's the way AS does it. There is a ground bus under the couch and most of the returns go to it. The hot side goes to the breakers next to the ground bus.



I do see a black 6 ga coming off buss bar but haven't been able to track if this goes to negative....thoughts.



There is one that goes to the battery. There is another one that goes off to the house wiring.

Hoping photo helps...

I understand if you are confused and would rather hold on making any suggestions. I wouldn't want to put you in a position of feeling guilty for suggesting anything. Right now I am leaning on a one on one discussion with service tech at AS dealer in NH and go from there. I just like to continue to educate myself on my camper and this is my first TT AS with solar. I am coming from a basic 5th wheel with no solar.

Any information and thoughts are greatly appreciated.
Attachment 345815Attachment 345816Attachment 345819Attachment 345820Attachment 345821
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Old 07-10-2019, 05:34 AM   #11
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2016 30' Classic
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 66
Again yes lots to check with lots of direction. Thanks for guidance and advice very much appreciated. I need to develop a game plan and go from there. I would like to diagnose and solve this myself. Helps to save bucks if I can learn and solve and know going forward for anything else. Thanks.
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:28 AM   #12
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Should you decide that the solar charger is shot (my guess is still a loose wire):

The Victron "upgrade" for what you have is:

https://shop.pkys.com/Victron-Energy...th_p_2779.html

It's rated at 15A and has Bluetooth (thus the term upgrade). There are a lot of models in the lineup. For not much more money, I would at least bump up to the 20A version:

https://shop.pkys.com/Victron-Energy...h-_p_7182.html

Indeed if a solar upgrade is in the plans, figure that out first and *then* decide what the right size is.

What you have is likely pretty close to this:

http://atkinson-electronics2.mybigco...-display-jack/

It does indeed cost less and it should drive the display panel. (The note "not compatible with parts from other kits" is a bit strange ...). With the Victron, the display panel goes dead and does nothing (except take up space).

I'm not sure I would stock either one as a spare part. Normally they are very reliable. There are a lot of other things that are way more likely to fail.

There are lots of suppliers for this stuff. I'd suggest getting it from somebody you can talk to on the phone (or better still, in person) than buying it on Amazon. Randy at Best Converters was talking about getting into Victron so he may be a source as well.

Lots of fun !!!

Bob
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Old 05-31-2021, 01:40 PM   #13
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2018 28' Flying Cloud
Tampa , Florida
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 12
Having the same problem with 2018 FC 28RBQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karen-Mike View Post
I have a '16 Classic 30' and noticed a sequence of events. The Sunexplorer controller goes through a routine every morning at about mid-morning (10am) the unit boost the charge voltage and shows the battery voltage spikes to about 16 volts and drops back to normal range of 12.7 volts to 13.1 volts for the remainder of the day. Also when the controller dose this the Atwood LP detector blinks red during this period. I guess a couple of questions....1.)Is this normal?, 2.) What is the Sunexplorer actually doing and why once a day....
Thanks for any responses.
I have '18 FC RBQ and my Sunexplorer II and the propane detector does exactly the same thing, only once in a while. My DC converter's circuit breaker trips more frequently than that, and when that trips, the battery % on Sunexplorer display starts to drop. Once the breaker switch is reset, it goes back to 100%, and everything works fine. These events are obviously all tied to one another. So, I'm wondering if my DC converter is bad or the AGM batteries are the culprit.

Were you finally able to find the root cause and fix the problem you were having?

Thanks.
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Old 06-01-2021, 08:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spark01 View Post
I have '18 FC RBQ and my Sunexplorer II and the propane detector does exactly the same thing, only once in a while. My DC converter's circuit breaker trips more frequently than that, and when that trips, the battery % on Sunexplorer display starts to drop. Once the breaker switch is reset, it goes back to 100%, and everything works fine. These events are obviously all tied to one another. So, I'm wondering if my DC converter is bad or the AGM batteries are the culprit.

Were you finally able to find the root cause and fix the problem you were having?

Thanks.
Hi

Do you have an EMS on your trailer?

Bob
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Old 06-02-2021, 04:31 AM   #15
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Tampa , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Do you have an EMS on your trailer?

Bob
Hi Bob,
Yes, I use Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X whenever I connect to the shore power. Is that what's causing the symptoms? Could it have gone bad already?
Like I said, other than occasional cycling through of questionable displays AND the red LED blinking on Propane detector (it actually goes off after a while), everything seems to be working just fine. That doesn't mean everything IS working normally, though...
Your further insight would be appreciated.
Thank you!

Sechoon
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Old 06-03-2021, 06:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spark01 View Post
Hi Bob,
Yes, I use Progressive Industries EMS-PT50X whenever I connect to the shore power. Is that what's causing the symptoms? Could it have gone bad already?
Like I said, other than occasional cycling through of questionable displays AND the red LED blinking on Propane detector (it actually goes off after a while), everything seems to be working just fine. That doesn't mean everything IS working normally, though...
Your further insight would be appreciated.
Thank you!

Sechoon
Hi

The EMS will take care of some line spikes and disconnect for others. If you have shore power issues, they typically will let you know by disconnecting for a while. All of what you describe could be shore power related.

Next up, I'd start checking the tightness of the connections on the shore power lead in and the power center ( breaker box ).

If the EMS has spent a lot of time out in the rain / salt spray, it might have rusted out. A lot depends on just how it has been used ....

Bob
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