BTI and the Boggers

Submitted: Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:00
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Well, life as a pending owner becomes more interesting every day. Today I received two emails from Steve and Tracy and had a lengthy conversation with Steve in response to an email I sent asking about costs relating to inverters, battery chargers, and solar regulators. Those emails which BTI requested I post are in the next two threads. I thought I would provide my thoughts and other comments that came out of the my conversation with Steve. I have not been around a long time as a Bogger; howver, I surmise the following history. Anyone and everyone is free to comment on my hypothesis! Prior to the Boggers being created it has been stated to me on more than one occassion that everyone was basically accepting what was said by BTI, and purchasing what was offered by BTI. There was no collective exchange of information, and no forum to voice your personally held concerns about something in relation to your BT or your dealings with BTI. Depending upon the person I spoke to, some said they got lucky doing it on their own and it was 90 - 95% right. Today, a new Boggers hopes that his van when delivered will be 99% right - whatever that means. The evolution of the Boggers has had many impacts upon BTI. 1. It customers (us) believe (rightly or wrongly) they we are more knowledgeable in making our purchase having read a year's worth of threads, and participating in the site or at least reading what is posted. 2. There have been many instances when Boggers have brought products to BTI that ultimately have been adopted as standard - Anthony can name several; others have not been adopted. 3. They say a little knowledge is dangerous - I know because as a medical-legal lawyer I would drive doctors crazy with my questions and opinions based upon my newly learned knowledge. Well, legitimately, BTI can say that there time with customers (in person, emails, and phone calls), especially Boggers, has significantly increased because we know a little more and we want to talk about all aspects of our new and exciting purchase. We hear something, read something, or discuss something and we contact BTI and ask about it. Clearly we do this because we all want the perfect BT; at the same time, this increases BTI's cost of goods sold. 4. Prior to the Bogger site I would guess that very little out sourcing of equipment occurred by purchasers of BTs. Having decided that the BT was the best for our purposes, we had no reason to question a particular item, e.g., battery chargers, and when there was a problem BTI corrected the problem. Purchasers knew that they could purchase certain items for less money but didn't because the price charged by BTI included installation et cetera. Now the Boggers get together and start talking about all the things we could buy for the BT and how so many of the items can be purchased more cheaply.Absolutely true and all accounts. Then we go out and buy an item and ask BTI to install the item. BTI does so and when they look at their time sheets they realize that they cannot charge the true installation cost because of customer relations so, since it isn't happening too often, they eat part of the labor. I did that often as an attorney. Then we say to ourselves, wait a minute. If I was able to buy the item for $700.00 less than charged by BTI at wholesale prices and it only cost me $500 for the installation I am $200 ahead of the game. So, I had this exact conversation with Steve today and he pointed out that sure they charge retail prices, and charge what appears to be a reasonable add-on for labor; however, in fact, part of the installation is buried in the "profit at retail prices" and part of the installation is the "add-on". As a result of the proliferation in out-sourcing by purchasers of BTs of items to be installed in the BTs, those of us trying to do that know who we are, BTI has now adopted a new policy that all installations will be charged at $60 per hour for work performed, time sheets will be kept, and an additional charge for materials. No estimate of the installation cost will be provided in advance "because every installation is different and there is no way to know what problems we are going to run into doing a particular installation." Well fellow Boggers, now you can read the next two threads which are the Directors response to my initiation of what will it cost for the installation of a Prosine 1800i, TrueCharge 40amp, and Plasmatronics PL40. tgintl/jay
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Reply By: Luvntravln - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:05

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:05
I for one want to thank those that took the time to respond to this issue of both outsourcing and the fact that they are very satisfied with their current electrical systems supplied by BT. I would assume that when the BT reads these posts through whatever means the Directors utilize to keep up with this site, they too will be pleased at the positive response. I have lots of opinions about lots of things - sometimes even those things I know little about . There is no question that one of the wonderful purposes of this site is to strive to continually upgrade our BTs; to fail to do so whould not be standing still - it would be going backwards as the world passed us by. There is also no question that by deciding to buy a BT and explore outback Australia and other parts of the off-road world in 5* comfort, we are in fact leaving the world behind. When I was cruising I didn't want to go camping; when I go in a Bushtracker I will definitely not be camping. The Directors, in business, naturally have to expect that when they produce this particular product at this out the door price, they are selling to a group of society that on the one hand is willing to endure the rigors of moving 7700kg across the outback (4200 F-250/3500 21' BT) - financially successful individuals one and all, with very strong opinions, and a collective spirit to get the job done and make things better. The buyers on the other hand, a special socioeconomic and educated group, also need to acknowledge the impact that this "collective" has had on BTI's business. There is no question we have increased its sales (I for one would probably not be a BT owner but for the Boggers), and we have increased its costs and headaches. That's called doing business! Here's a hairbrained suggestion: there are times when a group within this group believes that a product or some new way of doing things might be a significant advance for BT owners; what about someone with a reasonable amount of technical knowledge and the time assuming the responsibility to interface with the Directors, sorting out the issues, and then posting the findings. That way instead of many Boggers contacting BTI, we could do it through The Boggers Ombudsman . ????????????????????????????? Just a thought! Anyway, as far as I am concerned this has been a education for me. I never accept anything at face value - it is not my nature. I have to ask lots of questions - as all of you already know . Prior to joining the Boggers (can't believe it is only four months ago), I knew nothing about the construction of a caravan. Now I know a little something and I am dangerous . This interchange between BTI and me over the purchase and installation of my electronics caused Steve to write those two emails and that was an important education for me and others. To the extent that BTI provides the particular product, e.g., the inverter/panels/batteries I will buy those products from BTI and have them installed by BTI. Turist and others that created this site, thanks for providing the opportunity for all of us to learn and share information about BTs, and thanks for providing an open forum where everyone can express their individualistic opinions. Thank God Its Never Too Late - TGINTL/Jay
AnswerID: 560967

Reply By: Andy1 - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:06

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:06
Firstly Jay, as a pedant I must make a correction: A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers the brain. In terms of after sales service BT are probably the best company we have ever dealt with. In this sense I agree 100% with Bob. However there are always issues, our charger was located beneath the inverter, no issue, so that it was not possible without a mirror & some contortions to read the LED's, issue. If the Victron (charger) we are currently fitting is not up to the job we will use it to charge the dual batteries in the Toyota while we are off having fun with the F250 & the BT but we will not be re-installing the BT charger. This is not a criticism of BT - the vans are not cheap & adding another level of sophistication adds $'s. KISS is not unreasonable. In the end we all have our own little foibles & prejudices so we fit bits & pieces to accomodate these. Only one thing in life is certain; "In the long run we are all dead" Andy
AnswerID: 560968

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:07

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:07
Steven Gibbs wrote: <start> 2) Hertz variation, on the outback lines the frequency variations are bad for the switch mode style of full electronic synthesis, and the further out the lines in the outback the worse the frequency variations on the mains power... 3) Voltage variations, further out in the bush, the worse the variations, terrible for switch mode.. and major heat problems ensue... <end> Brian wrote: <start> As far a battery chargers and inverters go, the problems that I had with battery chargers turns out to have been my own fault because I had a cheaper brand generator that did not produce good enough quality 240V power. BTI changed 2 chargers over for me even though they couldn't find anything wrong with them. Now that I have a Honda Generator my problems have been solved, and the Honda produces power that is compatible with the sensitive electronics in their chargers. <end> Can someone please explain how Brian's charger would not run on the genny when the BT supplied charger is immune to voltage and frequency fluctuations in the outback power grid ??? And the sensitive electronics in the BT charger stops it running on such bad outback power/genny....and doesnt this sensitive electronics in the BT charger destroy itself on corrugations .... in the BT it doesnt ..in the switch mode it does ???? I'm sorry but you cant have it both ways !!!!!!! Regards Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 560969

Reply By: Turist - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:08

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:08
The only other comments I have re battery charging are experience related, not from a technical manual, and I am only dealing with BT installations, not theoretical bench testing results or other high tech requirements.

With BT #1 we had 3 lead acid AC Delco batts with a BT supplied charger and 3 panels.
The batteries were replaced after 3 years and then only as a precaution as we were leaving for another trip.
What else do you want??
With BT #2 we started with lead acid batteries but one battery was quickly found to be faulty.
BT offered to replace the lot. I went the extra at that time and replaced with AGM.
As previously mentioned, after 5 months these batteries are faultless and the BT supplied charger is doing a perfect job.

My question is why spend a zillion bucks on equipment that is not going to offer significant advantages.
A sophisticated temp sensing switch mode charger may give an extra few months battery life but that is the only advantage.
For the application that we have the dollars do not justify the extended battery life. Different if you have dozens of batteries as in some industrial set ups but we are mostly talking about installations with 2 to 4 batteries that are primarily maintained with solar power with the mains power charger as a support medium.

The cost difference will buy a lot of Glenfiddich that can be enjoyed while I watch the solar regulator flashing away maintaining the battery bank that happens to be connected to a charger that does the job.

Back to the chemist, more pills needed.

Turist
"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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AnswerID: 560970

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:09

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:09
Bob, Good points ....the proof is certainly in the pudding. As stated in another post this is now my official line with chargers from today .... <start> I RECOMMEND that people GO for the BTi Charger ...they work well and will take the punishment ....and have a great warranty. I use my original BTi charger as a spare in the event of failure. <end> Lets face it for most people this is the way to go ..... in the event of a problem from anywhere in Australia (if it cant be fixed by an electrician) BTi can just ship one to the nearest town. The connections will be identical to the shipped charger making for easy install by virtually anyone. Its also free ..... Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 560971

Reply By: Wadefarers - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:10

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:10
We got our BT in January 2002. Basically, all we got was “standard” BT stuff except for the material used for our seats and the little microwave we had fitted. It would have been nice to have had this Group so that we could have learnt from others, but c’est la vie. Sure we probably made mistakes, the water sterilizer being one, (lots of red wine in that little baby), but we live with what we’ve got. We let Steve give his advice and opinion and if we didn’t like some “little” things, then we had to decide if what we wanted was what we wanted. Ours is an 18ft with the sink and stove in the rear. At that time Steve did not want to do this, but in the end we got what we wanted and in the end he liked the idea for an 18ft. Seems to have turned out well, for us anyway and another couple we know who have a rear kitchen. For folks that didn’t know what we were doing at the time we seemed to do OK. We have since had the mirror inserted in the ensuite and had the Webasto (thanks for that Bob) fitted. Over that time we have learnt a lot from both our own experiences and from the Group. We had trouble with the batteries, but that was basically self-inflicted by use of (or over use of) the 1800 watt inverter. We learnt from that and also gleaned info from Graham (F Troop Café) about using the batteries, charger etc from when he went to Cania. Since then our way (not necessarily others) is that the charger stays OFF, the fridge stays ON, and from going from having a panic about maybe having to replace the 3 calcium calcium batteries, to seeing them now charging well from the 4 solar panels, we feel a lot better. We also purchased a Honda 2Kva, which makes us happier still. Maybe our expectations about what we were ultimately getting in the form of the BT weren’t that great (it was bloody exciting though) as we were going from tenting to our first van. But what a change!!!! The BT experience is wonderful, except that we don’t get enough time in it, as we would like. I like Bob’s KISS principle about the BT. While I can understand Anthony’s ire at certain things, I also think that the BT people know their stuff, they would have to or go out of business. Steve is a “funny” guy in that he believes what he believes, but then again, aren’t some of us in the same boat (BT?) when we want to believe what we want to believe. There are some who want more than others (not meant to be derogatory), or who just want certain things. We are all different and have different ways of dealing with what we want or expect. For example, what might suit Bob or Brian might not suit Jay or Griff, just to mention names NOT foibles. For those like Angie, Jay, et al who are expecting, it is a great time. After being insulted over another issue I hope this doesn’t offend anyone. This is only meant to be an observation of our experience with BTI and with our BT over the past 2 years. Regards Jeff
AnswerID: 560972

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:11

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:11
G'day Jeff, The BT experience for us was exactly the same. We went from a tent to a BT and it was "camping" life changing !!! I looked at BT's for 3 years before we were able to even afford one. The only reason we have one is because of my wifes passion for camping ...her one and only hobby. She is the one working 60 hrs per week and all she asks to do is "sum Bushtrackin" ! I have always challenged convention and get very passionate about the things I'm passionate about .... especially when looking for fact !!! [smile] With that said it doesnt mean I'm pigheaded and cant be told ...quite the opposite ... I'm always open to discussion, its the only way I learn, for me ...[smile] If ...from any of my posts I'm taking some of the shine of peoples delivery of their BT's that is the last thing I would dream of .... I might have been challenging certain convention and only mean to offer assistance not worry people .. I hope !! [smile] Like I've said before .... you'll need a shotgun and crowbar to separate my BT from this family ..... both barrels ! [210gaugeSmile] I jokingly suggested that I was going to sell it after the hail experience ..... the girls were beside themselves ...you would have thought I said I was chopping their heads off .. or banning birthday parties .... or killing Santa ....sheesh !!! We need more time in ours as well !!!! Regards Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 560973

Reply By: Bushtracker42 - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:12

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:12
Glad to hear this.

After we had the mutliple Delco failures we have gone
to a BT standard setup i.e. new AGM’s except we upped the charger from 25
to 35 amp to get the latest charging profile.





----------------------

Gary Harding

TriSys Engineering/III





AnswerID: 560974

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:13

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:13
Brian,<o:p></o:p>

Have you considered that the BTI chargers that could not
cope with the 240V wave signal produced by your ‘cheaper brand generator’
were your real problem. If you would have installed a better quality charger
such as a Truecharge charger, you could have retained your ‘cheaper brand
generator’ and avoided blaming BTI or yourself for the problems you
encountered. I understand that the Truecharge units will cope with any shaped
wave signal produced by a generator, something I can personally confirm.<o:p></o:p>

David<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>



AnswerID: 560975

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:14

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:14
Stop with the logic Dave ...you're killing me !!!!! [smile] Anthony Explore this Great Land ...Do it Easy ...Tow a Bushtracker
AnswerID: 560976

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:16

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:16
Sorry Anthony, hope it didn’t hurt, just wanted to add
a lateral thought to the void !<o:p></o:p>

David<o:p></o:p>

<o:p> </o:p>



AnswerID: 560977

Reply By: Noosa Fox - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:17

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:17
Didn't consider that Dave, but at least Turist Bob won't tell me to turn the 2KvA Honda off because it was too noisy like he did with the old one, and I can now run the computer off the generator, instead of only off the inverter. Brian
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AnswerID: 560978

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:18

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:18
Turist Re batteries, with every respect I feel you have come to absolutely the right conclusion (to stay with a conventional battery charger) but that the reason WHY it makes sense for you could be misunderstood. Conventional lead acid batteries have an inherent characteristic (high internal resistance) that precludes their being charged quickly, efficiently and fully by a standard 'constant voltage' charger. The AGM batteries that you have elected to use have a different characteristic (far lower internal resistance). These (and gel cell) batteries thus charge rapidly and deeply from the constant voltage produced by standard chargers. They will charge a bit faster from a clever charger but unless one is seriously rich there's little point in doing so. AGM and gel cell batteries will not last as long as well-maintained and correctly used high quality deep cycle batteries. In practice however few of the latter are optimally used, so AGMs and gell cells will usually outlast them. For those who do elect to stay with conventional deep cycle batteries, it really is worth the cost of a three-stage charger - but do bear in mind that as these devices charge far quicker, a 20 amp unit has about the same effective performance as a 40 amp conventional charger. The only real dawbacks to AGMs are that they are heavier, bulkier and a lot more costly per amp/hour but part of that is offset by their ability to be charged more deeply and discharged more fully with far less long term damage. They are also more rugged (both electrically and mechanically). Please forgive me pointing out the above, but my experience is that a lot of camping folklore begins from others subsequently and wrongly exterpolating through lack of understanding the true explanation of what worked very well in other circumstances (sorry this sentence is so long but I have not got time to shorten it!). Collyn Rivers
AnswerID: 560979

Reply By: Deleted User - Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:19

Friday, Jan 30, 2004 at 06:19
My own personal opinion, be it right or wrong, is that when dealing with BTI, there are two main facts to consider 1) financial considerations for work done, 2) acceptance of technical advice given. To this end, without going into detail, I have booked my van in to have the electricals upgraded in August. After discussions with Peter and Steve I believe their solar panel/ battery/ charger package and other extras is what's needed for "MY VAN". I do this not because BTI are cheaper (Their Not), but because I except there expertise/ workmanship and warranties as we all have done with the intial van purchase, be it new or second hand as mine was. On the subject of a Boggers Ombudsman, as suggested by Jay/tgintl, sounds like a good idea. Perhaps a folder could be set up on the Boggers website for questions and answers, then someone liase with BTI. Rick (maverick2567) "Get Out and Enjoy Your Bushtracker"
AnswerID: 560980

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