Electrics in my BT - I need some advice please.

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 20:43
ThreadID: 125175 Views:3843 Replies:9 FollowUps:14
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Hi Boggers,

I just got back from a gold fossicking trip to Avoca in Victoria. I have some faulty solar panels which are about to come off - I know about these, so that's not the problem.

My batteries were running low after a couple of days, so I rigged up the Honda generator and plugged the 240 v cord from that, into the side of the van (where you put the input at caravan parks).

This made no difference at all to the battery. I thought that this would also be connected to the battery charger. Should it be?

I solved the problem by running the 240v from the Honda directly to the charger, although even then, I could only get the battery up to 13.1v. Should the voltage max out at more than this figure?

Thanks a lot,

Willie.
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Reply By: Paul and Barb - Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 21:10

Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 21:10
Our BT has an isolating switch for the battery charger, this must be turned on if you wish to charge the batteries.

Paul.
AnswerID: 576250

Follow Up By: Willie - Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 23:51

Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 23:51
Hi Paul,
Where is the switch in your van? Mine is a 2001 model and could be quite different - worth a look though.
Thanks for your help,
Willie.
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Follow Up By: Paul and Barb - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 03:06

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 03:06
Hi Willie,

Our battery charger plugs into a power point under the bed, but it has an inline isolating switch to that power point so we can switch the charger on and off without lifting the bed up. The switch is just a normal type light switch mounted on the side of the bed, we never ordered it that way, that's the way it came from BT in 2003.

There is a picture of our battery charger in our photo album, but it does not show the switch.

Paul.
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FollowupID: 850305

Follow Up By: Willie - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 22:25

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 22:25
G'day Paul,
I just went out to the van and had a look. There is a single power point which is plugged in and turned on.

The lead from this power point goes to a multi plug outlet (four outlets). Into one of these outlets, goes a plug/lead from the battery charger - this was the lead I connected straight to the Honda generator to charge the battery (that workked).

Another 240 lead exits the "multi plug outlet" and goes into the cupboard near it, and has a 240 to 12v transformer on it for the TV.

The single power point that feeds the multi outlet is sheathed in corrugated tubing and just "disappears" into the woodwork in the locker under the bed. I can not trace it after that. I cannot find a battery isolation switch in any of the cupboards - all I found was the main fuse box which is situated in a cupboard above the sink.

When I am hooked up to power in the caravan park, the fridge and lights etc all work and do not seem to be taking power from the battery which seems to stay at 13.1 v.

BUT , I know the generator did nothing for the battery when I plugged it into the inlet on the side of the van.

It's all a tad confusing!

Thanks,

Willie.
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FollowupID: 850306

Follow Up By: Paul and Barb - Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 at 04:10

Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 at 04:10
Hi Willie,

Just went out and checked our BT again, you have to bear in mind that Bushtracker have no standard procedure when it comes to wiring their vans, 2 similar vans built in the same month could have different wiring setups, it all seems to boil down to how they feel on the day.

Our battery charger plugs into a single power point with no switch, which is located under the bed. However we do have an isolating switch on the side of our yacht berth bed which controls the power to the plug that the charger is plugged into, we need to turn this switch on to charge the batteries when hooked up to mains power.

Our fridge only runs on 12V battery power, so when we are in a van park and hooked up to mains power the fridge is still running off the batteries. If we are parked in a shady spot with not much solar coming in we have to make sure that we turn the battery charger on to top the batteries up.

I assume that you have checked that another electrical appliance works in that power point. It appears that your battery charger is working fine because it ran OK off the generator. I don't know where you can go from here.

Regards,

Paul.
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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 21:54

Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 21:54
Hi Willie

Our battery charger plugs into a power outlet which we only turn on when we want to run the charger. We also leave the clips off the battery connection points when not running the charger. We can run it from the genny the way you first tried. The only time we used the genny for the charger was when we had problems in the Kimberley. Across three batteries, it does take quite a while to bring up the charge, although the controller reads the charge going in and looks quite high initially. We have low and high charge, and the low charge across the three is extremely slow. Our charger is not a BT original, and our set up is different to the modern vans, so i don't know where yours sits being somewhere in between.

Hope you sort yours out OK

Motherhen
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AnswerID: 576251

Follow Up By: Willie - Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 23:55

Tuesday, Nov 04, 2008 at 23:55
Howdy Mrs Hen,

My battery charger also plugs into a power outlet in the rear luggage locker - but it seems to make no difference when it's plugged in.

What is the max voltage your batteries go to, when on charge?

Thanks a lot,

Willie.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 01:03

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 01:03
Hi Willie

Have you tested the outlet with a light? Maybe a wire has come loose between the power source and the outlet which is a worry. It doesn't make sense that if it is working the charger works direct but not through the power outlet.

Our new (for this year's trip) charger did misbehave and not turn on a couple of times. It also used to turn off at a certain voltage, then wouldn't turn on again unless unclipped and re clipped to the positive battery terminal. We only needed the charger this time when the solar panels let us down.

We really can't remember - i think around 13.2 or so - certainly not as high a 14. It would then go back to reading around 12.8 when turned off.

Hope you solve it soon. When you get new panels, you won't need the charger again.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Willie - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 22:27

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 22:27
Mrs Hen,
Smart thinking. I will go and plug something into it now and test it.I will report back!
Thanks,
Willie.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 22:31

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 22:31
Willie, You may well have another switch like Paul has.

Mh
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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 04:48

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 04:48
Willie,

The battery charger will push it up to the 13+ area and then go into float and then boost and float until it is eventually up in the high 13 to low 14 volts BUT do not expect this to happen for at least 24 hours if the batteries were low to start with.

Have you checked the other power outlets in your van to see if 240 volt power is going to them?

There ill be a circuit breaker switch for the 240 volt power, and it is probably up in a cupboard above where the plug is on the outside of the van that you plug into. There are probably 3 or them, one for power, one for battery charger and one for air-conditioner. Make sure that they are all turned on.

The battery charger power point should go from the outside to the circuit breaker and then to the battery charger. IT IS COMPLETELY separate to the rest of the 240 volt power points so that the Inverter if fitted does not power the battery charger.

Brian
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AnswerID: 576252

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 08:25

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 08:25
Never mind all the technical stuff i did you find any Gold!

John
AnswerID: 576253

Follow Up By: Willie - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 23:35

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 23:35
Hi John,

I found two bits. One is a specimen in the end of a lump of mudstone - looks good and it's my first specimen. We had two ladies in our team - one got six pieces and the other got three. I still have a lot to learn about detecting.

We spent a couple of days camped at Waanyara north of Dunolly and detected round there for only one small bit. Great area though if you are interested in the gold rush . Good camping area with toilets too. The Vic fire ban only started Nov.1. so we had a fire every night.

After Waanyara, we moved to Avoca Caravan Park to detect with some friends we had met this year on a last detecting tagalong in WA. We had a lot more luck there.

Do you detect much?

Willie
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Reply By: Deleted User - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 18:19

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 18:19
Hi Willie,

Welcome back! I am no electrician but I am thinking that if the batteries are reading 13.1v then they are in the process of being charged (by the charger I presume) so it sounds OK to me. I would imagine that the size of the charger and your power usage may mean that this could last a while. I know that is only part of your problem but it sounds like that the power to the charger then to the batteries would seem to be functioning.

I know this sounds like a hijack but did you find any gold?

Kind regards

Theo
AnswerID: 576254

Follow Up By: Willie - Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 23:38

Wednesday, Nov 05, 2008 at 23:38
Hi Theo,

See above re gold.

The charger works when hooked up directly to the charger, but not when power from the van park is plugged into the outlet in the side of the van.

Cheers,

Willie.
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FollowupID: 850313

Reply By: Willie - Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 at 06:03

Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 at 06:03
I ran 240v out from my house to my van today .

I connected it to the exterior plug. The charger showed the green light for POWER. The red light for CHARGING only flickered .

Next I ran 240v straight into the charger. Exactly the sam thing happened with the lights.

So, why didn't the batteries charge when connected to the Honda through the exterior connection. There was NO change when the Honda was connected to it. There was an immediate response when I connected the Honda directly to the charger.

Perhaps the charger is acting up, as I said, the red light only flickered for CHARGING.

I will have to take it to an auto electrician and have it all checked out.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me on this problem.

Willie.
AnswerID: 576255

Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 at 08:32

Thursday, Nov 06, 2008 at 08:32
Willie,

If you have a 2001 model with an air conditioner fitted, then you will probable have 2 power inlet plugs.

I would suggest that you probably plugged the honda into the air conditioner inlet and that is why the battery charger had no power.

Don't worry about the flicking charging light, I think that you will find that it normal. If it charges the batteries over time then it is working properly.

Brian
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Follow Up By: Willie - Sunday, Nov 09, 2008 at 03:33

Sunday, Nov 09, 2008 at 03:33
I am aware of that, but it is possible I made a mistake .
Thanks Brian.
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FollowupID: 850315

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Saturday, Nov 08, 2008 at 07:51

Saturday, Nov 08, 2008 at 07:51
Hi Willie
Re the Gold
Yup, I like to have a 'swing and a scratch' when we are in gold country. I have a got a tweaked-up SD2200 and the Dragon has an Xterra 70. I started off with a Groundhog in 82 and have found a few ounces over the years.

Cheers John
AnswerID: 576256

Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 04:55

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 04:55
Hi Willie

Have you resolved this mystery yet? I think i said earlier, that the new charger we got for this year's trip played up. Sometimes the amp meter didn't work, but the charger seemed to be working. Sometimes absolutely nothing worked. The tech who checked it in Kununurra said it worked perfectly on his tests. But being spasmodic, it still doesn't seem to work all the time. Maybe yours is erratic too?

Mh
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AnswerID: 576257

Follow Up By: Willie - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 09:24

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 09:24
Judy,

The charger is seven years old and it could be the problem. I was thinking of getting a new one on.

I should ask the Boggers what the best charger is.

Cheers,

Willie.
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FollowupID: 850316

Reply By: Andy1 - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 16:29

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 16:29
We used the BT charger on our first trip six yeras ago and were not impressed. We installed a 30amp Victron then when we moved a 2kva generator installed a Xantrex 50amp which is a very good unit, very popular in marine service. Pretty much a solid state unit.

The battery charger is a critical component. We have a bank of four ACDelco sealed batteries, installed in 2003 with one failure only.

I do not support the practice used by many of leaving the charger on when ever the van is on 240v. If there is adequate solar I turn off the charger during the day, when bush camping I run the generator often enough to ensure the charge voltage peaks at 14.4 for at least a few hours every couple of days.

Andy

AnswerID: 576258

Follow Up By: Willie - Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 18:41

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2008 at 18:41
I will Google the Xantrex now . Thanks Andy.
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