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Subject Topic: more electrical questions...
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Message posted by eoin95 on 10/2/2014 at 4:03pm
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My camper has a 230v and 12v system, no surprise but they dont seem to overlap like previous caravans I have had. I was expecting a 12v charger powered from the 230v input but instead the battery is chargered from the alternator... There are a few lights that are 230v and a few that are 12v so it seems like the 2 systems are very seperate.

I want to link them together and I was thinking one of two ways -

first install a trickle charger that will keep my 12v battery topped up when I'm in sites and still allow me to use the other lights etc..

or install a converter that bypasses the 12v battery by means of a switch and then runs all the other 12v items then when I'm driving the battery will charge up....

Any input greatly appreciated....






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Message posted by iggycamper on 10/2/2014 at 10:13pm
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Not sure what you mean about 'bypassing the 12v battery' but suggest you may need the help of a qualified Camper/Motorhome Electrician. It is most important not confuse 12v and 230v electrics!!
However here are a few basics based on my experience - hope this helps! (apologies if stuff you already know!):-

1. With engine running the alternator will charge the car battery and may also feed 12v to the fridge and/or the leisure battery via a 'split charge' relay.
2. On site (Without 230v Electric Hook Up)The fridge would have to run on gas as fridge on 12v needs quite high current. The leisure battery will slowly run down (lights,water pump etc) unless charged with a solar panel.
3. On site (With EHU) it is normal to have a proper built-in charger designed for campers/motorhomes to continuously charge the leisure battery (and supply all the 12volt items; also same mains supply will feed the fridge (if 3-way) instead of using gas.)
4. Some charger configurations will charge both batteries. (Useful to remember 'tis most important that the vehicle battery never goes flat!) There are also gizmo's like the Batter Master that are wired between both batteries - basically it supplies a trickle charge to the vehicle battery should it be more than 1/2 volt below the leisure battery. (Works well especially with a decent solar panel when not on a EHU.)
5. Some older campers used a 2-way switch to select 12v for lights etc from either battery when not on EHU. - however always the risk of getting a flat vehicle battery. Not good!
6. Very unusual to have 230 volt lights - unless you have a plug-in 'domestic style bed-side light'.(Only for caravanners with lace curtains!) :-)
7. There could be further complications like different charging rates for Lead-acid or Gel batteries etc. Again, specialist knowledge required.

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Message posted by happybonzo on 12/2/2014 at 7:57am
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As "Iggycamper" says get hold of a qualified Auto Sparky.
Shoving 12vDC current through switches designed for 230vAC current can lead to very nasty accidents (the contacts weld together and catch fire - not to be recommended)

Message posted by eoin95 on 12/2/2014 at 10:11am
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Hey, thanks for the replys. I suppose i wasn't clear in my question! Have a good idea of the electrics or at least enough not to blow the thing up. My situation is that when I plug into the electric hook up at a caravasn site the lights in my motor will still be drawing the power from the battery and the battery will not be getting charged and so may run flat (the only charger at the moment is from the altenator in the engine)....

If i install a charger for my 12v battery that can plug into a 230v socket this will prevent my battery running flat, the other option I am thinking of is to install a 230v-12v converter that will power the lights and will get the feed from the electric hook up.

Just wondering whats the pros and cons of either option...

Message posted by Tarby on 12/2/2014 at 10:46am
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You could try checking what voltage you have across your leisure battery when 240 volts are applied if its about 13.6 volts then if you remove and the voltage drops to about 12 volts you must have a charger somewhere

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Message posted by pepe63 on 12/2/2014 at 10:59am
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So, is this is a "self build" MH/camper' then?

..as I wouldn't have thought that a  "manufactured" MH/camper' would have the 12v "habitation" lights drawing from the vehicle battery (.. especially not one that doesn't get a charge whilst on hook-up).

If this is the case (and the vehicle/starter battery is the only battery it has), then I'd be looking at installing a second("leisure") battery to handle all of the habitation 12v electrics(...and leaving the vehicle battery well out of it).

 Even if this second battery was kept  totally separate from the base vehicle charging system and was only charged via a separate charger, whilst on hook-up..It's got to be better than how it appears to be now...

(Having said all of that, I may have just got the wrong end of the stick...?


Message posted by iggycamper on 12/2/2014 at 11:30am
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Agree with Tarby above to check if leisure battery actually being charged from a 'hidden charger' as very unusual if one not fitted ... unless van is very old.
If not, it is possible to charge leisure battery from an independent mains powered charger tho' various makes including Ctek or Stirling. See link below:

https://www.roadpro.co.uk/retail/product_level_1.aspx?prod=12V/24V+ELECTRICAL+PRODUCT

A proper charger is in effect a 230v to 12v converter anyway! Note depending on price some chargers are very sophisticated - some have up to 8 stages to automatically decide exact condition of battery and it's charging requirements. Check what type of leisure battery you have fitted.
Last but not least I would still stress the need to have all the 230 volts side of things tested and certified by qualified motorhome electrician.(Especially if van is old and in an unknown state of maintenance - Is van a recent purchase - if from a decent dealer it should have been certified anyway?)
Hope the above helps - sent in good faith! (let me through I used to be an engineer!)


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Message posted by iggycamper on 12/2/2014 at 11:51am
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One further thought - Aux battery charger is sometimes hidden in back of 12v distribution and switch panel if you have one? Charger could also be faulty or have a blown mains fuse of course.

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Message posted by eoin95 on 12/2/2014 at 1:00pm
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Hey, thanks again for all that. I suppose just to clarify it is a conversion camper and also it is a seperate battery not the starter battery. There is a relay that charges the leisure battery from the alternator..

It's a new battery as the one that was there I tested and only gave 1.5v, havent even bothered trying to charge it! When the 230v was attached the voltage in battery didnt change so no (working) charger installed, I also did a good look about and pulled out control panel and no charger anywhere!

thanks for the link to roadpro, will have a look. I think i'll just install a charger! simplest solution!

Message posted by pepe63 on 12/2/2014 at 1:22pm
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Well, it seems that I was indeed, 100% correct then,..

...in that I HAD got hold of entirely the wrong end of the stick!

As has been said, check for a main fuse or relay failure(...although sometimes, finding them can be easier said than done).


Message posted by Tarby on 12/2/2014 at 2:10pm
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dose the 12volt system come on when you are on 240 volts if so it must be an in line fuse between the charger and the leisure battery if not then you don't have a charger which seems strange.

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Message posted by eoin95 on 12/2/2014 at 9:04pm
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The 12v system is always on, with or without 230v connected. I just have to turn on at the control panel. Not sure what ya mean but would be keen for you to elaborate....

Message posted by iggycamper on 12/2/2014 at 10:17pm
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So we nearly there! Recap:-

1. You have a Aux battery charged OK by the 'split charge relay' when engine is running.
2. 12v then supplied to various circuits in van when control panel 12v is switched on.
3. Aux battery then slowly goes flat unless engine is run.
4. No sign of a Mains powered battery charger? You sure?!!

If all above is true ... you do need to fit a mains powered battery charger suitable for your particular auxiliary battery! (see earlier stuff!)Btw - wire charger o/p direct to Aux batt. terminals with proper crimped or soldered terminals rather than the sometimes supplied 'croc-clips'
Note that the 12v o/p of a charger itself is not designed to directly power all your 12v van circuits without an auxiliary battery also being connected! The battery acts like a large capacitor ... ensuring a smooth current supply matching the changing demand. (E.g. Lights, water pump, TV etc.)
Let us know how you get on - you anywhere near N. Devon btw ? Always glad to help!

Post last edited on 12/02/2014 22:25:05

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Message posted by pepe63 on 13/2/2014 at 8:57am
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Quote: Originally posted by iggycamper on 12/2/2014

4. No sign of a Mains powered battery charger?  You sure?!!


I'd echo that, to be honest.....If it's got a "leisure" battery, a split-charger and a control panel, it seems very odd for the converter to have  not incorporated a "mains" charger...

What conversion/make/model of van is it?....



Post last edited on 13/02/2014 09:40:01

Message posted by iggycamper on 13/2/2014 at 10:03am
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Re the 'invisible charger' (!) you could check how many wires are connected to the +v Leisure battery terminal:-

E.g. There will be one red (input) from the split charge relay. Another red (output) feeding the 12v Control panel. If a third red is present this could be an input from the charger if fitted; however as there could also be extra 'outputs' wired from battery +ve terminal you may have to trace all the red cables - not always easy! Note is better to trace the reds rather than the blacks as sometimes the black/-ve connections are 'commoned' externally to the leisure battery.

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Message posted by Tarby on 13/2/2014 at 10:36am
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Your control unit could have a switching relay from alternator to charger this could be faulty.you need to speak to the manufacturers technical service department to find out how it works

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Dave

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