Changing leisure batteries

Hi guys.

I am new to vanlife, we bought a ready converted van which was built last year then left for almost 12 months unused due to a change in circumstances, and thus, a few things needed attention, noticeably the plumbing and electrics.

The batteries are lead-acid, show full charge but drain quickly with high power items such as fridge/heater, then show full charge again once these items are turned off.

From this i assume the batteries have been permanently damaged from not achieving full charge over winter.
I have a victron smart solar charge controller, this can be turned off via the app, will turning this off and isolating the batteries be all I need to do when replacing the lesiure batteries, or do i also need to break the connection between the pannels andbthe charge controller?

Greetings!

You would disconnect the solar panel(s) first, then the charge controller. When reconnecting the charge controller comes first, and the solar panels last.

It should be noted that the draw you are experiencing seems quite normal, even with totally healthy batteries.

Cheers!


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


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Hi again, thanks for the reply. So, the reason i was thinking batteries was because of the level of drop, once the sun goes down fully charged batteries will drop to in the 10’s with a little use of a water pump/TV/Fridge(not all at once) then stay in the low 11’s untilbthe sun rises again.

Yesterday I put 2 new batteries in, wired in parallel. All seemed good when the sun is up, sun down and the same issues just slightly better rebound.

The first picture shows what the battery was showing during the diesel heater trying to kick in (low voltage error kicked in before up to heat)
Second pic shows the voltage with a couple of LEDs on and the TV. Third pic with everything turned off again.

Now my mistake is, I have replaced the batteries like for like, generic brand, sealed, deep cycle led acid batteries off ebay, branded probat @ 130ah each. After i ordered, i was looking into the battery types and realised i should have upgraded them.

Is there anything else i should be checking or does this seem normal for cheap leisure batteries?

Greetings!

It’s showing zero solar & your batteries are under charged. Do you have a way of fully charging the batteries without solar? Odds are they were low when you got them, and the solar isn’t doing a good job at charging them.

Cheers!


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


Good morning Van_Dweller

I fully charged the batteries with a 3 stage smart charger before fitting. I carried out these tests at night as thats when the problems show, when there is solar everything is working fine.

Thanks!

You need to measure your voltage with nothing connected not charge controller, no appliances. Charge them till full, wait 2 hours and then meter the batteries. That is the only way you will get a close to accurate voltage reading.

At everything turned off and your voltage at 12.59, the batteries are probably full. The voltage may actually be higher to decay and you having run stuff off the batteries for minutes before the last read out so it may be closer to 12.7 or 12.65.

I do not think your batteries are the problem, but you could take them to any battery shop and have them tested to be sure.

I’m also unsure as to your wiring setup you said the solar was off but somehow the load is running? So does your controller go to your batteries and all the power is coming from the load on the controller.

Perhaps try hooking the heater directly up to the battery with no other connections and see what happens

Hi Bretly, thanks for the reply.

So by no solar, I was just meaning the sun was down so the pannels were not directly powering the items.
I am very new to this so learning everyday, so excuse anything that doesnt sound right.
I have a victron solar controller that has wiring for PV, battery and load, so i assumed the load that shows on that app is the measured output from the battery?

The more digging I am doing on the batteries, im thinkingvthey may be poor quality or even starter batteries with a deep cycle sticker in, im seeing a lot of bad reviews and some describing the same thing as me, that been said im just trying to cover all bases before i throw more money at it!

Thanks

Greetings!

Solar is just a poor battery charger, it’s your batteries that need to actually carry the load. Fridges & especially electric heaters are power hogs.

I would charge the batteries up to full, let them sit totally unhooked for 2 days, then take them to a battery shop and have them perform a load test on them. That should give you a totally accurate condition of your batteries.

My solution eventually evolved into being extremely power frugal. My fridge/freezer uses fuel only when I’m not driving, my heater uses fuel only, no power required. With the exception of my phone & laptop, I can live totally comfortably without power. In the end, it’s been the best choice for me…

Cheers!


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


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I understand that the sun was down, what I meant was my charge controller has essentially two outs, one set of wires you hook to the battery then from the batteries to wherever to power things. The other just skips the batteries and runs to the other things that is the ‘load’. On our setup we do not use the load, the power always runs from the controller (if there is sun) to the batteries then to everything else. Without sun, its just batteries to everything else and the controller is out of the mix entirely.

Buy yeah, get your batteries tested and to be honest it’s probably best to not buy batteries off of amazon or ebay. They are cheap there for a reason even though shipping costs are through the roof and batteries are heavy. I would hope (at least) that places like batteries plus, at least attempt to keep them topped off and fully charged.

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Hi guys

Tonight i removed the wires attached to the load part of the solar controller, which then meant I had zero 12v power to the control oanel and appliances.
The inverter still worked, does this mean all my 12v power is coming from solar energy only?

Greetings!

More than likely. Hook everything up directly to the battery instead.

That also could mean that the bulk of solar energy wasn’t going to the battery either.

Cheers!


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


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