Which is the best way to charge leisure batteries with a generator? - Motorhome Forums, Motorhome Discussion, Motorhome Chat

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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 12:26 Thread Starter
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Which is the best way to charge leisure batteries with a generator?

I have two 90Ah AGM batteries in my leisure bank. I have a 100W solar panel which, on a day like today on France's cloudy Mediterranean coast, produces about 2amps. It's not enough for our electrical needs as we're living in our Hymer full time. Most of our nights are wild camping or on aires without electric hookups.

I have a Honda 2.0i suitcase generator, which I currently use to charge the leisure batteries by connecting it to the van's 230V supply. Would a battery charger connected from the generator to the leisure batteries be a more effective way of charging the bank?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 12:34
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Originally Posted by originalsmoothie View Post
I have two 90Ah AGM batteries in my leisure bank. I have a 100W solar panel which, on a day like today on France's cloudy Mediterranean coast, produces about 2amps. It's not enough for our electrical needs as we're living in our Hymer full time. Most of our nights are wild camping or on aires without electric hookups.

I have a Honda 2.0i suitcase generator, which I currently use to charge the leisure batteries by connecting it to the van's 230V supply. Would a battery charger connected from the generator to the leisure batteries be a more effective way of charging the bank?
What are the maximum current outputs of the on board charger and similarly for the generator. Is the generator DC output 'smart' in the same way as the on board charger is?
I guess you need to do a test using each mode in turn to come to any firm conclusion as there are so many variables. My gut instinct says the direct method should produce the quickest recovery but that is all it is and I have no idea by how long.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 12:48
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I would guess that you're already charging in the most efficient way by simply connecting the gennie 240v output to the van mains input but as Ray says, it all depends on the individual gennie and van charger.
Generally gennie 12v outputs are relatively low (8 amps is typical in my experience). The van charger is likely to be more like 15amps or more, plus it'll be "smarter" so will squeeze more into your batteries.
The root problem is that you need much more solar power for two 90a/h batteries, I suggest that you add at least another 100w panel.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 12:48
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Surely it depends on the output from the battery charger you are considering using in c/w the output from the built in charger......

Some generators have a 12v output - it MIGHT be quickest to use that to replenish the batteries BUT I do not know what the current output from that would be - charging a battery TOO fast will damage the plates AFAIK.

We have 2 x 90w solar panels and 2 x 110ah batteries and the solar panels keep our leisure batteries topped up OK (we live in Southern France). Have you reduced your drain by e.g. replacing halogen bulbs with LED's?

I suspect that at present the heaviest drain would be running the blower for the heating system - if left on that drains a considerable current........ It may be that by running the generator while using the heating system you will be able to keep the battery bank topped up BUT running a gennie is NOT popular if done near other MH users.........

Similarly if you are using a TV then is it 230v via an inverter or a 12v one? A 12v one uses MUCH lerss current than a 230v ne via an inverter due to inefficiencies of conversion......

If you have a 2.0 Honda generator could you use it to run a 250w oil filled radiator whichwill lessen the drain created by using the built in Truma system. I believe that B&Q have such things at a low coast (we have one) - in France that would be Castorama (the French label for the same store).

Thinking of; Mavis, Ray, Sandra and Albert at this time.

Any comments above are only MY OPINION and should be read as that.

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Last edited by Penquin; 20-02-2018 at 12:51.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 13:05 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies.

I am very aware of the issues with running a generator close to other motorhome owners. That's why we try to wild camp as often as possible. We're currently parked next to Étang de Leucate. With the volume of wind howling across the water, no one can hear a generator running, not that there's anyone within sight.

Yes, all the van lights are LED. We don't have a television, so that's not the issue. I agree the heater fan is probably the biggest draw. It's one we'll have to live with. I don't want to have to run the generator all day to provide my heating.

Another solar panel is on my shopping list, beneath getting the Hymer's elektroblock repaired. We noticed a problem two days ago. The leisure batteries are only charging from either the solar panel or the alternator, but not from the generator. I've just had a call from Oaktree Motorhome's workshop. They suspect that the electroblock is to blame. Resolving the issue will mean returning to the UK to get the work done under warranty, taking the unit out and sending it away for several days for repair. That presents us with a bit of an issue as we live in the Hymer all winter.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 13:17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by originalsmoothie View Post
Thanks for the replies.

I am very aware of the issues with running a generator close to other motorhome owners. That's why we try to wild camp as often as possible. We're currently parked next to Étang de Leucate. With the volume of wind howling across the water, no one can hear a generator running, not that there's anyone within sight.

Yes, all the van lights are LED. We don't have a television, so that's not the issue. I agree the heater fan is probably the biggest draw. It's one we'll have to live with. I don't want to have to run the generator all day to provide my heating.

Another solar panel is on my shopping list, beneath getting the Hymer's elektroblock repaired. We noticed a problem two days ago. The leisure batteries are only charging from either the solar panel or the alternator, but not from the generator. I've just had a call from Oaktree Motorhome's workshop. They suspect that the electroblock is to blame. Resolving the issue will mean returning to the UK to get the work done under warranty, taking the unit out and sending it away for several days for repair. That presents us with a bit of an issue as we live in the Hymer all winter.
Before you take what Oaktree say at face value, I would spend one night on a site with EHU and see if the 240 volt supply is charging your batteries. That would confirm a problem but not necessarily a damaged EBL. You could have a tripped circuit breaker (if you are never on EHU, how would you know?). It could be a fuse or a wiring problem, there are quite a few variables on what is the cause. First place I would start is next to the Leisure and Van batteries. There should be 2 fuses, one is a big one (about 40 or 50 amps), the other is a small one (usually around 2 amps) and is part of the charging circuit. That would be my first guess.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 13:28 Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 747 View Post
Before you take what Oaktree say at face value, I would spend one night on a site with EHU and see if the 240 volt supply is charging your batteries. That would confirm a problem but not necessarily a damaged EBL. You could have a tripped circuit breaker (if you are never on EHU, how would you know?). It could be a fuse or a wiring problem, there are quite a few variables on what is the cause. First place I would start is next to the Leisure and Van batteries. There should be 2 fuses, one is a big one (about 40 or 50 amps), the other is a small one (usually around 2 amps) and is part of the charging circuit. That would be my first guess.
Sorry, I should have given you more information. I spent 24 hours in Narbonne on EHU. Although I had a 240v supply to the sockets in the van, my gauge showed no more than 12.4V. I believe the voltage is an indication that the bank wasn't charging from the EHU?
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 13:43
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12.4v is the normal reading of a fully charged battery after more than an hour or so off charge....

You cannot take a reading on the voltage display as accurate - the only way AFAIK is ith a voltmeter acriss the battery temrinals both on charge and off charge - your solar panel if charging wil probably be giving a reading of around 13.4v maximum - there is a safety cutout if it goes above that.....

There MAY be a problem but there are a great many other things to check before assuming that as already explained fuses are the most likely cause.....

Sorry not a definitive answer - or as I used to write on school reprts; "More work is needed before success can be assumed....."

(Better than the "Class progress is always improved by his absence...." or "Very quiet in class" - means "I have not found where he is sat yet...."] - but for he feel free to read he/she....)

Thinking of; Mavis, Ray, Sandra and Albert at this time.

Any comments above are only MY OPINION and should be read as that.

http://www.leslezards.co.uk
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 13:55 Thread Starter
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OK. I'll have the fuses checked. I just searched for them, but couldn't see anything close to the batteries.

While you're here, can you offer me some battery charging advice? IF I have a problem with the elektroblock, which will mean a return to the UK at some time to have the repair work done, I will need to buy a battery charger to use with the generator to keep the leisure bank charged when we are stationary for days at a time. What is the best type/brand charger to use? I'm just looking for a push in the right direction, just an opinion.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 20-02-2018, 14:14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by originalsmoothie View Post
Sorry, I should have given you more information. I spent 24 hours in Narbonne on EHU. Although I had a 240v supply to the sockets in the van, my gauge showed no more than 12.4V. I believe the voltage is an indication that the bank wasn't charging from the EHU?
I guess you have checked for power at the 'kettle socket' that plugs into the electroblok? Have you checked the appropriate fuse on the electroblok? On my EBL 271 it is 20amp and marked 'Chargeur interiore'. There should also be a 50A fuse somewhere between the charger output and the Leisure batteries. It was common with early models of electroblok to be internally damaged, when using generators due to over volts . Which model of Electroblok do you have and have you got a meter?
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