Solar panel plus VSR damaged battery? - Motorhome Forums, Motorhome Discussion, Motorhome Chat

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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 27-09-2019, 08:55 Thread Starter
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Solar panel plus VSR damaged battery?

Hi there, I was hoping some of the brains on this forum could help with an issue before I replace parts in case it happens again!

I have a homebuilt camper with leisure battery, 175w solar panel, mppt charger and a VSR split charger. At the moment we mainly live in the van, travelling around Europe slowly..

When I wired it all up, it worked perfectly for a year or two, both the engine when running, and the solar panel charging the leisure battery whilst running sensible loads day and night in the van (we'd switch off the fridge in the night or in low light), and the Tracer charge controller would cut the load if the battery voltage got too low anyway. The solar panel also kept the starter battery fully charged when parked up for a while..

A month or two ago the VSR (Durite 140A) would keep clicking (switching on and off) when the engine was running, and it seemed no charge was not getting to the leisure battery. If it was really sunny it would stop clicking however, suggesting the charge was going back to the engine battery so it was probably working in that direction. Didn't know if this was a fault in the VSR or a voltage problem (battery?)

Was considering replacing the VSR (still am) but the other day we came back to the van after nightfall and the leisure battery was completely dead (11v) even after a sunny day (was fully charged when we left with no load). Now it is useless - it seems to charge in the day but as soon as you put any load on it the voltage drops to the elevens, and is completely dead by night.

So obviously I need a new battery, but before I get one, can anyone see a flaw in the system, for example could the VSR plus solar be overcharging the battery, or could the VSR be fried by jumping two directions every day? I just don't want to damage the new battery, and also need to know if I need a new VSR as well.

Thanks in advance for any insight or ideas.

Cheers, Alan
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 27-09-2019, 08:59
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Gosh Alan how complicated. I will be very interested to see what transpires. Sorry I can't offer any suggestions.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 27-09-2019, 09:00 Thread Starter
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Wiring 'diagram' 😉
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 27-09-2019, 10:33
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If your hook-up worked for two years or more, then there can't be much wrong with it.
You need a new battery, so install it and then see if your problems have disappeared.
If you wonder about overcharging, then put a voltmeter across the batteries occasionally to find out whether the voltage is excessive at any time. An overcharged battery will get warm, or even hot if it's toast.

If your problem still exists then your guess about the VSR may well be correct
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 27-09-2019, 12:18
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Looking at the sketch, are all units being earthed to the chassis separately rather than using cabled connections?

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 27-09-2019, 20:06
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Are you running the fridge on 12v? That's very unusual. Does it not run off gas?

Or maybe it's one of these 'other' kind of fridges I know nothing about.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 28-09-2019, 09:14
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What are the settings on the MPPT charger, in particular the Bulk charge setting?
Which way round have you wired the VSR, is the main function to charge the engine battery from solar or the leisure battery from the engine.


The VSR should not click as there is a lot of hysteresis in the levels, mine is 13.8v on and 12.8 off I think so the VSR may well be faulty but I would connect a laptop to the TRACER and check some settings if you are able to unless the Tracer is older than I think.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 28-09-2019, 09:28
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The only thing I see out of order for me is that you are using the load out to run the fridge, I used the VSR (Voltage sensing relay) to do this while the engine was running, mine was, of course, a 3 way fridge, but 12v is 12v, not sure how I would run the compressor fridge in your build, I'm also on here https://www.diymotorhome.co.uk/ and this is where I would send you for the info you need, a good bunch of peeps who know all you need to hear.

See my full wiring diagram below
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 30-09-2019, 16:33 Thread Starter
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Hi, thanks so much for the replies, and sorry for my late reply, have been in the wilds of Italy with no Internet!
To answer various questions:

1) (bc109) A new battery is definitely needed, just wanted to check my setup wasn't risking another damage situation. I don't know how to test the VSR but I guess I replace the battery and it works normally, that will be my answer! The voltage of the battery is monitored by the display of the Tracer charge controller and doesn't seem excessive, and slowly increases as it charges so I don't think it's too much, but it can be a around 14v when the engine is running and the VSR is working properly.
2) (tugboat) Both starter and leisure batteries are earthed to chassis, the VSR is also, however the solar system is not separately earthed apart from via the negative leisure battery terminal.
3) (jiwawa) the fridge is 12v only, a low wattage unit that I only switch on either when there is 4 Amps or more coming from the solar (most of the day at the moment) or the engine is running.
4) (pete4x4) The VSR is wired in the standard way, so the main function is to add charge to the leisure battery and power any load when the engine is running. As it is Dual Sensing, the solar charge maintenance of the starter battery is an added bonus. The Tracer is fairly new and has a laptop connection but I don't have that equipment with me in the van at the moment, maybe soon...
5) (Pudsey_Bear) The MPPT settings are pretty much the factory ones, I flicked through but all seemed normal, couldn't see a specific Bulk charge parameter. I put the fridge on the LOAD output of the charge controller so that if it ran the battery low it would shut down to protect the battery. If it was from the output of the VSR it would drain the battery faster than the charge controller could replenish it, no? I wasn't never 100% sure of the best way. Thanks for the forum recommendation anyway, I'll check them out for sure.
Thanks again..
Alan
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-10-2019, 09:28
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To test the VSR you need a meter on each of the supply terminals as you start the engine, you should get 12v+ if it's working, and zero beforehand
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