New generation

I picked up my new generator yesterday but it needed some 10/30 oil and a new male plug. What I did not expect was it to have a socket on the side which is the 2 pin European TUV type socket. Luckily I had an adaptor, but I lacked a 3 pin male to make a fly lead so I had to wait til today to go to B & Q to get one. It also needs 10/30 oil although I could not find any anywhere. I decided to settle for some 10/40 as I’m unlikely to face dramatically cold temperatures anytime soon. £15 friggin’ quid for a litre of the oil! Seriously, they’re having  a piggin’ laugh though! Greedy robbing bastards! but you see they know, if you want it, and need it, you will pay for it. And so works our great capitalist system.

Generator
Generator

But I digress: I got an old plastic carton and filled it with .4 of a litre of water as that is the generator’s stated oil capacity. I marked the level with a Sharpie, then emptied and dried it and filled it with oil to that level. I used the supplied funnel to fill the generator and it was precise. The oil just reached the very base of the threads that the dipstick screwed into: very neat.
I’d filled up with petrol the night before and although they say don’t brim it because of expansion, I’m a true rebel so I squeezed exactly 4 litres in instead of the recommended 3.80 litres. Blargh.

Filled with oil…Check!
Filled with petrol…Check!
Open air vent on petrol filler cap…check!
Choke out…Check!
Engine switch on…Check!
Economy mode switch on…Check!
Pulled the handle…nothing. That’s fine, petrol needs to get through. So I shoved the choke back in and gave it another pull and it started on the third pull. The green power light flashes for a few seconds then steadies and then you can plug stuff in.

I’d made the new fly lead so I plugged it in and instantly my Sterling charger came to life and after it’s internal start up check was complete it started charging. The 2 x 220 ahr batteries are down to about 12.1 volts, effectively flat, so I knew the charger would pull on the generator in order to bash a high charge out and sure enough it did.
Out of curiosity I switched economy mode off and of course the engine note got louder but still was not as loud as my old SDMO before it departed for the gennie heaven. On economy mode it was quieter still and yet powering the charger with no problem at all. One thing I noted was that to plug the fly lead in, the socket is almost at the base of the generator body so you have to bend right over and in fact it’s easier to tilt the generator back over to get the plug in. Poor design there.

Anyway. well see how long it lasts on 4 litres of petrol: my SDMO lasted 11-12 hours on 7 litres but had no economy mode. As I sit here about 2 hours after starting it I can hear it outside and it is definitely much quieter, and a sound meter app on my phone says 54db at about 7 metres. However it is ‘missing a beat’ constantly, as if it is about to start being starved of fuel or air. It’s not affecting the charging at all and my SDMO used to do this, but only once or twice per use. This is doing it every few minutes and it could be simply the engine running in, I’ll wait and see.
It fits in front of the front seat but only just, but it is lighter when filled with petrol than my SDMO was when empty. Champion state 25kg but it really doesn’t feel anywhere near that.

So, as long as it runs without any problem, and uses roughly the same amount of petrol for each battery cycle, then for £369.99 I am very happy indeed. I’ll keep you updated of course 🙂

**Quick update: it’s been running now since 19:30, that’s almost 8.5 hours and the charging routine is about where you’d expect it to be. However for the last couple of hours the engine is running almost permanently as if it’s about to cut out, faltering for a beat every few seconds. Although it’s a very quiet engine, that ‘stuttering’ is incredibly irritating. It only does it in economy mode at low power draw, so my guess would be that the economy mode  setting is too low. I could use a teeny bit of choke and see if that helps, or simply set it to run faster, there must be an adjustment on the carb. I’ll wait and see how long it gets out fo one tank of fuel first then adjust it and try again later, to compare fuel consumption.

For the techies here’s the spec from Champion:

Manufacturer: Champion
Product Code: 72001I
Continuous KVA: 0.00 KVA
Maximum KVA: 0.00 KVA
Continuous KW: 1.60 KW
Maximum KW: 2.00 KW
Sockets: 1 x 230v 13amp
Fuel Type: Petrol
Run Time: 9.50 hours
Noise Level: 53 dba @ 7m
Weight: 25.00kg
Width: 335mm
Height: 415mm
Length: 490mm
Fuel Capacity: 3.80L
Starting Method: Recoil
Frequency: 50Hz
AVR: Yes
ATS: No

Trojan and other batteries

As many of you will know I’ve had countless problems over the years with leisure batteries, mostly related to the fact I was ignorant of battery technology and use in the early days.
I bought 4 x 120 ahr lead acid batteries, then I replaced them with 6 x 110 ahr batteries, they got replaced with 5 x 85 ahr batteries, which were replaced with 6 x 80 ahr batteries, which were replaced with 2 x 240 ahr batteries. Oh yes, I’ve spent a fortune on batteries!

I also spent a fortune on fuse boxes, connectors, distribution boards, and cabling, several hundred pounds on cabling alone would you believe, as you have to have thick cabling to prevent voltage loss. I also attribute the early demise of my original leaf springs to the sheer weight of carrying batteries in the rear of the van. Currently the 60 kg Trojans live behind the front seats so at least they offer traction to the front wheels.

Anyway, both inverters I’ve owned have an alarm that sounds when you hit 10.5 volts, so often I would wait til the alarm went off then recharge. I never realised at the time that draining batteries below 12 volts actually damages them. The Trojans claim you can occasionally discharge right down to 20% of their total rating without damaging them although I’ve never tried that.

I also used to mix and match batteries: 1 x 120 ahr with 2 x 100 ahr batteries, and 2 x 100 ahrs with 2 x 85 ahrs. I never knew that this also decreases efficiency and longevity of the batteries. Often batteries would be part charged and then left for long periods. This was another thing that I never knew affected batteries lives and effectively breaks them prematurely.

So it is with no surprise that you’ll here I broke all of the batteries I’ve ever had. I recall being in Rouen and having to run the gennie every day to enable me to work. 1 set of 6 batteries actually only lasted months before starting to deliver much lower voltage, a consequence of being discharged too far on a regular basis.

The ones that lasted best were Elecsol. They were billed as super light as they used carbon fibre technology, and supposedly could be discharged down lower than any other battery with almost no damage, and remain discharged again, with no damage. In eventually broke all of those too.

When I learned about exactly where I was going wrong was when I bought the 2 x 240 ahr Trojan batteries. They’re massive with tons of lead in and are built to be reliable and withstand bad treatment. However I have treated these better than any other battery by never discharging them below 12 volts, never leaving them discharged for long periods, and always charging them fully instead of part charging them.
The fluid level dropped in them once when I forgot the check the electrolyte level when I drove to Italy, but it wasn’t low enough to damage the lead plates thankfully.

However, in the time I’ve had them they are now giving less performance than they used to do. When I first noticed this I was incredibly disappointed given the Trojans great reputation and their price, however thinking more about it though I realised that I’ve had them over 2 and a half years, and I did almost boil them dry, and they do get recharged every 3 days and at £550 or something, they come in about the same as the 80 ahr Elecsols which cost almost £100 each for 5. The Elecsols lasted about the same amount of time, although I treated them very, very badly. However, at the age that the Trojans are now, the Elecsols were effectively wrecked. On balance it makes me wonder if I’d treated the Elecsols well, I wonder how long they would have lasted?

So I probably need to think about new batteries but given that my solar panels help to keep the batteries topped up and it’s coming up to spring, I reckon I can safely leave the decision til late autumn and see what deals there are at that time.

More battery woes!

This trip lumbers from bad to worse!

The voltage needle had been fluctuating slightly as I used the computer so I decided to investigate. Checked all the wiring and stuff, went to check the batteries and…they’re bone dry! I can only assume that the slightly higher charge voltage on the battery to battery charger gave them too much juice on the way over here and boiled it all off.
As luck would have it I had about 5 litres of de-ionised water so I topped them all up, did a charge, then ran an equalisation routine. Sadly even after all that they’re not delivering as they should. I should get about 225 amps out of them but over the next couple of days it seems I’m getting about 200 or less.

I bought these specifically because they are a solid workhorse of a battery, 60 kilos of pure lead so cross your fingers that they improve.

I submit

I’ve been thinking very long and very hard about this whole battery situation.

If you can’t be bothered to read all the posts, here’s the nub of it:

February last year I bought 6 batteries from Adverc after we discussed my needs and they recommended them.

They began failing within months and after testing it was clear they were not up to the job and I’d been badly advised by Adverc. Manbat did the testing but did not want anything else to do with it and began to ignore my phone calls and emails. Adverc said it was nothing to do with them as they had only supplied the batteries.

Finally between them they offered me 2 new batteries worth less than half the value of what I’d spent, and refused to give me more. Also they asked me to drop 3 of the old ones in for testing to the Sunderland branch, and despite many phone calls it was never arranged for me to get them back.

So, I spent just under £500 for batteries that they said would do the job but wouldn’t, was offered less than half that as recompense, and ignored when I refused it.

So, what have I been thinking very long and hard about? Well, I was going to take Adverc to civil court as they were the sellers therefore they should offer me a refund as the batteries were not fit for purpose.
I was also going to take civil action against Manbat as they have refused to return the other 3 batteries to me.

I paid for some legal advice and they said given the emails I had to show what had been said by whom and when, I was 85% likely to win. However, there was no mechanism to force either Manbat or Adverc to refund me and pay my costs.
Therefore, I needed to consider whether I could bear the loss if I won, but the flatly refused to pay up.

I did think for months about it, and I finally decided that on the strength of the attitude and actions from both Manbat and Adverc, it was highly unlikely that either of them would pay up. So not only would I have lost my initial £500, but I would probably lose a couple more in winning a case that would serve me no good whatsoever.
On balance, why waste money when a win in civil court could not benefit me and indeed would cost me more in money, and in ire.

So, the only thing I can do is ensure that every single opportunity I can possibly get, I let people know what Manbat and Adverc are like. I hope for your sake if you’re reading this and thinking about batteries, that you consider my experiences.

Adverc and Manbat are companies that I will avoid from now on.

I am incensed.

I went to Adverc’s unit to find a chap there who wanted to look at how my system was wired up, what charger I had etc and decide if my system was appropriate for what I was doing. He found that I was doing things by the book and that I had state of the art charging units form Sterling Power, that in fact can handle almost unlimited sized battery banks, rather than being the simple, less than affective chargers it had been suggested I had by Manbat.

Instead of using thin cable, I had spent a lot of money on 35 mm sq cable and bought a blowtorch to solder lugs onto the cable to ensure that the whole system was well built. I also had taken into account the length of all cables and other ideas for a ‘best practice’ system. So, on the strength of that they decide to fit my 2 new batteries. Only 2? Yes because the 6 Numax’s were 86 ahrs each, but these monoblocs were 242 ahrs each. So i had 516 ahrs total capacity with the Numax’s, and 484 ahrs with the Monoblocs, which is near enough for me.

However, as they went to put them in the van for me I asked them to check the voltage. Hmm. They WERE 6 volts, which means I need 2 of them to achieve 242 ahrs. Plus, their cost is about £120 each, therefore less than half what I had spent on the Numax’s. I’m losing out badly here!
I made it very plain that I was not accepting only 2, as they could later say I had agreed on that and I would not get another pair. Andy got on the phone to someone at Manbat and told me they replied that they would not give me 2 more batteries.

I left then, feeling extremely angry, I was going to take legal action. Companies can’t just rip people off like this!

I think it’s all over…

Manbat have decided that betwen them and Adverc, they are going to fit me some replacement batteries,  US125 monobloc’s which ought to be much more robust than the Numax’s. I can’t find the 12v versions online, only 6v, but they look quite well built and they are badged as true deep cycle. But then again…so were the Numax’s…

Adverc are dragging their heels. Andy the boss clearly wants nothing to do with this. I asked him outright if he felt that as the seller her no no obligation to me and he said no, that duty fell to Manbat. I’m fairly sure he knows that that is not the truth.

In the meanwhile, I’ve dropped off 3 of the batteries at Manbat’s Sunderland branch as they want to test them too. I’m not sure what all this testing is going to prove. My belief is that Brian at Adverc way back at the end of 2010 showed that he in fact had no real grasp of how batteries worked and advised me badly. The Numax’s are probably fine batteries if they’re not used much. But I specifically laid out how often I would use my batteries and what for, and I have all that info in emails.
Nevertheless, I expected that as Andy is deliberately trying to avoid a resolution to this, Manbat might take the matter off him and deal with him as a reseller.

Lets wait and see what happens when I go to have these new batteries fitted.