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.

Formal complaint to Manbat

I’ve had enough. They’re blatantly ignoring me so I’ve sent a formal  complaint into Manbat’s head office. Here’s the email:

Dear Sir

In January of this year I made contact with a chap called Bryan from
Adverc. We discussed my battery needs after me giving him detailed
information as to my usage in a motorhome, and we finally decided that
the Numax XV24MF would suit my needs best.
I ordered them and they were delivered in February from Manbat’s
Bristol depot, I had not known Brian was a reseller but that’s a minor
point.

The charging regime I had been told to use by the Bristol branch was a
cycle for Sealed Lead Acid batteries, as they are.
By May they were significantly reduced in performance. I ended up at the
Chesterfield branch where Steve Davies took the batteries in to test.
After one week the test revealed that all batteries were down in
capacity by at least 25%, however one was as low as 64% efficiency,
clearly there was a problem.
Mr Davies after having seen my robust and careful planned setup,
(wiring, charger etc) deduced that the problem with the batteries was
probably to do with the incorrect charging regime that Bristol had given
me, however he felt that they may ‘recover’ over time.
Mr Davies pointed out that they should be charged as Open Lead Acid
batteries, even though they aren’t.
Tayna who also sell the same battery insisted that they were charged as
SLA’s, rather than OLA’s however as Mr Davies is branch manager at
Chesterfield I changed the charging regime to suit his recommendation.

There was no appreciable difference in the batteries’ performance,
however they continued degrading until I finally contacted Mr Davies
again to point out that although the maximum draw per day was about 45
amps (9 hours at 5 amps), 3 of the 86 ahr batteries in parallel were
only lasting 9 hours (45 amps in total). I should have very easily
expected 120 ahrs from that setup.
I am now using a different laptop and my hourly draw is about 3 to 3.5
amps max, yet 3 x 86ahr of the batteries in parallel still only last a
cumulative 12 hours.

Mr Davies has been very helpful and patient, but when I contacted him to
let him know that the batteries were getting worse, he replied that he
did not now know what else could be done. My reply was that clearly they
need to be replaced or me refunded. I didn’t hear back again from him
for over a month, so I emailed again and was told now that he would
contact Brian from Adverc, and ask Brian for all of the details of me
that are on file. I’m not certain what that means, but that was over 2
weeks ago now and my emails and telephone calls remain unanswered.

This is obviously costing me a lot of money in having to run the
generator to charge the batteries every night, rather than once a week,
and is unsustainable, I simply do not have this amount of money to spend.

I certainly have no specific complaint about Mr Davies or Adverc, but
the time delay now is several months and nothing seems to be happening,
and I really need a resolution to this problem.
I am happy to supply extra information regarding my setup as and if you
may require it.

I look forward to your reply.

Regards

Gary Finnigan

Manbat where are you!?!

I can’t believe they’ve actually taken to ignoring me! No answer to phone calls, no response to emails. They’re hoping I’m just going to go away.

I find I difficult to believe that a Nationwide company can act this way. Or I did find it difficult to believe until I found out today that Numax are apparently Manbat’s own brand. You don’t say…

Manbat are having a larfff

I emailed Steve Davies as weeks are going by and nothing is happening. I got the most amazing email from him which states that I have lost about 1/3 of total capacity of the battery bank, and he’s blaming that on the charging regime being wrong when I first got them.

As I see it if he is correct, that’s Manbat’s responsibility as they were the ones who told me what the charging voltages were. In fact when Steve first told me the voltages I wa using were incorrect, I emailed the Bristol branch again and asked them for the charging voltages, and yet again they told me the wrong ones!

Anyway, I’ve lost 1/3 of my power and Steve’s last line in his email was that he didn’t know what to do, and I should keep him posted! My gast was bloody well flabbered I can tell you!

 

Battery woes

I had to take the batteries into the Cheshire branch last week. The front seats had to come out so I could disconnect them and take them all out. Manbat  loaned me a couple of batteries whilst they charged mine on their charger for a  couple of days to see if they could make any sense of what’s going on. One of them tested at 67% capacity and they’re only 4 months old lol Something seriously wrong here. I’ve emailed head office and will try to get some movement on this!

Battery woes

Ahhh just a few months into my Wales trip and the batteries are losing capacity. What’s going on! I’ve had many phone calls to Adverc, Brian is hardly ever there and it seems they just don’t want to deal with me.

When first installed I was using the laptop 40 hours a week for work, the lights, water pump etc, and of course watching the odd DVD as well, and they were lasting  a full week before needing charged. Now I can squeeze 4 days out of them. I don’t know if I’ve got these charging voltages incorrect, but on day of delivery I rang Bristol to check them out. I’ve now spoken to the manager of the Cheshire branch, Steve Davies, who says that those voltages are incorrect! Grrr. Lets hope I can recover them then by using the correct voltages.

 

Power to the people!

After several discussions with Brian at Adverc about what kind of batteries I ought to have, I have had delivered today 6 brand new batteries from Manbat Bristol, they are Numax CXV XV24MF sealed lead acid batteries, and Brian reckons they’re just what I need. They’re 85 ahrs capacity so that’s a total of 510 ahrs. Lets hope my power problems are over 🙂

Almost £500 in total so lets hope this solves my power problems once and for all!

I was staying with friend sin Wiltshire so they came from the Bristol branch of Manbat. I had to ring them to find out the charging regime, as there was no notes with the batteries but hey ho, I hold out great hopes for them now 🙂

Battered by batteries!

Last night I was sitting working on the laptop when I smelled a most peculiar smell. I had the gennie running, and as the smell was coming from under where I sat, where the 2 charging units and the 5 batteries are fitted I thought I’d better move pretty sharpish like so I jumped up and switched off the gennie, then came back with the fire extinguisher and lifted the cushions. . . Yes … my toast was done.

Kidding 🙂

No actually nothing had burned, but the mains charging unit was so hot I could not touch it. I suspect it was the thin plastic film that protects the fascia from scratches that was smelling, as it was curled and sad looking. That got binned. testament to the robust build of the Sterling charger, it appears to have suffered no ill effects.

So tonight I set about finding out why that had happened.

First thing I did was check all connections, then I disconnected all batteries bar one, and set the generator away. Small drop in speed as it chugged away so that was fine, I connected the second one, another small drop but that was fine, and I connected them all one by one until I came to the last one, the brand spanking shiny sealed Elecsol that they sent me as replacement for the one that blew up. Nah I thought, as I realised that the magic eye was red. Oops. It shouldn’t be. So I connected that one up, started the gennie and … the gennie struggled to cope. It was as if it was under massive load. So I disconnected it straight away, as last night when I smelled the smell, the charger was actually on float stage and had been for an hour, so theoretically all batteries should have been totally charged.

Very weirdly, the charger is so hot to touch tonight too, even though that new battery is disconnected. I really can’t say I’ve ever noticed it running hot before.

Anyway, out of 7 Elecsols I’ve owned 2 have failed so that’s about 28% failure rate which is enough for me to say, enough. I don’t even want this one replaced. I think I’ll just go with standard wet lead acid batteries from now on as I’ve never had any problems with them in the past. (If you’ve never seen a battery that’s exploded, check the photo out. Remember this was full of sulphuric acid too. The mud is from where it was thrown very quickly out of the door of the van.)
I’m not deliberately dissing Elecsol here, I have no axe to grind at all. Just reporting back the experiences I have. I will ring Sterling tomorrow though to find out if that charger should run that hot, as the B to B charger runs that hot too.

I don’t have the power!

I’ve got to get some more batteries if I’m to have the power to run the Datastorm satellite system and a laptop, 40 hours a week.

Hadn’t thought about it before but, if the satellite dish takes 4 amps and the laptop 5 that’s 9 amps which is 1 x 100 ahr battery per day.

At the moment I have 1 x 100 ahr battery lol I think I have a lot to learn about this malarkey and I foresee turbulent waters ahead.

Silly me.