Battery Problems

Submitted: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 22:14
ThreadID: 132384 Views:3821 Replies:11 FollowUps:19
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Have a new Kimberley Karavan S2.Would appreciate any assistance I can have regarding tried and proven BCDC 40 Amp charger that is suitable with Kimberleys 480 Ah lithium battery bank. Was advised to fit Redarc BCDC1240 but find after 4hrs driving only 8Ah added to batteries. Redarc advised wrong charger. As we are about to take off to the Kimberleys we need to rectify urgently.
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Reply By: Gronk - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 22:38

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 22:38
If it was installed by KK and Redarc are correct in saying wrong charger for those batteries, then an urgent call to KK headquarters would be the 1st port of call !!
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12:38

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12:38
Gronk,
Thanks as in thread 480Ah Lithium batteries. 8Ahr addition (feel Solar gain only)
Advised we must deal with KK through dealer as we have done since 1st May.
Redarc BCDC1240 switch on is below 13.3V of the Lithium batteries. Redarc advised it simply will not work. We are running out of time..hence my thread.
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Reply By: bellony - Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 23:17

Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 23:17
I have no experience with Lithium battery packs but worth looking at the voltage coming from the alternator as well. I have a Redarc BMS that wasn't charging AGM batteries after a car swap, turned out a Booster diode fixed the issue even although the BMS specs said it should of been happy with what the alternator was putting out. Have you checked the voltage at the BCDC.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 08:53

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 08:53
Strange that a "Booster Diode" cured the problem when the Redarc BMS is specified to operate with an input of 9 to 32 volts. I would be communicating with Redarc about that. They have a reputation of being very responsive.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12:43

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12:43
Thanks Alan that is a distinct possibility as I'm getting 14.2V at the BCDC input fuse. Just what it will drop to under load is the question. No info available re battery impedence.
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Reply By: PhilD - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 00:46

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 00:46
Is it the Lithium compatible BCDC Redarc charger? I understand it charges at 14.6 volts so you need to check that your battery will accept this rate. I suggest you talk to Kimberley as they should solve it fast for you.
I have a 400 Ahr Winston lithium battery which I charge with a 100 amp Sterling charger, and can see on my monitor it does a fantastic job. Generally lithium batteries will accept whatever current you send their way, but you need to know the recommended voltage for your brand. I charge at 14.2 volts and float at 13.5 volts, as that will maintain the Winston best. The Sterling is selectable for 9 charging algorithms. I do have a 180 amp alternator, so that helps the cause.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12:54

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 12:54
Lucky Phil
No for what ever reason KK advised the Redarc Lithium charger was nor compatible with their design of batteries.. using that particular charger would void warranty of $11,000 batteries. Advised to use their straight 1240 charger. I have medical issues that draw down considerably. As such not wishing to overload 200series Alternator feel 40A charger should pretty well replace 24hrs usage. If KK would advise dealer suitable 40A BCDC charger we could go down to dealer for a few days and put problem to bed and we could take off.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:50

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:50
Phil H,

I did a DIY lithium conversion in my Karavan and found the lead-acid dc-dc charger I had would often not start. This was because the lithium batteries have a very flat discharge curve and hold a higher voltage than fully charged lead-acid batteries until the lithiums drop below about 20% SOC. The lead-acid charger would look at the batteries, see a voltage that is at least as high as a freshly charged lead-acid battery and would decide that no charge is needed (so as not to overcharge what it thought was a lead-acid battery).

I am good mates with the engineer who designed my charger and he modified the software to suit lithium batteries and now it works a treat. Old story, it's not what you know, it's who you know :-)

Not all chargers behave the same way. My lead-acid mains charger doesn't. When I switch it on it goes straight into a charge cycle (with voltages set to suit the lithium pack).

It may be that your BCDC is behaving the same way as my DC-DC charger did before it was modified and that is why Redarc is saying it is unsuitable. If that is the case I cannot understand why Kimberley is saying you must use it.

On the other hand, the lithium version of Redarcs BCDC may be indeed be unsuitable for the lithium batteries that Kimberley uses. I suspect this is because the "float" voltage is a high 14.5 volts. That is too high for the lithium batteries I use, and it appears too high for Kimberley's as well.

I do not know why Redarc have chosen such a high float voltage in their lithium profile. According to the engineer who supplied my lithium batteries, such a high float voltage suits only a very small number of lithium "flavours". Something like 13.6V is far more commonly accepted.

I don't know how to solve your dilemma other than to advise you to look for a dc-dc charger that has fully programmable voltages (like mine) or which has a range of voltage selections, one of which is suitable for Kimberley's batteries.

A number of people in our KK owners club have had success with Sterling products.

Cheers

FrankP

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Reply By: Member - DW Lennox Head(NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 04:16

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 04:16
Phil
There is a Kimberley Karavan Owners Group http://kkog.org.au and I suggest you go there.

There is a lot of expertise there with owners that have either converted from AGM to Lithium batteries or have original fitted Lithiums such as you have. There are some brilliant people there who have a lot of experience in numerous fields.

I have stayed with AGM batteries.Apparently the battery charger I have is suitable to change over for Lithium batteries.

Good luck with the request.

Cheers
Duncan W
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:09

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:09
Duncan,
My problem is we are required to go through the dealer who is Two and a half hours south of us. They are giving it their best shot , however after spending that sort of money I'm supprised KK has not provided them with a satisfactory solution.
Perhaps my health is to blame as my machine draws 70Ah without any other draw.
Typically we use ARO 120Ah over 24hrs. The panel warning comes up at 49% . This equates to 2 full days only.. hence need to supplement from car. The 330watt solar panel contributs best so far 72Ahr. Cannot use Honda 1kva as contineous consumption 1060 VA trips Honda overload.
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Reply By: Member - Ups and Downs - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 07:47

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 07:47
If the batteries are fully charged, then not much will go in?
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:10

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:10
Ups and Downs,
I'm sure your correct.
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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 11:43

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 11:43
Can you please supply more information, ie was the van purchased with the lithium battery pack fitted, if so why did you install a Redarc charger as the unit should have already had a suitabe charger?

When you say 8Ah went into the battery, were the batteries fully charged or depleted?

Even if the charger isn't ideal for the batteries if they were in a depleted state and the charger has a suitable power source it should charge them to a reasonable level if set to AGM etc.

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:22

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:22
HBK,
Will answer in order.
Yes KK fitted 480 Ahr Lithium batteries as mentioned in thread.
My load over 24hrs is 120Ahr. KK standard charger is BCDC1220
The 8Ahr charge I feel was Solar gain.
No batteries were 49% 13.3V
Check with Redarc manual for BCDC1240 as I believe battery voltage needs to below above to switch on.
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 16:27

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 16:27
13.3V would be close to the float voltage for most chargers, the charger may be seeing this and determining only float charge is required. If this is the case you may need a dumber charger or one with user settings to get around this.

Most chargers though would normally still go into bulk charge and check the charge rate and if the battery is deemed charged ie less than approxiamately 500 ma charge current at 14.4V then switch to float mode.

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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:04

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:04
Phil,

If the cabling in your vehicle is inadequate the voltage drop under load could be part of the problem. An output of 40 amps probably requires an input of 50 amps. That's a lot of current. You need minimum of 6 gauge cabling in the circuit from the crank battery to the Anderson at the back. You also need an excellent earth return or negative cabling to the crank battery or its adjacent earth point. Again, minimum6 gauge. With 6 gauge at 50 amps and a cabled negative to the battery you will have between 0.5 and 1.0 volt drop, depending on total length of cable in the circuit. That would keep the input voltage within the BCDC parameters.

Cable size from the van's Anderson to the charger is just as significant, depending on length.

If Redarc say you have the wrong charger, have a look at these alternative from Redarc.

There are low voltage versions and lithium versions and combinations of low voltage and lithium.

Talk with Kimberley and/or your dealer about what should be/should have been fitted.

And as has been suggested in another post, think about joining Kimberley Karavan Owners Group at kkog.org.au. There is a wealth of info available from members there.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:31

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:31
Frank,
Feel Ive spoken to you via ExplorOZ prevoiusly. Thanks your suggestions. The in put cabling is all 6 G.
As you can see from above replies to threads my hands are tied.
Unable to get any help from KK and even though we have had Kimberleys for 13 years we are not members of the KK owners group. It is a monitored forum I was told???
Would be very greatful if I was able to find any 40A BCDC charger KK will still cover their batteries with warranty if used.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:57

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 13:57
Phil,

[quote]we are not members of the KK owners group. It is a monitored forum I was told???[/quote]

The forum is not formally monitored by dealers or factory - they do not have access. But there are some members who we know feed some content back to the Kimberley organisation.

Cheers
FrankP

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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 14:16

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 14:16
Frank ,
Thanks the above. In that case we will most likely join.
Just got off the phone tom Redarc again.. They say the 1220 charger uses exactly the same sensing circuit as their 1225 and 1240 standard chargers. Yet agent swears they normally fit the 1220 and they work fine. Everying in my favour means I would ONLY need to drive for aro 11-12hrs!!! to replace usage only.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 15:40

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 15:40
Frank,
Took your advice and went to Kimberley direct. They advised they will be back to me tomorrow after speaking with their expert , presently overseas.
I will keep this thread active as I feel others may be in the same predicament.
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 20:48

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 20:48
Took your advice and went to Kimberley direct


I think that was my 1st reply. When I owned a KK and had a problem, I found Bruce Loxtons ( owns KK ) phone number and email address. Got action straight away. He was good to talk to and hates to see any KK having problems, unlike some of his employees.
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Reply By: Member - J&A&KK - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 20:18

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 20:18
Hi PHIL

The Redarc charger maybe be the wrong charger but it would still add more than 8aH in the time you you have stated.

My KK came with a. BCDC charger that also didn't appear to work. Found that the fuse between the charger and the AGM batteries had never been fitted. So after 5 days on the GRR I was getting concerned. Voltages in the low 12's after 6 hrs on the road. Took a while to work it out. Finally solved by SEQ Campers and Gear. Kimberley QC is crap. In general the vans are well built but the attention to minor detail is pretty ordinary. This is especially wrt electrics in my humble opion.

Also try not to deal with Kimberley direct. Their service is absolute rubbish. I now deal with SEQ Campers and Gear ( KK sales agent) on everything. Talk to Perc in servicing. He is very knowledgable.

if you have to deal with Kimberley hold your breath. I have 4 phone messages and three emails unanswered over the last one year. They build them. After that your on your own. That said I have only had a few problems after 40,000ks of mainly off road stuff. Perhaps one day Kimberley will adopt a QA system followed by a customer focussed business culture.

Sorry I could not be more informative on your actual problem

Cheers

John
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 22:42

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 22:42
Hi John,
The 8Ahr was from Solar gain only.
Ther BCDC switches on at 12.7V. Lithium batteries maitain their charge (in this case) 13.3V until they are virtually depleted. Today Redarc confirmed this point. KK will not warrant their Lithium batteries with the Redarc Lithium charger. The standard BCDC charger is only a 20A charger. To maintain batteries from previous days use I would need to run the vehicle for 11-12 hrs each day. (assuming low solar gain)
I will not begin to discuss the list of issues I paid $139,000 for the privilidge of.
To say we are dissapointed is an understatement.
Cheers Phil
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Follow Up By: PhilD - Friday, May 13, 2016 at 00:25

Friday, May 13, 2016 at 00:25
Phil, as I posted my Sterling 100 amp BCDC works a treat. It does not have a charging threshold, and will take my battery from reasonably depleted to fully charged in a few hours of driving. I ran 3 fridges, freezer, diesel water heater, pumps, fans, coffee machine, microwave, toilet, etc off it a few weeks ago on Ningaloo Station, supplemented it with solar during the day, and ran the engine for about 1/2 hr at night, and was self sufficient for 2 weeks. I couldn't have done that without the lithium and Sterling BCDC setup.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Friday, May 13, 2016 at 10:14

Friday, May 13, 2016 at 10:14
Hi John,
Is your KK Karavan still under warranty. Reason I ask is they have been most specific that if we have a charger they do not approve and there is a battery issue they will not warrant. As the 480Ah batteries are worth $11,000 I'm not willing to run the risk should any issue come up with batteries.
Cheers Phil H
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Follow Up By: PhilD - Friday, May 13, 2016 at 23:55

Friday, May 13, 2016 at 23:55
Phil H, the batteries are only worth $11000 because Bruce Loxton / Kimberley put that figure on them. My Winston 400 Ahr pack cost me around $3k with the BMS, relay, etc. The USD has gone up since then, but not to $11000! Bruce is very prone to inflating things. I know as I own a KK, but he has missed on business from me as he is wildly inflated at times.
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Reply By: Member - Ian G (NSW) - Friday, May 13, 2016 at 00:11

Friday, May 13, 2016 at 00:11
G'day Phil,

Not sure if this is of any use to you but I have 400ah lifepo4 batteries and have just added a 2nd Projecta DC20 in parallel with the original DC20.

I now get net 37 amps going in to batteries when driving plus whatever the solar is adding.

3 days ago, on sunny day, net 52 amps going in whilst driving.

Not sure if the new Projecta dc/dc chargers with solar reg built in can be paralleled. Mine are the superceded non solar model.

I think they have max voltage of 14.4 and float at 13.8.

Don't know if Kimberley would warrant their system with this type of set up but it works for me.

Regards,

Ian
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Friday, May 13, 2016 at 10:03

Friday, May 13, 2016 at 10:03
Ian G,
Your info is very interesting, do you know what voltage the charger turns on at? This seems to be the reason the Redarc BCDC1240 will not switch on as KK Lithium is 13.3V right down to depleted and above charger does not switch on until it senses below 12.7V. Redarc also confirmed this. So if you could let me know switch on voltage of Projecta 40A I would be most appreciative.
Cheers Phil H
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Reply By: Member - Ian G (NSW) - Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 21:14

Saturday, May 14, 2016 at 21:14
G'day Phil,

Not sure if this is what you want (I am not a technical person) as the Projecta DC20 just charges the battery as I drive along, at a maximum voltage of 14.4v, but usually about 14.2v, and when amps going into battery are less than 3A, it goes into float at 13.7v.

The specifications in the manual state minimum start voltage as

5v on aux battery
9v on main battery and
10v to ignition connection ( mine is wired so it will only operate when the engine is running)

My batteries, like most lifepo4's, are rarely under 13.1v (unless under load), so I assume there is no particular voltage that determines when it starts charging. If the battery can take it, it will put it in before going into float as above.

This morning, just before driving off, the batteries were at 60%( i.e. I had used 160 a/h overnight out of the 400 available, as I had used the electric kettle, sandwich toaster and run the electric blow heater for a while last night and early this morning) and the voltage at 13.3v.

By lunchtime after about 3 1/2 hours driving, they were at 100% and the voltage was showing 13.7v. As it was a sunny day, the dc/dc charger obviously got some help from the solar on the c'van.

Just to be clear on the dc/dc charger. I have 2 X DC20's connected in parallel to give the 40 amps. It is not a single 40 amp dc/dc charger.

Regards,

Ian
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Reply By: Member - Phil H (NSW) - Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 20:12

Sunday, May 15, 2016 at 20:12
Hi Ian,
Great info again Ian. If we don,t get a fix from Kimberley in the next few days I'm afraid I will be very very upset with the apathy of Kimberley. We are about to embark on a major treck .. not able to plug into 240VAC ever third night as we have proven to Kimberley to be necessary. May I be so bold as to ask you to email me on phil.hincks@gmail.com
Best Regards Phil
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