Redarc bcdc just failed - do they really make a difference?

Hi all,

Currently on a 9 week trip exploring WA, woke up this morning with a warm fridge.
The fuse going into the Redarc bcdc had melted. Replaced it but the unit looks like it has failed, I think it's 3 months out of warranty. I bypassed it with a parallel wire directly to the 2nd battery and that appears to also not hold a charge (I'll take it for a big drive tomorrow to be sure).

I should be in Broome on Tuesday to get the battery checked/replaced. The battery was checked in Darwin a few weeks ago and I was told it was ok. The temperature has been so hot I have noticed the fridge running longer than normal to keep up. It's a Century Marine Pro Battery (also just out of Warranty).

My question is does it really make a huge difference to have a dcdc converter versus just a simple isolator?

All I run is a small Engel fridge and 1 Led light.

I'm loathed to purchase another Redarc considering it only lasted 26-27 months. In my old GU Patrol the Smart Isolator from ARB lasted for years.

Thanks
Phil P




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Reply By: K&FT - Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 22:12

Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 22:12
Hi Phil,
What size is the fuse going into your unit and what model is the redarc?
are you certain the redarc has failed? They are normally a very reliable unit. Personally I would be bypassing the fuseholder to see if that makes a difference as they can be quite unreliable.

The other thing that will make it look like a failed redarc is a faulty earth from the redarc to the battery.
Frank
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 22:35

Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 22:35
Talk to RedArc in Adelaide.
They have a top reputation.

Cheers,
Peter
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Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 22:37

Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 22:37
Phil

I had the same problem with a fuse melting. The problem is the wiring would be too low a gauge. It should be 8 and mine was wired with size 6. I had it rewired with size 8 and have had no problems since.

Take it back to whoever fitted you redarc.


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Follow Up By: Phil P - Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 23:09

Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 23:09
Thanks for the suggestions, unfortunately the Opposite Lock branch that fitted it has closed down and their head office (Dandenong) is way to far for me to travel to when back home in Melbourne. I still have another 5 weeks of travel.

Hopefully I can find a auto elect in Broome and get it sorted. Total waste of good holiday time not to mention the warm beer and spoiled food. That's why I will probably ditch the Redarc and just get a simple isolator installed.

It's always aftermarket devices that seem to let you down, the ARB Bullbar has done another wing bracket, the Rhino rack legs started rattling, 2 BFG All Terrain Tyres with punctures however the car has not missed a beat (2014 Hilux).


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Follow Up By: Kumunara (NT) - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 00:03

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 00:03
Mine was fitted by ARB. I had a kaymar bar fitted later on by ARB and had to go back twice because they stuffed up the electrics. When the fuse went I went to Opposite Lock and they advised the fault in the wiring.

In your it was Opposite Lock who apparently fitted the wrong wiring.

I had mine rewired at my expense by an auto electrician. I don't want to ever take my vehicle to ARB unless I have to.
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Follow Up By: LandCoaster - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:46

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:46
the issues you are having with the tyres, bullbar and roofrack are normal casualty of such a trip, welcome to the club
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Thursday, Jun 09, 2016 at 21:37

Thursday, Jun 09, 2016 at 21:37
I recommend Greg Reen of Reen Auto Electrics in Broome.
See 'My Profile' (below) for link to our Aussie travel blog, now in it's 4th year

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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Thursday, Jun 09, 2016 at 21:40

Thursday, Jun 09, 2016 at 21:40
I recommend Greg Reen of Reen Auto Electrics in Broome.
See 'My Profile' (below) for link to our Aussie travel blog, now in it's 4th year

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Reply By: PhilD - Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 23:08

Sunday, Jun 05, 2016 at 23:08
I have 2 Redarc BCDC units which perform great when the wiring and fuses are correct. I replaced a maxi fuse with a midi fuse as recommended by Redarc, and it solved my problems. Apparently maxi fuses build up resistance, and will overheat at times, whereas the midi fuses are far more robust. You may be able to locate a midi fuse and holder in Broome, or ring Redarc, or go online to someone like Swecheck.
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Reply By: Member - Roachie - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 06:00

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 06:00
Ditch the fuse and use a re-settable circuit breaker PLUS upgrade the size of the wiring.

I'd be surprised if the DC-DC charger was at fault.

DCDC charger is best located close to the 2nd battery....not in the engine bay (assuming the 2nd battery is in the back of the truck).

Roachie
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 06:06

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 06:06
In my experience with Redarc they will assist you whether or not the product is in warranty...

Give them a call in Adelaide...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 07:48

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 07:48
Phil,
The real answer to your question depends on where your fridge is located.
A dc-dc charger will eliminate voltage drop over long cable runs, IF the cable size is sufficient to carry the current. A dc-dc charger will also provide a multi-stage charging process to give the best method of maintaining your auxiliary battery bank while mobile.
If the Redarc charger, auxiliary battery and fridge are located in the rear of your vehicle, you could well do without the need for a dc-dc charger, providing the circuit has a cable size of at least 8 B&S (or AWG). The vehicle alternator should be able to maintain an adequate charging resume and a "smart" isolator between the two batteries will protect the starter battery from high current drain.
In any case I would not mount the dc-dc charger in the engine compartment. It is at the wrong end of the circuit and the high temperatures in the engine bay is not good for an expensive piece of electronics, such as your Redarc.
If the auxiliary battery is say in a camper or van, then a dc-dc charger at the end of the longer run will definitely pay big dividends and give the best method of maintaining the remote battery bank. Again, the cable run should be of at least 8 B&S twin core cable from the main battery to the end of the cable run.
Bill


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Follow Up By: Member - Roachie - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 15:47

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 15:47
I agree with Bill 100% about NOT locating a DC-DC charger under the bonnet....even if the manufacturer says it's okay to do so.

I've always mounted my DC-DC chargers in the back of the rig/s, close to the aux batteries which, in turn, are close to the fridge and air compressor for which they are needed.

Following such ideals I've never had any issues with my battery set-ups over a 26 year period.

Mind you, I also have a good quality multi stage 240 volt charger mounted in my rig/s and hard-wired to the aux batteries. Whenever the truck is at home I have it plugged in to the power to keep the batteries at float stage.

My current truck (Chev Silverado) has 3 aux batteries in the back plus the 2 standard batteries under the bonnet. There's 2 solar panels on the roof of the canopy as well as a 25 amp 3 stage charger. Never have any issues with power (touch wood).

For goodness sake though........use heavy gauge wire.

Roachie
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Reply By: Member - John - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 07:49

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 07:49
Phil, sorry to hear of your warm beer............ As to the need for a REDARC unit, it depends on where the second battery is located? If close to the main battery, probably not needed if it is cactus, but I would be surprised if is and REDARC may come to the party if it is. If the aux battery is located a far distance from the main, then yes a REDARC BCDC will help greatly to charge the aux battery correctly and fully, except when the fuse blows. I would follow the advice of the others and replace the fuse with a resettable one and hopefully your aux battery is not stuffed due to low discharge. Good luck with the rest of the trip.
John and Jan

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Reply By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 08:56

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 08:56
Phil (excellent name)

To answer your question, No you don't have to have a dc-dc charger. Just a Redarc isolator will do the job nicely for you.

We have three batteries under the bonnet. One as the crank and two in parallel to look after all 4WD accessories, running compressor, driving/fog lights, fridges (x2) and all 'toy" charging and camp lighting. All batteries are 105AH Allrounders.

All three batteries were installed about six years ago including a Redarc 200 amp isolator which was installed between the crank battery and the two 4wd accessory pair. No problems to date and all batteries work as well. Even for up to three days camped up and no charging.

We get a local battery mob, where we purchased the Redarc and batteries from, to give a quick check before we go bush. Free at that. We don't do any additional charging with a generator or solar.

When winching; the winch is connected to the car's main battery (crank), the engine is started and the isolator is activated by a toggle switch in the cabin. This gives us maximum current for the winching,

The two batteries happily run the two fridges for up to three days camped without any charging.

The isolator does it perfectly for us.

Phil

The crank is front L/H. The isolator is next to the battery at the rear on the L/H side. The isolator is near the short blue wire near the L/H paired battery.

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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:31

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:31
You assume all the batteries are under the bonnet...
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:45

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:45
Malcom,

Why do you say that?

Please explain.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:57

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 09:57
Hi Phil
Well if the battery is somewhere in the back of the truck, he could have a decent voltage drop across the cable feeding it. The DC-DC would solve that.
I lose a volt or so between the cranker and my trailer connection and that's using 6B&S
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:21

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:21
Wouldn't it then be best to install larger cable with less loss?

Phil
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:40

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:40
My apologies.

I know what you mean and I was hoping to get people to think "outside the box". The problem is resistance in the cable to the rear. Why not use a solution that is more reliable and won't break to overcome the problem.

We did with the two fridges way down the rear of the car. I got the sparky to install large wire and now only have 0.1 Volt drop to the rear.

No devices to break down etc. Just plain old copper wire. Cost a quid but it is much more reliable.

Phil
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:48

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:48
Here is another example of how I personally overcame loss.

As a lot have realised by now I am a licenced unrestricted amateur radio operator. I am permitted to use transmit signals with a power output way in excess of the teeny 5 watts allowed on UHF CB. I wanted to increase my output above what the little amp in the radio would give me. Not being flush with hobby funds the solution was simple. I had a run of RG58 mil spec cable to the tower. I simply replaced it with low loss RG213 and doubled my effective output power. As mates in the USA said "Get youself a linea did you Phil".

Same with the car. Lower, well all cable has a loss, loss cable to the rear.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:58

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 10:58
Well I'm an electronics engineer and have access to cable etc cheaply and have to agree with you theoretically but...
The cable you'd need to run to the rear of a truck would be some 50mm2 in size.
You'd need two runs of that (+ & -). Guessing some 6 meters on each leg @ around $20 per linear meter = some $240 just in copper. which weighs some 6Kg per meter = 72Kg extra weight. Rather have 72 liters of extra fuel & water.
Yes its arguably more reliable depending upon who terminated and installed it but simpler, no not really. Much easier to run a smaller cable and screw down a small box.
The only real question here is - has the Redarc actually failed or are other issues involved? Extremely reliable brand so its unlikely but if you hate Redarc then install a Ctek, also extremely reliable and well regarded.
Anything can fail. Do you carry a spare alternator?
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 11:16

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 11:16
Thanks Malcom. I never did the sums myself. No need as all batteries are close being under the bonnet. I just get amazed at the mentality of wanting to install electronics, that break at time, to overcome what may first appear as a simple solution.

Reliable but it did break for the op. Wouldn't want it to break and destroy the food when hundreds of K's from civilisation. We like the deserts and on the last drive we didn't see another car etc for five days. And we were moving every day, not just camped in an out of the way hidy-hole.

You are certainly spot on with the installation needs. I had to redo all the wiring to the bullbar. They didn't even add some protection from stones. If you want it done properly then pay or do it yourself, if you have the right skills.

Phil
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 11:18

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 11:18
Why would you need to run 50mm2, everyone seems to focus on the voltage drop.

Voltage drop only becomes a significant issue when large currents are flowing, if you have large currents flowing into a battery then the battery is low and under such circumstances high terminal voltages aren't required to get large currents flowing.

A DCDC charger will not get up to its maximum voltage unit the battery reaches around 80% -90% SOC, at which time the current will be rapidly falling.

As the battery charges the current will drop and the voltage drop across the cabling will fall, by the time the battery gets to 90% the charge rate will be falling rapidly to less than a few amps and what will the voltage drop across say 20mm2 cable be at 5A the voltage drop would be around .1V with a 10M run.

In my own setup I have a Marine pro aux in the car, two AGM's in the camper and have no problems charging them all.

If you had a three way fridge also sitting across the batteries then things would change but they would also for a 20A DCDC charger so why would you set it up that way.

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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 12:23

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 12:23
Good argument but often large currents are involved.
Plenty of people have a battery in the back and run a rear winch. In reality, which battery would you think most of them wire to?
I also have a Blue Sea controller that can crowbar both batteries together should I flatten the cranker. Hell of a voltage drop there without lots of copper to the rear.

Also, consider that you have been parked up for a few days and pretty much flattened that battery in the back. You might want to charge it again as quick as poss plus charge it with the correct voltage...

I'd rather fit a DC-DC converter myself and half the cable size. Yes it might fail but in that case I will bypass it and buy a replacement at the next town.

Campers are a different argument but lets go with your example for a minute. My tug is fitted with 4 or 6 B&S (forgotten which) to the tow bar and same from there to the rear of the camper where the batteries live. Running a 80L Weico plus a few lights etc gives me a volt dropped across the cable. Effectively a 10% loss.
I run a Ctek to keep things sweet plus integrate solar into the system.

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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 13:01

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 13:01
Again we get back to the fact that if large currents are flowing you don't need high terminal voltages, a Marine pro for instance will draw around 50A when discharged to 50%SOC and connected by around 6 metres of 6B&S cable to a standard alternator out putting around 14.3V. The batteries initial terminal voltage will be around 12.8V when first connected, after around an hour the current will have dropped to around 18A and the terminal voltage will be 13.7V

Total charge put back in to the battery in 1 hour 40 minutes is around 42.78A (85.5%). A 20A DCDC charger would have replaced 33.33A in the same time. (66.66%)

Your also your assuming the DCDC charger will be putting out more voltage, if your batteries are down it won't, it will be in current limiting mode and the voltage will also be low.

If you had 20mm2 to the camper batteries then the alternator will put the bulk charge back in quicker. Your fridge will be cycling on and off and your lights will most likely not be on when your travelling.

I have two runs of 6B&S cable to the camper, a 100Ah wet aux in the car and two 100Ah AGM's in the camper, if I'm camped for three or four days and run the batteries down to 30% SOC (two fridges running, heating, pumps etc) it takes around a four hour run to recharge all batteries. With a 20A charger I would only bring the campers batteries up to 70%. A 40A charger would be quicker for the camper batteries but adequate cabling would still need to installed and then I would still need another charger for the car aux or a VSR setup.

I fail to see what rear winch has to do with it, your not likely to be silly enough to run the winch via a DCDC charger or direct charge cabling for that matter?

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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 13:17

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 13:17
True HKB and that's why with all the gear at the rear including fridges and compressor we only have have "0.1 Volt drop to the rear" as I said before.

But it is handy having all batteries with 2M (cable run) of each other.

Phil
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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 11:01

Monday, Jun 06, 2016 at 11:01
It all depends on what cabling has been installed, the Hilux has a low output alternator, adequate cabling has been installed you could swap to a booster diode and simply VSR setup.

I would be wary of simply bypassing the DCDC charger if the cabling is not up to the job.

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Reply By: Phil P - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2016 at 20:32

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2016 at 20:32
Thanks for all your suggestions, I had the fuse changed over and a new deep cycle battery fitted - all working ok, except I think the Engel Eclipse Fridge caused the problem. Its getting quite hot, unfortunately trying to get after sales service from Engel in Broome is a nightmare. 2 agents and no parts. It cools down ok but runs quite hot. Not sure if there is an internal fan in this model? Will try and rig up an external tent fan to keep it cool. Worst case I'll have to buy an ARB fridge at least they have after sales support outside of the CBD's.

The Engel is 2 years old, quite disappointing, they don't make them like they used to!
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Follow Up By: Member - MARIC - Tuesday, Jun 07, 2016 at 21:52

Tuesday, Jun 07, 2016 at 21:52
Phil, what are waecoes like for parts and service?
Have a 100L waeco for arohnd 13y and only had probs on GRR, one fan died and had parts in Broome then 2003 approx didn't like dust from being in back of ute
Tks Ric
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