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My Victron battery monitor lied to me.

We’ve been out for a week or so in iffy conditions. Not much sun but enough to keep us going, or so we thought. Yesterday night when we got back from hiking our battery monitor said we were at 60%. Not ideal as we thought that we’d get a good bit more charge on our first full sun day in a while, but it was enough that we decided we had the power reserve to use the inverter and make some baked rice in the toaster oven.  Tasted great, but after eating and just sitting around enjoying some music on the stereo suddenly everything in the trailer turned off. And I mean everything. Nothing at all worked, even the battery monitors - the whole trailer was black. I checked fuses and breakers but the only conclusion I could come to was that our battleborn batteries had tripped their protection circuit. And that was exactly what it was. After a while they tried to come back on, but that lasted maybe 30 seconds and they were off for the night. We woke up this morning to various things beeping as the solar struggled to return power to everything.

The problem was that the batteries’ DOD was much more than the monitor was saying, and of course with lithiums you can’t tell very well what their DOD is just by looking at voltage alone, since they maintain a pretty constant voltage before they drop off a cliff at the end, meaning you’re largely dependent on the battery monitor’s algorithm giving you a percentage.  So tripping the batteries’ protection circuit and going from just enjoying a nice evening to zero power was quite a surprise for us.  

So we’re at a KOA tonight before heading back out. A full charge should give us enough for the next leg of our trip. Plus we’ve got a fresh tank of water and clean laundry. 

I’ll contact both Victron and Battleborn to try to figure out why they got out of sync. I suspect it’s a Victron problem but we’ll see. 

We’ll be out of cell range for a week when we leave in the AM so I doubt I’ll be able to reply to comments for at least a while, but I thought I’d post about it just because it’s something new and interesting. Happy travels. 
 

 

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Interesting. 

Blue sky gives us strange readings , too. Seems like all these systems run on algorithms, as opposed to true.

I get the worst monitor info if we have any sort of auxiliary power... portable solar, or 110.

 

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2 hours ago, Overland said:

My Victron battery monitor lied to me.

We’ve been out for a week or so in iffy conditions. Not much sun but enough to keep us going, or so we thought. Yesterday night when we got back from hiking our battery monitor said we were at 60%. Not ideal as we thought that we’d get a good bit more charge on our first full sun day in a while, but it was enough that we decided we had the power reserve to use the inverter and make some baked rice in the toaster oven.  Tasted great, but after eating and just sitting around enjoying some music on the stereo suddenly everything in the trailer turned off. And I mean everything. Nothing at all worked, even the battery monitors - the whole trailer was black. I checked fuses and breakers but the only conclusion I could come to was that our battleborn batteries had tripped their protection circuit. And that was exactly what it was. After a while they tried to come back on, but that lasted maybe 30 seconds and they were off for the night. We woke up this morning to various things beeping as the solar struggled to return power to everything.

The problem was that the batteries’ DOD was much more than the monitor was saying, and of course with lithiums you can’t tell very well what their DOD is just by looking at voltage alone, since they maintain a pretty constant voltage before they drop off a cliff at the end, meaning you’re largely dependent on the battery monitor’s algorithm giving you a percentage.  So tripping the batteries’ protection circuit and going from just enjoying a nice evening to zero power was quite a surprise for us.  

So we’re at a KOA tonight before heading back out. A full charge should give us enough for the next leg of our trip. Plus we’ve got a fresh tank of water and clean laundry. 

I’ll contact both Victron and Battleborn to try to figure out why they got out of sync. I suspect it’s a Victron problem but we’ll see. 

We’ll be out of cell range for a week when we leave in the AM so I doubt I’ll be able to reply to comments for at least a while, but I thought I’d post about it just because it’s something new and interesting. Happy travels. 
 

 

Sorry to hear . . . . what a way to ruin a good day!

 

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Ray and Susan Huff

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2 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

Interesting. 

Blue sky gives us strange readings , too. Seems like all these systems run on algorithms, as opposed to true.

I get the worst monitor info if we have any sort of auxiliary power... portable solar, or 110.

 

So what good's a monitor if you can't rely on it?  I guess, with today's technology, we just expect perfection and reliability . . . . . not going to happen 😠

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin Hull# 699 - delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCACOGAHIIDILKSLAMSMONENVNMOKORSCTNTX

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2 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

Interesting. 

Blue sky gives us strange readings , too. Seems like all these systems run on algorithms, as opposed to true.

I get the worst monitor info if we have any sort of auxiliary power... portable solar, or 110.

 

I got strange readings from ourBlue Sky IPN-Pro for a while. Until I figured out that not everything was running through the shunt. After a little negative re-routing all is good. The main problem was that the onboard charger's negative wire was bypassing the shunt therefore the IPN-Pro did not see any of the power going into the batteries from it. Check the grounds from your charge controller and converter/charger and make sure they go to the shunt before grounding out to the trailer. 

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

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28 minutes ago, Susan Huff said:

So what good's a monitor if you can't rely on it?  I guess, with today's technology, we just expect perfection and reliability . . . . . not going to happen 😠

You'll be more likely to get it if everything is wired correctly.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

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That's a good suggestion to look at when we install our new panels and controller this winter, Steve. Thanks. I  really don't remember much about the wiring.

The interesting thing is, our bluesky returns to normal quickly,  "resetting itself" as soon as soon battery capacity reaches 100 per cent. Sometimes it will jump from a 78 per cent reading to 100 with a short time on shore power, or full sun. We know it's higher than 78 from meter checks. 

And Susan, most of the time we charge solely on the fixed solar. With good sun, it's entirely reliable. Oliver doesn't use Blue Sky anymore, anyway, but we actually really like it. We have Victron on the boat pv system.

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On 11/11/2020 at 10:05 PM, Susan Huff said:

Sorry to hear . . . . what a way to ruin a good day!

 

Not ruined. Even without amenities, the Ollie is still the best tent we’ve ever owned. 

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Thanks for the replies. It seems to have gotten back on track after a full charge. I’m thinking now that this was related to a different problem that I’ve discovered with my inverter, which isn’t communicating properly with the Victron control panel. They’re connected, but turning on and off the inverter from the panel doesn’t always work and the panel isn’t reliably showing the state of the inverter. Twice now I’ve checked to see if the inverter is off, and the control panel said it was, but the outlets were still hot. The only way to reliably turn it off now is via the switch on the unit. So I suspect that this has been a problem since we started the trip and the inverter has been on most of the time, with maybe that power consumption not being registered by the control panel. Maybe. 

Something else that I’ve noticed is that my solar charge controller turns off when the batteries are full and doesn’t come back on. So if the batteries are full at noon, with the fridge, fans, etc. running for the rest of the day, we start the evening not with 100% but maybe 95% or less. Maybe that’s normal, but it seems like I would have noticed that behavior before. There were software updates to all my equipment that I installed before leaving, so it’s possible that all this behavior is buggy updates. 

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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On the boat, we leave the inverter turned off unless we're actually using it. But, our inverter on the boat is a xantrex, not victron, sadly.

I have read about the Victron shutting down when the batteries are full, and not restarting. But,  we have not really watched for it in the boat. I thought that was an older, resolved problem? 

Nor, do we usually use much power on the sailboat. Something to watch for when/if we install the danfoss backup system to the engine driven cold plate refrigeration. Our delight is that we have not had to plug in the boat to shore power,  in a year . And, when the alternator failed again in March, in a tricky situation,  the batteries were still fully charged, with solar. 😁

The bluesky algorithms have never let me down to the point you experienced  in your recent trip. But, if the weather is cloudy/low sun for string of days, they're def inaccurate,  and we also watch the seelevel monitor, and sometimes take readings straight from our 2 group 27 batteries,  with a meter. Unlike you, we don't have a lot of leeway, with just two 105 ah agm batteries.  And, all the readings are somewhat inaccurate with agm , unsettled batteries, anyway.  It can be really frustrating. 

Looks like yours reset too, with a full charge, as ours do with the bluesky.

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And, @Susan Huff, so many of our tech/mechanical problems over the years have really been user issues.  I'm not embarrassed to say so. Every new system is a learning curve. My learning highway probably looks like the dragon's tail ride, lol.

Today, Paul and I  installed a Phyn water leak sensor system for the house. His plumbing was flawless. The tech side was much more complicated. 

Sometimes, there are little details missing in the manual, or app instructions. I went through the app a dozen times, including faq several times, and then spent an hour on the phone with two great techs in California. Everything is working now. If I had turned on location on my android phone, and paired to the 2. 4 net, instead of the 5 band, it would have saved 45 minutes ... (that bit of info is not in the instructions,  anywhere.)⁹

Tech is great. When it works , and we understand it. And, have clear instructions. 

Even then, I  can manage to mess something up, sometimes. 

Edited by SeaDawg
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17 hours ago, SeaDawg said:

Tech is great. When it works , and we understand it. And, have clear instructions. 

Even then, I  can manage to mess something up, sometimes. 

And there are those folks who never read the written instructions, and complain when something doesn’t work...... I am referring to somebody in my family. RTFM 😬

John Davies

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Edited by John E Davies
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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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So, new update. I woke this morning to the battery monitor telling me that I was at 78%, but the voltage was 13.1, which for lithium’s is about 40%. Worse, when I turned the inverter on to make coffee, the voltage dropped to 12.5.  Not great, but it dawned on me that all this behavior would make sense if I actually had only 200 Ah of batteries rather than 400. Could two of my batteries have died?  I called Battleborn. 

Admirably, even though I got a recording and they’re closed for the weekend, someone called me right back. Their thought was that one or two of the batteries had gotten stuck in protection mode and needed to be ‘woken up’. Great, sort of - it’s a solution but it required unhooking all four batteries, testing them separately, and ‘waking them’ by hooking the bad ones to the truck via jumper cables and charging each one separately for thirty minutes. 

I carry a jump pack rather than cables but we found an auto zone on our route and got some heavy gauge ones. But when we got to our campsite, disconnected the battery cables and checked the voltages of the batteries individually, none of them were in protection mode (less than 1 volt). But two did read 12.9 volts (~20%) vs 13.3 on the other two (90%).  Another call to Battleborn.

The working theory now is that those two batteries had floated off sync with the other two somehow, likely due to my fault. The Battleborn rep asked me how I had the battery bank wired, specifically if I had both + and - leads to the trailer connected to the same battery or to the first and last. I had them both on the same one. He told me that when they’re wired that way, the battery monitor is only getting its info on charge state from a single battery rather than the entire bank, and that can allow the other three to drift out of sync. And since the voltages on lithiums are so constant, a small drift can have big consequences. In my case, he suspected that two of the batteries had gotten so far out of sync that they were no longer contributing. He recommended rewiring them and giving the bank an overnight charge, then see where we stood. 

So that’s where we are. Figuratively - literally we’re at the Joshua Tree KOA charging up. Fingers crossed. If the rewiring and recharging doesn’t work this time then I think the answer is that those two batteries have bad cells or something. 

Edited by Overland
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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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I like Battleborn's logic regarding the working theory.

Good luck in getting it corrected so that you can enjoy the rest of the trip.

Bill

2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Thanks. Actually I didn’t quite get it right above. The two good batteries are the one that the + and - are attached to, and the one on which the battery monitor’s voltage sensor is attached. It makes sense that those two would be the ones with the right voltage, the one being monitored and the one getting the direct charge. 

Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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I'm curious as to why Oliver wired your battery bank like that. During our 2013 build, I had them wire our 4 x 6 volt AGM's as two pair of series paralleled together with the leads coming off the opposite corners of the bank. Do you think they thought it didn't matter how the lithium's were wired?

Anyway, I agree that it would make a big difference (obviously over time) in the voltage/percentage readings. I hope your batteries are OK and this "reset" will fix you right up. I just finished a Battleborn install in the Outlaw Oliver. I got 7 years out of the Trojan's, but one of them finally gave up the ghost. The other three seem to be fine. I'm gonna hook them up to my Dewalt equipment if I can figure out a way to move them around.

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Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

      ALAKAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA       ABBCMBNSYTsm.jpg

 

 

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Steve, Oliver didn’t install my batteries, so the question is whether I wired them up that way or not. I don’t think I originally did, since I vaguely remember having the question in my mind when putting it all together. But when we had our trailer serviced in Santa Fe on our first trip to fix a few things, something I asked them to do was add some lock washers to the battery connections since I had one that had come loose, and I remember than when I looked at it after that he’d rearranged all my cables. And then I think that last year when I switched the cables into the box from 4/0 to pairs of 2/0 that I just duplicated what was there without thinking.

But I think that’s largely irrelevant unfortunately. After charging all night and day I just turned off the power to see what the voltage did and sure enough it fell from 13.6 where it should be to 13.2 within 5 minutes. So even without checking the individual voltages,  I’m pretty sure that I’ve got two bad batteries. No other reason for it to fall like that. 

Questions now are going to be why they failed, is failure common for Battleborns, and how easily/quickly will they get them replaced. 

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Sorry to hear that Jeff. I do hope Battleborn will live up to their reputation (and all our expectations) and get you back up and running quickly.

Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4 

 

      ALAKAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMA       ABBCMBNSYTsm.jpg

 

 

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