Advice wanted for solar/battery/charger in our new (2011) Jayco Swan

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Cable size can be confusing Pete. Think 8 #b&s cable and 50 amp fuses is what worked for me , but Im no auto elec just a dumb sparky . Nice rig mate .
Booney
 
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Awesome guys, that is a big help and it's where I've been most confused.
It frustrating when you keep hearing you need this or that sized cable and the more you search or read what others use the more confusing it gets.

Condor, I like your setup and it makes sense for you to run it that way, thanks for explaining it.

Ded Driver, you're a champ mate, those charts are exactly what I needed, thanks.

Booney, thanks mate and that makes sense, feeling confident now I'll nut this cable sizing out :perfect:
 

condor22

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Pete,

The actual Mod I did was; (have mentioned some of this in another thread)

My OEM van wiring was - Anderson plug at the hitch (6mm sq) feeds through to the battery compartment under the dinette. In there was an Omegalec power supply/charger and now a 130AH AGM. The Omegalec is a 240VAC charger and a 240 to 12VDC transformer, it also has several sets of terminals to input and distribute 12VDC.
There are 3 sets of distribution circuits/fuses that power the vans lights, fans, pump TV etc. It has terminals for Car +/- In (from the Anderson), Battery +/- and Fridge +/-.

Ignoring the 240VAC side of it for the moment, 12V comes in from the car to the CAR +/- and internal to the device, then to the fridge +/-. At the same time it also sends a charging current to the battery via the BAT +/- terminals. It is rated at 30A Max. So assuming it is sending 13A to the fridge it could send a similar A to the battery.
I found that with fridge on 12v, engine running I only got 11.9 v at the fridge. So I pulled the wires from CAR and FRIDGE and joined them, cutting out the Omegalec and the voltage at the fridge went up to 12.9. That extra 1.0V made all the difference re fridge operation. As I mentioned I have solar to charge the battery anyway. I also usually carry a generator and have installed a 7 stage smart charger to charge the battery as the Omegalec has a single stage charger at 13.8V which is not the best for an AGM. I did install a 20A Redarc DC-DC charger, but the same thing occurred with the fridge volts. So, although still in the van and connected to the battery, it is not connected to the car input.

My final mod was to unjoin the wires from the car and the fridge and put an Anderson plug on both, which, when travelling is joined, and operates the fridge. I then put an Anderson plug on the Redarc input, so when I'm camped, the fridge is on LPG, I could disconnect the fridge from the car plug and connect the Redarc to the car and charge my van battery. So far my solar has done its job and I haven't needed to do this.

I'm heading to the GT in a month or so for a couple of weeks and leaving the generator at home. This means my primary charging will be solar only. But in the event of, I can connect to the car. This will be my first trip with no genny, so I'm interested to find out the results.
 
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Condor22, I like the reasoning behind the way you have your setup.
The more I've been thinking about wiring up the camper the more I'm exploring different options.
Our Jayco Swan also has a similar Omegalec power supply unit (not sure of the brand) and I haven't had a good look at how it is wired yet but it has fuses for fridge, radio, fan, lights and a couple of other things but we only have fridge and lights so there's room to add things if needed.

I was originally going to just have the car connected while travelling to run into the dc-dc and charge the deep cycle then change to fold out solar panel once camped, with the fridge I was going to have all food in my engel in vehicle while travelling then swap to the camper fridge on gas when camped, seeing how long it took to chill the fridge on gas on Thursday had me thinking that I need to run the fridge on 12v while travelling to chill it down, now that I see your reasoning for the way you've run yours it looks like I need to give some more thought to how I'll go about this.

I'm still in two minds whether to use the Ctek dc-dc under my bonnet and do a dual battery conversion there at the same time for when I get away solo without the camper.

We are going away next Friday for the weekend, as it currently stands I'll make sure the deep cycle is fully charged before we leave then it will get maintained from the roof panel while travelling, I will clip my 160w fold out panel (with controller) onto the deep cycle while camped as well as having the roof panel so should have no issues for the 2 nights away as we will only be running interior lights, and the LED replacement globes have arrived and ready to change out.

I won't get a chance to do anything this weekend but any changes made will be the weekend before we take off for 7 days which is coming up pretty quickly (28th Oct) so I've got time to consider where I'm going to place the dc-dc and how to set it up to best suit our needs.

Plenty to think about, but good positive decisions to make, thanks.
 

condor22

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Pete,

A 3 way fridge - 240VAC will cool it down to the set temperature, LPG or 12VDC only maintain it. LPG may eventually cool it down, but that could take all weekend.
You also need to put a temp monitor in the fridge, both is a good idea. I use 2 one in the van and one on the 4x4, both Ironman.

So at least a day before you go away the fridge should be on 240VAC, I put mine on at least 2 days often 3 days before I trip. That way I can set the temp to 2C as it can take a couple of tweeks on the thermo. I also found that because the Tx in the fridges is cold that Alkaline batteries go down quickly due to the cold. So I now use Li oN Eveready AAA in the Tx and normal Alkaline in the Gauge Rx. My last trip was 8 weeks and they are still ok, but I remove the batteries once at home as the fridge is off.

Once the fridge is down to temp on 240VAC, the last thing I do before leaving home is disconnect the power lead and pack it, turn the fridge to 12VDC, then drive off. My mod keeps it at 2C when on 12VDC. When I get to my camp, first thing os turn on the LPG at the bottle and switch the fridge over. If I stop for fuel, I don't do anything, but if I stop for lunch, I switch from 12VDC to LPG, then reverse that before heading off again.

I am fortunate that my van is by the side of the house in a second driveway I had put in (corner block) . It is also very near to the power/cctbkr mains enclosure, so I had a 15A power point put in to the box. So my van is always on mains at home and the battery always on mains charge. AGMs love to be on charge, but you need a decent charger.

The battery is on Float and my charger gives the battery a "jolt" about once a month just to condition it. So it's easy for me to know that the battery is good to go and for me turn the fridge on at anytime.

Pre cool 3 ways at home :) On the last trip my 3 way held a range of 1.4C to 3.8C . It varies due to ambient and or opening the door. Food safety is fridgables should be 0 to 4C any higher risks "Delhi Belly". But if you don't have a gauge, how do you know. :beer:
 

Dog Ranger

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ctxkid said:
gas is quick as 12 or 240 volt !

if not your fridge has a problem
Absorption fridge yes Lpg against a compressor fridge No way
A compressor type will also obtain and hold temperatures in high ambient temp conditions that a fridge on Lpg wont even be able to hold much less even achieve in the first place
About the only ideal situation for lpg fridges is .camped up long term but even then in high temp and humidity will struggle :awful:
This will also be even more the case if lpg type is not regularly maintained :/
 
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The back of an absorbtion fridge needs to be baffled just like a light aircraft engine.

If the air goes THROUGH the fins it will work the way it's actually bloody designed.

I have never seen a 3 way fridge set up properly.

One neighbour fits out vans and I asked him how it was done, his answer was totally wrong, he didn't even understand how they worked.

Mine will make ice in the freezer no probs at all, and turned up high even the FRIDGE section will FREEZE bottles of water. (35c day at the murray)

I must admit never running one in humid areas, but it should work fine as they are a sealed system... honestly don't know the answer to that.

If you block off every tiny area that doesn't have a fin on it the thing will amaze you.

Bits of aluminium flashing and fibreglass insulation work well.

BUT, yes compressor fridges recover MUCH faster AND cool beers/other items faster.

I find one of each is great, 3 way for food and ice cream/frozen stuff and compressor fridge for beers.

3 way works by heating the gas system, it should work just as well on 12v ,240v, or gas, if not something isn't set up properly.

IF the same amount of energy is applied to the gas system then it will work just as well.
Running on electricity it uses a heating element, if that is heating the same amount that the gas will apply then it works fine.
If you don't apply enough amps it's useless.

A common complaint is they "are simply crap on 12v" But if you inspect the wiring on them the cause is clear, they need to be supplied with a huge number of amps at 12v and most wiring isn't up to the task.

AND remember 3 ways HATE not being level, if you google how they work, you'll understand.
 
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I called into Battery World today and got 5 meters of the correct cable and some termination ends for the DC-DC end as well as a 30 amp circuit breaker to go between the CTEK and deep cycle, I already have a 30 amp fuse at the crank battery end of the Anderson lead running to the rear of the car.

Here is a link to the product manual of the CTEK D250SA and I'm planning on running as per example 3 for a starting point.

https://mygenerator.com.au/media/CTEK-CTD250SA-Product-Manual.pdf

After much thinking, to get around the problem of the roof solar panel not getting enough sun during the day due to shade by trees or the roof rack I am going to run a small jump lead off the CTEK with Anderson Connection so while travelling I can connect the roof panel but when I am set up camping I can disconnect the roof panel and connect my 160w fold out panel and I've already made up a by-pass of it's controller so it will go direct to the CTEK, I'll run a permanent lead from the CTEK to the outside of the camper so it's just a quick swap over at the CTEK then plug in outside. This should solve the issue ctxkid raised about 2 controllers on the same battery.

As far as the 3 way fridge goes, I appreciate people have different ideas on them and it's because of what we experience during our time with them.
Last Thursday when I turned it on for the first time it was on LPG and to be honest, I cranked it to 8 and after about 3-4 hours the freezer box was starting to frost, it was 30 deg that day but it would probably be different with food and drinks in there.
Since we are only going away this Friday afternoon and back Sunday afternoon I will take and rely on my Engel 45 ltr as it's always done us well run off the Landcruiser with the solar panel out, when we get to our destination and set up I will put the 3 way fridge on LPG at level 4 with my warm drinks in it (I'll keep a 6 pack in the Engel for Friday night) and see if it's cold by the following morning and that should gauge how it cools, I will also put a fridge thermometer in there to judge the temp.
In the event it's not cooling enough I will most likely convert to example 5 in the CTEK manual for travelling with 3 way fridge set to 12v which should solve the issue Condor22 was talking about with the voltage drop I hope, then swap to LPG when camping.
I don't have the luxury of being able to have the camper open at home for any length of time, it just fits packed down in our single garage but if need be I can lift the roof a couple of feet and run the extension lead out there, still need to crawl into the camper to switch the fridge on though so I'll see how it goes first before needing to do that.

I appreciate the input from you guys and I've been following your posts in this thread and each one has had me thinking about different scenarios and I'm thinking I might have it worked out.....I hope.

I'm working country tomorrow morning and back late Thursday so nothing will get done before this weekends quick trial run, I've got the LED interior light globe replacements and that should make enough of a difference to get by this weekend as they should be all we are running, the following weekend I'm planning on running the drawbar cable and fitting the CTEK with solar jumper lead ready for the 7 day trip on the 28th, I'll still be running my Engel on that trip so the 3 way fridge issue is not my priority just yet, I much prefer the set and forget of the Engel, beer at -1c is hard to beat :beer:
I'll see how my old 105Ah goes by Sunday and may buy a new 130Ah replacement before the 7 day trip, I'll be keeping and eye open for a s/hand Honda or Yamaha 4 stroke Genny as a last resort backup solution for charging.
 

condor22

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Glad you got it sorted Pete.

I'm on to my next challenge :) Was cleaning the van a couple of days ago and noticed the down lights over the dinette were somewhat dim. There are 3, switched as one bank of lights and on closer inspection, there are 24 LED chips in each, some where dim and others out altogether. So I checked every light in the van and the one above the kitchen was the same. So I'm gonna start chasing spares or replacements tomorrow, dam PH interferes with ringing around , lol.

I don't think over voltage is the issue, I'm inclined to think they are el cheapo...... I did check the voltage at the light wiring and it was down around 12V no load even though the system is putting out 13.8V at the source. That's a heckuva voltage drop in the wiring of the van.

It's always difficult to trace wiring, but so far I've found 3 x 12V circuits on the power supply. One feeds all of the lights at the front end, so bed readers, centre downlight and main roof light as well as one in each robe. I'm still tracing the others as I need to pull fuses and figure out what don't work. The joys of DYI :)
 
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Jaros said:
I agree with ctx here-in fact I would say that gas is better for quick cooling. :)

I would agree with you If I had not seen how these Snomasters perform, They get seriously cold and very fast but they need a good power supply, They will cool around 3 X faster than anything else I have seen, In Aus where the Sun nearly always shines Solar is not a problem or if it is using Grid Power then they are fine, They chew on average over 2+Ah per hour when set to -12*c and will chew about 48Ah per day/night, and when set to proper freezer mode -18/-22*c they will use as much power as most domestic fridge freezers maybe more ?.

The Big one I tested went from 22*c down to -18*c in 67 minutes but it murdered my 115Ah Battery. Nothing seems to match them when it comes to speed of cooling.
 
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Occasional_panner said:
A common complaint is they "are simply crap on 12v" But if you inspect the wiring on them the cause is clear, they need to be supplied with a huge number of amps at 12v and most wiring isn't up to the task.
mine takes 7.1 amps on 12 volts , total madness considering it takes a tad over 5 on 240v running on the inverter.
 

condor22

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CTX - Different element so different current :) I know my fridge pulls 13.2 amps on 12V, I'll get the clamp ammeter out sometime to measure the 240V current. But, first I need to make up a test lead, I lost my old one. (a short plug-socket that shows the 3 wires without the outer insulation of 3 core, so I can get to the Active wire :) )

Re my LEDs, managed to find replacements at Cararest, going to pick em up shortly. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, very true in this instance. I tried to describe the light fitting re size, finish, make, model no etc for near 10 minutes to the lady on the phone. Ended up sending a pic via email and got an affirmative "in stock" in less than a minute, lol.

The whole light is <$20 so no point trying to replace the LED card only.
 

Nightjar

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For the first couple of years after purchasing our first van (2008) we found the 3way fridge/freezer struggled on gas. Already mentioned, we chill down our fridges van & Engels on 240V a few days leading up to departure. All frozen foods are stored in home freezer prior to transferring them to portables before departure.
Always used park the van facing West so the door and awning was in the shade. The fridge on the drivers side was exposed to sun.
Along came satellite TV and after the dish blowing over/out of position many time I fitted a bracket to secure it to the the van tow bar.
Now park the van facing East to pick up the satellite, the fridge is now on the shady side and have never had a cooling problem since. Using my old trusty sewing machine made up a shade cloth wall for the awning.
While we are on gas, we used to always swap our 9kg bottles over at Bunnings and almost too the day, one cylinder would last 2 weeks running fridge and boiling morning coffee kettle. Barbecues Galore had a special on so I filled our three bottles before a trip. From that period on have always gone back to BG because a 9kg now lasts 3 weeks. Go figure!!
BTW, we take 3 cylinders with us because a refill at home is around $20.00, in Leonora you can pay $70.00+.
 

condor22

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Wow that's expensive gas :) I guess we all have reasons to face a certain way. Door on passenger side, obviously, also where the awning is. My fridge is on the drivers side and the solar panels are length ways front to back on the passenger side. So, I try to face the door sort of north, this puts the fridge to the south and in the shade. It also gives full sun on the panels without the aircon shadow possibly affecting them.

The other reason is that the exhaust from the diesel heater is in front of the passenger wheel and given the prevailing winds in S.A. and VIC in winter are generally from the S.W or S, they blow the fumes away from the van. The awning also shades the door and lounge area and doesn't face into the wind in this direction.

Re LPG, I have 2 x 4.5kg bottles in the front boot and 9kg will not fit. I generally only caravan in the winter for prospecting, so, one bottle used for fridge, boiling the kettle at breakfast, another for the thermos to take with me for the day and a cuppa at night will last me 12 days. I cook using the microwave on the genny and also heat the hot water on 240VAC.

I'm heading out in a few weeks for a 2 week trip, I've decided not to take the Honda this trip, which will force me to cook on LPG and heat water on gas also. I'm interested to see how long a 4.5 will last doing this. I shower every 2nd day and I'll be near to refills if needed. Depending on the result, I might buy an extra bottle or 2 for next years trip. I also want to check that I can survive on solar only without the generator backup as it's extra weight carrying the Honda, not to mention ULP fuel. The 4by and heater are diesel and that's much safer to carry.

I'm going to borrow a 9kg bottle from a mate, to see if it will sit in the boot. If it does I'll carry it in the 4by, and only put it in the boot when I'm camped, that'll double my gas capacity. Then I use one of the 4.5kg until the 9 gets refilled and then go back to the 9 for normal use.
 
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