Recreational Vehicles

Audio Visual

The TV turns off when I turn on my LED lights

This problem comes up when the TV signal is low and the DC cable crosses or runs parallel to the TV antenna TV input. LED lights feed a small amount of noise back down the DC feed line and this noise is sometimes equal to the low signal coming in from the antenna. It is a difficult problem to remove other than re routing the antenna cable away from the DC line.

Suddenly the TV turns off for no reason after watching for a few hours.

A number of new digital TV’s have NOT been designed specifically for 12V even though they come with a 240V to 12V transformer. A fully charged battery is 12.8V so a good DC designed TV will operate as low as 10.5V when the battery is low and up to 14.5 Volts to allow for battery charging. Some TV’s will not operate in these parameters and we have had people complain that the TV turns off when everything else is still working and also turns off when the battery is being charged. See also cable problems/voltage drop in another category. Refer to specific designed TV’s from springers.

Battery not charging

I have driven long distances and my second battery never seems to get to full charge. When I am stopped my Waeco fridge will only run for a few hours and then go into error. Is this a fridge fault?

This question has a few answers that we can go through one at a time.

  1. If the cable between the primary Battery and the secondary battery is too small then the secondary battery may never charge to its full capacity. The voltage drop in the cable can prevent full charge capacity to this battery by up to 50%. We have seen a battery at only 12.4V when it should be 12.8V after a long trip…all caused by small cable. We recommend copper size in RED and Black sheathing to be at least the size of a pencil. ie 13mms cross sectional area. See category ‘Voltage drop’ for further information.
  2. The Waeco fridge error light generally tells you that the voltage is too low. This could the problem as described above but if you are using a standard 4WD socket in the rear of the vehicle then while you are driving the voltage will be okay but when you are stopped the voltage could fall almost immediately to under 12volts. This is a result of small cable to this socket (all 4WD have this problem) and while the vehicle is running the Alternator takes the voltage for charging the battery to 14.2V which will overcome any deficiencies but when the engine is turned off the front battery might be 12.8V but the voltage at the fridge could be as low as 10V. Once again see category ‘Voltage Drop’ for further information

Cable sizing / Voltage drop

We would like to know what size cable I would use to connect 4 x 135Wpanels in parallel 12V. What size cable to run to batteries 2.5m distance one-way.

The formula for voltage drop is an Australian standard and Springers work to this standard. In essence the area in mmsquare of the cable equals 2 x length x current x resistivity (.0183) divided by Voltage drop (standard is 5%) xVolts. We do not expect that you would want to use this formula but we need to show that there is such a formula that Springers adheres too.

The short answer to the question is that you should use 10mm square cable from your panels to a regulator and the same to the batteries. This size of the cable can be cut down if you parallel two panels and run two paralleled panels separately to the regulator in 6mm cable. Your 135W panels can deliver up to 10Amps per hour or 40amps total per hour.

This section covers a problem that occurs in most RV’s cabled by unknowing “experts”. It is related to Voltage Drop in cable and problems caused by this.

Many mobile homes and caravans come to ‘Springers’ with problems that are associated with cable size. Regular complaints are that the DC fridge does not run for long enough off the second battery or that the TV turns off for no reason while watching a movie. In fact nearly all 12V/24V appliance problems relate to Voltage drop in cable.

Consider this: The House battery delivers efficiently between full charge voltage 12.8V and nearly flat 12V that is a difference of .8Volts to work with. Now if the cable is undersized from the primary battery to the house battery by 2mm Cross sectional area then you can create a voltage drop of around .3Volts. Taking this same size cable through from a car to a caravan can be more than .6Volts drop.

A battery needs the full 14.2V from the alternator to correctly charge an AGM Hybrid deep cycle house battery. Other batteries may not even charge more than 75%. Whilst driving along your Fridge will work perfectly because the alternator is taking the voltage up to 14.2Volts. When stopped the house battery may only be charged to 12.6Volts. The fridge connected to the cable at the rear at this stage could only be reading 12.3 Volts assuming .3volts drop in the cable.

When the compressor in the fridge starts it will drop the battery voltage by .3V thus causing the battery to fall to 12 Volts. Most fridges will cut out at around 11.5Volts. Is it any wonder we have appliance problems?

Undersized cable can often have more than .6volt drop between primary (start battery) and house battery because an installer wired with not only cable too small but incorrect bonding of negative chassis. The cable is replaced with 13.5mm cross sectional area and run in positive and negative from the primary to house battery. The owner will now get an extra 15hrs from his fridge. When charging a standard wet cell or Calcium deep cycle battery your vehicle alternator will only take it to 75% of fully charged. If voltage drop is added as well then the capacity may only get to 60% . This continued under charging rate will eventually sulphate the battery.

With the absolute necessary charging voltage of 14.2Volts from your alternator you need to deliver this to any Battery being charged. Under sized cable and bad bonding of chassis negative does not help. Minimum size under the bonnet should be 13.5 cross sectional area and run in positive and negative NO CHASSIS EARTH.

‘Springers’ have been installing in Caravans, boats, mobile homes and 4WD now for 8 years. Their installers are Auto Electricians and fully trained professionals in cable sizing and Battery technology.

Written by Brian Springer ‘Springers Low Voltage Specialists’

Dual battery

We have a mercedes sprinter motor home with two 120 amp house batteries would it be possible to fit a third battery without damaging the charger or alternator

A third parallel battery should be no problem to your alternator which is capable of at least 80Ahrs charge rate. Our recommendation to parallel batteries is to only go to a maximum of three. The size of the cable is very important though and a minimum of 16mm for 3metres is recommended. The charge rate into these batteries will be around 40Ahrs max. and the alternator will look after this.

Where is the best place for my battery, under the bonnet or in the back? … does it make any difference to cable size as well?

Technically the battery can be anywhere as long as the correct size cable is used. For practicality a lot of secondary batteries are fitted in a cable tray under the bonnet. Cabling between the primary and secondary battery should be minimum 13mm2 in red and black. Do not use chassis negative. Refer to category ‘Cable size/Voltage drop’. There is a lot of heat under the bonnet and a battery may not last as long, as it will, in a cooler area such as the back of the car. Convenience is the main reason a battery is put under the bonnet. This convenience is generally outweighed by the negative shorter life of around 4 years instead of 5 to 6 years in ideal conditions.

Cable to the back of the car should be minimum 16mm2 to fall within  ‘Australian standard’ of 5% voltage drop. If Springers auto electricians did this job then they would use 25mm2 to guarantee only 3% drop in the voltage for an iron clad guarantee of excellent battery charging.

Fridge problems

I have a gas fridge that we use on DC while driving. It works perfectly until we drive any distance and then when we get to our destination it is defrosted. Can you help?

This is a common problem when the cable sizing to the fridge is too small. Your battery could be at full voltage ie 12.8V but if the cable to the fridge is over any distance longer than a few metres and is less than 6mm2 then the fridge may only be seeing 12.2V or less. Over a short period of time this voltage may fall to 11.9V and the fridge temperature will suffer. Please see our notes in the Voltage drop category.

Solar charging

Hi Springers, We are getting a caravan built with a Waeco HDC221 12 volt fridge. We have a 80 series L/cruiser with 2 batteries we also have a Honda 20i generator. What size solar panels etc. would we need to “camp out” for 3-4 days possibly with 2 batteries? Regards, Bruce.

Your Waeco fridge will draw around 60Ahrs per day and with lights and TV your load could possibly be around 80Ahrs per day. Assume the generator is going to be used to charge the batteries only in a bad situation such as rain everyday then two 140Watt 12V panels on fine days will put in around 80Ahrs per day. With these panels you could stay offsite forever.

Now that we are at this stage you could choose to have only 0ne 120Ahr battery to save on weight or two 120Ahr batteries and purchase only one panel. One panel will provide 40Ars per day but you now have 240Ahrs capacity in the batteries. You can see that you will easily last 3 to 4 days offsite

I’ve heard the most efficient solar set up is with 24V panels and a maximum power point tracker. Is this set up suitable for a caravan? Do I still have 12V coming out of my batteries or is it 24V?

This technology is fairly new to Australia and is only able to be used because of new MPPT (maximum power point tracking) regulators. These regulators can regulate high voltages from panels down to the correct voltage for a 12V battery system. During the day during cloudy weather or mild shading on the panels the regulator will correct the maximum voltage to the battery for efficient charging. The result is up to 30% more current into the battery than standard regulators. A big advantage with using 180Watt 24V larger panels is that they are commonly used on homes and are cheaper than a 12V panel of around 125Watts.

Household Solar

What environmental credentials does the company have?

Springers Solar are renewable energy ambassadors specialising in the supply of sustainable and efficient products and equipment. We actively promote renewable energy options to the community and local business through participation in various clubs, caravan and camping rallies and local council events. We have established sustainable business practices into our everyday operations and have installed a 20kW commercial solar system at our Lawnton premises to utilise for our day-to-day operations.

Is the company likely to be around in 25 years’ time?

Springers Solar is a well-established and highly credible family-owned solar company providing expert solar technology advice, products, installation and service from two retail centres on both the north and south sides of Brisbane – Lawnton and Capalaba.

Springers Solar have served the community for over 10 years and in that time has provided over 5,000 solar panel installations. You can be guaranteed that you will be treated as our most valuable customer.

We are an award winning company receiving an industry award from Clean Energy Australia and also a Green Project of the Year Award. With well-established business practices and customer focused principles, you can rest assured we will continue to provide you with ongoing customer support in the years to come.

Does the price include connection to the grid by your energy distributor?

Our installed system package means just that, our electrician connects your solar panels to your switchboard and this includes notifying Energex/Ergon. In Queensland, Energex stipulates that we must leave the solar system switched off until they have completed the final inspection and meter change. We will arrange for the inspection on your behalf and will provide you with information on how to switch on your system once Energex is complete.

What are the installation time frames?

In most instances we can install your system 4-6 weeks from when you sign a contract with us, however our schedule is dependent on a number of factors including weather conditions, the volume of customers signing with is and any other unforeseen circumstance which may arise. We will strive to do our best to ensure you can start enjoying free energy from the sun sooner.

What does the company’s system produce in kilowatt-hours of electricity every year?

This is dependent on the size of the system a number of factors including the number of peak sunlight hours, cloud cover, weather patterns, the location of the solar system and the surrounding structures such as flora and fauna. Springers Solar will design and install the solar system in a position that is likely to maximise the performance of the solar system at your property. We can provide estimates upon examination of your specific circumstances.

Does the company offer a comprehensive onsite replacement warranty for a full 5 years on top of the manufacturers 25 year panel warranty?

Springers Solar warrants that once the solar system is installed it will comply with all relevant Australian Standards and government legislation.

The following warranties are provided:

Solar Modules: 10 year manufacturers materials and workmanship warranty, 25 years performance guarantee which means your panels are guaranteed to produce at least 80% of the rated output for 25 years.

SMA Inverter: 5 years manufacturer’s warranty plus 5 year extended warranty if purchased

Installation: 5 year installation warranty on all cables, mounts, racks, switches and connections.

Do the company’s solar panels, inverter and mounting brackets meet international and Australian Standards?

The CEC provides strict standards that all solar panels, inverters and mounting brackets must meet in Australia. You can rest assured that Springers Solar only recommends and uses premium products based on the CEC guidelines and personal factory visits to international companies.

Does the company have an established track record and a good reputation?

Springers Solar is a Queensland based family business and we have been operating for over ten years. We take pride in everything that we and ensure that we only employ well qualified, friendly, trained specialists to assist with your specific needs.

We have installed thousands of residential solar systems across Queensland as well as many larger commercial enterprises and Government schools

Is the company using CEC accredited designers and installers?

Brian, Joe and Eddie Springer are all Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited installers and have fulfilled the requirements of the CEC for design and installation of grid connect and stand-alone solar power systems with batteries for remote areas.

We have a fully licences electrical division to ensure that your system is installed professional and to the set standards. Our supervisor is a qualified ‘Building Construction Manager’ whilst our other employees have many years’ experience working within the industry.

Is the company a member of the Clean Energy Council?

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) represents Australia’s clean energy sector. Springers Solar is a member of the CEC and of the CEC code of conduct, which outlines the best practice standards and guidelines for the industry. CEC accreditation ensures your solar system is designed and installed by experts who meet the industry standards. Visit the Clean Energy Council for more information