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Old 08-16-2018, 07:48 PM   #21
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Recently took delivery of my new Travato GL. I did have one big problem with the Volta system that I've described in this lengthy blog post.

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To summarize, we were not getting any charging from the second alternator. I go into the details on how we got it working and some pics from repair day.
Am I correct that the four diodes you describe are external to the BMU? Are they standard silicons or Zeners? Were they all defective and if so, were they shorted or open? Are they part of a transient suppression network or just operating as in line rectifiers?

You indicate that swapping out the BMU provided lift off. But this begs the question of why the original BMU responded to your computer interrogation that it was operating normally?
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Old 08-16-2018, 08:01 PM   #22
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From the Tesla model X owner's manual: Similar chemistry, I think.




For better long-term performance, avoid
exposing Model X to ambient temperatures
a above 140 F (60 C) or below -22 F (-30 C)
for more than 24 hours at a time.






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Old 08-16-2018, 08:29 PM   #23
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Definitely good writup, bummer on having the issue, though.


One thingcthis this does point out is the potential weakness of the "all in one box" type systems compared to traditional discreet components. This has been discussed here a couple of times in the past. If an all in one fails, you can be out of luck until you can get a skilled in that system repair person on it. Proprietary stuff can be even harder to find qualified help. With the discreet components, lots of places can replace an alternator and regulator, solar controller, or shore charger, and you would be very unlikely to lose more than one at at any given time.


I really like the Volta setup so I hope Wincrasher's issues have just been growing pains and other systems will have better luck. Roadtrek has already proven how frustrating it can be for owners to have repeated problems with their high tech systems and I can only hope that others don't have similar problems.
This incident prompts me to reconsider the pros and cons of the three systems currently in production: Roadtrek Etrek, Xantrex and Volta.
On paper, Xantrex is a design improvement on Etrek and Volta is an improvement on Xantrex. But the logistical consequences involved in the event of system failure varies dramatically for these systems.

Judging from Wincrasher's report, there is currently no technical support from WGO for Volta problems and it appears that prospectively the repair process involves dropping the entire module from the coach, freighting this 250 pound module back to Volta and waiting for it to be shipped back. This means a best case scenario of a week to ten days during what presumably is a vacation trip.

The repair process for the Xantrex system offered by Coachmen seems less onerous because their battery/BMS and inverter are above chassis and probably easier to address and if necessary, remove and replace. There are also 18 Xantrex service depots scattered throughout CONUS.

The Etrek system is the earliest and at this point, the least technically advanced of the three with engineering that approaches the archaic because each battery has a discrete BMS which makes accurate monitoring the SOC of the entire next to impossible. But paradoxically, in the event of a battery or BMS failure, this shortcoming turns into a virtue at least with respect to trip interruption because all the other batteries continue to function and deliver power permitting you to choose when and where you will have the problem addressed.
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Old 08-16-2018, 10:51 PM   #24
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This incident prompts me to reconsider the pros and cons of the three systems currently in production: Roadtrek Etrek, Xantrex and Volta.
On paper, Xantrex is a design improvement on Etrek and Volta is an improvement on Xantrex. But the logistical consequences involved in the event of system failure varies dramatically for these systems.

Judging from Wincrasher's report, there is currently no technical support from WGO for Volta problems and it appears that prospectively the repair process involves dropping the entire module from the coach, freighting this 250 pound module back to Volta and waiting for it to be shipped back. This means a best case scenario of a week to ten days during what presumably is a vacation trip.

The repair process for the Xantrex system offered by Coachmen seems less onerous because their battery/BMS and inverter are above chassis and probably easier to address and if necessary, remove and replace. There are also 18 Xantrex service depots scattered throughout CONUS.

The Etrek system is the earliest and at this point, the least technically advanced of the three with engineering that approaches the archaic because each battery has a discrete BMS which makes accurate monitoring the SOC of the entire next to impossible. But paradoxically, in the event of a battery or BMS failure, this shortcoming turns into a virtue at least with respect to trip interruption because all the other batteries continue to function and deliver power permitting you to choose when and where you will have the problem addressed.
Bear in mind these are very early days for the Volta systems in Winnebago. They've been shipping only about a month. It will take time to develop expertise in the dealerships and I'm sure they will probably refine how they handle issues depending on how problematic these systems are.

Also consider that I'm the only one I know of having problems.

Their history with the Prevost coaches probably led them to believe providing systems to WGO would not be problematic. The folks I talked with at Volta said that mostly they see loose wiring connections, or damaged wires by the installer as their common problems.

Also note that their answer to my problems was to send a technician to ME, and schedule it at MY convenience. I think that says alot.

I would also offer that if something goes wrong with your Lithionics battery and it's internal BMS, that unit would also be removed and returned for Lithionics for repair or replacement. That could be problematic as well. They build each unit by hand and to order, so they don't have any inventory sitting on shelves either.
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:12 PM   #25
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Also note that their answer to my problems was to send a technician to ME, and schedule it at MY convenience. I think that says alot.

I would also offer that if something goes wrong with your Lithionics battery and it's internal BMS, that unit would also be removed and returned for Lithionics for repair or replacement. That could be problematic as well. They build each unit by hand and to order, so they don't have any inventory sitting on shelves either.

At least in the short term, sending the techs out to fix failures will probably be their only choice, as they won't want the complaints about long downtimes, as has been mentioned. Once they get more units out, that may become impractical and too expensive to do and they would need to do something different like have more external trained techs by region or such.


The comment on the Lithionics is spot on, as is also what I was referring to in the earlier post as one of the "all in one" units we are starting to see. Roadtrek and ARV are also in that group, and I am sure there will be more to come. It may turn out that the best systems will not sell as well as some lesser ones, if they don't handle the problems as well and quickly as the lesser systems. One could probably compare the service end of the all in one systems to the ongoing discussions we always hear about on Sprinters concerning how few places there are to get them fixed. Those kind of issues seem to get a lot of interest and concern, and Sprinters have way, way, more places to get fixed than the new electrical systems so.


I am sure there will be some growing pains, but hopefully it will all get resolved a lot quicker and better than Roadtrek has been able to do.


It will be a real PITA if all the new flux capacitors are on backorder when you need one
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Old 08-16-2018, 11:54 PM   #26
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Bear in mind these are very early days for the Volta systems in Winnebago. They've been shipping only about a month. It will take time to develop expertise in the dealerships and I'm sure they will probably refine how they handle issues depending on how problematic these systems are.

Also consider that I'm the only one I know of having problems.

Their history with the Prevost coaches probably led them to believe providing systems to WGO would not be problematic. The folks I talked with at Volta said that mostly they see loose wiring connections, or damaged wires by the installer as their common problems.

Also note that their answer to my problems was to send a technician to ME, and schedule it at MY convenience. I think that says alot.

I would also offer that if something goes wrong with your Lithionics battery and it's internal BMS, that unit would also be removed and returned for Lithionics for repair or replacement. That could be problematic as well. They build each unit by hand and to order, so they don't have any inventory sitting on shelves either.
I think it's at least debatable whether a typical purchaser of s 59G would get the red carpet treatment you did which IMO happened only when they identified you as prominently involved with and influential in the class B world. I don't think that Joe Six-pak would have been treated with the level of deference you both deserved and enjoyed.

There's no resemblance between the building logistics of Prevost and WGO who cranks out their stuff in the thousands while Prevost builds probably a hundred or so units with multi million dollar price tags that undoubtedly can underwrite a stringent Q&A process that WGO production couldn't emulate.

Your point is taken that your experience is a statistical outlier but it doesn't mitigate my concern about the generally underappreciated distinction between a passenger vehicle used around home and an RV that is likely to travel thousands of miles away from home. If your car has problems, in the worst case it's a tow truck away from being repaired locally and while some failure might indeed screw up your whole day, it's still one day. However, the same failure in an RV thousands of miles from home at best puts you at the mercy of facilities about which you know nothing and at worst involves time delsys that effectively trashes an entire vacation. Consequently, your experience has made me more appreciative of the Etrek's redundant design. And I'm not just talking theory. I have a four battery Eco800 system and recently one of the batteries or its BMS failed during a trip. But the other 3 batteries plugged on and the trip was uninterrupted and I was able to subsequently have the failure diagnosed and schedule the battery replacement at our convenience.
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Old 08-17-2018, 12:07 AM   #27
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I would also offer that if something goes wrong with your Lithionics battery and it's internal BMS, that unit would also be removed and returned for Lithionics for repair or replacement. That could be problematic as well. They build each unit by hand and to order, so they don't have any inventory sitting on shelves either.
The insistence by the designers to physically integrate the BMS with the batteries confounds me. The power relays have to be physically located with the battery but the signal components in the BMS could be remotely located permitting plug and play replacement.
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:22 AM   #28
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The insistence by the designers to physically integrate the BMS with the batteries confounds me. The power relays have to be physically located with the battery but the signal components in the BMS could be remotely located permitting plug and play replacement.
Don't they place a current, voltage and temperature sensor on every cell?
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Old 08-17-2018, 01:41 AM   #29
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Don't they place a current, voltage and temperature sensor on every cell?
I confess to total ignorance of how these batteries and their management systems are constructed.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:19 AM   #30
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Don't they place a current, voltage and temperature sensor on every cell?
Yes they do.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:22 AM   #31
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There's no resemblance between the building logistics of Prevost and WGO who cranks out their stuff in the thousands while Prevost builds probably a hundred or so units with multi million dollar price tags that undoubtedly can underwrite a stringent Q&A process that WGO production couldn't emulate.

I would disagree. The systems they install in Prevost as well as ARV are essentially the same. It's just a matter of the variance of the battery capacity. My point being that they feel they have a good track record with those installs and know the usual issues, if any, with them.

WGO isn't building thousands of these either. Of course they will build more than ARV, but it's still an expensive option on a value line coach, so the numbers are probably a few hundred a year.
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:27 AM   #32
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The insistence by the designers to physically integrate the BMS with the batteries confounds me. The power relays have to be physically located with the battery but the signal components in the BMS could be remotely located permitting plug and play replacement.
I don't really understand why it confounds you. It's how all of them do it. Probably due to wanting short signal cabling. BMS is not a user serviceable part, no more than the battery is.

That said, Lithionics does have an outboard BMS on some of their packages. But it's still mounted on the top of the battery - the module is designed so that you can daisy chain individual batteries and use a central BMS, not because they intend to make it easy for the user to open it up and do something inside of it. You still be dead in the water if it failed.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:52 AM   #33
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I don't really understand why it confounds you. It's how all of them do it. Probably due to wanting short signal cabling. BMS is not a user serviceable part, no more than the battery is.

That said, Lithionics does have an outboard BMS on some of their packages. But it's still mounted on the top of the battery - the module is designed so that you can daisy chain individual batteries and use a central BMS, not because they intend to make it easy for the user to open it up and do something inside of it. You still be dead in the water if it failed.
I don't really understand why it doesn't confound you. You're the guy that had to have a vehicle jacked up on a lift and have a ten thousand dollar 250 pound battery slowly wrestled to the ground to ultimately replace a 300 dollar physically integrated management module to get liftoff and then had to lift the whole thing back in place. Volta warranties the battery and BMS but unless the work is done at a WGO facility, who foots the labor cost?

I never suggested that the BMS was serviceable but IMO having to go through the bulls**t process you described to just replace the management module is lunacy and the more I think about it, the happier I am with our antiquated Etrek kludge.

I also notice that you haven't squared the BMS failure with the computer diagnosis that indicated that all was wunderbar.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:14 AM   #34
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I would disagree. The systems they install in Prevost as well as ARV are essentially the same. It's just a matter of the variance of the battery capacity. My point being that they feel they have a good track record with those installs and know the usual issues, if any, with them.

WGO isn't building thousands of these either. Of course they will build more than ARV, but it's still an expensive option on a value line coach, so the numbers are probably a few hundred a year.
Perhaps I made myself understood which unfortunately isn't all that unusual. The quality of the Volta hardware is most likely identical for the Prevost and the Travato but there is likely a difference in the installation and the testing protocol. I've only been in a couple of Prevost coaches but they were works of art compared to the WGO build quality because it was clear that Prevost spares no expense in their production. I'll hazard the guess that on the Prevost you can quickly access the Volta battery on a beefy slideout tray rather than the sturm und drang you experienced with your Travato and that Prevost makes damn sure it's all up to snuff before it leaves the plant.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:15 AM   #35
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I don't really understand why it doesn't confound you. You're the guy that had to have a vehicle jacked up on a lift and have a ten thousand dollar 250 pound battery slowly wrestled to the ground to ultimately replace a 300 dollar physically integrated management module to get liftoff and then had to lift the whole thing back in place. Volta warranties the battery and BMS but unless the work is done at a WGO facility, who foots the labor cost?

I never suggested that the BMS was serviceable but IMO having to go through the bulls**t process you described to just replace the management module is lunacy and the more I think about it, the happier I am with our antiquated Etrek kludge.

I also notice that you haven't squared the BMS failure with the computer diagnosis that indicated that all was wunderbar.
There is nothing to square. The device was faulty, but not failed so far to be non-functional. Sometimes that's how it goes with computers. It ain't a simple ROM we are talking about.

But you are awfully hostile for someone with no skin in this game. I'm the one that shelled out $100k for this and went thru the ordeal I shared with you. You see me diving off the deep end? I understand the design compromises you make with a system like this. I think, in my case, we had a failure that wasn't detected before it left the factory. Maybe it will lead to changes in their test procedures, I don't know, but they don't strike me as the types that blow off these things. Now that it's fixed, I doubt we'll be busting open the battery pack again.

FWIW, my technician texted me today to see how I was doing. His next stop was to go to Pheonix to deal with another system problem. When he got there, it was just a matter of operator error - there was nothing wrong with it. Time will tell if going on boondoggles like that will cause WGO to get their poop in a group on dealer training.
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Old 08-17-2018, 04:16 AM   #36
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Perhaps I made myself understood which unfortunately isn't all that unusual. The quality of the Volta hardware is most likely identical for the Prevost and the Travato but there is likely a difference is in the installation and the testing protocol. I've only been in a couple of Prevost coaches but they were works of art compared to the WGO build quality because it was clear that Prevost spares no expense in their production. I'll hazard the guess that on the Prevost you can quickly access the Volta battery on a beefy slideout tray rather than the sturm und drang you experienced with your Travato and that Prevost makes damn sure it's all up to snuff before it leaves the plant.
Well they probably paid alot more for the system as well. Compromises have to be made to fit things in a Class B and meet a price point, no?
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Old 08-17-2018, 02:01 PM   #37
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FWIW, I'm running an experiment today.

All items are off except the Volta system. Off course there are parasitic loads from items such as the CO detector and the Stereo. But everything that can be switched off is off.

The Volta system is on and should just idle.

We'll see if the solar maintains the battery or not. I charged up on shore power last nite, so we are sitting at 90%. I suspect, that since WGO used a 160 and a 40 watt panels (Zamp, crap I know), the output is nil. Turns out Volta provides the solar controller, but WGO provides the panels.

Another FWIW, I got the following in an email last nite from a Volta guy:

"The situation with your system could only be caused by the incorrect voltage being applied to that circuit. We are not 100% certain on how the wrong connection was made since the harnesses are 100% tested with automation and Winnebago is looking at their process and end of line quality checks to prevent this from happening again. This is why John was looking for damaged or reworked wiring."
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:10 PM   #38
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I'm following this with great interest and hope you will keep posting. We opted for Onan and wet cells, primarily on a cost basis. And although I'm mostly satisfied, as the tech improves, I can see a day where I might want to move to battery power. Thanks for your insights.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:24 PM   #39
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I'm following this with great interest and hope you will keep posting. We opted for Onan and wet cells, primarily on a cost basis. And although I'm mostly satisfied, as the tech improves, I can see a day where I might want to move to battery power. Thanks for your insights.
Agree. Since I've found wet-cells and Onan generator are adequate for me, I'm happy to sit back and let the lithium/engine generator technology mature (and more importantly come down in price).

That said, I'm anxiously following windchaser's experience and how he likes the Volta. I definitely want something similar in the future. RV technology must keep pace with the times, and the 48-volt system seems a big step forward.
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Old 08-17-2018, 07:39 PM   #40
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But you are awfully hostile for someone with no skin in this game. I'm the one that shelled out $100k for this and went thru the ordeal I shared with you. You see me diving off the deep end? I understand the design compromises you make with a system like this. I think, in my case, we had a failure that wasn't detected before it left the factory. Maybe it will lead to changes in their test procedures, I don't know, but they don't strike me as the types that blow off these things. Now that it's fixed, I doubt we'll be busting open the battery pack again.
I don't feel hostile as much as experiencing increased concerns about whether an admittedly superior design may end up adversely impacted by compromises in execution causing a lot of grief for the owner. Volta has historically been installed in high end coaches like the Prevost and there is probably convenient access to the battery and BMS in the event of problems. IMO, taking a similar system and cramming it under chassis with no practical access short of dropping it to the deck is a different ball of wax.

Does the control panel meter permit interrogating charging voltage or is it limited to expressing state of charge?
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