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Old 05-21-2020, 12:10 PM   #1
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Default Better late than never!

Purchased a 2015 E-Trek 5 years ago and bookmarked this site with the intention of joining, but life got in the way.

Fortunately not in the way of spending time on the road - 60,000 miles now on the E-Trek traveling between Boston, where we had our first granddaughter; San Diego, where we went exploring for the best fish tacos; Denver, where we have two sons living and where we called home for a time; and Phoenix and Cleveland where we call home now depending on the time of year.

Purchased the E-Trek because I liked the all electric strategy. Yes I was disappointed by the real AC run time! Yes, I've had the MB "check engine light" Emissions System meltdown. But still a smile on my face and our grandson loves to see "Pop Pop's Truc Truc" pull into the drive.
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Old 05-21-2020, 02:35 PM   #2
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Hey Pop Pop,


Welcome!


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Old 05-21-2020, 03:39 PM   #3
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Yes, welcome to the forum Johnny!
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Old 05-31-2020, 12:24 AM   #4
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Quote:
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Purchased a 2015 E-Trek 5 years ago and bookmarked this site with the intention of joining, but life got in the way.

Fortunately not in the way of spending time on the road - 60,000 miles now on the E-Trek traveling between Boston, where we had our first granddaughter; San Diego, where we went exploring for the best fish tacos; Denver, where we have two sons living and where we called home for a time; and Phoenix and Cleveland where we call home now depending on the time of year.

Purchased the E-Trek because I liked the all electric strategy. Yes I was disappointed by the real AC run time! Yes, I've had the MB "check engine light" Emissions System meltdown. But still a smile on my face and our grandson loves to see "Pop Pop's Truc Truc" pull into the drive.

Welcome BACK so the ADVENTURES have begun cool. I am wondering about two things with electricity. RANGE and my biggest question are about, once you stop to what POWER UP, CHARGE UP how long will it take. Now I'm wondering your approximant weight or total load your moving? Thanks well sir enjoy the road and the coming adventures of your life.
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Old 05-31-2020, 01:48 AM   #5
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So the Sprinter has an all Diesel engine and range on 22 gals is about 400 mi. Usually I go through 2 fill ups a day if I am in a hurry. During that time the engine mounted generator charges up the 8 AGM batteries which are enough to run all of the house electric functions with the exception of extended run on time for the AC or the Oven.

The Diesel / Electric combination was diesel for driving and onboard batteries for house functions with no propane or auxiliary generator. Did not mean to imply a diesel / electric hybrid for driving.
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Old 06-12-2020, 12:04 PM   #6
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Default Battery Reading Low

Test of posting a picture.
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Old 06-12-2020, 01:01 PM   #7
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Does the battery % slowly increase when you run the van's engine or plug the coach into grid power or does it rapidly show a higher battery % ?
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Old 06-12-2020, 02:42 PM   #8
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This was a picture from 5 years ago when I first purchased the E-Trek. I uploaded it to post as an illustration to the recent thread asking for input on purchasing a 2015 E-Trek. It was to illustrate that if the poster went ahead with the purchase they should do a better job than I did to understand the electrical system!

In my defense, I am not sure anyone understood the electrical system at that point, even Roadtrek!

In answer to your question, slowly on shore power and I have not tried it with the engine running as the back doors have to be open and exhaust gets into the van.

I have learned to avoid this situation, but I expect it would direct relate to the charging source and battery absorption rate at the time. The reason it is difficult to tell is that if plugged in to shore power the display changes to "Bank 1" and shows a completely different state of charge. To charge from shore power and checking "Bank 2" status you have to unplug shore power! "Checking the Pot" like this is something I haven't done frequently.


This dual bank difference is confusing to new owners who may not be familiar with the inverter and battery system. It was definitely not familiar to the sales rep who gave me my orientation. It likely creates many situations for new owners which is harmful to battery life.

One can be at 52% state of charge on the Bank 2 reading and the Bank 1 reading, which is mirrored in the idiot lights above the slider, show "Full Batteries" and DC power work fine until the CO detector starts beeping due to low DC power. By that time one is way under the recommended discharge level for the AGMs.

If this happens when one has plugged the unit in to shore power in storage and the shore power GFI trips the inverter will in short order deplete the batteries. If one has, as instructed, turned the Battery Connect switch "On" before connecting to shore power the DC load will continue despite the inverter shutting down at it's 52% low power setting. If no one is there to hear the CO detector beeping batteries can be harmed as it appears there is no DC load low power shut off.

This situation could often happen when boondocking, or setting the AC on for pets and leaving, etc.

I created this harmful low battery situation within the first month of owning the E-Trek. Fortunately it was never in an unattended situation. Others might have as well. Not sure if a balancer corrects the difference between the two readings or just makes it take longer to happen.
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:01 AM   #9
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Thanks for sharing
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:29 AM   #10
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Johnny - does your E-trek have a Balancer / Equalizer installed to get 12v from 24v?
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Old 06-20-2020, 02:04 PM   #11
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At the moment I do not have a balancer installed.

I am generally not a big user of social media and so was unaware of the discussion related to getting a balancer installed. My battery life had never made it to the "A" list on things that I was working on and, as a new RV owner, I had pretty much accepted that limited 110v use was par for the course and I always seemed to have plenty of 12v current available.

At this point I have 8, 2 year old Lifeline batteries in some stage of neglect. I have started the process to get a battery monitor installed to understand how bad the situation is. The batteries are two years old because, at that time, I had parked the unit while I needed to deal with some health issues and had left the battery connect switch "On" by mistake toasting the originals.

If I need to replace all of the batteries I might try a different configuration, from the 8 6v AGMs, which might replace the battery balancer with a DC-DC charger. At this point I expect the existing batteries have suffered some level of damage. I am somewhat curious as to what the extent of that is. I am then curious as to how much applying an "Equalizing" charge would repair. Given that this should be done every 3-4 weeks I am not expecting much, but it would be interesting to see.

Interestingly enough both the ZLPower charger/inverter and the ProVista solar controller can be programmed to deliver close to the 30v equalizing charge needed for the two series strings of 4x6v. Lifeline recommends an 8 hour equalization charge. AMP flow should be relatively minor given that the batteries are supposed to start this process with a full charge.

I am hoping to nurse the existing batteries along for another year and experiment on them so that I have a better process and knowledge to care for their replacements when I fully understand what I need to do and have a better plan for going forward.
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Old 06-20-2020, 02:17 PM   #12
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At the moment I do not have a balancer installed.

I am generally not a big user of social media and so was unaware of the discussion related to getting a balancer installed. My battery life had never made it to the "A" list on things that I was working on and, as a new RV owner, I had pretty much accepted that limited 110v use was par for the course and I always seemed to have plenty of 12v current available.

At this point I have 8, 2 year old Lifeline batteries in some stage of neglect. I have started the process to get a battery monitor installed to understand how bad the situation is. The batteries are two years old because, at that time, I had parked the unit while I needed to deal with some health issues and had left the battery connect switch "On" by mistake toasting the originals.

If I need to replace all of the batteries I might try a different configuration, from the 8 6v AGMs, which might replace the battery balancer with a DC-DC charger. At this point I expect the existing batteries have suffered some level of damage. I am somewhat curious as to what the extent of that is. I am then curious as to how much applying an "Equalizing" charge would repair. Given that this should be done every 3-4 weeks I am not expecting much, but it would be interesting to see.

Interestingly enough both the ZLPower charger/inverter and the ProVista solar controller can be programmed to deliver close to the 30v equalizing charge needed for the two series strings of 4x6v. Lifeline recommends an 8 hour equalization charge. AMP flow should be relatively minor given that the batteries are supposed to start this process with a full charge.

I am hoping to nurse the existing batteries along for another year and experiment on them so that I have a better process and knowledge to care for their replacements when I fully understand what I need to do and have a better plan for going forward.

On an etrek with 8 AGMs, the monitor will get to be and issue because the system has more than one ground connection, and you need a common ground to use for most monitors. IIRC one ground is at the rear batteries and another under the hood. You can get at least one monitor that can go into the positive side, but that would also need to be a single output, which I don't think is possible with the 12 and 24v outputs you have. I don't know if anyone has successfully figured out how to monitor an etrek system without modifying the system itself.


I think that one possible solution would be to not go with the balancer at all, and switch the system to a pure 24v setup, with the 12v running off a 24v to 12v converter. That would keep all of it in balance well and also resolve monitoring the system with normal battery monitor systems. The cost for the converter would likely be close to the cost of the balancer, but you would have more wiring work with the switch to 24v.
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Old 06-20-2020, 02:53 PM   #13
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Dogman, thanks for your kind post.

I need to correct what I shared, as I posted an impression which I now know is wrong. The ZLPower monitor does not show a "Bank 1" and "Bank 2" it is "Mode 1" and "Mode 2". I now have a copy of the ZLPower information sheet. Unfortunately I was given a TripLite Owners document when I purchased the E-Trek and could not figure out why the information did not match because there were no product markings other than "Roadtrek" on the OEM inverter charger. Sad.

The battery status lights above the sliding door come from a different voltmeter totally unconnected to the ZLPower. The tolerance bands on this are so broad as to be relatively worthless.

The E-Trek instruction manual for "Coming Home" say "Plug in overnight to fully charge batteries". I recall the salesman saying "your batteries will probably be full already if you have driven 1-2 hours home".

The advice to "Plug in overnight to fully charge batteries" leaves the impression that the objective is to have fully charged batteries vs to achieve proper battery maintenance. What I started to do was check the battery reading over the slider and, if it showed "Full Batteries", I would park the RV in storage expecting that it was good to go for the next trip. The most convenient RV storage offered covered bays so that the solar panel did not get direct sun while parked. It also offered a GFI plug which served multipe units and was for a battery tender. It would trip if a charger / inverter was plugged in. The batteries might have been at 52% despite the reading over the slider showing "Full"!

The ZLPower does a two stage charge with no temperature adjustment. It does a bulk charge at 100% setting and holds this fast charge level for an absorption period which is 10x the time it took the batteries to come up to charge. The US AGM setting is at a 50 degree F level for Lifeline batteries. Float charging is then 97% of the fast / absorption level. Again, I am somewhat reading between the lines and inferring what is being displayed because the English translation of the Chinese document leaves something to be desired. It was the 100% reading which I was correlating with the "Full" battery display above the door given no user manual to explain what was going on!

The ZLPower will automatically repeat the fast, absorption hold, and float cycle every 10 days or whenever plugged in.

So, if someone "Plugs in overnight to fully charge and recondition batteries" and then parks in the direct sun or has reliable shore power the E-Trek systems should somewhat approximate good care of the batteries. All of this was dark to me because the need was not properly described. I am generally a reasonably intelligent person and like to take good care of the things I purchase, but clearly missed on this one. Others may have as well!
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Old 06-20-2020, 03:06 PM   #14
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Yes. Because of time constraints, and wanting to have a good coach as I make changes, I contacted the closest Vectron dealer to get help installing a monitor. I supplied him with a link to the discussions on this board re monitor install. Not sure if he accessed them.

He raised the concern about the two grounds and asked about perhaps repurposing the "Balancer" wire to create a common ground and achieve better readings. He also thought that the double ground might be contributing to the out of balance situation as well as interfering with readings. It appears to be the consensus that the "Balancer" wire is serving no other useful purpose and could be repurposed if that is the case. It seems like an interesting experiment anyway.
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Old 06-20-2020, 06:23 PM   #15
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I like the concept behind what you are suggesting. My priorities would be; always having rock solid 12v available for "life support", creating a smaller "unit of replacement" than all 8 batteries, improved fail-soft by less exposure to a single battery failure in a series string, safety for the batteries within my expected operating temperature zone, simplicity of install and operation, better support for the "fast discharge" demands of the 110v inverter, and, if possible, increased amp hours.

I am generally thinking that 6 12v batteries in the back in three parallel strings of sets of 2 in series. This keeps 24v but has a replaceable and fail-soft unit of 2. In the front either 2 12v in parallel or 2 6v in series depending if anything is salvageable from my current bank. I would use a DC-DC charger for the front batteries. The 12v load, disconnect switch and fuses could continue to come off of this set as God ordained.

I hope to never camp too long in sub freezing temperatures. Perhaps driving through zones in the teens, but generally operating between 40 and 110 degrees F. The question then becomes to spend the money and take the risk to experiment with drop in lithium in the back. I recognize the practical implications of this hybrid setup on generator, regulators, solar controller, etc. is way above my paygrade. That is why I reached out to a professional for help! I know I would need some way of disconnecting the unprotected lithium batteries in case of unavoidable cold weather. Perhaps finding a place to snuggle one 24v lithium inside would be possible for cold weather use.

I have resigned myself that I will never have as much current as I would like short of buying a Tesla Model X and flat towing it behind with an inverter bolted on!
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Old 06-20-2020, 07:01 PM   #16
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I like the concept behind what you are suggesting. My priorities would be; always having rock solid 12v available for "life support", creating a smaller "unit of replacement" than all 8 batteries, improved fail-soft by less exposure to a single battery failure in a series string, safety for the batteries within my expected operating temperature zone, simplicity of install and operation, better support for the "fast discharge" demands of the 110v inverter, and, if possible, increased amp hours.

I am generally thinking that 6 12v batteries in the back in three parallel strings of sets of 2 in series. This keeps 24v but has a replaceable and fail-soft unit of 2. In the front either 2 12v in parallel or 2 6v in series depending if anything is salvageable from my current bank. I would use a DC-DC charger for the front batteries. The 12v load, disconnect switch and fuses could continue to come off of this set as God ordained.

I hope to never camp too long in sub freezing temperatures. Perhaps driving through zones in the teens, but generally operating between 40 and 110 degrees F. The question then becomes to spend the money and take the risk to experiment with drop in lithium in the back. I recognize the practical implications of this hybrid setup on generator, regulators, solar controller, etc. is way above my paygrade. That is why I reached out to a professional for help! I know I would need some way of disconnecting the unprotected lithium batteries in case of unavoidable cold weather. Perhaps finding a place to snuggle one 24v lithium inside would be possible for cold weather use.

I have resigned myself that I will never have as much current as I would like short of buying a Tesla Model X and flat towing it behind with an inverter bolted on!

If you are not going the be running air conditioning or other high use items, you may want to consider whether or not you really need 800ah of capacity. You currently are surviving on much less than that on the 12v side, but how much would use on 24v side which would be running the 110v items you use. Most of us don't use lots of 110v power but if you have an electric cooktop, use hairdryers, microwave a lot, etc you could use quite a bit of the 24v power available.



I mention this as an extension of your comment about six 12v batteries the rear in in three 24v strings. A similar suggestion was made in an older etrek discussion about using six 8v batteries in two series strings in the rear. Eliminating the front batteries would have some big benefits as they are in a bad spot of the system, at the ends of very long cables that mismatch resistances a lot and a very hot environment that is very hard on the AGM batteries.


Finding batteries to fit the rear case other than the 6v GC batteries is tough, and probably very hard to do with 12v batteries. The 8v batteries are GC batteries so would fit.


With your desire to have backup capacity in reserve "just in case", if you can survive on 600ah at 12v of batteries just in the rear case, you could probably get all of your wish list pretty easily. You would have one common ground so any monitor would work without any oddness. You would have two strings of 24v 300ah at 12v batteries that could be put on an A-B-both selector switch to send power to the 24 to 12v converter you would add. Wire side A of the switch to one bank and the 24v loads, wire side B to the other bank. If you use up the power in bank B while it is running 12v stuff, you can switch over and run off the 24v load side bank. If you are having trouble with the inverter draining the 24v side batteries, you can turn it off and still have 12v power to the coach, but no AC power.
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Old 06-20-2020, 08:52 PM   #17
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All good thoughts and very appreciated. One of the considerations would be physical housing.

We are living within the constraints of 110v because we know it is limited. Running AC is a desire for two reasons. One is midday naps while making the 8 hour drive to where are grandkids are. Especially during a hot, humid northeast midsummer day. The other is cooling off a group at a trailhead or tailgate etc.

On long drives I would be generating plenty of current to get some AC midday. Right now this is just spilling along the roadway. For tailgating, etc. charge-up would be at home. The Roadtrek is like being under a hot tin roof in the wrong weather and the chassis AC does not reach very well to the second row of seats, let alone the back. Diesel sprinters can be expensive to idle for AC given the emissions issues. Agree that when we can stay in champagne weather the 110v would be overkill! Year around southern residents would share my pain.

I know this is expensive for a midday nap, but so would be an accident from a drowsy driver.

I am hoping that batteries like these continue to be introduced and refined.

https://deepcyclebatterystore.com/ba...-cart-battery/

I would prefer individual battery BMS. Intelligent, redundant, self healing, designed more like the internet, less like the telephone company.
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Old 06-22-2020, 01:57 AM   #18
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Default Climbing back towards the trunk on Lithium

One of my faults is to dream ahead of how I would like things to be and then grudgingly give ground as I research to find out how things really are.

This should be required reading for people considering upgrading to Lithium:

https://marinehowto.com/lifepo4-batteries-on-boats/

I likely will not be able to coax another 2-3 years out of my existing batteries while the "Drop In" products continue to mature. That leaves the three choices of installing a balancer with the existing compromised wiring, or doing some rewiring for the "split 6 volts" described by GSM, or the "six 8 volts" described by Booster in the "installing a battery monitor" thread.

These great ideas were described 5 years ago. Has anyone tried them or has everyone gone the balancer route? Since I don't have a balancer and since, without a warranty it's my nickel, I find these two approaches appealing.
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:08 AM   #19
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Lifeline Battery Guru, InHouse at Concorde Batteries, the patent company of Lifeline = Andrew Finkelstein (909) 599-7816

Talk with Andrew, the guy knows his stuff & he loves helping owners, find solutions, with the best Batteries in the world, next to Victron.

PS. I think he mentioned to me, I know he did that with 12 volt AGMs, Equalization was 4 hours at 15.5 - might be different for your needs

Bay Marine & Supply = Alan (619) 320-5899 - Electrical Guru & Victron Distributor in San Diego - knows his stuff
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Old 06-22-2020, 11:03 AM   #20
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........................ Has anyone tried them or has everyone gone the balancer route? Since I don't have a balancer and since, without a warranty it's my nickel, I find these two approaches appealing.
Most seem to end up with adding a Cooper Bussmann Battery Equalizer - this model number has been mentioned on the forum:

21060E00 Battery Equalizer

It was an owner and not RT that came up with the solution as far as I know. Maybe reach out to Hal Devera to see if anything has changed over the years - https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...tml#post104841
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