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Batteries die in 10 minutes


WinWiz

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Hi guys,

 

I recently bought a Pure Freedom van-mounted system and I'm having some problems.

Here's some of the specification:

- Two pumps for a two-man operation

- Fast Fill Pump

- Two Leisure Batteries

- 9kw Isothermal heater

 

My problem is, I'm trying to use it for the first time and the system doesn't seem usable. I charge the batteries up full and it comes up as 13.2v.

Then I activate the pump for a one-man job and the battery drops at a rate that tells me it wouldn't even last two hours.

And if I run the fast fill pump as well (starting at 13.2v), it drops to 12.2v within 20 minutes.

And if I try the 9kw heater (with fast fill pump off) and both pumps for a two-man job on (starting at 13.2v), it drops to 12.2v within 10 minutes.

 

Have Pure Freedom fitted a non-functioning system? Or have I just been unlucky with some bad batteries? Or am I doing something wrong?

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A fully charged leisure battery will record a voltage drop like you suggested. If you let the battery stand idle for a couple of hours you will find the battery voltage will go up a bit. I have a 110 amph leisure battery and it records 12.8v when the battery has been on charge all night.

 

If I run the pump doing a few hours work, I will see that the voltage across the battery will be just below 12v. It will take about 4 hours of lying idle before a voltage reading will tell you of the battery's exact level of charge - around 12.6v.

 

If you are running a split charge relay you will find that the battery will show a higher voltage when you switch the engine off, sometimes around 13.9 volts or slightly higher. It will then slowly drop.

 

The Varistream we use will flash low battery at 11.5v and will kick the controller off at 10.3v as the battery is deemed flat at that voltage.

 

When you decide that you are going to use the diesel heater, it has been suggested by Purefreedom that you start the heater with the van engine running before you travel to your first customer. (Obviously if you have a long way to drive then stop along the way before you reach your customer.) The vans alternator will supply the initial power needed to start the heater and it will be nice and hot for you when you start your first house. That will help preserve the charge in the battery.

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Thanks Spruce.

Yes I do have a split-charge relay and a diesel heater.

 

Sounds like I can't rely much on the point-in-time voltage reading then?

 

So are you saying that I have nothing to worry about?

As long as I charge it every night, I'll have enough battery power for two men to work with hot water all day? And use fast-fill on site on a big commercial job? (I'd obviously plug the battery chargers on at the same time as I plug the fast fill pump in. I presume that's a good idea? The system doesn't mind having the batteries charged at the same time as the heater, fast fill & two pumps are running?)

 

Also, what damage would be done to the 2 pumps, fast fill pump and heater if the batteries get too low while they are running?

 

If I only fire the heater up when the van engine is running, is the van running in idle on my drive enough? Or does the alternator do a better job if the engine is being used more because it's being driven?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but I don't want to wreck a new system out of ignorance and I also don't want to get caught short halfway through a big job next week.

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And one other question: I can just about accept having to switch the engine on to spark up the heating system. But what about after that for the rest of the day? I can't leave my van running on-site while I use the hot water.

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When you have a new system then its natural to worry about things you think could be a problem. This is a typical example. You need to trust the system and use it is my recommendation.

 

Purefreedom use controllers supplied by Spring and they also have low voltage cut outs. The cutout is designed to ensure that you don't kill the battery. After the Varistream we use cuts the power to the pump at 10.3v, you will find if you let the battery stand for 4 hours, it would 'recover' to about 12.1/12.2 volts.

 

The controllers help to economise on power the pumps consume. At the flow we run, our Shurflo pumps use about 3.5amp per hour. So with 2 pumps running we can assume that both pumps will use about 8 amps an hour (adding about 10%.) So if you both worked for 8 hours each you would consume around 65amps. If you have a 110 amp h battery theoretically you will still have 45 amps left.

 

But you will probably find that your pumps will not have run for anywhere near 8 hours. On a big commercial job we would estimate about 75% tops on the glass, residential about 50% . If that is a fair estimate, then you both would have used about 48 amps which means you still have 62 amps left in the battery.

 

I have a volt and amp meter permanently connected to the leisure battery. I have found that the alternator supplies the same charge to the batteries whether the engine is idling of reving at 3000 rpm down the motorway. I run a Citroen Relay SWB but the same results were obtained when the guage was fitted to son in laws Ford Transit Connect T220 LWB.

 

I have an Eberspatcher diesel air heater in my van. It draws about 13 amps for a short period when the glowplug heats up to fire the heater. It probably draws this for about 30 secs before it drops back to 2.5 amps. I believe the Webasto 9KW diesel heater draws a similar amount. The alternator will supply enough power on engine idle to start the heater without drawing any current from the leisure battery.

 

I don't know how the 9kw diesel heater is setup for window cleaning. The 5kw Webasto heater is designed primarily as a block heater and will start delivering full heat until it reaches 74 degrees C when it goes onto half heat mode and switches off at 77 degrees.

 

If the water temperature starts to drop when the temp reaches 74 degrees when the heater kicks into reduced heat mode, then the full heat mode will be triggered once the water temp drops to 65 degrees.

The 9KW unit is preferred as is reduces to around 3rd heat output once full heat cycle has been achieved. This help to reduce the heater cycling (switching off and then having to start up again.)

 

The trick with the diesel heater is to keep the Webasto heater running. Cycling causes battery drainage and causes the inside chamber of the heater to coke up with carbon. Webasto heaters prefer road diesel - they don't like red diesel. However a heater working for 6 hours will use around 15 amps a day. If the heater has to restart 10 times then there will be another couple of amps consumed.

 

So charging both batteries every night should be more than sufficient.

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And one other question: I can just about accept having to switch the engine on to spark up the heating system. But what about after that for the rest of the day? I can't leave my van running on-site while I use the hot water.

 

I wouldn't leave the engine running whilst working. If it get stolen then there is every possibility insurance won't cover your loss. The batteries will be able to carry the load. Starting the heater first thing will just give the batteries a head start and you will have hot water on tap (well not quite as it takes a while for the water to get through 100 meters of delivery hose.)

 

My son and I had a large contract we both did off my van. Whilst the job took us about 3 hours each, we used a good 500 litres doing the job. The only time I ever had to run the engine to finish the job off was when the first leisure battery decided enough was enough. It was nearly 4 years old at that point. We have never had to run the engine since to complete a job.

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Thanks Spruce.

Yes I do have a split-charge relay and a diesel heater.

 

Sounds like I can't rely much on the point-in-time voltage reading then?

 

So are you saying that I have nothing to worry about?

As long as I charge it every night, I'll have enough battery power for two men to work with hot water all day? And use fast-fill on site on a big commercial job? (I'd obviously plug the battery chargers on at the same time as I plug the fast fill pump in. I presume that's a good idea? The system doesn't mind having the batteries charged at the same time as the heater, fast fill & two pumps are running?)

 

Also, what damage would be done to the 2 pumps, fast fill pump and heater if the batteries get too low while they are running?

 

If I only fire the heater up when the van engine is running, is the van running in idle on my drive enough? Or does the alternator do a better job if the engine is being used more because it's being driven?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but I don't want to wreck a new system out of ignorance and I also don't want to get caught short halfway through a big job next week.

 

 

You won't do any damage to the pumps if you run them on a lower voltage. I see no problem with a battery charger working whilst the system is in operation but I would check this out with PF.

 

You are right, a battery needs to rest for about 4 hours to get an accurate reading of the batteries condition and even then may not be totally accurate. (Full battery = 12.7v or higher. 75% fully charged battery = 12.5v. 50% charged = 12.4v. 25% charged = 12.2v. 12v or under = fully discharged.

 

Pure Freedom should have gone through this with you in great detail whilst you were waiting around having your system fitted.

 

Just get stuck in and use it. If there are any issues you find, then contact PF and ask for their advise.

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I should also have added. Your batteries will be less efficient during the winter months, but even considering this you have more than enough power in reserve.

The current battery I have on my van is over 3 years old and I charge it every couple of days as we do minimal mileage a day - tops 10 minutes to work, 5 minutes moving van and 10 minutes drive home. At best this will put 2.5 to 3 amps back into the battery via the van's alternator.

 

I don't ever recall the battery charger's guage reporting the battery below 50% charged in the 3 years its been in service even during the cold winter.

 

I also should add that you should always keep your vans fuel tank above 1/4 if you are using the van's tank to supply the heater with diesel.

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Thank you very much. You've been most helpful.

 

Sorry for my ignorance.... Road Diesel? Red Diesel? What's the difference?

 

The guys at PF fitted me a secondary diesel tank in the back of the van. So I don't have to worry about the 1/4 tank suggestion.

 

I won't have a problem with not having hot water on tap. The guys at PF fitted me a hose splitter on the inside of the van. So while my hose reel is still in the van, instead of plugging it on to the external port, I plug it onto an internal port. Then I put the hose end back in at the top of the tank. So the water heats up and gets pushed back into the tank. That completes the circle and the entire system is warmed up. That's the theory anyway. I stopped today when the voltage dropped suddenly.

 

I'll give it another go tomorrow based on the answers you gave me tonight and see if I get any further.

 

I'll post the result here either way - for all the other people that might end up reading this.

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Just go out a run your system for the whole day is my advice. If the batteries don't hold out then you have a cause for complaint. If the pumps cut out due to low battery charge, then leaving the engine idling in a controller security condition will give you sufficient current to keep both pumps working to finish the day.

 

Red diesel is agricultural diesel that has reduced government taxes. It is illegal to use it in road vehicles. They add red dye to it so the authorities can identify what diesel is being used if they pull you over on the side of the motorway and do a 'dip test'. However, it is perfectly legal to use it in diesel central heating systems and your Webasto heater. Farmers also use it in their farming equipment and they call it agricultural diesel.

 

If you do a search on the boat forums you will find that whilst a heater works perfectly well on the water with road diesel, the same heater doesn't do well when filling up at the pump at the marina. Boats are allowed to use red diesel. There is a window cleaner is our area who has converted a hot box to wfp use and buys red diesel from a local supplier whose customers are mainly the fishing industry. The roof of this cleaners van is black with soot from his exhaust that goes through the roof and ends about 6 inches above it.

 

According to Webasto the type of diesel found on Marinas was high in sulphur and a very poor grade of diesel. But it was pointed out on an earlier discussion on one of the forums that a farmer wouldn't jeopodise his million pound combine harvester by putting in a poor quality red diesel.

 

Someone on one of the forums said they purchased red diesel from their Morrisons outlet, but the Morrisons garages don't sell it where we live on the North East Coast.

 

One of the marine suppliers suggested that the Webasto ran well on kerosene, but this is not a recommendation supported by Webasto.

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Well you were right! Thankfully.

I did a big house with the Webasto 9kw on and the battery was fine.

I did the job on my own off the second pump.

 

I noticed that the water was warm for a while and then the temperature dropped quite a bit - to somewhere between 20-35 degrees Celsius. But when I went to the Webasto, it was saying a lot hotter than that around 70 degrees. I was imagining that the water was going to be a little warmer really. Am I missing something?

Where you refering to this scenario when you said this?:

If the water temperature starts to drop when the temp reaches 74 degrees when the heater kicks into reduced heat mode, then the full heat mode will be triggered once the water temp drops to 65 degrees.

The 9KW unit is preferred as is reduces to around 3rd heat output once full heat cycle has been achieved. This help to reduce the heater cycling (switching off and then having to start up again.)

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Well you were right! Thankfully.

I did a big house with the Webasto 9kw on and the battery was fine.

I did the job on my own off the second pump.

 

I noticed that the water was warm for a while and then the temperature dropped quite a bit - to somewhere between 20-35 degrees Celsius. But when I went to the Webasto, it was saying a lot hotter than that around 70 degrees. I was imagining that the water was going to be a little warmer really. Am I missing something?

Where you refering to this scenario when you said this?:

 

I'm afraid I don't know how the Isothermal heater works TBH. I'm almost certain that it will heat an internal water circuit which will have 1 or 2 plate water to water heat exchangers which will heat the water being pumped to your brush. Somewhere there must be a thermostatic control valve (mixer valve) that will allow you to raise the temperature of the water going to the brush.

It could look like this.

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/WEBASTO-or-EBERSPACHER-Instant-Hot-Water-Heat-Exchanger-with-Mixer-Valve-/271200647299?pt=UK_CarsParts_Vehicles_CommercialVehicleParts_SM&hash=item3f24d17883#ht_1017wt_1141

 

On the ebay unit you would adjust the output temperature using the black k *** on the mixer valve.

(Pure Freedom used to use this heat exchanger on the single operator unit using the Webasto Thermo Top C as the furnace. Stream use the same unit on the 2 operator diesel heater but use 2 of them; 1 for each operator.)

 

This is a worthwhile doc to download and keep if this is the diesel furnace in your heater.

(Pure Freedom used to use the 90S or ST on their 2 operator diesel heaters, but they may have changed units recently as my info is a little dated)

 

http://www.suremarine.com/manuals/webasto-repair-manuals/thermo90st-repair.pdf

 

As I said, the info about heat reduction and applies to the 5kw Webasto Thermotop C which is what I am using on a project I'm working on (last 3 years). The 90ST will burn at 7.6kw and the drops back to 1.8kw once its preset temperature has been reached, but I don't know at what temperature it is. (I'm guessing its similar to the 5kw unit as they can and are used as engine preheaters.)

 

IMO this heat regulation within the electronics of the Webasto shouldn't have an impact on the temp of the water going to your brush as the mixer valve 'attached' to the heat exchanger will compensate for it.

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Thanks Spruce.

My mixer tap looks a bit different (http://pegleryorkshire.co.uk/EN/Products/PlumbingValves) but does the same thing. I had it on full - so it should have kept bringing the max amount of hot water through. The reading on the Webasto Isothermal2 heater certainly suggested that it was at a much higher temperature than what was coming out the brush.

 

The weather wasn't too cold yesterday. Maybe 8 degrees celcius. Possibly a bit colder on the ground. I did have about 60 meters of hose run out on the ground. But still, I need it to work better than it did yesterday.

 

I'll call Pure Freedom again this week and report back here on the solution.

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Thanks Spruce.

My mixer tap looks a bit different (http://pegleryorkshire.co.uk/EN/Products/PlumbingValves) but does the same thing. I had it on full - so it should have kept bringing the max amount of hot water through. The reading on the Webasto Isothermal2 heater certainly suggested that it was at a much higher temperature than what was coming out the brush.

 

The weather wasn't too cold yesterday. Maybe 8 degrees celcius. Possibly a bit colder on the ground. I did have about 60 meters of hose run out on the ground. But still, I need it to work better than it did yesterday.

 

I'll call Pure Freedom again this week and report back here on the solution.

 

Are these valves actually adjustable just by turning the adjusting k ***? There are several different types of mixer valve and the majority are designed to be tamperproof. They are usually supplied preset for the application. The ones I have are covered with a plastic cover that has to be broken to gain access to the adjuster. Once the plastic cover is broken, the valve is no longer deemed suitable for its application. (These were initally developed for the NHS hospitals for use on wash basins and baths to prevent scolding of patients.) Their use has now been extended and I understand that new residential house builds have to include mixer valves on showers, baths and basins. Not sure about the kitchen hot tap though.)

 

I found a Pegler manual and the particular valve I looked at required the removal of the plastic protector cap and the temperature adjustment then done with a spanner. Other valves on the market employ the same cover but adjustment is done by an allen key.

 

My mixer valves also have an adjustment of 30 to 45 degrees. I would have liked something that could be set a bit lower than 30 degrees, say 20 degrees, but when I bought them I took a chance.

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Might be a silly question but on handover were you not instructed how to use the system and given documentation/instruction manuals so you understood how it all worked after paying out all that money?

 

I would have also thought you would not need to go delving inside the unit surely and messing about with it as its under guarantee?

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Mind you they do get things wrong from time to time as I found out they wired the battery charger connector the wrong way round so a new pf trolley I bought from them the battery would not charge. :D

 

After saying that might be best to give them a call to go through any issues you may have.;)

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Might be a silly question but on handover were you not instructed how to use the system and given documentation/instruction manuals so you understood how it all worked after paying out all that money?

 

I would have also thought you would not need to go delving inside the unit surely and messing about with it as its under guarantee?

 

I would have also thought they would have given a detailed handover. But you know what happens if they finish the installation at 5 to 5 on a Friday afternoon. The detaill could get overlooked in favour of a quick start to the weekend. In the motor trade, handing over a new car to a customer was supposed to take about 45 minutes. Some managed it in 5 minutes.

 

Streamline's Heatwave Thermo2 is pretty much sealed up in its stainless steel container. You have to look inside the header tank with the cap removed to see if you need to top the water up and the adjusting k nobs to increase or decrease the heat to the brush are stuck though the side for easy operator adjustment.

 

The Pure Freedom's cabinet has an opening door to allow access to make these adjustments. There isn't much you can do that would invalidate a guarantee. As long the the water circuit had the correct amount of water and antifreeze then every thing else is rather tamper proof. If you let the van freeze up then the pure water section through the heat exchangers will be damaged and those will the owner's responsibility.

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Thanks guys.

I'll upload a pic tomoz of what the PF Isothermal 2 system looks like when you open the door.

I've also noticed the external ports are dripping like mad out the back of the van. I've lost quite a lot of water just driving around. I'll upload a video of that tomorrow too on youtube and send you the link.

I'll call PF Thursday about the leak and the heating system.

 

As for the handover.... It was a complete shocker - a rush job in the dark. So I complained. Then I booked another night in a local hotel and came back the next day for them to do it properly. I think PF are just very busy. They were good about it and paid for my hotel.

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PF use those orange stop hose connectors on their van ports. These should seal closed when the male connector is removed. The pump has an internal non return valve, but that on the inlet from the tank to stop water being pumped back into the tank. Its on a hair spring and isn't strong enough to stop water syphoning out if you leave the male connector in.

 

If you switch the pump on without the hose reel connected, do the fitting still drip?

 

Would appreciate looking at a video. Thanks - it adds to the knowledge pool.

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