Dylan Tucker avatar image
Dylan Tucker asked

Correct trickle charging method for starter

Hi all - I am very confused about the above topic and was hoping for some input. I have a Citroen Relay 17 reg (which has a smart alternator) which I'm converting to a campervan. I don't use it everyday, and I've been suprised how quickly the starter battery runs down (the immobiliser in particular is apparently a thirsty one). I'm planning out my electrics, but keep reading conflicting info about the best way to keep the starter battery topped up. My starter battery is not a Victron, but the original battery and for economy sake I don't want to change it yet as it's fine.

One method is to not even link the starter battery to the rest of the camper at all, and just use an external trickle charger when needed, however to me this seems like a nuisance. Some people also seem to just disconnect the battery for longer spells and keep the van turned over otherwise, but this is apparently not the best for the battery (not sure how true this is - can only find anecdotal info).

If I design my system to trickle charge the leisure battery then I'm confused between whether I should do this fromthe victron dc-dc charger as I have been told it causes problems when using an MMPT solar charger and a multiplus (which i have already purchased - i have 2 solar panels). Others have said I can just use a cyrix while others a cyrix and a dc-dc charger.

Keeping the starter battery topped up is my priority - having the alternator charge the leisure batteries is just a bonus as I've probably overshot on my leisure battery capacity and my solar panels, and I will be mostly on site where i have shore power, so should never (in theory) need to rely on my alternator to give me a boost. But I want to eliminate the risk of my starter going flat, and reduce the maintenance needed when not inuse.

I'm really starting to tear my hair out on this one - really would appreciate some advice or links! Thanks all

orion dc-dcmultiple invertersCyrix Battery Combinerstarter batteryorion
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2 Answers
JohnC avatar image
JohnC answered ·

Hi @Dylan Tucker

I use an Orion dc > dc converter, and switch it in with an Assistant in the Multi (based on V, which rises on the house bank when under solar charge, so it switches on when the sun is up). A signal wire pair from the Multi to Orion needed.

In a storage situation you might turn off the Multi, but I also added in a manual external switch to the Orion so I could switch it in manually if needed, but I've never used that.

I used a dc converter rather than charger as my house bank is 48V, but you could choose either. A mild 13.5V flat charge gives life to my old starter bank when they should be long dead. My Multi is always on, and it just works, no attention ever required, whether I charge the house bank via solar or ac..

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Dylan Tucker avatar image Dylan Tucker commented ·
Thank you - unfortunately a lot of that is over my head so it might take me a while to learn some of these terms! Does your setup above use solar and if so are you using the victron mmpt charger? I've read about problems when using that and the orion together when they fight for load
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JohnC avatar image JohnC ♦ Dylan Tucker commented ·
@Dylan Tucker

I use a Victron mppt and have no issues with any interactions with the Orion. But Victron kit is put to many uses in many varied ways, and you'd need to look at exactly what these undefined 'problems' you've read about really are.

Ask again about specifics if there's anything you don't understand.

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kevgermany avatar image
kevgermany answered ·

Yes, keep it charged.

If you think the Orion is over the top/too expensive, take a look at the Votronic3065. They've gone up a bit since I bought mine, but does the job perfectly at little cost.

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Dylan Tucker avatar image Dylan Tucker commented ·

Thank you for the reply. I don't think the orion is over the top or too expensive, I had just read that when using the MMPT solar charger they can fight against each other and haven't been able to find a schematic that shows a simple workaround. Do you know of one somewhere? I've not heard of the Votronic3065 but will look into it now, thank you.

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kevgermany avatar image kevgermany ♦♦ Dylan Tucker commented ·
They don't fight. But you do need to set all the units so that they work correctly together. And understand all the parameters. As you have pretty much constant charge to your house side, consider setting the Orion into power supply mode, with the output voltage set to starter battery float voltage.
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