missy avatar image
missy asked

Will the Orion tr charger replace a Sterling in my setup?

I'm in need of a battery to battery charger to replace my current faulty Sterling unit.
I believe the new Victron Orion-tr smart dc/dc charger will do the job, but would love to hear an expert confirm it!

It's to go in a Sprinter campervan conversion, to run from the starter battery to our leisure batteries. We have three 100ah agm batteries connected in parallel. We also have solar setup, but it's not enough for England!

The Sterling currently has a 6mm2 cable running through a 50amp breaker to the positive bus bar, with a 50mm2 cable running through a 200amp breaker to the batteries on the other side of the bus.
It also has 6mm2 cables running to the starter battery's positive and negative poles, the positive going through a 50a breaker.

Could the Victron Tr 12/12-30 just slot into the existing setup or would I have to run new cables and breakers? Is it suitable for the job?

Also, will I need to fit the romote on/off switch? Can't it just stay on all the time?

Thanks very much!

battery charging
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1 Answer
Justin Cook avatar image
Justin Cook answered ·

@missy, there will certainly be a number of design differences between the two - an Orion footprint will be much different than any Sterling B2B footprint (the Orion is much smaller), so some wiring adjustments will need to be made on that basis alone.

You didn't mention which Sterling model you have?

Your existing 50A breakers should be fine, so long as they are functional and of a reputable manufacturer. Victron lists the short-circuit current of the 12/12-30 as 50A, so your 50A breakers will protect the new system nicely.

In regard to cabling, the Orion will accept a maximum 16mm2 wire (6awg) and, depending on your overall lengths, I'd strongly recommend going ahead and maxing that out. Your listed 6mm2 wire is dramatically undersized to be carrying any significant current over distance, and the voltage drop caused by using undersized wire to carry high current will decrease your overall charge efficiency rather markedly as well as potentially inhibit the Orion's "engine running detection" feature, so I really quite strongly suggest that you size up your cabling from the start battery to the Orion to the busbar.

In regard to the remote switch; no, you do not need to fit the remote switch; instead you will re-install the wire bridge after the initial programming. This does not mean that the device will always stay on, but rather that -much like the Sterling B2B chargers- it will turn on and start charging after it has detected that the engine is running and the alternator is charging the start battery.

For more complete details, including device footprint and the complete datasheet, see the manual here:

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timmermc avatar image timmermc commented ·

@Justin Cook Perhaps it would be interesting to keep an additional On-Off switch in service for charging a LiFePO4 battery in very cold temperatures, as a sort of manual operation. This especially when you have no other automatic protection against loading at 0 °C.

Or am I arguing incorrectly?

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Justin Cook avatar image Justin Cook ♦♦ timmermc commented ·

@timmermc, I see your logic, but would make three counterpoints: first, any (supported) LiFePO4 battery has a BMS attached or built-in which will handle low-temperature cutout on its own, so in theory this shouldn't be a problem; second, I'm fairly certain that the Smart Orion will be configurable to connect to a VE.Smart network that a temperature sensor (such as a Smart BatterySense) could be on, in which case the Orion could be told by the network to permit/not permit charging; and third, I would consider @missy's inline 50A circuit breakers as perfectly viable on-off switches by themselves, should the need ever arise to manually shut down the Orion whether for temperature concerns or otherwise... if the device ever needs to be shut down, just flip the breaker.

To your point, however, I'm definitely a big fan of having those breakers there - I'm a believer in always having the ability to isolate components wherever possible, just in case.

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