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Updated : 28/6/2017


"Hi Allan, Back safely at home in Norfolk by dusk yesterday after our visit to you in North Wales. 
Tired but elated and just wanted to say another very big THANK YOU for your work and earlier advice regarding our Motorhome.
Best regards,
C.R and M.R"

The above is probably the best feedback we have had. How many people drive 6 hours each way to get a Motorhome repaired and are elated by the experience?



Nordelettronica REPAIRS AND SALES. NEW Caravan Electronic units, like the NE143 at £129, from the only company in the UK that repairs Battery chargers and also repairs Caravans and Motorhomes.


We are seeing more and more Motorhome Fuseboards that have burnt out. Some have been so badly burnt it has been hard to see the reason for the Fire, but it seems to be consistent with poor batteries, an overlarge battery bank or both.


 

Even when things get as bad as the unit above we can still supply a new Fuseboard and effect a repair to as good as new. 

The above Fuseboards are time consuming to replace as so much wiring is usually damaged. Along with the cost of a replacement Fuseboard, the bill can be high, so don't let your batteries get tired. Replace the batteries before they get past their best. 

In case you think that is a Sales Pitch, we don't sell batteries.


See our webpage "Add a second battery?" for more information on how Charger/power units can get burnt out.



We not only repair Nordelettronica equipment on the Work Bench, but can also install Nordelettronica equipment for you in your Caravan or Motorhome. We are mobile and work out of two local campsites. Come to North Wales on a break and let us fix your electrical issues/Charger? 

The first nights stay is free.

The photo above is of one of the sites we work from, see here for more information : North Wales 


However, we can not supply the Nordelettronica Fuseboards installed in Swift group vehicles.

For UK Swift Group problems with Abbey, Swift, Sprite, Bessacar, Sterling, Ace, etc, then contact the SWIFT Authorised UK Specialist : 0845 862 4545  http://www.stellings.co.uk/

Stellings don't just repair these units, they understand the Wiring harness that is used in your leisure vehicle. 

They are aware of known issues, with the SWIFT built Caravan/Motorhome environment, like  symptoms of Fuseboard/charger failure that is actually the wiring, etc.

They are not just Nordelettronica Swift retailers, but electronic repairers, with sophisticated test equipment to identify if your Swift unit is faulty, or if it is a wiring problem. 

Stellings have a very high reputation for quality work at a reasonable price. 




The Nordelettronica chargers need care and consideration like any complex Electronic apparatus. No charger will take kindly to an exceptional work load caused from charging a battery past it's best, and this is the primary reason why so many chargers fail. 

Leaving a NE143 based charger on long term EHU, places quite a strain on one of the Transformers, which degrades over time as the designer never expected it to be permanently powered on EHU. Additionally, the extra heat generated inside the charger when it is working hard charging a poor battery, takes a further toll on an already stressed Transformer, which then becomes prone to overheating and melt down. 

If the charger is used as designed with a young, quality battery and not kept on EHU while in storage, these chargers can have a 10 year life. 

 

Why do the Nordelettronica Chargers seem less reliable than old chargers?  

When Swift started fitting Nordelettronica units into their Caravans they ousted mostly unsophisticated chargers with a fixed 13.8v output that were more tolerant of poor batteries, but took forever to charge them. 

The Nordelettronica NE143 range are elegant chargers with sophisticated multi stage charging programs that are able to get a habitation battery up to a much higher charge, and faster than the old generation chargers ever could. 

However, they are designed to be used with a good battery. Many Caravan owners buy a new Caravan then fit the Battery from their old van. The battery is rarely in it's prime, causing a load on the Charger it was never expected to have. Throw Motor Movers into the mix, with poor advice from fitters on installing the incorrect battery, and even further strain was placed on the charger. 

Additionally, some Dealers incorrectly advised permanent connection of the 230v Hook-up when the caravan was not in use which is bad for any battery, let alone a modern charger. 

Yuasa are the latest company to warn against leaving a battery on long term mains hook-up, see our "EHU Full time - Yes or No" webpage for more info.




One owner who had been very vocal on the forums about the unreliability of his NE143 charger, replaced 5 times in 2 years by Swift, had a poor battery that was not replaced when it caused the charger to fail, so it went on damaging charger after charger. 
In desperation, believing it to be a poorly made Caravan with a wiring defect, he part exchanged it for a new Caravan, swapping the battery from the old van to his new one. You can probably guess what happened next? 
It was then he came to us with the 6 week old Caravan asking us to provide an Expert Witness report he could take to Court in a case against Swift for, what he considered to be manufacturing defects in both Caravans. 
We found no faults in the Caravan at all. 
We did identify a bad battery which had damaged the charger.
We repaired the charger, fitted a new High Technology Powerframe battery in September 2012 and all was well. He now changes his battery before it shows signs of being tired and up to May 2017 has had no further issues.



Caravan and Motorhome Power Supply/Chargers are not designed to bring up a tired battery from very low. They are often Power Supply based electronics that can also charge batteries, which is very different to an old fashion Car battery charger that can shut itself down if it is given a tough battery.
Only use a Car battery charger for this, or better still replace the battery. If a battery is allowed to drop to low voltages, below 11.8v, it is likely to have suffered severly shortened life or even damage.
 
Note also that the majority of Battery voltage discharge guides on the web are long out of date, usually based on old fashioned High Antimony batteries of the 1960's. 

Not one chart we have seen documents that the different technology batteries have varying voltages, they all assume there is only one battery technology and all batteries are the same, showing just how out of date they are. 
Some charts seem to have been created by Battery Retailers as the depth of discharge they suggest will massively shorten the life of anything but an Ultra Deep discharge Battery. 

This chart below is published by Yuasa, one of the biggest battery manufacturers in the World. It shows just how different  VRLA batteries (like Gel) vary from old fashioned Antimony based batteries. 

 


See how a Sealed VRLA/Gel has a much higher resting voltage than conventional/budget batteries?
Our favoured Varta LFD 90 behaves more like a sealed VRLA (Gel) battery, having a resting voltage of close on 13v, therefore use this column when calculating how far it can be discharged.
 
Look at how a Varta LFD 90, when half flat is almost the same voltage as a FULLY charged conventional battery.
That is a major difference, but one we have never seen documented on any Motorhome or Caravan websites, let alone reflected in any charts. 


We suggest that 50% is the maximum discharge level for the optimum balance between usability and Life.
Few modern batteries will survive without some impact on their lifetime if taken down below 50% discharge.
 
ALL Lead Acid batteries will lose at least half their life if discharged to 80%. The evidence for this can be found on our web page, "How does a battery work".

Any modern battery that is allowed to discharge below 11.0v should be considered for replacement.
See our Battery Technology page for more.


The Nordelettronica chargers work very well if used as designed with a TOP battery. This applies to all Caravan/Motorhome chargers made by all manufacturers from around the World. 
The correct top quality Dual Purpose battery, not a pure Leisure battery as often recommended, is especially important if you have a Motor mover, see text at the bottom of the page for more information



Additional Batteries?
Many older Nordelettronica Fuseboards and chargers are not designed to handle the fitment of additional batteries. A second battery can result in over 50amps charging/Fridge current passing through the Fuseboards inbuilt 'Split Charge' relay from the Alternator to both batteries with around 15amps of that for the Fridge. Typically 17amps to the bigger Fridge/Freezers.

In some cases all this current goes through the Starter battery single Spade connector on the Fuseboard and then out to Habitation batteries and Fridge. Most connectors on the older Fuseboards are not up to this.
Although the later Fuseboards have uprated sockets/Plugs and 50amp rated 'Stud' connectors, care is still needed as the wiring may then a weak link, see more below.  


The above Nordelettronica Fuseboard is an early unit and particularly prone to damage if it has to pass the Alternator current for a second battery. Note that on this system the mains charger is a separate unit, usually under the Drivers seat and quite robust if dealing with a good, single battery. 

The Fuseboard controls Power distribution, Display unit info,  Alternator charging,  Fridge 12v operation, etc.



As can be seen above, the wiring isn't terribly chunky on these Fuseboards, but it is the connectors that are the weak link. 
All Alternator current will go into the Fuseboard, through the big 'Battery Joining' relay then back out through the 'light duty' connectors and wiring to the Habitation batteries.  
The above units can burn out with just a single battery, if the battery is allowed to get too tired, as an Alternator will be working a lot harder with a poor battery, passing more current and for longer. 

Below can be seen a Fuseboard pretty close to setting the Motorhome on fire :


So be very careful to assess that the Electronics will handle a big battery bank before you increase it.  
This isn't just our assessment, the weakness above was recognised some time ago by the manufacturer and later Fuseboards (like NE 148, NE185, etc) have been modified to include heavy duty 'Stud' connectors rated at 50amps + for the connection of the Habitation and Starter battery wiring. 

These Stud screw connectors can handle the extra load of a additional batteries. However, the separate 230v mains charger box under the Drivers seat will then be near it's limit so needs separate consideration, as does the wiring. 


One of the new screw 'Studs' can be seen on the new uprated Fuseboard in the picture below, labelled B2, just to the left of the www.nord... on the bottom relay label.
The other studs, labelled B1 and B3, are to the right of the relay.
You will also note that on this later version the other higher current connectors have also been uprated to RAST5 sockets. 




Fitting one of these upgraded boards seems to be challenging, judging by the number of support calls we get from Main Dealer technicians. Presumably because there are a number of wiring changes and the space is at a premium, so look after your existing unit if you have one of these in your vehicle. Allthough they are not expensive to buy, labour on fitting at a Dealer can be hundreds of pounds. A perfect, high quality battery like the Varta LFD 90, is key to long term reliability.
The above goes in greater detail than strictly necessary for this webpage, to help those fit their own unit by showing how they have evolved.

We are in a unique position in the industry as we are one of the only repairers of Caravan/Motorhome Electronics that also repair Caravans/Motorhomes. The competition repair chargers in an Electronics Workshop, but rarely see the environment that caused the failure. 

We see the failed electronics inside the box and the environment which caused it : the huge 3,000w Inverter, the 4 wheel Motor Mover, the bank of 4 almost expired batteries, etc. Nobody else we know is in this position, not even the Technicians in the Italian and German factories. 

We think this gives us a unique insight into what makes them fail and how to get the best out of them.


 

MOTOR MOVERS

Another reason why Caravan chargers seem to be failing is the addition of a Motor Mover to the Caravan with poor advice from the fitters to install a 110Ah Leisure batterty. A proper old school Leisure battery is NOT suitable for a Caravan with Motormovers, as a Leisure battery is designed to supply small currents over a long period of time. 

A 110Ah Leisure battery in the usual caravan locker physical size (

353mm W-175mm H-190mm)  is also the most fragile battery going, see our Battery Technology webpage for why 110Ah batteries should be avoided at all cost.

A Gel Leisure battery is an even worse prospect as these tend have a very short life (sometimes just months) if used in association with a high current draw Motor Mover.

During the 5 - 10 minutes it can take to manoeuvre a caravan into position, a lot of current will be taken from the battery (up to 140amps on the sturdier twin axle 4 electric motor units) by what are effectively small starter motors. 

This is exactly the load that a Leisure battery is NOT designed to take, and one that a Starter based battery is. 


As a result, when you finally get lined up on your pitch a conventional Leisure battery is very hot, heavily depleted and likely to have been damaged by the exertion. The Charger then has a very hard time kicking it back into life, plus put back all that charge taken out. Throwing in a big charge into a battery that will already have high Plate temperatures will do the battery no favours at all.

A work load neither the charger or battery was expected to have by the designers.


If you have Motor Movers fitted to your caravan we advise the ultra heavy duty Varta Silver LFD90/Bosch L5. They are a dual purpose Starter/Deep Cycle habitation battery. They are literally unique and Patented because they are so special, so can't be copied by any other manufacturer, yet are only £91.

How many batteries around to today have a Patent on them because they are Head and Shoulders above the rest? 

These batteries will start a 6 litre Truck engine in freezing conditions, specifically designed for high current draw AND Deep Discharge. They also stay fully charged for 6 months when disconnected from the vehicle, but obviously a 2 - 3 month refreshing charge is a very good idea. They do not Gas, the manufacturer states they have '"absolutley zero fluid loss". They are safer inside a habitation area than a Gel battery.

See the Battery Technology page for the suppliers, and reasons why we believe the Varta LFD90 to be amongst the best for any Caravan/Motorhome but especially good for a Motormover equipped Caravan. Around £92 for one of the most advanced technology batteries going. 



When we started these pages in 2012, we received criticism from almost everyone who said 'you can't use a Starter battery in a Caravan'. 

Well we are delighted to now see some of the more enlightened companies saying that a Leisure battery is taboo with a Motor Mover, and a Starter based battery is the only option!! 

Our suggested varta LFD90/Bosch L5 is both a top class Habitation area battery and a Starter battery. Although, "it is only 90Ah" it will outperform any 110Ah battery in the same physical size.


When using a Motor Mover, try and rest the battery and motors for 5 minutes for every 3 minutes of use. It makes a big difference to the life of the Motors, the battery and the charger. This is especially important if going up an incline. 

Delay recharging a Battery that has just done a lot of work powering a Motormover so it has time to cool down. Either delay connecting EHU for 30 mins, or switch off the charger before before connecting EHU. The battery casing may not feel warm, but the temperature at the plates will be high. 

 

Note that we do not sell Batteries, so the above is not sales motivated.

 

Almost all Nordelettronica chargers have a charging program optimised for 'Wet' lead Acid batteries, not Gel or AGM. Some of the later versions do have a Gel setting, but as they are rarely the optimum battery, it is of little relevance.  Leisure Gel batteries cost almost twice as much with little advantage, and are additionally more prone to damage by a Motor Mover, we strongly advise against fittment.


Never fit an AGM battery as the Chargers are not designed to support them and the high operating temperatures of a Motor Mover will destroy one in very short time. The charging voltage required by an AGM battery is very different to normal Lead Wet Acid, see our AGM page for more information.

 

Whatever the charger failure, we have the solution. Click here to see our full stock list.

 

See the Contact Us page for contact details.

 

 

Nordelettronica NE185 TR1 wiring adapter 2.pdf Nordelettronica NE185 TR1 wiring adapter 2.pdf
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