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Sterling Pro Charge Ultra 60A - Fuses blowing


Richard10002
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Had this since March 2018 and, last week, one of the 2 x 40A Car type blade fuses blew, (the fuses are on board the charger, so protecting something in the charger).

 

I fitted 2 x 30A blade fuses, and ran the charger at 75% power, (45A), and it seemed to work fine all last week. On Sunday I fitted 2 x 40A fuses that I had ordered, continued running it at 75% power and, after a few hours, one of the fuses blew again.

 

I don't know if it's the same fuse socket that has blown both times.

 

Presumably, something is causing more than 40A to flow through one of these fuses, or more than 80A through the pair, (if they are doubled up to provide 80A protection). Hope that makes sense.

 

Does anyone know what these fuses protect in the charger, and what might have gone wrong to cause one to blow?

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10 hours ago, Richard10002 said:

Had this since March 2018 and, last week, one of the 2 x 40A Car type blade fuses blew, (the fuses are on board the charger, so protecting something in the charger).

 

I fitted 2 x 30A blade fuses, and ran the charger at 75% power, (45A), and it seemed to work fine all last week. On Sunday I fitted 2 x 40A fuses that I had ordered, continued running it at 75% power and, after a few hours, one of the fuses blew again.

 

I don't know if it's the same fuse socket that has blown both times.

 

Presumably, something is causing more than 40A to flow through one of these fuses, or more than 80A through the pair, (if they are doubled up to provide 80A protection). Hope that makes sense.

 

Does anyone know what these fuses protect in the charger, and what might have gone wrong to cause one to blow?

As a guess seeing as they are 40A fuses they are in the output to the batteries. Could you have a dud battery? Is the fuse holder not making good contact and getting hot.

 

If not, ask Charles at Sterling.

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25 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

As a guess seeing as they are 40A fuses they are in the output to the batteries. Could you have a dud battery? Is the fuse holder not making good contact and getting hot.

 

If not, ask Charles at Sterling.

I've emailed Sterling, so will see what they say. I'm not sure whether it had a 2 year warranty, or a 5 year. The former will have expired.

 

1) Pretty sure I don't have a dud battery. 4 x 230Ah Valence Lithiums. What would be a sign of a dud battery?

 

2) Getting hot is a possibility. The plastic surrounds of the blown fuses on both occasions looked a bit distorted, possibly melted a little.

 

3) The manual states that the earth/grounds must be connected to the boat grounds, so that any fault to the chassis blows a fuse, so there could be a fault to the chassis..

 

I think poor connection and "hot" is most likely.

 

I suppose this would mean taking it apart and some soldering - which could be beyond me on a PCB.

 

Thanks for the pointers!

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43 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

As a guess seeing as they are 40A fuses they are in the output to the batteries. Could you have a dud battery? Is the fuse holder not making good contact and getting hot.

 

If not, ask Charles at Sterling.

 

Here is Charles Sterlings response to my email:

 

"Nothing wrong with charger just replace fuse with larger"

 

I don't think you can get standard blade fuses bigger than 40A and, if a fuse blows, it's usually for a reason. Unless he only got as far as my replacing them with 30A fuses, and didn't see that I had bought and fitted 40A fuses.

 

His answer, whilst not unusual for him, doesn't engender further discussion, even if only to clarify.

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27 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:

I've emailed Sterling, so will see what they say. I'm not sure whether it had a 2 year warranty, or a 5 year. The former will have expired.

 

1) Pretty sure I don't have a dud battery. 4 x 230Ah Valence Lithiums. What would be a sign of a dud battery?

 

2) Getting hot is a possibility. The plastic surrounds of the blown fuses on both occasions looked a bit distorted, possibly melted a little.

 

3) The manual states that the earth/grounds must be connected to the boat grounds, so that any fault to the chassis blows a fuse, so there could be a fault to the chassis..

 

I think poor connection and "hot" is most likely.

 

I suppose this would mean taking it apart and some soldering - which could be beyond me on a PCB.

 

Thanks for the pointers!

 

Don't lithiuns take maximum charge until the external control systems cut off the charge? If so could t be that the charger is operating at maximum for far longer than the designers expected? High currents for a long time tends to equal heat.

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34 minutes ago, Richard10002 said:

 

Here is Charles Sterlings response to my email:

 

"Nothing wrong with charger just replace fuse with larger"

 

I don't think you can get standard blade fuses bigger than 40A and, if a fuse blows, it's usually for a reason. Unless he only got as far as my replacing them with 30A fuses, and didn't see that I had bought and fitted 40A fuses.

 

His answer, whilst not unusual for him, doesn't engender further discussion, even if only to clarify.

I bit the bullet and asked away:

 

Me: 

"Thanks for the really quick reply.

 

Just for clarity, when you say "replace fuse with larger", I had bought and fitted 40A fuses, in place of the temporary 30A fuses, on Sunday. Then one of the 40A fuses blew whilst charging later on Sunday.......... If you mean larger than 40A fuses, what size would you suggest?" (He suggested 50A).

 

Charles Sterling:

 

"Fuses are very weird things different companies have different fuse ratings, ie is a 30 amp fuse allow 30 amps to pas or does it blow with 30 amps after 2 mins or does it blow instant, so they are a bit off a bollocks , just put bigger until works , there  is no issue with the charger its current limiting"

 

I have a feeling that he might be talking about the fuses that they recommend fitting in the cable between the charger and battery, whereas I am talking about the factory fitted fuses which are on board the unit, adjacent to the cable posts.

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39 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

Don't lithiums take maximum charge until the external control systems cut off the charge?

If so could it be that the charger is operating at maximum for far longer than the designers expected? High currents for a long time tends to equal heat.

Yes... If I am discharged to around 20% SOC, (520Ah bank), my bank will take 60A for up to about 6 hours, then it reduces once SOC has reached "the knee". When the Amps fall to about 20A, I consider them full. (This equates to a voltage of 14.6V, or 3.65V per cell). In reality, I rarely let them get as low as 20% SOC, and generally only charge up to about 90% SOC, so 5 hours at 60A is the norm and, without solar, this happens about 3 times a fortnight, ETA: perhaps once a fortnight between April and September.

 

Having said that, it has been doing this happily since I got the lithium bank almost 12 months ago, so what has just changed to make it start blowing, and why does it blow at the reduced power setting of 45A max. I suppose I could test it at the 50% setting, (30A), and see how it goes.

 

I agree that we have recently reached the time when solar is not effective, but I got the lithiums up and running last December, so 3 months of no solar then.

 

I suspect I'm going to be taking the cover off it to see what's happening, but that wont be straight away as I don't have an alternative means of charging, (considering a Victron Orion 12V DC- 12V DC charger, so I can charge when the engine is running).

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3 hours ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Is the fuse holder not making good contact and getting hot.

 Here is a photo of the empty sockets. ( one of the fuses in situ in next post - ETA: wouldnt let me upload it :( )

 

To me, the one on the right looks a bit matte grey in parts, whereas the other is all shiny. This could suggest the one on the right is a bit charred?

 

580573348_ProChargeUltraFuseSockets.jpg.2bc5045a2fe1fecd4bd43c0c06bcb666.jpg


 

Edited by Richard10002
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1 minute ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Yes, it looks like a bad connection there is the problem. A good clean and a little nip to tighten its grip should fix it.

Thanks for that. Hope it works as it will be an easy fix :)

 

In the meantime, assuming the fuses are fitted in parallel, could I fit just one 40A fuse, and set the charger to supply only 30A, so as not to exceed the fuse rating?

 

The Pro Charge Ultra can be set at 60A, 45A, 30A, and 15A, so at least I could keep charging at 30A until I get it sorted.

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3 hours ago, Richard10002 said:

 Here is a photo of the empty sockets. ( one of the fuses in situ in next post - ETA: wouldnt let me upload it :( )

 

To me, the one on the right looks a bit matte grey in parts, whereas the other is all shiny. This could suggest the one on the right is a bit charred?

 

580573348_ProChargeUltraFuseSockets.jpg.2bc5045a2fe1fecd4bd43c0c06bcb666.jpg


 

 

I've got a Pro Charge Ultra 40Amp. I see only one outlet is being used, you can connect all three positive outlet studs together, to spread the load. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Higgs
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22 hours ago, Higgs said:

I've got a Pro Charge Ultra 40Amp. I see only one outlet is being used, you can connect all three positive outlet studs together, to spread the load. 

 

Yes... I'll do that when I get it off the wall. There doesnt seem to be a lot of room to get the connecting cables on, as well as the output to battery cable... but I'm sure I'll find a way :)

 

In the meantime, I've been running it it for 4 hours at 30A, and all seems well, so far. Once I've got the batteries full, I'll have 4 or 5 days to get it off the wall, and do whatever I need to do.

 

I've given up talking to Charles Sterling - he seems to think I'm referring to to the fuse in the cable, between battery and charger, despite sending him pictures. Unless he really does mean I should fit 2 x 50A car type blade fuses in place of the 40A on board ones, which wouldn't seem right to me?

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1 hour ago, Richard10002 said:

 

Yes... I'll do that when I get it off the wall. There doesnt seem to be a lot of room to get the connecting cables on, as well as the output to battery cable... but I'm sure I'll find a way :)

 

In the meantime, I've been running it it for 4 hours at 30A, and all seems well, so far. Once I've got the batteries full, I'll have 4 or 5 days to get it off the wall, and do whatever I need to do.

 

I've given up talking to Charles Sterling - he seems to think I'm referring to to the fuse in the cable, between battery and charger, despite sending him pictures. Unless he really does mean I should fit 2 x 50A car type blade fuses in place of the 40A on board ones, which wouldn't seem right to me?

 

I flattened a piece of copper pipe, smoothed it off and rounded the corners, to act as a bus bar., then drilled three holes, to match the studs' positions. Otherwise, as you say, cable and more cable crimps can be too cumbersome. 

 

 

Edited by Higgs
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2 hours ago, Detling said:

Where did you source the 40A fuses?  Some cheap imports seem to bear little resemblance between markings and performance, I have blown 30 A fuses using  a bench power supply which is current limited to 10 Amps!  

Agree it's a possibility, but the symptoms suggest that one of the sockets is failing for some reason:

 

The 40A fuse that blew was one of those that was fitted by Sterling when new, (March 2018).

 

The next fuse that blew was one of the 2 x 30A fuses I fitted having set the unit to supply only 45A rather than 60A. No idea where they came from, probably Maplin some years ago.

 

To get a few 40A fuses, I bought a variety pack on Amazon:

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07QXXL5WY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

I fitted 2 x 40A fuses, and ran the unit at 30A for about 10 hours to get the batteries fully charged, (in order to give me a few days to remove and dismantle the charger, in the hope of fixing the problem :) ). It ran fine without blowing anything for that time.

 

I'm pretty sure that these paralleled pairs of fuses are in place of a single fuse... i.e. 2 x 40A fuses = 1 x 80A fuse, so 2 x 30A fuses = 1 x 60A fuse.

 

Assuming 1 fuse socked has failed for some reason, this leaves the protection at that of a single fuse, thus charging at 60A blew the single 40A fuse, and charging at 45A blew the single 30A fuse. However, charging at 30A didn't blow a 40A fuse.

 

I've taken it off the wall, taken the cover off, (easier said than done :) ), cleaned up the fuse sockets, tested for continuity, and got bleeps where expected, (not that I am an electronics expert). Also nipped up the sockets so the fuses fit a bit/lot tighter.

 

Hopefully I'll get it fitted again tomorrow, and will probably run it at 45A for a while, although it may be a week or so before I can do that for any length of time, as the batteries are fairly full right now.

 

If it goes Ok at 45A, I can give it a go at 60A.

 

If a fuse blows, I suppose I could source a couple from Halfords? If they fail, I'm probably into new charger, and it wont be a Sterling :( 

 

Fingers crossed.

 

 

 

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On 04/11/2020 at 12:15, Tony Brooks said:

 

Don't lithiuns take maximum charge until the external control systems cut off the charge? If so could t be that the charger is operating at maximum for far longer than the designers expected? High currents for a long time tends to equal heat.

Yes. That was exactly my thought. 

 

Looking at the photo, that right hand fuse holder shows obvious signs of overheating.    Perhaps it was a tenuous fuse connection that caused it to heat up and blow (oxidisation or an insufficiently tight contact) or perhaps a tenuous connection in the other fuse caused all the current to go through the now singed one? 

 

Do keep us informed on the results of your repair. 

Edited by bagginz
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21 hours ago, bagginz said:

Yes. That was exactly my thought. 

 

Looking at the photo, that right hand fuse holder shows obvious signs of overheating.    Perhaps it was a tenuous fuse connection that caused it to heat up and blow (oxidisation or an insufficiently tight contact) or perhaps a tenuous connection in the other fuse caused all the current to go through the now singed one? 

 

Do keep us informed on the results of your repair. 

Connected it up this afternoon, bit the bullet and ran it at 60A, and all was good for just over 2 hours. Then the batteries were full.

 

My guess is that, if 60A was flowing through only one of the 40A fuses, it would have blown over a period of 2 hours, so I'm hoping that a bit of cleaning up and nipping up has cured things - Thanks to Tracy for the initial pointer, and everyone else for the support :)

 

The most disappointing thing during this experience has been the absolute shyte that Charles Sterling fed me. Fitting a larger fuse until it works, because the thing is current limited, makes a mockery of his fitting of these two fuses in the first place. Suggesting a bit of a clean and a nip up ought to have been one of the first things that were suggested when the issue was presented. 

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