Hi members from a Jayco newbie

GrahamHolland

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
13
12
3
Wodonga Vic
Hi everyone, I have been stalking this site for a while and decided to get on board. My wife and I took our Jayco Expanda ( 57.37.1- 2004 model) out for the first time on the weekend, and finally got to spend a couple of nights away. An older model that has had "next to no use" by the previous owners, we picked it up just before the COVID restrictions hit. Its been sitting in the carport teasing us for months, so we were glad to finally set it up and try it out. We have been avid campers for years with our 4 kids, starting off in a canvas tent, then progressing to a fold out camper trailer. Of coarse once the kids moved out the camper trailer was waaay too big for the 2 of us, so we now have our 1st caravan.
The majority of our traveling (without the kids) is by motorcycle so we are used to travelling light. A whole caravan to ourselves is luxury in comparison.
Cheers all,
Graham
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chartrock

Forum Patriarch
Staff member
Sep 26, 2010
5,834
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Gold Coast Hinterland
Welcome to the mob @GrahamHolland, it seems you have followed the usual progress to your first van. You won’t know yourself from here on, the places you can go, the ease of set up, the comfort of the van and the holes in your pockets as the members here will convince you to spend as you modify your van. :behindsofa:

Enjoy your travels and keep us posted, feel free to ask for advice or to give it if you can help. We love photos. :clap2:
 

rags

Well-Known Member
Hi Graham
Welcome, You have got a great van with that 12 footer.
We have the same van, after doing a similar progression. Ours is a 2009 vintage with the hard lid over the bed.
I have done a few mods to suit our needs including changing out the fridge for a compressor version, solar power upgrade, Hot water heater and the provision of a toilet under one of the seats.
For two it has proved perfect for our needs
 

GrahamHolland

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
13
12
3
Wodonga Vic
Thanks for the welcome guys. We intend doing the "free camp" thing in our own neighborhood, North East Victoria has plenty to offer and we know most of the good spots by now. We proved over the last few days that we can be self sufficient for a long weekend with the standard water tank, gas fridge & 105Ah Battery to run LED lighting. I have read forums suggesting that the Setec ST-20 battery management system isn't up to scratch, but I can't fault it. The battery regained its charge quickly once home again, ready for the next outing. I found some common faults over the weekend, a cupboard door latch that refuses to work properly, and the brand new Trojan water pump locking up on the down stroke. I'm not alone with these couple of challenges so look forward to fine tuning our setup.
Cheers,
Graham
 
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Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
1,307
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
Thanks for the welcome guys. We intend doing the "free camp" thing in our own neighborhood, North East Victoria has plenty to offer and we know most of the good spots by now. We proved over the last few days that we can be self sufficient for a long weekend with the standard water tank, gas fridge & 105Ah Battery to run LED lighting. I have read forums suggesting that the Setec ST-20 battery management system isn't up to scratch, but I can't fault it. The battery regained its charge quickly once home again, ready for the next outing. I found some common faults over the weekend, a cupboard door latch that refuses to work properly, and the brand new Trojan water pump locking up on the down stroke. I'm not alone with these couple of challenges so look forward to fine tuning our setup.
Cheers,
Graham

Hi @GrahamHolland , Don't be too concerned about the Setec ST-20. If you have a GEL 105ah battery, it will do just fine, charging to a max of 14.0 volts and 13.8 volts on Float. It is capable of providing up to 20A in total for Load and battery charging. Battery charging is limited to 10A so generally okay as max charge rate for a Gel battery is 20A. These details are usually on side of battery. But if you have a AGM battery, the Setec is not the best as charging voltage is too low -needs 14.7 volts. See more info on attachments. See also attachment on state of charge battery voltages for Gel and AGM batteries.
AGM Battery Voltage-Charging_0002.jpg
AGM v Gel Battery.jpg
AGM Battery Voltage-Charging_0001.jpg
Gel SOC Voltage (2).jpg
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GrahamHolland

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
13
12
3
Wodonga Vic
There ya go, I already learned something today. Thanks for the info' Boots, I might look at installing a 2nd charger as a "booster" to achieve the correct level of charge. I have a Century AGM and (as you pointed out) I notice the spec sheet for the Century shows 13.6 - 13.8 Volt float charge, but requires 14.6 - 14.8 Volt equalization charge. I recall reading somewhere that the Setec can remain in place with another charger in parallel and still manage the load circuits OK.
Is this the part where I start with the holes in my pockets as suggested by chartrock, ha ha.

Cheers, Graham

Battery installation.jpg
 
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Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
1,307
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Ferny Grove, Queensland
There ya go, I already learned something today. Thanks for the info' Boots, I might look at installing a 2nd charger as a "booster" to achieve the correct level of charge. I have a Century AGM and (as you pointed out) I notice the spec sheet for the Century shows 13.6 - 13.8 Volt float charge, but requires 14.6 - 14.8 Volt equalization charge. I recall reading somewhere that the Setec can remain in place with another charger in parallel and still manage the load circuits OK.
Is this the part where I start with the holes in my pockets as suggested by chartrock, ha ha.

Cheers, Graham

View attachment 65965
Hi again @GrahamHolland, glad you found the info interesting and useful. Just to clarify some terminology for you;
Charging voltage is the maximum voltage that battery should get to before switching to Absorption or Float phase.
Float phase is the recommended voltage for maintaining maximum battery capacity when fully charged.
Equalisation charge is the voltage applied to a fully charged battery to ensure that all cells are at or close to the same voltage. This is sometimes higher than the max charge voltage and is usually a low current for just a brief time. This is different to max charge voltage. See attached for explanation of various battery charging stages. Equalization charges are mainly for WET cell batteries and is not really for AGM or Gel batteries.
If you were to buy (see spending your money already!) a "smart" charger, I would suggest a 10 or 15A multi stage (say 6 or 7 stages) which you can get for around $120.00. My friend got his Kickass 12A 8 stage for $110.00. I paid $124.00 for a SCA 15A 7 stage a while ago, so there is no need to go for the real expensive/dearer brands, although some may give you more/better options for other types of charging.

I do not like the idea of having two chargers on the same battery (especially the 240 volt type) at the same time - they have different charging algorithms. I get around this by using the Setec when at Caravan parks, but when I get back home from on grid or off grid, I immediately hook up my multistage charger to the van battery. I did not want to be opening doors or lifting beds etc, so I fitted an Anderson plug to the outside of my van and ran a pair of 8awg heavy wires directly to the battery with a 20A fuse in line. This allows me to connect my multi-stage charger from outside and not connect the power to the van and the Setec. It also gives you an outside 12 volt outlet to run other 12 volt things and even to charge up fellow vanners battery if their compressor fridge has drained their van battery. I have done that more than once too! You will also see on the picture, an Anderson plug for connection of my solar panels. Something to think about and spend your money on just as @chartrock said might happen in upgrading/modifying your van.
 

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GrahamHolland

New Member
Oct 29, 2020
13
12
3
Wodonga Vic
Boots, thanks again for this information. I might put some thought into the most practical setup for our van. I kind of like your idea with the Anderson plug on the outside, makes things a bit more versatile. Is there a reason you don't run charger & solar through the one Anderson plug? Or is your solar regulator inside the van, as opposed to being on the back of the panel?

Cheers, Graham
 

Boots in Action

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2017
1,307
1,146
113
Ferny Grove, Queensland
Boots, thanks again for this information. I might put some thought into the most practical setup for our van. I kind of like your idea with the Anderson plug on the outside, makes things a bit more versatile. Is there a reason you don't run charger & solar through the one Anderson plug? Or is your solar regulator inside the van, as opposed to being on the back of the panel?

Cheers, Graham

@GrahamHolland , the Anderson plug on the outside of the van does make for easy connection and great versatility. However, for me, the external solar connection came about by default. I did not want to be lying on the ground or upside down in the rain to see what charging/discharging was happening, so decided on installing solar regulator inside where I could read it all the time and in all weathers. Then as I found I needed more power when off grid for a week or more and did not want to invest in another AGM (heavy too at 34kgs!), I added more panels and now have 2 X 200w and 1 X 180w (all portable) connected in Series to a MPPT controller inside. Being only a little Penguin, there is not much room to place it on a solid wall but managed as per attached. All panels have their attached solar controllers bypassed and all solar generated current is connected to the INPUT of MPPT controller, the output of controller is connected directly to battery (suitably fused of course). For those using a portable solar panel with solar controller in line, it certainly would be possible ( and desirable) to connect the output of controller into the same Anderson plug on side of van for battery charging, preferably close to where battery is positioned inside the van. Saves having cables running through van and having to lift up seats, beds etc to connect terminals. Most members with portable panels use an external Anderson plug somewhere, but if you have roof top panels, connections are inside.

There is no limit (only the depth of your wallet or your own needs) when it comes to improving your van to suit you own individual requirements and make life easier when off grid. Glad to have you on board and you can see how right @chartrock was in how we can help you spend your money!!
 

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Drover

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Nov 7, 2013
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www.expandasdownunder.com
Ideally you can have an Anderson on the outside which connects directly to your battery pack and one that connects to the solar regulator in your van, this enables you to use a portable panel with (direct to battery)or without its own regulator (direct to van reg) and the direct to battery one also gives you a high load 12v power source for use if needed......
The State of Charge (SOC) graphs which show battery level only apply once the battery has been sitting with out any load for 4 hours otherwise the voltage shown will be incorrect and may cause you to think you have a flat one..

My portable panel can be used direct to the vans solar reg or its own reg and connected direct to van battery or any other....

Some of my favourite sites for this stuff;


 

rags

Well-Known Member
Well, this has been quite a thread for a newbie introduction. Now that I am fully armed with information, and a credit card to match, lets see where being an Expanda owner leads us. Can't go wrong eh?
Cheers, Graham
For a moment I thought you were going to say you are suffering information overload and as a consequence sold the Jayco
 
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