Failures of Calira 30/20, 38/20 and other units.
Hello, we are A & N Caravan Services and affiliated to Atlantic Motorhomes and we do repair Calira 30/20, 38/20 plus all other Motorhome and Caravan charger/PDU's.
HULLRLFC is correct when he says it is poor batteries that destroy these units. We are the UK's biggest repairer and stockist of remanufactured Calira units and almost every one we have seen has failed from a battery past its best.
If you want your Calira to last replace the batteries at least twice their warranty period, i.e. if it is guaranteed 12 months replace it at 2 years. If it is guaranteed 2 years replace at 4 years MAXIMUM.
Poor batteries are an issue with every habitation charger on every vehicle, whether it is a Burstner using a Reich e-Box, a Swift Caravan using a Nordelettronica or Hymer using Schaudt. It doesn't matter which forum you go on they all berate the Battery Charger manufacturer. You will find threads on the Swift forums about Nordelettronica chargers being weak and unreliable, yet we have seen owners on their first failure in 7 years of ownership. The owners, generally, that have little trouble never let the battery run flat. Don't keep it on hook-up in storage. Change the batteries regularly, etc.
To get the most out of your Charger unit (any make) :
Don't use a battery past it's best.
Do keep the battery near full charge by topping it up for 1-2 days once a month.
Don't keep the battery on charge all the time. A charger lifetime is calculated around the average Motorhome use of around 2 months a year. If you have your Calira hooked up to the Mains 240v all the time you will use 6 years life in 12 months.
If the battery goes flat, IT WILL BE DAMAGED, bin it. Sophisticated power units will cut all 12v to the MH when the battery voltage drops to 10.5v to prevent the battery from being damaged by further discharge. There is a very good reason they do this, don't let the battery voltage drop below 10.0v, if it does discard it.
Don't try to use the Calira to bring up a battery that has gone flat. You will just a hear a pop and notice a funny burning smell!!
If the battery is good but down on charge (not flat) the Calira will get warm for a short time as it brings it up to voltage, but will then cool down as the charge required by the battery drops. If the charger gets hot on mains 240v for a long time, there is clearly something amiss.
Don't add fans to your Calira to cool it down. We had one in for repair that had been charging 2 batteries that were 6 years old (how can a battery with a 12 month guarantee be any good at 6 years? Even the manufacturer didn't think it would be much cop after 12 months!!). The owner had fitted 2 cooling fans to keep the poor tortured unit from shutting down. The fans provided cool air to the temperature sensing shut down circuitry so it didn't shutdown. As a result the inside of the unit was like it had been inside an oven, every component was baked to the end of its life.
Don't use a bigger battery bank than designed. The calira 30/20 and 38/20 have chargers with a 20A output, using the general 10x rule of thumb they can support a bank of 200Ah, not the 440Ah (4 x 110Ah ) battery bank we saw recently. If you have/need a big battery bank please upgrade the infrastructure around it.
Please don't use a 'smart' charger to charge your batteries. Especially if you have a 220Ah bank and the charger has a 5amp output designed to support a bank no bigger than 50Ah!! If you really must then disconnect the battery from the MH first as they often have voltages as high as 17v.
We have lots of emails that start "everything was ok until my brother (it is always someone else that broke it
) connected his smart charger to the Motorhome and now the Fridge won't work and the Calira shutsdown and the heater control lights won't come on".
The most expensive we have seen was for a new Fridge 12v control unit, the truma heater controller, the Calira 38/20 AND the vehicle ECU. 'His Brother' thought he would start the engine to see if that provided a 12v charge, because the smart charger was still on and connected to 240v the 17.9v from the smart charger reached the starter battery when running the engine connected them together and .........
The ECU was £780 and the rest close on £1,400. His High street charger wasn't quite the money saver he thought it would be. Sorry, his brother.
Fitting a small high street charger of 6amp will never get a battery bank of 220Ah charged fully. This will damage them in a very short space of time through Sulphation. So you will then need new batteries.
I don't understand how spending £87 on a high street charger + £200 on batteries works out cheaper than a repaired Calira at £150, but then I never was very good at Maths?
If you visit the website you will find lots of info like the above, we have a Battery Technology page that will turn upside down everything you thought you knew about habitation batteries; a page on the Calira, the e-Box, the Schaudt Elektroblock, Solar Power in a Motorhome, etc
Sorry gone on rather a lot.