MEP 803a Battery Drain

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Superfrank

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Gentlemen,
I have a MEP 803a that I've set up as my permanent whole house backup generator. I added Military Pulse charger to keep the batteries charged. I'm having a problem where the batteries are discharging even with the solar maintainer connected. I feel like something is drawing down the batteries, but I don't have an idea of where to start looking for the problem. I have an automatic transfer switch set up and it test runs the generator every Sunday under load for 20 minutes, then switches back and shuts off the generator. It ran fine last Sunday, yesterday I had friends over and went over to show the generator set up and the batteries were dead again. I can leave my diesel tractor parked for months at a time and go out and it starts right up. I don't understand why these are discharging so quickly unless something is drawing them down. These are new batteries btw. Any help on where to start diagnosing what is going on would be very helpful. You guys helped me with another issue I had, so I'm turning to the forum once again.

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Thanks,
Frank
 

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Guyfang

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Charge the batteries. Then remove the negative battery clamp, with everything shut down, turned off. Measure with your VOM, (you have a multimeter?) Set it for AMPs/currant. Then touch one probe to the battery terminal, one to the battery cable. Read anything? If so, yes you have a drain. Most common culprit is a diode in the battery charging alternator. Easy to fix. And if you don't want to fix it, look up the price of a new alternator.
 

mcii

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Frank several things, Guyfang has it dead on, ill be surprised if its anything else. but in concert with Guys offer/suggestion, feel of the Alternator it will likely be warm not hot, but likely not ambient temp, touch other nearby components for a difference, this will either be a solid start or rule out after you check for current flow.
Now next is a nice install for permanent location and set up, what is the pad looking thing under the set, to me it looks like what we locally call a "horse pad" typically used in horse stalls to cushion the floor for the horse, but for me it works very well as the texture grips good on both sides as well helps in leveling and stability and percussion when the set is operating. good and nice looking job ... best: mac/mc
 

Superfrank

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Thanks Mac, yes those are horse pads as you describe, I had them laying around and I thought they might help dampen the vibrations. The concrete pad is overkill, a good friend did it for me, 6" concrete with a rebar cage and welded wire fabric. When it runs there's a very slight hum in the house, they only way I know it's the generator is the lights have gone out and back on lol. We live in hurricane central Florida, and I didn't want to be going out in the weather to start the generator. I've had it come on at night when I was in bed so it's very convenient and well worth the $$$ it took to get it set up over a lawnmower engine powered Generac!. We're also in the country and our power coop sometimes isn't very reliable especially in stormy conditions.

As far as the generator issue goes, I feel kind of stupid as I went out to start charging the batteries as Guyfang said so I could perform the test and took some pictures of the alternator so I could order a new one, I'm not handy with electrical stuff as you guys are lol. When I got back inside and blew up the picture, I noticed that the nut that secures the excitor wire was missing, the wire was just touching the post. I couldn't believe so I went back out to verify and sure enough no nut. I suspect this is the culprit, but I'm going to do the test just to make sure.

Once again the forum has put me on the right path to solve the issue. Thanks again fellas!

Frank
 

mcii

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Well we gotta be proud of you Frank, and you did this while Guyfang was sleeping, oh he's gonna be proud but miffed he was sleeping 6 time zones away... But yup this is a solid fix, I think you're all good to go ..
For the pads, I use those for a host of things, usually I will cut emm into 4" or so strips and just full length under the rails of the set, on heavy or more desired less percussion I will double emm up and be two thick. I just did a 007B this way and the customer was very pleased, where the Cat dealer had offered him 4 pads at near $1,100.00 total. not counting the drilling of the steel rails and getting a matching bolt pattern, on the concrete side, I will just drill a typical 1/2-5/8" hole in the concrete under a hole already in the skid rail, and a 1/2" twist drill hole in the pads and drop in a 1/2" 4-5" bolt and not bother to fool with anchor bolts, I have yet to see a set get up and walk off from this scheme, thus why bother to anchor the set down force to the concrete. 2 pads thick really mitigates the percussion.
A second thought, my experience tells me at some point that ridgid or fixed connection of what looks like 2" pvc directly into the set is or wil present problems, and I would consider using a flex joint of at least 1' but no more than 2' but run with what you built till it proves otherwise.

So share with us what you did for auto starting using you transfer switch and the 803 ..as well the ATS proper ..We have several good choices to draw from here...
mm
 
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Superfrank

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Good Morning Mac,
Thanks for your information, I'll keep an eye on the rigid pipe. So far so good, the longest it's run so far is about 6 hours, it performs it's 20 minute load test every Sunday.

So when I was looking for gen sets I looked at the traditional sets (generac, etc), but they aren't really designed for continuous use. The traditional diesel sets were very expensive. During one of my searches I ran across Battlegrade Electric. I spoke with Scott and he assured me that I didn't need a 25KW set like the other guys insisted. He said the 803 10KW set would work just fine. It does everything I need to to do. I have 2 fridges, deep freeze, AC, all the lights, hot water heater, and dryer. As long as I don't run the dryer on high heat it does it can do it all. I manage the power so as not to stress the unit. All in all it's like being hooked up the the utility. The transfer switch in an asco 185 service entrance rated 200 amp switch. I got it from Georgia On-Site Power. The board that I needed to send the signal from the transfer switch telling the generator to start when the power goes out or to do it's weekly 20 minute load test is by INNOVA Hitech out of Kansas I think. Really nice gentleman who helped us with the install. I ordered the avionic wire so it looks like it was installed by the military. It kind of was, my nephew is Navy avionics electronics specialist and I had him wire it, he did an awesome job. The entire set-up including generator, concrete pad, aluminum fuel tank (got a great deal on it on facebook marketplace the guy builds marine tanks and built 3 right side tanks for a yacht and only needed two so I got it for material costs only), militarily pulse battery maintainer, and switch was right at 9K. The last thing I'm going to do is build a lean-to cover over it just to keep the sun and rain off it. Thanks again for the suggestions and help. I was leery to go this route at first, but having this forum in our back pocket is a huge help!
Regards,
Frank
 

Light in the Dark

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The 803 is DESIGNED to run at 100% rated power, 24x7. Don't be easy on it... try to get it to as fully loaded consistently as possible. It will actually run better, and cleaner.
 

Sgt Jiggins

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He said the 803 10KW set would work just fine. It does everything I need to to do. I have 2 fridges, deep freeze, AC, all the lights, hot water heater, and dryer. As long as I don't run the dryer on high heat it does it can do it all. I manage the power so as not to stress the unit.
SF, right there with you brother. Wound up with a 802A 5KW because I have very little static load to keep going and I really liked the fuel consumption #s on the 802As. I imagine there's similar for an 803A on youtube, but, some guy did a 24h run with an 802A hooked to a 55g drum of fuel. At 70% load, I think it consumed 11g. That # I can live with.

Ultimately, though, if I find the 802A hits 100+% consistently, I may trade it out for an 803A and put the 802A onto backup duty for the fiber optic gear powering the neighborhood network we have going. Right now that's on batteries and that's it's one weak spot. But I digress.

That info on the ATS, horse pads and everything else was spot on. Thank you!
 

Superfrank

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LITD, Mine usually runs at like 85% sometimes 90%. When I loaded it with the dryer too on high it went to 110%, Yikes. I know they can handle I think 125% in short bursts. So I never really hit 100%, that's why I can't understand why the other guys were trying to sell me such a big unit.

Sgt. I need your Fiber Optic set up out here lol, we have satellite and that's ok but kind of expensive and the throttling of speed when you go over data pisses me off. I'm trying to get a Fixed Wireless company to come out here.

Thanks again for the tips and info!
 

Light in the Dark

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Well thats plenty fine then. We can all thank Generac's marketing dept. for folks thinking that they have to oversize these machines for their needs.
 

Ray70

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Is there any specific information on the Diode replacement to repair a bad alternator that anyone can point me towards? I have a bad one in my parts stash that I would like to repair to make it a good one. I'd like to read up on it... If not I'll just tear into it someday.
 

Superfrank

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Hello Ray,

I don't know if there's a way on the forum to reach out to folks in particular, but Guyfang has helped me and seems to know a lot about the electrical workings of these generators. I'm sure he could help you out.
 

Guyfang

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Ray, I ment to write yesterday. Long day of digging up fence posts. 6 feet of above the ground concrete post, and about 200 pounds clump of concrete below ground. I am way too old for this.

Its pretty straight forward after you take the end plate off. Not real hard to get at. Easy to check. Simple diode. I will look into my notes and see if I have the diode number.

The military considered the alternator a pluck and chuck item. In the old days, it would have been repaired at DS level.

Forgot to add, there is two different types of alternator. The -24P would has a parts breakdown.
 
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mcii

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Well you are talking about Peter at Inovatech yes in Kansas, he does a super good job and I must say in all my business experience Peter is at the top of customer support well past the sale. I recently had a 3 phase transfer scheme remote gen set and several other variables tossed in, he knew I didn't use his auto start, but we has transfer issues one after another, none were Peter's problem, but my gosh he never blinked at helping me get it all solved and working, he was and did just never quit, went the extra mile all the way.
I do know we now have another vendor on here now, and he has very good promise with what he has listed, and has a good reputation already visa a vie his new control board for thee MEP-831A Kurt Klopp is his name..
Well anyhow I have wondered off the part to simplysay you did a good job and it looks good ..
all the best: mac/mc
 

Sgt Jiggins

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I do know we now have another vendor on here now, and he has very good promise with what he has listed, and has a good reputation already visa a vie his new control board for thee MEP-831A Kurt Klopp is his name.
I've done business with Kurt and agree - he's good to work with, fast to fulfill, and patient with questions. Good guy.

I'm surprised doghead hasn't popped up yet with a reminder to use the feedback system to promote this guy. I've done so already- if you've done business with him and haven't yet, please update his feedback accordingly.

Thanks!
SJ/JD
 
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