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Elk M1 strange ac/battery problem


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#1 ctwilliams

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:17 AM

I have a strange issue I have not been able to work out.

After five years of flawless operation I am having an issue with the battery. Starting with a charged 8 amp hour battery (it is an elk branded battery) after almost exactly a week I receive a low battery warning after the daily test. Approximately 12 hours after that the M1 sends an hour of expansion failure and then restored messages and then dies completely. The only led on the M1 is the power light which is steady. Status light is out.

While this is happening the Elk is plugged in and receiving power (17.7v ac) the whole time. The battery has been run down below 10v. I switch the unit off, attach another battery, start the system back up, and everything is fine for a week and it dies again.

I read this thread: http://cocoontech.co...ng/page__st__15

with a similar problem and tried the troubleshooting.

Every time I test it the Elk is sending out 13.6v to charge the battery, yet the battery is still being drained. The other thing I can not understand is why is the Elk itself reporting expansion module failures from the low voltage condition and then itself dying even though it is receiving the 17.7v from the transformer?

The batteries are both elk branded and are six months old. I put them on a trickle charger and then am putting them back on the elk full.

Any ideas of anything else I can try or am I too the point of sending it back to Elk?

Thanks everyone...

#2 Lou Apo

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 11:50 AM

You say your are getting 13.6v dc when you test the leads going to the battery. What do those read if you disconnect the battery completely?

#3 ctwilliams

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:02 PM

You say your are getting 13.6v dc when you test the leads going to the battery. What do those read if you disconnect the battery completely?


Without the battery attached I get 13.6v. If the battery is not being charged this has to be at some point lower than that, but every time I check it is always 13.6v. To clarify my post above, if I measure the voltage at the battery when it is attached to the M1 I read about 13.3v.

Edited by ctwilliams, 11 February 2012 - 12:17 PM.


#4 Lou Apo

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 01:15 PM

Based on your first post, the system is flat out dead if you unattach the battery, correct?

Assuming the above, your AC current is not getting to the Elk and it is running fully off the battery. However, I can't explain how you are getting 13.6v on the battery leads if that is the case.

For your sake, hopefully it is a failure of your transformer. Can you load test the transformer with it unattached from the Elk? It may put out 17v with no load, but then run off a couple amps through a resistor and maybe it tanks?

Short of that being the problem, I think you are looking at sending the panel back to Elk for service.

#5 ctwilliams

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 02:15 PM

No, that is the strange part. Although it dies when the battery fails, if I remove the battery and switch it back on it immediately comes on and runs just fine without the battery (and while supplying the 13.6 to the unattached battery).

#6 Sandpiper

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 03:03 PM

I'm confused by your voltage measurement statements. What voltage do you get across the battery leads with it connected to the M1? What voltage do you get across the battery leads while disconnected from the M1? What voltage do you get on the battery after it is charged offline (without the charger attached)?

It sounds like the battery is trying to charge, but I need to know if the battery itself is OK. Report the voltage measurements. If the battery is OK, it is possible you have a short in the system somewhere which is draining the battery. If this is the case, the best way to determine this is to use a DVM in current mode and check the current draw from each load on the VAUX and SAUX.

#7 Lou Apo

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 04:08 PM

I'll tell you what it sounds like to me.

Try this on for logic:

The system is switching over to battery power when it does its battery load check. But it is failing to switch off of battery once the load test is complete and just continues to run off the battery till it dies. When you shut the system down and restart it, it goes back to AC power until the next load test.

#8 Spanky

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 10:46 PM

Under Menu 2 you can do a battery load test for 30 seconds and the keypad will display the battery voltage.

The other possible cause is that the PTC fuse in the transformer has shut down due to overcurrent or heat. Allow the transformer to cool down for a while which will restore the PTC fuse. Even with the fuse shutdown, you can read a voltage output but there is not enough current to charge the battery.

13.6 volts is low at the battery leads with the battery disconnected. 13.9 to 14.1 volts should be read with the battery disconnected.

A diode in the bridge rectifier could be bad causing the lower voltage.

#9 ctwilliams

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:55 PM

Hi, I just wanted to close this thread out with the solution. Shortly after posting this thread it mysteriously begin working again for about two months and then just as mysteriously began having problems again.

I did a ton of troubleshooting including a trip to Elk to have it checked out. When I got it back I was still having the same problem. When I tested the voltage on the transformer for what seemed to be the hundredth time I saw that it was only putting out 10volts. It would jump back up to 19v for awhile and then back to 10. It did this intermittently and I had never been lucky enough to catch it before.

I am guessing that every time it dropped down to 10v that the battery took over and over time it just ate the battery. All the other problems I was seeing were symptoms of low power.

So, I replaced the transformer with a brand new one and the problem instantly went away. It has been running fine for about a week now.

Thanks to everyone that helped and also to Spanky for helping me out as well.

CT

#10 Work2Play

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 03:23 AM

A bit related - My Elk was reporting low battery, so I acquired a new battery - yesterday I removed the old battery and found that it was blown out on both sides, and the bottom - and was leaking battery acid. Elk claimed to have some of the best batteries - but this has me horribly concerned! My fingers burned after removing it, so it must've been leaking acid too.

#11 wuench

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 08:24 AM

Is battery acid conductive? I wonder if a water sensor in the can would work to detect leaks. I rarely look at mine, but I do have all my power in a separate cabinet. I have had one battery go in 5 years, but thankfully no acid leaks.

Edited by wuench, 26 May 2012 - 08:24 AM.


#12 BraveSirRobbin

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 08:42 AM

A bit related - My Elk was reporting low battery, so I acquired a new battery - yesterday I removed the old battery and found that it was blown out on both sides, and the bottom - and was leaking battery acid.


How hot is your cabinet getting?

#13 DELInstallations

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 09:49 AM

A bit related - My Elk was reporting low battery, so I acquired a new battery - yesterday I removed the old battery and found that it was blown out on both sides, and the bottom - and was leaking battery acid. Elk claimed to have some of the best batteries - but this has me horribly concerned! My fingers burned after removing it, so it must've been leaking acid too.

Batteries, unfortunately, as a commodity item, are subject to manufacturing flaws even though they may test OK. In my case, we have sites where the batteries are inspected/tested quarterly and while they're typically good for about 3-5 years, we've seen a bunch of flat batteries either after install or as time passes. A swollen battery typically indicates the battery was going flat or had a bad cell or two, and the charger tried to make up for it, causing an overcharge situation (usually cracks the case if it's really bad and the relief valve fails, the battery explodes)
Also of interest/note, is when a battery goes flat or fails, it is common for polarity to reverse on the labelled terminals.

I wouldn't recommend a flood or conductive liquid detector, but regular inspection and testing (load drop testing with a dummy load or if really into it, an ACT meter) and check it after load testing, anything less than 70% of the listed Ah values should be replaced.

#14 Lou Apo

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 07:29 PM

Is battery acid conductive? I wonder if a water sensor in the can would work to detect leaks. I rarely look at mine, but I do have all my power in a separate cabinet. I have had one battery go in 5 years, but thankfully no acid leaks.


Battery acid is conductive, more so than water. But I would be surprised if you got enough liquid out of the battery to close the contacts. And even if you did, it would likely be the case that the battery was in a functionally failed state well before it leaked enough to trip a water detector. I would suggest instead that you put it on your outlook calandar to check the battery once/mo.

#15 Work2Play

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 01:33 AM

Honestly, I should've detected this sooner - the system has been complaining about the battery for 3 months but I procrastinated about getting a replacement.

What I can say is I'd prefer a better battery holder that was non corrosive and acid proof; the one that is available for the Elk cabinets doesn't even hold the battery very well (bends from the weight of the smallest battery unless supported). Given the requirement to keep the leads short, I can't put the battery at the bottom of the can without some modification;

I'll have to post the pics - but they're in my wife's phone... both sides completely blown out, and a slit in the bottom with leakage... had I at least checked once in a while, I would've noticed; that said, most customers never open their cabinets so I doubt they'd ever notice either. I, having the smoked plexi cover, have even less of an excuse!




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