Electrical System Schematics - Unicat - Assistance Requested

RangerRocket

Observer
If someone is bored and would like to help me understand some German (European) Electrical System Schematics for our Unicat TC54 please let me know. We are just starting to thaw out from the winter (NW Ohio) and getting the vehicle ready for some upcoming road trips.


We purchased the vehicle last fall and we are still trying to figure out how all of the electrical systems and components work with each other (shore power, generator, solar, and alternator). The schematics provided by Unicat are many and detailed. I'm just not that technical. Unfortunately Unicat doesn't publish a basic "user's manual" to help someone who is unfamiliar with the vehicle understand basic system operations, i.e., the Xantrex charger is associated with..., the Outback Charger/Inverter is associated with..., etc.


We just replaced the house batteries (4x Lifeline 4D 210Ah each) last week, as well as the vehicle starting batteries last fall. The vehicle is a 2008 International MXT that was shipped to Germany and the Unicat body was added in early 2009. We figured we'd be proactive and just replace all of the batteries and start "fresh" so we knew what we had.


In the "technical area" of the Unicat, as it is called, I have a Xantrex XC 3012 battery charger, an Outback FX-series charger/inverter, and a Victron Phoenix 12 Volt/350 VA Pure Sine Inverter. Currently I have no idea what the Victron inverter is connected to and what it is used for given the Outback charger/inverter. The Victron inverter was actually turned off when I disassembled the seating area to get to the technical area. The vehicle also has two 120 Watt Sharp Solar Panels and a Sharp solar charge controller. I have yet to locate where the charge controller is installed on the vehicle, it is not located in the technical area and I'm still looking. Perhaps the Victron Phoenix inverter is somehow associated with the solar setup???


Looking at the schematics I "think" the Xantrex charger is associated with charging the batteries via the generator, and the Outback with charging the batteries via shore power. I could be completely wrong however...


The Xantrex charger keeps giving me an error despite the new house batteries. I am considering replacing the Xantrex with a Charles SP SERIES C-CHARGER (12v/30 Amp model). I've read that the Xantrex algorithms may be suspect working with AGM batteries, and the Charles charger seems to have a favorable following out on some marine chat sites that I've looked at. I want to ensure that our $3000 investment in new house batteries isn't ruined by a bad Xantrex charger and we are more than willing to make a $400 investment in the new Charles charger to eliminate that possibility. The Charles charger seems to be very simple with a mechanical switch to set it for charging AGM batteries as opposed to the Xantrex's rather intensive programming requirements. As the vehicle will sit idle much of the time for the next three years until we retire and start to travel in it full time, we really need to ensure the batteries are well maintained.


If anyone is interested in helping me figure these systems out please let me know via a PM. I could email the schematics to you if you'd like to take a stab helping us better understand how the electrical systems work with and compliment each other. Thanks. RR
 
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dwh

Tail-End Charlie
Do you have .pdf files of those schematics? Post 'em up if you do and I (for one) can take a look. Might not get to it today though.

EDIT: Sorry, totally overlooked the part about sending a PM. I'll send a PM with one of my email addresses so you can send me the stuff.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
I have a similar vintage build, though not unicat. xantrex inverter charger, 360W of solar via blue sky controller, 4x210A lifeline batteries. Happy to share any experience that's useful.

The Xantrex is a very capable unit and works fine with AGM batteries - you just have to make sure that it is configured correctly, and I would probably use it in single-bank mode.
 

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Unicat furnished me with a "systems diagram" for each system - water, electrical, etc. It is not as detailed as the schematic which I also have. You should have one also.

Charlie
 

RangerRocket

Observer
Thanks everyone. I'll look for any PMs sent to me for those that want to help figure out what charger and inverter goes with what (Shore power, generator power, solar power). I'm sure that some of you can just look at the schematics and quickly figure things out. I do have a DVD from Unicat with all of the individual cables/pinouts, schematics, and system diagrams (hot and cold water, electrical, fuel, air compressor, heating, etc.). I've plotted those out in large format to continue to become familiar with the various systems. Would have been nice to have a narrative of some sort to help explain each system. The previous owner used a friend to help sell the Unicat to us and he just wasn't very familiar with it either. I want to know everything inside and out as much as possible, but I'm not an electrical or mechanical engineer by any stretch. We'll learn over time I suppose.

Regarding the Xantrex charger, I had previously called their tech support and they told me to completely disconnect it for three hours, then turn it back on and see if the error would go away (it didn't). That was last fall before we winterized and before we installed new batteries. I'll try that again and see what happens with the new batteries.
 

dwh

Tail-End Charlie
No problem. I've looked it over and emailed you a reply. Feel free to post any of it here for all to see.
 

RangerRocket

Observer
Hi Charlie. The air compressor/pneumatic system. The Unicat systems diagram refers to it as the "Pneumatic Plant" so I thought yours might be called that too on your system diagrams. I assume the air tank should be purged periodically to drain any water build-up. Does the compressor require periodic preventative maintenance (filters, lubrication, etc.). All I have is the "Pneumatic Plant" diagram, nothing that tells me who made the compressor, etc. Somewhat maddening to have all of these components and know nothing about them. On the Unicat DVD about 100 pages are devoted to the Alpine stereo in the back, and absolutely nothing on systems that we really need to understand to properly operate and maintain. Don't want to learn by by what could be expensive trial and error.
 

RangerRocket

Observer
I have a similar vintage build, though not unicat. xantrex inverter charger, 360W of solar via blue sky controller, 4x210A lifeline batteries. Happy to share any experience that's useful.

The Xantrex is a very capable unit and works fine with AGM batteries - you just have to make sure that it is configured correctly, and I would probably use it in single-bank mode.
Thanks Pugslyyy. With some great assistance from dwh the Xantrex seems to be working properly now. I am using it in the single-bank mode. That's a relief.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
Thanks Pugslyyy. With some great assistance from dwh the Xantrex seems to be working properly now. I am using it in the single-bank mode. That's a relief.
That's good to know. The only potential issue with your unit was the way they implemented multi-bank, which was a new thing for them. As long as you stick with single bank it should do well for you. (Multi-bank may be fine as well, but there were a number of questions raised about it).

If yours is fan cooled like mine, give it a good blow out with compressed air. :)


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Purge the tanks occasionally but also change the air system filter/water trap every 2 years. So far so good. People with water trap/air filters and the air heater unit do not usually experience the older Mog problems of gooped up valves and actuators.

Charlie
 

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RangerRocket

Observer
Purge the tanks occasionally but also change the air system filter/water trap every 2 years. So far so good. People with water trap/air filters and the air heater unit do not usually experience the older Mog problems of gooped up valves and actuators.

Charlie
Thanks Charlie. Every little nugget of information from you guys really helps.
 
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