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Trudy
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« on: April 16, 2010, 10:00:54 am »

We keep our Cruiser plugged in to shore power. Just discovered we have 2 dead batteries, one on the truck engine and the one for the motorhome. Our '06 has a converter instead of an inverter.  Btw, I'm typing this for my husband and have no clue what I'm talking about!

He would like to know if the red light on the battery switch (which says it's either "in use" or "stored") ever goes out. He keeps it in "stored" position, but the red light stays on. Is this normal?

Any ideas why both batteries would be dead? We notice the coach battery is newer and the truck battery is probably original. Are these batteries connected somehow or is this just a coincidence?

Thank you in advance for any help.

Trudy
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2010, 12:41:05 pm »

Hi Trudy,

The RV/coach and the front engine batteries are isolated from eachother.  One does not affect the other.  Plugging into shore power will not maintain the engine battery.

If I were storing my RV outside off season in wintery conditions, I would bring all batteries inside our regular house so nothing drains them dead.  Dead batteries will freeze.  Frozen batteries become permanently dead batteries.

I have an invertor in my 2007 PC and had a convertor in my old RV.  With either RV, the worst thing I could do is to keep the RV plugged into shore power during long term storage.  The coach batteries get over-charged, getting damaged through a lack of water.

There are better inverter systems available as RV.net has people discussing better/smarter (expensive) inverters, but I am fine with what we have.  I just leave our RV in the garage unplugged from shore power.  A few times over the winter, I will hook up a separate "smart" charger on the coach and engine batteries separately until they are charged up.  This done only for maintenance.  That takes a day or two for the engine battery, and maybe 4 days for the coach batteries.

When on vacation for 3 weeks at a time, I will have to add water to my coach batteries every 1.5 weeks.  This further supports the practice of "NOT" leaving the RV plugged in during storage.  That is unless you want to stress your coach batteries for nothing, and add distilled water every 1.5 weeks until the cows come home.

Ron
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 12:43:22 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2010, 02:34:49 pm »

Ron,

What is the make and model of your inverter and battery charger in the RV?

Judi
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ron.dittmer
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2010, 02:43:50 pm »

Ron,

What is the make and model of your inverter and battery charger in the RV?

Judi
I know my factory installed inverter is a Tripp-Lite, but I don't have the model number handy here at the office.  The battery charger I mentioned, I bought at Walmart for $96.  It's a 4/10/20/40amp smart charger by Black and Decker.
This is it.  At home with lots of time to work with, I use the 10 amp setting on the twin coach batteries, and the 4 amp setting on the single engine battery.  When needing a fast charge on vacation, I will run the Onan generator with this charger plugged in the outside outlet, and set it to 40amps for the fastest charge I can get which is a whole lot more than the inverter can do in the same time period.  I will use it even on those rare occasions where we have shore power.  I tuck it under the RV to protect it from dew or rain, set it to 20amps, and let it charge overnight more slowly.  A slower charge is a better charge.  It is easier on the batteries, and the charge lasts longer.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 02:57:57 pm by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2010, 05:29:05 pm »

Thanks Ron.  Lonnie still wonders why the battery would go dead when plugged into shore power since the battery shouldn't be needed. The battery water level was low, but still above the plates. Our old trailer had a 3 stage converter and we never had this problem. He left it plugged into shore power all winter. Maybe we were just "lucky".

Also, he's still wondering about the light on the switch on the left side of door. Is the light always on whether "in use" or "store" position?
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2010, 08:56:26 am »

Thanks Ron.  Lonnie still wonders why the battery would go dead when plugged into shore power since the battery shouldn't be needed. The battery water level was low, but still above the plates. Our old trailer had a 3 stage converter and we never had this problem. He left it plugged into shore power all winter. Maybe we were just "lucky".

Also, he's still wondering about the light on the switch on the left side of door. Is the light always on whether "in use" or "store" position?

About that LED light by the Use/Store switch, I can't answer your question because my batteries are removed this year, and I can't remember how it was when they were hooked up.

Does your PC have one or two coach batteries?  I have two.  Because I couldn't get a complete charge using the Black & Decker charger, I decided to pull them from the PC, clean them up well, place them on my work bench, fill them with water, and observe when charging them independently.  To my surprise, one battery was bad.  I couldn't get the B&D charger to complete it's charge.  It charged and charged with water boiling for a week.  After giving up, I measured the voltage around 11v.  Two days later it dropped to around 9v.  A week later it dropped to 7V, just sitting on the work bench.  It's a bad battery.

The other battery received the charge as it should.  The B&D charger saying "Full" after a few days.  It still measues 12v after many weeks.

I wonder if all my advise about "Not Plugging In" the PC over the winter is supported only because I had one bad battery, possibily for years.  Maybe the bad battery threw off my inverter in the RV, making it continuously charge without hope for completion.

Test your batteries like I did.  You will need a volt meter, found at Walmart and other auto parts stores.  They start at around $10-$15.  After a complete charge, the battery should be at 12v, and stay there for a long time, assuming there is no power drain.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 08:59:07 am by ron.dittmer » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2010, 05:48:57 pm »

Guys and gals I am still fighting the battery problem too.   If the battery switch is in the store position they SHOULD be disconnected from the inverter/charger. But even with that said, the difference in battery capacity between two batteries will still hasten discharge.  When these two crap out I will only buy one in the future since I don't dry camp that much anyway, and going down the road you have the option of engine charging or generator running the inverter/charger.  I have found, for info only, that my independent maintenance chargers because of that difference in capacity never reach a null state(charged) and shut off.  I suspect the inverter/charger has the same problem and boils the two batteries to death.
Hope this helps, but, probably just confuses the issue more.

L. G.
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2010, 09:53:42 am »

Intersting point L.G.

I think the problem is amplified when one battery is in worse condition than the other.  If they were matched in health, I think the charger will do it's job as designed.  But if one is weak (or dead in my situation), the charger goes and goes, never getting satisfied to stop.

The places we go to, we depend on battery power a lot, so I could never consider eliminating one battery.  But what I am going to do before my next trip is go to Walmart in July, and buy two of their largest RV batteries, with matching manufacturing dates.  When I get them home, I will check acid level and charge them independantly to confirm they can be topped off.
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2010, 06:26:27 pm »

Ron's instinct is absolutely correct.  Whether it's two batteries in a coach, or multiple batteries in a solar bank on an off-the-grid home, your ENTIRE battery "bank" is only as good as your weakest battery, PERIOD.

Sometimes even weaker.

Ron's regime of independent charging and evaluation in the off season is the only way to go.
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2010, 10:00:15 am »

Would it then make sense to isolated the two house batteries from each other with relays?  That would mean not having the ampacity of two batteries but still having the total capacity of two, just have to manually switch them in and out of/for use.

That doesn't sound like a solution either. But, it does work better on a charge cycle, at home, in the driveway, to top each battery individually, and then reconnect in parallel.

L.G.

Thanks for the thoughts.
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2010, 10:59:12 pm »

While I have only one coach battery and have no problems to date, I would suggest that anything you read about parallel connected batteries will warn you of eventual problems.  If the two batteries do not have identical voltages, the stronger battery will try to force current to run through the weaker one.  Since the narratives in this chain put forth all sorts of reasons why one battery is often not as strong, you will tend to overcharge the stronger battery trying to maintain the weaker one and eventually it will fail.  Many sources suggest wiring two 6 volt batteries in series to replace dual 12 volt batteries as a more reliable, longer lived solution.  The best technical answer it to install a solid state isolator that will selectively charge the lower voltage battery and not keep charging a fully charged battery.  These are not very expensive, maybe $30-$40 or so.  The real problem is that battery charging is more complicated than it looks.  The fully charged voltage of a "12 volt" lead acid battery is more like 13.8 volts.  How quickly the battery loses voltage depends on how much current is drawn, the condition of the battery, the electolyte level, and the ambient temperature.  Also, chargers usually have a maintenance voltage setting which stops the charging as long as it is maintained.  If this voltage is too high in your charger, it will tend to overcharge the battery, which will shorten its life expectancy.  Some sources suggest that a stored unit with good quality batteries needs to be charged only once a month or so, and that leaving the charger hooked up at all times is not the best practice.  If you don't mind the hassle, taking batteries out when they're not being used and storing them in a climate controlled area will extend their useful life, as Ron suggests.
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« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2010, 12:39:38 pm »

I've heard that the best solution to the dead/dying battery problem is to take the PC out for a 30 mile trip every couple of weeks.  This also helps the tires and motor and everything else that ails you.  We've had our 2005 2550 with one battery for two years now, through a couple of Arizona summers and we can still go dry camping for a weekend. 
Whenever we leave the PC we try to remember to turn off the store switch by the door.  When we do remember, we don't have any problem.  I forgot last weekend...I'm not sure what the situation is now, but the CO sensor was beeping last night.  I suspect that the charge and maybe water is low in the batteries.
I've looked at the inverter for any switches but haven't found anything yet.
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« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2010, 06:59:49 pm »

I ended up killing one cell in one battery.  The remaining battery was cooking all of the water out.  Thought about it for a couple of days and decided to go through the inverter/charger set-up to make sure it was right.  It was not.  The dip switch that controls rate was set to the high charge rate for hard usage, which scenario doesn't apply in my case.  Moved the switch to the other setting and the boiling stopped and it's maintaining 13.2 volts at the battery. A welcome side effect is that my language has improved quite a bit according to the better half.
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« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2010, 08:03:15 pm »

Quote
He would like to know if the red light on the battery switch (which says it's either "in use" or "stored") ever goes out. He keeps it in "stored" position, but the red light stays on. Is this normal?

On my 2010 2551, I have determined that the batteries are disconnected from the converter and all loads when the stored switch is pushed even though the red light stays on.  When not on shore power the light goes off, when on shore power the light stays on because the light wire is connected to the converter side of the isolating relay.  So listen for the relay click when pressing the store switch and the batteries will be disconected from the converter even if the light stays on when on shore power.  This is good in that you can have everything run off the converter on shore power and the batteries will not be charging and possibly overcharged.

Bob
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2010, 07:53:11 pm »

Yes, it is that way on mine too.  The problem is that with the house battery disconnected the thermostat for the HVAC is also without power(12V) and the AC will not come on.
I assume it's this way so the heater can be used in a dry camping scenario.
I keep the AC set on 85 degrees in my polebarn storage since it can get a little warm even with shade in Okie land.

L. G.
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