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Author Topic: Battery Power Questions  (Read 494 times)

Len2

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Battery Power Questions
« on: October 27, 2017, 06:24:07 PM »
I went to our MH today and I had some stuff happen that seemed strange to me and I was hoping someone might be able to shed some light.

We have a 2013 Itasca Sunstar 35F. We have had it almost a year and have had it out maybe 8 to 10 times including a 2 week trip this summer. I had it out about 2 weeks ago and all looked well when I put it back in storage. I thought I turned off both battery switches, but that was 2 weeks ago (memory?).

I have been reading everything I can on this forum about batteries, chargers and battery isolation I can find. I know more than I did, but I still do not have all of the lingo down and when I look at the documentation for this MH I do not see some of the things that are mentioned in the threads i.e. trombetta. Just bear with me as I explain this story and I know together we can educate me. I really appreciate the help that is given out on this forum. Thanks.

Today I went to install our new LED light bulbs. The first thing I did was connect 30 AMP shore power (because of something I read in the instructions with the light bulbs and just because). I happened to check the battery switches and the house battery switch was lit indicating it was on. I have noticed before that even when I do not turn on the switch after connecting the shore power the switch is on. I assume this is normal.

We installed the LEDs. Much better. Happy with the decision. We did a few more things. Shore power was probably on an hour and a half. I then disconnected the shore power. I checked to be sure the battery switches were both off. The house battery switch would not turn off. While I was pondering this the propane alarm started beeping. I checked the battery status at the monitor panel. Batteries showed dead. That is a first. The batteries are failing (don't hold a charge for long, they drop if lights are left on for long), but they have been working. We have mainly been using shore power. Batteries only when in storage. I decided to reconnect shore power. This allowed me to reset the propane alarm. I then disconnected the shore power. Now things get a little fuzzy (memory). I thought I checked the battery switch and it was off. I rechecked the battery status at the panel and still dead. Then the propane alarm started beeping and the battery switch light was back on. (That's what's fuzzy, not really sure when it came on.) We had to leave then so I hooked up the shore power to hopefully charge the batteries. I will go back tomorrow and see what happened.

Where I am at trying to understand what just happened:

I am assuming I left the battery switch on and the batteries drained during the 2 weeks since it was last out. Didn't think so, but.... They have always held a charge while in storage, I try to always turn off the battery switches. The propane alarm was NOT going off when we first got to the MH today.

I am guessing I could not turn off the battery switch (however you want to say it, I press the switch, the batteries are disconnected and the light on the switch goes out) because there was not enough power to disengage the battery disconnect relay (or whatever it is. I have a question I will ask later).

I am guessing the propane alarm is going off because there is low power and it is upset.

Do my guesses and assumptions make sense?

Question:
Is the Precision Circuits Inc, Battery Isolation Manager what disconnects the batteries? Does this compare to the trombetta solenoid people mention?
I have other questions on this piece of equipment but I think I will start another thread sometime.

Thanks for your help,
Len
Len and Nancy
Molly and Rosebud
2013 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2013 Ford CMax

Arch Hoagland

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2017, 07:43:35 PM »
This will cure your battery rundown problems. Guaranteed.

 https://www.amazon.com/WirthCo-20128-Battery-Disconnect-Terminal/dp/B000CQFWLY 

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Len2

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2017, 09:45:53 PM »
Thanks Arch. That is a real disconnect. I probably would remember if I threw that switch.
Len and Nancy
Molly and Rosebud
2013 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2013 Ford CMax

AStravelers

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2017, 07:26:59 AM »
It is difficult for me to piece together your complete sequence of events in my mind.

However, if the batteries did not get disconnected it could pretty much discharge them in 2 weeks, especially if the inverter is on.  Even if no 120V AC devices are being powered by the inverter, the invert just being on, pulls 1.5 to 2amps of battery power.  At about 20 amp hours (AH) a day, even a fully charged 400AH battery bank is pulled down to the 50% charged level.  That is not dead, but if the batteries were not fully charged when you started that could kill the batteries. 

Hopefully the batteries are not ruined.  Probably not if this is the first time this has happened.  However if you do a lot of dry camping or boondocking you will find you don't have as much battery capacity as you used to.

I would be sure to check the water level in the batteries and then plug into shore power for at least 2-3 days to get the batteries charged and see how everything works.  If, when you check the water level in the batteries, you find the plates in any of the cells were exposed to the air, that battery is pretty much toast. 
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
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John Canfield

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2017, 07:34:51 AM »
There is a continuous duty solenoid/contactor that controls house 12V. Operated - power to house 12V. Off - power off to most house 12V stuff. The other solenoid is the battery mode switch or solenoid. When the engine is running or when the Battery Boost switch is operated, the house and chassis battery banks are connected together.

Your chassis battery bank is not charged when on shore power (unless Winnie changed this in later model years), only the diesel pushers have this feature after the 2006 or 2007 model year. There are some devices that 'borrow' charge current from the house bank and send to the chassis bank, Trik-L-start or Xantrex Echo~Charge. I installed the Xantrex Echo~Charge when our coach was new.
--John
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Alfa38User

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2017, 07:49:07 AM »
Len2 wrote:
Quote
when I look at the documentation for this MH I do not see some of the things that are mentioned in the threads i.e. trombetta.

Trombetta is simply the brand name of a heavy duty relay/solenoid or contactor used by Winnebago, and perhaps some other brands, as was explained above by John. It has a somewhat poor reputation for longevity and some have simply substituted another brand, among them John, who has also written up his procedures/adventures on his personal website.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 07:55:03 AM by Alfa38User »
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2017, 08:55:15 AM »
I too am having some difficulty piecing the events together from your story, but I'm pretty confident your main problem is simply bad batteries, both house and chassis. They are 4 years old and apparently in weak condition. They may have been totally discharged again during this last storage episode, and it would not be surprising they can no longer recover. Plus, you were only on shore power a short time, nowhere near long enough to fully recharge a dead battery.

John's comment about the chassis battery not getting charged from shore power may also apply. Some Winnie models do not do that, though I have no specific knowledge of your 2013 Sunstar.
Gary
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JoelP

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2017, 09:22:28 AM »
I expect that you have weak/old batteries like I recently had in mine, but when I leave my Itasca for a longer period of time I also turn off the power using the red rotary switch under the steps.  I am not sure if this is necessary, but it seems to turn off everything except the step motor and those things directly hooked to the batteries.
Joel from San Jose

2010 Itasca Suncruiser 37F
8.1L Chevy Workhorse with Banks PowerPack
2016 CMax Energi Hybrid dinghy

Len2

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2017, 12:38:33 PM »
All, Thanks for the comments and help. I went to the MH today and the batteries had charged. The monitor ("Know all, See all" panel) says they are fully charged. I'm sure they need more, but after reading the comments on the 1 and 2 stage chargers over charging and causing out gassing I didn't want to leave the shore power hooked up for long with me not being there. I will be interested if they still show charged when I get back later next week. My decision on when to replace may be made for me.

I know the batteries are weak. I checked the water level soon after we purchased the MH and the water was below the plates in one or 2 cells. I tested the cells with a hydrometer and those were weak. Replacing the batteries is on the list of things to do. I have been researching what batteries to get. We have a limited budget so all purchases have to be prioritized and weighted. AGM batteries are nice, but if we can make good "add water" batteries work we will have to just remember to add water. (Not sure what you call those batteries. They're all "wet cells" right?) I have been trying to limp along for now since at this point we always stay at a place with shore power.

Anyway, batteries are on the list as well as replacing the Schumacher Converter.

Sorry for the list of events not making sense. Nothing was making sense to me. Why wouldn't the battery disconnect switch work. What did the propane leak detector have to do with it? After thinking about it a while I sorted it out. Everything in these MH's is interconnected. Why won't the awning go out? It did last time. Oh, you have the key in the ignition this time. It can be a puzzle, but I like puzzles..

Sorry, I'm rambling. Thanks for the help and comments.
Len and Nancy
Molly and Rosebud
2013 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2013 Ford CMax

Lou Schneider

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2017, 01:29:23 PM »
Batteries get a surface charge that will reflect good voltage to your charge monitor but there's no depth to it.

If you have good batteries, there is a deeper charge underneath the surface charge that will sustain the battery voltage for quite a while as you use them.

If your batteries are worn out, the deeper charge is lacking and the batteries will quickly discharge after the surface charge is depleted.

A Traveler

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2017, 06:14:44 PM »
If you have shore power available at your storage facility, why are you disconnecting it? Leave it connected...leave the battery switches on and let the shore power keep your batteries topped off! Our coach is plugged into a standard 15 amp household outlet 24/7 when we're not using it. Been doing that for 5 years.

Doing what you are doing is a sure-fire way to kill your batteries.

Len2

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2017, 10:55:45 PM »
Lou, Thanks. I thought that may be what was happening.

A Traveler, After what I have been reading about the Schumacher, 1 stage, charger overcharging the batteries I did not want to leave the shore power plugged in for long periods of time. To be honest I hate to leave the MH plugged in without being able to be near it. My storage is a ways from my home and I do not always get there on a regular basis to check on things. I am probably over thinking this charger/charging thing. I will keep your advice in mind. I do not want to kill the batteries I have and I do not want to get new batteries and kill those. I am going to look at a true trickle charger and compare the price to a Progressive Dynamics 9260. Looks like I need a solution of some kind.
Len and Nancy
Molly and Rosebud
2013 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2013 Ford CMax

JoelP

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2017, 12:17:10 AM »


...I am guessing the propane alarm is going off because there is low power and it is upset.


Exactly.  Just before you lose power the propane detector goes off.  I experienced this two weeks ago when my batteries died and I had my daughter staying in my RV for the night.  This is not the best thing to happen at 3AM.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2017, 07:45:29 AM by JoelP »
Joel from San Jose

2010 Itasca Suncruiser 37F
8.1L Chevy Workhorse with Banks PowerPack
2016 CMax Energi Hybrid dinghy

John Canfield

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2017, 07:29:34 AM »
I was helping my buddy take his new-to-him sailboat from Jacksonville, FL to Oriental, NC a few years ago. Our first night on the boat at the marina was enhanced by a propane alarm on a boat one or two slips away sounding off all night. We told the dockmaster but I suppose he couldn't contact the owner. Great start to the adventure.  ::)
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2017, 09:00:01 AM »
You can use a timer to switch power on/off  to prevent overcharging. If the Schumacher cannot be plugged directly into the timer, plus the shore cord into it instead, using a suitable adapter. A heavy duty timer is best, but if only the battery charger is running, the amp load will be under 5 or so amps.  A couple hours/day is plenty to keep the charge up.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

John Canfield

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2017, 11:50:32 AM »
A timer would be a quick "fix" but you really should get a good three-stage charger. I think we have a link or two in the Winnebago and chassis Resources sticky thread at the top of this section about installing a good three-stage. A good three-stage will float a charge without overcharging and gassing.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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Len2

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2017, 02:16:56 PM »
Thanks everyone for the input. I did some research last night and have decided that I will do as John said and get a 3 stage charger. That will get me past the current problem of charging the batteries while in storage. I can disconnect the batteries and only have the charger connected as opposed to the whole MH. Our plans have us going full time next June or July. In the meantime we will be looking at new batteries and the PD9260 which has the 3 stage charger. There are also some other upgrades we would like to do before full time so we are trying to be prudent about what gets done and when.
Len and Nancy
Molly and Rosebud
2013 Itasca Sunstar 35F
2013 Ford CMax

Lou Schneider

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2017, 02:49:56 PM »
The PD9260 is available in stand-alone as well as built in versions.

If you were to get the stand-alone version you could use it as a charger now and then permanently install it when you're ready to use the RV.  This would save the cost of buying a separate charger just for this winter.

It doesn't have to be mounted in the power center, just put it close to the house batteries and plug it into an AC outlet.

AStravelers

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2017, 05:38:59 PM »
.........I know the batteries are weak. I checked the water level soon after we purchased the MH and the water was below the plates in one or 2 cells. I tested the cells with a hydrometer and those were weak. Replacing the batteries is on the list of things to do. I have been researching what batteries to get. We have a limited budget so all purchases have to be prioritized and weighted. AGM batteries are nice, but if we can make good "add water" batteries work we will have to just remember to add water. (Not sure what you call those batteries. They're all "wet cells" right?) I have been trying to limp along for now since at this point we always stay at a place with shore power. ..................
Buy your batteries at Sam's Club or Costco.  Buy Golf Cart 6V batteries for around $80 each.  You will need to wire them in series.  AGM's are nice but expensive.  Trojan and other high end batteries are supposed to be great.  However do you really think you will get twice the life from them over the Costco batteries at half the price? 

If you are not knowledgeable about battery wiring (as well as battery charging and solar) here is a couple of links with great info:
http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm
http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volta.htm
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

John Canfield

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2017, 07:39:08 AM »
Premium (Rolls, Shurette, etc. I don't consider Trojan a premium brand) flooded cell (wet) batteries could easily last twice as long as non-premium batteries and AGM chemistry batteries have several operating advantages over flooded cell.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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AStravelers

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2017, 10:35:42 AM »
Premium (Rolls, Shurette, etc. I don't consider Trojan a premium brand) flooded cell (wet) batteries could easily last twice as long as non-premium batteries and AGM chemistry batteries have several operating advantages over flooded cell.
And, accidentally discharge them totally a few times, or don't charge them to 100% often enough and you have paid 2-3 times as much for ruined batteries than you would have for the $85 golf cart battery at Sam's.  Abuse batteries will die just as well as cheap batteries, if not maintained.

Bottom line if you are well educated about batteries and battery usage, and will ALWAYS take care of your batteries, it may be good to buy these very expensive batteries.  If you toss them in and don't monitor them then you are just throwing your money away.
Al & Sharon
2006 Winnebago Sightseer 29R
2009 Chevy Colorado 4X4

http://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/

John Canfield

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Re: Battery Power Questions
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2017, 01:06:53 PM »
...If you toss them in and don't monitor them then you are just throwing your money away.
One huge benefit of AGM chemistry is the batteries are truly sealed, no reason to ever look at them except for an occasional visual check. The primary battery killer for even AGM is to deeply discharge them, AGMs have more tolerance than flooded cell but if you just pay attention, they will last for years and years. Since I have auto gen start on low battery voltage I consider my AGMs maintenance free  ;) .
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
Our Horizon projects
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