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Author Topic: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?  (Read 18879 times)

John Mo

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Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« on: March 16, 2009, 09:38:36 PM »
Here come all the newbie technical questions... well, sort of. I know my way around motorhomes reasonably well, but I need to get to know my Winnebago. :)

During our dealer walk-through I asked if the alternator charged the house batteries and the technician said it didn't. But I noticed tonight that my house lights got a lot brighter when I started the engine, so I think there must be some connection there. What's the scoop on the 12-volt electrical interactions between the chassis battery, alternator, and coach batteries and systems?

Thanks,
John
2009 Winnebago Sightseer 35J

Just Lou

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2009, 09:42:25 PM »
I would be extremely surprised if your alternator did not charge the house batteries.  That's been standard for many many years.
'97 Bounder 34V (F53 w/tag), '99 Honda Accord EX

scottydl

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2009, 10:17:38 PM »
Right, the engine likely does charge the house batteries.  Although the opposite may not be true, with shore power charging the chassis (engine) battery.  Some rigs do, mine does not... I manually hook up a trickle charger to the chassis battery when camping.

If you look under your hood (for lack of a better term), follow the positive cable from the chassis battery and you will likely find it connected to a splitter that sends the juice off several different directions.  My splitter is right at eye level and easy to see.  One of those directions is to the house batteries.
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John Mo

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2009, 10:38:54 PM »
Thank you gents. My batteries are under the entry step, so it's tough to trace the wiring. I'm familiar with Fleetwood's battery control system as I had a '96 Bounder before. In that one the chassis would get charged on shore power if the house batteries were fully charged. I don't know if Winnebago uses a similar system. I think there's more there than meets the eye on the Winnie. I'm still studying the manuals, but I've already found mistakes in manuals too. ::)
2009 Winnebago Sightseer 35J

Ron

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2009, 11:45:12 PM »
We had two Bounders and now the Eagle and the altenator charged the chassis battery on all three.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 11:17:21 AM by Ron »
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SargeW

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2009, 12:20:21 AM »
It most likely does.  My alternator will charge the house batteries, but only after the chassis batteries are charged.  I have a built in switch that I can sometimes hear clicking back and forth.  When plugged into shore power or running the generator, your house batteries will be charged first, then if you have a trick-L-start wired in your rig, it will take a small amount of power from your house batteries and feed it to the chassis batteries.  Winnie started adding trick-L-start on thier rigs in 2006.

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DonTom

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2009, 01:33:45 AM »
Here come all the newbie technical questions... well, sort of. I know my way around motorhomes reasonably well, but I need to get to know my Winnebago. :)

During our dealer walk-through I asked if the alternator charged the house batteries and the technician said it didn't. But I noticed tonight that my house lights got a lot brighter when I started the engine, so I think there must be some connection there. What's the scoop on the 12-volt electrical interactions between the chassis battery, alternator, and coach batteries and systems?
Thanks,
John

I never heard of a motorhome that didn't unless something was broken, such as the diode isolator.  But IMO, it's a good idea to have a couple of these.

Plug one in at your real cigarette lighter to see if your engine starting battery is charging and plug another in a 12 volt house outlet to see if your house battery is charging. You should notice at least a 1.0 volt difference between charging and not charging. 

I don't understand how a "technician" could not know if your house battery charges from your alternator.


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porscheracer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2009, 06:35:08 AM »
The technician was probably a salesman in training.

Also, if your battery boost relay is bad, it can cause the systems not to cross-charge.
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John Mo

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2009, 08:16:42 AM »
I don't understand how a "technician" could not know if your house battery charges from your alternator.

He told me I couldn't run both air conditioners on shore power too (ours is a 30-amp unit). I knew that was flat-out wrong already, but I didn't debate the point. He was a nice fellow and I didn't want to be a jerk.

He wasn't a salesman in training either. He's one of the guys that works in the shop and seemed to be one of the veteran members of the crew there.

Ultimately I was a little disappointed that I knew more about some things than he did and didn't ask any of the tough questions I wanted to ask. I figured I'd prevail upon the collective wisdom in the forums for those questions.

Thanks,
John
2009 Winnebago Sightseer 35J

John Canfield

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2009, 08:22:25 AM »
Starting about the 2006 model year, Winnebago began installing a Trik-L-Charge which takes some charging current from the house batteries and feeds to chassis batteries while on shore power.

With the engine running, there is a solenoid that energizes and bridges the house and chassis banks together (also it is switch operated - "Battery Boost" on the dash if you have that feature.)
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2009, 08:28:53 AM »
John Mo,
You can have both a/c's on, but they may not actually run simultaneously.  The second compressor's start-up load may cause you to exceed 30A and you probably have a built-in load management system that would shut off the compressor if that happens. The fans would continue to run, so you might not notice.

I've been told, though, that Winnie's basement air system will indeed run both airs on a 30A circuit if nothing else significant is using 120vac power.
Gary
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scottydl

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2009, 08:37:04 AM »
You can have both a/c's on, but they may not actually run simultaneously.  The second compressor's start-up load may cause you to exceed 30A and you probably have a built-in load management system that would shut off the compressor if that happens. The fans would continue to run, so you might not notice.

Is this a feature on all  newer 30-amp rigs, or just newer Winnie's?  When I'm on shore power, I can only run 1 A/C at a time and there's a selector switch for which one I want to run.  Common on MH's of my era I believe, and I'm sure that's where the salesman was getting his assumption.  I can understand how newer rigs would probably be set up to run both A/C's simultaneously by alternating the compressor load.
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John Canfield

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2009, 08:49:28 AM »
We're drifting a little here...

Winnie's basement air will indeed start and run on 30 amps with both compressors and the blower on high speed - running load is about 21-22 amps (compressor starts are sequenced so they both don't come on-line at the same time.)  The Energy Management System will shed loads while on 30 amp shore power - if I remember correctly in this order:  water heater, compressor #2, high blower speed, and finally the fridge.

I'm on the verge of buying a roof air to augment the basement (for various reasons which I will get into with a project post after the fact) and discovered there is a wide variety of roof units - some are very energy efficient (10-12 amps for 13,500 BTU), and some aren't efficient (~15+ amps.)  If you have two roof airs and can't run both from 30 shore power, I'm not a bit surprised, especially with older units that are not high efficiency.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 08:51:10 AM by John Canfield »
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geodrake

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2009, 09:26:29 AM »
Our 2002 Itasca Sunrise has two roof ACs.  They work the way John explained, allowing both to run at the same time.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2009, 09:36:28 AM »
It's the compressor start up load that is the problem on 30A. Even with a compressor that runs at 11-12 amps, the second one starting can easily exceed 20A for a few seconds and that is often enough to trip a 30A supply breaker. The Energy Mgmt Systems are intended to avoid that by shedding load if needed to keep the breaker from popping.

The newer compressors for RV air are designed to minimize the starting loads as well as to run more efficiently. This makes it possible in some rigs to run two a/cs on 30A and actually get both compressors running at the same time. Since the fans continue to run in either case, many people think both a/c are running when they are not, so it is difficult to judge from anecdotal evidence in public forums.
Gary
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davemittan

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2009, 09:41:07 AM »
Starting about the 2006 model year, Winnebago began installing a Trik-L-Charge which takes some charging current from the house batteries and feeds to chassis batteries while on shore power.

With the engine running, there is a solenoid that energizes and bridges the house and chassis banks together (also it is switch operated - "Battery Boost" on the dash if you have that feature.)

Hey John -

Does that apply to Views and Navions too?  I've been all through my manuals and original paperwork (in the black Winnebago pouch) - I see no mention of the Trik-L-Charge anywhere.  I do, however have that Battery Boost switch. 

FrontrangeRVer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2009, 09:50:35 AM »
Hey John -

Does that apply to Views and Navions too?  I've been all through my manuals and original paperwork (in the black Winnebago pouch) - I see no mention of the Trik-L-Charge anywhere.  I do, however have that Battery Boost switch. 

In a short answer, NO.

Clarification, starting in 2006, Winnebago started including the Trick-L-Charger in all the Diesel powered Class A motorhomes.

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FrontrangeRVer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2009, 09:51:51 AM »
Here come all the newbie technical questions... well, sort of. I know my way around motorhomes reasonably well, but I need to get to know my Winnebago. :)

During our dealer walk-through I asked if the alternator charged the house batteries and the technician said it didn't. But I noticed tonight that my house lights got a lot brighter when I started the engine, so I think there must be some connection there. What's the scoop on the 12-volt electrical interactions between the chassis battery, alternator, and coach batteries and systems?

Thanks,
John

John, YES, your alternator will charge the house batteries.  The technician is wrong on this.
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FrontrangeRVer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2009, 09:52:17 AM »
Dang!  Hit reply instead of edit!  I hate that! 
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davemittan

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2009, 09:56:55 AM »
Thanks Mark -

I'll stop looking for it.  I just went and looked at the converter (Parallax) - I couldn't see any evidence of it.

Clay L

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2009, 10:11:50 AM »
Regarding the two ACs and 30 amp service.
On mine both compressors will run at the same time but will not start at the same time.
As stated in other posts, the EMS will temporarily prevent the rear AC from starting while the front air is starting.
If other heavy loads such as the microwave or an electric heater try to start while the two AC compressors are running, my EMS will first shed the rear AC compressor, then the rear AC fan, then the refrigerator.
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John Mo

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #21 on: March 17, 2009, 10:16:43 AM »
I haven't seen any reference to the Trik-L-Charge in my manuals yet, but I'm still browsing. I suspect it does not have this feature as the chassis battery has already died once and required the booster to get started even though it has spent many months plugged-in in an indoor showroom. After we picked it up, we stopped for lunch and I left the headlights on (rainy day). (And why doesn't it have a reminder buzzer for the headlights?) In the time it took to eat a fast-food lunch, the chassis battery was too low to crank the engine. I'm debating whether to ask the dealer for a new chassis battery. I'm going to charge it a bit and see what it does.

Another thing the dealer had wrong was operation of the slides. The salesman and the walk-through technician both ran the slides with the engine off. From what I've read elsewhere and in the manuals, the slides should not be run without the engine running. I'm not sure whether the slides are powered off the chassis or house batteries, but if the chassis, then that might explain why it was so low to start with.

Energy management systems seem to have gotten started in the middle 1990s. My '96 Bounder had one. I also broke into the wiring on that one and rigged it to run a second shore power connection to run my rear air. That worked quite well, though I know tinkering with the wiring like that sets off a lot of people, so no flames please.

I think I eventually want to rig a second line on my new Sightseer, but I need to learn some more details about its wiring. The Sightseer has a switch in the cabinet under the refrigerator to select the power source for the rear air. The choices are generator and shore line. I suspect that I can set the switch to generator and locate 20-amp circuit off of the generator and break in there as I did on my Bounder. I didn't even start into this with the technician on our walk-through, but he did say that you can be connected to shore power, set the switch to generator, and then run the front and rear air together that way.

I think the air conditioners on the '09 model (and the last several years too) are high-efficiency, so I expect they can be run together as long as nothing else is drawing much power. They are both 13,500 BTU units, which concerns me a little... my Bounder had a 15,000 BTU unit up front and it didn't keep us especially cool, but it was also old and probably had a slow leak as someone had previously installed a valve to add refrigerant (originally sealed systems). We'll see how it does this summer.

I appreciate the input. I can't get out and camp in it just yet, so I'm getting my fill by chatting about it.  ;)
2009 Winnebago Sightseer 35J

davemittan

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #22 on: March 17, 2009, 10:25:04 AM »
John Mo -

If it's like ours, your slide(s) operate off the chassis battery.  It's in the owner's manual, but not prominently displayed to my way of thinking.  Our owner's manual also advises us to operate the slide only when the engine is running.

Also on our chassis battery:  the electric steps and the courtesy light for them.  That light will be on whenever the door is open.  (The light is easy to disconnect, BTW.)

John Mo

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #23 on: March 17, 2009, 10:28:22 AM »
Also on our chassis battery:  the electric steps and the courtesy light for them.  That light will be on whenever the door is open.  (The light is easy to disconnect, BTW.)

I like that little light. It's a nice touch. I also noted that it continued working even after I hit the battery disconnects. :o
2009 Winnebago Sightseer 35J

FrontrangeRVer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #24 on: March 17, 2009, 11:32:22 AM »

Another thing the dealer had wrong was operation of the slides. The salesman and the walk-through technician both ran the slides with the engine off. From what I've read elsewhere and in the manuals, the slides should not be run without the engine running. I'm not sure whether the slides are powered off the chassis or house batteries, but if the chassis, then that might explain why it was so low to start with.



The running of the engine will keep the battery boosted and the slide motor "happy" as you run your slides in and out.   You can run your slides in and out without the engine of course, but will slow the slide motor as you will use more "battery power" instead of the alternator.   ;)
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John Canfield

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #25 on: March 17, 2009, 12:03:35 PM »
I haven't seen any reference to the Trik-L-Charge in my manuals yet, but I'm still browsing. I suspect it does not have this feature as the chassis battery has already die

John - Mark (Voyage1) indicated the Trik-L-Charge is only on diesel Class A units.  (Thanks for the clarification Mark!)

If you don't have one, they are only about 60-70 bucks and easily added.
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carson

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #26 on: March 17, 2009, 01:06:52 PM »
Dave, if I might add bit of re your statement:

Quote
That light will be on whenever the door is open.  (The light is easy to disconnect, BTW.)

   2 pix below....  Notice the step switch in my Rig. You can turn it on and the steps are "live" all the time. When you open the door, the steps extend, as expected. The light will turn on.

   If you leave the door open, the light will stay on.

Now, when you flip the Step switch to 'off', it locks the step in that position no matter what the door does. At this point the light will turn 'off'.  I don't think it is necessary to disable the lamp to save power, in that case.

   Now, if one forgets to put the switch back to 'on', it'll automatically retract when the engine is started.

  At least that is how my old rig is wired. I believe that is the norm; my manual says so.

carson FL



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davemittan

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #27 on: March 17, 2009, 01:36:28 PM »
Thanks Carson -

The step switch is kept OFF when the rig is parked out back for the winter.  Even so, the light would come on when the door was open.  We had a dead chassis battery in late January - that's when I went looking for possible drains.  We hadn't operated the slide - or anything else for that matter.  We had, however, kept the coach's entrance door open for extended periods a month or two earlier.

One wire went to that step light - it had a sheathed spade-type connector about 9" away from the light.  I taped both ends to keep out dirt, so I could reconnect it later.

Later on I found the Sprinter's battery "isolator" (a chassis battery disconnect) just above and to the right the accelerator pedal.  If I used it, leaving the step light disconnected would be redundant - I might reconnect it later.

carson

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #28 on: March 17, 2009, 01:46:22 PM »
Dave, I guess that is another anomaly between rigs. I believe that is not the way it is supposed to work. I am glad mine works as designed.

carson FL
 
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FrontrangeRVer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #29 on: March 17, 2009, 01:52:31 PM »
I thought I clicked on the "Does the alternator charge the house batteries" post?

Maybe the "step" questions could be asked elsewhere?   ;)
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Mc2guy

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #30 on: March 17, 2009, 02:05:00 PM »
John Mo -

If it's like ours, your slide(s) operate off the chassis battery.  It's in the owner's manual, but not prominently displayed to my way of thinking.  Our owner's manual also advises us to operate the slide only when the engine is running.

Also on our chassis battery:  the electric steps and the courtesy light for them.  That light will be on whenever the door is open.  (The light is easy to disconnect, BTW.)

John Mo-

I have the exact 2009 35J that you do, and the slides do operate off the chassis, not coach, batteries (I measured to confirm).  They will work fine on a fully charged battery, but will quickly drain it if you run 'em in and out a lot without running the engine to charge the chassis battery.  Also, my unit does NOT have a trickle charger for the chassis battery, although I have let the battery sit for up to 5 weeks in the cold with no apparent loss of starting power...I just make sure it is charged before I hit the disconnect relay.

As for the AC's, Winnebago has two 13,500 Btu options for 2009.  The RVP (Coleman) Mach 3 Plus, and the Mach 3 P.S.  The Plus is a 14.5 amp unit, the  P.S. is a 10.2 amp high-efficiency unit.  If you have the upgraded heating and cooling option, you got the latter; if not, you have the former.  I have the high-effiiciency P.S. units and can (and have) easily run both AC's off a single 30 amp hook-up.  The compressor surge is usually less than 20 amps, so it will not trigger a breaker when one AC is on and the other kicks on.

These units are also heat pumps and offer about 4,500Btu of heating capacity each, which will keep you warm down to about 40-45.  Any colder, and you'll want an electric space heater or to run the propane furnace.

I haven't seen extreme heat in my rig yet, but a 90 degree day on the interstate last year was easily dealt with by running one of two units and no dash AC.  Keep in mind that with the heating/cooling option, I also have double paned low-e tinted windows which lowers the heat gain significantly.
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Stan Birch

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #31 on: March 17, 2009, 03:21:08 PM »
As for the AC's, Winnebago has two 13,500 Btu options for 2009.  The RVP (Coleman) Mach 3 Plus, and the Mach 3 P.S.  The Plus is a 14.5 amp unit, the  P.S. is a 10.2 amp high-efficiency unit.  If you have the upgraded heating and cooling option, you got the latter; if not, you have the former.  I have the high-effiiciency P.S. units and can (and have) easily run both AC's off a single 30 amp hook-up.  The compressor surge is usually less than 20 amps, so it will not trigger a breaker when one AC is on and the other kicks on.

The P.S. in the Mach3 unit is short for Power Saver. And when they quote 10.2 amps, that's pretty obviously absolutely worst case, 120F in the sun!! On an 80F day, I can run both of my Power Saver units on a mere 15 amp circuit. The current draw only runs around 7 to 8 amps per A/C at 80 to 90F. The thermostat circuitry is interconnected to ensure that both units don't try to start at the same time.

As for coach batteries being charged by the alternator; that would be the routine setup on a Winnebago. The coach and chassis batteries are connected in parallel via a continuous-duty solenoid whenever the ignition key is placed in 'run' position. With all of the arching and sparking the solenoid endures, the solenoid contacts get pretty burned and charred, leading to a useless high resistance connection. Such solenoids generally don't have a life expectancy beyond about 5 years. But they are cheap . . . like about $20; and available at just about any automotive parts store. While they look like a starter relay, you must be sure to obtain a continuous duty relay. Winnebago generally locates them at the left front of the motorhome in the big metal box labelled "relays".   

 
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Just Lou

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #32 on: March 17, 2009, 03:48:54 PM »
The coach and chassis batteries are connected in parallel via a continuous-duty solenoid .................................. Winnebago generally locates them at the left front of the motorhome in the big metal box labelled "relays". 

True for a gas coach.  Rear engine coaches, they can be anywhere aft.
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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #33 on: March 17, 2009, 04:54:09 PM »
I thought I clicked on the "Does the alternator charge the house batteries" post?

Maybe the "step" questions could be asked elsewhere?   ;)

Mark - we wobble around once in a while  ::)
--John
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porscheracer

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #34 on: March 17, 2009, 08:04:27 PM »
^^

I thought I'd been mystery hotlinked back to the "other" forum for a minute. ;)
Norm & Janet - Retired and roaming the world, by RV and ship.
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kevin

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #35 on: March 17, 2009, 08:09:47 PM »
our 06 tour seems to charge the house batteries will running. But I have found another issue though, I haven't seen anything about a trickle charger system on board, yet if my chasis batteries are dead, and I plug it in it seems to charge the chasis batteries? so I guess it must be there somewhere right? kevin
2006 Tour
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DonTom

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #36 on: March 17, 2009, 09:36:55 PM »
our 06 tour seems to charge the house batteries will running. But I have found another issue though, I haven't seen anything about a trickle charger system on board, yet if my chasis batteries are dead, and I plug it in it seems to charge the chasis batteries? so I guess it must be there somewhere right? kevin

Maybe. But most likely not. Get a couple of these thingies and plug one into you vehicle cigarette lighter and see if it goes up a volt or so when you think you're charging. Then compare with the voltage of a house 12 volt accessory outlet. They are very handy to see when you're charging and when you're not.

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John Mo

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #37 on: March 17, 2009, 10:17:36 PM »
Winnebago generally locates them at the left front of the motorhome in the big metal box labelled "relays".

Front compartment on the right in the 35J. I'm familiar with the solenoid. Mine was bad on my Bounder.
2009 Winnebago Sightseer 35J

davemittan

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #38 on: March 18, 2009, 05:08:01 AM »
Get a couple of these thingies and plug one into you vehicle cigarette lighter and see if it goes up a volt or so when you think you're charging. Then compare with the voltage of a house 12 volt accessory outlet. They are very handy to see when you're charging and when you're not.

Thanks Don - I just ordered a couple.

John From Detroit

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #39 on: March 18, 2009, 10:48:43 AM »
Get a couple of these thingies

I use one of those one cheaper jobbie. I've got one more somewhere too.. I like that one best
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #40 on: March 18, 2009, 11:20:22 AM »
our 06 tour seems to charge the house batteries will running. But I have found another issue though, I haven't seen anything about a trickle charger system on board, yet if my chasis batteries are dead, and I plug it in it seems to charge the chasis batteries? so I guess it must be there somewhere right? kevin

Kevin - Winnie installs the Trik-L-Charge near the battery banks bridging solenoid in your electrical bay.  It is most likely behind the steel box with the solenoids.
--John
2005 Horizon 40AD, 2006 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited
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Mc2guy

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Re: Does the aternator charge the house batteries?
« Reply #41 on: March 18, 2009, 11:22:01 AM »
Best Converter has a monitor with an alarm that is nice.  I like it because it reads to 0.01 volts resolution and has a programmable alarm.  I have it mounted on my bulkhead and set to alarm if voltage drops to below 12 volts.  The only  problem with using voltage monitors as an alarm is that the voltage will read lower while the system is under heavy load meaning your batteries might show 11.9 volts under load when their resting charge rate is 12.4 or better. This is really only a problem when it is cold out and the battery voltage reads lower.
Christian, Jenn, Holden, Emerson, and Fletcher
2015 Forest River Sunseeker 3170DS
2008 Winnebago Sightseer 35J (SOLD)

 

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