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Author Topic: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...  (Read 23407 times)

jennyjigsaw

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CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« on: November 24, 2009, 12:16:16 AM »
Ok guys, help me out here.  I get a total mental block when anyone starts talking in volts or amps or whatever, so be gentle with my brain!

I have what I think is a teensy problem, and a question.  The problem is that about a week or so after we bought our RV and had it sitting in our driveway, we noticed some beeping coming from our CO2 detector.  It's built into the bedroom wall, so I took it out, after seeing that the type of beeping apparently meant "time for a new detector".  It is supposed to last 5 years, and the RV is 5 years old, so I just figured I'd get a new one.  Shortly afterwards, the same type beeping started with the LP detector, so I took that out too, and was going to go to our local RV supply store to buy new ones. 

Then I started to do some reading and I think I figured out that my detectors are probably fine, but that it is something to do with my battery?  So, do I understand it right, that these detectors are using my chassis battery while we are parked?  What else is using this?  Do people keep their detectors uninstalled until they go on the road?  I think these are the only things that function without turning the engine over, aside from the interior lights, but they only stay on for a few minutes before they start to dim.  Surely they can't be using the battery if they aren't on?  The engine does seem to be struggling to start a little bit, when we do turn it on...

Can someone please explain this to me like I'm a 2 year old? 

Thanks!

Janina
32 days till we drive away!

Marsha/CA

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2009, 12:40:09 AM »
Janina, (what a pretty name)  

I'm gonna try to keep this simple... :)

I'm assuming you do not have your RV plugged into an electrical outlet at your house?  If you do not have it plugged in, your batteries will drain down.  Plugging into an electrical socket keeps the batteries charged until you are ready to travel.  When you travel and have your engine on, the batteries will charge from the alternator in the engine.  

If you are not plugged into 120 volt (electrical socket at your house or at a campground) the lights in the RV turn on and work from the house batteries.  But if your house batteries are low or almost completely discharged, the lights will dim.  The batteries need to be charged fairly often to keep the charge up and keep your lights, refrigerator, CO detector and smoke alarms working.  If the CO detector and/or the smoke alarms notice low batteries, they will beep to warn you the batteries are low.  That is most likely what is happening.

To keep this from getting too long, I'll note some important info:

*Most RVs have a chassis battery and a house battery.  Some RVs have up to 4 or more house batteries.  House batteries are different than coach batteries.   They are deep cell; whereas chassis batteries are for "quick burst" and are used for starting engines but not for long term use.
*Once a battery has been drained down, it looses lots of it's life and will need to be replaced.  Running them down is a bad thing.
*If you keep your RV plugged in, be sure and check the water level in the batteries if they are "wet cell" (meaning you put distilled water in the battery itself)
*Some RVs have a 12 volt shut off switch, which you "shut off" if you are not plugged into an electrical socket and you plan to let the RV sit for longer than 1-2 days.

My gut feeling is that your C0 detector and the smoke alarm are probably fine; but your batteries might need looking at and or replacing if they been drained down too often.

Marsha~
« Last Edit: November 24, 2009, 11:01:15 AM by Marsha/CA »
2017 Heartland Mallard IDM231 Travel Trailer....Small but mighty.

DonTom

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2009, 12:58:27 AM »
Quote
So, do I understand it right, that these detectors are using my chassis battery while we are parked?

The odds are about 50-50. It could use either or both (some LP detectors have a wire to each battery).

It should NOT  turn off when parked. When you're sleeping in the RV can be when it's needed the most.  But it MIGHT be off when the RV is stored (using the disconnect switch that is usually by the side door). Is there a light on the LP detector that shows when it's on? Is there a model name and / or number on the LP detector?

Does it go out when you use the disconnect switch?  Some will and some won't.   If so, it must be on the house battery.  IMO, it's best to go off and on with that switch.

The only thing standard in RV's is that nothing is standard. Not all are wired the same.

It might help if you mention what year and make of RV because somebody here might have one just like it who can explain things about your rig a lot better than I can.

Most likely the propane detector can be rewired to be off when the RV is  not used (stored, not just parked). Mine used to be wired  to the chassis battery and was on at all times. I moved mine to run only off the house battery, after the disconnect switch, so the LP detector will be off when the RV is being stored.  On at all other times.

There are various smells that can make your LPG detector give a false alarm. Also, low voltage will make it sound. But most have a separate light for low voltage and true  (or false) alarm. If possible, check which light is on when you hear it beep.

-Don- SF, CA

-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Nine  motorcycles:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank
2017 H-D RoadGlide Ultra FLTRU

GKman

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2009, 09:50:52 AM »
CO PRONOUNCED CEE-OH.  The bad stuff, kills you, results from combustion (fire) without enough oxygen.
CO2 pronounced CEE-OH-TWO.  We breath it out, plants breath it in, puts the fizz in pop.
CO is what you want to detect in your RV.
You are now well on your way to a degree and career in the exciting field of chemistry.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2009, 09:58:13 AM »
Most like you are suffering from low battery voltage rather than a failed detector.

The batteries in your coach are going to discharge (get low on volts) whenever it is parked for very long without an external source of power to recharge the batteries. Some of the discharge comes from devices like the propane detector and CO detector but much of it is just natural. You can reduce the power loss while storing the RV by turning off the Battery Disconnect Switch (usually by the entry door), but the batteries will still get low in volts over time. And the detectors may bypass the disconnect switch anyway, a a safety feature.

If you cannot plug the coach in at least occasionally, you will have to run the engine and/or generator every week or so the provide some charge to the batteries. Run it for at least 30 minutes. You should run the generator at least once a month anyway, to keep it in operating condition.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

PorscheMark

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  • Milton, FL
Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2009, 10:11:25 AM »
Why not replace it with a detector that is powered internally - typically with a 9-volt battery. It'll work regardless of your RV's batteries' condition.
-Mark 'n' Jane
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2007 Phaeton 42QRH

2010 Honda CRV (TOAD)

Hfx_Cdn

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2009, 11:20:46 AM »
     While it is a lot less likely than the reasons provided above, if you are plugged into 110 house current and it is still occuring, you might have a 12 volt short.  That's what happened to us when the kwikie step controller died on us.  Donna was in Florida, and I was up here in Halifax working when I got the call.  There's a terrible smell and the CO/Smoke alarm won't shut off.  Thank goodness for great RV neighbours, who disconnected the controller until my next trip when I replaced it.  But the short was bad enough to drain the house batteries.
Ed & Donna
Winter-Pinellas Park FL, Summer- Maritime Canada
2000 Coachmen Catalina 34' DP (owned 2004 to 2015)
2006 Jeep Liberty Toad

ArdraF

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2009, 12:44:24 PM »
Janina,

Every coach has what we call Phantom Loads, that is, devices that use battery power and drain said battery if it is not kept charged.  These phantom loads generally include various detectors, such as smoke and CO, as well as other devices that are always in an "on" state.  TVs and related equipment are an example of the latter so we have to turn them off completely, as in no lights are on.  Every coach is different but you can test to see how much power is being used even when you think everything is turned off.  I'll let the electrical experts describe how you do that if you need more guidance.  Needless to say, power management is an important aspect of RVing, even when the RV is not actually in use but stored.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

John From Detroit

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2009, 01:02:34 PM »
IN my coach the CO and Fire detectors have their own Dry Cell batteries

The LP runs off the house batteries.. and it will beep at me, (Short beep, long pause) if the voltage goes too low.

It is much more alarming in "Explosive Gas Detected" state

NOTE: it is not just LP that will set it off. ANY explosive gas.. This includes Propane. Butane Methane, Gasoline vapor. and Alcohol vapor. and a long list of others.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
My Home is where I park it.

jennyjigsaw

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2009, 01:20:36 PM »
Ok, so I went out and plugged myself into the house, then ran the engine for what seemed like about 15 minutes (but I will do it for longer next time and do the generator while I'm at it).  Microwave works, fridge works, little tv works but....

I reinstalled the detectors, and no lights, no nothing.  I am assuming it is red wire to red wire and black wire to white wire?  I have tried it both ways and even switched wire sets (these two detectors are right on top of each other, behind the shower.  I must be doing something wrong.  Should I strip the wires a bit and clip them so they are nice and even or does it matter?  I screwed on those plastic yellow tip thingies that hold the ends together.  These detectors are both Safe T Alert detectors.

As to the disconnect switch...um, I don't think I have one.  By the driver's side there is an Emergency Start switch and something that says Data Link Connection (I have no idea what this would be for).  That's it, folks.

The unit is a previous rental.  2004 Four Winds Majestic, class C 30 footer.  Not sure if that helps.

I am close to just doing what Mark said and buying one of each with the 9 volt battery.  Argh!

LOL John, if we had CO2 detectors, I guess they'd be beeping all the time!  Duh...

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2009, 05:42:30 PM »
You need to get some help to check the voltage at the batteries (house and engine) and to determine if your converter/charger is attempting to charge the batteries when plugged to shore power. Your detectors are only one tiny piece of the problem if you don't have interior lights either. That means that the fridge won't work and probably not the water heater or furnace either.

I'm guessing that you have some basic but simple failure but it is going to take some technical work at your end with a meter to figure it out and I fear you cannot provide that.

There is an article in the Library section titled Newcomers Need to Know that covers RV electrical system basics. It might help you gain some understanding of where to look.
http://www.rvforum.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=420&Itemid=41
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

jennyjigsaw

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2009, 11:11:25 PM »
Oh, sorry, Gary.  I meant to clarify that my lights are working fine now that I have plugged into my house and run my engine a bit, and my fridge works too.

Since this detector problem (really happened a couple of months ago, but I just took them out to stop the beeping), we have run the water heater and the furnace, so everything else but the detectors seems to be all systems go.

I will read that section in the library, though.  Hopefully I can overcome my aversion to "volt talk"!

Thanks,

Janina

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2009, 07:59:36 AM »
Janina,
Glad to hear the other 12v stuff is working OK.  It may be you have a problem with the wiring to the detectors - I had that problem in one RV and had to run  a new power wire to them. If it is only the detectors, replacing them with a battery operated model is an option, but I don't think you are going to find a battery operated LP detector. There are battery operated Co and smoke detectors, though.

Is this beeping a periodic single beep or a more constant sound?
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

jennyjigsaw

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2009, 10:38:03 AM »
Gary,

When it was beeping, it was a periodic single beep.  Darn, no 9V LP detectors?  I thought I'd find one at an RV store.  None that you can plug in either, then, eh? 

Maybe if I can take it to an RV store, the guy can show me if I'm doing something wrong with the wiring.  Wish my husband let me drive the RV, but it's brand new to us and I've never driven anything longer than a pick up truck, so for now I think I'm better off in the passenger seat...

Thanks everyone for your help.  We've got the RV plugged in now and will keep it that way until we leave (30 days, OMG!!!).  I will go out and run the generator for a bit today too.

Janina

DonTom

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2009, 02:32:45 PM »
When it was beeping, it was a periodic single beep. 

What is the make and model number is the propane detector and are there indicator lights on it for low voltage and alarm?

-Don- SSF, CA
-Don-   AA6GA

2000 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 7.4L

Nine  motorcycles:
1971 BMW R75/5
1984 Yamaha Venture
2002 Suzuki DR200SE
2013 Triumph Trophy SE
2016 Versys 650 LT
2016 Moto Guzzi Stelvio
2017 Zero DS ZF6.5
2017 Zero SR 13 w/pwr tank
2017 H-D RoadGlide Ultra FLTRU

DoubleBellybuster

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2015, 07:37:21 AM »
...You can reduce the power loss while storing the RV by turning off the Battery Disconnect Switch (usually by the entry door)...

I know I am bumping an old thread here but this was the greatest piece of knowledge for me as a newbie. Even once I had read my 'For Dummies' book and the like, I did not full understand the mechanics of the RV.

I had imaginery battery and wiring issues in my head until I realized there is a Battery Bypass Switch that didn't make things brighter, it makes things go altogether.

Thanks for all the great help in the forum!

Dave

Apoftexas

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors
« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2018, 10:51:14 AM »
Ok, I see this discussed several thousand times, but donít have the patience to dig for this exact problem. Driving 2017 class C leprican 317SA. Detector near floor, has Co and LP lights. Last night after getting to camp with Co light green, LP light went red and alarmed. Cleared audible alarm with reset button, but light stayed red.  Audible alarm went off again, 15-20 minutes later. Reset again. Long story short, there is no LP leak, and the only way to clear alarm is to unplug RV from onboard generator. Ok - questions ? Go !

lancslad

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2018, 09:14:03 PM »
We had a similar thing happen. It turned out to be the chassis battery had overcharged and was gassing off. The vapors caused the LP gas detector to sound off. I disconnected the battery, reconnected it to start our class A ,and then disconnected it to drive to the nearest Autozone.(the alternator will keep the engine running) The new battery was fine and the problem has not resurfaced.

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2018, 07:47:01 AM »
The LP detector senses most any hydrocarbon gas, even dog farts, so the "leak" may have been something else.  The battery gas that lancslad mentioned is one of several possibilities.  Did someone perhaps spray an aerosol near it?  Or maybe cleaned the floor or adjacent surfaces with something that leaves a chemical residue?  Sometimes a spray or liquid gets on the tiny sensor inside and contaminates it, which will give false alarms until it is replaced.

On the other hand, how did you conclude there is no LP leak?  It doesn't take much to set the alarm off, so you may not smell gas.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Apoftexas

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2018, 08:38:11 AM »
Well letís just say we are 99.9% sure no leak. Only alarms when using Generator, so Iím pretty confident
. Think when we get home, Iím going to buy a battery operated co/LP detector and mount next to it.

RedandSilver

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2018, 09:31:47 AM »
Correct me if I'm wrong - but don't LP detectors run on 12v and the reason is that (mine) sniffs for 20-30 seconds and
if no LP is detected, it then triggers the valve at the tank to turn on and let the LP flow down the line?

So because there is a wire running to the LP tank they use 12v and therefore a battery unit (either 4 AA or a 9v) is not
going to do the job that a wired 12v unit is designed to do?

I did buy a battery operated CO detector because the one in my MH was probably 15 years old and I didn't see a need for it to be on
for months at a time when the MH was sitting waiting for it's next trip etc.
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp
West MI Summer   Central FL Winter

Alfa38User

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2018, 01:53:00 PM »
Quote
Correct me if I'm wrong - but don't LP detectors run on 12v and the reason is that (mine) sniffs for 20-30 seconds and
if no LP is detected, it then triggers the valve at the tank to turn on and let the LP flow down the line?

This was true up until the mid to late nineties or so. The rules were changed that make that type of LP detector and associated solenoid unnecessary. It does run on 12V though, often wired straight to the house batteries and sometimes, like my trailer, with no way to turn it off with disconnecting the wiring. The result was often a rundown battery while in storage over a long period. I disconnect mine before storage for that very reason.

I would be surprised if a 2002 coach still used that system. There may be one or two makes of detectors still available with that feature but they can be very hard to find. Most people tasked with installing a replacement detector simply bypass the solenoid and remove it.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2018, 02:01:38 PM by Alfa38User »
Stu
Montrťal, Canada 🍁
Snowbird, Naples Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver (parked!)

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RedandSilver

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Re: CO2 and LP detectors and battery draining...
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2018, 02:36:25 PM »
I my post I didn't state:

Mine still has a switch on it to turn it on and off.
I keep mine off unless I'm using the furnace or stove.

So when mine is off I don't believe that it uses any power and would run down the batteries.
IF it was left on then that may change things.
2002 Rexhall Rose Air  Cummins 8.3  350hp
West MI Summer   Central FL Winter