Batteries Won't Charge

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

ROOFTOP SPECIAL

Active member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Posts
35
First things first, My name is Casey and I just recently joined the RVing world.  Just bought a 94 Fleetwood Wilderness 25' 5er.  It's in great shape for being a 94.  I pull it with an 06 chevy w/ a DMAX.

Anyhow, here is my problem I'm hoping to get some help on.  The battery is a 2 month old (according to the previous owner) marine battery.  It will charge when I have the trailer hooked to the truck durring towing but will not charge when plugged into 110 at the house.  Here is the kicker, I diconnected the battery and put my meter to the cables leading to the battery....13 volts,  that's with the trailer plugged into a 30amp outlet I wired up at my house. I know the outlet is good because the ac runs and everything.

There is some type of regulator that is not connected that the previous owner said was for a solar set-up.  It has a cut-in voltage and a cut-out voltage as well.  I don't know if that has anything to do with the problems I'm having or not.

It's just weird to see it charge off the truck and not the 110....

Thanks for the help,

Casey 
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
25,231
Location
Davison Michigan
Just for the fun of it try using a test light on the battery leads.  Volt meters have a very high impedence (That is they do not present a load to the device under test) but use of a proper test light (The bigger the better) along with the voltmeter will give a better indication of converter performance.  A good test light for this job is a 12vdc drop light, usually 60 to 100 watt, 12v bulb which can be set at a short distance away so you do not have to deal with the light, and it comes with battery clips you can clip to the leads,

Advise no-load and loaded voltages for the converter
 

ROOFTOP SPECIAL

Active member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Posts
35
Thanks for the response John.  So I need to put a load on the wires that connect to the battery using the 12v light at the same time using my volt meter to take a loaded reading?  I thought that if my 12v lights in the trailer along with the water pump are working the converter must be working............right?  Don't those Items run off 12v?
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
25,231
Location
Davison Michigan
Well  Using the lights in the rig is another way of loading down the converter however some converters have seperated outputs for charging the batteries and for running loads.  And I wish to keep things as simple as possible.

What I'm thinking is that when you load it down an amp or two the converter out will drop to around 11vdc, not enough to charge your batteries, and this is the issue.  If so there are things to check

All connections between battery and converter.

And if they are all good, check the inverter.  To test the inverter use the same voltmeter, same test light, connect meter direct to converter out,  Readings should be very close to the same at both the converter and battery terminals. (The odd 0.1 volt or 2  I won't worry about)
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,620
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
As John says, the converters in some older rigs had separate charging and power lines, so it is possible that it is powering the lights and such but not charging well. Those same converters generally had very poor chargers, typically putting less than 5 amps into charging (even less if the converter was also handling other 12V loads).  The typical charging voltage from a converter/charger is 13.4-13.6 volts, so the 13 you measured is a bit light but in the ball park.

The battery may be resisting a charge.  Your truck's alternator puts out a substantial current a a high voltage, usually around 14.3-14.7 volts. That may be able to push a charge when the puny converter/chager cannot.  May I ask how you determined the battery was charging from the truck but not from the converter?

I doubt if the solar regulator has anything to do with the situation.
 

ROOFTOP SPECIAL

Active member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Posts
35
The guy I had bought the trailer from had it plugged into his house power to show me everything worked.? When we un-plugged it the battery showed to have no charge according to the status lights.? I bought the trailer and towed it back home (about 2 hours away).? When i got home the status lights showed the battery to be almost completely charged (even strong enough to run the slide out).? I have located the electrical box that houses the 110 brakers and 12v fuses.? Is the converter behind that box?? I can't seem to find it?? Also, what is the difference between and inverter and a converter, does one change 110ac to 12vdc, and the other 12vdc to 110ac?

Thanks for the help,

Casey

p.s.  I think the read I got was about 13.5 or so, I just said 13 because I know it said 13 but forgot the exact reading.
 

fredethomas

Moderator Emeritus
Joined
Mar 2, 2005
Posts
420
Location
SIERRA VISTA, AZ or on the road.
I suggest that after you get the charger problems solved that you take the batteries to a battery shop and ask them to equalize them.  Probably there is a lot of crud on the plates.  High grade chargers now have the software and hardware to do that.  It can be a tricky process to run and a battery shop should do it.  It is a very high voltage [18 vdc or more] run for a certain time while checking the heat and watching for boiling acid.  It breaks the crud off the plates where it settles to the place designed for it in the bottom of the battery.  This is for full maintenance flooded lead plate batteries.  Not sealed, not oil filled and not glass mats.  Your batteries could have a high resistance to being charged and the low voltage/amp charger might not be able to overcome that.
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
25,231
Location
Davison Michigan
Converters convert 120 volt to 12volt (or rather the proper charging voltage for a 12volt battery)
Inverters convert 12vdc to 120 vac for your television and microwave and stuff

Inverter/converters do both as needed

Converters can be most any place in the motor home (Mine is all the way in the tail end as far from the battery as they could possibly put it, why I have not a clue) Inverters and inverter/converters are mounted as close to the battery as possible,,, Why I do know, those things need heavy duty copper
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2006
Posts
8
I just had to replace my converter in a 2000 Malard 5er by Fleetwood, the converter was located in the floor of the closet of the main room. This was right behind the fuse box and I accessed it by removing the floor (4 wood screws) this is also the area where the shore power cord is stored when pushed in from the outside. tight working space but managed to get the old one out then had to reinforce the wall to put the new one in. That's how it is many time original equipment has studs placed specifically in the right location and replacements are never the same size.

If you go to a new converter I would recommend Progressive Dynamics Inteli-Power 9200 series, these have a built in wizard. I purchased mine from PPLmotorhomes.com but they are readily available from many RV supply stores.
 

ROOFTOP SPECIAL

Active member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Posts
35
I finally got around to testing the wires leading to the battery.  I disconnected the battery to test the leads.  With no load I had 13.76 volts, with a load (I used a 12v test light) I had 12.76 volts.  Is that not enough to charge the battery?  I checked the water, all good there.  The battery is only about 2 months old.  I know it will charge because when I pulled the trailer home it almost charged it 3/4 full.  What's going on?  Please help.

Thanks,

Casey
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,620
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
I disconnected the battery to test the leads.  With no load I had 13.76 volts, with a load (I used a 12v test light) I had 12.76 volts.

A fully charged 12V battery registers 12.6-12.7 volts  To charge it, the charger needs to put out a greater voltage, typically 13.6-14.4 volts. A car alternator usualy does 14+, while an converter/charger generally does around 13.7 or so.  But the chager is regulated and won't try to pump in extra current if the battery (load) isn't acepting much current. Your test light doesn't use much current, so the regulator should restrain itself.  I would expect the voltage to remain up in the 13+ range, though. However, it depends on the specific chargers regulation circuitry.

Looking back on this thread, I do not see any description of the symptoms that lead you to say the battery is not charging when the RV is on 110V.  What is the problem you are experiencing? Maybe the batteries are charged and something else is wrong?
 

AlGriefer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Posts
300
Location
Las Vegas, NV (when not traveling)
ROOFTOP SPECIAL said:
I finally got around to testing the wires leading to the battery.  I disconnected the battery to test the leads.  With no load I had 13.76 volts, with a load (I used a 12v test light) I had 12.76 volts.  Is that not enough to charge the battery?  I checked the water, all good there.  The battery is only about 2 months old.  I know it will charge because when I pulled the trailer home it almost charged it 3/4 full.  What's going on?  Please help.

Thanks,

Casey

Here's some infor on charging the batteries.  Sounds like you may just have a converter that supplies DC for lights, etc, rather than a converter/charger that also charges the battery.  it should be charging in the 14.6 - 14.8 V range.

Al
 

Attachments

  • Charging and Equalizing Voltages.pdf
    33.9 KB · Views: 16

ROOFTOP SPECIAL

Active member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Posts
35
[Looking back on this thread, I do not see any description of the symptoms that lead you to say the battery is not charging when the RV is on 110V.? What is the problem you are experiencing? Maybe the batteries are charged and something else is wrong?

Let me start over, maybe I can make it more clear.  When I bought the trailer it was plugged into 110, when I was looking everything over I pressed the button on the deal (don't know what it's called) that shows fresh water, black, gray tanks and battery levels.  All the tanks showed one light, and the battery level showed all four (I think there's four) lights, I'm assuming with all four light on the battery would be charged?  When we unplugged the 110 I tried to operate the slide.....nothing.  I pressed the button "deallyl whopper" again.  Now with the trailer not plugged in, the battery indicator only had one light versus the 4 before.  This along with the slide not running lead me to believe the battery was never fully charged as it showed when plugged into 110.  We plug the 110 back in to retract the slide.

I buy the trailer assuming I could fix the battery charging problem.  I hook the trailer up and begin the 2 hour trip home.  When I get home I un-hook the trailer.  I go inside and press the button on the "deally whopper" again, now the battery showed 3/4 full or 3 lights.  I think great it will charge from my truck by why not 110.  The next day I wired up a 30 amp outlet at my house, plug in the trailer to test the A.C. as when I bought it it had not been on a 30 amp outlet.  I left it plugged in for a couple days to see if it would charge the battery.......nothing 2 days later. 

I then found this forum.  Someone suggested testing the leads that lead to the battery (both with a test light, to put a load on the leads and a meter)  I disconnected the battery and tested the leads.  Without using the test light I had 13.76 VDC, when I used the test light I dropped 1 volt down to 12.76 VDC. The manual I have has a wiring schematic that shows a "charge line" coming from the converter/inverter to the battery.  I assume this means by inverter/converter is suppose to charge the battery as well?

If it helps I have a 1994 25' Fleetwood Wilderness fifth wheel.

BTW...I have also popped the caps on the battery and the levels look good.

Any help would be great.

Thanks

I guess I'm looking for a sure shot way to test the converter/inverter charging capabilities
 

ROOFTOP SPECIAL

Active member
Joined
Oct 2, 2006
Posts
35
I've got to find it first ;D

Where have they typically been found?  It does not look like its behind the electrical panel.

Thanks
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
25,231
Location
Davison Michigan
Well converters can be anywhere,  Often they are near the power control center,  IN my rig however the switch to connect/disconnect the house battery is a push button next to the entry steps.  The actually switch is a contactor under the hood (Front) the power distribution panel is in the hall (Roughly over the rear axel) and the converter is in a storage (Basement) Compartment at the very rear of the rig.

Moral,  they can stuff it any place
 

AlGriefer

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 24, 2005
Posts
300
Location
Las Vegas, NV (when not traveling)
ROOFTOP SPECIAL said:
I've got to find it first ;D

Where have they typically been found?? It does not look like its behind the electrical panel.

Thanks

Try calling Fleetwood Customer Service at 800-445-3307.? They should be able to tell you where it is and may even? be able to help you figure out what's wrong.

Al
 

rbell

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Posts
706
Location
Jackson, Michigan
I didn't read all the posts so this may have been mentioned. Hook a voltmeter (dc) to the battery and read the voltage, a fully charged battery will read about 12.7-12.8 volts. Then plug the ac power in and read the voltage at the battery again it should go up to about 13.7 volts. If not the charger isn't working.
BTW a completely discharged battery will still read 11.5-12 vdc with no load.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
74,620
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
When I bought the trailer it was plugged into 110, when I was looking everything over I pressed the button on the deal (don't know what it's called) that shows fresh water, black, gray tanks and battery levels.  All the tanks showed one light, and the battery level showed all four (I think there's four) lights, I'm assuming with all four light on the battery would be charged?  When we unplugged the 110 I tried to operate the slide.....nothing.  I pressed the button "deallyl whopper" again.  Now with the trailer not plugged in, the battery indicator only had one light versus the 4 before.  This along with the slide not running lead me to believe the battery was never fully charged as it showed when plugged into 110.  We plug the 110 back in to retract the slide.

Thanks - That helps quite a bit. The deally whopper is usually called a monitor panel or monitor gauge, since it is used to monitor the tanks and battery state.

When plugged into 110 power, the battery monitor gauge is showing the combined status of the  converter/charger and the battery. The charger is pumping power into the 12V system and attempting to charge the batteries and the gauge (which is merely reading system voltage) shows that.  Full voltage in the system does not necessarily mean the battery is fully charged, but low voltage definitely means that it is not.  When the converter/charger has 110 power, it effectively supercedes the battery and supplies 12VDC power for all needs and the gauge will normally show full battery power available.  Thus your slide operated on converter output, not battery power.

Your truck's alternator apparently has a charging line back to the trailer (it's optional - not all do) and it appears to have charged the batteries somewhat. However, there is a common phenomena called a "surface charge", in which the battery gets enough juice to show some reasonable voltage but cannot supply power at that voltage for more than a few seconds. Any large load (e.g. the slide motor) depletes it almost instantly.  The fact that two hours of driving resulted in only 3 of 4 lights makes me suspect that the battery wasn't accepting much charge from the alternator either. Two hours of driving/charging won't provide a full charge, but it should show full system voltage and thus 4 lights.

Your 94 Wilderness undoubtedly has one of the Magnetek Model 6330 30A converter/chargers that most trailer manufacturers used in that era. They are mediocre chargers and probably put only about 5-6 amps/hour into the battery.  That's not much. They are typically integrated with the 1110V load center (breaker panel).  You can't tell a whole lot by testing the converter/charger output voltage - it merely tells you that it is turned on and at least basically functonal. Simple voltage checks won't tell you whether it is doing a good job of charging or not, but at least you know it isn't totally dead. The fact that it is powering the slide is also positive - it is probably producing its full output (such as it is in that model).

Your trailer shows all the classic signs of a bad battery(s). It won't take a charge and won't power any substantial load by itself.  I would pull the battery(s) and have it tested under load. If you don't know anybody with a load tester (about a $40 device), most auto parts stores will do it for free.  Unless the battery comes thru the load test with flying colors, replace it with a good deep cycle type (not an automtive starting batery).

I would not buy a new converter/charger, at least not yet. Assuming you do have the integrated Magnetek converter/charger, replacing it with a standalone converter such as the Progressive Dynamics is more than a simple remove & replace operation. However, Manetek (now called Parallax Power) makes an "upgrade replacement" unit called the 7300 which should slip tight in and provide a sustantial improvement in both quality and output. I think it may still be available. Here's one possible source: Eco-Vantage Catalog.

The Magetek/Parallax Power replacement is no where near as good as a PDI or Iota converter, but will be a whole lot simpler to install if needed. However, I'm betting the seller lied or was simply wrong when he told you the battery was "good".

 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
25,231
Location
Davison Michigan
Just a side note on this.... My house battery will not charge if the batteries are in Disconnect mode.  Well, unknown to me, sometime in the last week or so they were disconnected.  The converter has all the oomph it needs to power all the 12vdc stuff in the ride INCLUDING the Kenwood TS-2000 (it can haul down the better part of 20 amps if I ask it to) .  You know.... That explains the soft ice cream in the 12vdc freezer... Low battery!

Well the monitor panel quit working.  Turns out it's wired direct to the battery.  Of course normally with batteries in "USE" mode it sees the converter, but in "Store" mode it sees only the battery.  Figured it out about 5 seconds after fireing up the engine and observing 12vdc stuff kicking in
 
Top Bottom