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Old 08-24-2015, 05:40 PM   #1
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2016 Interstate Grand Tour Ext
Galveston , Texas
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Battery issues - once again

Once again, I'm asking about our house batteries in our 2013 Airstream Interstate EXT. I plan to finally figure this out - I hope!

We got the AI in December 2012. We’ve had problems with the batteries from the beginning.
• We read the manual and it said to turn off the battery disconnect under the lounge, and not plug it into shore power except every 30 days or so. We found the battery very low on several occasions and plugged it in more often.
o From the manual p. H-12 “Battery Storage When storing your Interstate and leaving the house batteries in place it is recommended that the vehicle be plugged into a 110 volt 30 amp shoreline connection for 24 to 48 hours every 30 days. This procedure will properly maintain the battery charge and extend it’s life. DO NOT leave the vehicle continually plugged in and unattended while in storage.”
• We did this for 8 months. On our first long trip July 2013, we found the batteries would not keep the refrigerator running for more than a day. I’m sure we let the batteries get too low at times. The 30 days is not reasonable as many people have stated in these forums.
• Our second long trip August 2013, the batteries would not keep the fridge running for more than a day. This was a camping trip where we did not have shore power every day, but we were driving many miles every day.
• In September 2014 we finally took it back to our dealer and they found one of the batteries was “bad”. They replaced the batteries. They also told us that with the inverter (Magnum) we have we can leave it plugged into shore power all the time without hurting the batteries. The inverter is smart enough to go into a trickle charge mode. We leave in it our garage so it’s easy to keep it plugged in.
• We found the batteries still would not hold a charge, so we took it back to the dealer (5 hours away of course) and they found the solenoid was bad. They replaced the solenoid.
• Got home, parked the Interstate in the driveway at 10am, inverter off, fridge on. At 4pm checked and the battery was at 9% on the solar display.
• I called the dealer and asked him what the next step was. I haven’t heard back from him. (this was last October) We bought it in Buda, TX, our closest dealer. They are very nice people but they sell lots of other types of RV’s. The service manager Allen has been very helpful and will answer questions when we are on trips even. He’s been great. Allen said he would call Airstream and ask their opinion. But I thought I should try and figure out as much as possible before I call him again since I've waited this long.
• We just took a trip to Colorado – wonderful trip, but we stayed where we could have electricity because of this battery issue. We did notice that the solar panel display would always read 100% while it was on shore power or when we were driving (73shark has explained it will always read 100% when on shore power), but after 30 minutes or so of being parked, it will flash “low battery”. 30 minutes.

• Magnum Inverter manual – says that some of the models have a charge mode – an automatic 4 stage charging process Bulk, Absorb, Float and Full Charge “provides complete recharging and monitoring of the batteries without damage due to overcharging."
• I called Magnum Tech Support in Everett WA Tel: 425-353-8833 and talked with Glen. He was great. He told me our remote was a MEMR (I couldn’t find it on their website) He said that it does take care of charging and maintaining the battery. He walked me through the settings on the remote panel. It seems to have the correct setting to keep the batteries charged correctly.
• So I think they are being charged.

So I’m wondering what a good plan would be to figure this out.

What I forgot to ask if the Magnum would tell if the batteries are bad and cannot take (or hold) a charge.

Is it possible that these relatively new replacement batteries are bad now from the bad solenoid or from getting too low at some point in all this process?

Or could it be that I just haven't found all the things to unplug and disconnect and the batteries are actually being drained in 30 minutes?

How can you test the batteries to find out if they are bad?

Thanks for any help you can give.
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Old 08-24-2015, 05:45 PM   #2
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If there is an Interstate Battery store near you they will test them for free. takes about 3-4 hours.

If you get a voltmeter, the voltage on your batteries will be about 13.5 or 13.6 if they are being charged at that moment. If not, and they have been resting, they will be anywhere from 12.7 down to something terrible (you don't want to see them below 12.0 if possible)
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Old 08-24-2015, 07:52 PM   #3
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Not sure what solenoid the dealer replaced. There is no solenoid between the Magnum inverter/charger and the battery, it is directly connected with heavy cables. The BIM solenoid only plays a role in keeping the batteries charged when driving and to charge the Sprinter battery when plugged in. It is possible that the BIM is not functioning correctly and causing a drain on your house batteries.

Glad you got the correct advice that with the Magnum you can keep your Interstate plugged in all the time. The manual that came with my 2013 has many error - bad job by Airstream.

Your batteries might be ruined again and should be checked as mentioned. Call around to a shop that services RVs. They might be able to check the batteries for you. It only takes a few cycles without full charging to destroy these Lifeline AGM batteries. It's nice that Airstream installs these quality Lifeline AGM batteries, but they don't install a complete system to make these batteries last. The secret is make sure the batteries are fully charged about every three cycles of use. With the measly 50 watt solar panel and the really cheap, poor quality controller that Airstream installs you will not EVER get a full charge from solar. That means you need to get you van plugged in every couple of days or you will destroy the batteries.

The other problem - you may have something drawing down your batteries that shouldn't be on. Determining the unwanted parasitic loads will require some test equipment since there is no measurement of current flow from the batteries in the stock Interstate. I can tell you that the normal parasitic load is about 0.4 amps from things you can't turn off. That's why the batteries must be fully charged every few days or the will deteriorate and become useless.


- - Mike
2013 Lounge EXT on 2012 Sprinter
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Old 11-04-2015, 12:43 PM   #4
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Following with interest.
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Old 11-06-2015, 04:29 PM   #5
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Corsicana , Texas
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Question Batteries

I also bought my 2014!/2 Interstate from Buda, Tx. Feel like I'm getting the runaround. Same battery issue on mine.
Two weeks ago the service manager told me he had some technicians at the plant trying to get an answer because he had others owners having the same issue. He promised to call and let me know on Monday(11/2). I'm still waiting on Monday to get here. I told him that on 2 other calls to service personnel they were to call back and never did. Thats when he said faithfully he would call. I am very disappointed with this dealer. Still having same battery issue.
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Old 11-06-2015, 08:33 PM   #6
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There are very few legitimate battery chargers; that is a charger that will charge a battery to 100% with no sulfate remaining. Our Airstream trailers have a power supply to support 12DC loads while on shore power.

The common value for battery discharge during storage is 3% per month, if your is much higher then you have some sort of full time load on it.

As to charging, research and find a battery charger that can be connected full time, and will charge your battery to 100%. The charger needs to have a temperature probe to compensate for changes in ambient and battery temperature; without it the charger you are using is not going to get the job done. I have had good luck with "battery minder" brand. On my boat I am on my 6th year of maintaining 2 - 8D and one starting battery with one charger. Unlike our trailers, a boat's refrigerator runs off the batteries.

Sulfate inside the battery is an indication of a non functioning battery charger. In this charging scenario the ampacity of the battery is reduced but will still exhibit a battery that is charging correctly. This mechanism will continue to diminish the battery's capacity to a point that the battery will not deliver very many amp-hours.

Many folks believe that their batteries are only good for a few years, the truth is that if a battery is maintained properly you can easily double the lifetime of a battery. There certainly more to this story, such as keeping your discharge from going below 50%. You can imagine the impossibility of doing this when you are having battery problems.
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Old 11-06-2015, 08:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgschwend View Post
There are very few legitimate battery chargers; that is a charger that will charge a battery to 100% with no sulfate remaining. Our Airstream trailers have a power supply to support 12DC loads while on shore power.

The common value for battery discharge during storage is 3% per month, if your is much higher then you have some sort of full time load on it.

As to charging, research and find a battery charger that can be connected full time, and will charge your battery to 100%. The charger needs to have a temperature probe to compensate for changes in ambient and battery temperature; without it the charger you are using is not going to get the job done. I have had good luck with "battery minder" brand. On my boat I am on my 6th year of maintaining 2 - 8D and one starting battery with one charger. Unlike our trailers, a boat's refrigerator runs off the batteries.

Sulfate inside the battery is an indication of a non functioning battery charger. In this charging scenario the ampacity of the battery is reduced but will still exhibit a battery that is charging correctly. This mechanism will continue to diminish the battery's capacity to a point that the battery will not deliver very many amp-hours.

Many folks believe that their batteries are only good for a few years, the truth is that if a battery is maintained properly you can easily double the lifetime of a battery. There certainly more to this story, such as keeping your discharge from going below 50%. You can imagine the impossibility of doing this when you are having battery problems.

Sorry, but I gave to disagree. There are many devices that will properly and completely charge a lead acid battery. The primary cause of sulfation is drawing down a battery and leaving it in a discharged state......not fully recharging it immediately.

And for self-discharge rates, liquid lead acid batteries have an average monthly self-discharge rate of 12%. AGM batteries show 2-3% self discharge and lithiums less than 2%.


Lew Farber
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Master Tech Energy Systems, Inc.
AM Solar Certified Installation Center
Lifeline Batteries**Magnum Inverters
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Old 11-06-2015, 10:45 PM   #8
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There are many lead acid batteries that last more than 5 years in a car or truck. There is no such thing as a smart alternator. The regular use of the vehicle and the fact that the battery is not discharged much in normal use is the reason for longevity.



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Old 11-06-2015, 11:23 PM   #9
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Sorry, but I gave to disagree. (snip)

And for self-discharge rates, liquid lead acid batteries have an average monthly self-discharge rate of 12%. AGM batteries show 2-3% self discharge and lithiums less than 2%.

Lew Farber
Sorry Lew, but I have to disagree with you too. I have never seen any published flooded cell battery statistic which came close to a monthly self discharge rate of 12%. They usually say 3% per month. And I believe the published ones are high. It is somewhat temperature dependent of course.

I store my RV's for 5 months in the winter, batteries charged fully and then disconnected. It is in the colder NW, so the battery temp on average is probably 35 degrees. At a 12 % discharge per month, that would say that my batteries would be down 5 x 22 = 60%. That does not happen, the voltage is still in the 12.6 range and the batteries take very little time to come back to full charge when I re connect them in the spring. I use a a three stage PD converter/charger.

And then I also have tested a flooded cell battery for 5 months in the freezer. See my post on it.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...ml#post1602338

You are being far to hard on the flooded cell battery.
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Old 11-07-2015, 01:34 PM   #10
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Disagreement is fine. Every factory default setting I have seen, from Blue Sky to Morningstar to Magnum all list 12% as the self discharge rate for flooded cells.

I'm glad you have had good performance with flooded cells. At this point in the technology curve, IMPO, they are dinosaurs with the advent and regular use of AGMs and now lithiums. I have left fully charged Lifelines in unintended storage for over 6 months and they were still at 100%. I have also had liquid cells lose 0.2 VDC over a month of isolated storage. Just my experiences.

Unfortunately, I have no place in my component offerings for batteries that most folks can't deal with, need continual maintenance, and cause localized corrosion from off- gassing when charged.

The market is demanding better battery solutions and I really don't feel that liquid cells are providing those answers.

As always........ YMMV!!! :-))


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Old 11-07-2015, 03:33 PM   #11
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I got seven good years out of my last Interstate flooded cell batteries. I'm on year two of my current set so hopefully I'll get five more out of them. By then I'm hoping for next generation batteries that will last forever and never need charging. Fuel cells! That's what I want!
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Old 11-07-2015, 09:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by leedav View Post
If there is an Interstate Battery store near you they will test them for free. takes about 3-4 hours.

If you get a voltmeter, the voltage on your batteries will be about 13.5 or 13.6 if they are being charged at that moment. If not, and they have been resting, they will be anywhere from 12.7 down to something terrible (you don't want to see them below 12.0 if possible)

First, Lifelines bulk and absorb charge at 14.2-14.4VDC and not 13.5, which would provide an incomplete charge for them.

Next, full (100% state of charge) for Lifelines is 12.8-13.2VDC (which is where they float) and the stated voltage for 50% SOC is 12.2VDC (directly from their battery manual).

As for proper battery testing, find a battery dealer or repair shop that uses a conductance meter, which is the most recent development in battery testing technology. The complete digital battery test takes about 60 seconds!

And lastly, you can certainly use your Magnum inverter/charger for 100% duty cycle but I would suggest 2 upgrades: the required one is adding Magnum's ME-BTS or battery temperature sensor. Since lead based batteries need to have their charge varied according to the ambient temperature of the battery, it is a very necessary addition to your charging equipment.

The other upgrade, which is optional but highly suggested is the ME-RC remote instead of the very basic ME-MR that Airstream provides. It let's you program the charging section to precisely match your battery bank and also provides you with much more control and diagnostic information.

Proper programming is essential to attain maximum longevity from Lifelines and when properly done, should result in a minimum life span if 7-10 years.


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RVIA/RVDA Nationally Certified Master Tech
Master Tech Energy Systems, Inc.
AM Solar Certified Installation Center
Lifeline Batteries**Magnum Inverters
541-490-6357
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Old 11-07-2015, 09:59 PM   #13
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Wow, L. you disagree with me then you repeat the same recommendation in my post.

In the lead/acid battery chemistry, any lead acid battery that is not 100% charged leaves the battery in a sulfate state. That results in damage and loss of power/life. The common idea is the longer the battery is left in that state the harder it is to reverse the chemistry back to lead and acid.

As I said before to do it right the charger needs to measure the battery temperature.

I am glad you point out that additional parts are needed for his system. I hope the cost is reasonable and I wonder why they are not included as standard to ensure the charger works properly. It is frustrating for users to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to find out they don't have the correct system.
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