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Old 07-13-2015, 01:23 PM   #1
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Battery Issue...always need to be plugged in

This is my second trip to RBM Atlanta for battery issues. My 2013 AI is not plugged in during storage and the house battery switch is in the off position. Recently, we were getting ready to go camping and I was plugged into my house power and noticed that when I unplugged from the house power, the battery indication would read 80% right off the bat. Then I noticed later that battery power would decrease to 60% after 2 or 3 days. This happened before and I brought it to RBM and they said the batteries were bad and replaced them under warranty. Now RBM is telling me that the batteries are bad again and that I am responsible for replacing them. RBM told me that Airstream told them that all Airstream Interstates need to be plugged into shore power when they are not being used. This is ridiculous!!! Fist, my HOA won't allow me to plug my AI into my house power for more than 24 hours. Second, I would not have bought this expensive machine if I had know it had to be plugged in all the time!!! I called Airstream CS and talked to them. I told them I was not happy with this situation. No where in the AS literature does it say AI need to be plugged in all the time. IMHO, the problem is the WFCO charger. It's a single stage charger and Airstream should have put in a multi-stage charger. We'll see what happens and I'll let you know if you can invoke your state's Lemon Law.
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Old 07-13-2015, 01:37 PM   #2
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You were misinformed and over reacted.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:17 PM   #3
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I had a 2009 AI for five years and I always had it plugged in when stored. The batteries were still strong when I traded it for my 214.5 last year. The new one is plugged in as well.
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:23 PM   #4
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Add a small solar panel and a good MPPT charge controller?
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:26 PM   #5
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get a standalone charger/maintainer. connect it directly to your battery. put it on an outlet timer and run it 6 hours a day
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Old 07-13-2015, 03:49 PM   #6
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Sad to say this forum is full of threads relating to the state of charge on Interstates. It boils down to the fact that even with the coach batteries in the disconnect position, there is always some parasitic drain on the batteries, mainly due to some of the monitoring systems still running.
In your case, you may have allowed the batteries to run down too many times and that reduces the batteries' capacity to hold a charge. When it's plugged in, you will see 100%, but as soon as its unplugged, it will show something significantly lower.
You have a 2013 AI, and that was the year of the changeover from the TrippLite to the Magnum inverter/charger. Which one do you have? If it's a TrippLite, you cannot leave that plugged in indefinitely since it's not that smart. But you can with a Magnum.
Unfortunately Airstream doesn't readily publicize these facts.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:12 PM   #7
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How would you know I was misinformed? Do you own an AI? When I installed the same battery in my 17' Caravel the AGM Lifeline sales rep let me know that AGM batteries have issues with constant chargers...he recommended I install a multistage charger which i did (Progressive Dynamics) and I have no issues with this battery.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:15 PM   #8
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That is one of the issues...the literature does not say that you have to have it plugged in all of time. Now it seems they are changing their tune. You are lucky you can plug yours in all the time.
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Old 07-13-2015, 04:20 PM   #9
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I have the Magnum...however, there would have to be some significant power drains with the house battery in the "Off" position to cause battery drainage like you describe ...still sounds like a warranty issue with AS to find the problem and correct it. We go somewhere at least once a month with it and the batteries get charged then.
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:01 PM   #10
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Several months ago, Boxster1971 - who is a regular contributor to this forum - recognized this as being a pervasive problem, and managed to pin down the major cause of the parasitic drain. Here's his post:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ml#post1406581
Look at post #18 in that thread.
As a result, he installed additional solar power and it resolved the problem - for him.
Airstream doesn't make anything of this parasitic drain, but it can caused ruined batteries.
Whether or not its a warranty issue is a moot point, but they certainly did a bad job of informing the owner of the importance of battery maintenance.
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Old 07-13-2015, 05:47 PM   #11
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Yes post #18 is a good answer but then you go to post #31 and the factory tells the owner not to leave his 2014 AI plugged in...who's confused? Me. Maybe Post #31 was misinformed also.
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Old 07-13-2015, 06:10 PM   #12
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The "do not leave plugged in" comments from Airstream always referred to the TrippLite inverter/charger. The factory failed miserably to update the owner's manual for perhaps 2-3 years after the move to the Magnum, and it's my belief that at that time the new guys on the Airstream support desk didn't know any better and just looked it up in the manual.
To be fair to Airstream, they've now made a good attempt to update the online manual, and I suggest you download the 2016 version from their website, and just ignore the obvious model changes.
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Old 07-13-2015, 09:32 PM   #13
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The quote below was from a post of mine on another thread.

"The distributor checked the batteries and found one to be down to a little over 9 volts while the other one was a little over 10. They called the Lifeline rep and told them that I had a 2013 AI. They put me on the phone with the rep whose first question was, "Do you always have the motor home plugged in when you are not using it?" When I answered yes, he asked again to be sure. He then proceeded to tell me that Lifeline was somewhat unhappy that Airstream wired the inverter/charger outside the cutoff switch circuit. So the charger is always on and will run down the batteries. Having the AI plugged in all the time was the answer he was looking for. He then said he would ship two new batteries to my house and charge me $139.95 each. I thought that was very fair. I had them the next day.

The rest of the story is that when I bought the AI used the house batteries and the truck battery were both dead. Mercedes replaced the truck battery but the dealer told me that since the house batteries were deep cycle batteries, they would be fine once charged. Also, to complicate matters, I later discovered that the alternator was not charging the house batteries while I was driving due to a blown fuse. If I had known then what I know now, I would have insisted that the dealer replace the house batteries.

My unit is an early 2013 so it has the Tripp Lite inverter. After my conversation with the Lifeline rep, I called Tripp Lite to ask if it was OK to always have the AI plugged in while in storage. They said it would be fine to do that as it has a sensor so keep if from overcharging. That goes against some of the things I have read here. I am assuming the factory knows their equipment well enough to give me a straight answer. I did not tell them what had prompted the call. "
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Old 07-14-2015, 07:39 AM   #14
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My puny 50 watt solar panel keeps my house batteries and chassis battery charged when not plugged in.

Except when the charge controller fails as mine did recently.
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