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Old 09-10-2015, 07:41 AM   #29
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An update on the ongoing batteries saga...

I've had one of the two Lifeline batteries (GFL-24T) on a trickle charger in my garage for the past 4 days. At day 3, it began to blink the green light, indicating that the battery was 80% charged. However, for reasons I cannot explain, it then apparently dropped back below 80%, since the green flashing light went off. This happened twice yesterday, switching between the 80% indicator and then not. This morning when I checked, the indicator was back below 80% (i.e. no flashing green light). This particular trickle charger will give a solid green light when fully charged. Never got there. I am driving the RV next Tuesday morning to the dealer, so I swapped the charger to the other battery. It appears that the batteries are not properly holding a charge. And yes, they are bulging on the sides.

Question: Is there any reason to pay $400 (or more) to the dealer for these batteries when they can be purchased online for less than $300 delivered? I found them in the $260 range delivered. What value add does the dealer provide in this transaction other than connecting the posts? Would I need to charge the battery on my own before installing it?

And lewster, I found the GPL-4CT online for just over $300. If I have to replace the batteries, would you recommend getting the GPL-4CT instead? Per the other post, will it fit in the same space?

The Lifeline battery warranty is one year, then up to four years pro rata. I will contact Lifeline today to find out if they will cover the batteries, since Airstream apparently is no longer covering them (at least ones with a bulge).

Also, just to clarify our specific situation, we bought the rig in March 2015, but it was a lemon law return to the dealer. I was of the understanding that we would be considered the original purchaser by Airstream, but after talking to Randy McNeeley at Airstream, he informs me that is not the case. I will start a different thread on the warranty transfer, since that has its own issues separate from the battery issues being discussed in this thread. Suffice to say that Airstream is pretty much not covering anything, regardless, at least at this point.
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Old 09-10-2015, 07:52 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianKrueger View Post
I've had one of the two Lifeline batteries (GFL-24T) on a trickle charger in my garage for the past 4 days. At day 3, it began to blink the green light, indicating that the battery was 80% charged. However, for reasons I cannot explain, it then apparently dropped back below 80%, since the green flashing light went off. This happened twice yesterday, switching between the 80% indicator and then not. This morning when I checked, the indicator was back below 80% (i.e. no flashing green light). This particular trickle charger will give a solid green light when fully charged. Never got there. I am driving the RV next Tuesday morning to the dealer, so I swapped the charger to the other battery. It appears that the batteries are not properly holding a charge. And yes, they are bulging on the sides.

Question: Is there any reason to pay $400 (or more) to the dealer for these batteries when they can be purchased online for less than $300 delivered? I found them in the $260 range delivered. What value add does the dealer provide in this transaction other than connecting the posts? Would I need to charge the battery on my own before installing it?

And lewster, I found the GPL-4CT online for just over $300. If I have to replace the batteries, would you recommend getting the GPL-4CT instead? Per the other post, will it fit in the same space?

The Lifeline battery warranty is one year, then up to four years pro rata. I will contact Lifeline today to find out if they will cover the batteries, since Airstream apparently is no longer covering them (at least ones with a bulge).

Also, just to clarify our specific situation, we bought the rig in March 2015, but it was a lemon law return to the dealer. I was of the understanding that we would be considered the original purchaser by Airstream, but after talking to Randy McNeeley at Airstream, he informs me that is not the case. I will start a different thread on the warranty transfer, since that has its own issues separate from the battery issues being discussed in this thread. Suffice to say that Airstream is pretty much not covering anything, regardless, at least at this point.

YES, I would call Lifeline, they are great from my experience to work with. They do not sell batteries directly to consumers rather through dealers and drop ship. They may give you a mail in credit on new batteries or refund on your existing ones. Check ebay!!! from time to time dealers sell Lifeline on there to meet their quota. I would put the largest single battery you can in your space than two...
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Old 09-10-2015, 08:42 AM   #31
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Another battery update...

...and this one I simply cannot explain logically. That said, I don't really understand batteries or electricity in general, so maybe someone on this thread will understand.

As I mentioned in my previous post earlier today, I disconnected the multi-stage trickle charger from the first battery (the one closest to the front of the rig, in case that matters) and hooked it up to the second battery (closest to the rear of the rig). I just checked on it, an hour later, and it shows solid green light, which indicates that the battery is fully charged.

I'm not sure how that can be, since the batteries showed 0% when I disconnected them after unsuccessfully trying to start the generator (the genesis of this problem). Is it possible that just one battery is bad, but the second one isn't providing power to the system? I thought that was the point of having two batteries, but maybe not.

It's possible that my charger is faulty, but I don't think so, it's only 2 months old. I switched the charging back to battery #1 and it shows solid red (indicating charging and not yet 80% charged), so I will leave it there for now.

Both batteries show the slightly bulging sides, indicating apparent sulfating per other responses.

I don't have an independent way to test the charge on the batteries without hauling them back over to the RV and hooking them up again. But they always showed 100% charge when I tried starting the generator, so I'm not sure what that would tell me/not tell me.

I'm learning way more about batteries (or at least learning more confusion about batteries) than I had ever intended. Thanks to all for sharing words of wisdom and experience.
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Old 09-10-2015, 09:12 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianKrueger View Post
As I mentioned in my previous post earlier today, I disconnected the multi-stage trickle charger from the first battery (the one closest to the front of the rig, in case that matters) and hooked it up to the second battery (closest to the rear of the rig). I just checked on it, an hour later, and it shows solid green light, which indicates that the battery is fully charged.

I'm not sure how that can be, since the batteries showed 0% when I disconnected them after unsuccessfully trying to start the generator (the genesis of this problem). Is it possible that just one battery is bad, but the second one isn't providing power to the system? I thought that was the point of having two batteries, but maybe not.
People say that electricity follows the path of least resistance, but that's not quite right. In actual fact, electricity follows every path to ground, but the path of least resistance carries a greater percentage of the load. Electricity is not smart; it can't decide which way to go.

The point of having two batteries is NOT for one battery to provide a backup to the other; there's no redundancy. It's just to provide more usable amp-hours than one battery by itself.
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Old 09-10-2015, 11:34 AM   #33
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Lifeline Batteries

I just spoke to Dave at Lifeline Batteries and he was EXTREMELY helpful. As you might expect, this is a known issue (batteries being depleted) to both Lifeline and Airstream. The shutoff does not truly shut off power draw on the batteries. There are simply too many parasitic draws on the system to be covered by the solar system. In addition, he mentioned that some AIs are delivered to new customers with the batteries already depleted, since they are delivered by Airstream to the dealers with the batteries already connected and then sit on the dealer lot, not connected to shore power, depleting the batteries before delivery.

Dave gave me a recommended solution for keeping the batteries topped up, which basically involves topping them up before putting the unit into storage, then disconnecting the battery grounds (both of them). The access to the batteries in our unit (2014.5) makes this about a 5-10 minute process. Then recharging the batteries as needed while in storage, depending on where you live (he mentioned that Florida they would need to be recharged every 1-2 months, while Maine could be good for up to 6 months). He also gave a recommended way to jump the batteries using jumper cables from a car battery (with the car running) to bring up the voltage to a level that the charger would recognize.

I gave him the link to this forum, I am hoping he will comment further and give more specifics, since I'm probably not the best to summarize technical details. He was very knowledgeable about the topic, I would love to hear from him on this forum.

The bad news is that my current batteries are pretty much useless, so I will need to get new Lifeline batteries. Just that going forward, I will take care to do what Dave says to not let them get depleted.
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Old 09-10-2015, 11:47 AM   #34
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An email today from Airstream Customer Relations suggests Interstate batteries as a substitute for the Lifeline brand.

You can check the OEM batteries vs. the suggested golf cart batteries by going to Lifeline's flyers at Lifeline Batteries - Marine & RV Deep Cycle Batteries and Lifeline Batteries - Marine & RV Deep Cycle Batteries.
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Old 09-10-2015, 11:52 AM   #35
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Maybe the 2014 AIs are different but the solar panel on mine keeps the batteries fully charged w/ everything turned off except the BIM and the solar charge controller. It averages is about 2 amp hours per day, even with cloud cover.

A bad battery can show 100% charge until you put a load on it and then that drains that charge very rapidly. I believe that's called a surface charge.
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Old 09-10-2015, 12:00 PM   #36
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Solar keeping the batteries charged

Quote:
Originally Posted by 73shark View Post
Maybe the 2014 AIs are different but the solar panel on mine keeps the batteries fully charged w/ everything turned off except the BIM and the solar charge controller. It averages is about 2 amp hours per day, even with cloud cover.

A bad battery can show 100% charge until you put a load on it and then that drains that charge very rapidly. I believe that's called a surface charge.
Well, that's at least the concept that Airstream was hoping for with the solar, but it doesn't work with mine or at least the batteries drew down to the point that they cannot recover.

How often do you take it out and connect to shore power? Have you done anything differently during long period of storage, such as winter months?
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Old 09-10-2015, 01:03 PM   #37
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Maybe the 2014 AIs are different but the solar panel on mine keeps the batteries fully charged w/ everything turned off except the BIM and the solar charge controller. It averages is about 2 amp hours per day, even with cloud cover.
Quote:
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How often do you take it out and connect to shore power? Have you done anything differently during long period of storage, such as winter months?
There are actually four potential charging sources.
1 - solar;
2 - shore power;
3 - generator; and
4 - engine alternator.

I don't have access to shore power where I store my Interstate. About once a month, I run the generator for an hour, which will charge the batteries. But even if the house batteries are fully charged already, you should still run the generator about an hour once a month. Doing so helps to keep oil where oil needs to be; long periods of not running allows the film of oil to drip off the piston and cylinder wall, leading to increased wear and harder starting when you finally do run it.

But taking the Interstate out and driving it every couple of weeks also helps to keep the house batteries charged. When I was still working for a living, I'd drive the Airstream to work about twice a month. Now that I'm retired, it's even easier to find an excuse to drive it even when I'm not going on a camping trip. Again, it's better to run the engine a couple times a month anyway, and for the same reason, to keep the moving parts lubricated. Letting the engine sit for months on end is not good for the Mercedes engine same as it's not good for the Onan generator's engine.

Unless you store your Interstate a long way from home, remember that your Class B conversion van is still a van and can still be used as a passenger car while it's winterized. And you can drive it while the furnace is running. If road conditions are safe enough for you to drive your car, they're safe enough for you to drive your Interstate. Use it to make a grocery run or a trip to the mall sometimes. The poor thing gets lonely if you neglect it in the winter.
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Old 09-10-2015, 01:05 PM   #38
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Well, Brian, sounds like you have some good news and are making some progress here.

Sorry it's been such a damn mess. Does seem that JC needs to be doing something differently.


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Old 09-10-2015, 01:13 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianKrueger View Post
Well, that's at least the concept that Airstream was hoping for with the solar, but it doesn't work with mine or at least the batteries drew down to the point that they cannot recover.

How often do you take it out and connect to shore power? Have you done anything differently during long period of storage, such as winter months?
Mine sits in my driveway all winter. Never connected to shore power. About once a month, I start up the diesel and let it fully warm up. I check the batteries every one or two weeks. Also will run the generator once or twice during the winter.
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Old 09-10-2015, 01:26 PM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianKrueger View Post
I just spoke to Dave at Lifeline Batteries and he was EXTREMELY helpful. As you might expect, this is a known issue (batteries being depleted) to both Lifeline and Airstream. The shutoff does not truly shut off power draw on the batteries. There are simply too many parasitic draws on the system to be covered by the solar system. In addition, he mentioned that some AIs are delivered to new customers with the batteries already depleted, since they are delivered by Airstream to the dealers with the batteries already connected and then sit on the dealer lot, not connected to shore power, depleting the batteries before delivery.

Dave gave me a recommended solution for keeping the batteries topped up, which basically involves topping them up before putting the unit into storage, then disconnecting the battery grounds (both of them). The access to the batteries in our unit (2014.5) makes this about a 5-10 minute process. Then recharging the batteries as needed while in storage, depending on where you live (he mentioned that Florida they would need to be recharged every 1-2 months, while Maine could be good for up to 6 months). He also gave a recommended way to jump the batteries using jumper cables from a car battery (with the car running) to bring up the voltage to a level that the charger would recognize.

I gave him the link to this forum, I am hoping he will comment further and give more specifics, since I'm probably not the best to summarize technical details. He was very knowledgeable about the topic, I would love to hear from him on this forum.

The bad news is that my current batteries are pretty much useless, so I will need to get new Lifeline batteries. Just that going forward, I will take care to do what Dave says to not let them get depleted.

Dave is THE MAN when it comes to all things Lifeline. He should be..... He owns the company!!!!!!


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Old 09-10-2015, 01:35 PM   #41
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For inquiring minds.....JC is Jackson Center....the center of all things Airstream...the factory at Jackson Center, Ohio.


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Old 09-10-2015, 04:31 PM   #42
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Being simple-minded and largely non-technical, this is how I think of the situation of the batteries showing 100% when they are not:
Imagine a fresh pint glass of beer and its full to the brim; its 100% full and you can drink a full pint of beer.
Then, in battery terms, if you accidentally allow the batteries to fully deplete once or twice, then you've accidentally put a hole in your beer glass about 1/10th down from the top. So your capacity will then only be 90%, but on fully charging it will show 100% but of a reduced capacity.
You can take this further by completely ruining your batteries - say down to 10% capacity - but that can still show 100% charged. You're not going to be able to do much with any batteries depleted to that extent.
Now, where's my beer?


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