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Old 09-29-2013, 07:22 PM   #1
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House Battery

Just drove from Tampa to Durango in our 2005 Interstate. 24 hours later, it seems our house battery needs a recharge. Is that normal or is it time for a replacement? If so, how much and availability?
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Old 09-29-2013, 10:17 PM   #2
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Re: Battery problems

Sorry, just noticed that you have a Sprinter van. While suggestions below were directed towards a travel trailer, most still apply.

==========

If you have incandescent lights, ran the furnace overnight, only have one battery, and it's the original (2005) battery, one or all of the following most likely apply:
  • You may need a new battery (if it's more than a couple of years old).

  • You need a second battery (if you only have one).

  • You need to conserve battery power, or stay at a campsite with an electric power.

  • You need to convert your incandescent bulbs to LEDs. If you don't wish to convert all of them, start by changing only the ones you use the most/longest. SEARCH this forum for "LED bulbs" for recommended replacements. Alternately, you can purchase various "camping lights" that are powered by flashlight batteries (like those used by tent campers).

  • You may need a generator and/or solar panels to recharge your battery/batteries, daily; especially, if you don't plan to drive everyday (which will also recharge your Airstream's batteries).

  • You need to limit furnace use, and/or use alternate electric heating (heat pump, electric auxiliary heating element in air conditioner, etc.) at a full-hookup RV site (or one with electric only). Alternately, turn furnace to lowest setting and use sleeping bags in cold weather, which is what we do.

  • You may need to troubleshoot your 12-volt hotline from your TV to your Airstream, as it is a remote possibility that it is "open" (broken connection).

Note: Lots of opinions on the best replacement batteries. Have yours load tested for FREE at an autoparts store to determine if it is actually defective, before replacing.

We have two AGM marine deep cycle batteries (Optima Blue Tops), but there are many other good alternatives, some more expensive and some cheaper. Expect to spend $100 to $200+ per battery (in most cases, you get what you pay for).
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Old 09-29-2013, 11:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartyDaniel View Post
Just drove from Tampa to Durango in our 2005 Interstate. 24 hours later, it seems our house battery needs a recharge. Is that normal or is it time for a replacement? If so, how much and availability?
First, welcome to the forums!

The first thing I would do is look at the battery. If it's the original battery, it's 8 years old at this point and getting pretty tired. Have a good look at the connections to the battery terminals while you're at it.

The house battery should be charging when the engine is running. Measure the voltage across the battery terminals with the engine running. Should be 13 - 14 Volts if the battery is being charged.

If you need new battery, I would go for an original equipment replacement which is probably a plain old "wet" deep-cycle marine battery. You can probably get one for $100 or less at any auto parts store (or Wal Mart). If you want to go first class, AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries have some advantages--mechanical ruggedness being one--but I have never had any trouble with ordinary RV/marine batteries.

Good luck!

Best regards,
Nuvi
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:50 AM   #4
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Your battery may not have been fully charged to begin with.

Plugged in for several days or a week should get you up there.

Travel safe,


Maggie
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Old 09-30-2013, 06:29 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Nuvite-F View Post
The house battery should be charging when the engine is running. Measure the voltage across the battery terminals with the engine running. Should be 13 - 14 Volts if the battery is being charged.
The house battery should be charging when the engine is running IF your Battery Isolation Module (BIM) is working properly. That's not a foregone conclusion. So if you check the battery and it's NOT at the end of its useful life, the BIM is the next thing to check.
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Old 09-30-2013, 12:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by doug&maggie View Post
Your battery may not have been fully charged to begin with.

Plugged in for several days or a week should get you up there.

Travel safe,


Maggie
We have found that driving alone will not adequately charge a depleted house battery.

It brings it up a bit, but you have to get plugged in to electricity.

Maggie
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Old 09-30-2013, 12:17 PM   #7
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This is what I've learnt recently from my own experiences:
If the batteries are not taken care of and you allow them to be depleted below 50%, then they will become sulfated and their capacity will be greatly reduced. If this happens more than a couple of times, then the capacity may be reduced to almost zero.
You may be able to recover some of that capacity by applying an equalization charge (a controlled overcharge). Essentially this causes a lot of gassing and mixing of the acid in an attempt to remove the sulfation. Since this produces hydrogen, you need to be careful take precautions (lots of ventilation), and top up the battery with distilled water to replace what is lost.
I mention this as an option to forking out $$$ for expensive batteries.
Hope this helps.
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Old 10-03-2013, 12:13 AM   #8
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Anyone experience this?

I can charge anywhere from 1-5 days on shore power and the system is showing 100% charge and is on "float" stage after going through the bulk, absorb, etc. However, immediately upon unplugging from shore, the system shows that the house batts drop to about 70-75%. Does this mean I need to equalize?

It gets more strange... when out in the sun, the batts being about 70-75% as above, will rise quickly (when viewing the SunExplorer) from 70% to 75% to 80% up to 100%, then it will fall almost immediately back down to 70% and start the climb all over again. It shows 2.6 on the SunExplorer trying to charge and then will sometimes just drop to 0.0. Then repeat it again. What gives? I cannot get to a "real" 100% healthy charge on the house. I feel these fluctuations cannot be correct at all but haven't talked to anyone about it yet. Should I equalize? Is my solar charge system fried? House batteries permanently injured? Thank you guys for any insight. This is all new to me.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:24 AM   #9
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I can charge anywhere from 1-5 days on shore power and the system is showing 100% charge and is on "float" stage after going through the bulk, absorb, etc. However, immediately upon unplugging from shore, the system shows that the house batts drop to about 70-75%. Does this mean I need to equalize?
I'm firmly convinced that when you're plugged into shore power, the status display is showing the battery voltage or the charging voltage, whichever is higher. It can't tell the difference between current flowing to the battery and current flowing from the battery. I say this because the moment I hook up to shore power, the display instantly goes from 70% (or whatever) straight to 100%.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:27 AM   #10
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I am glad we only have color ranges showing the extent of charge.


Maggie
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:19 PM   #11
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Thanks for the input everyone! I still can't get passed 75%. My solar charger seems intermittent on charging. 2.8 then 0.0... never a constant charge and often sits dormant. Is this normal to cycle like this? Anyone get a constant solar charge at the full amount?
Anyone successful at the equalizing treatment on the house batts? Thanks.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:31 PM   #12
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I think the rate of charge is dependent on the state of charge of the battery. In other words, the lower the battery voltage, the higher the solar input current will be up to its maximum. At least that's the way mine seems to work.
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:09 PM   #13
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Solar Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4K Shooter View Post
Thanks for the input everyone! I still can't get passed 75%. My solar charger seems intermittent on charging. 2.8 then 0.0... never a constant charge and often sits dormant. Is this normal to cycle like this? Anyone get a constant solar charge at the full amount?
Anyone successful at the equalizing treatment on the house batts? Thanks.
The PVCM20D charge controller installed by Airstream won't start charging until the battery voltage is below 12.4VDC, just under 75%. After reaching that threshold it should continue to charge as long as there is adequate sunlight reaching the panel. But it's a single stage charge up to 13.9VDC that will never fully charge the 160 AH batteries. From what I can tell from the documentation on this charge controller it will keep charging until 13.9VDC threshold is achieved, then stay off until batteries drop to 12.4VDC. From what I have observed on my rig this causes the solar charging to be off when you would think it should be on.
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:32 PM   #14
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We have had issues with our 2013 Interstate battery(and inverter solar panel too) . Even after driving for 8 hours, once we go to use the house battery, it is depleted very quickly. I haven't figured out how to use the inverter other than how to turn it on to use the power...but then it shows low battery almost immediately. Also... this must sound so dumb.... but I'm not a car tech/electrical woman... how do I Plug it in at home, when I don't have a 30 amp plug? I can't seem to have it sit over night anywhere, unless we find a camp ground with electric. I turn the house battery off when it sits for more than a day as the sales people recommended. I'm just not sure how the solar operates. The inverter doesn't have to be turned on, to charge...correct? Thanks in advance. Whomever helped me with the Macererator fuse...THANK YOU! That worked. Suru
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