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Old 10-24-2015, 04:24 PM   #29
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I've had my van for almost four years since then, and haven't had any problem at all with the house batteries since my first month of ownership.
Protagonist, it's nice that your van does not have the defect.

You've been on the forums long enough, though, to know that many posters have confirmed their vans draw 50x more current from the batteries than Airstream specifies. Owners have posted that they are losing 10-12 AH per day, or have measured 0.4A to 0.5A continuous current draw, and you've posted to those threads. We're not all accidently leaving our inverters on.

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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Yes, your particular Interstate might have a defect. Or it might not.
Yeah, the van has a problem. My van has been in, so far, twice to fix this problem. The first time, the dealer told me the batteries are fine. The second time, the dealer told me the charging system is fine. The next time the dealer fails to fix this, I'll take it up with my state's attorney general. The service appointment is scheduled.

P.S. I forgot the Sunexplorer display. BIM draws 0.008 A, Kenwood draws 0.001 A, the CO and LPG detectors draw 0.0005 between them, and the Sunexplorer display draws a ridiculous 0.015 A. Something in my van and many others is using 50x the current than it should be.
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Old 10-24-2015, 04:32 PM   #30
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My van is still under warranty. If my dealer cannot find and fix this problem, I'll use my state's RV Lemon Law and Airstream can buy the van back from me.
Good luck with that.
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Old 10-24-2015, 04:51 PM   #31
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Good luck with that.
WA state's Motor Home Lemon Law

I haven't talked to a lawyer yet, but the law covers the Airstream portion of the motor home, and covers defects that substantially impair the use of the motor home or diminish its resale value. I think unable to maintain the electrical system qualifies. All the other criteria are met, such as written demand to fix, subject to repair 3 or more times, or 30 days or more out of service.
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Old 10-24-2015, 05:28 PM   #32
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WA state's Motor Home Lemon Law

I haven't talked to a lawyer yet, but the law covers the Airstream portion of the motor home, and covers defects that substantially impair the use of the motor home or diminish its resale value. I think unable to maintain the electrical system qualifies. All the other criteria are met, such as written demand to fix, subject to repair 3 or more times, or 30 days or more out of service.
If memory serves me, another poster recently joined this forum who said he had bought his AI after it was returned by its initial owner under a lemon law. I don't recall that he ever stated (or even knew) what that owner's lemon-y issue had been, but apparently some of those appeals are successful. I do recall that he was having battery issues.
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Old 10-24-2015, 05:45 PM   #33
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Am I the only one with a dinky 50 watt solar panel that does not plug it in to shore power and it keeps the house batteries fully charged?
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:35 PM   #34
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Am I the only one with a dinky 50 watt solar panel that does not plug it in to shore power and it keeps the house batteries fully charged?
I'm looking forward to hearing responses to this question. There are so many battery-related threads now that I can't keep them straight in my head or who said what in which one. It begs the question as to when "Sprinter and B Van Forum" is going to get sub-headings, because with 1,200+ threads, it sure as heck needs them.

There was another poster in another thread (?) who mentioned that their original 50 W panel got the charging job done, but who also described him/her/themself(ves) as "currently driving cross country" or something similar.

Well, shoot, if they are actively under power, it's a bit more tricky than attributing success to the solar alone, isn't it? Because their alternator is doing some of that heavy lifting. Or maybe even most of it, depending on operating conditions.
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:46 PM   #35
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Am I the only one with a dinky 50 watt solar panel that does not plug it in to shore power and it keeps the house batteries fully charged?
Nope. I have a dinky 50w solar panel and no place to plug into shore power at home. My four-year-old house batteries are not Lifelines. My inverter/charger is a TrippLite, not a Magnum. All strikes against. And yet I still manage to keep my house batteries fully charged in storage by making sure the batteries are already fully charged when I park it (using the generator if necessary to top them up before putting the van away), and then shutting off everything that I can shut off in between uses, including the main disconnect, the 120v breakers, and all of the devices that bypass one or both.
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Old 10-24-2015, 07:22 PM   #36
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House battery drainage

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Originally Posted by coder View Post
These "Interstate House Battery Drainage" threads are really annoying....

...... My van is still under warranty. If my dealer cannot find and fix this problem, I'll use my state's RV Lemon Law and Airstream can buy the van back from me. The van is spec'd to draw less than 0.01 amps unplugged. In a month unplugged, the batteries should lose 2% internal and another 2% from phantom (BIM draws 0.008 A, Kenwood draws 0.001 A, and everything else is much less or is disconnected), not 50% in a week.

Coder - I don't know where it's specified by Airstream that the parasitic drain on the batteries is only 0.01A? Can you enlighten us on where you found this specification? I've read all the specifications on the various 12V components used in my 2013 Interstate and the parasitic drain calculates to between 0.4-0.5A. I have a shunt current meter on my batteries as part of the Blue Sky solar controller I installed last year and have measured the drain at 0.4A constant. The house disconnect only eliminates the small current, less than 0.01A, supplied to the propane detector. Your current for the BIM of 0.008A is not correct. The BIM data sheet, available for the Precision Circuits Inc. web site states it draws 4 watts, at 12V that is 0.333A.
http://www.precisioncircuitsinc.com/...mp-continuous/

Last year I added 400 watts of solar panels to my Interstate. This solved what I consider a design weakness of the Airstream electrical system in the Interstates. They install components that drain the batteries at a significant rate of 0.4A and then only install a 50 or 100 watt solar panel to maintain the batteries. It's not a defect, just poor design.

I'm now working on a battery and inverter upgrade and have become very familiar with every circuit in my Interstate. I wanted to eliminate the significant drain from the BIM, but determined the electronics are hard wired to the house battery. I could install a switch that would shut down the BIM, but that would then isolate the batteries so the Sprinter alternator would not charge the house batteries and the solar would not charge my Sprinter battery. For the few time I would need to totally isolate my batteries it's easy to just disconnect the negative terminal right on the battery.


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Old 10-24-2015, 07:40 PM   #37
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Your current for the BIM of 0.008A is not correct. The BIM data sheet, available for the Precision Circuits Inc. web site states it draws 4 watts, at 12V that is 0.333A.
The BIM uses 4 watts only when one of the battery banks is being charged. When the BIM detects a charging voltage on either side, the switch combining the banks is closed. The BIM uses 4 watts to keep the switch closed when the system is being charged, which is an inconsequential current compared to the charging current.

The BIM standby current is 0.008 A. When the van is parked with all systems off and disconnected, the BIM should not be drawing 4 watts.
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Old 10-24-2015, 09:48 PM   #38
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There was another poster in another thread (?) who mentioned that their original 50 W panel got the charging job done, but who also described him/her/themself(ves) as "currently driving cross country" or something similar.
That was me, and I was on a cross-country trip at the time - but now back home. Let me qualify things a bit:
I live in a generally sunny part of the country, so the 50W panel usually gets abundant sunlight, and I see anything up to 3.5 Amps displayed on the Sunexplorer display. That is enough to keep my batteries charged, even with the refrigerator running.
But on the trip to Missouri, lots of cloud in places and the display would then indicate perhaps 2 Amps.
In Missouri where we were visiting friends, the AI was parked outside for 3 weeks with the battery disconnect enabled; I checked the displays twice daily: still good solar amperage although in the late afternoon when the sun was lower, it showed only 0.7-0.4 Amps. The batteries were down to about 85-80% by the mornings. So I'm confident that 50W panel can maintain the batteries for my own circumstances. If I lived elsewhere things may be different.
One other important qualification: when at home, the AI is parked in the garage and always plugged into a standard household socket. And that's been the case since it was new. I also know my AI was never sitting on the dealers lot for long before I collected it, and when it was sitting there, it was in the sun. So I know the batteries have been carefully maintained since new, and never allowed to deplete below 50%. Without healthy batteries you cannot expect to have a full battery capacity and it will always seem like they are draining quickly.
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:06 PM   #39
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Coder - I don't know where it's specified by Airstream that the parasitic drain on the batteries is only 0.01A? Can you enlighten us on where you found this specification?
From my notes from the Airstream manual:
CO detector 0.00025 A
LPG detector 0.00025 A
Kenwood 0.001 A
Magnum Inverter 0.650 A
I'll look around and see if I can find which Airstream manual. I remember it was in an unusual place, perhaps in the Camping section instead of Electrical. Notice that these numbers from Airstream aren't quite right. For example, the CO detector manual says it will last for 7 days on a 9V battery. A run-of-the-mill 9V alkaline has about 600 mAh, so the Airstream spec'd current is probably a tenth of the true current. The 650 mA for the Magnum is NOT standby, and the MMS1012 manual says the inverter uses 19 W no load, which is closer to 400 mA than 650. Etc.

The Sunexplorer display and controller use 15 mA and <= 7 mA, from the technical manuals for those products.

The Lifeline 2% self-discharge rate is from the Lifeline Batteries corporate website, on the page for the GPL-24T specs.

The information about the BIM is from an email from George L Cepynsky of Precision Circuits Inc, 7/27/2015, in response to my emailed request for information, who writes, "We are running 0.008 amps in stand-by mode." He confirms that the BIM does not use 4 W all the time regardless of the state of the relay.

Add it all up and my batteries should last several months, not just a week. Some Interstate vans have this problem, and some don't. I suspect it's a combination of defective or marginal parts coupled with bad design or poorly spec'd parts. If your Interstate van is plugged in all the time, you may have this problem and never know it.
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:34 PM   #40
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From my notes from the Airstream manual:
CO detector 0.00025 A
LPG detector 0.00025 A
Kenwood 0.001 A
Magnum Inverter 0.650 A
.

This information is in the 2015 and 2016 Interstate User Manuals in the Maintenance section. We all know - but you may not if you're new to Airstream - that the manuals are hopelessly inaccurate and out of date. And we've generally come to accept it even though it's totally unacceptable. If you look around in that section, you'll even find references to things like checking the electrolyte level, etc.
Don't make any judgements based on the Manual!


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Old 10-24-2015, 11:37 PM   #41
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You may ask yourself, Why don't I just spend $60 and a couple of hours and bolt an Intellitec BD-01 onto the back of the battery case?

The answer is because I paid a pretty penny for this Airstream van, and I'm pretty annoyed that a basic, inherently-important feature doesn't work right. The van came with a warranty. This is Airstream's problem to fix, not mine, and I'm not modifying any part of the system until Airstream has found and fixed the problem.

When I first took it to the dealer, and told them my van's batteries didn't seem to last as long as they should while the van was stored, I wanted better service than the dealer just telling me that my batteries were top-notch, 100%, no degradation, full capacity, and that I really should be charging them for a couple-three hours every week.
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Old 10-24-2015, 11:54 PM   #42
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We all know - but you may not if you're new to Airstream - that the manuals are hopelessly inaccurate and out of date.
I'm not new to Airstream. I had an Airstream trailer before this 2014.5 Interstate, and I am fully aware of the shoddy manuals. My Interstate manual says my 2014 van has a Tripp Lite inverter/charger (wrong) and that I should not leave the van plugged in for long periods. It also has a section about winterizing the van that would leave its pipes full of water were I foolish enough to blindly follow it. I feel sorry for the newbies.
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