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Old 10-19-2014, 12:58 PM   #15
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Sorry for the late reply, but I would like to thank everyone for your responses. You are all very helpful.


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Old 10-27-2014, 10:20 PM   #16
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I am so happy I found this thread! We have a 2013 Interstate and are just getting the hang of it. Been on 2 long trips last year – batteries would not keep charged very long, even with lots of driving every day. We thought well we’re not driving fast enough. Found out a few months ago from our dealer that we had one “bad” battery and a bad solenoid so the batteries were not being charged properly. Replaced the 2 batteries 5 weeks ago, and got the solenoid replaced last week. Thought everything would be fine, but we parked the Interstate in our driveway at 10am yesterday, with only the fridge running – inverter off – and the batteries were down to 9% at 4pm. The fridge was not running at that point.

I’ve called our dealer back this morning – I think this is not how it should be working. They are very nice, and said they would call Airstream to find out how long the fridge should run without shore power. I mentioned that we were told it should run several days, that it’s about like running a 40watt bulb. Of course that could be wrong.

Is it possible our new batteries were injured by being in the vehicle with the old bad solenoid for several weeks?? ( I don’t even know what a solenoid is?) Does this seem odd to you all? Thanks for any help you may have.
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Old 10-27-2014, 10:46 PM   #17
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It might be the battery isolation module (BIM) or the solar power controller. the dealer replaced both on mine but it turned out to be the solar power controller.

When I run the refrigerator and nothing else, the solar panel keeps the batteries charged to at least 75%.
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Old 10-28-2014, 06:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by galvestongrl View Post
Thought everything would be fine, but we parked the Interstate in our driveway at 10am yesterday, with only the fridge running – inverter off – and the batteries were down to 9% at 4pm. The fridge was not running at that point.
How long the fridge will run depends a lot on the temperature inside your Interstate. The hotter it is, the more the fridge has to run to keep cool. As a rule, I turn on my fridge the night before a trip so that it will be cold when I pack the groceries and drinks the next morning. Because it runs overnight, the temperature inside the van is low, and the fridge doesn't have to work very hard to cool down.
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Is it possible our new batteries were injured by being in the vehicle with the old bad solenoid for several weeks?? ( I don’t even know what a solenoid is?) Does this seem odd to you all? Thanks for any help you may have.
A solenoid is an electromagnetic switch. When the low-powered solenoid is powered up, the switch makes contact on a high-powered circuit. Your Battery Isolation Module is a solenoid switch. The way it is supposed to work, if the vehicle is sitting idle, and there is no charging current to speak of, the batteries are isolated. That way, running down the house batteries doesn't cause the starting battery to also run down, and vice versa. BUT, if there is a charging current from somewhere, either shore power, generator power, or the engine alternator, the BIM is supposed to directly connect the house and starting batteries so that they can all be charged.

Now, here's the trick. I believe that the BIM itself is only powered by one battery system, supposedly the house system (If I'm wrong, somebody chime in and correct me, please). So if the house system voltage drops too far, there won't be enough power to engage the solenoid. When that happens, you can't charge the house system from the alternator until AFTER the house system has been recharged enough to power the BIM again. But if you are connected to shore power, you have enough power on the house side for the BIM to work again. I had that happen to me once, early in my ownership. Far from any source of shore power, not enough house battery power left to start the generator, and running the engine wouldn't charge the house batteries. That's when I figured out this particular quirk of the system.

If anyone from Jackson Center is reading this, it sure would be nice if there was an indicator light on the control panel— and on the dashboard while we're at it— to tell when the BIM solenoid is working and has the two systems connected. That way, you don't have to be an electrician and take the van apart to tell if the BIM is working. It wouldn't be all that difficult. Just wire a green LED in series with the solenoid circuit and stick a label under it saying "BIM Engaged."
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Old 10-30-2014, 03:59 PM   #19
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We are so new to this – got our 2013 Interstate almost 2 years ago, but really haven’t figured it out yet. Have had 2 wonderful trips, but the batteries have not seemed to work correctly and I am not very technical. What’s the best way to learn about the battery system on the Interstate? Do you leave the rig plugged in while stored in the garage or is that bad for the batteries? Is the charging system able to handle being plugged in continually?

How can you tell if the solar charging system is working at all?

Is it normal for the panel to show 100% charged very quickly after plugging in to shore power after the house batteries got down to 9.2 volts? Or does that tell you there’s not much “room” in the batteries?

Can you tell I really don’t know much about all of this? But really want to learn.
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:12 PM   #20
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Welcome to the Air Forums.

By pressing the button on the solar controller you can step through the four functions that it reads. The first one is percentage of charge, then voltage at the batteries, solar panel current into the batteries, and total amp hours from the solar panel since it was last reset. You can reset the total amp-hours by pressing and holding the button while the amp-hours is displayed and it will blink 4 times and then zero out. Whether you have the generator on or plugged into shore power, the solar controller will show hundred percent because the battery voltage is being charged at that point. If you had the batteries down to 9.2 volts, they may be ruined now.

Did your dealer give you a walkthrough when you picked up the interstate? There also should be a portfolio containing a Sprinter owner's manuals, the Airstream owner's instructions for all of the Airstream installed equipment.

Yes you can leave RV plugged into shore power without any problem. If the RV is left outside and everything is turned off, the solar panel alone will maintain the house batteries and the chassis battery.
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:19 AM   #21
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2015 Interstate Ext. Coach
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All good information, because I am new to this, and have been trying to understand how the solar controller works. I got some really great information from the manufacturer, including some helpful troubleshooting tips. However, some of the tests are run at the batteries.
So, here's the question: In my Grand Tour, I believe the batteries are carefully concealed under the driver's side small sideways-facing seat, under a white hardboard panel. So, can anyone help with how I get access? It seems to me the only way is to remove the seat bottom, and it looks like 4 bolts are all that hold it down. Am I on the right track, or I there an easier way?
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:27 AM   #22
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So, here's the question: In my Grand Tour, I believe the batteries are carefully concealed under the driver's side small sideways-facing seat, under a white hardboard panel.
I believe you're mistaken. On all Sprinter 3500-based Interstates that I know of that have a rear sofa, the sideways seats are over the wheelwells and there's no room there for a battery box. It's probably under the sofa. On my 2012 it's on the passenger side and the water heater is on the driver's side, with the inverter/charger in the middle.
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So, can anyone help with how I get access? It seems to me the only way is to remove the seat bottom, and it looks like 4 bolts are all that hold it down. Am I on the right track, or I there an easier way?
Extended models have a slide-out tray that holds two batteries side-by-side for easy access through the passenger-side rear door. Non-extended models have a battery box that holds two batteries stacked one on top of the other. If you are unfortunate enough to have one of those, you DO have to disassemble the sofa to get at the battery box.
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:38 AM   #23
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Protagonist: Thanks for all the detail, but I believe this must all have changed with the 2015 Grand Tour layout. There isn't anything under the rear wide sofa except open space for storage. I'll look again to be sure, but when the inside access cabinet doors are opened, you can see straight out the back of the coach. I have stuff stored on either side of the metal support frame, so I can't imagine there's room for batteries there either. I'll look again in a few minutes, but they're either very small or there's a "cloaking device" that makes them invisible.
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Old 10-31-2014, 08:52 AM   #24
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I haven't worked on a '15 Grand Tour yet, but it's possible that your batteries have been moved to the underside of the coach. I have seen this recently with some other Sprinter conversions.

Please keep us informed when/if you find them.


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Old 10-31-2014, 09:06 AM   #25
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Protagonist: So, I just checked again. Under the center of the wide sofa, there's nothing at all, straight shot out the back. On the driver's side under that sofa, you're right, there is something, but it's the water tank and heater. So, the only place left is under the small seat on that side.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:10 AM   #26
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Protagonist: Thanks for all the detail, but I believe this must all have changed with the 2015 Grand Tour layout.
Keep us informed; won't be the first time I've been wrong (or sadly, the last, either). I'm always willing to learn something new. But I still think that the side-facing seats are over the wheelwells even if I'm wrong about the battery box location.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:30 AM   #27
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Keep us informed; won't be the first time I've been wrong (or sadly, the last, either). I'm always willing to learn something new. But I still think that the side-facing seats are over the wheelwells even if I'm wrong about the battery box location.
BillyBoy is correct, Protag. I have taken a look at a new Grand Tour down in Phoenix, and they have managed to stuff the batteries in the compartment under the driver's side jump seat.
From what I remember, to get to the batteries, it's a combination of lifting the jump seat (as if you're making the bed) but stopping half way. And in addition, the front panel under the jump seat pulls out. I think that also reveals the breaker box, and other stuff.
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Old 10-31-2014, 09:33 AM   #28
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BillyBoy is correct, Protag. I have taken a look at a new Grand Tour down in Phoenix, and they have managed to stuff the batteries in the compartment under the driver's side jump seat.
From what I remember, to get to the batteries, it's a combination of lifting the jump seat (as if you're making the bed) but stopping half way. And in addition, the front panel under the jump seat pulls out. I think that also reveals the breaker box, and other stuff.
Huh. That's me, wrong twice in twenty minutes. Not even a record performance for me. Well, good to know. I'd sure like to see pictures of the battery layout, though, for future reference.
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