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Old 07-14-2016, 11:22 PM   #1
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I am fairly sure this is my first post here. I have been around reading for a couple of weeks. We officially bought our first RV today - a 2015 Interstate Extended. We drove it home this afternoon with a series of emotions. I could now write a book on the woes of buying a used RV. We love the coach and really wanted to buy used as we have rented but still want to make sure this whole thing is for our family.

All five of us huddled around the back table eating dinner together in the Dairy Queen parking lot will always be a fun memory. My husband hitting the LP detector test button accidentally causing me to shut off the AC and generator in one arm swipe - heart stopping. Good memories/times already.

We are learning our way around and I already have tons of questions. I usually consider myself a quick learner. I have been humbled by all the buttons, beeps, gauges, panels, and switches. I am making my way through the owners manual for the second time. I finally figured out how to watch TV going down the road without the generator. However, once I turn off the generator and turn the inverter on, my battery drops to 65% almost immediately. It went to 50% while I stood there staring at it hoping it would miraculously fix itself. I am guessing we are victims of the bad battery from the RV sitting on the dealers lot so long. I have searched high and low. I am struggling to figure out if my battery/electrical system will be similar to other non-sprinter threads. I could use some help pointing me in the right direction or the words to use to search on my own. It is probably there. I am just missing it somehow. Thanks for making it the end of my ramblings after a very, very long day.
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Old 07-15-2016, 04:59 AM   #2
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Check out the thread by Colorado Lady. She just purchased an AI & had similar issues & there is a lot of information on her thread that should help.

Happy Trails
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Old 07-15-2016, 05:00 AM   #3
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Congratulations on your new baby, and may you have many happy miles.


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Old 07-15-2016, 06:13 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by sillyRVmom View Post
However, once I turn off the generator and turn the inverter on, my battery drops to 65% almost immediately. It went to 50% while I stood there staring at it hoping it would miraculously fix itself. I am guessing we are victims of the bad battery from the RV sitting on the dealers lot so long. I have searched high and low. I am struggling to figure out if my battery/electrical system will be similar to other non-sprinter threads. I could use some help pointing me in the right direction or the words to use to search on my own. It is probably there. I am just missing it somehow. Thanks for making it the end of my ramblings after a very, very long day.
Welcome the the exalted ranks of Airstream Interstate owners!

If your batteries dropped to 65% immediately after shutting off the generator, that indicates that the generator was not charging the batteries. Here's my best guess about what happened:

1 - The inverter is actually an inverter/charger. It has two modes "Auto" and "Charge Only." In Auto mode, it automatically switches from inverter to charger as needed. In Charge Only mode, it doesn't automatically switch because it's constantly in Charge mode. But in either mode, it has to be switched on while the generator is running in order to charge the batteries. The inverter/charger is what converts 120vAC power to 12vDC power. Without it, no matter how much 120vAC power you've got, the batteries won't charge.

2 - Since you didn't switch on the inverter until after the generator was turned off, the inverter/charger wasn't running in charger mode when the generator was running. This would indicate that the generator wasn't charging the batteries when you thought they were.

I may be wrong in my assessment, and right or wrong, you could still have bad batteries. If you run the generator again with the inverter/charger turned on, and the batteries still don't take and hold a charge, THEN you've got bad batteries.

If the house batteries have dropped too low to start the generator again, you can jump-start it by pressing and holding the "boost" button on the dashboard while starting the generator (obviously a two-person job). It's actually meant to jump-start the engine from the house batteries, but it can work in reverse as well to jump-start the generator.
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Old 07-15-2016, 07:39 AM   #5
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Welcome to Air Forums and I hope you post back about your continuing adventures because I immediately like your style. Sure, I'll take a little humor with that exasperation, thank you. Why not?
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Old 07-15-2016, 08:47 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Welcome the the exalted ranks of Airstream Interstate owners!

If your batteries dropped to 65% immediately after shutting off the generator, that indicates that the generator was not charging the batteries. Here's my best guess about what happened:

1 - The inverter is actually an inverter/charger. It has two modes "Auto" and "Charge Only." In Auto mode, it automatically switches from inverter to charger as needed. In Charge Only mode, it doesn't automatically switch because it's constantly in Charge mode. But in either mode, it has to be switched on while the generator is running in order to charge the batteries. The inverter/charger is what converts 120vAC power to 12vDC power. Without it, no matter how much 120vAC power you've got, the batteries won't charge.

2 - Since you didn't switch on the inverter until after the generator was turned off, the inverter/charger wasn't running in charger mode when the generator was running. This would indicate that the generator wasn't charging the batteries when you thought they were.

I may be wrong in my assessment, and right or wrong, you could still have bad batteries. If you run the generator again with the inverter/charger turned on, and the batteries still don't take and hold a charge, THEN you've got bad batteries.

If the house batteries have dropped too low to start the generator again, you can jump-start it by pressing and holding the "boost" button on the dashboard while starting the generator (obviously a two-person job). It's actually meant to jump-start the engine from the house batteries, but it can work in reverse as well to jump-start the generator.

I hate to disagree with Protag since as often as not I end up with egg on my face. But here's what I think:
Protag's assessment is, I think, based on his experiences with his Interstate which has the TrippLite inverter/charger. But a 2015 Interstate has a Magnum for which the charging circuit is always enabled. So as long as you're plugged in or running the generator, you're charging the batteries.
In my opinion, the easiest way to see if the batteries are degraded is to leave it plugged in for several hours. This will ensure the Magnum will have gone through its charging cycles, which ends in the "float" stage, and the batteries will be as fully charged as they can be depending on their health. Only then should you disconnect shore power and watch the voltage of the coach batteries. If within about 15 minutes it drops significantly, then the batteries are bad.
Hope that helps.


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Old 07-15-2016, 08:58 AM   #7
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But a 2015 Interstate has a Magnum for which the charging circuit is always enabled. So as long as you're plugged in or running the generator, you're charging the batteries.
Only true if the solenoid from Service Bulletin 164 has not been installed. The solenoid provides an "off" switch (and creates its own problems as described in other threads). I don't know if the OP's Interstate has the solenoid. If it doesn't, then you're absolutely correct.
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In my opinion, the easiest way to see if the batteries are degraded is to leave it plugged in for several hours. This will ensure the Magnum will have gone through its charging cycles, which ends in the "float" stage, and the batteries will be as fully charged as they can be depending on their health. Only then should you disconnect shore power and watch the voltage of the coach batteries. If within about 15 minutes it drops significantly, then the batteries are bad.
Agreed. But also do it after dark, so that current from the solar charge controller is not skewing the readings.
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Old 07-15-2016, 10:49 AM   #8
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My head is spinning with fatigue and the fact that we are seemingly dismantling our precious RV piece by piece. My son pulled the towel rack off the wall today. So, if I am lucky, the toilet will still be working when we leave next week on our inaugural journey. So far, we have managed to break the bathroom roof vent, sink handle, and today towel rack.

The good news is I went out to troubleshoot the battery as we need to get right on this before we take off. We do have the Magnum Inverter and Charger. I did have to "jump start" the generator to get it going as the battery was dead. Again. Thanks Protagonist! I am so grateful for that nugget of wisdom. Once I got the generator going, I went to the Magnum Remote control panel in the panel of panels. I hit the on/off button. It blinked and made some jirations before beeping and the red fault light coming on to say Low Battery. The fault cleared in maybe a minute. I found the book on the magnum control panel. I read through 80% of it. I'm not totally sure I completely understand.

Here is what I do know when the generator is off and no shore power. The TV won't work unless I hit the on/off button. The inverter light turns green. The battery level immediately begins to fall off. I am reading this as a percentage from the white panel and not the magnum panel though. But, I know the battery discharges from the fact that when I go out there, I won't be able to start the generator.

I am going to pull it up and plug it into the house to see if it will charge as suggested. However, it was plugged in all morning yesterday from about 8am to 1pm. By 8 o'clock last night, the battery was at or below 50%.

Am I dreaming to think we can watch TV, run a light or two off and on, and the water pump as needed from the batteries for several hours? What could I be missing in this setup?

Thanks for all the help. I think the honeymoon is over. But I am not giving up my rose colored glasses just yet. But, they are off for today. We used an entire tank of desiel and 2/3 tank of LP yesterday. Sheesh. Reality has set in.
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Old 07-15-2016, 10:54 AM   #9
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Don't despair, there is a learning curve and we all struggled thru it.

I pulled the thingie that holds the hand held shower off on our first trip, and when I glued it back up I put it on upside down....where it still sits, 9+ years later.

I turn my engine on to start my generator every single time.


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Old 07-15-2016, 11:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by sillyRVmom View Post
My head is spinning with fatigue and the fact that we are seemingly dismantling our precious RV piece by piece. My son pulled the towel rack off the wall today. So, if I am lucky, the toilet will still be working when we leave next week on our inaugural journey. So far, we have managed to break the bathroom roof vent, sink handle, and today towel rack.

The good news is I went out to troubleshoot the battery as we need to get right on this before we take off. We do have the Magnum Inverter and Charger. I did have to "jump start" the generator to get it going as the battery was dead. Again. Thanks Protagonist! I am so grateful for that nugget of wisdom. Once I got the generator going, I went to the Magnum Remote control panel in the panel of panels. I hit the on/off button. It blinked and made some jirations before beeping and the red fault light coming on to say Low Battery. The fault cleared in maybe a minute. I found the book on the magnum control panel. I read through 80% of it. I'm not totally sure I completely understand.

Here is what I do know when the generator is off and no shore power. The TV won't work unless I hit the on/off button. The inverter light turns green. The battery level immediately begins to fall off. I am reading this as a percentage from the white panel and not the magnum panel though. But, I know the battery discharges from the fact that when I go out there, I won't be able to start the generator.
If the generator is not running and you are not plugged into external power then the only way to get the TVs on is to turn on the inverter - sounds like that is working properly.

Quote:
I am going to pull it up and plug it into the house to see if it will charge as suggested. However, it was plugged in all morning yesterday from about 8am to 1pm. By 8 o'clock last night, the battery was at or below 50%.
What were you doing from 1pm until 8 pm when the battery went to 50%?

Quote:
Am I dreaming to think we can watch TV, run a light or two off and on, and the water pump as needed from the batteries for several hours? What could I be missing in this setup?
You should be able to do this if your batteries are in good shape. It is starting to sound like your batteries may be damaged.

Quote:
Thanks for all the help. I think the honeymoon is over. But I am not giving up my rose colored glasses just yet. But, they are off for today. We used an entire tank of desiel and 2/3 tank of LP yesterday. Sheesh. Reality has set in.

You will have to learn the limits of running on battery power. The Interstate does not have the batteries or solar to allow more than a few hours of the use you have indicated above. Best to get those batteries checked as they do sound weak.

Best of Luck on learning,

- - Mike
2013 Lounge EXT on 2012 Sprinter
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:06 PM   #11
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In a fun twist of events, my husband unplugged our Airstream at the dealer. The power cord is still lying on the ground 5 hours away. So, I won't be able to do the shore power just yet.
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Old 07-15-2016, 12:15 PM   #12
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Chin up.

Some day these will all just be stories to share with others.


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Old 07-15-2016, 12:22 PM   #13
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In a fun twist of events, my husband unplugged our Airstream at the dealer. The power cord is still lying on the ground 5 hours away. So, I won't be able to do the shore power just yet.
Lesson learned, sequence for disconnecting shore power isó turn off the breakers inside. Go outside and turn off the breakers at the pedestal. Then immediately unplug that end. Without letting go of the cord, walk to the other end and disconnect from the Airstream. Then again without letting go of the cord, coil it up and put it away.

As long as you don't let go of the cord from start to finish, you can't forget.
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Old 07-15-2016, 01:59 PM   #14
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I agree with others who have suggested "batteries may be bad and if discharged to 50%, that is indeed a bad sign!" I have discovered that it is best to be as conservative as possible in order to avoid outages. You must charge to a "float charge" before turning off the generator. Wait about 1/2-1 hour afterwards to validate actual charged status.

The fridge/freezer, (if you have the stacked units, as I do), will draw a significant amount of power on their own. Each draw you add, of course, will take battery power down more quickly. AC or Furnace should be used judiciously and with generator, as they are huge battery draws!

Understanding that the kiddos need to be entertained, I might suggest not using TV unless plugged in to electricity. More lights used, more battery drain, as well. Do not leave water pump on all the time....turn it on for specific use, and then turn of.

I would think you should educate the kids to the above issues regarding power use. This is a very complicated piece of machinery, but, it must be dealt with conservatively. How old are your children? Kids can be kind of tough on some items....such as the items already damaged. Tell them if something does not seem to work, to not use brute force, (as kids may do), but, to ask Mom or Dad for help.

I urge you to not be disappointed in the AI. It is a terrific unit, but, is not indestructible. There is a steep learning curve, and as you learn more about it, you will become more confident.

Keep in mind, your AI is probably still in warranty, including the batteries. Call Airstream at Jackson Center, ask customer service rep., explain your situation. They are very helpful.
I bought new at Vogt In Ft. Worth, Texas. Your service manager where you bought it should also be helpful to you. (Assuming your bought from a dealer). If from other than dealer, it should still be under warranty, as they have a 3 year warranty on AI.

Good luck to you. I suggest you get this resolved and repairs made prior to a trip, if possible. Call and ask for your electric power cord be shipped to you as soon as possible. Also, I agree with Protagonist in post 13 above. Make a check list on departure and arrival, and use it every time. Don't forget about the step at curb side. Always look to assure it is out secure before anyone steps out...avoid accidents, I.e., twisted ankle, etc.

If I can be of any assist, let me know. I have learned a lot from fellow forum members. I especially encourage you to read posts on my thread, ADVENTURES BEYOND COMFORT ZONE...last page, by Lewster. Evelyn.
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