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Old 08-12-2012, 12:12 PM   #29
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gastockman: You're lucky. When I got back from a ten day vacation trip last month, I had a list of 17 things. Was a little surprised since this was our 3rd trip and everything worked fine previously. Little over 10K miles now.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:19 PM   #30
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No, it won't. That's normal, and not a problem. Car alternator has a voltage regulator optimized for the wet-cell starting battery. It would fry your house batteries in short order if hooked up to charge them.
That's interesting to know as my dealer told me that the alternator would charge the house batteries. I know that the panel display for the house batteries goes to the same voltage as the chassis battery when the engine is running.
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Old 08-12-2012, 12:38 PM   #31
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I know that the panel display for the house batteries goes to the same voltage as the chassis battery when the engine is running.
Mine doesn't. Does that mean my Interstate has a previously undiscovered problem?
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:02 PM   #32
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Re. Charging house batteries from the vehicle alternator:
"No, it won't. That's normal, and not a problem. Car alternator has a voltage regulator optimized for the wet-cell starting battery. It would fry your house batteries in short order if hooked up to charge them."

I think it actually does; based on my actual experience and several comments in the 2010 Owners Manual including this one on Page H-12: "Turning off the disconnect switch will cut power to 12 volt systems fed from the 12-volt distribution panel, but will allow the batteries to charge from the engine or inverter/charger."

You can prove it by draining down the house batteries and checking the voltage. Then drive the vehicle for a few miles, stop and shut everything off, wait an hour or two for the surface charge to drain off and measure the battery voltage again. You will find this it's higher than before. I think all charging is controlled by the Tripp-Lite regardless of source.
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Old 08-12-2012, 11:16 PM   #33
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Ours charge from the Tahoe. Very slowly though. This is not a good option for charging batteries when boondocking.

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Old 08-13-2012, 06:17 AM   #34
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I think it actually does; based on my actual experience and several comments in the 2010 Owners Manual including this one on Page H-12: "Turning off the disconnect switch will cut power to 12 volt systems fed from the 12-volt distribution panel, but will allow the batteries to charge from the engine or inverter/charger."

You can prove it by draining down the house batteries and checking the voltage. Then drive the vehicle for a few miles, stop and shut everything off, wait an hour or two for the surface charge to drain off and measure the battery voltage again. You will find this it's higher than before. I think all charging is controlled by the Tripp-Lite regardless of source.
Yep. Read that. Didn't work that way on mine, though, despite what the manual says. But that's not the only case where the manual has been wrong, either.

Before I figured out that the danged propane solenoid switch was drawing down my house batteries, I tried charging the house batteries from the alternator. For two hours, round-trip to Gulfport and back. Didn't work; the house batteires were still just as low when I got back as when I left. Mind you, the batteries were VERY low at the time, down around 10v after the rig had been parked for almost a week.

Couldn't start the generator, either, because the house batteries were so low. And without house battery power I had a devil of a time disassembling the sofa to get at the battery compartment so that I could charge the batteries on a bench. Seems that without power, I couldn't slide the sofa far enough forward to reach the two machine screws in front that hold the sofa cushion in place. Fun times!

On the other hand (no matter how many hands you've got, there's still an "other hand") it's possible that there may be a relay that will automatically isolate the house system from the chassis system if either one is depleted too far, to prevent both from being depleted at once. If that's the case, maybe we're both right, and the alternator will charge the house batteries as long as they're not too far gone, but once they're down in the 10v range the alternator won't do it.
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:20 AM   #35
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Protagonist,


I'm betting there is a problem with your Interstate charging system. I would be looking into:
  1. Trip-Lite Inverter/Charger; possibly an incorrectly set dip switch or a failure of some kind? Or maybe a mis-wire or loose wire?
  2. Battery Separator; possibly a failure or a loose wire.
Re. the battery separator, my Owners Manual says, in part (on page H-13):
"The Battery Separator monitors the battery system to determine if the batteries are being charged. The charging can be accomplished through the inverter/charger or the engine charging system. When the engine battery or house batteries are charging, the Battery Separator will engage, joining the two battery banks. If charging ceases and voltage decreases in either bank the Battery Separator will disconnect the two banks from each other, protecting the banks from being discharged simultaneously."


Do keep us posted as you explore this.

Good luck,
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Old 08-13-2012, 09:49 AM   #36
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Protagonist,



I'm betting there is a problem with your Interstate charging system. I would be looking into:
  1. Trip-Lite Inverter/Charger; possibly an incorrectly set dip switch or a failure of some kind? Or maybe a mis-wire or loose wire?
  2. Battery Separator; possibly a failure or a loose wire.
Re. the battery separator, my Owners Manual says, in part (on page H-13):
"The Battery Separator monitors the battery system to determine if the batteries are being charged. The charging can be accomplished through the inverter/charger or the engine charging system. When the engine battery or house batteries are charging, the Battery Separator will engage, joining the two battery banks. If charging ceases and voltage decreases in either bank the Battery Separator will disconnect the two banks from each other, protecting the banks from being discharged simultaneously."
I'm betting my experience has to do with what else it says on page H-13, "If charging ceases and voltage decreases in either bank the Battery Separator will disconnect the two banks from each other, protecting the banks from being discharged simultaneously."

Just conjecture on my part, but I think that once my house batteries dropped so far that they wouldn't even start the generator, the separator disconnected. Then the separator wouldn't reconnect to allow the house batteries to charge from the alternator because the voltages were just TOO different between chassis and house sides. If my house batteries were only slightly depleted, as in still in a normal range for use and not down into the "battery damage" range, it may have worked.

I'm not going to deplete my house batteries JUST to check this, though. I've already done enough damage to my house batteries as a newbie not knowing the quirks of my unit. However, if occasion arises in the future I will remember to check whether the house batteries can charge from the alternator if they're still somewhere in the normal voltage range.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:50 PM   #37
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If you troubleshoot and resolve the charging problem you may avoid future instances of excessive discharge. Remember, for maximum battery life it's best to keep the batts above 50% SOC. Some manufactureres say 80% is best. I keep a little SOC table taped alongside the battery condition switch so I can manage battery use so I'm always running off the top of the "tank". In the future I plan to install a good battery monitor to help me with this. SOC based on battery voltage is not always super accurate.
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Old 08-13-2012, 12:57 PM   #38
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If you troubleshoot and resolve the charging problem you may avoid future instances of excessive discharge. Remember, for maximum battery life it's best to keep the batts above 50% SOC. Some manufactureres say 80% is best. I keep a little SOC table taped alongside the battery condition switch so I can manage battery use so I'm always running off the top of the "tank". In the future I plan to install a good battery monitor to help me with this. SOC based on battery voltage is not always super accurate.
I think I have resolved the excessive discharge problem already. The primary offender was the propane tank switch by the curb-side rear wheelwell. It bypasses the battery cutoff switch, which I didn't know when I first bought my Interstate. So, whenever I place the unit in storage, first I make sure the inverter/charger is "Off". Then I make sure the battery disconnect is "Off". Then I make sure the propane switch is "Off." At this point, the only thing still connected to the house batteries is the solar panel, which can't be switched off. I haven't run my house batteries down in storage since.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:46 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist

Yep. Read that. Didn't work that way on mine, though, despite what the manual says. But that's not the only case where the manual has been wrong, either.

Before I figured out that the danged propane solenoid switch was drawing down my house batteries, I tried charging the house batteries from the alternator. For two hours, round-trip to Gulfport and back. Didn't work; the house batteires were still just as low when I got back as when I left. Mind you, the batteries were VERY low at the time, down around 10v after the rig had been parked for almost a week.

Couldn't start the generator, either, because the house batteries were so low. And without house battery power I had a devil of a time disassembling the sofa to get at the battery compartment so that I could charge the batteries on a bench. Seems that without power, I couldn't slide the sofa far enough forward to reach the two machine screws in front that hold the sofa cushion in place. Fun times!

On the other hand (no matter how many hands you've got, there's still an "other hand") it's possible that there may be a relay that will automatically isolate the house system from the chassis system if either one is depleted too far, to prevent both from being depleted at once. If that's the case, maybe we're both right, and the alternator will charge the house batteries as long as they're not too far gone, but once they're down in the 10v range the alternator won't do it.
I have a 2010 interstate and it does charge house batteries or at least provides some sort of power to inverter/panel supply. Also I notice if you check battery test switch during engine running and not running you'll see the volts run about the same 13-14 volts while running and then house volts drop when you shut down.

I recently had to change both the house batteries as I found out they had gone bad through trial and error. And mind you that access by removing rear seat is one design change they should work on.

What happened was that each time I tried to start the generator there was never enough power to barely 'kick' it over, but if I had engine running it would have enough power to crank it up and then I could shut engine down.
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:07 PM   #40
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Thanks Wayneskid for your thoughtful responses.

As an example of charging issues, I started out on a 14 hour road trip with house batteries at 100%, the Nova Kool R31 frig pre-cooled, and the propane switch "on". All other electrical consumers were off. After 7 hours on the road (mostly highway) my house batteries reduced to 85% and after 14 hours reduced to 75%.

The frig consumes 2.4 amps and the propane switch 2.0 amps = 4.4 amps x 14 hours = 61.6 Ah.

I could be wrong about this but it seems like the 220 amp alternator should have no problem keeping up with this kind of power draw.

BTW: the solar panel showed a 12.3 Ah charge for the roadtrip.
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:36 PM   #41
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We rarely drive long /far-enough to even top off our two RV batts ... let alone actually charge them if well down; they charge from the alternator RV line in our diesel truck very slowly. Suggest to consider a generator to provide some power and the 12vDC power cord for recharging your batts.
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:06 AM   #42
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I have a 2010 interstate and it does charge house batteries or at least provides some sort of power to inverter/panel supply. Also I notice if you check battery test switch during engine running and not running you'll see the volts run about the same 13-14 volts while running and then house volts drop when you shut down.
As the saying goes, "your mileage may vary." When my house batteries were too low to start the generator, the alternator would NOT charge them. I tried it. The unit was only a month old, batteries brand new and not defective (as subsequent events have shown). I belive I know why, that battery isolation relay previously mentioned, that decouples house and chassis systems to prevent both from being depleted at once. I believe if the house batteries were less severely depleted the system would have worked as described in the manual because the isolation relay would not have decoupled the two systems.

The "Check battery test switch" isn't reading battery voltage while the engine is running, it's reading alternator output. You can prove this, if you want, by disconnecting the chassis battery entirely, starting the engine with jumper cables, disconnecting the jumper cables and leaving the engine running (it will still run if the alternator is good), and then going back to your battery test panel. Even with no main battery in the system, it still shows a main battery voltage, which is actually the alternator output.

Quote:
I recently had to change both the house batteries as I found out they had gone bad through trial and error. And mind you that access by removing rear seat is one design change they should work on.
I learned after that one time that when placing my unit in storage between trips, before disconnecting the house system I recline the sofa part-way, enough to be able to reach the front machine screws, but not so far as to make it hard to reach the bolts holding the rear of the seat. Then if I come back and there's no power, I can still access the battery compartment.

Quote:
What happened was that each time I tried to start the generator there was never enough power to barely 'kick' it over, but if I had engine running it would have enough power to crank it up and then I could shut engine down.
I will admit it didn't occur to me to try starting the generator after the engine was running. If my house batteries die again (and they haven't in the past seven months) I'll have to try that.
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