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Old 08-14-2016, 04:52 AM   #1
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What are my batteries draining so quickly?

I am traveling and wanted to boondock but my batteries seem to drain in a few minutes, even after a charge from driving. So when I stop, there is only 30 on the meter and the generator won't turn over. Any ideas why the batteries would be draining so quickly? I don't have anything on at all.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:22 AM   #2
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When asking for assistance, it is always helpful to state what Airstream year and model you have. I know you probably posted in an appropriate forum section to your model, but when your thread comes up in portal, we don't know what forum section it comes from.

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Old 08-14-2016, 05:45 AM   #3
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Driving doesn't give you a good charge.

You should test the health of your batteries.

#1 Get a cheap plug in 12 volt meter, or a hand held volt meter.

#2 Plug in RV to shore power. ( an AC outlet )

#3 Check that the charger is working by looking for 13.8 volts ( results vary depending on what charger you have )

#4 Let the batt charge for 8 hours

#5 Unplug your RV from shore power. Check to see if voltage is over 12.8

#6 Don't use any 12 volt device…let RV sit for a day or two. Eliminate any phantom draws of electricity

#7 Check for " Resting Voltage " Normal resting voltage ranges fro 12.6 to 12.8

Much less than 12.6 resting voltage indicates that your batts need replacement sooner or later.

You might have a faulty battery monitor. You might have a phantom draw ( propane monitor, radio etc ) Your batteries might be done. You might need a new charger. It might be operator malfunction ( Read up on batteries )
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:13 AM   #4
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Battery check

If the batteries are shot, the voltage while trying to crank the generator will fall dramatically. Check the battery output voltage with a meter while someone tries to start the generator. Less than 10 volts, means the batteries have reduced capacity.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:46 AM   #5
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Have you checked the water levels in your battery cells?
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k9jackie View Post
I am traveling and wanted to boondock but my batteries seem to drain in a few minutes, even after a charge from driving. So when I stop, there is only 30 on the meter and the generator won't turn over. Any ideas why the batteries would be draining so quickly? I don't have anything on at all.

Jackie - we know you have a 2014.5 Interstate from your profile. Unfortunately I don't think that driving gets the batteries charged. The logic in the BIM is just not optimal to keep the batteries fully charged.

You can get your generator started by using the battery boost switch near the driver left knee. It will take two people to do this. Start the Sprinter and hold the boost button while someone else starts the generator using the rear control panel.


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Old 08-14-2016, 10:37 AM   #7
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Definitely smells like bad batteries to me as opposed to rapid discharge. What does the solar controller say when your engine is running? If it says 100% and then drops to 30% after you turn it off, it definitely points to bad batteries.
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Old 08-14-2016, 05:46 PM   #8
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Definitely smells like bad batteries to me as opposed to rapid discharge. What does the solar controller say when your engine is running? If it says 100% and then drops to 30% after you turn it off, it definitely points to bad batteries.
Ditto. Been there. Take your battery to a dealer for a load test but I would say your battery is toast.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:31 PM   #9
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No need to take the batteries in just get a hygrometer, a few bucks, and test the cells. If any one cell is lower than the others it will draw the set down. If you have a low cell you are buying 2 batteries because batteries in parallel should be matched.

Don't expect driving to fully charge your batteries between the usage of boon docking.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:43 PM   #10
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Airstream Interstate uses AGM batteries. Sealed and no maintenance other than keeping it correctly charged.
If it's plugged into shore power for an extended period, the unplugged and the state of charge drops appreciably within minutes, then it's due to ruined batteries.
Did you recently buy it? A dealer ought to have a warranty that covers the batteries.


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Old 08-14-2016, 08:00 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mandolindave View Post
You should test the health of your batteries.



#1 Get a cheap plug in 12 volt meter, or a hand held volt meter.



#2 Plug in RV to shore power. ( an AC outlet )



#3 Check that the charger is working by looking for 13.8 volts ( results vary depending on what charger you have )



#4 Let the batt charge for 8 hours



#5 Unplug your RV from shore power. Check to see if voltage is over 12.8



#6 Don't use any 12 volt device…let RV sit for a day or two. Eliminate any phantom draws of electricity



#7 Check for " Resting Voltage " Normal resting voltage ranges fro 12.6 to 12.8



Much less than 12.6 resting voltage indicates that your batts need replacement sooner or later.



You might have a faulty battery monitor. You might have a phantom draw ( propane monitor, radio etc ) Your batteries might be done. You might need a new charger. It might be operator malfunction ( Read up on batteries )

Nice post. Lays out things very well.
Thank you!

Cheers
Doug


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Old 08-14-2016, 08:58 PM   #12
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It's hydrometer as in "water" hydro. A fully charged battery will read 1280 on the hydrometer. Best to test after the battery has been off the charger for at least an hour.
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
It's hydrometer as in "water" hydro. A fully charged battery will read 1280 on the hydrometer. Best to test after the battery has been off the charger for at least an hour.
All of the batteries in an Airstream Interstate are sealed AGMs, and so a hydrometer will not help you. Hydrometers are only useful for wet-cell batteries.

However, for the benefit of trailer owners that have wet-cell batteries, TG Twinkie is correct that a hydrometer is needed. A hygrometer is used for measuring atmospheric humidity. A hydrometer is for measuring the density of a liquid. The reading of 1280 to which TG Twinkie refers is actually a density of 1.280 compared to distilled water which has a density of 1.000 by definition. Pure sulfuric acid, H2SO4, has a density of 1.84. The diluted water/acid mixture should have a density of 1.28 when the battery is fully charged.
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Old 08-15-2016, 09:12 AM   #14
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I have been a little concerned about my batteries the past few weeks as they (seemed) to be draining faster than normal. As a result, I plugged in the trailer last night and plugged in my volt meter to confirm I was getting 13.8 volts as articulated in mandolindave post above. I'm getting 13.7.

Left it plugged in overnight and can confirm this morning that I have 12.3 volts once I unplugged the trailer. So if I follow the numbers as articulated earlier, it looks like I might have a problem (or do ). These batteries are less than a year old so I sort of want to get to the bottom of this before they go off warranty.

Any input into this would be great

Thanks
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