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Old 07-16-2018, 04:39 PM   #1
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2019 27' Flying Cloud
Lawrence , Kansas
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3 week old AGM batteries, down to 50%

Since we have been AS owners (27' FC) for all of 3.5 weeks, not sure what is normal and what is abnormal. We have two AGM batteries, Solar array (though AS is stored undercover) and after taking our maiden voyage 3 weeks ago, noted today that the batteries are at 50%. Store switch is set to STORE(double checked each visit).
Is this normal?
I have read about phantom charges from the propane detector, but are there other sources with the STORE switch on STORE?
If this is normal, I have read about remedies like detaching the propane detector or disconnecting the negative terminal on one of the batteries.
What are we missing?
TIA, Steph
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:57 PM   #2
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I have an older AS and am not a wealth of knowledge on the new ones. But on mine the propane detector will drain the batteries over time. There is no easy way to turn off the propane detector. In my case, I disconnect the negative cables from my AGM batteries when the trailer is in storage.
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Old 07-16-2018, 04:59 PM   #3
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Welcome to the wonderful world of Airstream battery management. Yes, what you are experiencing is normal. There can be other sources drain your battery even in the "store" position. Some of these may be, a subwoofer for your stereo, parts of your entertainment center, your inverter...it all depends on how Jackson Center wired up your trailer.

On my 2015 27ft FC FB, with the switch in store, my batteries (group 24 wet cells) will run down to levels that will damage the batteries in less than 10 days. This is what killed the original interstates in 13 months, affording me the opportunity to learn about Airstream battery management. :-/

The easiest solution is to physically disconect the batteries in your battery box when you store the trailer in between trips in the season that you use it. In winter, I bring the batteries home to my garage, and occasionally put a battery tender on them to keep them happy. I also replaced my single stage parallax charger in the trailer with the multi stage Progressive designs 4655. Gotta keep the batteries happy.

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Old 07-16-2018, 05:47 PM   #4
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This topic comes up so often I created a wiring diagram regarding items that are "always on" upstream from the "store / use" switch.

The remedy is to install a mechanical battery disconnect switch in the battery box.
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Old 07-16-2018, 07:49 PM   #5
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Hi

All of the above *assumes* that trailer was not plugged in to shore power while store. If it was plugged in, there is a bit more digging to do.

Bob
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:19 AM   #6
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If you are connected to shore power make sure the use/store switch is on use. The light at the switch will light up when connected to shore power regardless of the position of this switch. Push it in the use position.

If not connected to shore power - I simply disconnect each neg terminal - takes 5 minutes. I have left out AS in storage for months with no drain on the batteries.

Get a multimeter and check often.

And I have also switched to a multistage converter.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:35 AM   #7
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During the one year of my ownership of a 16' Bambi, I have had multiple questions and problems with the Interstate AMG. I gave up and have now replaced them with two parallel 6volts gel batteries which have 5 times the amp hours. While in long term storage keep the batteries in a conditioned space and use a battery minder to keep the charge.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:26 PM   #8
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When not in use, I keep it in indoor storage where it is out of the sun, and I keep it plugged in. Out of the storage, I let the solar work during the day, and then I plug it in at night. I installed a 30 amp plug at the house. While on the road, it's solar in the day, a 30 amp plug in at night, or the Yamaha(s) if no plug in. Boondocking is wishful thinking if you are running the fridge, the lights, and the water pump.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:53 PM   #9
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In the early days of ownership of my first AS (a new 2005 19' Bambi) and long before I knew there was an AirForums or anything about battery management, , I went through about 3 sets of batteries. Having to hand-crank the hitch got very old. I finally had a solar panel installed topside. I stored my Bambi outside and hoped that the solar panel would keep the batteries charged in between use and it did - I never had to buy another set of batteries. If you could uncover your solar and let it do its work, maybe you can save the AGMs?
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Old 07-17-2018, 07:10 PM   #10
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Phantom Loads

I have solar panels but store the AS indoors when not in use. I leave the batteries in and use a battery Tender to keep them charged. I hook the positive lead to one battery and the negative to the other, Never had a problem with the 4 year old group 24 wet cells despite phantom loads.
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Old 07-18-2018, 07:34 AM   #11
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This is so helpful. Thank you.
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Old 07-21-2018, 09:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tad Zelski View Post
During the one year of my ownership of a 16' Bambi, I have had multiple questions and problems with the Interstate AMG. I gave up and have now replaced them with two parallel 6volts gel batteries which have 5 times the amp hours. While in long term storage keep the batteries in a conditioned space and use a battery minder to keep the charge.
Hi

..... ummm ..... errrr ......

If your 6V batteries are in parallel you get 6V out of them. Did you re-wire the trailer so everything runs on 6V? I'd bet at least half a warm can of beer that they are in series ( to provide 12V) and not in parallel.

When you put batteries in parallel (as we do with 12V batteries) you add the amp hours. Two 100AH batteries get you 200 AH total. That's the normal setup in an AS with AGM batteries ( I'm assuming that's what AMG means ...).

When you put two batteries in series, you don't add the amp hours. You are getting twice the voltage (12V off 6V batteries) so the amp hours stay the same. Two 220AH 6V batteries give you 220AH at 12V.

So the net result is you do have 12V to run everything. Your gain in amp hours is about 1.1X and not 5X.

Bob
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Old 07-21-2018, 10:40 AM   #13
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Batteries photo

I have attached a photo of the battery bank. Please note that both negative posts have items running off them. LP detector, Jack and more to be identified. Would it be prudent to put a shut off switch at both negative posts, rather than just one? Or having the batteries in a series, will just one switch do the job? Right now we have disconnected both negative feeds and isolated them in anticipation of installing a switch.
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Old 07-21-2018, 11:01 AM   #14
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Hi

Well, first off, the batteries in the picture are in parallel. That's the stock AS way to do it. It's how 12V batteries get wired.

To put in a disconnect switch, you pull all the various wires off of the negative side. You only leave the jumper between the two negatives. From either negative, you run a wire to the disconnect switch. On the other side of the switch you re-attach all of the wires you pulled off of the batteries. Since all the current is going through the switch and the new added wire, that wire needs to be bigger ( = lower gauge number) than any of the wires that already are connected to the batteries.

Two switches is usually a bad idea. If one gets left on and the other off, you have a very strange arrangement on the trailer. Nothing good is likely to result.

If you put in a disconnect, be very sure to turn off the propane at the bottles before you use the disconnect. Also, vent the propane ( = burn off what's in the pipes with the stove burner) to eliminate any possible accumulation. When you re-connect the switch, the propane gets turned on and you vent air from the propane lines with the stove burner ( = run it until it lights).

Bob

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Old 07-21-2018, 11:11 AM   #15
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I just picked up a 5W Natures Power solar battery maintainer/trickle charger. It uses suction cups to stick to a window getting the most sun and can either use alligator clips or an SAE adapter with a reverse polarity pigtail adapter to connect to the Zamp port (if you have that). That keeps my batteries topped off at about 12.3/4 V consistently. You don't need a controller unit for the solar kit for anything under 15W I believe. But you do need consistent sun.

This is just a temporary solution until I get off my lazy butt and wire up the battery disconnect switch sitting in the back of my truck.

Jason
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Old 07-21-2018, 11:18 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
~~
When you put batteries in parallel (as we do with 12V batteries) you add the amp hours. Two 100AH batteries get you 200 AH total. That's the normal setup in an AS with AGM batteries ( I'm assuming that's what AMG means ...).


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Old 07-21-2018, 11:20 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by hoagy_007 View Post
I just picked up a 5W Natures Power solar battery maintainer/trickle charger. It uses suction cups to stick to a window getting the most sun and can either use alligator clips or an SAE adapter with a reverse polarity pigtail adapter to connect to the Zamp port (if you have that). That keeps my batteries topped off at about 12.3/4 V consistently. You don't need a controller unit for the solar kit for anything under 15W I believe. But you do need consistent sun.

This is just a temporary solution until I get off my lazy butt and wire up the battery disconnect switch sitting in the back of my truck.

Jason
12.3v isn't "topped off" unless you mean what's indicated on the See Level gauge. My interior battery gauge reads 12.3v when a multimeter across the batteries reads 12.6
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:53 AM   #18
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Hi

5W is pretty close to / less than the reported parasitic draw in some of these trailers. A solar gizmo only puts out max power when there is a lot of sun. If you get the equivalent eight hours with a device like that, you are doing *very* well. Something in the > 30W range would be a much better choice. When the sun is out, it should read > 13V on the battery.

Bob
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Old 07-22-2018, 08:40 AM   #19
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Am using 5W for storage to maintain with the advantages: A. Lifeline 6V AGM 4CT (hold charge) B. Installed on/off switch on propane detector. Solar maintainer (secured on propane lid) is from company that bought Zamp...works well holding at 12.8V https://www.pulsetech.net/consumer-products
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Old 07-22-2018, 08:41 AM   #20
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Don't assume your new trailer doesn't have bad house batteries. It is very common that dealers let batteries go dead-dead and recharge just before you take ownership. Not only other dealers, but also Airstream.
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