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Old 06-09-2015, 01:15 PM   #1
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2014 27' Flying Cloud
Willow street , Pennsylvania
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Battery care

Help, I have read that the standard inverter in my 2014 FC FB is not the best on the market, but I want to believe that a quality company like AS would not install a defective product. My problem is that since starting our post retirement trip around the US, I have tried to routinely check my batteriy fluid levels, as I understand that the stock inverter charges the battery, but doesn't cut off when a full charge is reached. Heat results and evaporation of battery cell fluid is the result. I was told by a service tech that checking the batteries every month is adequate. Wrong! Every time I check the battery levels, I find at least two cells that are absolutely DRY! I plan to henceforth check them weekly, but my question is, is this normal, or is something untoward going on? By the way, obviously most of our camping to date has been in "parking lots" with full hookups.
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Old 06-09-2015, 01:46 PM   #2
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You are talking about the converter/charger in your Airstream, not the "inverter". They are quite different things. The one in your Airstream is not defective, just it is not state of the art, which today is a 3 stage unit, not a single stage one like you have.

If your batteries have suffered being completely dry then they are completely shot and you can never bring them back with any converter/charger, original or a new one. Adding more water weekly will not change that. They are already toasted. Once they have been run dry, they will never recover.

Have the converter/charger replaced with a better unit such as a Progressive Dynamics PD 4655. Less than $200, if you can install it yourself. See if Airstream will replace your batteries under warrantee. At any rate, replace the batteries no matter who pays. That will end your problems with the electrical system and will make it so you only need to look at your battery liquid level once or twice a year.
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Old 06-09-2015, 01:48 PM   #3
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If you care about your batteries and plan to keep your Airstream for any length of time, it would pay to invest in a three way (or smart) charger. If that's all you do (e.g., don't expand your battery bank or add solar) the cost is fairly modest. A good smart charger can be had for less than $200 or $300 plus installation.

If you need to change the batteries because they are already fried by your stock charger, I would encourage you to look at AGMs. They cost more but are truly maintenance free. But I wouldn't get AGMs unless you also get the smart charger.

It is very frustrating that Airstream does not put a smart charger in their trailers at the factory.
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Old 06-09-2015, 02:14 PM   #4
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If cost is a concern, another idea would be to swap out the batteries for new lead acid wet cells (the inexpensive kind) and don't overcharge your battery. You can do this by selecting the "STORE" position for your changeover switch. If you do most of your RVing with full hookups, just keep the switch in the "STORE" position. Only move it to "USE" when you need to top off the batteries. This isn't the perfect solution but it is manageable for those who are willing to check on their batteries from time to time to ensure that they don't run them down below 50%.
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:49 AM   #5
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batteries

I too have a PD4655 converter/charger in my AS works great. Before that I used a portable 3 stage charger. The battery disconnect switch is a bit goofy in that it is a three way switch but only an on off light. Start off with the AS unplugged the light should be off when you plug in the camper the light will light up, at this point the charger is not sending voltage to the battery but you will be able to use every thing in the camper. Then if you push the button to use you will hear a noise come from inside the camper you are now sending voltage to the batteries, but there will be no change in the battery disconnect light. If the AS is are not connected to 120v outlet and you want to use your 12 volt system push the button to use the light will light up. Do yourself a favor and buy a multimeter there lots of youtube videos that teach how to use one. If you mostly camp at places with electric service buy cheap batteries and a small 3 stage charger like the battery tender or battery minder and check with the multimeter. Then you will have 12 volt power for travel stops and running frig on propane. Good camping Rand
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Old 06-25-2015, 11:07 PM   #6
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I've got another set of dead batteries after sitting up in storage for a few months. So based on browsing around in here I'm going to switch to AGM batteries and order a smart charger to install.

Going to order a PD4655 converter to install. Unless you know of anyone that would carry it in store.

How difficult is the install? Any tutorials online?

How are the Optima AGM batteries?

And by the way I had no idea that the batteries aren't charging even if the trailer is plugged in if its in Shore mode. I thought being plugged in overrode that switch.
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Old 06-26-2015, 12:06 AM   #7
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Bike addict: If you have dead batteries after being in storage for a few months, replacing the batteries with new AGM's and a new converter/charger will not help. There are 12 volt loads which are not turned off by the battery use/store switch and they are draining your batteries while you are not using the rig. The same thing will happen with your new expensive AGM batteries.

The only way to be sure that there is no load on your batteries when in storage is to disconnect them, physically, mechanically take the wires off the negative battery terminal when you are not going to be using the rig.

The batteries charge when plugged into line power and the Use/Store switch is in Use position. If plugged into line power and the switch is in Store, the batteries will not be charged. There is no "shore" position on the switch, so I don't know what you are using.

The Optima AGM batteries are generally not an especially good one from most reports. They don't have the capacity they need for your RV use if you boondock much.
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Old 06-26-2015, 06:41 AM   #8
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Typo in Shore. Meant Store.

Any recommendations on battery brand?
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Old 06-26-2015, 08:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bike_addict View Post
I've got another set of dead batteries after sitting up in storage for a few months. So based on browsing around in here I'm going to switch to AGM batteries and order a smart charger to install.

Going to order a PD4655 converter to install. Unless you know of anyone that would carry it in store.

How difficult is the install? Any tutorials online?

How are the Optima AGM batteries?

And by the way I had no idea that the batteries aren't charging even if the trailer is plugged in if its in Shore mode. I thought being plugged in overrode that switch.
Like IDROBA says, you have a parasitic drain on your batteries in storage, probably the propane gas detector. Unless you have solar, it's best to disconnect the negative posts and make sure the batteries are fully charged before you store them.

I am using Lifeline AGMs but they are expensive. Another brand is Trojan. For my boat trolling motor I use Deka marine/RV deep cycle (not the marine combo starting/trolling battery). You can order Deka at the Lowes web site and they will deliver to the store for you.

I recently replaced my original converter with the PD4655. It comes with some decent instructions. I made the swap in the place where I store my RV. The only 2 issues I encountered were 1) The battery cables were almost too short, I had to loosen a screw to allow a few more inches of the cable to reach the new location on the PD4655, and 2) the door was a little tight to get closed after the job was done. If I had a file or something to file down the edge on the PD4655 it would have been good, but I managed. Start to finish I'd say maybe a half hour. Disconnect the batteries before you start.
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Old 06-26-2015, 08:35 AM   #10
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Ronnie: I get three plus years out of group 27 batteries. When I'm not camping, I charge them every month. Otherwise the switch remains in the store position and the camper is not connected to shore power, except when charging. I replaced the original converter with a 60-amp Inteli-Power 9100 series converter, which maintains the batteries much better than the original converter. That replacement and two new group 27s cost $680 two years ago, of which $125 was labor. And since my new converter works so well, I've stayed with group 27 wet-cell batteries. They're cheaper, lighter, pretty low maintenance, and work just fine. I'd recommend replacing your original converter, plug in once a month when the camper's stored and stay with the wet-cells. Unless money is no object, then splurge on the AGMs, but you'll still have to charge them, if less often. ("If money is no object" occurs every time pigs fly over a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium.) I camp about 120 days a year, with 20 or so of those days dry camping. My wet-cells perform pretty well.
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