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Old 05-23-2013, 05:04 AM   #1
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My batteries are dead.

Getting ready for a trip. Went to the trailer to take inventory. No lights. Why? Last year the batteries never went dead. Over the winter I turned off the disconnect. We camped for a week at the end of April. The trailer was parked for 3 weeks. Did I leave something on?
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Old 05-23-2013, 05:56 AM   #2
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My batteries are also very depleted after three weeks in storage with nothing but the carbon monoxide, smoke and LP detectors running. But they're old and they're cheapies. After four years they both failed a load test, I'm taking a big gulp and replacing them with Lifeline AGMs. My rationale: low maintenance, low voltage drop in storage, longer service life, fast recharging and more oomph while boondocking. The difference between a couple of good wet-cell batteries and the AGMs is about $300 so this is probably killing a fly with a sledgehammer. But I know I'll love the convenience of not skinning my knuckles every week to check electrolyte levels. The technical experts will chime in here with good advice on how to check for electrical gremlins but a load test will tell you if your batteries are at the end of their service life. Best wishes.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:00 AM   #3
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You never know how the trailer was treated on the dealer lot. If they were overcharged they may be NG.

Ours failed a month after taking delivery.

If you have a charger, take them out, charge 24hrs and have them load tested.

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Old 05-23-2013, 06:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m.hony View Post
Getting ready for a trip. Went to the trailer to take inventory. No lights. Why? Last year the batteries never went dead. Over the winter I turned off the disconnect. We camped for a week at the end of April. The trailer was parked for 3 weeks. Did I leave something on?
Your profile indicates you've got a 2013, so I assume the batteries are just as new as the trailer, and are AGMs.

Maybe a dumb question, but I have to ask, after your April camping trip, were the batteries fully recharged before you put the trailer to bed for three weeks?

Next question, even though you switched off at the disconnect, did you also switch off the 120v breakers? In my Interstate, the inverter/charger is wired in parallel to the disconnect. If I leave the disconnect off, but the inverter/charger on, then any 120v appliances can drain the batteries through the inverter. The television will draw power even when turned off (otherwise it couldn't receive a signal from the remote control to turn on from the remote), and same with the microwave (which draws a small amount of power for the clock even when turned off).

It came as a real surprise when I found out my inverter was wired that way, until I realized that since it's also a charger, it has to be wired that way for the batteries to still charge while the 12v power is turned off and I have a shore power cable plugged in. Not that I ever store it with a shore power cable connected, but the option is there, apparently.

Ever since making that discovery, I make sure I turn off both the battery disconnect switch and the 120v circuit breakers when I put my Interstate to bed between trips, and I haven't experienced any more problems with the house batteries draining while in storage.
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:39 AM   #5
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I figured out that my carbon monoxide detector was the main source of battery draw down on my trailer batteries even in "storage mode". I cut the wires leading to the detector and replaced the ends of the wires with quick connectors similar to the ones on the propane tanks wiring. Now when my trailer is not going to be used for a while I disconnect those wires. When ready to use the trailer I simply reconnect them.
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Old 05-23-2013, 10:53 AM   #6
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Grumble, grumble. It seems that no one at Airstream really understands 12 volt electrical systems any more. They wire things in which take small amounts of current 24/7 and then don't run them through the disconnect switch. CO detectors, Propane leak detectors and clocks in the radio, as well as radios which have to be kept "hot" to keep the pre set stations in service.

The TV and DVD player also may take power when off. I know I will find all the electrical "phantom loads" on my 2014 Flying Cloud when I take delivery soon. I will report on them in detail when I do.

Then Airstream continues to provide a simple converter/charger without 3 stage regulation of the charge voltage. What could a good one cost at factory price level, maybe $50 more? Grumble, grumble.

To answer the original question, you may not have done anything wrong by the book, unless you did not recharge your batteries when returning from your trip by leaving the AS plugged in to power for about 1 to 2 days. Also, you may want to be sure your Tow Vehicle charge line is connected, so the AS charges when you tow.

You may find that the only way to really solve the problem is to put a true master switch on the batteries which cuts off ALL power from them when you are not using the rig. Apparently the factory Airstream switch does not do that. I have always had vintage units and don't know specifically what AS has been doing lately. As mentioned above, I will soon find out with my new unit.
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:36 PM   #7
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I purchased a 2012 in Jan. and just replaced the batteries 2 weeks ago (Interstate). The batteries are warranted from date of install at the factory, not like the appliances in the trailer which are from the date of sale. In my case my dealer worked with me on the warranty and I was able to replace the batteries at a reasonable cost, even with the warranty almost up. The battery store position will leave the detector in operation; I consider this a good thing. I know of 2 cases where trailers experienced explosions due to propane leaks, one was owned by a Fire Chief. My trailer is stored at my home and I put the batteries in use mode every few weeks. I don’t understand why AS has not gone to a 3 stage charger so I will use flooded cells until my convertor bites the dust.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
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I have seen a disconnect that attaches to the battery (-) post with a shut off. I saw it in a catalog for car restoration. It's sold as a means of disconnecting the battery during long term storage. I haven't really thought about it so I'm not sure if it's an appropriate addition for use with an RV in storage. We would also need one for each battery I think. I used to take the batteries out and store them at home on a tender during the winter. I've since installed a multi-stage smart charger and have left it plugged in during winter storage. We'll see as time goes on how well this is working. I have a different trailer since last summer and installed new batteries while on our first road trip.
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:25 PM   #9
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A workable solution if your batteries are easily accessible.

I use one on our old Ford, but it's indoors and on a batteyminder 24/7/365 and just one.

A Perco style is a much better option.


Bob
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:34 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m.hony View Post
Getting ready for a trip. Went to the trailer to take inventory. No lights. Why? Last year the batteries never went dead. Over the winter I turned off the disconnect. We camped for a week at the end of April. The trailer was parked for 3 weeks. Did I leave something on?
Polarlyse has the solution to your problem should you be able to leave your Airstream on shore power. If you have the original converter, it is most likely not a good idea since you will fry your batteries in due course and it is best to follow his example, that is a 3 stage unit. Another solution is a solar system which solves your problem without having to do anything. Since it is the easy way out, that is what I have done. Your warning devices are direct wired with no shut off for a reason and is best not to muck with them. I will not comment on the beanies over-riding the engineers in JC. Jim
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:39 PM   #11
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I leave my trailer plugged in all the time. The only time it isn't is when we are camping, without any problem. Replaced the battery (only one) last fall after three years of use. If I couldn't keep it plugged in, I'd install a disconnect like Robert Cross suggested - I have them on cars I rarely drive. I would also make sure to close the LP tanks, which I don't do so that I can relight the fridge more easily.
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:02 AM   #12
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The battery did hold up through the winter. Whenever I would go to the trailer for anything I would have house lights. Now I don't. I hitched to the truck last night for our trip. The tongue jack was very weak even plugged in to the truck. On my previous other brand trailer, once the battery was dead I didn't worry about it because all of camping has been in RV campgrounds with electricity. On that trailer the electric tongue jack worked with full power when connected to the truck.
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Old 03-08-2016, 04:08 PM   #13
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dead battery

Quote:
Originally Posted by polarlyse View Post
I have seen a disconnect that attaches to the battery (-) post with a shut off. I saw it in a catalog for car restoration. It's sold as a means of disconnecting the battery during long term storage. I haven't really thought about it so I'm not sure if it's an appropriate addition for use with an RV in storage. We would also need one for each battery I think. I used to take the batteries out and store them at home on a tender during the winter. I've since installed a multi-stage smart charger and have left it plugged in during winter storage. We'll see as time goes on how well this is working. I have a different trailer since last summer and installed new batteries while on our first road trip.
I just discovered dead batteries on my 2016 bambi also for not using it several weeks. I like the disconnect idea best. Any other ideas?
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:36 AM   #14
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One could simply remove the negative lead on the battery when in storage.

But like all of you, I'm interested in changing my charger. It would be lovely is someone linked directly to the exact part(s).

I store my trailer in my driveway, and I have it 100% of the time plugged into a 20amp circuit from my garage, although I am having a 30 amp circuit installed this spring.

For the past few weeks, I left the switch in STORE mode. I needed to move the trailer for some workers, and I went to hook it up and the jack BARELY moved.

I flipped the switch to USE, while still plugged to power at the house, and the jack immediately responded like it should.

I'm not sure what this indicates.

But I do wish I had confidence in my charger, and I wish I had a battery meter.
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