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Old 12-24-2005, 06:35 PM   #1
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1965 26' Overlander
Acworth , Georgia
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 43
New 12V battery last 5 hrs

I have a new 65 Overlander. We took it out this week for 2 nights for hunting in GA. Temps dropped to freezing.

We found a fully charged (by 120V trickle charger) , new 12V marine/rv battery, only lasted about 5 hrs, before there was not enough power to run Coleman heater fan. Seems no power, not heater. Original lights also extremely light.

I know this must be wrong. Do I have a short someplace, causing an unaccounted for drain on battery? What else could be wrong?

I do have an after market electric water heater that I have not tried yet, but since all switches are in open position, I assume its taking electricity.


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Old 12-24-2005, 06:42 PM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
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Sounds like your Univolt is not functioning correctly. It should keep the battery charged while you are plugged into shore power, as well as operate most of the 12v stuff without tapping into the battery reserves. If you are not plugged in, that would explain why the battery goes dead. If you are planning to camp without being plugged into shore power, and want heat, you should look into installing a catalytiv heater, and setting the coach furnace to come on at a much lower temp, if the catalytic heater can't keep up.

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Old 12-24-2005, 06:44 PM   #3
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1977 27' Overlander
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That battery probably was not charged properly. I recommend an good equalization charge at least once before using a new battery.
I had the same thing when I installed our new batteries in ouy TT. The batteries seemed to not hold a charge.

Yes, they may be fresh off the shelf but that doesn't mean they are ready to serve load.

Equalize it (10 amps charge) for 4 hours and let it float for 2 days then repeat the cycle. That should do it. As always keep an eye on water level in the battery and always use distilled water only to fill the battery.
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Old 12-24-2005, 07:14 PM   #4
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Something I can't tell from the original post, is the trailer plugged in, or is it unplugged, or "boondocking"?
If boondocking, you need to very sparing of the lights, and other electrical draws, as everything you have on will drain the battery that much faster.
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Old 12-24-2005, 09:01 PM   #5
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1986 25' Sovereign
Southern Middle , Tennessee
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BatteryMinder and Solar

I'm very conservative with the lights, all of which were incandescent in my '77 Excella. My newer '86 has 3 flourescent lights in main areas and tend to use less battery energy. I do have incandescents in the bathroom, in each closet, one in the hallway and several on both sides of the overhead compartments at each end of the trailer. I've heard that it is recommended that you have a combination of both types of interior lighting and use the flourescents in areas where lighting is on for longer periods of time.

Do you have a group 27 battery (appx. 12" or so long and 105-115 amp. hour rating)? My '77 had 2 of the Delco Voyager 105 amp. hr. maintenance batteries and I never had problems even though the trailer was used 3 out of 7 days a week at a camping site and it stayed there 6 weeks. I had a 5 watt solar panel hooked up to bring the charge back up when not there. The previous owner of my '86 put in a Duralast 115 amp. hour battery sometime before he sold me the trailer and I have run the furnace all night long in 30 degree weather with the trailer not hooked up to shore power. During the day a 30 watt solar panel helped put some of the charge back in.

I suspect the same as a previous poster, your battery was not charged correctly. Let me suggest that you pick up a BatteryMinder (one amp or four amp model) to keep plugged up at the home OR better yet, go to and purchase one of their 15 watt BatteryMinder solar panels so that you can keep the battery charged correctly all the time. I have both the one amp and the 4 amp 110v. models mentioned above and the only difference is that the 4 amp model charges a little faster.

I would also look at your converter to see what type it is. The Intellipower models have an optional Charge Wizzard which has a multi-stage charging unit just like the BatteryMinders above but all you have to do is plug your 30 amp power cord into an adapter then into a 15 amp extension cord to the house while the trailer sits in there. Again, the solar arrangement does not require hooking up to 110v. and panels can be added for additional power. I talked a friend into the 15 amp solar BatteryMinder and he had no problem keeping his one battery charged with conservative use. He liked it so much he bought 2 additional panels to hook up to the first one. While this is not the high-tech system that some people use (100 watt or two 100 watt panels), it has pleased him.

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Old 12-25-2005, 07:20 AM   #6
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We would have to know what size (amp hr rating) battery you have, in order for any of us to tell if something is wrong. How cold was it? How often did the heater fan kick on? Batteries have only a fraction of their normal power when they get near freezing.

If it was cold, and the heat was on constantly, you may only get 5 hours out of a battery. Water heater should run on 120 VAC not 12 VDC.
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Old 12-25-2005, 08:07 AM   #7
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I highly recommend this book. It took alot of the mystery out of batteries and how they function. It'll save you money and agrivation in the long run.

I'm now going into my 5th year with the same battery.
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Old 12-25-2005, 10:30 AM   #8
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I agree that your battery was not fully charged to start with. Unfortunately, batteries purchased from places other than brand name battery distributors are not always prepared properly when sold. Chain stores may have had them in inventory for a long time and, even though new, may not be fully charged. Constant trickle-charging a deep-cycle battery is not good, either. They like to discharge some before recharging. Interstate Batteries has a very good pamphlet on battery comparison, care, and life expectancy available at their distributors. It's about the "plainest english" discription I've found. If your battery is in the original location on your trailer (beside the toilet inside the rear compartment door) temperature should not be a problem. If it's located outside (battery box behind propane tanks) cold will effect performance. Battery output is measured at 80 degrees F and drops significantly as temperature drops. I equiped a previous Airstream for very cold weather and placed two group 27 batteries in a heated, vented box below the dinette seat and survived 24 hour stretches without charging at temperatures as low as -18 degrees. Auxillary catalytic heaters are OK, but in cold weather they will add considerable moisture to the interior of the trailer, even with a vent open. Darol
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Old 12-25-2005, 11:22 AM   #9
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1957 22' Flying Cloud
1971 31' Sovereign
1976 29' Ambassador
Malibu , California
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Battery venting

Originally Posted by Darol Ingalls
I equiped a previous Airstream for very cold weather and placed two group 27 batteries in a heated, vented box below the dinette Darol
A little off topic but Darol brings up an excellent point about battery storage areas-VERY IMPORTANT they be VENTED. I have put a spare battery in my OEM battery area just to charge it and come back to open the trailer door only to get a hugh cloud of sulphuric acid smell in my nostrils. The battery was defective and was 'cooking' itself overcharging. ( Yes, my Univolt is fine with other batteries!) Bottom line is that the OEM vent tubes on most vintage trailers are long gone or all hardened up and not servicing properly when they are supposed to be carrying those gases to the exterior and not wafting up under the gaucho.
Whenever a battery box is relocated to another storage area inside the trailer it is important to provide new positive outside venting. That is what that little hole is for that is located near every OEM location. The battery should be have a covered battery box and the vent tube attached to the lid. I suppose some would argue that sealed units do not require venting- but that's another subject IMHO.

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