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Old 02-19-2011, 06:47 PM   #1
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Not sure about shore power…

A little late to post this— I should have posted earlier because I've probably forgotten a lot of maybe-relevant details. But we need help determining if we have a problem with our 12v power system or not.

About a month ago we picked up our used 2008 International 27FB from the dealer in Southern CA, and drove it the 450 miles north (with an overnight stop in the middle) to its temporary storage place near our home. For never having towed a trailer before, both my husband and I found towing a breeze! Even up the grapevine in (what some would call) our underpowered Silverado 1500 (granted, we didn't have much loaded into it).

The only thing that caught us off guard was when we camped in it that night. We were at an RV park and plugged into shore power. We had the galley lights on (there are a lot of them — about a dozen halogen pucks all on one switch) in addition to the kitchen and dinette lights (each a pair of halogen pucks), the built-in stereo (on the radio tuner), and the heater. After a short bit of time, the radio went off, then the lights started dimming.

We don't remember how much charge the batteries had at before all this started, but by the end of us trying to figure out what was happening, they were basically empty, or very close. But we figured that maybe we were using too much power and the converter couldn't keep up. And perhaps we were starting from a nearly drained batteries. So we turned off everything but a couple of lights and the heater for the rest of the night, and kept only the heater on (furnace, not heat pump) when we went to bed.

In the morning, the battery was still only 3/4 charged, according to the systems monitor. We were able to power up more in general that morning, but when we experimented with reproducing the situation the night before (turned on galley, kitchen and dinette lights and stereo), and though it was *slightly* less extreme than before, everything still dimmed.

So my question is:
• Does this sound like it's behaving correctly? I seem to remember all the new units at the dealer having lots of lights shining, along with the DVD player going with no problem. I kind of figured we could get more out of the batteries, when plugged into shore power. Does the furnace fan use a ton of power?

• If it doesn't sound right, what should we be looking at as the most likely culprit? Here's all we can come up with:
- The converter (standard Parallax 7300)?
- The batteries (brand new, installed by dealer on our request because the old ones were dead and corroded—so badly that it corroded the entire battery box- also replaced). They're Interstate SRM-24. I'm assuming they're the cheapest the dealer could get away with, but should still be good enough?
- The wiring (I hope it's not this one)!
- Insufficient shore power or bad power cable (this would be the best answer, but we haven't had an opportunity to test either yet, and our storage facility doesn't have shore power)
- Something else?

And while I'm asking power questions: Where do you find 30amp power cords that fit the airstream? We had bought one ahead of time to bring along, but the prongs were straight, whereas the airstream takes curved prongs. The dealer ended up giving us a cord, but whenever I look, I can only find the kind with straight prongs.
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Old 02-19-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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My gut guess is the converter is defective assuming it really did have shore power at the time. Probably best to confirm you have shore power next trip out and see if the pattern repeats. Be sure converter breaker is on.

Mine did something similar when new. The fan in the Parallax 7300 failed. The converter would produce enough power to run a couple lights, but any more and the converter would throttle back due to overheating.

I ordered a replacement shore power cord from:

RV Power Cords from PPL for Sale

I ordered pn 55-8961
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:27 PM   #3
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Plenty of parks have a breaker with a switch at the post. Ideally, these should be turned to the off position at your arrival. Are you sure that you turned it on? It could be that your battery was low at arrival, and if the switch was off, then there was nothing to run everything and recharge the battery.

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Old 02-19-2011, 07:35 PM   #4
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Thanks for the input, tpi. That's my closest guess too.

eubank, yes, the shore power was definitely "on" (thought I'm not sure how powerful). The battery went from empty to 3/4 overnight, so there was *some* power and *some* converting going on.

The thing that really confuses me is that the batteries didn't fully charge overnight, which would indicate that the problem is the converter. However, in the morning, with batteries at 3/4 full, they still couldn't handle all those lights on— which seems to indicate an issue purely with the 12V system. Geez, hopefully not both!
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:41 PM   #5
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I don't think a properly operating 7300 converter would charge dead batteries fully overnight. Its operating voltage is too low for that. Probably more like a day or two to absolutely charge the batteries with properly functional converter.

But it still may be wise to rule out intermittent shore power before condemning the converter.

My 7300 did give exactly the symptoms you describe with the failing fan. In fact to add-it made a very high pitched squealing noise when it overheated. Electronic sound, not fan noise as the fan was completely dead. A sound similar to the sound some old television sets made.

Edit one thing you might want to try first is put a known good full charge into the batteries with an external charger, then test the lights, etc.
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Old 02-19-2011, 07:59 PM   #6
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reads like totally normal equipment.

although most of the relevant details aren't included in the story.

there's no evidence the p'lax is doing anything unusual (based on the op)

it will get the batteries to ~80% in 12-16 hours depending on starting voltage...

but may take daze 2 get near 100%.

it's the nature of the beast.

also the on board 'battery gauge' is very misleading...

it doesn't provide the true/overall charge status of the batteries.

it just provides a 'surface voltage' reading....

sorta like the temp at the TOP of the lake water is different than at the bottom

there's nothing 'cheap' about 2 group 24 interstates.

other brands of the same size/weight/capacity will perform identically.

the batteries are basically just holding tanks of a given size.
______

is there a store/use switch? was it properly turned?

what else was ON using juice? fridge, water heater, furnace, microwave ?

yes the furnace uses a "ton" of power.

actually its around 14 amps for the fan, but i suspect discussing that stuff will bury the op.

when PLUGGED in 2 shore power some stuff is running directly from AC juice and some stuff from DC juice.

it all is controlled by the p'lax.

so depending on how much of the 30 amp u r using and battery level, this stuff can happen.

the 30 amp marinco cord will have signs of damage IF it's the problem...

simply look at the m/f ends, checking for heat damage, crud, cracks and so on.

what u purchased was a 30 amp EXTENSION cord,

which may be used WITH the a/s cord, IF parked too far from the juice box.

but using an extension cord adds to the risk of marginal voltage,

or makes marginal voltage situations worse.

yes the park may have had low voltage, or a basic brown out.

aren't rolling brownouts sop in cali' ??

get a book on the basics of rv electrical systems, there are good ones for under 20$...

reading one could save you a LOTTA moola when it comes to 'fixin' the electrical systems.

it's very easy to "test" the p'lax out put and compare to normal manual specs.

it's also easy to check the rv park power pole and a/s outlets for voltage.

U will need some basic tools, the owners manual for the stream AND the p'lax...

and either some book info or highly SELECTIVE reading of forum 411.

cheers
2air'
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Old 02-19-2011, 08:37 PM   #7
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Thanks so much, 2air. I was actually hoping the answer was that this all sounds normal and I was just expecting to much from the system. Thanks to you and tpi, too, for letting me know that it takes longer than overnight to charge the drained batteries. Just need to adjust our expectations— I wanted to be sure since it's used and who knows what surprises we'll find. (Like the three leaks that this recent CA rainstorm uncovered!).

Just to answer a couple more questions:

Quote:
is there a store/use switch? was it properly turned?
Yes and yes.

Quote:
what else was ON using juice? fridge, water heater, furnace, microwave ?
The fridge was on, and as I said, the furnace (plus the cycling of the fan). Also the water heater— but doesn't that only use propane? That's all I can think of. I'm pretty sure that's it.

There's kind of a ridiculous number of lights assigned to that one switch (all the ones running down the galley). We're planning on switching them all out for LEDs (I really like the quality of light in LEDs used in the new 2011 models). And possibly even take out the bulbs from some of the galley lights altogether, so we can use them but not to that extreme.

…and…
Quote:
what u purchased was a 30 amp EXTENSION cord
D'oh. That makes perfect sense now. Thanks.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:10 PM   #8
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the charger/converters can fail and do.

the oem 74xx series in my unit failed at~4 years

after a week of storage plugged into a KNOWN low voltage outlet.

but those 4 years of service were more like 10-15 years of use for the average stream.

the charger/converter was in regular use 1400 days approximately, b4 it crapped out.

there were no clues prior to failure.

basically the batteries started going low while plugged in at a nice rv park.

a quick check of the parts lead to the problem.

luckily the solar charger still worked and kept them REcharged while a new C/c was selected and shipped.

others here have reported fires when the c/c failed, or electrical smells or funny fan noises...

but i doubt there are many cluez before failure on most of these gizmos.

while u may favor led bulb replacements, there are also LOWER wattage halogen bulbs...

they give of less light, use less juice, and don't get as warm as the oems.

some folks like that approach or mixing it with selective led use.

and candles are the most glam, cozy and battery friendly way to light her up...

cheers
2air'
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