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Old 07-21-2017, 10:16 AM   #1
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Cool 2014 Flying Cloud Battery Monitor

Hello Airstream Experts. Recently my wife and I purchased a 2014 Flying Cloud 27FB and promptly had to buy new batteries. We purchased two AGM batteries.

I have two questions: 1). What does the AS battery monitor actually tell me? When it reads full I assume the battery is fully charged 12.7 volts or so, but I wonder about when it indicates a half charge or "empty" with the battery light monitor...Does "empty" mean 12.2 volts or so or really empty. I guess I am asking what will I see on the monitor that indicates it is time to recharge the batteries?

The second question relates to overcharging the batteries. We live in Florida and have our AS plugged into shore power to provide air conditioning to the trailer at all times. (It is hot down here with mold and mildew a problem.). How do I insure the batteries are not overcharged? A person at the dealership indicated we should keep a load on the batteries at all time, something like a night light. I would assume this means the light would be plugged into an inverter circuit, but doesn't being on shore power negate this?

Obviously, we need your help. Thanks
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Old 07-21-2017, 10:46 AM   #2
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Your AS monitor only gives you the battery voltage. This can give you an indication of the state of discharge but it's not ideal. A much better tool is a battery monitor which uses a shunt resistor. These devices constantly monitor the currrent into and out of the battery and will tell you the percent depletion of your batteries. Check out AM Solar's selection of battery monitors.

As a general rule, you shouldn't deplete your batteries more than 50%. So for AGM cells, that's about 12.1 V. So, when you see your battery voltage start approaching 12.1 try to conserve energy and limit the depth and time your battery voltage is below 12.1 V.

You also shouldn't overcharge them. So when you're connected to shore power for extended periods, simply make sure your "Store/Use" switch is in the "Store" position. This will isolate your batteries from the converter (battery charger). It's probably a good idea once a month to make sure your batteries are charged by selecting the "Use" position for a day just to make sure they are topped off.

It's likely that your converter has only a single-stage battery charger. You might want to consider upgrading to the three-stage converter as this avoids the overcharging issue and would allow you to keep the battery charging, while connected to shore power, for extended periods.
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Old 07-21-2017, 10:48 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimrosemergy View Post
A person at the dealership indicated we should keep a load on the batteries at all time, something like a night light.
That's just nonsense.
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Old 07-21-2017, 11:13 AM   #4
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If your battery monitor does not indicate voltage so you will know the actual state of charge you should get a monitor that does. You will need to have your power off to the converter for an hour or so to get an adequate reading from your battery.

An upgrade to your stock converter is what you need to avoid overcharging your batteries. A call to Bestconverter.com (Randy) would be in order. A popular model for your trailer is a PD4655 upgrade to your converter and cost about $200.00. You can install it yourself in about an hour with only a screwdriver.

Being plugged into an outlet you are running off shore power and will have no affect on your battery.

Dave
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Old 07-21-2017, 12:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by NoResults View Post
An upgrade to your stock converter is what you need to avoid overcharging your batteries. A call to Bestconverter.com (Randy) would be in order. A popular model for your trailer is a PD4655 upgrade to your converter and cost about $200.00. You can install it yourself in about an hour with only a screwdriver.
Dave
This is good advice. I installed a PD4655 myself and I'm very happy with it. I ordered it from Amazon. Here's exactly what I bought: https://www.amazon.com/Progressive-D...eywords=PD4655
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by alano View Post
that's just nonsense.
ditto!
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimrosemergy View Post
Hello Airstream Experts. Recently my wife and I purchased a 2014 Flying Cloud 27FB and promptly had to buy new batteries. We purchased two AGM batteries.

I have two questions: 1). What does the AS battery monitor actually tell me? When it reads full I assume the battery is fully charged 12.7 volts or so, but I wonder about when it indicates a half charge or "empty" with the battery light monitor...Does "empty" mean 12.2 volts or so or really empty. I guess I am asking what will I see on the monitor that indicates it is time to recharge the batteries?

The second question relates to overcharging the batteries. We live in Florida and have our AS plugged into shore power to provide air conditioning to the trailer at all times. (It is hot down here with mold and mildew a problem.). How do I insure the batteries are not overcharged? A person at the dealership indicated we should keep a load on the batteries at all time, something like a night light. I would assume this means the light would be plugged into an inverter circuit, but doesn't being on shore power negate this?

Obviously, we need your help. Thanks
Our AS spends 7 months in FL and we keep it plugged in to shore power 24/7 and the Store/Use is in the Use mode all the time as well. The only time it is not is when we are on the road. That sales person needs some education.
4 years on the original Interstate Batteries and Charger/Inverter they are still going strong. Recently we sold that AS a 2013 30' International and the new owners also have plugged in 24/7.
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Old 07-22-2017, 10:06 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by franklyfrank View Post
Our AS spends 7 months in FL and we keep it plugged in to shore power 24/7 and the Store/Use is in the Use mode all the time as well. The only time it is not is when we are on the road. That sales person needs some education.
4 years on the original Interstate Batteries and Charger/Inverter they are still going strong. Recently we sold that AS a 2013 30' International and the new owners also have plugged in 24/7.
Hopefully, your previous Airstream had an upgraded converter (three stage battery charger) that allowed it to stay connected to shore power for 24/7. If not, then your advice is likely to lead to ruin for folks who follow it.
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Old 07-22-2017, 10:32 AM   #9
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There has been some discussion in the following thread, about anecdotal evidence supporting the notion that the OEM charger will not over-cook the batteries,

IF

the 12-volt functions in the AS are used while plugged in to shore power, such as the lights, fridge, furnace, water pump etc.. The idea, as I understand it, is that -- even though the converter is powering the 12-volt functions, that the battery is also doing some of the work, and is thus discharging some of its energy as it is also being charged.

Please note that this is entirely a layman's understanding, based on readings in the thread with the quote below.

Thus, keeping something "on . . . like a nightlight" may have some validity, as a partial solution to having the standard AS OEM charger work for years. In our experience (roughly 10 years of Airstreaming), the original charger works fine if managed properly, given its limitations. Like any other imperfect tool . . . it can get some jobs done.

Thanks,

Peter

[click on arrow in quote to go the other thread]
Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
In this case, on shore power, with the switch in the Use mode, do the trailer's 12-volt functions actually draw energy from the battery, even though the converter is also on? That is what CruizinDux Bob in Post #16 was saying had been reported earlier by dkottum:
. . .
Therefore, Larry, is it correct in your opinion that the batteries are less likely to "cook" when:
shore power is on;
the battery switch is in Use mode; and
some 12-volt functions are functioning, like the thermostat to run the A/C, and the fridge's control board, as is the case here with the OP's situation?

Thanks,

Peter
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Old 07-22-2017, 11:46 AM   #10
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Doug's suggestion that it doesn't hurt to select the "Use" position when camping AND stay connected to shore power is perfectly fine. The reason it doesn't hurt the batteries is that most folks camp a relatively small percentage of the time, so overcharging isn't a big issue in this use case. Doug also goes on to say that when back home and connected to shore power, select the "Store" position. Again, good practice.

The idea that you can stay connected to shore power with the Store/Use switch in the "Use" position, 24/7, and not harm your batteries if you keep a load on them with a single-stage converter is pure bunk. A single-stage converter is simply a 13.7 V power supply which can furnish up to 55 A in order to keep the voltage regulated, so any practical load will be supplied by the converter and not by the batteries.

There may be anecdotes by folks who have been successful in keeping their batteries healthy, while connected to shore power 24/7 using their single stage converters. I don't doubt them. Perhaps they were lucky with respect to the maximum temperature their batteries saw. For the rest of us, our batteries will likely see elevated temperatures leading to overcharging if connected 24/7 to shore power with a single-stage converter.
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Old 07-22-2017, 12:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by alano View Post
. . .
The idea that you can stay connected to shore power with the Store/Use switch in the "Use" position, 24/7, and not harm your batteries if you keep a load on them with a single-stage converter is pure bunk.
. . .
There may be anecdotes by folks who have been successful in keeping their batteries healthy, while connected to shore power 24/7 using their single stage converters. I don't doubt them. [emphasis added]
. . .
I am not sure that your blanket statement about "pure bunk" can be squared with the second statement, but thank you for the acknowledgement that it may be possible to keep the AS OEM converter/charger, and still maintain healthy batteries.

As noted earlier, we have done so for about 10 years, in two different Airstreams.

Have a good weekend.

Peter
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Old 07-22-2017, 02:34 PM   #12
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Peter, no disrespect was meant. I think your experience is anecdotal and the many cases of battery failure and an understanding of the battery chemistry point to single-stage battery chargers being less than optimal.
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Old 07-22-2017, 05:41 PM   #13
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"less than optimal" yes.

"pure bunk" no IMO.

That was the only point. This issue is more nuanced than a black-or-white solution, and it is a disservice to newcomers to advise that they have to replace the OEM converter ASAP or ruin their batteries. Not putting these words in your mouth BTW.

FWIW
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Old 07-22-2017, 06:07 PM   #14
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For those that have stayed plugged in on the stock charger and report "no issues" with their batteries for years...there very well is another factor at play. Many people camp exclusively in campgrounds/parks with hookups, so when they are out enjoying their trailers, they are running off shore power and converter. For the tow to and fro, they are running off batteries but with a charge (of varying degree) from the tow vehicle, and virtually no load on the batteries (maybe just the 12V board on the fridge and the propane detector.)

The unknown factor to these "anecdotes" (which is a very good way of viewing these reports) is, are the batteries damaged but the owners don't know because they are always plugged in, so the batteries are rarely used? I wonder if taken off hookups, many of these folks would find their batteries barely make it through the night, or less, when relied upon to be the exclusive source to power their trailers? On my first trailer which I bought lightly used, I had no idea my batteries were shot--until the first time I camped with no hookups. With minimal draw (limited use of LED lights, fridge, water pump sparingly...They were in the 10.x range by morning.

To the original poster, assuming the location where your trailer is plugged in full-time is at your home or nearby, then by all means do so, and simply set the battery switch to "Store" mode, flipping it to "Use" once a week or so for half a day or so to keep a charge on them.
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