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Old 11-18-2017, 02:24 PM   #1
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2017 19' International
Tallahassee , Florida
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Batteries ka-put our first time out

First time out with our new, 2017 Airstream and when time to hitch up and leave the campground, the power jack wouldn't budge. Just made sad sounds.

I went in and checked the battery meter on the wall ... batteries way down.

What to do? I hooked up the Suburban via the hitch cord and, to my surprise, the Chevy provided enough juice to work the jack. Not robustly, but good enough.

Hooked up and out of there.

Now ... why did the batteries run down?

We were plugged into shore power the entire two days.

At one point, however, on our second day at the campground (which had no vacancies ... every site taken) the surge protector turned off power to the Airstream. I could not get the power to work without removing the surge protector. Once I did, lights came back on, etc. Don't know if that was a factor.

What can I do to make sure this does not happen again?

I called my Airstream dealer, and the person there gave me an explanation that, frankly, seemed to contradict itself. Not sure he really understands how Airstream batteries and converters work, but then ... neither do I.

Help me out, here, fellow campers.

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Old 11-18-2017, 03:24 PM   #2
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Take a look at the date on the batteries. They could have been sitting on the lot for 2+ years. If so I'd hope that the dealer would give you a new set. Also, have you checked the water level in the batteries. If it is way down they will not take a charge and may in fact be ruined or damaged.

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Old 11-18-2017, 03:32 PM   #3
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Was the charger working? Maybe a blown fuse or circuit breaker? Don't know about the new ones, but "older" AS have a switch to turn the converter/charger on and off. Mine looks like a light switch and it's behind the curtains. I know I panicked one or twice early on when I got somehow turned off and I thought the batteries or charger was bad.
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Old 11-18-2017, 03:45 PM   #4
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Beavercreek , Oregon
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Get yourself a hydrometer and check the cells in both batteries. I am betting that you have at least one bad cell in each battery. This is a rite of passage for Airstream owners. Our 2017 had two bad batteries which we discovered on a boondocking trip. The good news is that there's a full replacement guarantee by interstate if they're less than 12 months old or if you purchased your Airstream less than 12 months ago. Take your paperwork for your Airstream and your dead batteries to the nearest Interstate dealer, they will take care of you faster than the Airstream dealer will. Your next job will be to upgrade the converter charger in your Airstream.
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Old 11-18-2017, 03:49 PM   #5
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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One can never ever say "this is the way it is" with an AS. If your trailer is "normal" the converter should run whenever the shore power is plugged in. Things like lights should all be 12V so they will work with or without shore power.

There should be a use / store switch that disconnects the battery from the normal loads. On *some* trailers, the converter goes to the battery side of this switch. On other trailers the converter goes to the load side of the switch. There are examples of same model / same year trailers wired each way..... welcome to Airstream.

If the converter is on the load side and if the use / store was in the store position .... the battery didn't get charged. The whole time you were out, the battery was out of the loop. I'd bet this is how your trailer is set up since you mention "got the lights working".

Since the battery never was on charge, it will eventually go dead. There are a number of fiddly little things that ignore the use / store switch and go to the battery all the time. They present enough load to flatten the battery in a couple weeks. Toss in running the jack and maybe something else .... dead battery.

So what to do:

1) Trust your surge protector. If it says there is a problem ... there's a problem. Get that fixed. Don't run without the protector. A multimeter should be able to track down the issue. It's something you should always have along.

2) Figure out how your trailer is wired. If the lights come on when you plug in shore power (regardless of the use/store) then the converter is on the load side. If it's on the battery side then you have a problem somewhere.

3) Based on how your trailer is wired, do your charging in the proper way.

I'm not a big fan of having the converter on the load side ... that may just be me. Take a look at the wiring diagram in your manual. If it shows the converter on the battery side (and it's not there now) you should be able to get it swapped over by the dealer for free.

Yes, there are a lot of possibilities .....

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Old 11-18-2017, 03:56 PM   #6
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The first thing to consider is that the system was set to "store" so the batteries were not being charged.

If your system is 50amp (which is less likely because you're a 19footer) it would be possible for one leg to be off back at the pedestal. This happened to me twice last year, in two different campgrounds. I didn't notice it was out until my lights began to act strangely the second day. Turns out the leg that was out was the one that ran the converter, so the batteries were running down all the while the 12-volt systems were running.

Somebody, please, point me to the road.

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Old 11-18-2017, 06:09 PM   #7
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2017 27' Flying Cloud
Fort Worth , Texas
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If you have a 2017, I don't believe you can be in the "store" position when you are plugged in. It will automatically go to "use" I believe, so if you are plugged in and your converter is working, you should have the batteries charging.

See if you can charge the batteries from shore power. If you can, this says the converter is working. If you can't, then you will need to check the converter is putting out 12V (it will actually be 13-14V DC). If it is not, you should replace it by calling Randy at Actually, you should do this anyway if you have not replaced the converter that came with your AS.

Once you charge the batteries, take them out and take them to any auto store like Advanced Auto, etc. They can check the batteries to see if they are good. The batteries that came with your AS, unless you got the solar package, are terrible and only provide 80 amp-hours if I remember correctly. That won't bet you though a cold night with the furnace running. Randy at Bestconverter can help with that too.
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Old 11-19-2017, 02:09 AM   #8
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2014 27' Flying Cloud
Fullerton , California
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Originally Posted by WhereStream View Post
... the surge protector turned off power to the Airstream. I could not get the power to work without removing the surge protector.
Not sure if your surge protector is like mine.
However I had a similar experience in a RV park this past summer. Whereas the power to our trailer would kick off and other trailers near me did not.

I read the literature of my surge protector and noted it would pull power from the trailer if the voltage dropped below 102 volts or over a certain voltage (which I can't remember off hand). I had a Kill-a-Watt meter to monitor the 110 volt AC power in the trailer, and sure enough when the voltage dropped below 102 volts for a specific amount of time it would dump the power to the trailer as it is supposed to do in order to protect your equipment.

The moral to this is: perhaps your surge protector was trying to help you out and not shut you down.

It might not be related to your battery problem, but what if your converter would not generate the correct voltage to recharge your batteries due to an insufficient AC voltage input to the converter. Might want to see what the minimum voltage requirements for the converter are.
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Old 11-19-2017, 06:49 AM   #9
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2017 19' International
Tallahassee , Florida
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Thanks for the replies.

The surge protector is a Progressive Industries. First time using it, too.

I believe it indicated a drop in voltage.

Dealer said I must have had the batteries in store mode. Our previous Airstream (2016) had a big manual switch ... no doubt if you were in Use or Store.

This one has a switch on the wall, that throws a relay somewhere, and a light ... the light stays on whether in use or store. Go figure. No idea how long it takes for the relay to work ... so don't know how long I should hold down the wall switch.

Have the trailer plugged in now, with switch on Use (I hope), to see if the batteries will charge.

I'll check the date on the Interstates. Airstream was manufactured in January of this year, so ... batteries not likely to be a year old, unless they were sitting in the warehouse for months.

I checked the water level on the batteries before we went camping. Some cells a little low. Topped off but did not check with a hydrometer. I have one somewhere, and if I can dig it up I'll check the cells.
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Old 11-19-2017, 08:21 AM   #10
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The use/store solenoid switches instantly when the control switch is pressed in either mode. No need to hold it.

The red led indicates power is being supplied to the switched side of the circuit.

The led will illuminate in the store mode if the converter is operating but the batteries will be disconnected from the system, and hence not be charged.

All 12 volt appliances will operate as normal, as they are being powered directly from the converter.


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Old 11-19-2017, 09:14 AM   #11
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2017 23' Flying Cloud
Olathe , Kansas
Join Date: May 2017
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Batteries ka-put our first time out

Clues: Surge protector high current due to low voltage.... AND Low battery voltage. I am going with either the Button was in Store.... while hooked into shore power (Batteries possibly not charging due to wiring of your model) OR a blown fuse somewhere in the battery circuit....Low-voltage possibly on the 12V side due to the depleted battery, will take you into a high current situation on your wiring....blown fuse to protect. Indicated by the slow response by the jack..... battery issue.
My 2017 FC23B is wired ( works for me) such that in the store position the only load on the battery is the propane detector (added a switch) and the inverter. I am still using the single stage Parallax with Group 24 wet cell... and when on shore power check battery voltage first and If good? simply put in the Store position... as the converter still works to get 120 V AC to 12 V as to not overcharge... not a big deal....My demand loads during the day are lite (LEDs’)....that I can make up with 120W solar during the day.... more often than not. Have my batteries in storage right now without any loads....and after 185 hours have gone from 12.8 V to 12.64..... so per the forums 30 days they do need to be recharged even though there is no external load.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:28 AM   #12
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The bottom line is that the red LED on the use/store panel ONLY indicates you have 12volt power available to your 12volt appliances.

It does NOT tell you batteries are connected to the convertor and being charged. It has a mechanical latching relay and there is no way to tell the relay is in “use” unless you make sure you pressed the switch to “use” and got the ‘clunk’ from the relay.
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Old 11-19-2017, 11:51 AM   #13
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2017 19' International
Tallahassee , Florida
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I checked the fuses and circuit breakers. All looked good. Perhaps there are other inline fuses I am unaware of ... I checked those on the board on the converter panel.

I was not told of any switch that turns off the converter, only the inverter on-off.

Is there a way I could have been running on battery power, even though plugged in? I can’t see how a few parasitic power drains could seriously deplete two batteries in 2-˝ days.
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Old 11-19-2017, 12:23 PM   #14
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There are many, many "recent" threads on this happening with a new AS. Likely the batteries may have a bad cell, and the stock AS converter/charger could have caused them to go bad. The converter/charger is a "single" stage running full charge all the time. This can overcharge your battery while plugged in, if you don't move the battery switch to the store position.

Many of us have had this happen within a few months of picking up our "new" units. I had it happen on my "new" 2014 25' FC when I purchased in 2014, and also recently on "new" 2017 28'. Interstate can/will check and will replace the battery if less then a year old. They gave me the option both times to replace for free, or 100% credit toward a different battery, such as an AGM. It's easier to go to Interestate then trying to get AS service involved.

Solution is getting a multi-stage converter and replacing your stock AS converter. After you have the batteries checked and perhaps replaced, of course. Note, that AS in 2018, replaced the single stage converters with multistage converters...too bad we had to purchase a new multistage on our 2017 and earlier models using our money!

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