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Old 08-27-2009, 06:14 AM   #1
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2009 25' FB International
Vancouver , British Columbia
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Batteries (NOOB)

Good morning (its 5am) - we are just heading out for our first trip in our A/S - slept in her last night half way to the ferries (long story)

anyways - the last two day upon waking up we find our batteries are completely dead ... we were running a fan last night and thats all ... there is NO juice left. of course when i start the TV she starts charging but somethign doesnt seem right ... i mean less than 8 hours and no more juice?

what should we do? is there somethign we are doing wrong?

any suggestions would be VERY HELPFUL ... thanks

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Old 08-27-2009, 06:23 AM   #2
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Do you have a way to check the voltage at the battery? If the batteries are not fully charged to begin with, the tow vehicle will not bring them to a full charge. The regulator for charging from the tow vehicle will only allow a trickle charge after it has satisfied the vehicle starting battery.

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Old 08-27-2009, 06:28 AM   #3
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What's the amp-hour rating on the battery? I assume it's new? If it takes water, is it full? What fan are you running?

With the SOB trailers we've had, the battery they supply from the dealer has always been basically worthless for dry camping. They would run down overnight, just like you're experiencing.

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Old 08-27-2009, 06:55 AM   #4
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Thanks, we are going to stop in at canadian tire or wall mart. Ill grab a volt meter. Any suggestions on chargers?
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Old 08-27-2009, 07:00 AM   #5
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Connect your trailer to shore power. The built in converter will charge the batteries. I assume the trailer is new. It may have sat on the dealers lot for some time. Verify that the batteries have the correct amount of water in each cell.


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Old 08-27-2009, 08:26 AM   #6
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As others have mentioned, you have to START with a full charge on your batteries - you need to hook up to shore power and allow the converter/charger to do it's job and bring the batteries up all the way...

With dead batteries, this charging process could well take many hours - try and get to a park with hook ups overnight to do the charging...your TV won't help much as noted above, till you get the charge up a bit, and even then would take hours and hours...

You mentioned running a 'fan'...if you mean you ran the furnace (with it's internal fan), then your batteries won't last long even with a good charge - the furnace squirrel cage type fan's are power hogs, and will deplete your batteries if it runs a lot overnight...

If you plan to do a lot of boondocking, you'll have to save as much battery power as you can each day, and be sure to recharge EVERY day so the batteries don't get bottomed out - do you have a small Honda like generator? Usually a couple of hours with the genny will keep your batteries up, if done each day - you'll learn what you need and fall into a routine that suits your situation..

Good luck on your new AS....enjoy!
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:37 AM   #7
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All noted. Now I'm not heading to a park, we were planning on boondocking. Can I stop by a friends place and plug It in, do I need a convertor for that?

I was using the fantastic fan in the bedroom for venting.
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Old 08-27-2009, 08:44 AM   #8
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Yes that's the new Airstream surprise. We thought we have two batteries that's gonna last a long time, no. Overnight on a full charge certainly, more than over night and it gets iffy and its very critical on how you try to extend your battery power to last longer than two conservative usage nights. Even the fantastic fans that are to draw little don't draw that little if they are on all day or night. A full charge does take a long long time. Really don't count on the vehicle getting the batteries up from where they were last before you hooked up to the vehicle.

Have fun and tell us about your travels!

You might need an adapter for your cord plug to your friend's recepticle or extension cord to match up.

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Old 08-27-2009, 09:06 AM   #9
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In addition to your Fantastic Fan, you also have the draw of the refrigerator's ignition system. Even though it is running on LP, there is an amount of DC required to ignite the burner in there. I'm sorry but I don't know how much it draws each time it cycles. You would also have the same scenario with your hot water tank.

There may be other "vampire" electrical draws as well. Is the TV getting power even though it is turned off? I'm not sure if it is set up to operate via battery or if it is only hooked into the AC current. Do you have power going to your radio? Even if turned off it will draw DC current. You may have to pulled the fuse on that one and the TV if it runs on DC. I'm not sure what else would draw when turned off.

Check to make sure that all lights are off during the day and check your storage compartment light and the light that is located above your dump valve. It is small and doesn't give much light so it would be easy to over look. Same thing with your step light and scare light mounted on the side of the coach under the awning. I know these last two items are very basic, but they are also easy to overlook.

Happy camping and let us know how it goes.
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:17 AM   #10
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No one's mentioned this yet, and I doubt it's the case, but make sure they installed Deep Cycle batteries in your Airstream. From time to time I hear of dealerships who install the wrong kind of battery in their RVs. It's worth a check.
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Old 08-27-2009, 01:34 PM   #11
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With that new rig, you may also have an inverter -- it's designed to provide power to your 110V appliances (like television) from the batteries, such as when you're not plugged in to shore power. IF it's on, it's drawing power even if nothing is plugged in and actually using that power.

My inverter control (soft) switch is installed in my galley area -- it should have an indicator light letting you know if it's on. My inverter briefly "beeps" when turned on...

As others suggest, it's a pretty good idea to literally unplug things when not actually in use. Like the television -- even "off" it draws power just waiting for you to use the remote "on" switch, etc...

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Old 08-27-2009, 02:27 PM   #12
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Keep in mind that many new rigs have abused batteries in them. They seldom get proper storage maintenance in the sales lot and are often left out in the heat. Those things age a battery very fast.

With two batteries you have about a kilowatt hour of usable energy storage. That isn't much. (about 10-15 watt hours per pound of battery)

A vent fan or a furnace can draw 5 to 10 amps. That's close to 100 watts or 10 hours worth.

The fridge and alarms take maybe an amp or 10 watts so that's 100 hours worth.

The standard lights can pull 60 watts so that's 15 hours or so, each fixture.

A TV with DVD can take 150 watts (or more depending upon TV size) which means a 2 hour movie is a third of your usable battery capacity.

These things add up. When you aren't used to trimming things down, you can run through your battery's KwH in short order. The off grid RV lifestyle takes learning some new habits. A big one is to turn the lights off when you don't need them!

Then there's the problem that your standard equipment converter can take several days to get a full charge on your batteries and things such as age, temperature, use profile, and cycle to cycle variance can each make a 10% to 15% change in available energy from your batteries.

This is why so many looking for a magic bullet for their RV energy needs are are so often sold something doesn't solve their problem. Some class A's can handle several hundred pounds of battery but very few TT's can so you're stuck with limited energy storage. Even covering your Airstream roof with solar panels isn't going to get you more than a kilowatt hour or two of energy per day. That's a reason why gensets are popular.

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