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Old 01-10-2008, 12:05 PM   #1
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Battery Charging Hell

Need help with battery management.

We're camped on BLM land in Quartzsite, relying on the generator to charge the batteries when needed. But even running the generator 8 hours per day, the batteries is still being drawn down. Here's what I have:

I have 1984 Airstream 310 Limited Motorhome with

4 Costco group 27 marine deep cycle batteries rated at 115 amp hours (new in November).
A 200 amp alternator
A Honda EV6010 6000 watt generator
A WFCO Model 9865 - 65 amps converter

The WFCO converter won't go into boost mode (14.4 Volts) unless the batteries are AT LEAST 50% discharged, per WFCO tech support so all of the battery charging is occurring at 13.2 to 13.6 volts.

I think this is my problem - my converter really can't do what I need it to do.

Am I correct?
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Old 01-10-2008, 12:14 PM   #2
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What is the source of the drawdown?

With the batteries and charging systems you have I would suspect a parasitic draw.

I think it is time to purchase an Ampmeter that will indicate a range of ampere drawdown (1 to 10, and 10 to 100?) and find out just what device is drawing down the batteries - could be the electric steps, the air compressor, or the battery isolator?

Also, 13.2 volts is not all that low -
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Old 01-10-2008, 12:14 PM   #3
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It sounds like you're relying on the converter to charge the batteries. Do you have a battery charger that you can use instead? That should give you better results.
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Old 01-10-2008, 12:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 87MH
With the batteries and charging systems you have I would suspect a parasitic draw.

I think it is time to purchase an Ampmeter that will indicate a range of ampere drawdown (1 to 10, and 10 to 100?) and find out just what device is drawing down the batteries - could be the electric steps, the air compressor, or the battery isolator?

Also, 13.2 volts is not all that low -
I have a Trimetric 2020 which tells me lots of stuff like the instantaneous load, the net drawn down in amp-hours, voltage, etc.

I have 460 amp-hours of battery capacity. My basal drawn is .8-.5 amps. Other draws are lights, fans, tv, computer, water pump, etc. We use about 50-75 amp-hours in a 24 hour period. I'm trying to replace those amp hours by running the generator.
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Old 01-10-2008, 01:03 PM   #5
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Smile Hi Guy99

I do not understand. Why when you run your generator you discharge your batteries. When you are on shore power or generator you schould use the battery very little. It may be that your invertor does not see the 120v from generator and continues to convert 12v to 120v. There schould be a relay in it to swich out when not needed.
Russ in sunny and cool Tucson Az.
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Old 01-10-2008, 02:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyrzowt
It sounds like you're relying on the converter to charge the batteries. Do you have a battery charger that you can use instead? That should give you better results.
I'm confused. I thought that was what my three stage 65 amp converter was for. How big a battery charger would I need and why would it be better?
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Old 01-10-2008, 02:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RUSSELL
I do not understand. Why when you run your generator you discharge your batteries. When you are on shore power or generator you schould use the battery very little. It may be that your invertor does not see the 120v from generator and continues to convert 12v to 120v. There schould be a relay in it to swich out when not needed.
Russ in sunny and cool Tucson Az.
My batteries are not discharging when the generator is running. They are actually being charged, but very slowly.
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Old 01-10-2008, 03:05 PM   #8
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Guy, I'm no expert but it seems that your "in house" system is not charging the batteries. Thus hooking your genny directly to the batts via a battery charger would bypass the defective part and recharge your batts.

If you go that route you could either buy four battery chargers and charge em up real fast or buy one and charge slower. Not being real smart in electrical I'd go buy four battery chargers. IMHO.
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Old 01-10-2008, 03:13 PM   #9
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Guy99,

You're batteries are probably heavily sulfated due to the frequent charging and discharging. I'd recommend at Power Pulse desulfator by Pulse Tech. See link for a retailer.

Battery Desulfators @ Survival Unlimited .com -

I'm going onto my 7th season with same battery since I use this desulfator. They really help. A 4th Phase charge wizard attached to your WFCO will also do the same thing.
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Old 01-10-2008, 03:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rseagle
Guy99,

You're batteries are probably heavily sulfated due to the frequent charging and discharging. I'd recommend at Power Pulse desulfator by Pulse Tech. See link for a retailer.

Battery Desulfators @ Survival Unlimited .com -

I'm going onto my 7th season with same battery since I use this desulfator. They really help. A 4th Phase charge wizard attached to your WFCO will also do the same thing.
Batteries were purchased in November 2007. I have this device installed: Onboard Desulfator. So they really shouldn't be sulfated.
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Old 01-10-2008, 06:33 PM   #11
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Possible solution

Remove and clean all of your battery connections. I had one work slightly loose one a trip last summer which messed up the ability of the converter to charge the batteries.
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Old 01-10-2008, 08:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alan
Remove and clean all of your battery connections. I had one work slightly loose one a trip last summer which messed up the ability of the converter to charge the batteries.
Good suggestion, but, I put in new cabling in late November as we were heading out on the current trip. I have had all the connection apart in the last two days. They are all clean and tight.
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Old 01-10-2008, 08:19 PM   #13
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There is the posibility you have one bad battery in the bunch that is causing the problem. I would pull all the batteries and load test them individualy.

Most auto stores have load testers if you don't have one.

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Old 01-10-2008, 09:08 PM   #14
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Lightbulb

13.2 volts is a weak charging voltage. In automotive applications, we look for 13.5 to 14.5 volts as the acceptable ballpark. Less, and you will have battery issues. The converter is perhaps optimized for ground hookups rather than a generator you have to run. Therefore, it is probably conservative about charging voltage, to avoid overcharging when always connected. An automotive charger of adequate capacity will be able to charge all four batteries at once.

What is the amperage that the charger is producing? How much does EACH battery draw?

Try measuring the voltage at the converter itself. If it is more than say 2/10 volt higher than at the batteries, start testing for voltage drop in the positive and negative circuits. Tightening all the connectors addressed the number one cause, though.

I'll bet there are trim pots you could adjust inside the converter to change the threshhold voltages for the various charging states. If you feel you know what you're doing, and don't care about the warranty, try playing with those.

Garry's idea was good, test each battery. Try to have them fully charged first, even with one of the modern conductance testers.

Four batteries should have adequate capacity! Still, are you running LED lights at all? Incandescents are battery hogs. Also, aside from parasitic draws, a malfunctioning appliance could be the culprit, such as a heater fan motor with dry bushings; it might draw more than twice its rated amperage without blowing fuses.

Good luck.
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