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Old 03-24-2015, 04:31 PM   #1
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Battery charging via TV

Hi, I assume this has been answered before but can't find it. I have a 2014 Bambi 16 and have a few questions, first how does the battery disconnect switch fit into the system and when should it be off and on. I read somewhere that you should just flip the switch back and forth when hooking to shore power, anything to that. Also if the tow vehicle charges the battery, my bambi battery was dead after towing north from Florida so that doesn't make much sense. The disconnect switch was off so doesn't seem like it should have discharged. Just call me confused about this switch. Jeff T Madison WI
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Old 03-24-2015, 05:09 PM   #2
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I for one have never seen any reason for the switch to even be there. The best I can figure is it is a hold over from when the old non regulated charging system were used. In that case if you were plugged into shore power for a prolonged period without much use of electricity you would boil the batteries if the switch was not turned off.

Never used it and can't think of a reason to.
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Old 03-24-2015, 05:15 PM   #3
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From the 2013 Airstream FC 20' manual:

When the switch is turned to USe (on) and the trailer is plugged into a 110-volt shoreline, the 12-volt distribution panel will receive power from the converter and the batteries will be charged through the converter charging system.
When the switch is turned to STORe (off) and the trailer is plugged into a 110-volt shoreline, the 12- volt distribution panel will still receive power from the converter, but the batteries are disconnected from the system. The batteries will not be drained with the switch in the store position. The converter will not charge the batteries with the switch in this position.
The charge in the 12-volt batteries is replenished, when towing, from the tow vehicle alternator through the 7-way cord. This charge will flow to the batteries regardless of the battery disconnect switch position. likewise, if on or off, the solar panel is still charging the batteries.
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Old 03-24-2015, 05:50 PM   #4
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I got that info and it really doesn't tell me much. Like why after towing for 20 hours is the trailer battery dead? That switch was off so the trailer didn't drain the battery, nothing wrong with the TV and it's battery, a bad new battery? I also assuming that whatever is charging the batteries when the switch is on and you are plugged into shore power isn't a battery charger. As a battery charger wouldn't overcharge and wreck batteries.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:06 PM   #5
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If the Airstream manual offered a clear explanation of the switch people would stop asking questions about it. At my house the trailer stays plugged in to AC power. I just leave the switch in "use". I asked at the factory when I was there and was to told leave it in the "use" position when not in deep storage.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:13 PM   #6
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What are you towing with? Did it work before? With my F-150 I had to buy and install a relay to get the charging pin to have any power. I'm told that it came from the factory with a plastic bag containing the relay and a trailer brake adapter cable, but I bought it used and none of that stuff was on there.

Look in your TV manual and find what fuse feeds the trailer charging circuit. Look for a relay with the same function and then check your fuse panel to see if it is installed.

Also, TVs differ as to when the function is enabled. On my F-150 the relay cuts the charging power when the engine is not running. On my Ram 2500, it is energized all the time. With a TV like my RAM, one must be careful not to leave the trailer connected for several days when shore power is not available less the trailer discharge both the trailer and TV batteries.

Re: the store/use switch - the philosophy and wiring must have changed over the years. Mine disconnects the fuse panel from both the batteries and the converter but leaves the converter connected to the batteries. It also leaves the propane detector powered up all the time. After several months, the propane detector will discharge the batteries. It was wired this way and the schematic in my manual confirms this. Leaving my trailer connected to shore power for a long time with the original converter was not good for the batteries. I changed my converter, and re-wired the switch so putting it in store mode disconnects both the fuse panel and the propane detector so there is no drain on the batteries. Now instead of having to disconnect my batteries I just throw the switch when the trailer is in storage.

Al
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:14 PM   #7
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First off why was the switch OFF while towing?

It is time to get out the volt meter. With the switch on plug the trailer into shore power over night. Record the voltage on the battery while plugged in. Unplug and record the voltage. Now hook up the TV and while the engine is running at about 1500rpm record the voltage on the battery.

After an over night charge with the convertor you should almost have a fully charged battery. The voltage just after pulling the shore power should drop a little but when you start the TV the voltage should go up. This will test the convertor and the TV charging system. Now leave the trailer over night and test the battery voltage again. If it has dropped below 10 volts you have a bad battery or a heavy drain in the trailer.

Are you sure the emergency brake away switch fir the trailer brakes is in place? That will kill your battery in short order.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:24 PM   #8
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jtwind, I'm not sure I get your drift, other than to say we do a lot of boondocking so having a fully charged battery that can keep us camping for several nights is just huge.

1. We have heard conflicting opinions as to whether the main battery switch should be "on" or "store" while driving, but the consensus seems to be "on." Since some of these people are Airstream mechanics, I'd go with that. However, when we are camping we often turn the main switch to store, just to nurse the batteries that much further.

We have also had all of the following problems at various times that prevent the batteries from holding a charge.

2. Bad/dud batteries. They should always be kept at a reading of "12" or above, according to our AS dealer. Letting a battery drop too low shortens its life. We take them out in winter, or whenever we want to charge them with a battery recharger. Sometimes they just have to be replaced.

3. Wiring problems.

4. Low levels of distilled water in the battery. We couldn't figure out why the generator wasn't recharging our batteries after a week in Death Valley. Turned out that 95-degree heat had evaporated the distilled water. Easily refilled.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
First off why was the switch OFF while towing?

It is time to get out the volt meter. With the switch on plug the trailer into shore power over night. Record the voltage on the battery while plugged in. Unplug and record the voltage. Now hook up the TV and while the engine is running at about 1500rpm record the voltage on the battery.

After an over night charge with the convertor you should almost have a fully charged battery. The voltage just after pulling the shore power should drop a little but when you start the TV the voltage should go up. This will test the convertor and the TV charging system. Now leave the trailer over night and test the battery voltage again. If it has dropped below 10 volts you have a bad battery or a heavy drain in the trailer.

Are you sure the emergency brake away switch fir the trailer brakes is in place? That will kill your battery in short order.
Thanks, I'll do some testing in the morning. The switch was off when towing simply because I never really used the batteries on this trip so never had the switch on. And was never told it should be on when towing.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
What are you towing with? Did it work before? With my F-150 I had to buy and install a relay to get the charging pin to have any power. I'm told that it came from the factory with a plastic bag containing the relay and a trailer brake adapter cable, but I bought it used and none of that stuff was on there.

Look in your TV manual and find what fuse feeds the trailer charging circuit. Look for a relay with the same function and then check your fuse panel to see if it is installed.

Also, TVs differ as to when the function is enabled. On my F-150 the relay cuts the charging power when the engine is not running. On my Ram 2500, it is energized all the time. With a TV like my RAM, one must be careful not to leave the trailer connected for several days when shore power is not available less the trailer discharge both the trailer and TV batteries.



Re: the store/use switch - the philosophy and wiring must have changed over the years. Mine disconnects the fuse panel from both the batteries and the converter but leaves the converter connected to the batteries. It also leaves the propane detector powered up all the time. After several months, the propane detector will discharge the batteries. It was wired this way and the schematic in my manual confirms this. Leaving my trailer connected to shore power for a long time with the original converter was not good for the batteries. I changed my converter, and re-wired the switch so putting it in store mode disconnects both the fuse panel and the propane detector so there is no drain on the batteries. Now instead of having to disconnect my batteries I just throw the switch when the trailer is in storage.

Al
I guess I don't know if it worked before, it's new and this was the first trip. I am towing with a Nissan Frontier crewcab, the trailer plug 12 volt pin is hot all the time.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Len n Jeanne View Post
jtwind, I'm not sure I get your drift, other than to say we do a lot of boondocking so having a fully charged battery that can keep us camping for several nights is just huge.

1. We have heard conflicting opinions as to whether the main battery switch should be "on" or "store" while driving, but the consensus seems to be "on." Since some of these people are Airstream mechanics, I'd go with that. However, when we are camping we often turn the main switch to store, just to nurse the batteries that much further.

We have also had all of the following problems at various times that prevent the batteries from holding a charge.

2. Bad/dud batteries. They should always be kept at a reading of "12" or above, according to our AS dealer. Letting a battery drop too low shortens its life. We take them out in winter, or whenever we want to charge them with a battery recharger. Sometimes they just have to be replaced.

3. Wiring problems.

4. Low levels of distilled water in the battery. We couldn't figure out why the generator wasn't recharging our batteries after a week in Death Valley. Turned out that 95-degree heat had evaporated the distilled water. Easily refilled.
Thanks, I was just surprised that a brand new battery was drained, it was removed after I bought the trailer last fall and kept on a trickle charger. Reinstalled 3 weeks ago and I was gone for 3 weeks, Frankly the battery was never used and the switch was in the off position almost all the time. I and maybe wrongly assumed that you turned the switch on when you needed to use the battery. I figured that the fact the the trailer was moved and towed for 2-6 hours every 3-4 days would have kept the battery charged. Not to mention the drive home. I'll figure it out eventually and it all has to go to the dealer soon for multiple warranty stuff.
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:28 PM   #12
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The batteries could have been badly damaged when you bought the AS. I think most/some dealerships don't take care of the AS batteries and let them discharge on the lot which drastically shortens their life.

You may already know this, but I ruined a set of batteries before I figured it out. If you are plugged into shore power the battery monitor in the AS will show the batteries as full even if the batteries are only partially charged. I keep my AS plugged in at home. I didn't want to cook the batteries so I used the store mood. I thought my batteries were ok because I kept checking the monitor. They looked perfect (100% charged) until I would get to a campground and notice they were far less the 100%.


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Old 03-24-2015, 08:51 PM   #13
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the use/store relay will not work if the battery voltage drops too low.

the LP gas detector is always drawing power even when in store mode and it has been often reported that this will drain the battery in a week or two.

chect to see if any compartment lights or jack light (if u have one) has been left on.
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Old 03-25-2015, 11:35 AM   #14
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Cutting battery power disables trailer jack

And that adds just a little bit more security from being stolen as it would take the thief longer to do it manually.
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