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Old 05-30-2014, 07:05 PM   #1
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battery drain problem

hi- suddenly this season I seem to have a battery drain issue. I have a new deep-cycle battery, hooked up to an Intellipower converter/smart charger. I also had a solar panel pigtail device hooked up to the battery, but now I have that taken off.
The back story is that my old battery powered the lights in the trailer just fine for the first night of a 2-night shake-down trip a few weeks ago, but the battery was dead the next evening. It was old, the Walmart techs said it diagnosed out as having bad cells, so I bought a new one. The new one has been powering the lights just fine for a couple weeks now (just parked in the driveway, not plugged into shore), but yesterday when I went to test the light/battery situation, the battery was suddenly totally dead again. Took it back to Walmart, it diagnosed as being fine, brought it back charged, put it back in.
I have done the usual battery drain test, using a multimeter set to the milli-amp position, and also just using a test light, and here's the deal: There is an initial brief spike of about 60 or 70 milli-amps, then it settles down at about 10 or so. The test light also very briefly shines, then goes totally out.
Is this the cause of my battery drain? Or is it some kind of normal current draw for the converter?
I have not yet pulled any fuses to see if this narrows down the problem area- Is this the logical next step?
And finally- if I can't figure this out, can I just keep one of the battery cables disconnected when I'm not using the trailer much?
Thankyou for any help with this minor but annoying problem!
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:20 PM   #2
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is the converter putting out?
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:41 PM   #3
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Checking each circuit via the 'pull the fuse' method may help isolate the circuit with the 'load'...

Do you have a propane/carbon monoxide detector? They draw a small amount of current all the time...

Do you have a replacement refer with the the electronic controls? They also darw a small amount of currrent...

Don't store/leave your battery in a discharged condition, it will greatly shorten it's ultimate life...

Hope that helps...
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:08 PM   #4
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Frank- I assume the converter still works fine, but it hasn't been plugged in yet this year.
Mexray- my CO detector is battery-powered, my old fridge has no electronic controls.
This problem is somewhat baffling because I have owned this rig for 9 years, and have left it parked with just battery-power with no battery-drain problems before this year...I have checked every single 12-V power draw I can think of, but the only thing that is "on" is the little blinking led light for the Intellipower Charge Wizard. Maybe I need to re-read the owners manual for that, see if the blink message means anything bad...
Please keep the ideas coming- I am mostly at a loss here. Thankyou!
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:10 PM   #5
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If you have been using it in the driveway for "a couple of weeks" not plugged in to grid power, you may have just run the battery down without thinking about it. Over time a nibble here and a nibble there makes a battery flat.

The small current draw is not too much, 10 mA you say, so 1/4 amp hour a day but it all adds up over time.

If you have been running a replacement refrigerator which takes 12 volt power, that would flatten your battery too. Water heater the same thing.

And, was the battery ever charged when installed? If it was new, they take a few charge/discharge cycles to charge fully. Often batteries are not really fully charged when you buy them new.

My best guess is that you just ran your new battery down by not having it plugged into the grid power and using lights which in your older AS are all incandescent, and take much more power than you may realize.
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:28 AM   #6
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idroba- there is no 12V fridge or water heater in the trailer. I have only just flicked a light on for a second or 2, a couple times a day; surely not near enough to draw the battery down to zero...There is nothing that I can think of that should draw any power at all, and I've never had this problem until this season.
So the spike of 70 mA each time I connect the ammeter to the disconnected Negative cable and Negative battery terminal is mystifying to me, whether or not that is the cause of my battery draw-down. Is that a normal mA spike?
As far as the initial new battery charge goes, I just brought it home from Walmart and installed it. At some point, I hooked up the solar panel to make sure it was fully charged, and afterwards the "battery" indicator on the instrument panel indicated "good", rather than just "fair" like it did before the solar charge. It was a week or so after this solar charge, with only the aforementioned occasional flicking on of a light in the meantime, that the light didn't come on due to a totally discharged battery.
Again- this has never happened before, and is not normal. I have a pretty major discharge problem somewhere.
Last night I plugged the rig in to shore power for the 1st time this season, and I manipulated the charge wizard to "boost" level. This morning (I woke up unusually early..) the wizard indicated "normal" charge level, which is what is supposed to happen, and the "battery" indicator on the panel again reads "good".. So the converter/charge wizard SEEMs to be working just fine.
So today, I guess I'll unplug the shore power and try the ammeter test again. Then I'll just visually check all wiring connections that are readily available, see if there is any obvious rodent-chewing, bare wire, etc. If there is nothing obviously wrong with the wiring, I'll crawl under the platform bed and do the fuse-pulling test with the ammeter hooked up, in an effort to narrow down which circuit the problem inhabits.....
The electrical function of this trailer has always worked perfectly since I did the initial remodeling of it 9 years ago, so this problem out of the blue is baffling!
Any ideas on the mA spike and the constant 10 mA draw immediately after??
Thanks!
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:35 AM   #7
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Do you have a radio, as in car sterile type? That has a slight draw even when off as well.
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:54 AM   #8
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Atomic- No radio. Keep the ideas coming- maybe someone will hit upon something I haven't thought of..
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Old 05-31-2014, 05:59 AM   #9
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The Charge Wizard indicator is a draw as is the Airstream Control Panel. Have you thought about plugging it in and letting the charger take care of things?
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:04 AM   #10
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Frank- is the Charge Wizard a draw even when the converter is not connected to shore power, and would it account for the mA spike I have mentioned when the Negative battery cable is DISconnected?
I don't think my control panel draws power unless I use one of the on/off rocker switches. Normally they are all off.
And again- this has never happened before this season...
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:17 AM   #11
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Kind of related.... I once had a parasitic draw in an old Land Rover. There was no electronic anything as the vehicle predated all that.
I replaced the generator, the regulator....still the draw.
I eventually tracked it down to a thin layer of mud covering the top if the battery. There was enough continuity between posts over a few weeks to drain the battery.
Now you have heard it all!
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:52 AM   #12
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electric makes the little light blink even when unplugged from shore power right? I also suspect some electric is being drawn by the voltmeter in your Airstream Control Panel. ( love saying airstream control panel).
If you want zero draw, disconnect the battery.
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Old 05-31-2014, 06:55 AM   #13
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Atomic- yes, now I've heard everything!
Frank- you must have edited your last post...Yes- I plugged the rig in last night, but I have NEVER had to do that before to keep the battery reasonably charged when no 12V power is being used in the trailer. If a battery can sit in my garage for weeks or months with no discharge problem, why can't it sit in my trailer- connected to the cables but unused for power- with no discharge problem, like it used to? I have a problem and I'd like to find the source of it, not just plug the rig in to keep the battery constantly charging. I've been boondocked before in cloudy weather, with no solar panel usage, and I could use the lights and water pump (in a minimalist fashion) for many days and still not end up with anything near a dead battery. So for it to go dead in my driveway, with NO real usage, in a matter of a week or 2 is indicative of something amiss. I appreciate your help here- any other ideas?
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Old 05-31-2014, 07:04 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 62overlander View Post
electric makes the little light blink even when unplugged from shore power right? I also suspect some electric is being drawn by the voltmeter in your Airstream Control Panel. ( love saying airstream control panel).
If you want zero draw, disconnect the battery.
Again- I have never had this problem before, in 9 years. If it's true that new batteries have to be kind of "broken in", as someone here suggested, then perhaps when that happens my problem will go away. And it's possible that I have had a milli-amp draw all along, for 9 years, but no significant discharge because the battery was functioning better. And since I never before had a problem, I never before tested it with the ammeter.
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