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Old 05-20-2018, 12:52 PM   #1
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Venice , Florida
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How to keep the house batteries charged

I just replaced the two house batteries on my 2016 Interstate GT EXT. The original ones went bad. It is a preowned unit that had only 5,500 miles on it.
Do I need to keep the shore power connected when not in use?
Do I need to keep the main battery switch on when connected to shore power?
The top of my unit looks like something was removed on the roof at the backend.
there is one small solar panel on the front top. I am wondering if the last owner broke one panel and just removed it and the is the reason I am having problems with keeping it charged. Could just be another problem.
This is my first RV so I have a lot to learn.
I am beginning to think I made the wrong choice with an Airstream for boon docking. I might have been better with an e-trek from Roadtrek!
Thanks for any help.
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Old 05-20-2018, 01:02 PM   #2
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Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Power management on an RV when off grid is complicated. There are *lots* of threads here that dig into various aspects of what you need to do. First step in your case sounds like it should be to work out what you actually have. A single panel is not putting out much power at all. If even that is non-functional for some reason ...you are even worse off. If you are going to depend on solar ( and are very careful how you do this or that) four panels is probably the minimum setup.

Storage wise, there are systems on the RV that stay powered up all the time. They pull down the battery. In some cases that happens in less than a week. If you don't provide some sort of charging power, the batteries die pretty fast. Again, you need to figure out what the previous owner did to you ....

Bob
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Old 05-20-2018, 01:07 PM   #3
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Your house batteries should survive storage fine if they are fully charged and you add a disconnect switch near the batteries that disconnects ALL loads when in storage.
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Old 05-20-2018, 01:38 PM   #4
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Yes newer car and trailers have items that run in the background all the time and they will kill batteries of a unit left for several weeks. You can disconnect the house batteries when in storage or install a trickle charger. I say a separate charger because the units that come with new equipment are junk battery charger that will do more harm than good if used for long periods. They will boil the water out of a battery if there is no measurable load on them.

I have a trickle charge on my TV as it can sit for weeks between trips and the batteries will go dead in less than 2 weeks because of all the things running in background. I have added a few beyond the factory stuff.


My trailer is old enough not to have this useless stuff and I have installed a Progressive 9000 charger that allows me to remain connected to shore power for months if necessary.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:22 AM   #5
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Hi

Sorry, but I get really tired of this "boil the batteries" nonsense. We pass the story around here a lot and it's simply not true.

You boil a battery by putting to much voltage on it. That is the *one* thing that the stock chargers do not ever do. They *do* have a number of drawbacks, but that's not one of them.

Bob
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:15 AM   #6
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After owning my AI for four years now, I think I've figured out the whole house battery situation. And I don't like it. It's been too easy for me to forget something when periodically parking for several weeks in my heated garage, only to find out the batteries are at 2 volts again. I'll spare you the details how and why that can happen (unless you really want to know), but I made the decision to 1) completely disconnect the house batteries with a switch in the back, and 2) put a placard on dashboard that says "Disconnect house batteries and plug-in battery tender when parked". as a consequence, the batteries never get below 12.65v while the rig is in storage.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:35 PM   #7
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Wow... I am going through the same thing right now... which to get.. what to improve on and what works and not. Off the grid you need BIG batteries.. as you will need to figure about 75 to 100 amps of current per 24 hours...

Solar works but its location location location.. so we also use back up gen set.. which then brings us to another problem.

Most of the A/S converters are set up for GLAMPING. If you go on the gen set its going to take 6-10 hours to get the bats back up into shape for the following night... The old Univolt system isn't what it should be these days.. So we started looking for better newer higher tech converters that are state of the art so to speak.

We found one that we are going to try out... matter of fact the manufacture has asked that we give them feedback on how it does work. We have a couple of parameters that we want to achieve... one being that we can use the ham/cb radio on the electrical system without having to obtain a seperate power supply for the trailer and the radios...

It has long since been known that the newer environmental effecency regs have taken us over to the switching type power supply.. they actually are really more adaptable to the RV and its wavering shore power voltage... and do a better job of not only charging but maintaining the Bats... Not only do they help keep them in good shape but they also can recover them faster... saving gen run'n time... and then automatically switch to a maintenance charge that extends their life. The final ice'n on the cake is that they also de-sulfnate the battery... automatically as well...

So when hooked up to shore power.. or on the gen set.. it will be quicker, better and maintain the battery's with less maintenance on the owners part.

I plan to put my findings on conversion and updates on how its working out on the blog... so that way we all can find information from my project.

Indeed your asking the right questions.. that seems to be a deep dark hole when it comes to information about which is best and what works and doesn't. A lot of old timers just went with what A/S put in .. and never questioned it.. just went out and bought more battery's when they went turtle. Today that gets expensive and we all would like to get the most from our bux out of the electrical system.

I don't think in the past that A/S did any real engineering on the system... and from all accounts the new one sure don't seem to be much better... as from what we hear the new converters are being made in china... oh joy... and are just as bad as the old boat anchor converters of years ago... least they kept going on and on and on... but, at what cost to the battery ?

Stay in touch.. this is a on going topic... of interest..
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Old 05-21-2018, 05:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GM Airstream View Post
Wow... I am going through the same thing right now... which to get.. what to improve on and what works and not. Off the grid you need BIG batteries.. as you will need to figure about 75 to 100 amps of current per 24 hours...

Solar works but its location location location.. so we also use back up gen set.. which then brings us to another problem.

Most of the A/S converters are set up for GLAMPING. If you go on the gen set its going to take 6-10 hours to get the bats back up into shape for the following night... The old Univolt system isn't what it should be these days.. So we started looking for better newer higher tech converters that are state of the art so to speak.

We found one that we are going to try out... matter of fact the manufacture has asked that we give them feedback on how it does work. We have a couple of parameters that we want to achieve... one being that we can use the ham/cb radio on the electrical system without having to obtain a seperate power supply for the trailer and the radios...

It has long since been known that the newer environmental effecency regs have taken us over to the switching type power supply.. they actually are really more adaptable to the RV and its wavering shore power voltage... and do a better job of not only charging but maintaining the Bats... Not only do they help keep them in good shape but they also can recover them faster... saving gen run'n time... and then automatically switch to a maintenance charge that extends their life. The final ice'n on the cake is that they also de-sulfnate the battery... automatically as well...

So when hooked up to shore power.. or on the gen set.. it will be quicker, better and maintain the battery's with less maintenance on the owners part.

I plan to put my findings on conversion and updates on how its working out on the blog... so that way we all can find information from my project.

Indeed your asking the right questions.. that seems to be a deep dark hole when it comes to information about which is best and what works and doesn't. A lot of old timers just went with what A/S put in .. and never questioned it.. just went out and bought more battery's when they went turtle. Today that gets expensive and we all would like to get the most from our bux out of the electrical system.

I don't think in the past that A/S did any real engineering on the system... and from all accounts the new one sure don't seem to be much better... as from what we hear the new converters are being made in china... oh joy... and are just as bad as the old boat anchor converters of years ago... least they kept going on and on and on... but, at what cost to the battery ?

Stay in touch.. this is a on going topic... of interest..
I am forever puzzled reading all this stock battery/charger/converter drama.
We are on our third AS, 2012,2013 and now 2017. All three were always plugged in to shore power 24/7 with the switch on mode except when boon-docking for 2 or three days or being towed. Never had any battery or charger problems matter of fact I sold the previous 2 with the original batteries going strong. All I ever do is monitor the water levels and keep them clean.
Since doing nothing with my batteries and chargers has worked so well for me I will continue the same way.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:24 PM   #9
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So uncle-Bob, my one battery in my new trailer was boiling and "very warm to almost hot" to the touch and smelled of rotten eggs. If the charger didn't cook the batteries with too much voltage, then how did it end up this way?
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Old 05-21-2018, 10:35 PM   #10
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2017 30' International
Lincolnwood , Illinois
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cooking batteries

I just cooked my 2 batteries the winter.
Had it on charge all winter. Suppose to trickle charge automatically
when almost full charge is attained. Not sure that ever happened.
Wife kept complaining of a sewer smell, rotten eggs. I have a terrible sense of smell. But, sure enough, come April water in batteries almost gone and what remained I could see it boiling/bubbling ? Filled with distilled water but would no longer hold a charge. Next winter will put on charge but will remove charger
when batteries are fully charged. Will monitor with voltmeter and reconnect as necessary. Too expensive to replace 2 batteries yearly.
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Old 05-22-2018, 07:45 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Sammy99 View Post
So uncle-Bob, my one battery in my new trailer was boiling and "very warm to almost hot" to the touch and smelled of rotten eggs. If the charger didn't cook the batteries with too much voltage, then how did it end up this way?
Hi

Very simple: You have a shorted cell in the battery. Once the cell shorts, the rest of the process happens regardless of the charger you happen to have. The shorted cell is a battery defect or a worn out battery. We run batteries hard using them in a TT. They do indeed die in this sort of usage. They don't die all the time, but there is a percentage of them that do.

Can you do stuff that "encourages" the batteries to die? You most certainly can. Running them down to 2V is one really good way (yes, I know how to do that, I don't have to ask ...). Even getting them down to 12V when it's cold out is a pretty good way to damage them.

What we get used to are batteries in cars. A car battery lives a life of luxury compared to a TT battery. It's charge profile is trash compared to a TT, but otherwise it has it easy. It gets very little discharge ( vs capacity ) and zero time spent in a low charge state.

Bob
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Old 05-22-2018, 01:16 PM   #12
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1973 31' Sovereign
1978 Argosy 30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Very simple: You have a shorted cell in the battery. Once the cell shorts, the rest of the process happens regardless of the charger you happen to have. The shorted cell is a battery defect or a worn out battery. We run batteries hard using them in a TT. They do indeed die in this sort of usage. They don't die all the time, but there is a percentage of them that do.

Can you do stuff that "encourages" the batteries to die? You most certainly can. Running them down to 2V is one really good way (yes, I know how to do that, I don't have to ask ...). Even getting them down to 12V when it's cold out is a pretty good way to damage them.

Bob
Ah ya... sounds to me like your picking on the battery instead of the device that is SUPPOSED to support it... Uncle Bob...

What we are concentrate'n on here is the Converter... and the ones that A/S puts in their new trailers are JUNK... to say the least... some do work.. Most don't. That is why we started looking for something else that is better (after all A/S are supposed to be the best... arn't they... )

So aftermarket is where one looks today for ANY parts for A/S or others... as it seems most aftermarket sellers went thought the same issues and came up with the solution to the problem.

One thing I would like to ask you to do... go in and turn everything on all at once or do a max electrical load sheet like we published before in a different blog... and find out exactly how much 12 volt juice your really asking the converter to put out in current. You will be surprised at how feeble the converter is for the load.. and how you can actually be drawing from the bats even while plugged into shore power (120v)

A lot of owners never take the time to actually check their trailers out.. thinking that the manufacture already did... well they haven't... and most are sized for about half of what you CAN use at full load...

Why.. its all about the money...

So once we have the facts.. then we can start to retrofit so that we can get max life out of the bats .. that are not enviromentally frendly.. according to the environazi's today... and drive the price up... costing US more... etc...

Oh and don't even get started on lithum bats... They claim that they are the battery of the future... well maybe for cars/trucks.. but they have their share of problems in the RV also... beside's being expensive... Not quite their yet...

So don't shoot the battery for being bad... its the device that is supposed to maintain it... that is the weak link in the chain...
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Old 05-22-2018, 10:38 PM   #13
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2011 22' Sport
Portland , Oregon
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How to keep the house batteries charged

Donít almost all Airstreams come with a 55amp converter? What DC accessories are you running to add up to 55amps? The inverter? It would make less than no sense to run an inverter when a converter is powered. Maybe Iím missing something here.

Your rant and reference to ďenvironazisĒ will surely encourage active participation in your threads. Terrified of technology IMPROVEMENTS. Just because you donít understand Lithium battery technology doesnít mean it isnít viable for those that do. I suppose LED lighting is witchcraft and will make you impotent too.

Of course if you are trying to compare a 30 year old Airstream to anything _modern_ within the RV world, then there is your failure. Technology has changed, and Iím sorry Airstream didnít have for ability to transport all of todayís capabilities back in time to when your vintage trailer was built.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:08 AM   #14
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2017 30' Classic
Anna Maria , Florida
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GM Airstream View Post
Ah ya... sounds to me like your picking on the battery instead of the device that is SUPPOSED to support it... Uncle Bob...

What we are concentrate'n on here is the Converter... and the ones that A/S puts in their new trailers are JUNK... to say the least... some do work.. Most don't. That is why we started looking for something else that is better (after all A/S are supposed to be the best... arn't they... )

So aftermarket is where one looks today for ANY parts for A/S or others... as it seems most aftermarket sellers went thought the same issues and came up with the solution to the problem.

One thing I would like to ask you to do... go in and turn everything on all at once or do a max electrical load sheet like we published before in a different blog... and find out exactly how much 12 volt juice your really asking the converter to put out in current. You will be surprised at how feeble the converter is for the load.. and how you can actually be drawing from the bats even while plugged into shore power (120v)

A lot of owners never take the time to actually check their trailers out.. thinking that the manufacture already did... well they haven't... and most are sized for about half of what you CAN use at full load...

Why.. its all about the money...

So once we have the facts.. then we can start to retrofit so that we can get max life out of the bats .. that are not enviromentally frendly.. according to the environazi's today... and drive the price up... costing US more... etc...

Oh and don't even get started on lithum bats... They claim that they are the battery of the future... well maybe for cars/trucks.. but they have their share of problems in the RV also... beside's being expensive... Not quite their yet...

So don't shoot the battery for being bad... its the device that is supposed to maintain it... that is the weak link in the chain...
Do you have a list of the better Converter /Chargers that are an easy swap out for the stock Parallax the AS comes with ? Considering the heavy use these converters are subjected to the cost of upgrading is well worth it.
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