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Old 04-10-2013, 02:41 PM   #1
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1986 31' Sovereign
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Newbie battery / Univolt questions

I am not exactly a new owner as I have owned my 86 Sovereign 31 footer for about five years. The last four years she has been parked on a lake lot hooked up to shore power, during which time I largely ignored my Univolt and battery. Last week I towed her back home where I have to use an extension cord to connect to Power,which I'm fairly sure is not a smart thing to do. I looked at my battery and it appeared to be bone dry. Since it is at least 6 or 7 years old anyway I am going to buy another battery. As far as the Univolt I have no idea if it still works or not. Instead of trying to use an extension cord to connect to power I am going to connect to a generator (Honda eu2000). I know I am rambling and not making a lot of sense but if anyone can advise me on some do's and dont's based on the above info I would great appreciate.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:01 PM   #2
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Unless you like buying batteries, upgrade the Univolt with a 3 stage converter charger at the time you replace the batteries. Single stage Univolts and later Paralaxes are battery killers because they keep dumping in the juice when the battery is fully charged.
Bestconverter.com has a drop in kit. It took me a few hours but I did the work myself. If you can't decide what you need online, call technical support. They are responsive and helpful.
Once you upgrade, you can use an extension cord or your Honda generator to keep your batteries charged. Unless you are running electric heat or a big amp drawer, your current draw will not overload an extension cord.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:19 PM   #3
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Additionally, if you plan to take the trailer back to the lake and leave it there plugged in, you don't even need a battery. And, if the trailer has 12 volt power when plugged in, even with a totally dead battery, your converter is working and good enough for stationary use at the lake.

Welcome to the forum.
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:33 PM   #4
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1986 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for the responses handn and SteveH. Do Ihave to worry about the Univolt continuing to dump juice into the battery even if the Airstream is not connected to shore power or a generator?
One other thing about batteries, I keep reading about two, and even three, batteries being used. My Airstream has a small battery compartment barely big enough for one Group 27 battery. Multi battery capability something available only on the newer models?
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Old 04-10-2013, 04:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creekcamper View Post
Thanks for the responses handn and SteveH. Do Ihave to worry about the Univolt continuing to dump juice into the battery even if the Airstream is not connected to shore power or a generator?
One other thing about batteries, I keep reading about two, and even three, batteries being used. My Airstream has a small battery compartment barely big enough for one Group 27 battery. Multi battery capability something available only on the newer models?
No, you don't have to worry about the converter when it's not plugged into 120 VAC. It's basically a power supply with a 14 VDC output.

Most all of the newer Airstreams are setup for 2 12 Volt batteries, and then users convert for all sorts of things to get more reserve power, like 3 12VDC batteries, or two 6 VDC batteries in series.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:04 PM   #6
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My brothers 1986 31' airstream has 2 batteries. If you are only going to use the trailer while plugged in you are better off with 1 battery. Since it only costs half as much and sometimes when you have 2 or more batteries hooked together when 1 dies it kills the rest.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:02 PM   #7
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Is anyone familiar with an On/Off knob located behind the living room sofa on the floor. I'm fairly sure it has to do with the Univolt since it is located near it.
Update:
I just installed the new battery and turned the above described knob to the On position and the 12v lights worked, and when I turned the knob to the Off position the lights would not operate. Is this knob simply an on/off switch for the battery?
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creekcamper View Post
Is anyone familiar with an On/Off knob located behind the living room sofa on the floor. I'm fairly sure it has to do with the Univolt since it is located near it.
Update:
I just installed the new battery and turned the above described knob to the On position and the 12v lights worked, and when I turned the knob to the Off position the lights would not operate. Is this knob simply an on/off switch for the battery?
Yes. Turn it off when in storage as not to drain the battery.
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:14 AM   #9
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handn (or anyone else who has info)... You indicated that the older Univolts burn up batteries by continuing to dump juice into the battery. That seems to be the prevailing thought on these forums, and I am not questioning the truth of it, but my first question about that is, apparently the Airstream folks thought it was doing a good job for all those decades, so why has it become the devil in recent years? Were there ways that people avoided the problem of too much juice?

Also, I earlier mentioned a knob behind my sofa that is apparently an on/off switch for my battery. Even with the switch turned off, can my battery still drain down thru what some refer to as phantom draining. If so, I guess a battery tender is the way to go?
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Old 04-11-2013, 10:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creekcamper View Post
handn (or anyone else who has info)... You indicated that the older Univolts burn up batteries by continuing to dump juice into the battery. That seems to be the prevailing thought on these forums, and I am not questioning the truth of it, but my first question about that is, apparently the Airstream folks thought it was doing a good job for all those decades, so why has it become the devil in recent years? Were there ways that people avoided the problem of too much juice?

Also, I earlier mentioned a knob behind my sofa that is apparently an on/off switch for my battery. Even with the switch turned off, can my battery still drain down thru what some refer to as phantom draining. If so, I guess a battery tender is the way to go?
Airstream like too many other manufacturers install what is least expensive. And, it has caused batteries to fail prematurely for a long time.

Don't know about your particular trailer, but ours was wired so when the disconnect switch was off, the converter was still connected to the batteries, but the load, or everything else in the trailer was disconnected. IMHO, this is bad because you cannot disconnect the batteries from the converter, and cannot power the load from only the converter.

When I recently changed our converter to a three stage, I changed the wiring so that the disconnect switch actually only disconnects the batteries.
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