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Old 01-13-2018, 10:23 AM   #1
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Question Newbie question about electrical

We have a 2018 International Serenity 23CB.
We have made several trips as “shakedown cruises” but have yet to plug into 120v 30 amp shore power.
We have a 200volt solar system installed. I profess no great skill as an electrician.
The trailer is parked in my driveway, hooked up to standard 120v, 15 amp service. It’s been plugged in all night with everything turned off, and this morning the battery voltage shows 11.4. Shouldn't It be well over 12...something like 12.6? I seem to recall the first time I had it plugged in on this circuit the voltage showed 13-something.

Dealer had the trailer last week and claims to have tested system, but in reading their write-up it shows they only tested with 30amp hooked up.

Finally, is it normal for the ac outlets labeled GFI to be dead unless the trailer is hooked up to 30amp service?

Thanks for your expertise.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:41 AM   #2
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Newbie question about electrical

Let’s start with the batteries: Assuming you have standard deep cycle wet cell batteries, you should probably first check the fluid levels in each battery cell. This process isn’t dangerous in and of itself, but you should understand that the liquid in your batteries is a strong acid. Don’t get none on ya! If any plates are showing, then some damage has been done by exposing those plates to the air. If not, then that is not the issue. In either case, carefully top off each cell with distilled water as needed to be sure they are all equally full - but do not overfill. Close up the batteries and wait 24 hours while charging them. Check again next day to see how the voltage looks. If still questionable, you will want to check each cell with a “battery tester.” These gadgets can be had at any auto store, and consist of a bulb on the end of a gauge with a little nozzle you put into the battery to suck up a little of the liquid. Check each cell in turn to see whether any of the battery cells are weak relative to the other cells. If you see this in either or both batteries, you will need to replace them both, hopefully under warranty. (Always replace both batteries, even if only one of them is bad.) Start with your dealer because it is quite common for dealers to kill batteries in the trailers on their lot through neglect.
Now, on to your solar system: Assuming your trailer is stored under the open sky and is not buried under snow, 200 watts of solar panels (not 200 volts) should be more than enough to keep your batteries charged while the trailer is in storage. If that is not happening, you need to ask your dealer to take a hard look at your solar installation, in addition to the battery question above.
Now on to the 30amp service question: If you plug your trailer into 15 amp service via a “dog bone” adapter, every AC outlet in your trailer should be “hot” - unless a circuit breaker has been thrown into the “off” position. There is no magic difference between 15 and 30 amp power, except that the higher amperage enables you to run your heat pump and maybe the electric side of your water heater. If you are connected to shore power and an outlet isn’t hot, something may be awry. One other issue with trailers in older model years, which I suspect you do not have: If your trailer has an inverter and some outlets have a blue sticker on them that says “inverter only” (or something like that), then those outlets will only work when you turn on the inverter. In the 2018 model year, however, I believe all outlets are hot as long as you are plugged into shore power, so that may not apply to you.
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Old 01-13-2018, 10:58 AM   #3
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Well... the FIRST thing to check is whether or not your battery "master" switch is in ON/USE mode...or OFF. Unless the battery switch is in ON/USE position...the batteries are disconnected and will not recharge or maintain charge when plugged into your 120 volt service...and it makes no difference if that service is 15 amp or 30 amp.

SECOND thing to check re: "every AC outlet in your trailer should be “hot” - unless a circuit breaker has been thrown into the “off” position.." is to check your Ground Fault Interupt Circuit Breaker (GFCI) in your main electrical/converter box. All the 120 volt outlets in the trailer get power thru that GFCI and if it's "tripped" they'll be dead... but that has nothing to do with your battery charge-level.

I store my trailer plugged into my residential 120 volts all year round with the battery switch ON/USE.... and have never found any water level problems or charge level problems with my ordinary wet-cell battery. If your trailer is of recent mfr you will likely be able to ignore all the warnings issued by owners of older trailers with older converters. Keep the battery serviced with distilled water and keep it switched ON/USE and keep the trailer plugged in at home. My 2-cents.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:02 AM   #4
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Good stuff, Boxite, thanks.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:44 AM   #5
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[QUOTE=Boxite;2055177]Well... the FIRST thing to check is whether or not your battery "master" switch is in ON/USE mode...or OFF. Unless the battery switch is in ON/USE position...the batteries are disconnected and will not recharge or maintain charge when plugged into your 120 volt service...and it makes no difference if that service is 15 amp or 30 amp.

Where is that switch?
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:55 AM   #6
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[QUOTE=DRBusse;2055193]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxite View Post
Well... the FIRST thing to check is whether or not your battery "master" switch is in ON/USE mode...or OFF. Unless the battery switch is in ON/USE position...the batteries are disconnected and will not recharge or maintain charge when plugged into your 120 volt service...and it makes no difference if that service is 15 amp or 30 amp.

Where is that switch?
I'm sorry....I do not have a 2018 23' International so I cannot tell you. It seems like it might be a good time to read your Owners Manual. (I admit that I glanced thru the manual and it's not apparent where to find the damn switch!) Section 5-8 claims to tell about it...but I didn't see any description of where.
https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...ers-Manual.pdf

Section 8 has the electrical schematic but it has no legend so the devices are not easily identified and their location is unclear.

Maybe some other Int'l owner might chime in....or call your dealer.

Another thing I notice reading that OM.... they describe the unit that's equipped with solar will have an AGM type battery system... but they instruct the owner to frequently check battery water levels. The only AGM batteries I've ever seen are not serviceable with regard to water/electrolyte. Airstream Manuals seem to often be written in a previous decade and have not kept up with modern installed equipment. Again... call your dealer. Sorry not to be able to help more.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:57 AM   #7
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Unless there's a secret switch I don't know about--the master switch just inside the door may be in the off position but will not preclude battery charging via solar or shore hookup--according to the manual(s). I have thus turned the master switch inside the door to "on" position and will check battery status through the day.

I have probably read owner's manual 30 times. Perhaps I am missing something here? And it still doesn't account for the dead GFI-protected outlets.

Going back to the dealer on Tuesday and have asked that the service writer have a technician standing by so I can explain the problem directly.
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Old 01-13-2018, 12:01 PM   #8
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SECOND thing to check re: "every AC outlet in your trailer should be “hot” - unless a circuit breaker has been thrown into the “off” position.." is to check your Ground Fault Interupt Circuit Breaker (GFCI) in your main electrical/converter box. All the 120 volt outlets in the trailer get power thru that GFCI and if it's "tripped" they'll be dead... but that has nothing to do with your battery charge-level.

Only the GFI-marked outlets are dead. The ones marked "inverter" work fine.
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRBusse View Post
Only the GFI-marked outlets are dead. The ones marked "inverter" work fine.
Then you have a GFCI breaker somewhere that has blown. It could be in the breaker box, or it could be that a GFCI outlet somewhere in the trailer has popped (same as in a house).
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Old 01-13-2018, 01:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocinante View Post
Then you have a GFCI breaker somewhere that has blown. It could be in the breaker box, or it could be that a GFCI outlet somewhere in the trailer has popped (same as in a house).
Not sure which dealer your using in CA? All good advice above. If your still having issues with your batteries, many of us have also just taken them directly to Interstate if that's easier than to AS dealer...Interstate typically will check and replace for free, if there is an issue with the battery. Several threads here on replacing with same batteries, or perhaps asking about a "credit" to purchase either AGM types, or 6V Golf Cart batteries...the newer AS's have bigger battery box's to support these larger batteries if you go that rout, but you should discuss options and measure your box to be sure. Lots of battery fun here! Good luck!
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:30 PM   #11
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The mystery deepens...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocinante View Post
Then you have a GFCI breaker somewhere that has blown. It could be in the breaker box, or it could be that a GFCI outlet somewhere in the trailer has popped (same as in a house).
The breaker blew a couple weeks ago and would not reset. Took the unit to airstream LA and they hooked up to 30amp 120v and said breaker reset Fine. Breaker looks good now and gfi button there appears OK. There are no GFI buttons on the outlets per household practice. I’m going to video all of this, take back to dealer and plug in to 15amp 120v circuit as it was at home and with technician present—not service writer—demonstrate the problem.

I spent 40 years in broadcasting and much of it was in high-tech remote satellite and microwave uplink trucks...electrical gremlins like this were part of the “new truck” routine. One day we had a ground problem that was screwing up the picture on a network remote. As a last resort one guy attached a jumper cable from bumper to street sign and the problem disappeared with seconds to go...
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Old 01-13-2018, 02:57 PM   #12
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Hey, great story! Here’s a whacky idea - is it possible the ground is bad on your 15amp outlet, or the 15amp cord you’re using? Maybe try a different outlet or cord or some combination thereof.
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Old 01-13-2018, 03:36 PM   #13
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Plug in, make sure you have 12 volt lights in trailer working. That means the convertor is probably working.

Grab a multimeter and verify that you are getting about 13.6 volts at the battery terminals. This is the nominal charging voltage from the stock converter.

If not, hit the use/store switch to “use”. If you don’t get 13+ volts at the battery then, something is seriously wrong with the use/store relay, it’s wiring, or the switch itself.

When you hit the use/store switch in either direction, you should hear a fairly obvious “clunk” as the relay matches or unlatches. If all you get is silence, there is an issue. There is a fuse to protect the switch circuit. Also, the red light by the use/store panel ONLY tells you that there is 12 volt power for your 12 volt circuits. It does not, and cannot tell if this power is from the convertor on shore power or the batteries are actually turned on.
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Old 01-13-2018, 11:18 PM   #14
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Success!

Found the problem! From my truck trouble shooting days...a short in the charging cable...the brand new one that came with the truck! It’s all making sense now! Thanks for all the replies—and rest assured I tried everything suggested!
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