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Old 07-04-2009, 01:34 AM   #1
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Question re: battery charging

Hi all,

This is my first post to the forum. I am a new Airstream owner and my husband and I have been traveling for a month now. In the last few days we noticed that our battery has not been charging while we are in tow. Any thoughts why this could be happening? We boondocked for the last few days and had a couple of times where the battery would get a bit too low. (we have solar power so it would recharge some during the day). Could the battery getting too low affect the charging when connected to the tow vehicle?

Forgive me if this is a dumb question. We just couldn't figure out why suddenly it wasn't charging.

Thanks and have a great 4th of July!
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Old 07-04-2009, 05:09 AM   #2
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Some troubleshooting is needed here. Use a voltmeter to see if DC voltage is passing from your truck to the trailer. Also check to see if your solar charge controller is sending DC voltage to your battery. It's possible that your battery was run down too much and damaged. Check to see if any in-line fuses are blown.
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Old 07-04-2009, 05:32 AM   #3
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Welcome to the Forum. It's not a dumb question at all. If it were, we'd all be dumb because this is a place to ask questions.

Do you have a battery tester? If the trailer has been sitting on a dealer lot for a year, the batteries could have been run down many times and recharged sporadically. It wouldn't be the first time a new trailer came from a dealer with bad batteries. If you can show they didn't last very long, make a warranty claim. Letting them go dead a lot of times can shorten battery life.

Check the water in the batteries too. That could be too low—it should cover the plates.

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Old 07-04-2009, 06:43 AM   #4
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Another thought

Lani-

Good advice from both Bob and Gene. If you're doing a lot of boondocking and Chris relies on power to do his work, you may want to consider a good battery monitor.

A number of people on the forum use the TriMetric Battery Monitor. The link below is to a site run by a forum member. If your power is flowing properly from the truck and solar panels, it may be due to higher than expected power usage resulting in more need for charge. This unit will help diagnose problems like that. It will also help you understand loads and how fast you're depleting your battery.

John

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Old 07-04-2009, 06:46 AM   #5
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If it's charging at all times except when in tow, it sounds like either a fuse or loose connection. Check your wiring diagram to see if there is an in-line fuse and to see where this wire terminates. Hook up your vehicle and see if you have 12v where it terminates. It should be easy to troubleshoot at that point.
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Old 07-04-2009, 07:17 AM   #6
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charging your trailer battery from the tow vehicle is not as good as you might think it is. the alternator regulator will read the combined voltage of both batteries and charge them based on that voltage. since the vehicle battery is at (usually) full charge, the trailer battery won't charge much. i've read that it can take more than 10 hours of driving to somewhat charge the trailer battery.

as already mentioned, make sure you're starting out with a healthy battery.

happy trails!
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Old 07-04-2009, 08:03 AM   #7
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What is your tow vehicle? Most of the Ford vehicles I have owned required a relay in the box under the hood for the 12v feed to be activated. Also as pointed out you won't get a massive amount of charging off the tow line. There is a book called something like 12 volt Basics for RV's get a copy it will pay for itself quickly. DC electrics are fairly simple to trouble shoot, but sometimes will all but drive you around the bend trying to find the problem.

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Old 07-04-2009, 01:24 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for the great suggestions. Very helpful...as usual!
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:09 PM   #9
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I'd check out Wahoonc's post

With Ford's trailer towing package they include a couple of extra things...an adapter that converts the 7 pin receptacle to a 4 pin adapter AND a relay that you have to install in the fuse box under the hood. That energizes the battery charging circuit for the trailer. I bet this is your problem. Sorry for jumping into this thread a little late.

Randy
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:41 PM   #10
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FWIW..It takes a lot of driving for the TV alternator to charge your coaches deep cycle batteries, especially if below 60%, not really designed for that.

BTW...our AS was one of the ones that had the batteries damaged from overcharging, (low electrolyte), on the dealers lot.:sad

Interstate did replace them, pro rated, under warranty.
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richinny View Post
charging your trailer battery from the tow vehicle is not as good as you might think it is. the alternator regulator will read the combined voltage of both batteries and charge them based on that voltage. since the vehicle battery is at (usually) full charge, the trailer battery won't charge much.
But if you turn on the TV's headlights, won't that fool the TV's system into thinking it needs to charge?
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:02 PM   #12
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I'm trying to picture some guy driving down the road with his headlights on bright (daytime), flashers on, wipers on high (no rain), radio blasting, leaning on the horn and rolling the electric windows up and down.

"No officer I haven't been drinking, I trying to charge the battery in my Airstream!"
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