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Old 07-03-2014, 08:37 AM   #1
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Question re battery level while dry camping

New owners. We recently spent 9 nights dry camping at a Vermont State Park with our 3 Small grandkids. Prior to this trip we had only camped with hookups for three weeks back in May. Water management went well as we used the park showers and restrooms. However, we had problems managing the battery level using our 1K Honda twice per day during gen hours. Each time we were only able to recharge them to 12.5 or less. We used power sparingly - only fridge and a quick flick of lights to find their pajamas. No radio, tv, chargers, fans etc. each morning the level was down to 12.0. Is this normal? Solar in our future but right now we would like to dry camp for 3 or 4 nights and the gen doesn't seem to give us enough of a charge to enable us to use anything without sending the levels below 50 percent. Advice? Incidentally, had a blast and the kids did too!
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:46 AM   #2
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Based on what you state, doesn't seem normal.
I assume two OEM Interstate batteries?
How long did unit sit on dealer's lot prior to purchase....or do you know history of storage?
Have batteries been run down to below 12.2V many times or been fully depleted?
Has water level been consistently maintained over life?
Original OEM single stage converter installed and been plugged into shore power continuously over life?

I suspect marginal batteries, as you can tell.
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:33 AM   #3
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are you charging the trailer with the trailer converter or a 12v output from the generator? the generators don't give you much in 12v output.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:57 AM   #4
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I also would suspect marginal batteries. Your refrigerator and water heater both take 12 volt power to operate so there is some drain even though you may not be aware of it.

As dzn mentions, the batteries could have been abused prior to your ownership, or run down and not recharged promptly. Batteries do not tolerate being left discharged or partly discharged very well, and lose the ability to be recharged fully.

You didn't say how long you ran the little Honda either. With a badly discharged set of batteries, even through the converter/charger in the trailer, it would take several hours of run time to bring them back.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:00 PM   #5
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When I purchased my new 23' Serenity from dealer, the unit was sitting on his lot for over 10 months, and on my request the dealer replaced the batteries with out any fuss. Your dealer should be able to replace your batteries after all he made substantial amount of commission on your unit.
I also bargained a 50 Watt solar, however, in your case it may be too late.
Good luck
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Old 07-03-2014, 09:49 PM   #6
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Thanks to all for responses. In checking with dealer we learned that batteries were replaced last Oct when unit was stored indoors for winter as originals were worn from people flipping on inverter while looking at it on lot (5 months). We did charge through convverter each day for 3 hours. After moving to hookups for 3 nights then driving home it now reads 12.9. We will try some driveway camping to use batteries and generator and will see what happens and report findings.
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Old 07-03-2014, 10:27 PM   #7
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I to have had issues with boondocking on batteries. I try to be very frugal with my 12 volt use and find that 2 days is about it. I took both my batteries to O'Reily Auto Parts and had them do a battery load test. They said both batteries were good. I also put both batteries on a de-sulphuring battery charger. Does anyone know if this procedure and test are reliable for determining the health of the battery?
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Old 07-04-2014, 12:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaywaltz View Post
Thanks to all for responses. In checking with dealer we learned that batteries were replaced last Oct when unit was stored indoors for winter as originals were worn from people flipping on inverter while looking at it on lot (5 months). We did charge through convverter each day for 3 hours. After moving to hookups for 3 nights then driving home it now reads 12.9. We will try some driveway camping to use batteries and generator and will see what happens and report findings.
The battery voltage will tell you the state of charge of the battery, but will not tell you the capacity of the battery overall. Imagine a little battery and a big battery, both new. The big one will have more capacity than the little one, but they will have the same voltage when fully charged.

Unfortunately, a big battery can become effectively a little battery in capacity by miss use and being stored undercharged. This can happen very quickly. The plates sulphate, and once sulfated essentially the capacity is permanently reduced. So even though the batteries in your trailer were replaced last fall, they still may have suffered greatly over the winter, if left undercharged, or discharged.

All of this is a guess, a possibility as it is not easy to test overall capacity of a battery. See how it (or they) preform in your driveway testing. See if they run down quickly, then recharge quickly. If they do, you may be replacing them again even if they are fairly new as they have little capacity, no matter what the voltage says.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:38 AM   #9
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Driveway test of battery life - after charging with plug we disconnected and battery showed 13. We only left power on to propane fridge - nothing else used (radio off) - only parasitic drains. After 12 hours dropped to 12.5, 24 hours to 12.3, 36 hours to 12.2. We reconnected to shore pwer at that point to avoiding dropping below 50 percent. Is this below expected battery life? Thx
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:09 AM   #10
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Yes, well below battery life expected. Your two type 24 batteries should have a capacity of 150 amp hours total, maybe 160 max. If all you had on was the refrigerator your load was well under an amp. In my 2014 the refrig takes only 0.32 amps when the flame is on. Yours should be similar, maybe a slightly bit higher, lets say half an amp. 0.5 amps x 36 hours = 18 amp hours of draw vs. the 150 amp hours of battery capacity. That would surely indicate a battery issue.

The only other thing I can think of is some unseen load like an inverter left on by accident, or a defective converter/charger which when shut off puts a reverse load on the system. Do you have an inverter? Is it off?

If there is any way for you to get a small test meter with an amp range on it, you could disconnect one of the battery terminals and with everything off that you know of, measure to see if there is any current flow, indicating an un identified load.

You should be in warrantee still, so maybe a trip to the dealer is also something to think about.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:54 PM   #11
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It sounds like your batteries might be getting weak. Nevertheless, I wonder what other loads might be "on" without your knowledge. If you have a propane, smoke, and/or CO detector they might be pulling some current too. Does the converter pull a few amps even when it isn't loaded? Maybe there is a light on in a storage area that you wouldn't normally see?

As idroba suggested an ammeter should help you quickly isolate the problem. If you don't have one, and are considering the purchase of one, you might look at a clamp-on unit to make the job easier, safer, and quicker.
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Old 07-07-2014, 12:59 PM   #12
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Unfortunately clamp on DC ammeters for the 12 volt side are fairly rare and costly and not that reliable. I have one and find it to be a PITA overall. AC clamp on meters are great though.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:20 PM   #13
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do you have a subwoofer? if so it is probably always in the 'on' position.
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Old 07-07-2014, 01:20 PM   #14
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Unless he has the cutoff switch off, there are a few more parasitic loads besides fridge. CO detector, radio head, thermostat, fridge fan????, some monitors?????

OP should shut off the 12V cutoff switch and repeat test. The only parasitic load then, assuming wired similarly to mine, would be the CO detector....and that could be eliminated by removing it's inline fuse. On mine, that is an orange wire and the fuse is in the rear of the electrical center.

Still seems like a premature rundown to me though.
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