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Old 09-13-2021, 07:00 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Pulaski , New York
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Electricity - 30 amp

Hi All,
Sorry for the seemingly ignorant question. New Airstream owner as of three weeks ago. I finally plugged in my power chord (30 amp), and ran all lights, radio, etc.

Here痴 my question: can I assume that because I知 plugged in, that power is drawn from the power chord and not the batteries? Or do I need to push/activate something in order for the plug to take care of my electrical needs?

This forum has been amazingly inviting and informative. Thank you in advance for your help. I知 looking forward to my first trip out in a few days!
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:07 PM   #2
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Forgot to add: it is a 1978 Sovereign International 31’
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:10 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Steelhead78 View Post
Hi All,
Sorry for the seemingly ignorant question. New Airstream owner as of three weeks ago. I finally plugged in my power chord (30 amp), and ran all lights, radio, etc.

Here痴 my question: can I assume that because I知 plugged in, that power is drawn from the power chord and not the batteries? Or do I need to push/activate something in order for the plug to take care of my electrical needs?

This forum has been amazingly inviting and informative. Thank you in advance for your help. I知 looking forward to my first trip out in a few days!
Once plugged in your converter powers all the 12 volt stuff but you may have to keep the battery switch "ON" in some units for some functions, however the converter also keeps the batteries charged so no worries there. And you have a power cord. This is a Power Chord
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:16 PM   #4
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Hi

Some things in your trailer always run on 12V. When you plug into "shore power" your converter / charger should fire up automatically. It will do fun things like run all the 12V gizmos *and* charge your batteries.

How do you know this magic is working?

Take a look at your battery voltage. Under normal use conditions it should be below 12.6V. You should stop using the battery at 12V. It *will* go lower if you don't stop . When the converter / charger is running the voltage should slowly climb up above 13V. How long this takes is a "that depends" sort of thing. It might take minutes if the battery is "near full". It could take several hours if it's pretty far down.

If indeed your trailer still has the original Univolt converter / charger, it's time for a replacement ....

Fun !!

Bob
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:21 PM   #5
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Great info, thank you! And sorry for the typo, I meant cord! Thanks Itsno60! (I should know this, since I’m a musician!)

May I ask another stupid question - where is the battery switch? Is there a special setting I should adhere to when the camper is not being used vs. plugged in and ready to camp?


On another note - I opened the Dometic fridge and freezer. The freezer smells perfectly clean. When I open the fridge, it smells oily somehow, or maybe just an old smell. I’ve heard (or read here) about the ammonia smell, but it doesn’t really smell like that, though it does smell chemically related.

Can I clean and use the fridge still? Or is it time for a new one?
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:23 PM   #6
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Thank you Bob!

The battery voltage has 4 settings on it (it’s original, I believe), unless I’m looking at the wrong thing?
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Steelhead78 View Post
Great info, thank you! And sorry for the typo, I meant cord! Thanks Itsno60! (I should know this, since I’m a musician!)

May I ask another stupid question - where is the battery switch? Is there a special setting I should adhere to when the camper is not being used vs. plugged in and ready to camp?


On another note - I opened the Dometic fridge and freezer. The freezer smells perfectly clean. When I open the fridge, it smells oily somehow, or maybe just an old smell. I’ve heard (or read here) about the ammonia smell, but it doesn’t really smell like that, though it does smell chemically related.

Can I clean and use the fridge still? Or is it time for a new one?
I don't know where the battery switch is on the old trailers but I do know that it is near the entry door on most newer ones. As for the fridge I would clean it and fire it up and see how it works, once cooled off it may smell better (residential fridges do, I learned that from a friend who sold used appliances). The quality of your old one is likely better than what you can buy new and the prices are crazy not to mention the supply shortages.

And yes the battery or batteries should be disconnected during storage by use of a switch if it exists or disconnecting negative cable if it does not exist. If plugged into shore power no worries except possible overcharging if plugged in for extended periods which is a whole nother subject.
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:30 PM   #8
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Hi

The converter charger is buried away "behind something". It's worth digging here and there to discover where various items are on your trailer. On older trailers stuff may not be where it was when the trailer left the factory.

If you don't have a battery voltage monitor that reads out in volts ( as in 12.2 or 12.21V , it's worth getting one or buying a multimeter.

Bob
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Old 09-13-2021, 07:45 PM   #9
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Those are not dumb questions.
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Old 09-13-2021, 08:03 PM   #10
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Thank you ITSNO60, I’ll do exactly that - clean our the fridge, run it, and go from there.

And thank you again for the battery switch info. I’ll do some looking right now, and I’ll invest in a voltage meter ASAP.
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Old 09-13-2021, 08:04 PM   #11
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Thanks Uncle Bob! I’ll make arrangements tomorrow to install a voltage monitor - this sounds imperative. Many thanks all, this is great. I’m learning…
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Old 09-13-2021, 08:05 PM   #12
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Thank you Saluda372 - I’m trying to soak up as much info here as possible. Everyone has been so welcoming.
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Old 09-14-2021, 09:12 AM   #13
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I have a plug in voltage meter in a wall outlet and a digital cigarette lighter type in one of the 12 volt outlets which let's me know battery voltage. Pretty simple rather than going with an elaborate monitor.
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Old 09-14-2021, 09:18 AM   #14
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Extremely helpful, thanks Davidz71 - I’m on my way to the RV shop now to look for an option.
Thank you All!
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Old 09-14-2021, 09:44 AM   #15
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Hi

The best way to check battery voltage is at the battery terminals. Yes that makes it a bit fun to wire up. Any monitor that hooks the the wiring in the trailer will be off due to loading on the 12V circuit. It can be higher if the charger is the main thing running. It can be lower if you are off grid and this and that are pulling current.

Independent of the monitor, grabbing a multimeter is probably a good idea.

Bob
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Old 09-14-2021, 09:46 AM   #16
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1981 31' Excella Limited
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Battery switch question

Could someone please send a picture of the battery switch on an Airstream? Our 1981 has an illuminated slide switch near the door with two positions. Neither seems to do anything. I've sent pix previously of this switch, but never received a response. I'm trying to include a picture of this switch, but not sure how.
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Old 09-14-2021, 10:11 AM   #17
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Im in the same boat as you. New owner going on 2 weeks. I plugged into my garage using both adapters since I'm wired for 50amp. And Colonial Airstream said there's nothing button to push. Just plugged it in and enjoy. That seems to be the case.
I did check the battery monitor, and plugged in to a regular house outlet showed my batter as something like 13.5. Since this is higher that what a fully charged battery would read, this tells me that it's bypassing the batteries for power, but is charging them at the same time. I may be wrong. Maybe others will chime in.
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Old 09-14-2021, 11:07 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by capbli View Post
Could someone please send a picture of the battery switch on an Airstream? Our 1981 has an illuminated slide switch near the door with two positions. Neither seems to do anything. I've sent pix previously of this switch, but never received a response. I'm trying to include a picture of this switch, but not sure how.
Older trailers like mine 1988, yours and the OPs the battery switch is not by the door it is close to the battery and converter. Mostly because it is an actually battery switch, rather then a switch that triggers a relay like the newer trailers have.
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Old 09-14-2021, 11:18 AM   #19
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On some older trailers that came with a Univolt (obsolete converter that should be replaced) there was an unmarked switch to turn converter on/off. This was due to the fact that many of the Univolts started humming loud enough to hear them with the AC running and people needing to turn them off to sleep.
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Old 09-14-2021, 11:25 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steelhead78 View Post
Great info, thank you! And sorry for the typo, I meant cord! Thanks Itsno60! (I should know this, since I’m a musician!)

May I ask another stupid question - where is the battery switch? Is there a special setting I should adhere to when the camper is not being used vs. plugged in and ready to camp?


On another note - I opened the Dometic fridge and freezer. The freezer smells perfectly clean. When I open the fridge, it smells oily somehow, or maybe just an old smell. I’ve heard (or read here) about the ammonia smell, but it doesn’t really smell like that, though it does smell chemically related.

Can I clean and use the fridge still? Or is it time for a new one?
One of my prior Airstream trailers was a 1978. The switch was behind the front sofa.
If the fridge makes cold, clean it and use it.

you can see a photo of a disconnect switch here> https://highskyrvparts.com/new-airst...connect-510626
If original, it will most likely have a plate on top beneath the knob that indicates switch position.
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