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Old 08-18-2012, 01:36 PM   #21
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Twinkie:

You are so right! In fact it ocurred to me just a few minutes ago that I had taken the readings with the trailer plugged in - so, after unplugging it, I took new readings and the voltage had dropped to 13.17 volts for each battery. Since I could not hear the charger running I had stupidly assumed that it was off! So----this still brings up the question of whether or not it should have been on??? At what battery voltage does it trip off?
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:00 PM   #22
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Twinkie:

You are so right! In fact it ocurred to me just a few minutes ago that I had taken the readings with the trailer plugged in - so, after unplugging it, I took new readings and the voltage had dropped to 13.17 volts for each battery. Since I could not hear the charger running I had stupidly assumed that it was off! So----this still brings up the question of whether or not it should have been on??? At what battery voltage does it trip off?
I am not going to answer the question of what it should read. Depending on what else is connected to it ,it should be 12.something. Keep in mind that unless you actually disconnect each battery and measure them separately, you are not getting a true reading of each battery. The reason yours are above 13 is because they were very recently charged. After the charger is removed it typically takes lead acid batteries several hours to stabilize. I would guess your batteries are fine.

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Old 08-18-2012, 02:04 PM   #23
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The battery(s) will read higher then normal because of the converter. To get a true reading, unplug the trailer and let it sit for an hour. Around 12.7-12.8 is what I would expect to see.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:40 PM   #24
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I scanned through this thread again and can't find a mention of what converter you have, If you have the original converter it is my opinion that you should not be leaving the trailer plugged in for more than few days at a time. The original converters Airstream uses are not sophisticated enough to be used as a battery maintainer. If you want to do that I suggested you replace it with a 3 or 4 stage charger designed to maintain the batteries for a lengthy period. There are many threads on that.

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Old 08-18-2012, 03:11 PM   #25
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Ken:

Note that my Excella is a 2000 and it has the original converter/charger. It's my understanding that Airstream went to the present converter sometime in the mid-90's and that they have not made any significant changes since??? It doesn't seem logical to me that the converter would endanger batteries if left plugged in for an extended period - otherwise, Airstream should duly note that said action could cause dire consequences! I know that I'm not the only one who stays hooked up - as many talk about having their refrigerators continuously on, full of food, and ready to go - for the entire camping season! No, it is my understanding that the charger should switch off when the batteries are fully charged and not come back on again until they are discharged sufficiently - whatever the cause of the discharge. That operation might result in a gradual loss of acid and, accordingly, the acid level should be checked more frequently. I believe that my failure to do the latter may have been the cause of the explosion - but it hasn't answered the question of whether or not my charger is cutting in or out as designed (?) - or is it stuck in the "on" position???
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Old 08-18-2012, 03:55 PM   #26
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As I understand it, the OEM converter never sleeps when it comes to battery charging. You have a few options to prevent battery cooking:

1. Don't run the A/C all the time and unplug shore power,

2. Replace the converter with a better one—I have an Iota with multistage charger.

3. Disconnect the batteries and charge them periodically with a multistage charger.

It can take a long time for sulphuric acid to eat through anything it hit. The wire to the jack was probably hit as well as other things. That wire will short out once the insulation is eaten and I'd replace it rather than trust the insulation hasn't been affected. Battery cables also could be a problem. Neutralize anything that might have been hit a few times to prevent future surprises.

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Old 08-18-2012, 04:01 PM   #27
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Ken:

Note that my Excella is a 2000 and it has the original converter/charger. It's my understanding that Airstream went to the present converter sometime in the mid-90's and that they have not made any significant changes since??? It doesn't seem logical to me that the converter would endanger batteries if left plugged in for an extended period - otherwise, Airstream should duly note that said action could cause dire consequences! I know that I'm not the only one who stays hooked up - as many talk about having their refrigerators continuously on, full of food, and ready to go - for the entire camping season! No, it is my understanding that the charger should switch off when the batteries are fully charged and not come back on again until they are discharged sufficiently - whatever the cause of the discharge. That operation might result in a gradual loss of acid and, accordingly, the acid level should be checked more frequently. I believe that my failure to do the latter may have been the cause of the explosion - but it hasn't answered the question of whether or not my charger is cutting in or out as designed (?) - or is it stuck in the "on" position???
Note: My remarks were prefaced with my opinion.
The parallax 73XX converters do not go to zero output when the battery is charged. they have either one or two voltages. the single voltage models keeps the same charge on the battery as long as the converter is on. The 2 stage charger keeps an initial higher voltage, for a period of time and then changes to an Lower maintenance charge. I don't know how to tell which you have. However my experience is that even the 2 stage will significantly reduce the battery life, if left on for extended periods of time. You are probably correct that the failure to keep track of the electrolyte level lead to the explosion, However even if you had, I believe the battery would have become sulfated due to the lengthy constant voltage charge. My last TT, I solved the problem by installing a switch that totally disconnected the battery. I would switch the battery back into the circuit for 24 -48 hours every few weeks to recharge. In my present trailer, I have upgraded the converter to one that has a desulfating cycle.

I really wish that someone who knew this all better than I would post and perhaps explain it better.

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Old 08-18-2012, 04:12 PM   #28
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I washed everything down with a strong soda solution. Hopefully I managed to neutralize the acid. The only wires in question are the support wires for the battery door - which I sprayed with WD40 after washing them. One thought I've had is to wire in a 24-hr timer at the service outlet on the house. That way I could set the timer to turn the power off at around 4 p.m. and not turn it on again until around 8 a.m. the next morning. That would cut the charging time by 66% while still allowing me to automatically run the A/C during the hotter part of the day. Can anyone else confirm that the charger runs continuously, as Gene suggests???
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Old 08-18-2012, 04:19 PM   #29
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Ken:

Interesting comments! We were typing at the same time so both of our responses popped up after we posted. I may try to dig a little deeper and find out exactly what model converter I have.
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Old 08-18-2012, 04:42 PM   #30
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I washed everything down with a strong soda solution. Hopefully I managed to neutralize the acid. The only wires in question are the support wires for the battery door - which I sprayed with WD40 after washing them. One thought I've had is to wire in a 24-hr timer at the service outlet on the house. That way I could set the timer to turn the power off at around 4 p.m. and not turn it on again until around 8 a.m. the next morning. That would cut the charging time by 66% while still allowing me to automatically run the A/C during the hotter part of the day. Can anyone else confirm that the charger runs continuously, as Gene suggests???
If you use a timer, make sure to get one rated to handle the all the current involved. The ones that I have seen only handle a few amps.

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Old 08-18-2012, 04:58 PM   #31
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Put the timer in the circuit for the converter 120 volt supply. If your converter is a plug in type it makes it easy. I don't see the need to put the timer on the whole trailer.
I have timers on the battery chargers I use for my farm equipment. 1 to 2 hours a day is enough in my case to maintain the battery.
With all of the electronics like clocks etc in new equipment, the battery is constantly being drained.
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:07 PM   #32
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I think that the converter is hard-wired - but I've never taken the couch apart to see it. For you experienced ones - just how do you get to the converter??? I'm sure that I can figure it out - but perhaps there's a shortcut? While I'm being lazy, does the converter have a separate breaker in the AC box? Last question for the evening - How easy/difficult is it to switch the converter for a more modern unit that would solve all of the preceding problems? Cost? Manufacturer and model number?
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:55 PM   #33
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Seems a timer that can handle the amps you will have cost me around $75 about 10 years ago and it quit working after about 5 years. I've had to replace those before and they aren't that reliable. I've used them for well pumps and electric water heaters and they can handle 120 or 240 v. and more amps than you'll need. They are sold at electrical supply houses and perhaps at big box stores like Lowe's and HD.

A good converter will cost a couple of hundred bucks, so it seems like a better investment. Go to the Iota website and check what they have and see how it matches up with your trailer.

I have no idea where your converter is—some are hard to get to, some less hard. I didn't think it was all that difficult to replace except for working in a small space, but you should have some basic electrical knowledge and facility with tools before you tackle this. There are other threads about converters and they may point you in the right direction for your Excella.

And I gotta ask this—you're in Maine. Why A/C?

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Old 08-18-2012, 08:10 PM   #34
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I think that the converter is hard-wired - but I've never taken the couch apart to see it. For you experienced ones - just how do you get to the converter??? I'm sure that I can figure it out - but perhaps there's a shortcut? While I'm being lazy, does the converter have a separate breaker in the AC box? Last question for the evening - How easy/difficult is it to switch the converter for a more modern unit that would solve all of the preceding problems? Cost? Manufacturer and model number?
The only thing our trailers have I'm common is the length. However I will tell you how ours is. Our couch has a drawer under it. The front of that drawer is a panel that reaches the full length of the couch. When that drawer is fully opened a catch on either side allows it to be removed. On the left side under the couch is a wooden box with a drop front door. When that door is opened you are looking at the side of the converter. By lifting up the front of the couch like you are going to turn it into a bed, but stopping about half way there is enough room for me to work. The converter has an AC line cord that plugs into a socket in the front wall of the trailer. That socket and a couple of others in the front are on one circuit breaker. Replacing the converter is a matter of undoing 4 mounting screws and removing the wires. The new converter is put in the same place and the wires connect in the same way.

This is the converter I bought, but I did not buy it from Amazon

IOTA DLS-55/IQ4 12 VOLT 55 AMP 3 STAGE AUTOMATIC SMART BATTERY CHARGER / POWER SUPPLY : Amazon.com : Automotive

Ken
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Old 08-19-2012, 01:06 AM   #35
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If you install a Perko Marine Battery Isolator Switch, you can turn the switch to OFF, which will completely disconnect your batteries from the converter charging circuit. Then, with the shore power cord still connected to 110 VAC, you can continue to use the air conditioner, refrigerator, and all 12 VDC lights, fans, etc., which are powered by the converter.

Then, once a month, turn the battery switch to ON overnight (12-24 hours) to top off the batteries via the converter battery charging circuit. This will maintain your batteries at full charge without boiling them dry.

While a multi-stage converter or separate battery charger are good alternatives, the battery isolator switch is a less expensive, manual solution.

As an added advantage, when your Airstream is in "dead" storage (shore power disconnected), turning the battery isolator switch to OFF completely disconnects your batteries from all phantom loads; and they will hold a charge for several months (and up to a year or more, depending on the type of batteries you have), instead of going dead for no apparent reason after a couple of weeks.

Most boats with multiple batteries come with a battery isolator switch installed as standard equipment; and RVs and travel trailers should have them, too. Personally, I'd add one of these before spending money on upgrading converters and/or adding chargers, which you will probably find unnecessary after installing this switch.

================

Amazon.com: Perko 8501DP Marine Battery Selector Switch: Automotive

Link provided for reference only. Other brands and/or sources may work just as well and cost less.

Also, see product reviews:

Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Perko 8501DP Marine Battery Selector Switch
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:12 AM   #36
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All in all, a new converter/charger sounds like the way to go. The Perko battery isolator runs about $32.00, plus new wiring cost (minor), whereas the converter runs about $185.00 and is probably simpler to install. For the $150.00 difference it would eliminate my senior citizen mental lag and prevent me from wondering if I had turned the battery switch back on as I descended a long downgrade! As for Gene's comment about living in Maine, we're the 8th fastest warming state in the nation and the past few summers have confirmed it! 90 degree plus days are no longer uncommon although it does cool down rapidly in the evenings. Parking in the shade has it's advantages - but I don't have any shade at home and if I park the Airstream at my camp the roof quickly gets covered in leaves and it mildews. Using the air-conditioner is a cheap alternative to building a custom Airstream garage. The Airstream does just fine during the winter - in spite of the snow!
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Old 08-19-2012, 09:59 AM   #37
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I know! I know! Kindly ignore the remark about the long downgrade and the batteries being turned off! It was another senior moment that I waited too long to edit out.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:21 AM   #38
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Maine that hot? Never seen mid-90's in the Colorado mountains before and it doesn't cool off at night like it used to. Soon we'll have to park on Mars to keep cool.

I hope you found the converter. Ours is under the bed and you have to cut the face plate off it because the outer cover (covers the fuse and breaker panels also) screws to it.

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Old 08-22-2012, 11:48 AM   #39
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Quote:
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It can take a long time for sulphuric acid to eat through anything it hit. The wire to the jack was probably hit as well as other things. That wire will short out once the insulation is eaten and I'd replace it rather than trust the insulation hasn't been affected. Battery cables also could be a problem. Neutralize anything that might have been hit a few times to prevent future surprises.

Gene
Absolutely, the acid will "seep" for some time after an incident like this ... look at some of the roll over cars with signs of physical damage, but also with corrosion and burns from acid spills throughout. I am not sure that sulphuric acid will attack most wire insulation, however ... but it does attack the wire conductor, itself... usually from where the insulation has been stripped or nicked.

Flush, neutralize with baking soda, and flush until you tire of the process.
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Old 08-22-2012, 02:15 PM   #40
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Cracker, I had to replace my batteries about a month ago. I did not know what was wrong other than one (the street side) continously boiled it self dry. The other battery seem to charge. When I brought the batteries in to get checked and possibly replaced on a pro-rated basis I found out that the 'good' battery actually had at least one bad cell, and this was causing the other battery to over charge. In time this began to short some plates causing the battery to boil. Luckily for me, the battery that was boiling didn't explode, but the entire outter case did get very warm.

I am considering both alternatives suggested here; either the Ioata or Battery switch. I'm not sure exactly what I will do this late in the season. I do know that I will remove both batteries from the trailer when I winterize, (providing we get a real winter this year).

Good Luck
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