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Old 04-23-2003, 07:43 PM   #1
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Question Mystifying Battery Problem...

Hi Everyone

Our '99 Safari 25 footer came with a battery that ran completely dry the second time we used it (my fault for not checking water level myself, leaving it to the RV dealer).

So, I replaced the battery with a new 12-volt deep cycle type battery and installed it about a month ago. Everything seemed fine until today when we went to pick it up for the weekend. We opened the door, flipped the front disconnect switch to on and NOTHING...dead...no sign of life.

I checked the water level—it was full... So I hooked up truck and plugged in the trailer to the truck. Lights came on, everything seemed ok and we were definitely charging, or at least it was indicating so on the truck voltmeter.

I jumped in and checked the tank/battery level indicator control panel above the kitchen sink and saw that the BATTERY LEVEL showed GREEN 12 v OK... (Looked like a Christmas tree!)

What is going on?

Question: Is the battery really discharging? I must have a short, right? Is my master switch somehow shorting or otherwise not connecting? Is there some other switch that I should know about and maybe it is user error?

I am baffled.

Thanks for the assistance in advance.

Take Care,

Carl and Cheryl Jackson
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Old 04-23-2003, 07:50 PM   #2
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how long?

hey skip

how long was it in storage?

parasitic loads may have drained it. lpg/smoke detector comes to mind. (i believe on newer trailers they are wired around the main 12v. disconnect.)

perhaps the battery needs to be removed when you store it, what does your manual say about long term storage?

john
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Old 04-23-2003, 07:58 PM   #3
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I had the same problem and finally found the radio was on and the vol. turned all the way down. Would drain the battery in about two weeks.

I now have a master disconnect and always disconnect the battery, no more surprise dead battery.

Garry
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Old 04-23-2003, 07:59 PM   #4
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John

Thanks for the comeback.

It was in storage for only about a week---10 days at most.

Good idea about the parasitic loads though... How do I check for that other than turning everything off and sitting there to watch the gas detector lights blink?

I can't check my owner’s manual cause this used trailer came without documentation (aaaaarrrrrrrgggguuuuhhhh!).

Carl
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:02 PM   #5
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Garry

Thanks for the reply. We have been storing it with the master switch in the off position (located under the front window behind the couch) everytime we park it.

Did you have an additional Master Switch installed?

Thanks
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:21 PM   #6
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I installed a master cut off at the battery. Inserted into the POS. line about 12 in from the batt.
My unit did not come with a cut off switch. I installed it due to battery overcharging when hooked to shore power for extended time. I also now use it to verify no battery drain while in storage.
One thing you might due to verify power drain. hook an ampmeter
in series with the pos battery terminal and read the amp draw. If you don't have a meter unhook the battery cable and gently touch the wire to the post and look for a spark that would indicate current draw or charge the battery and then disconnect it for a week or so and see if it drains down.
I don't think a smoke dectector woud draw down a fully charged deep cycle battery for quite a long time.

Garry
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:35 PM   #7
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I've had the same problem with my Bambi. The LPG detector definately is wired to run even with cutoff switch in off position. I have finally decided to remove the battery, take it home and put it on a Battery Minder when the Bambi is in storage. A bit of a hassle, but everything I've read says the battery will last considerably longer by using the Battery Minder which keeps a pulse charge going to the battery to prevent sulfation, a battery killer caused by prolonged disharged battery.

The other choice would be a solar panel. There are smaller ones made for battery maintenance when in storage, as well as larger, roof mount ones which charge the battery as well as supplying power during sunlight hours. Do a search on solar power, or battery maintenance on this site.

Also, when you were hooked up to the tow vehicle, the battery indicator would show green as it is reading the power from the tow vehicle, I believe. When I connect my generator it shows battery full right away, even though I know there is a good bit of time before fully charged.
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:45 PM   #8
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Rick

What you say makes sense. From now on I will at least unhook the battery for short term storage (week or two) and when it is stored longer, I will bring the battery home with me and put it on a slow charge.

I will also look into a small solar charger.

Thanks for the input everyone!

Carl Jackson
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:49 PM   #9
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On my 2002 Safari the LPG detector bypasses the master switch however the LPG detector has an inline fuse. During the winter months I removed the fuse and had no problems going a couple of months between charging. With the master off and the LPG detector working I have gone 3+ weeks with only small drain on the battery (green to yellow on the panel).

Larry Ruebel
Bismarck ND
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Old 04-23-2003, 08:54 PM   #10
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Larry

Thanks, can you tell me where I might find the in-line fuse?

Carl Jackson
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Old 04-23-2003, 11:14 PM   #11
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About a foot away from the 12 volt fuse box/master switch under the front couch. I had to lift the front of couch like I would be converting it to a bed. It is not in a very convenient spot. When I have removed the fuse it never fails to fall out and roll into a spot that you cant get to.
Hope this helps you out.

Larry Ruebel
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Old 04-24-2003, 06:26 AM   #12
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Thumbs up

OK, I will take a look.

Thanks,

Carl Jackson
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Old 05-02-2003, 10:39 AM   #13
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I have experienced this problem. You will not believe what it was, but here goes.
After switching the master switch on and off for years on another unit I had, I found that the splash of the electrical charge on the contacts inside of the switch eventually covered the inside of the master switch with a metal coating acting like a resistor between the poles. I opened the master switch, cleaned away the metallic dust and the battery drain problem went away. Weird but true.
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Old 05-02-2003, 11:14 AM   #14
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solar charger/maintainer

I use a PulseTech Solargizer 5 watt solar powered charger/maintainer on my two Delco Voyager batteries. Go to www.pulsetech.com for info on how the unit sends pulses to desulfate the batteries. They offer solar chargers, solar maintainers, units that pulsate the battery while using the battery's own power and then 110 volt units. I also use a Batteryminder at the same time and it hasn't caused any problems on these 2 yr. old batteries.
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Old 05-02-2003, 12:24 PM   #15
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while back on the battery subject; I have one deep cycle that will stay charged for only a few days.

There are no drains on it, I disconnect it by blade switch when not in use. It still dies. It will take a charge, the little green eye lights up, then it holds only a few days.

I have read somewhere that batteries like that can be "shocked"back to life by doing some sort of charge cycle. Anyone have an idea about this?
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Old 05-02-2003, 12:29 PM   #16
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AlanSD

I had a battery which would "die" quickly also, even though it would show fully charged. I took it to a dealer who charged it overnight (24 hours) with a professional charger which he said would "shock" it back to life if possible (not sure those were his exact words). Turned out there was one cell which was bad, and no matter what it would not hold a charge for any length of time. sounds to me like you've got a shot battery.
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Old 05-02-2003, 12:54 PM   #17
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Thats what I was thinking- its sealed so I can't check cells, and my charger is a failry new 20 amp made for deep cycle batteries.
Oh well back to the parts store.
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Old 05-02-2003, 01:49 PM   #18
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That little green eye is only across one cell so if that cell is OK you would think the battery is good when it is probably at 10.2 VDC due to one bad cell.
The green eye is a good indicator on battery condition most of the time but it won't detect a bad cell unless it is the green eye cell. I have heard a very high out put battery charger will sometimes burn the buildup of the plates but I have a charger that will put out over 18 VDC on hi and it has never fixed the problem for me.

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Old 05-03-2003, 10:14 PM   #19
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The # 1 reason batteries die is due to sulfation buildup on the battery plates. Some of the newer battery chargers/maintainers are designed to "shake" the plates so that the sulphur is broken up and mixed back in with the battery acid. It seems that you may have a dead cell and nothing will help that. I also have had the "green eye" showing a charge but developed a bad cell and a battery that would not hold a full charge.
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Old 05-03-2003, 10:46 PM   #20
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Deep cycle batteries (the type that we use--most of us) are more prone to freezing than normal batteries.

Due to their deep cycle design, they do charge faster, but there is a price.

I have used deep cycle for over 25 years and more recently as of '94 in my boat. The battery lasted far less when I kept it in the boat in the garage over the winter even checking the levels, etc.

I now take the batts out over the winter and replace when the amb temp is over 40 degrees C.

They have lasted 2x longer since I started doing this.

Regards,

Eric
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