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Old 03-02-2018, 09:09 AM   #1
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Will constant 13.6V kill my batteries?

Our 2018 FC has 50 amp service and has been on shore power for our six months of ownership. Next week, we head out for three days of boondocking at a NASCAR race.

The converter voltage has been 13.6V every time I've checked including first thing in the morning (before I turn on lights). This means that we've been constantly in absorption mode with no sign of a float. Perhaps this is explained by our router, wifi, DVR that constantly draw a few amps and prevent float mode. Note I've seen bulk mode on one occasion and perhaps it's happened many times.

Anyone care to guess whether we will have healthy batteries for our boondock?

I've explored upgrading the converter but it isn't an easy plug-n-play as I had with my 25 FC with 30 amp service.

If the batteries are weak, I'll install a battery disconnect so that I can protect them during long periods of shore power. I discussed it in this thread: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449...ch-177014.html

Thanks, Dave
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Old 03-02-2018, 09:47 AM   #2
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When you are plugged in to shore power you are always going to see 13.7 volts that the converter is supplying to run all of your 12 volt items. That is not necessarily the voltage that is going to your batteries.

If you want to see your actual battery voltage, first unplug from shore power for a couple of hours and turn the use/store switch to OFF. This allows your battery voltage to stabilize. Then turn on the use/store switch and use the voltage monitor to read the voltage. This will be your batteries voltage. It should be around 12.6 or 12.7 volts for a fully charged battery.
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Old 03-02-2018, 09:58 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dasams View Post
The converter voltage has been 13.6V every time I've checked including first thing in the morning (before I turn on lights).
Hi Dave,

The correct float charge for Lead Acid batteries at normal temperatures is actually around 13.5-13.8V.

Have you checked the level of the water in the batteries? Once there is still water inside them I predict you'll be fine.

You should Capacity test them before you go on your trip. If it won't keep the furnace running long enough at night you might not enjoy the trip very much.
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Old 03-02-2018, 10:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Adventure.AS View Post
If you want to see your actual battery voltage, first unplug from shore power for a couple of hours and turn the use/store switch to OFF. This allows your battery voltage to stabilize. Then turn on the use/store switch and use the voltage monitor to read the voltage. This will be your batteries voltage. It should be around 12.6 or 12.7 volts for a fully charged battery.
This is a good idea. The next time we go out for a few hours, I'll trip the breaker and put the use/store in the store position. Then measure voltage when we return.
Separately, I'm going to trip the breaker this afternoon and run off of our batteries. As the TV, DVR, WiFi will be running off the inverter, it'll be a pretty good test of their health.

Quote:
Originally Posted by russellt View Post
The correct float charge for Lead Acid batteries at normal temperatures is actually around 13.5-13.8V.
Good to hear confirmation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by russellt View Post
If it won't keep the furnace running long enough at night you might not enjoy the trip very much.
I have a weather station that reads indoor and outdoor temps. This morning it was 41F out and 46F in and we were very comfortable under our down comforter. But you can be sure that I turned on the furnace when I got up
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Old 03-02-2018, 11:11 AM   #5
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Put a hard disconnect on your battery. Upgrade your converter when you are ready and that might not be until a solar upgrade is considered. The interim option is a battery monitor to manage the battery bank power. Pat
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Old 03-03-2018, 02:15 PM   #6
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Put a hard disconnect on your battery. Upgrade your converter when you are ready and that might not be until a solar upgrade is considered. The interim option is a battery monitor to manage the battery bank power. Pat
The new 2018 models now have a 4 stage converter in them; no need to "upgrade" or change out unless it is not working properly. Agree with the disconnect install. Battery monitor not a bad idea but not really necessary. my 2 cents...
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Old 03-04-2018, 09:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by gypsydad View Post
The new 2018 models now have a 4 stage converter in them; no need to "upgrade" or change out unless it is not working properly. Agree with the disconnect install. Battery monitor not a bad idea but not really necessary. my 2 cents...
The converter in our 2018 FC is a 3 stage per the manual. Here's the info:

Automatic Micro-Controller Operation

The power converter's 3-stage switch mode is fully automatic. The converter senses which mode it needs to be in by checking the condition of the battery.

The three modes include:

Absorption Mode: During this mode the converter output is in the 13.6 VDC range. This is the mode that the converter will function at normally. This mode provides the 12 VDC and the current required by the trailer.

Bulk Mode: In this mode, the output voltage of the converter will switch to 14.4 VDC range for a maximum of four hours. If the converter cycles between “Absorption and Bulk modes”, there could be a shorted battery cell or other issues.

Float Mode: If the trailer has not been used for a period of time and the shore power has been left plugged in, the converter will automatically go into
float mode with a voltage of 13.2. When the converter senses a demand, by turning on lights, the converter automatically returns to absorption mode.
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Old 03-05-2018, 09:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dasams View Post
The converter in our 2018 FC is a 3 stage per the manual. Here's the info:

Automatic Micro-Controller Operation

The power converter's 3-stage switch mode is fully automatic. The converter senses which mode it needs to be in by checking the condition of the battery.

The three modes include:

Absorption Mode: During this mode the converter output is in the 13.6 VDC range. This is the mode that the converter will function at normally. This mode provides the 12 VDC and the current required by the trailer.

Bulk Mode: In this mode, the output voltage of the converter will switch to 14.4 VDC range for a maximum of four hours. If the converter cycles between “Absorption and Bulk modes”, there could be a shorted battery cell or other issues.

Float Mode: If the trailer has not been used for a period of time and the shore power has been left plugged in, the converter will automatically go into
float mode with a voltage of 13.2. When the converter senses a demand, by turning on lights, the converter automatically returns to absorption mode.
I stand corrected; indeed it is a WFCO model, 3 stage converter in the new 2018 models- not 4 stage. 30A is the WF8955, and the 55A is the WF9855.

I am guessing, but looks like the WFCO does not offer the 4th stage some competitors offer of periodic adjustment which raises the voltage to mix electrolyte and help prevent sulfation?
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Old 03-09-2018, 03:41 AM   #9
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OP here. After six months of travel, in which weíve been continuously on shore power, we pulled out and headed to NASCAR and three days of boondocking.

My worst fears were realized when we unhitched and I checked the batttery voltage: it was a measly 11.6. And this was less than two hrs since we departed and the system was connected to the 7 pin the whole time.

It looks like fried batteries in our 2018 FC thatís barely six months old.

We fired up the Honda gen and brought them back to 12.6 but the voltage quickly dropped when it was shut off. We cycled the gen throughout the day trying to save them but no use. At 10 pm bedtime, they were 12.6 but when I got up at 2 am to check, they were 9.6. Sigh...

Some background. I had checked the water levels and they were a touch low but none of the cells were exposed. I topped them off anyway with distilled water. Also, at bedtime, I shut off everything to reduce the load.

What this tells me is that the 2018 three stage converter isnít very good and that a battery disconnect is needed for those that are continuously on shore power.

It looks like Iíll be heading to Costco when it opens at 10 am
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:28 AM   #10
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It may not be your converter at all. I believe many batteries are dead on arrival to their new owners! AS dealers get the trailers, leave them in the lot and don’t take care of the batteries.

I was shocked on our first boondocking trip that our batteries were below 12v every morning despite very careful energy management. When I returned I removed the batteries and charged them separately. It was obvious that one was bad. Interstate replaced both of them at no charge!

So, your batteries are under warranty. Find an Interstate dealer and have them replaced!
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Old 03-09-2018, 06:07 PM   #11
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My 2 Cents on Interstate Warranty

When we took delivery of our new 2017 25' Flying Cloud 6 weeks ago, the 1st thing I checked were the batteries using my old hydrometer; the kind with the plastic clear reservoir and floating needle. According to the gage, one cell indicated replace and 4 cells showed fair, and one cell showed good on the 1st battery. The 2nd battery showed replace on 3 cells and the rest fair. I went back to the dealer who tested them with his electronic computer tester which showed both batteries at around 12.5 or 12.6 volts. He said Interstate uses the same tester and according to them 12.5v is considered a good battery. Apparently, they won' t even consider the hydrometer readings. Has anyone else encountered the same situation? As a side note, we haven't boondocked yet, but I installed a battery monitor. When plugged in to shore power, it shows 13.6v and 100% state of charge, but after a 3 hour drive it went down to 81% SOC at 12.5v. Going to investigate further but am thinking these batteries will not last a cold night with the furnace. Shouldn't that be enough reason for Interstate to replace the batteries regardless of what there computer shows? Thanks for any input!!
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Old 03-09-2018, 06:11 PM   #12
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When I went to Interstate with my batteries they checked the first battery with an electronic tester and declared it had a bad cell. They then tested the other battery and did not show a bad cell, but he then tested it with a hydrometer and said a cell was going bad. So you got bad advice, at least based on my experience, and yes you need new batteries.
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Old 03-09-2018, 06:33 PM   #13
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I installed a "hard disconnect" on my single battery in the old Overlander. I did this so I could easily remove the battery while the trailer is in storage, or for battery maintenance, or for long periods of time on shore power while I work on the trailer.

Actually, it is an "easy disconnect". Works good and was cheaper than a "on - off" rotary switch.

By the way, my Progressive Dynamics converter has been on "float" for the last two weeks showing 13.2 volts. I haven't tested the AGM battery alone. Maybe I will tomorrow.

David
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Old 03-09-2018, 08:20 PM   #14
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It may not be your converter at all. I believe many batteries are dead on arrival to their new owners! AS dealers get the trailers, leave them in the lot and donít take care of the batteries.

I was shocked on our first boondocking trip that our batteries were below 12v every morning despite very careful energy management. When I returned I removed the batteries and charged them separately. It was obvious that one was bad. Interstate replaced both of them at no charge!

So, your batteries are under warranty. Find an Interstate dealer and have them replaced!
I second this. There are many on these boards, with single stage converters from decades past, with batteries that will go the distance to 7 years+.

I don't believe it to be the converter either. At somepoint in the past, those batts were deeply discharged.
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Old 03-09-2018, 09:29 PM   #15
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Parallax and WFCO are not recommending you keep your RV connected to shore power continuously. Boondocker and Progressive Dynamics specifically do and we have seen the results consistently since 2002 when 4 stage converters hit the market. Desulfation and float charge do make a difference.
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Old 03-10-2018, 08:51 AM   #16
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Parallax and WFCO are not recommending you keep your RV connected to shore power continuously.
Then why the heck doesn't AS install a proper battery disconnect For 2018 FC's, the battery disconnect is designed to work only when off of shore power

Quote:
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Boondocker and Progressive Dynamics specifically do and we have seen the results consistently since 2002 when 4 stage converters hit the market. Desulfation and float charge do make a difference.
Thanks. I installed a PD unit from you that worked flawlessly in my 2017 FC. Too bad there isn't a plug-n-play option for my 2018
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Old 03-10-2018, 12:26 PM   #17
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Will constant 13.6V kill my batteries?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dasams View Post
Then why the heck doesn't AS install a proper battery disconnect For 2018 FC's, the battery disconnect is designed to work only when off of shore power







Thanks. I installed a PD unit from you that worked flawlessly in my 2017 FC. Too bad there isn't a plug-n-play option for my 2018


Bestconverter.com has converter options for your 50A service.

http://www.bestconverter.com/Airstre...More_c_93.html

The boondocker is what they recommend for airstreams and although itís not a true drop in like the 30a the install isnít that bad. Instructions can be found via the link above.

I believe by code the propane detector requires constant 12v so the batteries are never truly disconnected with the factory setup. The inverter is also hardwired directly to the batteries and it has constant background draw as well, even when turned off.

$40 solves this if you buy a marine grade switch and stick it in your battery box. Blue sea is the way to go.

Bring you batteries to an interstate dealer and theyíll replace them.

When Iím on shore power I leave them connected for about 24 hours... then fully disconnect and let them rest until itís time to move onto the next stop on our journey.

Finally - I agree with the previous poster that on top of all of this your batteries were likely dead on arrival. The trailer sits on the dealer lot and after just 2-3 weeks the propane detector and inverter have drawn the batteries down to fatal voltage levels. Then the trailer keeps sitting and sulfate builds up on the plates, etc... without a smart charger such as a batteryMINDer that has pulsation for desulfation the batteries cannot be recovered and will never hold a full charge.
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Old 03-10-2018, 01:07 PM   #18
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2017 25fb. Just put in store mode ?

Instead of having to replace the converter to multi stage, canít one just hit the store button to disconnect the battery when plugged into shore lower to prevent overcharging? Is this a workaround? Thx
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Old 03-10-2018, 01:58 PM   #19
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Instead of having to replace the converter to multi stage, canít one just hit the store button to disconnect the battery when plugged into shore lower to prevent overcharging? Is this a workaround? Thx


Yes you can. But itís important to know that in store mode the batteries will not receive a charge, but they will still have a constant draw from the propane detector, inverter and subwoofer. So as soon as you hit store with a fully charged battery it will start to be discharged.
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Old 03-10-2018, 02:47 PM   #20
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Use the Warranty

We lost both of our batteries to dead cells within the first year of ownership and they were easily replaced under warranty after contacting Airstream. It is probable that Airstream dealers do not maintain the batteries when storing units on their lot. I suspect replacing batteries now and then is cheaper than putting trickle chargers on every trailer in the sales lot.
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