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12v Issues

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First off I apologize if this topic has already been covered, but I am on time crunch.

 

I have a 1996 sportsman trailer. I got it this summer and it has worked fine. Last night I went out to get it ready for the wife to take on a trip, and none of the 12v system seems to be working. When I plug into the power on my house the microwave and all the outlets work, but the lights still do not. Also the refrigerator and furnace do not work. The battery is brand new and completely charged. The first time I turned on the lights one lit up very dim for a couple of seconds and then went out. I replaced all the fuses and turned all breakers on and off. There isn't much to this trailer so I am thinking I can fix it if I knew what it could be. I have no manual and nobody to lean on for answers. I saw something online about circuit breakers, but I am not sure where to look for them.

 

Help me if you can. I appreciate your patience in advance.

 

TC

Edited by tiny

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How did you verify that the battery is fully charged?

 

If it "is" fully charged then there could be any number of issues at play, but the first place I would start would be to check the primary ground to frame from the battery itself (often times loosening, light sanding and reconnect will remedy a bad ground) and then the primary breaker located just under your A frame and belly. Assuming your battery is mounted on the A frame.. if you follow the umbilical back toward the frame there is a small box mounted to the frame itself with two cable posts. There is a 'very' small black switch that acts as a reset.

 

Without going into too much detail.. check those first and report back.

 

On edit: If that doesn't resolve your problem you'll need a cheapo multimeter (at least) to proceed. Your local home improvement center or harbor freight should have one in stock and under $15 bucks.

Edited by Yarome

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! While I regret that it was a problem which brought you to us, I'm happy that you are here and we will do all that we are able to assist you.

 

My first question is, do you happen to have a battery isolation device in your RV? They are pretty common and if it should be open that would prevent any lights from working since they operate on 12V-dc power. If you have no 12V power that will prevent the furnace, water heater, and the refrigerator from working as all three use 12V power to operate the control circuits, even the refrigerator when 120V is selected as a power source. The RV should have a converter that gets power from 120V shore power and converts that into 12V power for the lights, appliances and water heater.

 

Since you may not have a battery isolation device, the other possible cause of the problem is the battery. Have you checked to see if there is proper levels of electrolyte in the battery cells? If the battery has gone dry or if it should have a shorted cell, it could easily cause the problems that you have. With a 1996, the battery is probably not the original one, but batteries typically only last for 3 to 5 years in RV service, even with good maintenance and care. If you have an automotive battery charger, you could try charging the RV battery with it, just in case the problem is that your converter has failed. If the RV was not plugged into shore power the battery could have gone down and might come back after several hours of being connected, but I'd still look to the battery first!

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It is a brand new battery. I charged it in the garage and when I tested it with a cheapo tester it hit the max. I do not know what a battery isolation device is or where to look. I am sorry for my ignorance. I will also try the sanding the ground trick. As well as locating the two cable post and checking it. I am at work so I won't be able to do it for a while, but I am thankful that someone out there willing to help.

Thank you again!!!
Tiny

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I will also try the sanding the ground trick. As well as locating the two cable post and checking it.

 

Those two culprits are often overlooked and the root of most "known" good batteries with a an adequate charge failures. Hopefully it's that simple and we can get your wife out for a little worry free fun. "Happy wife, happy life" eh.

 

They might not have chimed up yet, but there are countless SKP's that are more than willing to help at any hour. Don't hesitate to ask questions and the more detailed info you can give will produce the most productive responses.

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This is a good place to start your education on 12 volt systems.

 

The 12 Volt Side of Life

 

The "battery isolation device" will be a switch of some kind, usually on a battery cable near the battery itself. It could also be elsewhere, mine is a red lever that turns 90 degrees right in the fuse box.

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I replaced two breakers under the front of the trailer. (I think only the 15 amp one was bad.) Went inside and the radio will turn on but nothing else. One was a 40 amp and one was a 15, but I replaced it with a 20amp because I didn't have a 15. It is not plugged into shore power.

 

I checked the battery on the guage inside the trailer and it registered @ 2\3. Yesterday it said full, so it seems like something is drawing juice. I will look at the information you provided and get after it again tomorrow. I got home late today.

 

Thanks for sticking with me. I will learn this as well as the proper terminology for what I am trying to talk about.

 

Thanks again

Tiny

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By the way, what are SKPs?

The letters SKP are used in place of the word Escapee, referring to a member of the Escapee's RV Club, which is the organization that hosts these forums and and a club that many of us are members of.

 

It is very difficult to know much about what is happening with a battery if you don't have a reasonably accurate meter to check voltage with.

 

I replaced two breakers under the front of the trailer. (I think only the 15 amp one was bad.) Went inside and the radio will turn on but nothing else. One was a 40 amp and one was a 15, but I replaced it with a 20amp because I didn't have a 15. It is not plugged into shore power.

The use of a fuse of higher amp rating than original is a dangerous practice. If there is an electrical problem that draws too much current, but not so much as to blow a 20A fuse, you could start a fire so don't leave it that way for long. It is very difficult to do much trouble shooting of electrical problems without the use of a meter. One that measures both volts and ohms with at least two decimal points & digital display is the best choice. I'd expect to pay around $30 for one that will serve well.

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I will change the 20 amp out tomorrow. I also bought a multi tester and will mess around with it tomorrow. I unhooked the battery and brought it in the garage to charge again. I hooked the battery up with the ground on negative earlier so I think it is right. And if I flipped it around the posts would be backwards so I know that is right.

 

Isn't it weird that the radio works and nothing else? I will keep checking back for your wisdom, and continue to try to figure out what I am doing wrong. And I will learn to use the multi tester.

Thanks,

Tiny

Edited by tiny

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Try this link for a KZ Sportsman Owners manual. It may not be for the same year as yours but it might help you with understanding some of the item syour trailer might have.

 

www.sportsmenclassicclub.com/pdf/KZRV_Sportsmen_Classic_Manual.pdf

 

You may have a circuit breaker or it may be possible your load center and/or convertor is not working properly. You should also have more than just 2 fuses. Are you sure you found the fuse panel, typically located behind a door of some sort. The panel will typically have fuses for the 12 volt circuits and house style circuit breakers for the 120 volts items.

 

We also have a battery disconnect switch that sometimes gets flipped (it is right near our feet in our dinette area). It has a red plastic key that you turn 90 degrees to turn off. The key sometimes falls out and is laying on the floor. It looks like this:

 

2843011.jpg

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Isn't it weird that the radio works and nothing else? I will keep checking back for your wisdom, and continue to try to figure out what I am doing wrong. And I will learn to use the multi tester.

It is difficult to guess the reason for the radio operating. In general, one of the last things to stop working as a battery is discharged will be the lights. They do go dim but usually can be seen on down to about 9/10V. A battery is considered to be discharged at 10.5V.

 

Have you checked the electrolyte level in each cell yet? It should be up at the bottom of the tube inside each cap and if low, it should be brought up to proper level with distilled water(not demineralized).

 

I suggest that a good test for the battery is to charge it up on the bench, then wait about two hours with nothing connected to the battery at all and measure the voltage. That will give you a fairly accurate "resting" voltage. Record that voltage to at least two decimal points. It should be about 13.5 - 13.8V. Leave the battery sit, still not connected over night and see what it reads again. If it drops more than 0.2V it is weak and if more than 0.5V it is probably dead.

 

When you removed the battery, did you leave the shore power cable connected? If you did, have you tested to see if the RV lights will work? When connected to shore power, the converter should supply 12V power to the system even without the battery installed and that would allow the interior lights to work. And while you are doing to, check your radio as well to see if it works.

Edited by Kirk

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I got it all working. No way would I have been able to do it without the wisdom of you all. I look forward to reading this forum for fun. instead of panic.

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I got it all working.

That is good news! Mind sharing a bit of what you found, just so that we can better understand and perhaps learn things which may help someone else in the future? :)

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