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House Batteries


catrobin

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I have had my first RV for about a month now. I just got it parked in a place where I can hook it up to electricity. I hooked it up yesterday and got the AC and refrigerator going. Do I still keep the house batteries turned on? I have a switch that can turn them off. They are the kind that need distilled water added to them. I have read to keep them on when using the RV and also read that overcharging isn't good. My panel shows they are fully charged. They were serviced by the dealer before I picked up the RV, so how often do they need distilled water added?

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Welcome

 

You can leave your batteries charging when plugged into shore power. Your converter should keep them charged but not over charged.

Check your fluid level in your batteries once a month. Top off with distilled water as necessary.

The batteries are used to run all 12 volt items on you coach such as lights, heater, refrigerator and others. Using the battery disconnect should shut off these systems.

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Cat - If you know the 'type' of converter that you have, let us know. Brand name, model number?

 

Some are much better than others and treat your batteries much kinder. Normally, a good rule is a monthly check, but this depends on many factors. Temperature, charger, use.

 

Congrats on the new to you camper!!

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The answer to that is really not so simple. Wet cell batteries are the norm in current RVs so there is nothing unique there. It is important to check electrolyte levels on a regular basis and to keep them at proper levels, but you don't need to overdo the checking, just keep the level within an inch or so of the designed level and do not overfill as that can cause electrolyte to blow out the top. And always use distilled water, not one of the other waters that are found in stores.

 

The second part is whether to leave them connected or not. Disconnecting them and letting the sit out of the circuit is not a bad thing but it also means that you eliminate one of the big advantages that RV refrigerators have in that they will automatically shift to using propane to cool if 120V shore power should be lost. The same for the water heater and furnace. No 12V power and they do not work, but with the battery in the system they work even when shore power has been lost. Most modern converters have a multilevel charge system and so do not do any harm to your batteries. Even 20 years back the wear and tear on the batteries was not a serious problem as long as electrolyte levels were kept where they should be. Very little damage is done to a modern battery when using it, so long as you do the needed maintenance. If you find that you need to add water more than once a month, you should take a hard look at the voltage that is being applied to the fully charged battery. If too high it will cause it to use more water. In our motorhome when we lived in it fulltime, I found that in normal use I would need to add water about every two to three months. Most converters have the ability to adjust the float voltage level but that will depend upon what converter you have.

 

In practical terms, very few of us use the batteries in our RVs to the extent they could be, unless we happen to be into boondocking. Most RV converters today will not do serious harm to the batteries even though they may not be the very best charging system available. It is difficult to justify the expense of replacing an OEM converter for one of the really good ones on the market today for typical RV owners. I know that it is contrary to what many of the electrical wizards here usually advise, but as one who made a living in electrical work for more than 40 years, I didn't use my RV batteries enough to justify the expense to upgrade my very basic converter in 12 years of living in it. By judicious battery maintenance and being parked more than traveling, with batteries in service all of the time from 2000 through 2011 I only replaced the coach batteries one time.

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I also think that checking the water level in the batteries is probably the most important maintenance item for them. Use only distilled water which is easily found at most grocery stores. Also keep some on hand for easy use when needed. It doesn't take very much water so just add enough so that you can see the water level in there. If they were just serviced then look in each cap now to get an idea of proper water levels. I leave my converter/charger on all the time when hooked up to electric. As long as the water level is up then I've never had an issue with the batteries.

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Thanks for your help. I am learning as I go. The Converter brand says WFCO. It is model # WF-8955PEC. The batteries says NAPA. I looked at them and don't know if they need water added. I see a flat cover and maybe that is where the water is added. I didn't want to pry something off if that isn't it. I didn't receive any manuals and I have been mostly trying to figure things out myself. It was a rental for 6 months then the dealer sold it. It is a 2015 Winnebago Minnie Winnie 25B and I downloaded a manual that is general about batteries as far as either having those that need water and those that don't.

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Great - with that info your manuals (for the charger) are here - http://wfcoelectronics.com/product/wf-8955-55-amp/

 

and a section of that is

WF-8955

 

 

(Fully compatible with WF-8955AN, with next generation faceplate design)

 

The WF-8900 Series has revolutionized RV power centers with its lighter weight, decorative doors and superior features. The WF-8955 model provides 55 amps and a clean, constant 13.6V DC nominal output, for reliable operation of electronics and appliances. Automatic three-stage charging extends the life of your battery with output voltage modes of 13.2V DC range “float” mode, 13.6V DC range “absorption” mode, and a 14.4V DC range “bulk” charge mode. The 8900 Series also maintains peace and quiet, as the cooling fan runs only when needed.

 

So it is a 3 stage charger - which is good. A little lower than I would like for a float voltage, but then we use ours constantly (full timing). You should be very good with it and your batteries should be OK. I would add a 'better' voltage meter or even better a BMS (Battery Monitoring System). But, you are good the way you are.

 

Jack Mayer (and others) has a very good info page on 12 V systems. (LOL- Probably more than you want to know) - http://www.jackdanmayer.com/rv_electrical_and_solar.htm

 

Happy camping and see you on the road.

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On adding water to the battery, this picture may be helpful to you.

cap.gif41LgXxq6X3L.jpg31LLE7ftzAL._SL500_SS115_.jpg

Notice the flat section has three caps connected together and they just pry off. Use a wide blade screwdriver or something similar and work gently along the edge and you should be able to get it off. Some of them are recessed a bit but most are similar to this picture. The second picture is of a squeeze bulb that is for adding water to the cells. I have also used a long, smaller funnel to do that. If you look down inside there is a tube extending into each cell with a slot in the side of the tube. Fill the cell to where the electrolyte just touches the slotted tube. Never allow the battery plates to be uncovered.

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Kirk, That really helps. I have 2 flat covers, so that is where I fill the batteries. I will get a battery filler. I read that the water evaporates quicker in warm weather and it has been close to 120 here where I live. That's why I want to check them. Thank you.

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