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"on & off" House battery problem


johnschnee
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I've been dealing with a FRUSTRATING issue with my 2014 Bounder's original house batteries (2 x 6V) for some time: After having been on shore power for a week & a 3 hour drive they read near 11.5, so I get the generator running & get them charged back up to 12.6-ish volts & come back 4 days later (both "kill switches" & inverter have been OFF) & one time they'll have held their charge, but the next time they're back down near the "11-range".  I should mention that it does seem to take only about an hour of the generator running to bring them back up to near to 12.6 volts again. 

What's making me CRAZY is that it doesn't happen all the time, just on occasion! The plan now is to pull them out & take them to local auto parts store to have them tested to try to rule out a bad cell.

Any suggestions? THANKS in advance!

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First, 12.6 is NOT a full charge if your connected to any kind of charger. If this is all your batteries are getting recharged, you may be looking at new batteries. You are right to have them checked out. But you also need to find out what's wrong with your charging system. On shore power, you should have a battery charger connected at all times that maintain the batteries, both coach and chassis. While driving, the alternator should maintain both battery banks and both should be at about 13.5 volts once they reach the float state of charge. Chuck

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ChuckBear: Thanks for chiming in! I should have said above that - while I'm connected to shorepower the house batteries will read at or near 13.5 & while I've got the engine running OR running the generator they'll read at 14.2+ - but after all recharging is stopped, maybe a 1/2 hour later they'd read at 12.6-ish NORMALLY, but on occasion they've dropped down to 11 or even lower, for no discernable reason!  It's these "drops" that I can't understand!  

I should have also explained earlier that, in some instances where the rig has been in storage for a couple days/weeks, the house batteries will read 11 volts or lower, but after being charged by the generator for maybe 45 minutes they'll read at near 12.3 or thereabouts.  From some previous posts on this site I've concluded they shouldn't "bounce back" that quickly & that can be a sign they've "gone bad."   

BOTTOM LINE: I'm intending to get these batteries checked out FIRST to make sure they're OK before I have to dive into any "issues" there might be with the charging system/inverter. THANKS AGAIN!

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36 minutes ago, johnschnee said:

while I'm connected to shorepower the house batteries will read at or near 13.5 & while I've got the engine running OR running the generator they'll read at 14.2+ -

That sounds like your charging is about as it should be so you are right to suspect the batteries. If you haven't done so, check the electrolyte level before you get too far. In some motorhomes there are things wired in such that the battery isolator doesn't disconnect them so the only way to be sure that the problem isn't a phantom load is to lift the negative battery cable. 

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12.6 volts is about where your battery should be once all charging is removed. With almost all our rigs there are items that cause the battery to discharge with no charging. There can be "phantom loads" such as led lights, engine electronics, etc. that will cause the voltage to drop. But with good batteries, it should take some time. A good start is a load test, AFTER you have check the fluid levels in the batteries and done a complete recharge. The batteries need to sit for a time before the load test is done. At least a few hours. If you take the batteries to a shop, they can do a series of tests. If they check out, you will need to start looking at the systems to find out what is discharging them. If they don't, new batteries should take care of everything. But you must check the fluid levels on a regular basis and keep them topped off. We always use only distilled water in our batteries. Chuck

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ChuckBear: That's exactly the route I intend to take this week - remove the batteries & have the fully Justtested at my local auto parts shop! 

Just a bit more "background": I started noticing this issue (house batteries run down while sitting in storage with battery isolator switches "OFF") at least 6 months ago: upon further investigation I noticed that the TV's red LED lights were remaining "ON", which led me to realize I should've also been turning off the INVERTER! I've been doing so these past few months (while stored), but - on occasion - still find the batteries quite low after just a short period.  Also, I've found that the LP GAS DETECTOR is direct-wired to batteries, so that drain can only be stopped by physically disconnecting the batteries - I assume there can be other "loads" I don't even know about.....

Lastly, I've been checking & filling these batteries MONTHLY since I bought the MH (I paid attention to THAT bit of advice from my dealer!) :-)

Kirk: I appreciate your kind advise as well, but just find it a bit worrisome it's coming from a guy who WILLING traveled in a boat that went UNDER THE WATER! Doesn't seem natural....  :-)

JS (MSgt, USAF ret)

 

 

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1 hour ago, johnschnee said:

Also, I've found that the LP GAS DETECTOR is direct-wired to batteries, so that drain can only be stopped by physically disconnecting the batteries - I assume there can be other "loads" I don't even know about.....

If your propane detector happens to be one that shuts off the propane if it alarms, it would be capable of draining a battery fairly quickly but if it is one that alarms only and has no control functions, it should draw only a few milliamps and that should have very little effect. 

2 hours ago, johnschnee said:

I appreciate your kind advise as well, but just find it a bit worrisome it's coming from a guy who WILLING traveled in a boat that went UNDER THE WATER!

When you depend on a bunch of flooded cell batteries for power to return to the surface in an emergency, believe me, you take good care of them!:lol:

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Well, seems this "saga of the troublesome house batteries" may FINALLY be over!  I pulled them out & took them to an local auto parts store to have them checked out! The verdict: ONE was "deader than a doornail" & the other was well on it's way to joining his/her pal!  The tester mentioned they also noticed some "swelling" of the cases of BOTH batteries (especially the dead one) & also that there were indications that "dead Fred" had been leaking a bit! That probably explains the puddle of liquid I noticed in the battery box!?! He also said that the test of the "as yet undead" battery showed an extremely low level of "cranking amps"?

Anyways, I bought TWO new 6-volt batteries they happened to have in stock, installed them (that took a bit of effort as the cases were just a might bit smaller that my old batteries, so I had to make modifications.) The on-board voltage meter read 12.58 Volts & the generator cranked right up....... here's hoping for the best!

 

THANKS again! :-) 

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42 minutes ago, johnschnee said:

The tester mentioned they also noticed some "swelling" of the cases of BOTH batteries (especially the dead one) & also that there were indications that "dead Fred" had been leaking a bit! That probably explains the puddle of liquid I noticed in the battery box!

Signs of swelling and leaks are extremely bad so it is fortunate that you found them. 

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