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Curt

Battery drain

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I had a set of old 7 year old batteries 8n my 5er that were working fine. I put it in storage with the switch off for 2 weeks and they were completely dead. When I replaced them I checked the meter inside the coach and it read 12.5. Five days later it read 11.5. Can something be draining them even with the switch off?

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Called parasitic drain, could be co2/smoke alarms, propane alarms, etc.

My coach draws 30 watts even with "salesman switch" off.  But if okay in the past, would suspect batteries. 7 years is a good run.

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8 hours ago, jcussen said:

Called parasitic drain, could be co2/smoke alarms, propane alarms, etc.

My coach draws 30 watts even with "salesman switch" off.  But if okay in the past, would suspect batteries. 7 years is a good run.

He replaced his batteries with new ones so this drain seems of recent origin. Could be the new batteries. My switch shuts down everything.

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9 hours ago, jcussen said:

Called parasitic drain, could be co2/smoke alarms, propane alarms, etc.

While this is quite true, it is usually more than those detectors as they normally draw only a few microamps while in operation, unless you happen to have a propane detector that also turns off the propane supply. They work by holding a spring closed valve open using a 12V solenoid and those will drain a good battery over time. It is not uncommon for the detectors to be wired around the battery isolation device. 

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3 minutes ago, Kirk Wood said:

While this is quite true, it is usually more than those detectors as they normally draw only a few microamps while in operation, unless you happen to have a propane detector that also turns off the propane supply. They work by holding a spring closed valve open using a 12V solenoid and those will drain a good battery over time. It is not uncommon for the detectors to be wired around the battery isolation device. 

Kirk, I saw Curt's post over on Facebook and suggested he ask his question of the Escapees. I think he should see how his batteries hold up with the terminal leads unhooked.  What struck me is that he has not historically had this problem and now in short order his old batteries die (maybe natural) and then the new ones can't hold a charge. Yes maybe the new ones are bad but this just all strikes me as odd.

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1 minute ago, Daveh said:

Yes maybe the new ones are bad but this just all strikes me as odd.

Agreed. And testing with an open circuit is by far the best way to see what is happening. Just lift the negative cable from the battery is all that needs done and very soon you will know. An open circuit battery should stay charged for years, not days. 

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I had similar problem in storage. I placed battery disconnects on all batteries. No problems with drain ever since. On my Discovery Motorhome. I nodtice that RV 101, Mark Polk, has a video no that. I just watched it this morning. 

Chuck

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Curt, here's the deal. If those "old" batteries are 7 years old, but SUBJECT TO how well they have been maintained and kept charged, that's not a bad run, they may have become sulfated over the years. I'm NOT addressing how a new set may or may not be discharging.......

SURE they can still discharge even with a "switch" off, it depends on how wired and what may NOT have actually got switched off ???? and there may still be some parasitic current paths PLUS self discharging, see below. Let them set completely disconnected and see what happens, that can narrow down if its a "bad" battery or a drain causing the problem. You could also place an ammeter in the circuit to see just how much if any current is flowing !!!!!!!!   

FYI even if completely disconnected sitting there open circuit, a lead acid (that what you have ??) battery will still "self discharge" considerably due to inherent chemical reaction IN ONLY A MATTER OF    MONTHS     !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't take my word for it, Here's what Progressive Dynamcs has to say regarding how much a lead acid battery will self discharge. I'm ONLY the messenger I'm NOT guaranteeing THEIR accuracy mind you.

"All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, will self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge for lead acid batteries depends on the storage or operating temperature. At a temperature of 80 degrees F. a lead acid battery will self-discharge at a rate of approximately 4% a week. A battery with a 125-amp hour rating would self-discharge at a rate of approximately five amps per week. Keeping this in mind if a 125 AH battery is stored for four months (16 weeks) winter without being charged, it will loose 80 amps of its 125-amp capacity. It will also have severe sulfation, which causes additional loss of capacity. Keep your batteries charged while not in use!"

John T

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Thanks for the reply John. But I don't think it's anything normal. I had the coach sitting for about 3 weeks with no issues with drain. I hooked up a 3000 watt generator and ran a few things..everything worked fine. One week later batteries are dead. I replaced them and within 5 days new ones are dead. This is too strange to be a normal drain.

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15 hours ago, Daveh said:

Kirk, I saw Curt's post over on Facebook and suggested he ask his question of the Escapees. I think he should see how his batteries hold up with the terminal leads unhooked.  What struck me is that he has not historically had this problem and now in short order his old batteries die (maybe natural) and then the new ones can't hold a charge. Yes maybe the new ones are bad but this just all strikes me as odd.

Dave..I brought the new batteries back to where I purchased them.They are going to recharge them. They said to put a meter between the cable and post with the battery switch off. If you see a significant draw start pulling fuses to see which one stops the draw. This should help narrow it down..I hope!

Edited by Curt

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Batteries connected in parallel will discharge quickly if you have a bad cell in one or more batteries.  Best way to check this is to isolate the links between the batteries and individually test each battery under load.  HF has a cheap load tester for about $25.

 

-bob

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8 hours ago, Curt said:

Thanks for the reply John. But I don't think it's anything normal. I had the coach sitting for about 3 weeks with no issues with drain. I hooked up a 3000 watt generator and ran a few things..everything worked fine. One week later batteries are dead. I replaced them and within 5 days new ones are dead. This is too strange to be a normal drain.

Thanks for the new information Curt. YES if they discharge that fast IF THERES NO LOAD AT ALL ATTACHED they have a serious problem (dead or shorted cell etc).  That's wayyyyyyyyy above and beyond the normal chemical reaction 4% monthly "self discharge" which can cause even a perfectly good lead acid battery to become considerably discharged, even if total disconnected and open in ONLY a matter of MONTHS !! Don't expect a new fully charged lead acid battery unhooked unloaded and open to still be fully charged if you go back months (let alone 6 to 8 months or heaven forbid a whole year) later !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sure I've had RV's trucks or tractors set several months and still start the engine, but of course, that can still happen even though they aren't "fully" charged WELL DUH lol........... 

A load test and specific gravity check IN EACH CELL is a test that should be performed.

Again have BOTH completely unhooked and also NOT hooked to each other, and see if one or both of them discharges that rapidly. If one in parallel is bad it can discharge BOTH batteries

If you connect an ammeter and then hook them up to the RV you can measure the draw regardless of its cause and regardless if any "switches" are on or off.

An easy way to troubleshoot is go to the RV's 12 VDC distribution panel and ONE AT A TIME remove the fuses and see which if any circuits are causing the drain. If there's a significant drain when you make the last connection to the RV at your batteries YOU WILL GET A VISIBLE SPARK. Be aware, however, some electronic devices will draw current for a brief period when first connected but then that stops

John T   

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8 hours ago, Curt said:

If you see a significant draw start pulling fuses to see which one stops the draw. This should help narrow it down..I hope!

I would agree with them that this is the way to start, using the ammeter function of your meter. If all of the fuses are removed from the 12V distribution panel and you still have a draw, it might indicate a problem but there is also a very strong possibility that something is connected with an inline fuse holder and is not passing through that distribution panel. And if you are not the original owner of the RV, it is also possible that a previous owner wired something around the fuse panel and your battery isolator switch. If such is the case there will usually be a telltale extra wire on the connector of the switch on the battery side or even on the battery's positive post. When you remove the negative battery cable you can be sure that you have removed all loads. For that reason, put your meter between the negative cable and the negative post, along with the fact that you should always remove the negative cable first to avoid arcing from a tool.

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55 minutes ago, Kirk Wood said:

I would agree with them that this is the way to start, using the ammeter function of your meter. If all of the fuses are removed from the 12V distribution panel and you still have a draw, it might indicate a problem but there is also a very strong possibility that something is connected with an inline fuse holder and is not passing through that distribution panel. And if you are not the original owner of the RV, it is also possible that a previous owner wired something around the fuse panel and your battery isolator switch. If such is the case there will usually be a telltale extra wire on the connector of the switch on the battery side or even on the battery's positive post. When you remove the negative battery cable you can be sure that you have removed all loads. For that reason, put your meter between the negative cable and the negative post, along with the fact that you should always remove the negative cable first to avoid arcing from a tool.

Thanks Kirk I will heed your advice!

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8 hours ago, Curt said:

I will heed your advice!

Keep us posted and we will possibly be able to help if you have troubles, or we will celebrate with you if you discover the problem. :D

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Update: Well We'll...we may have a breakthrough!! The new batteries have been marked as defective from the manufacturer. On the surface this seems to obviously be the problem. However I'm still going to remain a bit skeptical. While I'm hoping this is it, it still seems somewhat of a coincidence that the new batteries mimicked the old ones exactly.  I have not had a chance to put a meter on anything yet. I did check the breakaway and it was not pulled however it did look very dried out and the tape was very worn. In any case I certainly appreciate everyone's help in solving this mystery!

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11 hours ago, Curt said:

Update: Well We'll...we may have a breakthrough!! The new batteries have been marked as defective from the manufacturer. On the surface this seems to obviously be the problem.

 

Curt, THANKS for the update, I appreciate it.  Yeppers those "new" batteries or a battery may have had a serious problem ???? I'm like you, Id be nervous when installing the other "new" ones lol, but in case you still have a discharge problem you now have all the tools and techniques to troubleshoot the problem. If you find additional "add or scabbed on" appearing wires on the battery, with or without a visible in line fuse BEWARE !! Regardless, using an ammeter and/or one by one removing loads, fused or non fused, inside the 12 VDC distribution or elsewhere, switched on unswitched,  I'm sure you will find the problem. It seems so many RV's have some sort or the other of phantom or parasitic loads, by design or by fault, that discharges batteries when setting in storage grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.   

Thanks again, best wishes n God Bless, post back any more questions...........

John T

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12 hours ago, Curt said:

While I'm hoping this is it, it still seems somewhat of a coincidence that the new batteries mimicked the old ones exactly.  I

I can appreciate your thinking. If the new batteries have some sort of structural problem that allows for leakage that would mimick the effect of a very old battery in many ways. I think that I would make sure that the new batteries are properly charged and then let them sit for 8 to 10 hours and measure the voltage with an accurate, digital meter. I'd take 3 separate readings just to be sure they are accurate and then let the batteries sit for at least 3 days and a week would be better (if you have the time before need of travel) and then measure them again to see what change there was with an open circuit. That change will be very small and it will give you a base to compare to when you install the batteries. Once the batteries are installed, check the voltage about the same time each day for several days and that record will give you a feel for what is happening. If the voltage drops appreciably each day, then start to process of determining what is draining them. 

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Kirk said:

"For that reason, put your meter between the negative cable and the negative post, along with the fact that you should always remove the negative cable first to avoid arcing from a tool."

In general this is the sound advice for all things electrical, not surprising with Kirk's 'few years of experience' in electrical and all things RV'ing. 

That being said, their is on exception worth cautioning about, because it is a widely used piece of equipment.

Magnum MSxxxx series for sure, and perhaps MExxxx(?) too, are a bit different. Most recommendations I have read is to disconnect the Positive battery cable first. The Magnum searches for a 'path to ground', and with Chassis and House batteries quite often partially connected together for charging reasons - the Magnum can remain active when it links to the Chassis negative for it's power feed.

I recently changed out X's 4 L16's, and noted the MS2812 ARC50 remote still showed Inverting after disconnecting the House Negative feed to the Shunt valve. Researching I found cautions about disconnecting Positive lead from the House Battery first. A few, had damaged some equipment by the Magnum searching out the path to a Negative value. 

So for those with Magnum Inverter/Chargers, prudent to check your specific unit and how it is wired - to determine what is right for you. And I do not believe Kirk will have any concern about me tagging onto his post. He knows, we all know - he knows his stuff:)! 

OP - Even if you find and correct your higher power drain. Adding a good quality battery disconnect to your House bank makes life much easier. When in storage, you're then 100% sure that no house related parasitic draw is occurring. And, when doing quick maintenance activity on electrical in general, that quick disconnect makes it very easy to protect your house electrical by disconnecting:)! 

Best to all,

Smitty

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 Smitty, good info thanks for the heads up. Yep it was like sixty years ago I first heard mechanics and my uncles and farmers etc say what they learned years before to disconnect the GROUNDED terminal FIRST, its just common sense. Of course many old cars n truck n tractors were POSITIVE Ground (although RV's are typically NEG Ground) which is why just to be on the safe side I prefer to tell people to disconnect the GROUNDED terminal first. 

I agree with your battery disconnect. I cant count how many RV's over 47+ years HAVE PARASITIC OR PHANTOM CURREN T DRAWS GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. So cheap easy n simple to use a disconnect..............

Take care Smitty, best wishes n God Bless

John T

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Ok the mystery is solved! You can all call me Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation! If you remember the scene where he is checking every connection and bulb to determine what is shorting his lights out only to find thst someone keeps flipping the switch off. 
It turns out it was the light inside the generator compartment!! Who would think one light could pull so much amperage?  Again..thank you all for all your input and help. Actually I am considering it a nice education!

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Curt - Who untangled the Xmas Light 'Ball of Wire!' for you? (It's a shallow, with no redeeming values from a 'Artistic Viewpoint'. But, our family watches it as a yearly ritual on whatever Friday night falls before Xmas. (I cook up a batch of Sh_tty Smitty Chili, and we work our way into the evening - everyone quoting the classic lines form this movie. My Daughter really loves telling me to go buy myself something 'Really nice...':)!)).

Glad you found the problem... Salute!

Smitty

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