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Old 04-25-2016, 10:48 AM   #1
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Battery Problems/Battery Test In Situ?

Greetings!

We took our 2014 Itasca Suncruiser 37F for a short boondocking expedition this weekend and we very dismayed at the capacity of the house batteries.

We never really boondocked before and expected the bank of house batteries (with residential reefer) to last at least while we slept. But that was not to be - after about 4 hours, the inverter kicked out with a "low bat" message on the magnum remote. The batteries were so low, we could not start the genny. We had to start the main engine to get the genny started.

The next night, since it was a cool night, we turned off the invertor and all 120v AC when we shutdown the genny. We used the led lights a bit, but when the next morning rolled around, the batteries had dropped to the point that the genny would not start again.

I fear we may somehow cooked these batteries - the rig spent the winter plugged in, but my reading of the Magnum Inverter guide indicated that this was ok and it would simply keep the batteries charged.

On this Suncruiser 37F, the batteries are in a compartment where I can't really get at them - I think you may have to remove the floor of the compartment above - otherwise I only have side access of about 3 clearance above the batteries.

So, for troubleshooting, does anyone know of a way to test the integrity of these batteries while they are in position? I really would like to avoid removing them and hauling them down the parts store for testing.

While I have peoples kind attention, does anyone have any experience removing/replacing these batteries? How do you do it?

And finally, it would really be nice if I was doing something really stupid here and someone could point it out to me that I really don't have any battery problems at all. Feel free to call me a moron.

Regards,
Jerald Pendleton
2014 Suncruiser 37F
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:32 PM   #2
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You didn't mention how many batteries you have in your 'bank'. If you are going to remove the batteries for testing. Take picture of the wiring so that you don't have a problem when you hook back up again. If you have a multi-meter you can test to see how many amps you are drawing. But a load test will be the best.

Good luck!
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Old 04-25-2016, 04:23 PM   #3
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jrpend, all of the coach batteries are connected in parallel so they cannot be checked with our disconnecting them. Make sure the battery type is set to AGM in the inverter setup.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:15 AM   #4
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If this helps. I used different color zip ties to mark my cables, the real small ones. I put one on the cable and one on the side of the battery in my case. Once I ran out of a single zip tie matches, I doubled them. Sorry I can't help with the original issue, I fought those gremlins as well, replaces the batteries and a few components. Have you checked the fluid levels in the batteries recently? If you have a dry cell, I'd guess they are toast.
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Old 04-26-2016, 07:57 AM   #5
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You may just have to bite the ullet and pull them. It is likely that they are low on water. While you have them out, you may want to instakk a wattering system such as Robot Check

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Old 04-26-2016, 08:45 AM   #6
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Not sure where your bank is located, ours are below my large pass-thru bay. I have to pull out the tray and remove the floor above the batteries.

We have 6 AGM 12v. Water should not be an issue.

The refer is pretty energy effecient except when it goes into defrost mode. When I dry camp I use the vacation mode on the refer.
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:00 AM   #7
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Battery Problems/Battery Test In Situ?

Jrpend, before you do anything be sure you know what you have. I am not familiar with your coach so my comments need to be general in nature. I see comments above about AGM batteries from 1 poster and adding water from another. IF you have AGM's you do not add water. If you have flooded wet cell batteries you maintain the water level with distilled water. Your inverter/charger must be set according to the type batteries you have, flooded wet cell, AGM or the latest, lithium iron (not very common yet and EXTREMELY expensive), otherwise it will not charge properly.

You will have a serial/parallel battery bank that has four or six 6 volt deep cycle batteries set up with two batteries in series (giving you 12 volts) and two or more of these groups in parallel giving you a total of 12 volts while increasing the total amp hours, thus allowing your residential refer to run longer.

There could be several reasons you are having the problems you are currently seeing. A few that quickly come to mind are:

1) Inverter/charger set up wrong.
2) Flooded wet cells that have been discharged too deeply and are damaged.
3) If you have flooded wet cells, you kept the charger on all winter and did not top off the water in the individual cells, the water would have boiled off during charging (this is normal) dropping the level below the top of the plates, that will damage the cells.
4) Any number of other reasons (or combination of reasons) depending upon what you have.

At this point you would be best to determine exactly what type batteries you have, how the charger is set up and the condition of the individual cells in that order.

IMHO you probably have flooded wet cell batteries (you most likely would know if you had AGM's as they are an expensive option, about double the cost of flooded wet cells) that boiled off the water over the winter. That means the plates in the batteries could be damaged and further inspection of the individual cells is required (read remove the batteries so you can get them inspected), that will require assistance from someone who knows how you coach is set up for access to the batteries, I would be surprised if you have flooded wet cells with access that is too difficult since that is something that requires constant checking, but I have seen dumb things done by manufacturers. If you do find bad cells unfortunately you will need to replace all the batteries in the bank not just the damaged one(s). If you choose not to do the work yourself be sure you go to shop that knows RV battery systems, some shops think they do, others just won't mess with them. The battery manufacturer Trojan has some pretty good videos about battery maintenance on their web site, check it out if you have a chance. You can also search here on IRV2, but again be careful that you know what you have, a lot of posters are talking about what they have and if it is different from yours you could go down a wrong path.

Sorry for the long winded post, but without the specifics of your bank I wanted you to have enough information so you would not damage it.
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:52 AM   #8
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DrDaveMA...is spot on. You boil off regular batteries and there now toast. Move up to AGM type and a 4 stage converter/charger you will not regret the cost...more easy to maintain and there more reliable. Should be standard equipment! 😘
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Old 04-26-2016, 10:24 AM   #9
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FWIW, The online brochure for the 2014 37F indicates 4 AGM batteries when the optional Residential unit installed. Ours came with 6 AGM.

I also noticed a 2000 watt inverter/charger, our was upgraded from 2600 to 2800 watt.
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Old 04-26-2016, 11:19 AM   #10
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Starting to suspect the Inverter...

I could only spend a few minutes at the rig last night, but I did determine I had 4 AGM Type-2 batteries (NAPA 9831DT) and performed a bit of testing:

Disconnecting the inverter (Winnebago very nicely built in a switch to do so) from the batteries, I ran the 12v system standalone for a while. The voltage (via the status panel) very quickly dropped to 12.2V which according to the manual indicates a very low state of charge. This was simply using the lights as a load.

I then threw the switch to reconnect the inverter and looked at the inverter status panel and saw that it was already back in "Float" mode and the battery voltage was indicating 13.6V (full charge).

I expected it to go to "Bulk" or "Absorption". It is my understanding "Float" does little if any charging and used solely to preserve the level of charge.

So maybe this it?

So my intention now is to spend an evening curled up with the Magnum manual and see if I can grok it to it's fullness.

If anyone has any pearls of wisdom on this, I would be most interested.

Thanks,
Jerald
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Old 04-26-2016, 03:42 PM   #11
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FWIW, inverter my settings are:

AC IN 30amps
Search 5W
Bat AHRS 400 (Yours should be less)
Bat Type AGM-2
Charge Rate 100%
LBCO 11VDC
VAC Drop 80VAC
Power Save Off
Equalizer OFF
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