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Old 08-03-2014, 07:44 PM   #1
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Coach battery drain

We just spent two weeks dry camping in our 2010 Itasca Suncruiser. We needed to run our generator at least twice a day for 2 hours to keep our batteries charged up. We have a norcold fridge that seemed to be the big draw. We replaced almost all of our lights to LED bulbs and even used those sparingly. We didn't run anything else but the water pump for the most part. I know that there are a few items like the awning control and the outside radio that I can't find a way to shut off. We do have 2 12v house batteries (less than a year old) that I know it would help if I replaced them with 2 6v. I'm thinking about AGM type.

But besides that, can a propane fridge use that much power? Also, the rig has the button type circuit breakers. How do I shut them off? They are flush with the outside of the breaker when not tripped.


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Old 08-03-2014, 07:54 PM   #2
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Question. If the coach had been plugged into shore power for a week , how much battery life would you have then ? Just over night , like from the gen set recharge? Was the battery life any better when the batteries were installed?

Fridge control board and activation of the propane solenoids for the burner to run , is a 12v draw, but your 2 batteries should do way better that that .
Have you had them tested? One bad cell can draw down both batteries in a hurry, and new doesn't mean good. A battery can fail any time.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:01 PM   #3
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The fans in the fridge will draw some of the juice. How hot was it where you were?
You may want to consider a solar panel up om top. Mabey even 2. Got room for another battery? 2 house batterys are a little weak for your size coach. Our's has 3 group 31's for the house and 2 for the starting 5 total. 1 90 watt solar panel up top. That takes care of the charging during the day when we dry camp here in Az. Lots of sun. And totaly agree with the above post by Skip!
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:26 PM   #4
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We were in a state campground in the adirondack mountains of NY. Lots of trees and the weather was cool (70's in day and 40's and 50's at night). The batteries lasted a couple days at first and not a day after that. We didn't run the furnace at night. I was also wondering why the voltage readout on the AGS would read 12.0 volts but the battery charge readout on the levels gauge would read fully charged.

My thought on the AGM type was that I could add a couple more 6v batteries later as money and time permitted.


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Old 08-03-2014, 08:30 PM   #5
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You would NOT get a major improvement from 2 6V vs. 2 12Volt batts of similar size...like Group 31's. Nor would moving to AGM's/Gels give you any added capacity. They are great for other reasons but not a lack of capacity.
My guess is that your batteries have been somewhat abused and have lost capacity and/or are nearing the end of their useful life.
You also don't know how many amp hours you are actually using when boondocking which is quite important.
Suggest:
1. Fully charging your batteries by plugging in somewhere overnight. THEN disconnect the batteries for 24 hours by removing the negative wire. Then take a voltage reading at the battery terminals with a voltmeter. It SHOULD be 12.6V
anything less than 12.4 volts indicates serious wear and lack of capacity...anything less than 12.2 volts means half your capacity is gone and you should be looking for replacements.
2. The solution to understanding your amp hour usage and your remaining battery capacity before the genny is needed is a good battery monitor like the Trimeetric or Victron...around $150 bucks...or a lot less than a pair of new batteries will cost you.
********************
If you do need new batteries....consider determining your boondocking amp hour usage FIRST...then buying TWICE that capacity in batteries so you can go a day between genny runs without compromising the 50% rule of discharge.
AGM's will be more convenient in terms of watering and CAN be more efficient in accepting a charge from your genny and converter...provided you can supply a high amp charge...which most can't.
Conventional batteries (wet cells) can accept around 20% of their rated amps as a charging amperage. So...if you have 200amp hours of battery bank ...then you can bulk charge at a 40 amp rate. AGM's can accept at least 50% of their rated amp hours as a charge...so you could put 100 amps in IF you had a 100 amp charger into that same 200 amp hour bank. This would cut genny run time rather dramatically...but 100 amp smart chargers can get expensive along with the AGM batteries.
In a TWO battery system, I much prefer a pair of REAL deep cycle 12V batteries than a pair of 6Volts...because if one 6 volt fails...the house bank is dead. Not so with a single 12 volt. A pair of good Group 31 deep cycles are the rough equivilent in performance of a good pair of 6Volts.
Note...in a 4 battery system...I like the cost benefit bang for the buck of 6 volts. If you boondock a lot...4 may be your needed solution.
Just laying out the options.
Good luck with it all.
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Old 08-05-2014, 07:35 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback. I have another week next week and I don't know if I have time to decide what change to make. It's an expensive mistake if I make the wrong choice! I may try to find a couple Trojan batteries to replace what I have.

I do like the idea of the Trimeetric monitor. I have to see where I could put it. I did some reading online and it looks like my converter doesn't really charge at a high enough voltage, by design. The batteries need higher than 14 volts?


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Old 08-05-2014, 09:13 AM   #7
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Two hours may not be enough to charge the batteries. How run down do they get? It can take like 10 hours to charge the batteries if they are down to 50% charge.

Depends on lots of things, converter size, temperature, size of the battery bank, but here's a generic chart:
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Old 08-05-2014, 09:16 AM   #8
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Regarding the dc circuit breakers Winnebago uses.
I don't know of any way to switch them on and off. You can remove screws and pull the panel out so a wire could be unplugged from a breaker but that would only be useful for troubleshooting.
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