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Old 01-09-2011, 05:52 PM   #1
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Hopefully, no more dead engine battery

Probably not that big an issue for other owners, but for some reason my Itasca's engine battery would go dead after 30 days if I didn't start it. I would turn off the master switch for the dual-coach batteries, turn off the master switch for the radio and turn off the master switch for the steps. Still, the engine battery would go dead.

After replacing that battery twice, today I decided to install a a heavy-duty BEP Marine Master Battery Switch. I had to buy an additional battery cable, screws and locking nuts, but probably spent just under $40 for all the parts. Installation was easy, requiring me to remove two battery cables and the engine battery to give me a little more room to work with in the battery compartment. Drilled 4 holes in to the side of the battery box to mount the switch, hooked up the new battery cables and all seems good. (I did have to lay under the motorhome to be able to reach up and tighten the nuts for the new switch.) Switched to 'off', engine does not start and the step will not operate, even with the step switch set to 'on'.

Time will tell if this solves the problem with the engine battery going dead over a period of time, but thought I'd share my solution for this type of problem. -RT
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:30 PM   #2
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Sound like that will work just fine. Great job

We have a knife switch located on the negative side of the engine battery.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:40 PM   #3
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Sounds like a winner. I did something similar on my previous coach but found I still had some smaller wires attached to the battery that would still draw power and also back feed other circuits. One of the clues was my step would still open and close with the disconnect switch off.
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Old 01-09-2011, 07:48 PM   #4
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The other way to solve that common problem is with a Battery Minder. I had the same problem on my last rig until I got one of those critters. Also use it on my current rig. As you discovered (with dead batteries) there's still a small parasitic draw even with the battery disconnect switch activated. A couple of those draws are the transmission and the electric step.
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Old 01-10-2011, 06:16 AM   #5
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I have been fighting something similar. Trouble shot it down to the HEAVY cable that provides power to the jack and slide system. It was continually pulling over 4 amps with everything turned off. When I could give that specific issue to the dealer, they determined a selenoid had fused/locked up and replaced it.
I still may install a larger solar charger to maintain the engine batteries during the season instead of relying on power from the converter; shore power, etc.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:26 AM   #6
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bdpreece - “I did something similar on my previous coach but found I still had some smaller wires attached to the battery that would still draw power and also back feed other circuits.”

I was told that anything that is grounded could still draw power, so the best way is to have the master cut-off switch connected is to the ‘positive’ side of the battery, not the ‘negative’. That eliminates any possibility of a parasite draw.

Hoppers4 – “The other way to solve that common problem is with a Battery Minder.”

If I didn’t have to park the motorhome in a RV storage facility, that would be a great way. Plus, on super cold nights, I could run electric heat but just not practical where I live.

JayLodge – “I still may install a larger solar charger to maintain the engine batteries…”

That’s the best long-term solution, and one that I might be able to do next year. Had a small solar panel on my previous RV’s and never had a problem with dead batteries, ever. Not only does it eliminate issues with parasite draw, but keeps the batteries topped off for a longer lifespan.

Thanks for the replies and suggestions; hopefully this will solve the problem for the short-term, and I'll go with the solar panel long-term.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:43 AM   #7
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On my Tour, there is a Master switch in the cab for the Coach batteries, and another Master switch in the battery compartment for the engine batteries. The engine battery controls the step, door locks, and engine. Hit those two master switches and everything is dead.
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:49 AM   #8
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In some instances There is what is Known Internal Resistance This varies from battery to battery; So a battery left setting will go dead, We installed a merine Switch and found the battery still went dead. As stated in a prior post. If you don't keep it pluged in , It would be cost effictive to install a Soler penal. It need not be a high wattage unit ; 24 Watts would be sufficent. It worked for us; The solar, is about .. 1 amp= = 12 watts; cost is about $75.00 And it Works through coffee break unlike Employees;;
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Old 01-14-2011, 02:11 AM   #9
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Batteries will always self discharge - a small percentage per week... however, large parasitic drains will be eliminated with a cut-off switch either on the positive or negative side of the battery AS LONG as all wires/cables that did go to that terminal on the battery are moved out to the far side of the switch, with only one large cable going from the near side of the switch to the battery terminal. No current can flow to/from the battery once the switch is opened.

Now all you must control is the self discharge, which can be taken care of with an external float charger or small solar panel tied directly to the battery/batteries (not tied into the coach's DC system - so the parasitics have no new path). Be aware that even a small solar panel can overcharge a battery, causing it to boil out the water in the electrolyte, so a float charging circuit should be used with the solar panel.
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Old 01-15-2011, 07:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty3509 View Post
On my Tour, there is a Master switch in the cab for the Coach batteries, and another Master switch in the battery compartment for the engine batteries. The engine battery controls the step, door locks, and engine. Hit those two master switches and everything is dead.
. . . and that's what got me looking into it on my coach. I would do that, and still had over 4 amp draw on the cable going to the jack and slide systems.

regarding wet cell batteries discharging: I used to remove three batteries from my boat every winter and keep in my basement. A friend challenged that and I learned he was right. If they are not damaged otherwise, disconnect them, and when the ambient temperature is back up into, say the 60 degrees, they will show pretty much the same charge they had when I left them in October. People think not, because of trying to start cars in February when the ambient temp is below freezing.
I still think keeping them out of the Michigan winter will make them last longer...............
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Old 01-15-2011, 08:36 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
Probably not that big an issue for other owners, but for some reason my Itasca's engine battery would go dead after 30 days if I didn't start it. I would turn off the master switch for the dual-coach batteries, turn off the master switch for the radio and turn off the master switch for the steps. Still, the engine battery would go dead.

After replacing that battery twice, today I decided to install a a heavy-duty BEP Marine Master Battery Switch. I had to buy an additional battery cable, screws and locking nuts, but probably spent just under $40 for all the parts. Installation was easy, requiring me to remove two battery cables and the engine battery to give me a little more room to work with in the battery compartment. Drilled 4 holes in to the side of the battery box to mount the switch, hooked up the new battery cables and all seems good. (I did have to lay under the motorhome to be able to reach up and tighten the nuts for the new switch.) Switched to 'off', engine does not start and the step will not operate, even with the step switch set to 'on'.

Time will tell if this solves the problem with the engine battery going dead over a period of time, but thought I'd share my solution for this type of problem. -RT

The parasitic draw of modern vehicles will definitely kill a chassis battery in 30 days. Your solution is the correct one. I'm surprised that your coach didn't already have a chassis battery cut off switch.

My previous Ford E450 class C would kill the battery in 2 weeks if I forgot to turn the chassis cut off switch off.

BTW, if you KILLED your chassis battery a couple of times, it is probably shot now.
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offthewall View Post
The parasitic draw of modern vehicles will definitely kill a chassis battery in 30 days.

BTW, if you KILLED your chassis battery a couple of times, it is probably shot now.
Checked out the parasite draw a little more; when I turn off the manufacturer's chassis battery master switch, I knew the electric step draws off the chassis battery, but I'm a little surprised to discover that all three slides can be activated. Along with whatever draw comes from the engine and transmission computer, guess I'm no longer surprised that the battery was dead at 30 days of sitting.

I did recently replace the chassis battery, which is what finally inspired me to install the BEP Marine battery disconnect switch.

Thank you for the info. -RT
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