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Old 08-11-2007, 11:20 AM   #1
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I seem to be having a problem with my house batteries/charger. My rig is brand new to me. 2003 Ultimate Freedom with a Freedom 20 inverter/charger and a heart interface remote control panel.

I am connected to shore power and see the "charge" light lit up. I assume that means it is charging the batteries.

BUT, they are slowly discharging. We are in an RV park now with 50 amp service. We are here testing everything out. This morning, the voltage on the house batteries were 8.5. Nothing was run all night...we slept at my parents house.

So, today I fired up the generator and it did not help (I had to fire up the engine first to get the generator to start!). I fired up the engine a little later and sure enough, they got charged to 12.5 or so after about 45 minutes, but are now slowly running back down.

I have read everything on the Freedom and can't figure out what the heck is going on. Could it be bad batteries? I can't imagine why they would run down that quickly while on shore power...

After running the engine, they were at 12.5V, now they are down to 12.3 1 hour later. And nothing is on other than the AC. The refrig is on LP.

Thanks!
Craig
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Old 08-11-2007, 11:20 AM   #2
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I seem to be having a problem with my house batteries/charger. My rig is brand new to me. 2003 Ultimate Freedom with a Freedom 20 inverter/charger and a heart interface remote control panel.

I am connected to shore power and see the "charge" light lit up. I assume that means it is charging the batteries.

BUT, they are slowly discharging. We are in an RV park now with 50 amp service. We are here testing everything out. This morning, the voltage on the house batteries were 8.5. Nothing was run all night...we slept at my parents house.

So, today I fired up the generator and it did not help (I had to fire up the engine first to get the generator to start!). I fired up the engine a little later and sure enough, they got charged to 12.5 or so after about 45 minutes, but are now slowly running back down.

I have read everything on the Freedom and can't figure out what the heck is going on. Could it be bad batteries? I can't imagine why they would run down that quickly while on shore power...

After running the engine, they were at 12.5V, now they are down to 12.3 1 hour later. And nothing is on other than the AC. The refrig is on LP.

Thanks!
Craig
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Old 08-11-2007, 12:06 PM   #3
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Sounds like your charger is not working. Check it for a blown fuse.

Normal voltage for a fully charged 12 volt battery is 12.6VDC. 11VDC is about dead. 8.5 is real dead. You have some drain on the batteries all the time such as your CO detector, most of your lights are on 12VDC too.

You may have a bad battery that is not holding a charge. A battery will usually last 3 to 5 years. Your house battery or batteries should be deep cycle battery which will take a deep discharge unlike an automotive starting battery which is damaged everytine it is discharged below about 10VDC.

You should be able to tell if your batteries are being charged by watching your volt meter. A float charge shoud be around 13.5 to 13.8 or so, an equalize charge should be 14.25 to 14.6 or so. A battery showing 12.8 orr less is not being charged.

Look for a blown fuse or the charger not being connected to your battery string.
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:23 PM   #4
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Sounds like your charge circuit in your converter may be shot. If the batteries will charge while the engine is running and will not when on shore power or gen then I think your Converter Charge circuit is in question. Also I would check if your house batteries are shot. For them to go down tht quickly I would think that you have some cells shorted out. I would use your house battery disconnect switch to turn off the batteries after you charged them with the engine running. Then let them sit for a few hours and see how far/quickly they discharge. To bring them up to full charge after being at 8.5 volts could take some time -- multiple hours.
Good luck
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Old 08-11-2007, 01:41 PM   #5
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I agree with Gunny. If you're plugged into 50 amp service and the batteries are still discharging then the converter is definitely not charging the batteries. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but even when you're plugged into shore electric all the lights, detectors and refrigerator will still be working off the house batteries, so that's why they're continuing to discharge. The converter just isn't there to replace the charge in the batteries.
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Old 08-11-2007, 02:14 PM   #6
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Craig

Where are your located? ...I am currently in Albuquerque.

I have a 2003 Ultimate Advantage with Freedom 10 and Heart Interface control panel, so ours should be very similar.

I agree with the others that your charger does not seem to be working (either is not on, or is not working). When the charger is on, you should have a charger indicator light on the control panel beside the word "Charger." I also have a row of indicator lights telling me how much the charger is putting out along with 3 indicator lights showing the current state of the batteries ...either red, orange or green. You should also have a digital display that will give you the current state of charge on either battery bank in volts, ref the numbers Gunny mentions.

Ron is correct in saying that even while plugged in, all your 12v "stuff" is running off the batteries, so if they are not being charged they will discharge. Your rig has a 3-stage charger, so goes into "float" mode to maintain the batteries when they are fully charged.

The generator cranks off the house batteries. If they are too low to start the generator, you should have a "battery boost" switch on the dash that you can trigger to tie in the chassis batteries to help you start the generator. Or, as you discovered, starting the engine will normally charge the house batteries enough to get the generator started. (You can use the battery boost switch the same way to start the engine if the chassis batteries are low but the house batteries are good).

If you have CoachNet ERS, you can call their 24 hr tech service line to talk to a tech who can tell you how to find a fuse or breaker in the charger circuit. If you don't have CoachNet, Winnebago Customer Service may be able to help you in the same way. They are at 800-537-1885 during normal business hours ...you'll probably need to give them your coach s/n to get the right information.

My Inverter/Charger Converter unit has a breaker on it. Your unit should be visible in a basement compartment. Mine is located in the same compartment as the batteries. Check to be sure that breaker is not tripped. At the same time, check to see if your unit has indicator lights on it indicating the charger and/or inverter are actually on. Mine does, and either function can be turned on or off right there on the unit in addition to at the remote panel.

The batteries do seem to be responding as they should when they are actually being charged by the engine. When we are not on shore power, our 4-door refrigerator and water heater running on electric can pull the batteries down quickly if we have the inverter on. We normally turn the inverter off unless dry camping (and then we ensure the refrigerator & water heater are on LP). It could be that your batteries would benefit from being "equalized." Your charger no doubt has that capability ...it de-sulfates the battery plates. I equalize our house batteries maybe twice a year. It made a huge difference the first time I did it after owning the coach a little over a year. If you can't find instructions for the equalizing procedure in your manuals, I can send you what I have and we can hope your 20 is very similar in operation to my 10.

Good luck!
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Old 08-11-2007, 03:19 PM   #7
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You guys are unreal. I am SOOOO glad I found this forum.

I just got back from shopping and noticed the House batteries were showing about 11.9V. When I left 2 hours earlier, they were around 12.2V. All lights, etc. were off but the AC, refrig, and hot water heaters were left on. I am in Pahrump, outside Vegas, and it is HOT!!!

I fired up the Engine and they are now showing 13.4 or 13.5V. That dropped to 12.8V and fairly quickly 12.5V after turning off the engine.

The Heart Interface has the charge button on and is showing 13 volts. When I turn off the charge and turn it back on, it jumps to 14 volts for about 2 minutes. And shows my batteries to be middle state (acceptance mode). Then, it goes to highest state (float mode), where it stays, even as the batteries start discharging. Even when they were at 9V, the Heart control panel showed they were OK and had 13V. ????

The batteries have 11/06 as a date on them and appear to be the maintenance free type. From Interstate Battery, Pinnacle Technology, Workaholic brand.

Now this rig did sit on a lot for the past 7 months. It does have solar. So, I am "guessing" that the batteries are OK. But that is a guess.

I looked at the breakers on the box in my outside compartment and they are OK, as are all the breakers in the breaker box. I don't know where else a fuse could be, but I will do some reading and see what I can find...or call Winnebago on Monday (Thanks for that info, AFChap!!!)

Anyway...I have an RV guy here on Monday also. So many problems to deal with. Hopefully, we can get this solved together. You guys confirmed that at least I am not doing something wrong. Good! Now, to get it fixed.

Thanks!
Craig
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Old 08-11-2007, 05:11 PM   #8
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Craig, I believe you can pop the tops on your batteries and refill with distilled water just so it barely covers the plates.
There should be a slot to pry the rectangular tops off. Each top covers 3 holes. After the battery is fully charged, you can fill the battery to the bottom of the inner plastic piece or about 1" from the top of the hole. Replace the tops and wash the batteries with a generous amount of plain water.
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:49 PM   #9
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Craig

Your chassis batteries are likely "no maintenance" models, but the house batteries probably are not. My Ultimate has two "no maintenance" chassis batteries, and three house batteries. All are Interstate. I check the water level in the house batteries about once a month, and have to add water probably every two months or so.

If you have the factory solar panel, it is probably a 10w panel. It will not get enough power to charge the batteries ...may help a little, but isn't enough to really do any good.

It sounds like the charger is not doing what the remote panel is reporting! You didn't mention a breaker on the charger/inverter itself ...mine has one. I would think if there were a breaker popped or bad fuse that you would not be getting the charger lights on the remote panel.

One last thing to try ...on the inverter, you should have a cable plugged in that looks a bit like a computer network cable (like a large telephone plug). The other end of that cable plugs into the back of the remote panel. Unplug that wire from either end (normally easier to get to on the inverter end), leave it out a minute or so, then plug it back in. That causes the computer board to "re-set." I've had missing lights on my panel a couple of times, and that little trick has always brought them back to normal. You have a bit of a different problem, but it's worth a try!
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Old 08-11-2007, 08:24 PM   #10
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Just went through this with my 2003 ultimate freedom --- bad batteries --- only one year old --- batteries had run partially dry -- even with fresh water -- too late -- batteries ruined -- take batteries out and have a "load test" run on them -- you will probably find your problem
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Old 08-13-2007, 12:28 PM   #11
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craigt.....

If your 'new to you' Ultimate Freedom sat on a lot for 7 months, I'd almost bet your batteries are toast.

I have yet to see proper battery care at any dealership. They don't make any money doing that. But I have seen a lot of battery abuse at dealerships just because they can.

I would think that your batteries will fail a load test, but even if they didn't, I'd still replace them with new.
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Old 08-13-2007, 02:45 PM   #12
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I agree...the batteries were never taken care of. Interesting thing happened today. I got tired of starting the engine every 5-6 hours to charge the batteries. So, borrowed a friends battery charger. No, I did not disconnect everything...too lazy and we are currently living in it. But I did turn "off" the charger part of my inverter.

I did see the volts jump up, but not very high. After charging a few batteries, I got the volts up to 12.1 and decided that was OK for now. Turned off the external battery charger and went inside and turned on the inverters charger.

Amazing! It registered that the batteries were very low. And started charging! The volts jumped up to 13.8...where they stayed as the charger cycled through to the trickle charge. Unreal.

Still not 100% sure what is going on, but have the RV guy coming by on Wednesday...

More to come...
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Old 08-14-2007, 02:18 AM   #13
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It now sounds like the converter/inverter/charge is working correctly. Perhaps it was just 'stuck' in the off position and your external charging triggered a reset.

More likely the transfer switch going to the batteries that controls where the power comes from (either charger or alternator) was stuck towards alternator. That would explain why your charger/inverter/converter always had the same output, but the batteries didn't get charged unless you ran the engine.

I'm not sure where this switch is, but it's working now. That brings up another transfer switch 'glitch' that sometimes bites us.

If you're on generator and then plug into shore power, then turn off your generator, you may lose electrical power. What's happened is the transfer switch in the electrial cord compartment (a box about 5x5x3. I think it's in the same spot on the Freedoms as it is on the Advantages) is stuck going to the generator.

The remedy is replacement of the switch.....BUT most of us have found that if you whack the switch (no dents please!) with a rubber mallet or piece of 2x4 (my preferred method) the switch moves over to the new source of power.

Given the amount of time your coach has sat, it would not be unlikely that alot of automatic switches and other things that reposition automatically would move less freely. Good schematics and blunt force may serve you well.
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Old 08-14-2007, 04:00 AM   #14
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Craig,

I recently ran into a similar situation that the batteries in the coach were running down even while I was plugged into shore power.

The symptoms were identical that the batteries were low, but as soon I would put the charger into charge mode, I could watch the unit go from Bulk charge, to Acceptance, to Float stages within a minute or two. The changer would stay in Float stage even though the batteries were low and discharging.

What I found was happening was that one of the battery cables that was flexing due the pulling out of the battery tray was unscrewing itself from the battery post on the furthest back battery. Since this battery cable was loose, was the one that fed accross the rig to the inverter/charger, the unit wasn't reading the correct battery condition.

Thinking about how the unit works, as soon as I'd put the charger in charge mode, the output voltage of the charger would raise up to over 14 volts. Normally with connected batteries that are low, the charger will max out it's output current until the battery voltage reaches a threshold before dropping to acceptace mode. In my case, since the battery cable was loose and the battery not drawing charging current, the charger output voltage rose immediatly to 14 volts, so the unit switched to the absorbtion phase of charging. The absorbtion phase was also terminated early due to the voltage level on the output cables and the charger switched to the float stage.

I'd see the charger cycle through all three stages within a minute or two every time I powered it up. What tipped me off to the loose cable was putting a voltmeter across the battery and monitoring the battery voltage at the same time as measuring the output voltage right at the charger. As soon as I saw the charger voltage increasing without the battery voltage changing I knew there was a loose cable.

Tightened up the battery cables leading to the charger, and my problem solved. Might be worth a try for you.
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