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Old 04-20-2014, 01:10 PM   #1
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Premature House Battery Death

We bought a used Vectra last summer. I noticed the battery area was a little dirty so I pulled the batteries (house and chassis), cleaned the cables, and painted the trays. We had no DC electrical issues during our travels during the summer and into fall.

We ended our travel season in early October so the rig sat for about a month. Iím fairly sure I switched off the main power. By mid-November I started the winterization but noticed the house batteries were too low for anything to work. I pulled them out and topped them off with distilled water and put each one of them on a trickle charge for about 2 days each.

After charging I let them sit on my bench in my heated workshop over the winter. I checked them about a month ago and it looks like they didnít take the charge. I checked each cell with my hydrometer and 2 or 3 cells in each battery are basically dead. The bob thingy would not float at all.

They are Exide 31MDC with a manufacture date of 11/2012. Iím trying to figure out why the batteries would die with such little use.

They seemed sized right. The CCA rating is 775, 115 AH, and 205 minutes. The coach calls for 665 CCA, 120 AH, and 225 minutes. Did I charge them long enough? Are Exide batteries junk? Did I neglect to maintain something?
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Old 04-20-2014, 03:35 PM   #2
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resqguy;

I owned a 2003 Chieftain with 3 group 31 deep cycle batteries. They were different dates. So I purchased all new deep cycle Interstate batteries and I had no further problems. 3 years ago when I purchased my present Horizon the 3 coach batteries were different sizes and ages. That I am told is a No No. I purchased all new Interstate Group 31 Maintenance Free batteries and this past Fall I had them tested and all were good.

When I see the term CCA that refers to cold cranking amps normally used for starting batteries for the Chassis. The coach should be deep cycle batteries so I am confused about whether you are using the right batteries. I have left my batteries in the coach all winter in my last 3 coaches plugged in to 120V using a multi stage charger. I have never had a battery problem over those years. A battery cell that has had the cells exposed do to low water may need to be replaced. This info is based on my personal experience and may not apply to your coach. Best of luck addressing your problem. Please let us know what you do to solve your problem. We all learn from each other.
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resqguy View Post
We bought a used Vectra last summer. I noticed the battery area was a little dirty so I pulled the batteries (house and chassis), cleaned the cables, and painted the trays. We had no DC electrical issues during our travels during the summer and into fall.

We ended our travel season in early October so the rig sat for about a month. Iím fairly sure I switched off the main power. By mid-November I started the winterization but noticed the house batteries were too low for anything to work. I pulled them out and topped them off with distilled water and put each one of them on a trickle charge for about 2 days each.

After charging I let them sit on my bench in my heated workshop over the winter. I checked them about a month ago and it looks like they didnít take the charge. I checked each cell with my hydrometer and 2 or 3 cells in each battery are basically dead. The bob thingy would not float at all.

They are Exide 31MDC with a manufacture date of 11/2012. Iím trying to figure out why the batteries would die with such little use.

They seemed sized right. The CCA rating is 775, 115 AH, and 205 minutes. The coach calls for 665 CCA, 120 AH, and 225 minutes. Did I charge them long enough? Are Exide batteries junk? Did I neglect to maintain something?
Please check the Winnebago web site or call the hot line. As the previous post states, CCA is for start batteries. A good deep cycle battery bank is what is used for your house batteries.

If the batteries are not charging when you are driving there is something wrong. If the start battery is getting charged the battery isolator/charger may be bad. The web site has the wiring diagram for your coach. See if you can figure out where things are going wrong from it IF you don't have a charge on the coach batteries when the engine is running.

This charge cycle is governed by the charged bank. It will divert charging to the low bank automatically if things are working correctly.

If this is not enough info to get you pointed in the right direction more is available from me or the other fine folks on the forum.

Happy trails,
Rick
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:02 PM   #4
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The specs "665 CCA, 120 AH, and 225 minutes reserve capacity" are from the Owner's Manual for the coach.

Deep cycle batteries can also have a CCA rating although less important since they only need to start the generator.

I usually plug the RV into my house during the winter so that the RV battery charger will maintain the batteries. I had to travel for work right after my last trip. When I got back the batteries were so drained that the (shore) transfer relay would not function to switch the RV to shore power. The only choice I had was to try to charge the batteries with an external charger.

The only thing unusual that I noticed was that the "House" battery DC Voltage level on the inside display would show about 1/2 volt lower than what I measured at the batteries with a DVM. I dismissed it as an issue with the read out but am starting to wonder if it could be a problem. If the battery charger is reading a low voltage, like the display, it could be over charging the batteries. Deep cycle batteries don't like being overcharged.
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:07 PM   #5
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The hydrometer tester is not accurate,INMHO, Test voltage with a multi-meter.
Trickle charge for 2 days is not enough. 2 days @ 6+ amps then top for a day @ trickle.
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Old 04-21-2014, 07:15 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by resqguy View Post
The specs "665 CCA, 120 AH, and 225 minutes reserve capacity" are from the Owner's Manual for the coach.

Deep cycle batteries can also have a CCA rating although less important since they only need to start the generator.

I usually plug the RV into my house during the winter so that the RV battery charger will maintain the batteries. I had to travel for work right after my last trip. When I got back the batteries were so drained that the (shore) transfer relay would not function to switch the RV to shore power. The only choice I had was to try to charge the batteries with an external charger.

The only thing unusual that I noticed was that the "House" battery DC Voltage level on the inside display would show about 1/2 volt lower than what I measured at the batteries with a DVM. I dismissed it as an issue with the read out but am starting to wonder if it could be a problem. If the battery charger is reading a low voltage, like the display, it could be over charging the batteries. Deep cycle batteries don't like being overcharged.
Because hydrometer readings are temperature relative they are not always reliable. A good and true deep cycle battery not always displays CCA's because they are not designed for starting. This is the manufactures choice. A deep cycle battery can be used for a start battery but I don't know what the life expectancy would be. A start battery will not survive long, as I understand it, on the demands of the constant draw of the house needs.

Were your old batteries marine deep cycle?

Another thought about batteries. If a battery is low and a heavy cold snap come in, it could damage the battery by freezing.

The coach meters that Winnebago uses do not seem to follow true. I see the same thing you do in this coach. My '05 Vectra had the same problem.

One thing I recall from my Vectra is that the house batteries suffered. I replaced them a couple of times. Once was because the charging relay failed and the batteries got damaged from being too low for too long. I tried a Xantrax inverter and AGM batteries next. The charger went nuts and over charged the batteries. Xantrex told me I had a 2 year old disposable inverter! I removed the temp sensor and watched the new batteries like a hawk.

This coach has 6 AGM's and the inverter is a Magnum. Rock solid.

I hope you resolve your problem soon. Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

Rick
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:10 PM   #7
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The batteries are deep cycle:

EXIDE¬ģ Nautilus‚ĄĘ Marine Deep Cycle

The hydrometer shows 4 cells normal and 2 cells low. Wouldn't that rule out any reliability issue?

I'm concerned about trying to charge the batteries too long. The first time I tried to charge them they got hot and the electrolyte was bubbling.
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Old 04-26-2014, 10:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resqguy View Post
The batteries are deep cycle:

EXIDE¬ģ Nautilus‚ĄĘ Marine Deep Cycle

The hydrometer shows 4 cells normal and 2 cells low. Wouldn't that rule out any reliability issue?

I'm concerned about trying to charge the batteries too long. The first time I tried to charge them they got hot and the electrolyte was bubbling.
Here is one of many web sites dedicated to battery information and maintenance: Battery Maintenance Facts

Some folks see bubbling electrolyte as good because the sulfur deposits on the plates is dissolved during this process. Once your are satisfied that your batteries are good and in good shape, top off the water (distilled only) and add mineral oil to cover the electrolyte. Any pharmacy will carry it.

One of the folk I am volunteering with just found his start batteries voltage down yesterday. He could not jump start with the Aux battery switch even though his batteries are fully charged. I suspect his B.I.R.D relay is bad. This is a common failure and I even had to replace one on my last coach. It is used to charge that battery banks from one charging source, isolate the banks but connect then together from the switch for emergency starting. Being that it is snowing today in Prescott, AZ at the 6000 foot level , troubleshooting will have to wait.

I hope you find the cause of your trouble soon. Happy trails.

Rick
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Old 04-26-2014, 03:09 PM   #9
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I have a 07 Tour and the house batteries are not charging by the alt. How do I diagnose bird?
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Old 04-27-2014, 06:21 AM   #10
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Three things:
1: MDC I assume you mean Marine/Deep Cycle, is not a deep cycle battery but a starting battery, they are not all that good as house batteries because they do not recover from the occasional OPPS nearly as well as say Interstate U-2200s.

Second: Friends of mine, whom I am unable to argue with, Do not like Excide, they feel they are short lived.. I have used them in the past and can not argue the point.

Third: I"m told the Group 31 for some reason is troublesom.. Do not know why.

And finally: What converter do you have.. Some converters are very hard on batteries, epically the maintenance free types which I suspect your MDC is.
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Old 04-27-2014, 06:39 PM   #11
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I have a 07 Tour and the house batteries are not charging by the alt. How do I diagnose bird?
This is not as bad as it seems. http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...ire_159716.pdf

This is your wiring diagram. In the Power Cord compartment are the relays indicated on this diagram. The panel should be labeled and needs to be removed for testing access.

On the diagram are the "AUX START..." and "BATTERY DISCONNECT...". (At this point I am guessing you have and know how to use a voltmeter. This is DC.) Attach the "-" lead to ground. With the other lead measure the voltage on each of the 2 top terminals on the AUX Solenoid. According to the drawing the one from the house battery is a big cable marked with red and yellow. The other terminal has 2 wires: one smaller one is marked red and purple and goes to the start battery.

Your voltages on these terminals should be close to those of the house battery and the start battery accordingly.

Have someone hold the AUX START switch at the dash and you read these voltages again. If they are now the same this is good. With the switch still operated have the engine cranked and read the voltage to the start battery side of the Solenoid. If it drops and the engine will not crank correctly, check the house battery terminal of the solenoid. There should be a significant difference in the two readings indicating that the solenoid has an internal failure and needs replacing.

The Battery Disconnect Relay is also a suspect. I have forgotten the procedure for testing it. http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...ire_159710.pdf is the Chassis Installation diagram. This may help also. This is for the 36LD. I don't know which floor plan you have but I don't think this area would be much different except for locations. You can look up the correct diagram if need be.

I see that your start battery has a Trick-L-Start charger on it.

I hope I am shedding some light on your problem.

Rick
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Old 04-28-2014, 12:53 PM   #12
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Thanks Rick, I am getting 14.1 at one terminal the others are all at 12.5.
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Old 04-29-2014, 09:06 AM   #13
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Thanks Rick, I am getting 14.1 at one terminal the others are all at 12.5.
Your welcome.

I see in your signature you have the 40FD. I had this trouble on my '05 Vectra 40FD. In your rig they added the Trik-L-start (spelling?): http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...ire_157673.pdf, but the relay action should be the same. I am guessing that the voltages you quoted above are with the Aux start switch operated?

If you are going to change this relay yourself please be certain to disconnect the battery to chassis ground on both battery banks and isolate the leads so they don't accidentally find their way back to the negative post while you are working. You could get very hurt from the arc burn. Also, some mussel may be required. Those leads on the relay have a mind of their own. In any case, I hope all goes well for you.

The relay is a 100% duty cycle type and is available at an automotive electrical shop for around $35 to $45. There are many different styles so bring the old one with you if you can. You may get lucky and get a direct replacement!

Keep us posted and through a picture or two in for show and tell.

Rick
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Old 04-30-2014, 07:53 AM   #14
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My 05 Suncruiser house batteries are dead after about 1 week of sitting. (I thought the 10w solar panel would keep them alive.) Was I supposed to throw some kind of switch to disconnect them? How do I start the generator? Thanks!
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:14 AM   #15
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Rick, I ordered a new relay on line. They have a new model with silver contacts as they were having a lot of problems. Thanks for the tips, I was going to just disconnect the battery disconnect switches, after thinking about it, that won't do it. I will disconnect and isolate the grounds.
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Old 04-30-2014, 08:31 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by resqguy View Post

The batteries are deep cycle:

EXIDE¬ģ Nautilus‚„Ę Marine Deep Cycle

The hydrometer shows 4 cells normal and 2 cells low. Wouldn't that rule out any reliability issue?

I'm concerned about trying to charge the batteries too long. The first time I tried to charge them they got hot and the electrolyte was bubbling.
HERE is another great site regarding batteries.

My opinion is that the type and brand of house batteries, Exide, you had chosen is not the best. I don not like marine deep cycle batteries for use as house batteries in a RV.

I would use two or better yet four (if you have the space) 6 VDC Golf Cart batteries for your 12 VDC house service.

The cells that show low are most likely shorted out.

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Old 05-01-2014, 10:49 AM   #17
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Rick, I ordered a new relay on line. They have a new model with silver contacts as they were having a lot of problems. Thanks for the tips, I was going to just disconnect the battery disconnect switches, after thinking about it, that won't do it. I will disconnect and isolate the grounds.
Thanks for the update, Del. I am glad I could help with information that was pertinent to your situation. Keep us posted with your progress.

Rick
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Old 05-03-2014, 02:43 PM   #18
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I have a 2004 Vectra AD and I just put all new batteries in with the same ratings as the old ones. I now don't have house 12v unless the ignition switch is on. Also the generator won't start unless the ignition is on. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-03-2014, 03:07 PM   #19
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Did you take a photo and make a hand sketch of the cables and how they are routed BEFORE removing them to install the new batteries?

If not you should have.

It's anyone's guess now. Can't help you as my coach is different than yours.

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Old 05-03-2014, 03:29 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ron Stovall View Post
I have a 2004 Vectra AD and I just put all new batteries in with the same ratings as the old ones. I now don't have house 12v unless the ignition switch is on. Also the generator won't start unless the ignition is on. Any ideas?
Thanks in advance.
Did you check to see if your house batteries are shut off? That is my first guess. My 2nd guess is a wire was hooked up wrong when the batteries were changed out or not hooked up. Let us know what you find.

Don
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