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Old 06-09-2011, 03:19 PM   #1
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Severe Battery temps while plugged in, Yeow!

Gents,
As some of you know, I'm kind-a new here and we have just recently purchased a new to us '04 Itasca Horizon, full body paint, 36GD with the 330 CAT in her. Well, amongst some misc cleaning, some minor repair here and there, we've noticed a strange smell in the last few days. We kept looking around but couldn't seem to put our finger on it. Almost smelled like electrical but, had that "it could be an animal" stuffed inside the frame somewhere that we picked up on our way home with it a week and half ago.

Well, it got worse in the last two days. It seemed to originate from the rear part of the coach, possibly the bath room. We checked all the drains, put fresh water down them, the toilet etc, nope, not there. This morning I decided to lift the bed, then remove the engine cover to see what I could see. The smell was definitely stronger in the bed area. But, when I lifted the steel engine cover, No smell. But, it was very strong in the corner of the storage area inside the bed frame. Well, that's when I noticed a slot in the carpet/back of the wall that's behind all the breakers/circuit breakers that are at the foot of the bed. It was very strong coming out of there

Well, I sat back for a minute and all of a sudden, when things became really quiet, I heard something that I had to analyze for a minute. And then, it came to me, I was basically right over the batteries. I looked through the open engine bay and there's the backside of the battery trays. I put my fat head in that area and wow, I could really smell it. And, the sound that I heard got a lot louder.

So, out to the batteries I went. I opened up the outside of the battery compartment and wow, here comes the fumes, some steam, and HEAT!!! THOSE BATTERIES WERE ACTUALLY BOILING!!!!!!!!!!!! I went and got my little Racor, Ray gun for infrared temps and pointed at the first (outer battery, I've got three 12V Deep Cycle) for house batts) and it was 120 degrees. Then, I pointed at the middle batt, YEOW-------160 DEGREES!!!!! . Then I pointed at the inner one, and it was a calm 118 degrees. Those batts were almost too hot touch. In all my RVing years, I've never seen or felt anything like those batts.

Now, the rigs been plugged in for about 2-3 days because we had to go get fuel and Lp.

The inverter is a : Dimensions WIN-12X20B3RT
The Batteries : (3) 15 month old Interstate 12V Deep Cycle SRM 29

Now, as I understand the Inverter/charger/transfer switch unit, this unit has three stages of battery charging, full-intermediate-float. What it appears is that it stayed on "full" for way over time it was supposed to, and didn't appear to go to the next stage of intermediate or even float. Now, just glancing over the manual, I may or may not have had a hand in this mishap by not controlling it's stages, not sure about that, I thought all of that stuff was supposed to be automatic.

Anyway, I pulled all the batts out and cleaned all of them up, lots of seeping around the edges of the vent caps etc. I cleaned the battery tray out. Now, I took hydrometer readings and they're not very consistent across the board. I get one or two over 1.300 and the rest hover around 1.275-1.225-1.250. One is at 1.175. The one with the 160 degree temp has the one with the lowest cell reading of 1.175.

So, are they TOAST??????? Do I need new batts and, how can I tell if I need a new and very expensive inverter/charger? Thanks
Scott
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Old 06-09-2011, 04:13 PM   #2
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The cost of batteries being what it is, I'd replace them. Heat is not good for batteries and neither is overcharging and it appears you have one with a 'shorted' cell.

As for the charger, check it's output voltage (and current if you can). If it starts out at about 14.4v or so until the current into the battery drops and then goes down to 13.2 or so after a while, it is probably OK.

That particular inverter charger has been discussed in these forums -see http://www.irv2.com/forums/f101/dime...tem-47929.html and that, plus the I'net search results I see do not instill confidence in that equipment.

BTW - I suggest avoiding hydrometry in regards to RV batteries. The description of temperatures and venting was sufficient indication. Hydrometry can be hazardous to both you and your batteries and needs proper training to do it right and properly as well as hazmat considerations.
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Old 06-09-2011, 04:50 PM   #3
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I would disconnect each battery and check voltage after several hours. A hydrometer will indicate a dead cell. A dead cell will not allow the batteries to reach proper voltage and cause overcharging/boiling. The 160 degree batt is where I'd start.
Does your inverter not use a battery heat sensor? It's a small somewhat flat device that attaches to the case of one of your batteries or maybe a wire on a battery post. It measures batt. temps and will cut the inverter output down.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:07 PM   #4
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Hi Scott,
I agree that your batteries have been over charging. I'm not familiar with your inverter so I'll speak in general. A good inverter with a battery charger has three stages of charge, bulk(14.2 volts, absorption(13.8 volts) and float(13.2 volts). The voltages can vary slightly depending manufacturer. Usually an inverter/charger will allow input of the type of battery bank(lead/acid, AGM, etc). It also needs to know the total size of the bank(total amp/hours). With this information the charger will know how much capacity it has at any time and correspondingly know how long it will take to charge it up. The last feature is the percent rate of charge. Inverters of the following sizes had the corresponding maximum charge rates 2000 watt(100 amps), 2500 watts (120 amps) and 3000 watts (140 amps). A good rule of thumb is to choose a charge rate at about 10 20% with a 15% charge rate being about average depending on you coach's normal power requirements.


One important thing you should check is where on the battery bank do the two wires that feed the coach connect. In order for power to be drawn equally from the three batteries the positive wire to the coach should be connected to battery one and the negative wire on battery 3. It doesn't matter what battery you call one, two or three, what matters is they are connected at opposite ends of the bank. Connected in this manner the batteries will be charged and discharged equally and the temperature of each battery willl be more balanced. Quality inverter/chargers have a temperature compensator that is attached to the side of the battery and a communication cable connected to the inverter/charger. This will allow the charger to cut back on the charge voltage as it senses an increase in battery temperature.


I noticed you didn't comment on the water level when you took specific gravity reading so I assume they are properly serviced. Since the batteries have seem such high temperatures I would suggest removing and cleaning all the connection and re-tighten them.


Let us know what you find.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanL View Post
The cost of batteries being what it is, I'd replace them. Heat is not good for batteries and neither is overcharging and it appears you have one with a 'shorted' cell.

As for the charger, check it's output voltage (and current if you can). If it starts out at about 14.4v or so until the current into the battery drops and then goes down to 13.2 or so after a while, it is probably OK.

That particular inverter charger has been discussed in these forums -see http://www.irv2.com/forums/f101/dime...tem-47929.html and that, plus the I'net search results I see do not instill confidence in that equipment.

BTW - I suggest avoiding hydrometry in regards to RV batteries. The description of temperatures and venting was sufficient indication. Hydrometry can be hazardous to both you and your batteries and needs proper training to do it right and properly as well as hazmat considerations.
Bryan,
Thanks for your input here. This coach is brand new to us and we're learning stuff about it daily. I know very little about the inverter. All I've dealt with in the past as far as inverters go is, the little ones, about 300-350 watt that will run a TV and a VCR in our older Bounder. This thing's a monster so, I'll look better into it's operation. As far as staying away from "Hydrometer" use, I thought that was a pretty good way to tell the condition each cell of a battery. Since you can't measure each cell with a VOM, I've been using hydrometers for decades.
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Originally Posted by bigskymt View Post
I would disconnect each battery and check voltage after several hours. A hydrometer will indicate a dead cell. A dead cell will not allow the batteries to reach proper voltage and cause overcharging/boiling. The 160 degree batt is where I'd start.
Does your inverter not use a battery heat sensor? It's a small somewhat flat device that attaches to the case of one of your batteries or maybe a wire on a battery post. It measures batt. temps and will cut the inverter output down.
bigskymt,
The batts have been removed and cleaned up. I will recheck each cell in a little while. As far as my inverter using a "heat sensor", I found no animal on any of the sides of the batteries when removing them. There were the typical huge 00 cables connecting the neg to the neg and the pos to the pos. On the closest battery to the coach, there were other smaller cables attached as well as the large ones for connecting to coaches 12V needs. Maybe one of those could be some form of heat sensor, not sure. Will look into that. Do all or most DP units with 2000 watt inverters use those Heat sensors or just some? Thank you too for your input on this matter.
Scott
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:44 PM   #6
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Believe it or not the batteries MIGHT and I stress MIGHT survive.

But test them, Let them rest for a while (30 minutes to an hour) with minimum load and no charger then slap them with a volt meter, 12.5 .6. .7 You are good.

Less, Well 12.x you are basically good.

What converter do you have? some of the older rigs had single stage battery boilers

And some newer rigs HAD good 3-stage converters but.. Failures do happen.

Agan the voltmeter is your friend.. Measure the voltage charging.

Report back for analysis. but I'll give you a hint. 16 is bad.
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Old 06-09-2011, 07:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJay View Post
Hi Scott,
I agree that your batteries have been over charging. I'm not familiar with your inverter so I'll speak in general. A good inverter with a battery charger has three stages of charge, bulk(14.2 volts, absorption(13.8 volts) and float(13.2 volts). The voltages can vary slightly depending manufacturer. Usually an inverter/charger will allow input of the type of battery bank(lead/acid, AGM, etc). It also needs to know the total size of the bank(total amp/hours). With this information the charger will know how much capacity it has at any time and correspondingly know how long it will take to charge it up. The last feature is the percent rate of charge. Inverters of the following sizes had the corresponding maximum charge rates 2000 watt(100 amps), 2500 watts (120 amps) and 3000 watts (140 amps). A good rule of thumb is to choose a charge rate at about 10 20% with a 15% charge rate being about average depending on you coach's normal power requirements.


One important thing you should check is where on the battery bank do the two wires that feed the coach connect. In order for power to be drawn equally from the three batteries the positive wire to the coach should be connected to battery one and the negative wire on battery 3. It doesn't matter what battery you call one, two or three, what matters is they are connected at opposite ends of the bank. Connected in this manner the batteries will be charged and discharged equally and the temperature of each battery willl be more balanced. Quality inverter/chargers have a temperature compensator that is attached to the side of the battery and a communication cable connected to the inverter/charger. This will allow the charger to cut back on the charge voltage as it senses an increase in battery temperature.


I noticed you didn't comment on the water level when you took specific gravity reading so I assume they are properly serviced. Since the batteries have seem such high temperatures I would suggest removing and cleaning all the connection and re-tighten them.


Let us know what you find.
RJ,
Thanks for your input. Sorry I didn't comment earlier. I must have missed it, pretty blind huh? Anyway, I read up just a bit on the "Inverter/charger" and it is a three stage. The manual states just how it's supposed to work. It also states that EVERY 5TH CYCLE, it will EQUALIZE THE BATTERIES!!. Maybe it was on a 5th cycle. But, that's a bit high for equalization, if you ask me, 160 degrees????? I've only got one small wire coming off the positive side of one of the batteries and it's got a grey sheild around it (almost like phone wire would have) and I can't see where it goes. It might be the temp sensor or voltage sensor going back to the inverter/charger.

As for the water level, although you could have boiled chicken in that water, and there was some coming out of the 160 degree, middle battery, there was sufficient water covering all the plates on all the cells on all the batteries.

I will also see if I can re-wire it to the directions you stipulate. Both pos and neg came off the closest battery to the coach. The wife's checking the trouble shooting stuff in the manual as we are typing this. I'll get back to all on this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
Believe it or not the batteries MIGHT and I stress MIGHT survive.

But test them, Let them rest for a while (30 minutes to an hour) with minimum load and no charger then slap them with a volt meter, 12.5 .6. .7 You are good.

Less, Well 12.x you are basically good.

What converter do you have? some of the older rigs had single stage battery boilers

And some newer rigs HAD good 3-stage converters but.. Failures do happen.

Agan the voltmeter is your friend.. Measure the voltage charging.

Report back for analysis. but I'll give you a hint. 16 is bad.
Wa8xym,
The batts have been sitting for a couple of hours now and are all cleaned up. I just ran a VOM over them and the lowest was 12.6 and the other two were 12.8

You're asking about what kind of "converter" I have. I'm not sure. Do you mean INVERTER? It's the Dimensions WIN-12X20B3RT.

Now, just glancing through the manual, here's what some of that model number means

"12X20" : 2000 Watt
"B3": Three step battery charger
"T" : Smart Transfer relay
"R" : SPS LCD Status Remote Panel

Also, in the manual, it states:
Three stage battery charger with automatic conditioning
Temperature compensation of output voltage
Selectable between wet and sealed batteries
Selectable between large and small battery banks

It also states in there: Automatic high temperature shut down

Well, that statement surely didn't take effect this time. So, we'll put them back in and keep a close eye on things. By the way, I used to keep my Bounder plugged in for weeks at a time and nothing like this ever happened. I'm assuming that this super wazoo inverter/charger should be able to be plugged in for a long time too without doing any damage to the batteries but, so far, it doesn't look that way.
Scott
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:26 PM   #8
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re: "As far as staying away from "Hydrometer" use, I thought that was a pretty good way to tell the condition each cell of a battery." -- indeed so but you really don't need such information for the typical modern RV battery bank and the risks are not to be ignored or set aside.

For RV purposes, all you really need to know is if the battery is OK or not. You can't do anything if you have a bad cell except to replace the battery.

Your device serves several purposes. It is a converter that converts 120 volt house power to 12 v DC RV power. It is a battery charger that will charge a battery bank. And it is an inverter that will invert 12vDC to 120v AC when house power is not available and you need to run something that requires house type power. It might also be a battery maintainer but this is the often neglected function in RV systems.

The equalization every 5th cycle is a question. A proper equalization is a deliberate overcharging that should only be done under careful supervision (see Trojan on this, for example). It can be harmful to batteries and is normally only needed in lead acid batteries that don't get much 'action'.

Typical RV use discharges the batteries a bit and then promptly recharges them followed by a period of storage maintenance. That typical RV use tends to keep all the cell charge levels equalized so a special charge to bring them all to the same state is not necessary.

but I know that some manufacturers are rather loose with the term "equalization" and it does cause confusion.

re: "I'm assuming that this super wazoo inverter/charger should be able to be plugged in for a long time too without doing any damage to the batteries but, so far, it doesn't look that way. " -- This sounds like a reasonable assumption to me but something went wrong. One problem with more complex equipment, though, is that is may have a whole lot of options and settings so you need to make sure it is properly configured for your setup. Another potential problem is the automatic equalization charge.

One modern idea (since about mid 90's, anyway) is that you need to maintain your battery while not using it with a sulfation inhibiting technique. This is to keep the electrolyte mixed and reduce sulfation in the battery. This is about when the ideas of a float or trickle charge as proper battery maintenance started to get outdated, too.

in re battery charging stages, there is no fixed voltage for absorption. The idea is that the early or bulk stage provides as much current as is reasonable (battery doesn't heat up) and possible (charger capacity and, for RV's, in circuit equipment considerations) until the battery voltage rises to about 14.4v. Then (the absorption stage) that voltage is held until the charge current drops to a minimal level at which time the charger switches over to a float level for the final few percent of charging. After a while, a good converter will then switch to a maintenance mode that assures a full charge without plate corrosion and apply a technique that inhibits sulfation buildup.

For your batteries at 12.6 to 12.8 volts, put a 60 to 100 watt load on them like a light bulb or something for an hour or so. See what the voltage is then. If the voltage is about the same, then you know that they are at least holding a charge of some sort. But even then, if they had been through a steaming, puffing, high temperature, vent releasing spell, I wouldn't trust them for much.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:44 PM   #9
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I think I have the same inverter/charger in mine and I'm betting it's the culprit. After taking delivery of my brand new Ellipse in 07, I had TWO sets of house batteries fried by the inverter. Both sets were replaced under warranty by my dealer but after the second time they called Dimensions to find out what was going on.

Dimensions told them that they had to limit the charger AC draw to 5 amps. This is done on the Dimensions control panel which is usually in the One Place. The button on the far right, when pushed, will show the charger status and AC limit. This ranges from 5 to 25 amps. I haven't had this happen since learning about this function and manageing it but from what I've learned on this and other forums this piece of equipment is.... not very good. Replacing it can be a very expensive proposition and we never really do any dry camping so I have decided to live with it but it's a likely suspect in this case. I'll bet if you look at your control panel you'll find the charger set to the max of 25 amp draw which led to the rotten eggs you smelled as it cooked them during an equalization.

I limit mine to 5 or 10 amps unless the batteries are pretty discharged and then I'll increase it but I watch it closely when it's doing a heavy charge. I just don't trust it.

Best of luck...

Rick
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanL View Post
re: "As far as staying away from "Hydrometer" use, I thought that was a pretty good way to tell the condition each cell of a battery." -- indeed so but you really don't need such information for the typical modern RV battery bank and the risks are not to be ignored or set aside.

For RV purposes, all you really need to know is if the battery is OK or not. You can't do anything if you have a bad cell except to replace the battery.

Your device serves several purposes. It is a converter that converts 120 volt house power to 12 v DC RV power. It is a battery charger that will charge a battery bank. And it is an inverter that will invert 12vDC to 120v AC when house power is not available and you need to run something that requires house type power. It might also be a battery maintainer but this is the often neglected function in RV systems.

The equalization every 5th cycle is a question. A proper equalization is a deliberate overcharging that should only be done under careful supervision (see Trojan on this, for example). It can be harmful to batteries and is normally only needed in lead acid batteries that don't get much 'action'.

Typical RV use discharges the batteries a bit and then promptly recharges them followed by a period of storage maintenance. That typical RV use tends to keep all the cell charge levels equalized so a special charge to bring them all to the same state is not necessary.

but I know that some manufacturers are rather loose with the term "equalization" and it does cause confusion.

re: "I'm assuming that this super wazoo inverter/charger should be able to be plugged in for a long time too without doing any damage to the batteries but, so far, it doesn't look that way. " -- This sounds like a reasonable assumption to me but something went wrong. One problem with more complex equipment, though, is that is may have a whole lot of options and settings so you need to make sure it is properly configured for your setup. Another potential problem is the automatic equalization charge.

One modern idea (since about mid 90's, anyway) is that you need to maintain your battery while not using it with a sulfation inhibiting technique. This is to keep the electrolyte mixed and reduce sulfation in the battery. This is about when the ideas of a float or trickle charge as proper battery maintenance started to get outdated, too.

in re battery charging stages, there is no fixed voltage for absorption. The idea is that the early or bulk stage provides as much current as is reasonable (battery doesn't heat up) and possible (charger capacity and, for RV's, in circuit equipment considerations) until the battery voltage rises to about 14.4v. Then (the absorption stage) that voltage is held until the charge current drops to a minimal level at which time the charger switches over to a float level for the final few percent of charging. After a while, a good converter will then switch to a maintenance mode that assures a full charge without plate corrosion and apply a technique that inhibits sulfation buildup.

For your batteries at 12.6 to 12.8 volts, put a 60 to 100 watt load on them like a light bulb or something for an hour or so. See what the voltage is then. If the voltage is about the same, then you know that they are at least holding a charge of some sort. But even then, if they had been through a steaming, puffing, high temperature, vent releasing spell, I wouldn't trust them for much.
Bryan,
Thanks so much for taking the time to explain the SYSTEM and how it all works. I'm not new at it but, I'm always learning. This coach of course, is new to us so we're learning lots about it. This is the hard way though, to come out in the morning and find batteries cooking. I cleaned all them up, cleaned, prepped and repainted the battery box, and cleaned and re-installed all the cables. I took the one posters advice and intsalled the main positive cables on the inboard battery and the negative cables on the outboard battery. I have no idea if that will make any difference or not. The switch on the inverter/charger is in the "C" position for more than 400 A.H. and wet cell batteries.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RickO View Post
I think I have the same inverter/charger in mine and I'm betting it's the culprit. After taking delivery of my brand new Ellipse in 07, I had TWO sets of house batteries fried by the inverter. Both sets were replaced under warranty by my dealer but after the second time they called Dimensions to find out what was going on.

Dimensions told them that they had to limit the charger AC draw to 5 amps. This is done on the Dimensions control panel which is usually in the One Place. The button on the far right, when pushed, will show the charger status and AC limit. This ranges from 5 to 25 amps. I haven't had this happen since learning about this function and manageing it but from what I've learned on this and other forums this piece of equipment is.... not very good. Replacing it can be a very expensive proposition and we never really do any dry camping so I have decided to live with it but it's a likely suspect in this case. I'll bet if you look at your control panel you'll find the charger set to the max of 25 amp draw which led to the rotten eggs you smelled as it cooked them during an equalization.

I limit mine to 5 or 10 amps unless the batteries are pretty discharged and then I'll increase it but I watch it closely when it's doing a heavy charge. I just don't trust it.

Best of luck...

Rick
Rick,
Thank you Sir for your comments and assistance in helping me with this situation. Yes, I know about the "One Place" lower control panel for the inverter/charger. I know about the right button and the amp draw for the charging system. When I checked on it, it was set on 15 amps. I had the wife bump it down to 10. I think I'll go back out to it tonight and bump it down to 5 amps. I'm hoping it will resolve itself and be a good little inverter/charger for a few years. I just paid through the nose for taxes on registering this beast so, I'm still getting over sticker shock. I don't need to jump in and buy an inverter just yet, I don't think. And, maybe a set of batteries too. I'll have wait and see if they are OK to keep around.

If not, well, I'll have to bite the bullet and pick up some batteries. But, well see. Thanks again.
Scott
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:10 AM   #11
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scott,
check these resources:

SmartGauge Electronics - Interconnecting multiple batteries to form one larger bank

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by FIRE UP View Post
... I've only got one small wire coming off the positive side of one of the batteries and it's got a grey sheild around it (almost like phone wire would have) and I can't see where it goes. It might be the temp sensor or voltage sensor going back to the inverter/charger. ...
That grey-shielded red/black wire pair should be the temp sensor. You should find the other end plugged into the inverter/charger.
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Old 06-11-2011, 10:52 AM   #13
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That grey-shielded red/black wire pair should be the temp sensor. You should find the other end plugged into the inverter/charger.
Chris,
Yes Sir, you're exactly correct. After cleaning up all the "boiling" mess, repainting, terminal cleaning etc. I did some research on that particular wire and found out that it is the temp sensor connector. So far, after that strange event, the batts are doing well and the panel for the inverter/charger states they are in the "float"-13.2V part of the battery charging sequence. Thank again for your assistance here.
Scott
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Old 06-11-2011, 01:03 PM   #14
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I took our almost new battery , used one season, to the dealer this morning. It is dry. I noticed it was getting warm with shore power plugged in, our old trailer appears to have a converter with no conscience. The tech told me he sees a lot of this from convertors being plugged in for long periods of time. Rather than throw a new convertor at the old beast, I will replace the battery and unhook it we are staying more than one night. Going to look at newer trailers this afternoon, don't tell my wife.
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