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Old 01-30-2015, 07:16 AM   #1
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Charging of engine battery

I have a 2005 Itasca suncruiser and my engine battery is not holding a charge. I have searched various forums but did not find a definitive answer so here is my question. Is the only means (without extra add on like tickle charger, etc) of keeping the engine battery charged is to run the engine or generator? I have the small solar panel on the roof but I believe that is for the house batteries.

Thanks!
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Old 01-30-2015, 07:25 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by osgoor View Post
I have a 2005 Itasca suncruiser and my engine battery is not holding a charge. I have searched various forums but did not find a definitive answer so here is my question. Is the only means (without extra add on like tickle charger, etc) of keeping the engine battery charged is to run the engine or generator? I have the small solar panel on the roof but I believe that is for the house batteries.

Thanks!
Please provide a little more detail. Is this the original battery? How long does the coach sit unused?
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Old 01-30-2015, 07:28 AM   #3
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Please provide a little more detail. Is this the original battery? How long does the coach sit unused?
We bought the coach used so cannot say what year the battery was placed in service. We full time and it sat for 6 weeks with no issue. We then traveled for 2 weeks and we have now been sitting at our current location for 1 month. The voltage has dropped now to 7 volts so I am doubtful it can be saved.
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Old 01-30-2015, 07:35 AM   #4
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Your engine battery (aka chassis battery) is no different than your car battery. It should hold a charge for a month, and will charge by itself if you run the engine periodically. I live in Arkansas, and our winters are mild, but have plenty of below freezing weather in Dec, Jan, and Feb. Last year I visited my RV once a month, started the engine, and let it run about 15 minutes to get to operating temperature, and along the way it was charging the chassis battery with the alternator. Did not have to plug into shore power one time!!
Don't make this hard...if the battery will not hold a charge after a couple of times it goes down, and if the water level is good, then you probably need a new battery.
Do a search for batteries and charging, and you will probably be overwhelmed by the posts you will find...I just posted a similar response to this about house batteries not holding a charge...you cannot expect the battery to live forever, but you can sure help it have a reasonable life. As one post said, "batteries don't die, they are murdered!"
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Old 01-30-2015, 07:38 AM   #5
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Sounds like replacement time.
If it went 6 weeks at one time and not now at 4 weeks.

After replacement may be a good time to add trickle charger for it.
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Old 01-30-2015, 07:40 AM   #6
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Osgoor;

I had a similar problem as you are having. I found that the chassis battery is not being charged when plugged into 120V. The chassis battery has several little power thieves that gradually kill the chassis battery. My coach is stored inside so solar panels don't work there. I purchased a Trick-L Start from RVUpgrades one of our sponsors and I have never had a problem since. Click here for more info RVUpgrades Hope this helps;

Don
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:41 AM   #7
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Not knowing how old the battery is makes it difficult to answer.
Here is what I know.
The solar panel my or may not charge the chassis battery.
All depends how the unit was wired.
Most batteries will have a service life of about 4 years, if properly taken care of.
But at this point you don't know.
Breaking down is not fun when traveling.
If the charging system (Engine Alternator) is putting out 13.4 volts minimum, I would replace the battery.
Likely it not holding the charge.
Always better to be safe than sorry.
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:53 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Petro View Post
Osgoor;

I had a similar problem as you are having. I found that the chassis battery is not being charged when plugged into 120V. The chassis battery has several little power thieves that gradually kill the chassis battery. My coach is stored inside so solar panels don't work there. I purchased a Trick-L Start from RVUpgrades one of our sponsors and I have never had a problem since. Click here for more info RVUpgrades Hope this helps;

Don
I agree.
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:58 AM   #9
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Granted, RV Chassis batteries are no different than car engine batteries as per one poster stated, however the RV Chassis batteries are used significantly different than your typical car engine batteries.

For one there are usually multiple phantom electrical draws on a RV Chassis battery versus your typical car engine battery. Therefore the RV Chassis battery needs to be maintained differently.

Normally, the RV Chassis battery is charged when the engine is running. But once you are hooked to shore power or using the generator there are some RV's that do not provide a method to keep the Chassis battery fully charged. But those phantom loads are still there depleting your Chassis battery while sitting.

For those people who have RV's with no means to keep the Chassis battery fully charged while hooked to shore or generator power I recommend installing the Amp-L-Start unit between the House and Chassis batteries and you will never have low or dead batteries again.

The Amp-L-Start puts out 15 amps BUT if you want a cheaper version they offer the Trik-L-Start unit which puts out 5 amps. You can use either one.

There are other devices on the market which do the same task but I have found that these two are the most cost effective and reliable units available.

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Old 01-30-2015, 09:14 AM   #10
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I have a MH on a Ford 450 chassis (2004 Jayco Greyhawk). The 12 V outlets on the dash are always on. When I store the MH at home, I use a Battery Minder Jr. with a male 12V attachment. I plug it into one of the dash outlets and it keeps the chassis battery charged without over charging. If you use the dash radio, you could do this while camping as well. This an easy solution. I know some members here have wired a Trickle charger so that it always charges the chassis battery when the MH is plugged in or the generator is on. That is a very good solution also. The OP may have a short that is more than just a "normal" parasitic drain.
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:18 AM   #11
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Tiffin puts these in their coaches now (it is in mine)
BatteryMINDer 1500 | 12 Volt Maintenance Charger Desulfator

In addition to keeping a float charge, it also de-sulphates the battery, which is good for those batteries left on long term charge.
I would caution the use of a Amp-L device because it can confuse you main house charger (like when it runs a equalizing charge)....but this is just a concern....I can't say for a fact.
Dan
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:40 AM   #12
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Tiffin puts these in their coaches now (it is in mine)
BatteryMINDer 1500 | 12 Volt Maintenance Charger Desulfator

In addition to keeping a float charge, it also de-sulphates the battery, which is good for those batteries left on long term charge.
I would caution the use of a Amp-L device because it can confuse you main house charger (like when it runs a equalizing charge)....but this is just a concern....I can't say for a fact.
Dan
I don't think there is any cause for concern as the main charging system is always looking at the House Battery which is isolated from the Chassis battery by the diodes in the Am-L device. Most desulfating is performed on a timed basis. The House Battery will always be a couple tenths higher in voltage than the Chassis Battery.
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:41 AM   #13
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Those are OK but you need to have access to a 120 VAC outlet in order for it to work.

The Amp-L-Start and Trik-L-Start run off of 12 VDC.

My opinion of using the equalization process for 12 VDC batteries is that it can do more harm to the 12 VDC devices that are in the coach versus the benefit to the batteries.

The equalization process uses over 15 VDC like maybe 15.3 - 15.5 VDC. Typically you should disconnect or turn off everything that is being powered by the 12 VDC batteries BEFORE conducting the equalization process to prevent possible damage to the 12 VDC components.

I recommend that people should purchase the PowerPulse unit which is connected directly to the House or Chassis batteries. That unit will prevent a sulfation buildup on the plates of the batteries.

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Old 01-30-2015, 09:54 AM   #14
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All modern vehicles are loaded with phantom draws. It's part of the 30-50+ microcontrollers doing all those cute things like turning lights on and off whether you want them to or not and a host of other things we like as features.

I'd go for any low current battery minder if you move every month or so. The battery will probably come up with a trickle charge and then be OK. I would certainly try that before I bought a new one. YMMV.
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:56 AM   #15
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Here is another current iRV2.com thread that may be interesting to posters and people following this thread.

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f84/using...ml#post2392667

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Old 01-30-2015, 10:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petro View Post
Osgoor;
I had a similar problem as you are having. I found that the chassis battery is not being charged when plugged into 120V. The chassis battery has several little power thieves that gradually kill the chassis battery. My coach is stored inside so solar panels don't work there. I purchased a Trick-L Start from RVUpgrades one of our sponsors and I have never had a problem since. Click here for more info RVUpgrades Hope this helps;

Don
Don
!
That is often the case.

Unfortunately most often the "on board inverter/charger" ONLY charges the house battery bank.
An additional charger for the chassis battery, (like a Trick-L-Start, (Ultra TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer)..OR an Echo Charger, (Battery Chargers | Auxiliary Battery Charger | Xantrex), is the "accessory" most coach manufacturers "forgot".

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Old 01-30-2015, 10:42 AM   #17
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Did anyone ask if he has tried checking the battery connections? Are they clean? No, the generator will not charge the engine (chassis) battery.
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Old 01-30-2015, 11:11 AM   #18
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Ok, motorhome batteries 1.001 (not 101, more basic).

Some coaches (My 2005 for example) come with a device we call a BIRD, Bidirectional Isolator Relay Device/Delay,, This device allows charging of house batteries by the engine alternator.... And of the chassis battery by the house converter.

SOEM: did not, on those the engine generally charges the house but not the other way around.

And on some, well there Was a BIRD, but it broke.

IF yours did not come with a BIRD, Trick-L-Start is the solution

BUT NOTE: the above only applies when you have shore power

IF shore power is not an option, Solar or pull the battery to a bench for winter storage and apply Battery Minder (TM) or Battery Tender (TM)

NOTE: IF you pull the battery,, Take some red ppaint or nail polish and decorate all the wires on the POSITIVE side, likewise (optinal) Black on the negative side (or White works too).

IF you have multiple wires on the same terminal use a small bolt or a ZIP TIE to tie them all together so the do not get lost. Code the zip RED for Positive and either black or white for Negative.
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Old 01-30-2015, 02:20 PM   #19
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osgoor, to answer your question the only way to charge the chassis battery on your coach without some other device is to run the engine. The generator will not charge the chassis battery it only powers the converter which will charge the house battery.
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Old 01-31-2015, 07:52 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by osgoor View Post
I have a 2005 Itasca suncruiser and my engine battery is not holding a charge. I have searched various forums but did not find a definitive answer so here is my question. Is the only means (without extra add on like tickle charger, etc) of keeping the engine battery charged is to run the engine or generator? I have the small solar panel on the roof but I believe that is for the house batteries.

Thanks!
I see the many good posts. This has brought me to a new understanding of your problem. I suspect that no matter how old your battery is you have another problem. The B.I.R.D relay has failed. Please refer to the following: http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...ire_150757.pdf

The second relay down on the right of the first wiring page is the one that is most likely the culprit.

This diagram may help you find it on your rig: http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...ire_146761.pdf

This relay seeks the low voltage battery and sends charging voltage to it. When it fails the low battery is starved to death if it is not found early enough. I think this is your case.

The relay is a continuous duty. A 200A, silver contact replacement should be easy to find at any good auto parts store.

For what good it will do, I found this part # for you: 008188-01-000 in the parts catalog for your coach in the Electrical section.

Keep us posted.

Rick Y
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