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Old 08-04-2013, 03:19 PM   #1
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House battery problem '04 Journey 32T

I really need some expert advice on this one.
The background goes like this. We bought this MH a few months ago, and haven't had time to use it. It has been plugged in to a 20 amp shore cord for a while now. The dealer replaced the house batteries and converter the day we took delivery. The problem is, once you unplug, it only takes a few hours, with nothing but an interior light or two left on, to totally drain the batteries. The fridge is off, the inverter is off, there is a 1-3 amp draw showing on the monitor when plugged in. The new batteries are located in the upper rack, and appear to not be the correct size. They are two 6volt units and are shimmed in place with scrap wood to keep them from flying around the tray. The manual never specifically states a voltage or group # for these units, but gives a spec. of 130 amp. Hr. 225 minutes reserve capacity and 665 CCA. The new units are clearly six volt, wired in series, and have the following specs. 115 minutes @ 75Amps, 216AH. These batteries were installed well (the sorry collection of wood was already there, indicating that the last set was of the same physical dimensions) the terminals are tight and coated with anti-corrosion spray, and the cells are properly flooded. When plugged in, the monitor claims that the system has 13.2 volts and the batteries are at 12.5 when checked with a multi-meter. When I unplug the voltage drops to 12.0 immediately.

Hopefully this is a big enough set of clues to tell me where to start the hunt. BTW, this is our first MH after many years of simple, inexpensive travel trailers. After a nasty battle with a scumbag dealer, a nice big list of deferred maintenance to tackle, and now this....... It will be a while till' I relax enough to enjoy this thing.
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Old 08-04-2013, 04:28 PM   #2
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Don't know why I didn't think to do this earlier, but I just tested all the individual battery cells with a floating ball hydrometer. Each battery had one cell at 1/2 charge and two dead cells. Don't know if I have the world's worst luck with this brand, but in the last decade I have had three new Interstate batteries fail within weeks of installation, and now these two Interstates are not looking too healthy? Any thoughts?
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Old 08-04-2013, 04:34 PM   #3
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Or Interstate U-2200's lasted one month short of 10 years and even then were OK. I just didn't want dead batteries when boondocking on our trip.

If the battery specs list a CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) then any battery is not a true deep cycle one.
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Old 08-04-2013, 11:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Slate Run View Post
Don't know why I didn't think to do this earlier, but I just tested all the individual battery cells with a floating ball hydrometer. Each battery had one cell at 1/2 charge and two dead cells. Don't know if I have the world's worst luck with this brand, but in the last decade I have had three new Interstate batteries fail within weeks of installation, and now these two Interstates are not looking too healthy? Any thoughts?

Slate Run,
You're not alone in the defective "Interstate" battery situation. A short story. About 28 months ago, we purchased an '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the C-7 330 HP CAT engine. The previous owner had purchased and installed, (3) Interstate, SRM 429 12V "Deep cycle/Marine" RV house batteries. Now, these batteries were ALMOST an exact year old at the time we purchased the rig.

Within one month after we got this new-to-us rig home, we noticed a "rotten egg" smell inside the coach. We checked every drain and every inch until the source of the smell was found. It turned out to be, one of the three house batteries. You see, the inverter/charger was in what's called the "Equalizing" mode. I was not aware that the inverter had/has such a mode but, I learned that quickly.

In any case, what was happening was, the Equalizing mode was trying to charge or, equalize the cells of all three batteries. But, what I found out was, in a test of all the cells, of all the batteries, one of the cells on one of the batteries was completely dead. The hydrometer revealed less than 1.100 on that one cell. And because of that, the equalizing mode of the inverter/charger was trying desperately to equalize a dead cell and therefore, it was way overcharging the rest of the cells, in all the rest of the house batteries.

That particular battery was 140 degrees, . The other two were 90 degrees. So, I contacted a local Interstate dealer and arranged a pro-rated exchange. It still cost me $75.00.

Almost exactly one month later, in a maintenance check just prior to a trip, I found another dead cell, in one of the remaining house batteries. It was then that I decided to simply "can" all those junk "Interstate" batteries and go for a complete change of the system. I then made the decision to change to (4), 6V Golf Cart batteries from Costco.

When I posted my situation/issues with the Interstate batteries on here and other RV forums, I was amazed at how many folks returned stories of the same kind of problems/issues with their Interstate units. Yes, there were some happy folks but, there were a lot of unhappy ones too.

So, again, you're not alone in the poor quality Interstate battery ordeal.
Scott
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Old 08-05-2013, 02:34 AM   #5
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Sounds like bad batteries that need to go in for warranty replacement. It is a little odd that they list CCA, as cold cranking amps really don't apply for deep cycle batteries which have long slow draws, rather than the quick huge draw of a starting motor.
When I replaced my 2003 Horizon 32t house batteries, I went to Costco and got two of their 'Golf Cart' batteries for about $75 ea (4 years ago), a really good inexpensive choice with lots of power.
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Old 08-05-2013, 05:03 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the help so far. With regard to the CCA specification, it is not shown on the Interstate batteries, it is listed in the Winny owner's manual. Which, is a pretty useless waste of paper BTW, as it fails to even telling you battery voltage, or which tray (upper or lower) is the house battery set.

Fire Up, It looks like you are right on this one. A few years ago the wife had an Intrepid that had a seven year old factory battery. I decided to not take a chance with reliability and swap it out with a new top of the line Interstate. Not only did it fail within a month, but to swap batteries you need to pull the right front wheel and extricate it from behind the fender liner. This was the last straw after two failed "Deep cycle" trailer batteries and were replaced under warranty. I swore that I would never buy another one.

I called a buddy of mine who works for a garage that is an Interstate dealer. He told me that the call was oddly timed, as they have grown tired of these issues, and are dropping the product after growing tired of an unacceptably high failure rate.

Now that it's clear that the batteries are junk, what's next? What is the best set up for house batteries in this rig? Two new golf cart batteries? Did the tray originally have three bigger twelve volt units? Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 08-05-2013, 07:45 AM   #7
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I think it might have had three Group 29 12 volt batteries originally.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:01 AM   #8
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Do I understand this correctly, only two 6V batteries for your house? We have three 12 in our MH. I was under the impression that when you convert over to 6V the number of batteries doubled. We have never needed to do that so I have no personal experience.
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:13 AM   #9
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You need a minimum of two as each is volts, so that in a series connection it makes 12 volts. You can then parallel connect two or more series connected sets for more capacity.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:13 AM   #10
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I am another disappointed Interstate customer.

I installed three group 29 Interstates during the summer of 2008 ... in January 2009 one battery went bad ... it was replaced ($s) under warranty ... but they would not replace the other two at the same time ... just after the warranty ran out on the other two they went bad ...

So I switched to Walmart (no Cosco near me) ... their batteries perform as good ... cheaper ... and their replacement policy is better than Interstate's ... and Walmart is everywhere that I travel.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:33 AM   #11
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Went to a local Quacks-R-Us (Costco) warehouse two weeks ago to get the tires rotated on the towed. In the tire area saw a rack full of Interstate batteries, no more Kirkland Brand batteries.
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Old 08-05-2013, 01:49 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Slate Run View Post
Thanks for all the help so far. With regard to the CCA specification, it is not shown on the Interstate batteries, it is listed in the Winny owner's manual. Which, is a pretty useless waste of paper BTW, as it fails to even telling you battery voltage, or which tray (upper or lower) is the house battery set.

Fire Up, It looks like you are right on this one. A few years ago the wife had an Intrepid that had a seven year old factory battery. I decided to not take a chance with reliability and swap it out with a new top of the line Interstate. Not only did it fail within a month, but to swap batteries you need to pull the right front wheel and extricate it from behind the fender liner. This was the last straw after two failed "Deep cycle" trailer batteries and were replaced under warranty. I swore that I would never buy another one.

I called a buddy of mine who works for a garage that is an Interstate dealer. He told me that the call was oddly timed, as they have grown tired of these issues, and are dropping the product after growing tired of an unacceptably high failure rate.

Now that it's clear that the batteries are junk, what's next? What is the best set up for house batteries in this rig? Two new golf cart batteries? Did the tray originally have three bigger twelve volt units? Thanks again for all the help!
Slate-Run,
Changing from 12V units to 6V ones doesn't require too much thought. What it does require is, will the tray hold what you want to install? I got lucky. The house battery tray in our '04 Itasca Horizon, did have (3) Group 29 Interstate 12V units. But, without modification in any direction or dimension, it now houses (4) Costco Golf Cart 6V units. I actually have a tad bit of extra room, lengthwise. But, side to side, it's pretty much stuffed in there.

I made up my own "inter-connector" cables out of 1GA and the proper lugs. I soldered them due to the fact that I did not have the proper size crimping tool for lugs that large. I like solder anyway. Then, I had some proper sized shrink tubing with the sealant built into it. Below is the before and after.

Now, if all you can fit is two 6V units, that's up to you to make that decision. But, even if you have to modify the tray, (like a good buddy of mine did on his '01 Horizon, he had to widen the tray), then four of the 6v units would be much better. Below are pictures of the "before" and "after". Good luck.
Scott



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Old 08-06-2013, 01:56 AM   #13
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The key thing to remember about 12v and 6v batteries is you want to end up with as many amp-hours as possible, for the most economical price. When I priced out batteries, standard priced deep cycle 12v batteries were nearly twice the price of 6v golf cart batteries giving more-or-less the same ah. You can always pay more money to get a higher powered battery. But I figured the hot and cold, travel, and constant charging and discharging would affect the life of the system, so it made sense to save money with the 6v golf cart batteries to get the same ah rating. And I believe that 'in general' 6v batteries have heavier density plates that should last longer with the same use.
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:45 AM   #14
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I'll assume those Interstates were U 2200s, which generally have a good rep. If they don't get warranteed and you don't want to take another chance, go with the Trojan T-105s. Most will agree the best GC2 battery out there.
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:35 AM   #15
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Slate Run
We too have an 04 32T. We love it. We currently run 3-12 volt batteries. We plan to modify the battery tray to accept 4 -6volts. There is a thread discussing the procedure. I believe the tray was cut in half down the middle and widened 1 inch. We only plug our coach in a day prior to using it. I always turn off the main switch at the dash and periodically check the status of the batteries.
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