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Old 09-22-2009, 04:32 AM   #1
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I think I boiled my batteries

So, I went out to the motor home on Sunday to work on the satellite dish. I store it in the backyard on a slab. We had been out the weekend before and I was out of town all week. As I was walking past the right side, I noticed that the slab had an orange stain on it (a very large one) that looked like rust. It just happened to be underneath the battery compartment. I opened it up and did I get a surprise. The house batteries had lost most of their water. There was corrosion everywhere.

I have a Dimensions WIN12x20B3RT inverter/charger. I am guessing it decided to charge the heck out of the batteries beyond a full charge.

When I bought the coach in April, there was some rust in the battery compartment. I didn't think much of it, but had the dealer remove the batteries, clean it up and re-paint the compartment. Now, I am guessing the same thing has happened before. I have a few questions:

1. Is there something that can be tested on the charger to see why this occurred?

2. I know I can add water back to the batteries. Are they ruined?

3. Other than cleaning up the obvious rust, can someone recommend something that will insure there will be no future problems caused by corrosion today?

4. What can I do to prevent this from happening again?
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:26 AM   #2
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yep...same thing happened to me. For the first four or five times it happened the inverter had a "full" charge going on. I'd cut off the inverter and next thiong I new it was doing it again after coming back from a trip. Don't ask me why it just did. Got tired of it, turned inverter off once more and changed to sealed batteries. Again, don't ask me why but has not happened since.

Good luck with this. I have never understood the inverter operation so I try and leave it in the off position. I have never had to run on house batteries while boon docking.
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Old 09-22-2009, 06:36 AM   #3
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mrschwarz;

Sorry to read about your problem. I have a Xantrex inverter with 3 stage charger and I have never had a problem. On your questions I will give you my observations. Others may have different ideas.

1. I believe you need a Tech to check out your unit and make sure it is not over charging.

2. My guess is the batteries need to be replaced. It appears you lost some battery acid and adding water will not replace the acid. Your plates may be warped.

3. I check my batteries monthly and have very little corrosion.

4. If your charger is operating properly, you batteries are good, and you check your water frequently you should not have a problem. There are sprays and felt washers that help and can be installed.

Good Luck;
Don
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:27 AM   #4
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You might find some useful ideas by clicking HERE and HERE too.

Many of the charger/converters installed by WInnebago do not have an over charge protection circuit. In their coach manuals they usually tell you to turn the battery disconnect switch to the off position while parked and hooked to shore power for more than a few days. This avoids cooking the batteries, but does not maintain the batteries at full charge or desulfate the plates like the newer charger/converters do.

Since I changed approx. 3 years ago, I have not had to add water. I check each battery every month. And always use distilled water...never tap water from the house or campground.
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Old 09-22-2009, 09:10 AM   #5
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Great information! And great links to other threads! I, too, have batteries that have been boiling and creating tons of corrosion in the battery compartment. I have the Parallax 7445 converter. It looks like I may need to replace the converter and then get new batteries. :( I will need to do some research because I want to get something that is basically plug and play. I don't want to have to run any new wiring.
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Old 09-22-2009, 10:37 AM   #6
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Doug,

Swing over to the Tech Forum and get into the Rv Systems section, then do a search. There have many discussions and great ideas made there.
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYTYER View Post
You might find some useful ideas by clicking HERE and HERE too.

Many of the charger/converters installed by WInnebago do not have an over charge protection circuit. In their coach manuals they usually tell you to turn the battery disconnect switch to the off position while parked and hooked to shore power for more than a few days. This avoids cooking the batteries, but does not maintain the batteries at full charge or desulfate the plates like the newer charger/converters do.

Since I changed approx. 3 years ago, I have not had to add water. I check each battery every month. And always use distilled water...never tap water from the house or campground.
In my Suncruiser, I used to disconnect the batteries when I was connected to power for more than a day. With this coach, when I shut off the house batteries, the entire 12-volt system shuts down. No lights, refrigerator, etc.

Disconnecting the batteries is no longer an option.
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Old 09-23-2009, 06:13 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Sage View Post
Great information! And great links to other threads! I, too, have batteries that have been boiling and creating tons of corrosion in the battery compartment. I have the Parallax 7445 converter. It looks like I may need to replace the converter and then get new batteries. :( I will need to do some research because I want to get something that is basically plug and play. I don't want to have to run any new wiring.
I just did this in my 35J. The 7445 was boiling mine. I bought this one after doing a lot of research. LINK. They are very responsive and helpful...even answred email questions on a Sunday. I haven't installed it yet but it appears to be a plug and play.
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Old 09-23-2009, 07:25 AM   #9
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Mrschwarz:

As Don mentioned, you may want to get the inverter checked out by a tech, it is definitely not working right, especially if you're going to replace your batteries.

I found a manual here:
http://dimensions.sensata.com/Manuals/121986.pdf

For the short-term:

As others have mentioned, you can definitely add water and try to charge the batteries, distilled or de-ionized water is pretty cheap and you may be able to save the batteries.

You could try putting the battery selector switch is in position "B" (if it is not there already), that will reduce the charging voltage and time when it is in bulk charge and conditioning modes, this will help but not eliminate the problem. The manual has this info on page 17.

Looking at the description on page 17, it looks like this inverter turns the charger on after a power failure, but you should be able to disable it by setting the battery "charger current draw to zero with the remote control panel". Of course, you'd have to re-enable it once a month or so to maintain your batteries.

Replacing the inverter-charger with another brand, such as a Magnum or Xantrex would be a good long-term option if a tech can't fix your current one at a reasonable cost.

Good luck!
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Old 09-23-2009, 07:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrschwarz View Post
With this coach, when I shut off the house batteries, the entire 12-volt system shuts down. No lights, refrigerator, etc.

Disconnecting the batteries is no longer an option.
I believe your basic battery problem is based on the poor charger/converter installed by Winnebago and a good high tech replacement is needed.

Just to be sure, does your system basically match the following??...

I am assuming you have a battery shut off switch near the entry stairs or battery compartment.

When you activate the switch do you hear a solenoid click?

In my previous Winnie and now my Sightseer, my switch activates a solenoid that disconnects the batteries from the system when connected to shore power. When not connected to shore power, activating the switch/solenoid shuts down the whole 12 volt system to preserve the batteries.

I would think your system would do the same.
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYTYER View Post
I believe your basic battery problem is based on the poor charger/converter installed by Winnebago and a good high tech replacement is needed.

Just to be sure, does your system basically match the following??...

I am assuming you have a battery shut off switch near the entry stairs or battery compartment.

When you activate the switch do you hear a solenoid click?

In my previous Winnie and now my Sightseer, my switch activates a solenoid that disconnects the batteries from the system when connected to shore power. When not connected to shore power, activating the switch/solenoid shuts down the whole 12 volt system to preserve the batteries.

I would think your system would do the same.
You're nearly right. My old Suncruiser behaved this way. When I was home and plugged in, I would diconnect the batteries.

My new coach has a charger, converter, inverter combination. When you disconnect the batteries in these models, the entire 12-volt system shuts down, even when plugged in. Because it is a 3-stage charger, that was OK. WHen the batteries were fully charged, the charger would go to trickle charge mode.

Clearly, this isn't what happened.
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luv2go View Post
Mrschwarz:

As Don mentioned, you may want to get the inverter checked out by a tech, it is definitely not working right, especially if you're going to replace your batteries.

(snip...)

Replacing the inverter-charger with another brand, such as a Magnum or Xantrex would be a good long-term option if a tech can't fix your current one at a reasonable cost.

Good luck!
Stewart
The coach is at the dealer. This should be a warranty thing so most likely, the best I can do is get a repair or replacement. After reading the manual, I may set the charge current draw to 0 when parked at home. I can always turn it back on when I leave (or every month or so if parked for a while).
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Old 09-26-2009, 07:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrschwarz View Post
The coach is at the dealer. This should be a warranty thing so most likely, the best I can do is get a repair or replacement. After reading the manual, I may set the charge current draw to 0 when parked at home. I can always turn it back on when I leave (or every month or so if parked for a while).
Please let us know what the outcome is. It will be valuable to everyone.
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Old 10-01-2009, 08:57 PM   #14
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OK, I got my coach back today. While it was in the shop it boiled the electrolyte twice. They had to remove the batteries and clean the whole thing out. They did a test on the batteries and said they tested OK.

I haven't had a chance to speak with the service tech, but I spoke with the service writer. He said that a 'setting' was set wrong. I am assuming it was the slide switch where you pick the kind and ampacity of the battery bank.

They also told me that the batteries were overfilled. I find this curious since I haven't added any water since I bought the coach. What could cause the water to be too high (other than the obvious)? Could damage cause any swelling inside the battery?

The service writer also told me that the batteries were from NAPA. I asked them to replace the batteries because of the potential for a shortened life. He told me the only way batteries can get replaced is by going to a NAPA store and having them test the batteries.

What do y'all think? What is the potential for shortened battery life?
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Old 10-02-2009, 07:57 AM   #15
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Mrschwarz...

With all respect I would be skeptical and try to find out more specific information.

What "setting" was wrong? I would find out a lot more about the power converter/charger/inverter device. A call to Winnebago and the manufacturer may be very helpful.

If the batteries appeared to be overfilled, were they warm to the touch when that was seen? Water expands when heated.

If the batteries were cooked or overheated, do the sides appear a little bulged outward? If they are...that is not a good sign.

I would have the batteries tested by NAPA if they have the machine to do so. If not then take them to a good battery store. We have a store called the Battery Outlet and they are super folks to deal with.

Are these batteries deep cycle Marine grade ?
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