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Old 11-19-2020, 07:49 PM   #1
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Talking No 12vdc Batteries are Charged/Charging

Hi, I've scoured the forums and YouTube and other places and can't find quite the same problem, or so it seems...

This is concerning a 2002 Winnie Adventurer (30Y):

I have been noticing a small flicker in my overhead lights and so did battery maintenance...cleaned all connections and tested...all house batteries showing 13V, engine battery showing 12.3V. Everything finished up and before I turned shore power back on, I noticed that I didn't have any 12V in the coach.


None of the usual 12V stuff, lights etc, plus nothing on my PowerLine EMS OnePlace monitor panel except that it showed the engine battery voltage readout, but nothing else. I hadn't used just the batteries since around the end of August. Have been on shore power since then (I'm full time), so really didn't realize that I didn't have 12V from batteries (at least I don't remember using just batteries since the end of August). Nonetheless, now do not have any 12VDC in coach WHEN SHORE POWER IS DISCONNECTED. I do have 12V with shore power.

Everyplace I look says it's probably the batteries, but I've double checked them again today without shore power switched on and they are holding their charges.

I finally found the converter but have not checked the fuses. If the converter was bad, wouldn't my batteries NOT charge?

And I finally found the "battery mode solenoid and disconnect relay panel" but haven't opened it to look behind it. Not quite sure what to do if I do open it. I have a multimeter but need to know exactly what / where to check. Have attached a photo.

Also, it seems I have no dash power either. I tried the radio powering from the engine as well as the house batter(ies)....neither works. It does work, of course, with shore power on.

I've seen videos and read about a "manual reset switch" that has solved similar problems, but I have no idea where this switch might be in my coach, if one even exists in this rig.

I will check the fuses at the converter tomorrow when I can see what's going on in the daylight!

I pasted in the image...hopefully it will remain.
Thanks so much!
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Old 11-19-2020, 07:54 PM   #2
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Another photo

This is the manual reset switch I mentioned:
Here's quote from the text of another forum....
"Look for a 12vdc circuit breaker like those in the pics below. It will have a small button on it that you push to reset. It will be somewhere between the battery and the breaker/fuse panel. Also pictured is the battery disconnect."


I've attached a photo
Thanks!
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Old 11-19-2020, 09:45 PM   #3
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We can get down to specifics of chasing the question but first a couple thoughts to help clear some thinking.
One is the big point that power from the batteries works when on shore power and how it gets from shore power to things like the lights.
The power cord brings in the 110AC and one place it goes is the converter which makes the 110AC into 12VDC. This 12v goes to the batteries and also to the load center/breakers or fuses, depending on age and which is used. So when you are getting most of the 12V to work when ac is fed from the cord, we know that the load center and the fuses are okay. If there were fuses or breaker problem you would not get power when plugged or not plugged, so that is cleared!
Bears checking but I think the resettable breaker you mention is likely to be on a trailer and they do have different items involved. If you have the post handy, perhaps check if they were talking about a trailer?
What is very common is that we see folks do a voltage check and it can get us confused as the batteries seem so simple!
Several small point that you might check far easier than digging into get to the solenoid and relays. One is the 13 volt reading which is a certain clue that there was a battery charge of some sort going to the batteries or just recently removed. Reason for this is that a lead acid battery is a chemical reaction and that reaction can not hold more than a 12.8 reading! Our readings can vary a bit due to meter and such not being totally accurate but not as far as 13, so we know that there is a question there.
When checking batteries, we need to put a charge on them for 6-8 hours to let them get a chance to fully charge. That charge may be as high as 14 volts to allow the power to run from the high point to the low point in the battery but when we know that the battery has had time to charge, we also need to let the battery set for several hours before checking the voltage to avoid what is called "surface charge".
We can look at other problems if needed but what I suspect is that the coach batteries have been setting on charge for a good long time, so that leaves a question for you to ask yourself. Charging batteries can make them boil off water if we are not checking them, so have you been checking water in each of the cells/opening in the batteries? If looking down in the battery cells, you see the lead plates above the waterline, it is quite possible the batteries are damaged. This can make it possible to get a good (or better than good) voltage reading when we check the voltage too soon after it has been charging but that is a false surface charge which quickly goes away and we may actually have a battery that can no longer take and hold that charge!
Before actually jumping to the batteries being bad, there is a far better "load test" that auto parts stores often do for free, and it tells a much better story on the condition.
The start battery is likely to be a different case or not really a problem as they do run down a bit given time if we are not driving enough hours to keep them fully charged.
If you have a meter handy and want to do some looking at the start battery and check it is charging okay, try this
Put the meter on the start battery with most everything on the car part of the RV turn off and then start the engine and check the voltage again. If you can set the meter and start the engine at the same time, you will likely see the 12.3 , etc. then as you crank the engine you will se the voltage drop way down but once the engine starts and the alternator comes online, that voltage should jump pretty high, possibly 14 Volts when the engine is running faster than idle. If you see that 13-14 volts at the start battery, there is no problem with that part of the system! If you rev up the engine, you can often see the charge voltage go up and down and know you are good.
Try a few tests and get back to the group and we can look for anything else but I suspect a simple weak coach battery is the main problem. Not cheap but perhaps simple?
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Old 11-20-2020, 08:41 AM   #4
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I got the drawings and did a little snipping and drawing on it to let you see what happens with the batteries.
Click the picture if on a PC to get a much better view. This is from this drawing on sheet one:
http://www.winnebagoind.com/diagram/...ire_138203.pdf
What we have is sometimes confusing because Winnebago doesn't always show all the parts on one drawing. They consider the start battery as a different system so they don't show it on the drawing for the 12VDC coach, even though it is vital to make things work! So I drew it in using black.
The coach battery is connected to the frame at some point and that RV frame is ground. The positive side of that battery goes to the left side of the solenoid, then over to a set of breaker at the steps. The coach batteries are connected the same with one side to a ground and the positive side to the right side of the solenoid. Then a different wire goes to the coach battery disconnect switch where you turn off most of the coach equipment when stored. What gets some in trouble is that there is also a wire from that coach battery to breakers at the step and those stay on, even when we think we have disconnected the coach battery! Things like the CO and propane gas detectors stay on!
The solenoid acts like a switch that is controlled electrically. This electrical power comes to it in two ways using the green trail from the dash switch.
When you start the RV engine power shows on the green trail, goes down to the solenoid and through a coil making the solenoid close the left side to the right. That's where we let the engine alternator charge both start and coach batteries as we drive!
But when we want to have a little more power for kind of a "jump start" for the engine, we can push the switch on the dash (maybe called boost or Aux?) and contacts inside that switch send battery power down to the solenoid to do the same thing. The idea is the weak start battery gets tied to the stronger (we hope) coach batteries and we get it to start.
But they stick the solenoid way back at times and we can test it easier than digging it out if we check what the batteries are doing. Instead of measuring at the solenoid, we can get to the same wires at the batteries!

1. If we find 11 volts at the start battery and then when we start the engine we see 13-14, we know the alternator is working and charging that battery, but we should also see that higher voltage going to the coach battery if the solenoid is tying them together right! We can say that works.

2. If we test the coach battery and find a voltage, then when the dash switch is pushed we see a difference on that reading we can expect that part is also working. This part can be a little more difficult to read because whether it goes up or down a bit will depend on on what each battery voltage by itself starts out. If the coach is higher than the start battery and we tie them together the reading goes lower but it it also ready lower than the start battery, it may show higher!
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Old 11-20-2020, 10:46 AM   #5
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Thank you for replies

Thanks for the replies....I will read them today!

Stay safe!
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Old 11-20-2020, 10:58 AM   #6
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Before you dig too deep, have you checked/cycled the disconnect switch? Sure sounds like it's off. Ought to clunk when you operate it, both on and off.
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Old 11-20-2020, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quick clarification, Please

Richard...I read both posts and have a point of clarification that I need:


You: "When checking batteries, we need to put a charge on them for 6-8 hours to let them get a chance to fully charge. That charge may be as high as 14 volts to allow the power to run from the high point to the low point in the battery but when we know that the battery has had time to charge, we also need to let the battery set for several hours before checking the voltage to avoid what is called "surface charge"."

For Clarification: After cleaning and adding water to batteries, I let them charge overnight (just to make sure) then checked again in the morning (AC off). Should I have shutoff shore power then let them sit for X hours before checking them again, or was checking them right after turning off AC okay?


I can certainly turn off AC and let the batteries sit for several hours before testing them again. The only thing that I'm not sure of is whether my fridge will switch over to propane if there's no DC....since I don't have any indicator lights on the fridge without DC, not sure how to tell if it has switched to propane. That would be my only concern.


I must say that I was remiss in properly maintaining my coach batteries and a couple of the cells took a fair amount of water. So if it turns out to me the batteries...hard lesson and expensive lesson...not to be such a slug!



Have to run some errands...when back will check here to see if you have gotten back on this. Then I will also run all the other tests you indicate!


Thanks so much for this help!!!!
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Old 11-20-2020, 12:17 PM   #8
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Sound ofAux Switch

Quote:
Originally Posted by tderonne View Post
Before you dig too deep, have you checked/cycled the disconnect switch? Sure sounds like it's off. Ought to clunk when you operate it, both on and off.
Hi...the switch does seem to sound a bit less "clunky" than previously, but the it's hard to "remember" a sound like that...lol...so there is a little "click" when I flip it on and off, which might simply be the mechanical sound of the switch itself!

Will do more battery system checks first then work my way down the list...lol
Thank you!
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Old 11-20-2020, 01:46 PM   #9
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Yes, very hard to get some of the details of how and when to check batteries as what we need to do in using them can interfere with what we want to do with getting the best readings.
What we might like to do for best voltage testing?
You've done the long term charging, so that's fine. What we "like" to do is then let the batteries set for a few hours to let all the chemicals settle down to whatever level they will hold the charge as that let's us avoid the confusion of surface charge.
Surface charge might be thought of like this?
If we have a barrel of water and add some black ink and look in the hole, we may see the water is really black because the ink is all right there where we are looking but if we come back in a few hours, we may not see much black at all because it has spread out all through the barrel!
The way a battery works is that we add the charge right at the battery post but to get the whole battery charged, that charge has to work it's way all the way through each of the six cells in the battery. Like looking in the barrel for black, we only get to look at the first battery cell and it may look super good like 13 volts until we give it time to move and settle all the way through all the cells!
Sounds okay but then we run into what we actually are doing like running the frig!
Best is not the same as real life, right?
What is best is to take the battery out or totally disconnect it after we charge it and then wait the several hours for it to settle but in our RV we almost always have some things like the CO and propane detectors which are connected so they are still working even when we turn the battery disconnect switch off. That leaves us waiting to make sure the battery holds a good charge but at the same time we are actually using a bit of that battery charge and if we are using the frig and furnace controls or radio presets, we get more battery use while we are asking the battery to hold steady!!
So it's kind of a thing to judge but without real firm numbers to go by. Sometimes it works to take the batteries out and take them to have them load tested--but that can be a bummer and not what we want to do very often!
An alternate idea is to just be aware that the batteries may be suspect but not try too hard to get test numbers but just keep them in mind, so that IF you know the charging is doing what it needs to do but still the batteries are not lasting as good as you need them, THEN you can be pretty sure you need new ones, either on the start or the coach side.
Sometimes it gets down to how much time you want to use the battery power. The start battery is one and should stay charged well enough to start the engine for several days or a week but if you find it doesn't have that power after a day, yes, it probably needs changed. But you can often get by for a few trips by hitting the dash switch for the "jump start".
Then the coach battery things like the frig, lights, and water pump are going to depend on how you want to fly as they can be crippled along for quite awhile if you are plugged in and the charging system ( converter) is feeding them power. Just know that if the coach battery string has one bad battery and you want to move, the 12 volt things may not last overnight while you are not plugged in and that can lead to being cold if the furnace won't run! I'm a softy and don't want to go without knowing for sure the heat will stay on even if I'm where the temperature only goes down to 50! Some tough folks can do it in Denver at 30 degrees, so personal thinking and location get involved.
But I don't feel the battery disconnect relay is too much to worry at this time as it has a different function. It takes a signal and does close the switch inside to make power from the left side of the drawing go out to the right side but that is the power that comes from the coach batteries and goes to start the generator and up to the breakers, more than doing anything to make the connection to charge the batteries as that is done by the mode solenoid. Yes, you want it turned on and working when you are in the RV as it does power lots of things light lights, fans, etc. but not too involved with charging. That relay can be a click as it is lighter weight but the mode solenoid is often more of a heavy cluck as it is heavy duty. Nice if we can reach in and feel each but I'm not that inspired to take things apart when they are hidden behind the breakers!
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Old 11-20-2020, 04:34 PM   #10
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Another clarification

Hi guys...thanks for being so helpful!!!
So, in order to do a good check on the batteries, I will disconnect them from the system completely but not sure which cables I need to remove to do that so everything is disconnected. I'm including a little drawing so if you can let me know which ones to remove I will do that. I'm best with a visual! And Richard...thanks for the wiring diagram tweek! HELPS!

Also, am I reading you correctly, that when there is absolutely no DC going to the rig (and no AC of course), that my AC/propane fridge will still run on the propane, even though I can't tell if it's on propane because my front panel has no indicator lights without DC?
Also, an FYI, in case this makes any difference at all. The only lights that flicker are the fluorescent ones...not the set (overhead lights) that I had changed to LED.
I'm so appreciative of all the help and the patience with all my questions. Learning as I go here and would rather do it myself if possible!
Will check back later for more insight from y'all! Will be dark in a couple hours, so will leave power on to rig for the rest of day, but will see about "disconnecting" tomorrow and letting batteries sit for the day....SO LONG AS I CAN STILL KEEP MY FOOD FROZEN!! LOL
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Old 11-20-2020, 05:26 PM   #11
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Okay, this sounds simple but gets tricky as the frig does need 12VDC even when running on gas as there is a solenoid that opens to let the gas into the frig and that needs the DC!
But there is some hope as cutting off the power to the frig for a bit may not make it melt down if it is not opened to let too much cold out?
To let the batteries settle, a couple hours is plenty to let you see they are holding the charge, in most cases. It's the kind of thing where a good battery when disconnected will not change the voltage reading much but a bad battery will go down pretty quick!
So I might propose this:
1. Check at some point while the power is on and record what the voltage is and if you are getting more than 13 volts, you know your charging is actually getting to the battery. We think it is due to earlier readings, but always better to verify things. If you check then and hour later and the reading is still higher like 13. 4 the battery is still not done charging. At some point he voltage will stabilize at the voltage of your charging setup. How long that takes will vary depending on how much difference there is in the charging voltage and battery voltage. and there is some difference in older and newer as newer are much more "gentle" on the batteries to avoid boiling off too much water. They may start out at higher voltage and then drop off in stages as the battery reaches full charge.
To isolate all the batteries both house and start, you need to be very careful to avoid anything metal, like a wrench, touching the positive battery posts and anything metal like the frame around the batteries. VERY bad sparks and it gets super hot really quick touching. I can't say this strong enough! DO NOT take chances of shorting the battery to ground or one post to the other as it is a super hazard!
Taking care first is the best, so use something like old rags, old throw rug, etc. to cover most of the metal around the batteries before starting to take the cables off. Make it thick enough so that if the tool slips and the handle of the tool you have on the battery cable happens to slip and whack the metal box around, it is thick enough to not cut through to make contact! Really important!
On the start battery, you can clear all the wires off either post to clear for testing, but on the coach batteries, you need to take all cables off the positive posts on both of those batteries. If you leave the positive cable between them on, the test will only tell one of them might be bad but if you take the cables off both positive, you may see one battery is bad and go down much more than the other, so I favor separating them but leaving the negative posts and cables on is okay as that end goes to ground.
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Old 11-20-2020, 07:10 PM   #12
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Ok Set to Try This

Hi
TY! I will go ahead and get this going tomorrow when the sun is shining. I will report back what I find. And I will be cautious with the cables SAFETY FIRST!!!

It's a great start!!!! ONWARD I GO!!!

STAY SAFE!!
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Old 11-22-2020, 12:42 PM   #13
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Another Question on the Solenoid

Hi
I've checked the start battery as you indicated. It is fine...showes 12.2, then drops when engine started then goes up to around 14V after engine in on. Didn't check coach batteries at that time, though...duh


While accessing the batteries I listened again for the solenoid to engage when I flip the "AUX" switch on and off (located in step well). The ONLY thing I am hearing is what seems to be a little mechanical click of the switch. I DO NOT hear anything on the solenoid which is located behind a panel in the step well. So I want to do check on the solenoid as you have instructed, but have a question on the procedure.


YOU: 2. If we test the coach battery and find a voltage, then when the dash switch is pushed we see a difference on that reading we can expect that part is also working. This part can be a little more difficult to read because whether it goes up or down a bit will depend on on what each battery voltage by itself starts out. If the coach is higher than the start battery and we tie them together the reading goes lower but it it also ready lower than the start battery, it may show higher!


ME: 1) is the dash switch you're referring to the "BOOST" switch that is there on my dash or the "AUX" switch in the step well? The reason I ask, is because I guess some rigs have an "AUX" switch on the dash (and maybe a boost as well...don't know)...so want to make sure which you're referring to. So, if it is the "BOOST" that we're talking about, am I to meter the start battery and then push the boost switch WITHOUT THE ENGINE RUNNING RIGHT?


Ok...will wait for a reply....THANK YOU!
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:09 PM   #14
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Boost switch on the dash combines House and Chassis battery for "emergency" starting.

AUX switch in the stairwell disconnects the House batteries for storage. If this is off you'll have no 12v inside the RV - and 110v items that need 12v for controllers also will not run (such as the A/C units or RV fridge).

Some older WBGO motorhomes have both Boost and AUX switches on the dashboard and some others even have a AUX switch on the dashboard that functionally is really a Boost switch.

I'm not current with all of your thread - but just to remind you. When your Chassis battery is at 12.1v or 12.2v it is at only a 40% - 50% state of charge. Fully charged is 12.6v to 12.8v (usually 12.7v). When you see any voltage above 12.8 you are only seeing the charge current being applied OR a surface charge that shows after a charge current has been removed. The Surface Charge can appear for an hour or more after the charge current has been removed. And it can disappear instantly when any load is applied to the battery.

Anytime your engine is running - you are applying a 14+v charge current to your batteries. If you take a reading when the engine is running that is the only voltage you will see. You'll not see your battery's voltage. The same is true when the generator is running or you are plugged into shore power.

When determining the state of charge your batteries need to be FULLY at rest - no charge being applied and no load being used for an hour or more.

If your batteries are Flooded Lead Acid, the kind you must add water too, you can do a specific gravity test on each cell with a hydrometer instead of using a volt meter.
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:23 PM   #15
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Here's what your Operator's manual says about the Boost and AUX switches:

https://winnebagoind.com/resources/m...Adventurer.pdf
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:33 PM   #16
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Thanks for that info from somebody hwo has looked at that group of switch! I have not had one that had both but only finding the AUX referred to in the drawings, so flying blind on the "boost" part!
Yes, the idea is that when things are working right, looking at the coach battery and start the engine, the coach battery reading of 12.6 or so is connected to the start battery and engine alternator which is likely to be charging at near 14 volts, so the reading at the coach battery will suddenly jump higher as you are really no longer reading the true voltage of the battery alone but seeing the voltage coming from the engine alternator.
That is one way to say that the solenoid and all those small parts are actually working without having to actually dig them out to test them. The only thing that solenoid needs to do is connect both battery groups together! So if we are looking at one group like the coach and it is kind of low and then we see it suddenly go high when we start the engine, we know the solenoid is doing it right!
Then where I'm in the dark on how many switches and where is the dash or near the step, but the idea is the same, whether it is called aux or boost, if it ties the two battery groups together, it is working right!
Both these tests need to be done when not plugged in to power to avoid that charging system confusing things.
One test done with the engine to see if it does it automatic and the other without the engine running to see if it does it when we push the switch?
I'm just really in the dark for where and how many switches and what they may be labeled.
I'm really leaning toward one of the batteries being weak but I don't jump to spending money without checking---even if it is your money! If we can prove out the solenoids and switches are working right, then we know what comes next?
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Old 11-22-2020, 01:38 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
Here's what your Operator's manual says about the Boost and AUX switches:

https://winnebagoind.com/resources/m...Adventurer.pdf
I see the light! Dash switch to tie the batteries together and near the door to disconnect the coach batteries!
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:52 PM   #18
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Richard, I'm surprised you don't have a similar setup. My 2017 Adventurer has both of these switches in the same relative positions.

I have a 12v House Disconnect switch and a 12v Chassis Disconnect switch in my stepwell and a battery Boost switch on my dashboard.

Looking back at the original post (OP) I don't have a simple answer. But whenever I see an issue like this - no 12v house power when not plugged into shore power - I think it's either the 12v disconnect is either off or defective if it's on OR that it's a problem with the House batteries.

The OP said that they found this issue immediately after "battery maintenance". So that adds a possibility that the battery connections are not correct/complete.

I'm trying to learn the moto... tackle the easy problem and possible solutions first. So, that is where I would start. The batteries. Are they good, are they both good, are they connected properly and are the connections good.

After that I'd look at the "AUX" switch in the stairwell. First, is it ON. Second, is it functioning.

That's pretty much it. Yes, there should be a main 12v fuse in the battery compartment and those are fused for a reason as they do blow, but it would not be common. So, I'd not go down that path until the other two things above are checked out. And, I seriously doubt there is a push button reset on that fuse. There may be on a travel trailer, but I doubt it on a motorhome.

The Chassis power problem is another thing - I don't see them related. It sounds more like the Chassis battery is worn out.

NOW! All of this is conjecture about what is likely and what it might be. But that is how I would start troubleshooting. It could probably be a dozen other things but are those things very likely? No generally.
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Old 11-22-2020, 02:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
After that I'd look at the "AUX" switch in the stairwell. First, is it ON. Second, is it functioning.
OP reported that she only hears the switch clicking, no CLUNK from the disconnect relay, when she uses the aux switch. That's where I'd be looking. A voltage check on both sides would be telling.
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Old 11-22-2020, 03:40 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
Richard, I'm surprised you don't have a similar setup. My 2017 Adventurer has both of these switches in the same relative positions.

I have a 12v House Disconnect switch and a 12v Chassis Disconnect switch in my stepwell and a battery Boost switch on my dashboard.

Looking back at the original post (OP) I don't have a simple answer. But whenever I see an issue like this - no 12v house power when not plugged into shore power - I think it's either the 12v disconnect is either off or defective if it's on OR that it's a problem with the House batteries.

The OP said that they found this issue immediately after "battery maintenance". So that adds a possibility that the battery connections are not correct/complete.

I'm trying to learn the moto... tackle the easy problem and possible solutions first. So, that is where I would start. The batteries. Are they good, are they both good, are they connected properly and are the connections good.

After that I'd look at the "AUX" switch in the stairwell. First, is it ON. Second, is it functioning.

That's pretty much it. Yes, there should be a main 12v fuse in the battery compartment and those are fused for a reason as they do blow, but it would not be common. So, I'd not go down that path until the other two things above are checked out. And, I seriously doubt there is a push button reset on that fuse. There may be on a travel trailer, but I doubt it on a motorhome.

The Chassis power problem is another thing - I don't see them related. It sounds more like the Chassis battery is worn out.

NOW! All of this is conjecture about what is likely and what it might be. But that is how I would start troubleshooting. It could probably be a dozen other things but are those things very likely? No generally.
That's where changes in the nomenclature brings in lots of confusion. I have an unlabeled switch on the dash which I'm willing to call a boost switch because they is what it does, but at the door, I do not have an aux switch but a clearly labeled battery disconnect with on and off labeled and no chassis disconnect other than the one I placed on the battery terminal itself.
So where's the aux switch and what does aux tell us about what it does? I get nothing out of that name!
But that is where we each have to work out what fits our way of thinking, I guess. For me, I get the meter out and go to the batteries which are easy to get too and side by side, so I can easily test all the batteries as well as the mode solenoid and dash switches without much trouble at all. If the batteries get tied together when the boost switch is pressed, I move to finding out if the coach and start get connected and charged when the engine runs. If all the equipment works but the batteries don't hold a charge, I decide they must be bad and do some more looking at them for why.
Part of it seems to be that manuals are written by folks who know and understand the small details but read but folks who don't. So calling it an "aux" switch in the manual and "battery disconnect" in the drawings is not a problem to them!
Kind of like the computer world speaking of the "hamburger file"? That one boggled me for a while, too!
But that leads us back to all RV being kinda the same but not exactly and all people the same but lots more differences!
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Richard
2015 Winnebago Vista 31KE on 2014 chassis
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