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Old 11-07-2020, 07:07 PM   #1
Winnebago Owner
 
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House Batteries and Control Panel, Loads

My new to me Winnebago Via came with two Interstate 6 volt house batteries dated 9/19. When I got the rig home I put them on a 4 amp Battery Tender, they took about 2 days to reach a full charge. A couple of hours after removing the charger I get 13+ volts directly at the terminals with a DMM. The moment I switch the 12 volt system on the voltage plummets quickly, to around 12.3-12.4 (at the batteries) with no loads turned on, but the TV makes a little noise and the radio dial lights up so yes there is a bit of load. If I check at the control panel I get much lower voltage readings, 12.1 immediately after switching on the 12 volt system and it drops into the 11's soon and the four bar State of charge indicator drops to 1/2 within a minute or two. Once I switch off the 12 volt system the batteries recover to about 12.7 which in my book is pretty full charge. What is going on here, is the control panel SOC indicator a joke or do I have a serious load somewhere?
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Old 11-07-2020, 07:25 PM   #2
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Year,make and exact model of Via is often important when doing a look at how things are tied together but some top of the head thoughts,may help. Tv and radio coming on? Do you have an entertainment center with speakers to jump up?
Not sure on your RV, of course, but is the tV actually a 110 AC tv and that coming on means you have an inverter which is using battery power to make 110AC from the 12VDC battery supply?
Sounds like you have the right idea on charge voltage readings being higher and then needing to wait a couple hours before putting too much faith in the voltage reading, but a small point to keep in mind is that the coach battery disconnect DOES NOT disconnect aLL the load! There are some safety items like CO and propane detectors which are left on, even when we think we turned it all off! Little things like radio station presets and any LED indicator lights are also sneaky things we can miss.
Monitor state of charge are kind of like the dash lights in a car, they kinda/sorta tell us something but sometimes we are not sure what?
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Old 11-07-2020, 08:08 PM   #3
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Thanks, I just added a signature we'll see if it works. Winnie is a 2011. I just checked the SOC with a DMM one hour after switching off the RV switch and they are recovered to 13 volts, so I think the batteries are OK. I think you may have found my issue, there are 2 TVs but I don't know yet if they are 12 or 120, have not had time to check and I did not think about that, if one or both are 120 volts and turned on then the inverter would certainly be working, I'll look at that tomorrow. The owner's manual mentions both 12 and 120 volt TVs so I'll have to see what I have.
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Old 11-16-2020, 10:55 PM   #4
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I ran into the exact same symptoms. Plus I checked each cell with a hydrometer and they all passed.

I took my RV to a Interstate battery shop and they put a load test on the 6V battery using a 6V battery-load-tester and the battery passed.

1 week later I returned to the shop and the battery failed the load test, but still checked okay with a voltmeter.

And the more load I put on my batteries (using a microwave or space heater for example) the faster it dropped from 12.7V to 11.9V and then it remained there.

And, oh yes, I could recharge these GC2 batteries over a few days, but in the end I concluded these batteries were just "vessels" and not storage banks. I.e., my batteries were strong enough to run all the 12V lights, with my inverter charger working to supply the voltage, through the battery, but you really could not use the battery storage for boondocking more than 1 hour.

SOLUTION: I replaced my 4-6V-GC2-Golf Cart batteries with new from Costco for $95 each and everything worked normal.

I conclude my batteries were "sulfated" and were not worth restoring.

IMHO, your only option is to buy some new Lead Acid or now is the time to look at a Lithium upgrade as prices are much lower these days... but you still have to hunt for a good price with the LiFeO4 safeguards you also need to employ. (Do a search to know what these are: Like alternator protection for starters.)

Note: I wouldn't bother trying to "zap" or "pulse" a sulfated 6V battery back to life. I tried it and the battery just got worse... probably because these pulse chargers are made for 12V and 24V batteries and do NOT work well when you connect two batteries in series. ...And even if you do revive a sulfated battery you only get 60-80% of it's rated SOC, which is crap if you are boondocking.

Also, if possible, be sure to use a battery maintainer when you put your coach in storage or if you have solar that will work if you store your RV outside.
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Old 11-17-2020, 05:46 AM   #5
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You might want to invest about $75 in a clamp on DC ammeter. With this you can check the actual current coming to or from your house batteries.

See https://www.amazon.com/Extech-MA445-...%2C191&sr=8-11

What you describe sounds like a rather heavy load (even though it seems like none) that is pulling down the batteries' voltage.

But also invest about $10 in a battery hygrometer. This is one of the sure fire way to test battery SOC. Voltage is very, very approximate.

See https://www.amazon.com/Performance-T...s%2C180&sr=8-4

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Old 11-17-2020, 08:21 AM   #6
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A 12v battery that reads above 12.7 or 12.8 is getting charged from some where at the time you are testing it, or it has a surface charge showing from previous charging. After a lengthy rest period it should show it actual voltage. Some times a small draw is all it will take to drop immediately.

With two 6v batteries in series to yield 12v, if one battery is good but the other damaged you can see very rapid discharge upon even the lightest use. But both batteries would still have to be replaced if that’s the case.

Testing electrolyte with a hydrometer is your best option it seems now.

I’m going to agree with others that it’s likely that the batteries are shot. But that’s just a guess at this point.
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Old 11-17-2020, 08:47 AM   #7
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I am not convinced they are bad, like I said they will recover to near 13 volts after they have been loaded down to below 12 with no charging whatsoever. (They are approx 1 year old Interstate 6 volt flooded LA.) I will check the SG when time (hate the mess) and I also have an adjustable carbon pile load bank which if I recall goes up to 500 amps.
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Old 11-17-2020, 09:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigb View Post
I am not convinced they are bad, like I said they will recover to near 13 volts after they have been loaded down to below 12 with no charging whatsoever. (They are approx 1 year old Interstate 6 volt flooded LA.) I will check the SG when time (hate the mess) and I also have an adjustable carbon pile load bank which if I recall goes up to 500 amps.
The problem here is that 13 is not the "natural state" for a lead acid battery. It is a chemical thing and normal is never over 12.8 or so! That means that the 13 reading is suspect in some way, either too soon after charging has stopped for the chemicals to fully settle out over all the cells or possibly the meter is reading a touch high??
Reference here:
https://www.progressivedyn.com/service/battery-basics/
nominal 2.1 on each of six cells get to 12.6 but as in most things, there are always slight differences in batteries! But the chemicals say not? Just a thing to keep in mind when we get a reading which says things are better then new? Most times we don't get that lucky.....
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Old 11-17-2020, 04:33 PM   #9
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Do you have a gas/elect fridge? If so, the 120V outlet it is plugged into may be powered by the inverter. My 2006 Journey is wired that way.

So if the fridge is set to "auto" mode and the inverter is on then the fridge will switch from gas mode to elect and pull about 25 amps of 12V DC through the inverter.
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:40 PM   #10
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Bigb: I know you are not convinced your batteries are sulfated, but you will be after you buy some new ones and find your new batteries spring back from a heavy load... like a microwave.

I too was convinced that if I did NOT have a battery short, and if my voltmeter was reading 12.7 after my batteries came to a rest, and because the Specific Gravity (SG) was all normal... how can it be that my batteries are goners?

That said, my batteries were bad and it just took more time for them to show up as a failure on the load meter checker. Note: These 6V-GC2 batteries are hard to test and the fact that almost 99% of all battery checkers out there are really made to test for 12V batteries does not help.

Moving on...

Maybe there is more to this story you have not told us?

* Are your battery cases deformed in any way?

* Did you store your RV/batteries in freezing weather connected or unconnected?

* How many days in the winter do you think temperatures dropped below 32F?

* Do you travel on the road often and are always recharging your RV-house-batteries using your engine alternator?

* When you camp do you have access to shore power so your inverter/charger can condition your RV-house batteries? ...This is hard for most everyone, because most inverter/chargers only condition every 10th cycle. (Did you know that?) This means there are many times our house batteries are not being properly charged even though we spend 3-4 days in an RV park with shore power.

* Do you always recharge your batteries at the point your SOC drops to 12.0V or above?

* Do you leave a battery maintainer on your RV-house-batteries when you leave your RV in storage?

I think if you are not optimally taking care of your batteries then you will end up with a sulfated battery. And BTW, each of those 2.1V battery holes you are filling with water are really batteries in their own right... connected in series... which means if they are not conditioned properly they will start to work against each other, just like dissimilar battery brands.

Batteries connected is series will try to balance each cell out, but when they don't have a battery charger with a recondition mode helping that process, then what you end up with is a battery cell that acts more like a big resistor vs. a big capacitor over time.

==> If your batteries are less than 1 year old then you might try taking them to interstate and asking them to replace them.

==> If these are Costco's interstate battery then take them back and get some new ones. BTW, I bought Costco's Interstate 6V-GC2 and there are some rumors that these are not as high quality as those 6V-GC2 sold at the interstate store. In fact, I don't think the interstate battery store will guarantee the Costco interstate battery brand.

Since I just replaced my Costco interstate batteries I can't tell you what I think of them. Maybe some other owners can tell you how their Costco interstate branded batteries are preforming?
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imnprsd View Post
Bigb: I know you are not convinced your batteries are sulfated, but you will be after you buy some new ones and find your new batteries spring back from a heavy load... like a microwave.

I too was convinced that if I did not have a battery short, and if my voltmeter was reading 12.7 after my batteries came to a rest, and because the Specific Gravity (SG) was all normal... how can it be that my batteries are goners?

Maybe there is more to this story you have not told us:

* Are your battery cases deformed in any way?

* Did you store your RV/batteries in freezing weather connected or unconnected?

* How many days in the winter do you think temperatures dropped below 32F?

* Do you travel on the road often and are always recharging your RV-house-batteries using your engine alternator?

* When you camp do you have access to shore power so your inverter/charger can condition your RV-house batteries?

* Do you always recharge your batteries at an SOC above 12.0V?

* Do you leave a battery maintainer on your RV-house-batteries when you leave your RV in storage?

I think if you are not optimally taking care of your batteries then you will end up with a sulfated battery. And BTW, each of those 2.1V battery holes you are filling with water are really batteries in their own right... connected in series... which means if they are not conditioned properly they will start to work against each other, just like dissimilar battery brands.

Batteries connected is series will try to balance each cell out, but when they don't have a battery charger with a recondition mode helping that process, then what you end up with is a battery cell that acts more like a big resistor vs. a big capacitor.

==> If your batteries are less than 1 year old then you might try taking them to interstate and asking them to replace them.

==> If these are Costco's interstate battery then take them back and get some new ones. BTW, I bought Costco's Interstate 6V-GC2 and there are some rumors that these are not as high quality as those 6V-GC2 sold at the interstate store. In fact, I don't think the interstate battery store will guarantee the Costco interstate battery brand.
The RV is new to me, I've only owned it a little over 2 weeks. It was stored in Phoenix so not much freezing weather, the batteries were purchased 9/2019 but I don't know where and no paperwork. I will be storing it in my insulated garage in Tucson and using BatteryTenders on both chassis and coach batteries, I presently have 5 vehicles (3 diesel) and maintaining all those batteries keeps me jumping. I have studied batteries for a long time but I know what you mean they can throw you a surprise just when you think you have them figured out.

I will re-visit the batteries soon, between fixing all the rattles in the dash and front end, power steering leak, transmission cooling line leak, improperly serviced generator, improperly installed headlight and a pile of things I just keep finding it's keeping me jumping, not to mention putting a new cork floor in the house plus working a couple days a week still.

I have not really had a problem with the batteries, just the odd voltage readings. My meter of choice is a Fluke 27 but I can check it's accuracy against several others but that Fluke has never let me down.
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Old 11-17-2020, 11:08 PM   #12
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BigB: Warranties only apply to the original purchaser so you will be SOL if you go back to interstate or Costco.

You can still use your RV systems (lights) off your house batteries if you are plugged into shore power for a long time, but you will not be able to boondock very long. This may not be a problem if you do NOT have a residential refrigerator and I'm guessing you do not since your coach came with 2-batteries.

So I would put off the purchase of new house batteries until next season and then you might look into upgrading to lithium if you do much boondocking.

My FLA batteries only last 2.5 years, because I am guilty of many of the symptoms I listed above and I often wonder if I had lithium I would be better off, but I'm not yet convinced of that.

I'm always traveling so I rely on my alternator or solar to recharge my house batteries. Therefore, they are never getting "reconditioned" like they should be to see 4+ years of service.

In the past I also have not had any power source when I store my RV, but this year is different. So we shall see if my Costco Interstate Branded Batteries last longer than 2.5 years or not?

I have calculated the ROI at todays good LiFeO4 prices and I figure I would only be ahead of the game at 5 years of use vs. FLA batteries, but I would not have to worry about the Lithium bank going bad for the entire length of time; and I may get more AH of storage with faster recharge rates... so there are advantages to lithium, but maybe not $2,000 - $3,500 worth of advantages.

I also cannot see anyone upgrading to Lithium with out at least adding 400W of solar too. So, if you are not ready to make an investment in this RV for at least 5 years and $1,500-$2,000 to upgrade your power grid, then I would just keep buying new FLA batteries... as often as necessary.

As for owning a Fluke, that tells me you know how to use a voltmeter, but owning a Fluke will do nothing to extend the life of your house batteries.

What I can tell you from my experience is that the best test of your house battery condition is to just run your microwave for one to two minutes and if your voltage bounces back then you are good to go. If not, then you know what you need to do now. ...And when you replace those batteries with new ones, only then you will be sure you made the right decision.

To hedge your bet, buy them at Costco and if I'm not right you can return them with no questions asked!
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:41 PM   #13
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Early Via Battery issues

Congratulations on your new (to you) VIA. We have a 2010 VIA that we also bought used, with little if any use for the several years prior to purchase in 2015. The batteries tested reasonably well for the first 6 months, but then began to be intermittently unreliable for charging. As we like to boondock, I replaced them initially with a similar set of 6 volt batteries. As several posts in the past week have noted, the complexity of the electrical system, and the large number of "parasitic" draws even with the coach battery switch off, means that the batteries will draw down precipitously even in storage. Lithium and solar are clearly the way to go, but short of that, more sophisticated battery monitors (I have a Bogart, but Victron and Magnum are also highly rated) are very useful in identifying the true state of your batteries, and for tracking sources of draw down. Because COVID-19 has limited our travels to local sites over the past 8 months, I have disconnected the coach battery interconnect as well as the chassis battery when the RV is in storage. I bring it home 2 days prior to travels, and charge the two batteries (as a "12 v. unit") with an external charger, which is a quick return to baseline. The difference between the OEM battery monitor and the Bogart using a shunt is substantial. Installation is an easy DIY.
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