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Old 03-14-2016, 01:13 PM   #1
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House Batteries Upgrade to AGM ... and other Related

I thought our 2013 Berk house batteries might be prematurely near the end of their useful life because every time I had a fault and cleared it, the inverter/charger went to bulk charge, which I had incorrectly interpreted as the batteries having fully discharged (bad thing – causes the battery plates to become heavily sulfated, shortening their life). Also, when we travel with the inverter on, I noticed that the batteries go to bulk charge immediately after plugging in to shore power upon hooking up at the destination.

In fact, the inverter has circuitry to not let the batteries fully discharge, and modifies the set point voltage discharge limits with actual battery temperature sensor information.

After rereading the Magnum Inverter-Charger MM-1212 and Magnum Remote Panel Model MM-RC manuals online, I called Magnum Dimensions tech support, and found out:
· That the batteries go to bulk charge immediately after clearing the fault (by cycling the inverter on, then back off) only means that the batteries dropped below 12.5v, not that they went flat;
· Same thing is true when I have the inverter on while traveling, and I see that the batteries go to bulk charge immediately after plugging in to shore power
· Our MM-RC remote indicator (lights on the panel) does not have the push-button feature that the replacement/upgrade ME-RC50 remote has, that of allowing the batteries to be equalized (intentionally overcharged) once every six months or so, to knock the sulfates off the plates
o equalizing is a “controlled overcharge” performed after the batteries have been fully charged
o equalizing helps to mix the battery electrolyte (to reverse the buildup of stratification) and to remove sulfates that may have built up on the plates
o if conditions are left unchecked, the overall capacity of the battery is reduced
· If you are replacing a MM-RC remote with the ME-RC50 remote, installation is “plug-and-play”
· The shore button on the ME-RC50 should be used to change from the default 30A breaker setting to the 20A setting upon installation
· The ME-RC50 remote is required for use with AGM batteries, so that the charging profile can be reprogrammed properly for your make and model of AGM battery

I do not plan to convert this season to the ME-RC50, but may do this post season, or later in the season for the following reasons:
· Allows manual, periodic intentional overcharge to equalize the batteries, extending the life of the present batteries
· I was planning to eventually upgrade to Lifeline 6V AGM batteries which require the ME-RC50 remote for programming, using either
o four Lifeline 220 Ah GPL-4CT @ $308.00 each (10” high, total 264 lbs) recommended if inverter only used to power entertainment center/computers, recharging phones, etc., and shore power used almost all of the time, or
o four Lifeline 300 Ah GPL-6CT @ $435.55 each (13” high, total 360 lbs) recommended if residential refrigerator added or if dry camping frequently
§ requires reprogramming the ME-RC50 remote to a value other than the default 220 Ah battery capacity
§ probably also requires an additional ¾” plywood liner on the battery compartment floor to accomodate the additional 96 lbs; slide weight bearing capability and axle rating should also be checked for additional refrigerator and batteries weight; AC receptacle that powers the residential refrigerator needs to be connected to a circuit powered by the inverter output, not the GFCI AC shore power pass-through circuit which the LP gas refrigerator supply was connected to
§ would be necessary only if dry camping frequently, or if residential refrigerator installed; if latter installed, then a 2000 mA pure sine wave inverter is strongly recommended*
o The battery type should entered into the ME-RC50 remote per “Set Battery Type”, page 26 of the remote manual (select AGM-1 for Lifeline Batteries)

I plan on avoiding the entire residential refrigerator upgrade scenario primarily for weight rating and space considerations, but I do plan to eventually replace my flooded cell lead-acid batteries with the Lifeline 220 Ah GPL-4CT batteries just to avoid servicing battery water levels; I also would necessarily have to replace my Magnum Remote Panel Model MM-RC with a ME-RC50 remote, which will also give me the equalization option which extends the life of the AGM batteries.

I recommend consulting Magnum Dimensions tech support during setup to go over all the settings you think you need to make, after reading the manual

* A residential refrigerator will work with AC supplied by a modified sine wave inverter, and a 1200 mA inverter (e.g. the MM-1212) is probably sufficient if there are no other major loads; however, without a pure sine wave inverter, AC motors run at decreased efficiency and overheat, which shortens their life.
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Old 03-14-2016, 01:26 PM   #2
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I follow your narrative, however, I would be concerned that your system goes into bulk charge mode after travelling. Unless you have a huge load on the inverter when on the road, your alternator should be keeping the batteries up when travelling and the inverter should not go into fault mode (indicating that it believes that the batteries are getting too low to continue to output power.) When you arrive at your destination and hook up to shore power, the inverter's charger section should find the batteries up to snuff, unless they were very seriously discharged when you left.

When you run your engine you should see something like 14 volts on the house bank. If there is no change to the house battery bank voltage when you start up, your battery isolation solenoid is having problems and is not connecting the alternator to the house bank when the engine is running. This will also mean that your "boost start" switch may not work either. This solenoid gets a lot of use and is a failure mode part in most RV electrical systems.
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Old 03-14-2016, 02:52 PM   #3
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Where is the battery isolation solenoid. Not sure my engine is charging the house batteries.


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Old 03-14-2016, 04:58 PM   #4
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Where is the battery isolation solenoid. Not sure my engine is charging the house batteries.
Based on your narrative...it isn't! The isolation solenoid is in the Battery Control Center (BCC). If you have a boost switch, you have one. It measures battery bank voltage and when it rises over 13.3 volts or so it puts all batteries in parallel, house with chassis when the engine is running and chassis with house when you are hooked up to shore power and the converter is running (also on generator.)

There is no way that the inverter should go into fault mode when the engine is running with an alternator that offers at least 175 Amps of 12 volt.

It is a black box (really!) that has the positive battery cables running to it from the house bank. It contains the battery disconnect switch as well and a bunch of fuses for things like the steps, etc.

There are lots of brands, but most recently it seems that FR is using one from Intellitec. You can find the manual here http://www.intellitec.com/assets/pdf/5301087new3.pdf

Since the solenoids are always powered when connected to shore power, they tend to eventually die from heating. Almost any RV dealer carries lots of spares in stock. If it is bad you want a continuous duty solenoid, not a starter solenoid.
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Old 03-15-2016, 02:34 PM   #5
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I follow your narrative, however, I would be concerned that your system goes into bulk charge mode after travelling. Unless you have a huge load on the inverter when on the road, your alternator should be keeping the batteries up when travelling and the inverter should not go into fault mode (indicating that it believes that the batteries are getting too low to continue to output power.) When you arrive at your destination and hook up to shore power, the inverter's charger section should find the batteries up to snuff, unless they were very seriously discharged when you left.

When you run your engine you should see something like 14 volts on the house bank. If there is no change to the house battery bank voltage when you start up, your battery isolation solenoid is having problems and is not connecting the alternator to the house bank when the engine is running. This will also mean that your "boost start" switch may not work either. This solenoid gets a lot of use and is a failure mode part in most RV electrical systems.
Scott: Thanks for your reply. I'm learning more about this subject every time I talk to someone.

I had thought that everything you stated would have been the case, but I was advised by someone in the FR warranty department during a visit out there that the house batteries charge when the engine is running, only after the chassis batteries have been topped off (whatever voltage that is, I don't know), unless the spring loaded emergency start switch is depressed, which reverses the situation. I have never gotten a fault condition while travelling (either with the inverter on or off), and I can only assume that the chassis batteries needed continuous charging while travelling, not allowing the house batteries to get their turn.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:17 PM   #6
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Scott:...I was advised by someone in the FR warranty department during a visit out there that the house batteries charge when the engine is running, only after the chassis batteries have been topped off (whatever voltage that is, I don't know...
Well, that is correct, however it is not really a state of charge situation but a system voltage issue. The BCC will bring on the house after starting the engine when the system voltage rises above something like 13.3 or 13.4 volts. Most engine alternators are HUGE and their voltage regulators are set to around 14 volts, so if your chassis battery is in reasonable shape, the house should come in within 15 or 30 seconds after starting. It isn't about "their turn" its chassis or chassis + house, two choices only, at least on a Ford gasser chassis. When you plug into shore power its house and then house + chassis, same voltage level.

You indicated that whenever you plug in after a drive your inverter/charger immediately goes into boost. If it stays there very long, your house bank is low and the alternator didn't do its thing during your drive.

I know, I know this all sounds very complicated.In reality, once you know how it works, its really quite simple. Another way to check what is happening is to start your engine and verify that all 4 red leds on the battery panel light. It isn't as good a test, and doesn't tell you much if they were all lit before you started up.
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Old 03-15-2016, 07:19 PM   #7
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Where is the battery isolation solenoid. Not sure my engine is charging the house batteries.


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Turn the engine on and take a voltage reading at the battery posts...if it is 13.2 or greater...they are being charge by the engine alternator. If it is less...you might want to look at the battery disconnect switch and make sure it is in the connected position & check again.
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Old 03-16-2016, 12:07 AM   #8
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On Berkshire it is easier to see if the "emergency start" switch lamp glows or blinks indicating that battery voltage is 13.3 and the chassis and house batteries are linked together, it happens when drive engine is running and chassis batteries are 13.3 or above, or when plugged in and house batteries are 13.3 or above.


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Old 03-16-2016, 09:54 AM   #9
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On Berkshire it is easier to see if the "emergency start" switch lamp glows or blinks indicating that battery voltage is 13.3 and the chassis and house batteries are linked together, it happens when drive engine is running and chassis batteries are 13.3 or above, or when plugged in and house batteries are 13.3 or above.
Wow...that is a nice feature. Definitive!
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Old 03-16-2016, 04:11 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=ScottBrownstein;1131716]It isn't about "their turn" its chassis or chassis + house, two choices only, at least on a Ford gasser chassis. When you plug into shore power its house and then house + chassis, same voltage level.QUOTE]
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