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Old 08-05-2020, 10:32 AM   #1
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battery disconnect switch - why not all loads?

i have read and commented on many posts concerning dead batteries and the battery disconnect switch. we have a 5th wheel and when it was new to us we suffered dead batteries while in storage even though i had the factory installed battery disconnect switch set to have the batteries disconnected. after some research i think i found 5 devices that were directly connected to the batteries that bypassed the factory installed disconnect switch. i installed my own disconnect switch on the negative battery lead and i now use it rather than the factory installed switch. needless to say, the batteries no longer get discharged while in storage. many of you have done the same thing with the same results.


so why does the factory go to the effort of installing this switch while not making it truly functional? why not have it remove all loads?

is there some regulation that requires the co and propane monitors to always be active? even while in a storage lot where nobody would hear them?

is it for easy of the salesman (the salesman switch) to allow him to power on a unit when showing it? even though it will still drain within a week or so?

not all units come with this switch factory installed. so if that is acceptable why is it acceptable to install one that does really work?

and from what i see this issue is not unique to any manufacturer or brand? what is driving this industry wide fallacy?
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Old 08-05-2020, 10:54 AM   #2
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I have the factory battery disconnect switch on my trailer and I know it atleast powers off the Co/Propane Detector...I replaced mine a month ago and just used the disconnect switch to turn the battery off.
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHICKDOE View Post
i have read and commented on many posts concerning dead batteries and the battery disconnect switch. we have a 5th wheel and when it was new to us we suffered dead batteries while in storage even though i had the factory installed battery disconnect switch set to have the batteries disconnected. after some research i think i found 5 devices that were directly connected to the batteries that bypassed the factory installed disconnect switch. i installed my own disconnect switch on the negative battery lead and i now use it rather than the factory installed switch. needless to say, the batteries no longer get discharged while in storage. many of you have done the same thing with the same results.


so why does the factory go to the effort of installing this switch while not making it truly functional? why not have it remove all loads?

is there some regulation that requires the co and propane monitors to always be active? even while in a storage lot where nobody would hear them?

is it for easy of the salesman (the salesman switch) to allow him to power on a unit when showing it? even though it will still drain within a week or so?

not all units come with this switch factory installed. so if that is acceptable why is it acceptable to install one that does really work?

and from what i see this issue is not unique to any manufacturer or brand? what is driving this industry wide fallacy?







This, my friend, is just one of the $64,000 questions.



It is an engineering wonder... You wonder why they engineered it that way.


Cost savings? That is my speculation.
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Old 08-05-2020, 11:46 AM   #4
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There have been two items that I have seen wired directly to the battery. 1)Landing gear or front jack 2)trailer wheel brake's break-away switch.

While I don't tow my trailer without the battery switch ON, I can see it is a fail safe to ensure even if the user switches off the battery, the break-away switch will function (assuming a good battery).

A secondary reason I could imagine is that the switch is wired to cut the HOUSE loads from the battery to save power for the brakes and jacks.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:05 PM   #5
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CHICKDOE,
What were the additional items left on when using your disconnect switch?

The only items I've seen were non-parasitic circuts that would only draw power if a switch was thrown or a pin pulled.

That's how mine was wired anyway.

It makes no sense to run a higher amp circuit such as landing gear or stab jacks through a $0.10 disconnect switch if it wouldn't be drawing any power unless someone used them.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:13 PM   #6
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Our TH had the jack, brakes, CO/ LP and smoke detectors wired hot. I have since changed that to only jack and brakes.
My suspicion is that one random state had a law that said CO or smokes cannot have a power disconnect installed. That random state dictated the way things were wired so they could meet all state regulations. It is fairly common in most industries. I work for Trane and there are a few machines that are built the way they are for that very reason.
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Old 08-05-2020, 12:30 PM   #7
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Evil Twin is correct. There are some states that don't allow a disconnect in line with safety items (gas/smoke detectors, brake-away switch, etc.).

The radio preset memory power is a convenience. A lot of people would complain if they had to reprogram their presets every time they used the RV.

I tend to agree with 5Picker about the discrete loads. As long as it isn't a constant draw and only draws when manipulated, it's not an issue. However when I installed our disconnect I disconnected everything. If I were going to redo it, I would leave the brake-away switch connected. But seeing how I can't move the rig without operating the landing gear I don't see it as much of an issue.
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Old 08-05-2020, 01:55 PM   #8
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CO and smoke detectors must be connected at all times because there is a chance someone might be sleeping in there without turning on the main switch.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:12 PM   #9
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My Wildcat 5th wheel's disconnect switch kills the power to the CO/LP detector, radio and everything that is fused in the DC Power Distribution panel. The landing gear, slidouts and the emergency brake does not get turned off by the disconnect switch. This is sensible as it allows me to turn off all parasitic draws. I only wish the landing gear and stabilizer legs also could be shut off with the disconnect switch so vandals couln't mess with the outside switch.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:17 PM   #10
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Ok, i’m Always up for an experiment.

I’m at the trailer and with the factory disconnect set to have the batteries disconnected I can operate the follow devices:
CO detector
LP detector
The hydraulic slide outs and jacks
One awning but not both
Inverter
Trailer break away
Door entry lights

I am unsure about the presets on the radio.

I agree that the trailer break away and the awning shouldn’t be using power unless the mechanical on/off switch is activated.

The CO and LP detectors are hardwired and always on. So is the receiver from the jacks and slide outs. It must be always on in order to sense a signal from the remote transmitter. I also believe, but am not certain that the inverter goes into standby mode which draws power even though in is not on. The door light should be off when the doors are closed.

I also believe that wiring the trailer break away switch was a safety feature in case you started to tow without turning the factory disconnect back on. But having a dead battery kind of negates that logic.
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Old 08-05-2020, 02:23 PM   #11
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Battery Disconnect Switch

I installed mine on the outside of the battery box. When it's off nothing works, not the lighting, not the breakaway switch and not the electric tongue jack.
So when I go to hitch up the RV I have to turn on the switch. I have a 10 watt solar panel on the front of our coach wired directly to the batteries so the batteries are always getting a trickle charge. No more unwelcome surprises.
Best of luck, Paul
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Old 08-05-2020, 03:22 PM   #12
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Do you have a power outlet up front that is always hot? If so, buy a cheap solar panel, plug it in there, and stick the panel against the windshield. I had a friend that did that to assure his chassis battery always had a charge.

Maybe you can rig something similar for your house batteries. If you have a power outlet off the house batteries, run a long wire from the solar panel.

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Old 08-05-2020, 03:57 PM   #13
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The breakaway switch and tongue jack on my previous TH were wired direct to the battery. Modified disconnect switch definitely removed power from everything else.
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Old 08-05-2020, 04:01 PM   #14
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My observations Microlite 2509S

I have a Microlite 2509S - 2018 and when my battery disconnect is disconnected my brake away switch still has power and the power outlet by the Murphy bed has power. Nothing else - no alarms, sensors, radio keep alive etc. My parasitic load is about 0.3 Amp so my battery would be dead in about 360 hours or 15 days without a charge.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:29 PM   #15
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When storing my RV for a period of time, I just disconnect the negative terminal on my house battery. Mine has only one lead and its attached with a 9/16 nut. Very easy to unscrew it. I keep a wrench in the compartment for just this reason.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:32 PM   #16
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I added my disconnect switch. It disconnects EVERYTHING from the battery except solar including the jack and the breakaway brake switch. I don't want anything on if I am working on the electrical system.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:42 PM   #17
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Engineers

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Originally Posted by BriaBeck View Post




This, my friend, is just one of the $64,000 questions.



It is an engineering wonder... You wonder why they engineered it that way.


Cost savings? That is my speculation.

With engineers, it always looks great on paper. Making it exactly as on paper and having it work, that's a whole nother happening.
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:46 PM   #18
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It is an engineering wonder... You wonder why they engineered it that way.
Because they didn't. An engineer would disconnect it completely but a lawyer and a safety guy overruled him/her.


They had to take into account the stupid guy that would tow the trailer with the switch in the off position. Of course not sure how they would have hitched up with the power jack not working.
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:21 PM   #19
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X2

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CHICKDOE,
What were the additional items left on when using your disconnect switch?

The only items I've seen were non-parasitic circuts that would only draw power if a switch was thrown or a pin pulled.

That's how mine was wired anyway.

It makes no sense to run a higher amp circuit such as landing gear or stab jacks through a $0.10 disconnect switch if it wouldn't be drawing any power unless someone used them.
X2. No point in running items through the switch which only draw current when momentary switches are being depressed. In addition to the stabilizer jacks landing gear 5Picker mentions, there are also the breakaway brakes and the slideout motors/pumps. Add in the Propane detector and you easily get to five.

If you are old enough to remember ammeters on automotive dashboards, stop and think about it--they didn't run the starter motor current through that ammeter, did they?
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Old 08-05-2020, 09:23 PM   #20
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X2. No point in running items through the switch which only draw current when momentary switches are being depressed. In addition to the stabilizer jacks landing gear 5Picker mentions, there are also the breakaway brakes and the slideout motors/pumps. Add in the Propane detector and you easily get to five.

If you are old enough to remember ammeters on automotive dashboards, stop and think about it--they didn't run the starter motor current through that ammeter, did they?
Not on anything that I have seen... usually it is in the power wire between the main power bus and the battery... which would register the amperage used by the starter solenoid, but not the starter motor itself.
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