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Old 11-20-2022, 01:19 AM   #1
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Angry Battery smoked!!

Can someone please advise:

This is my daughter and son-in-laws trailer, so I don't have all the information on it but will give what I know.

2014 Trailer, 32 Ft?, with slide out. Could give VIN, if that would help.

Here is the problem:

Trailer is parked, Plugged it into house power. Nothing being used, just sitting in the driveway.

The batteries began to smoke. I will assume for some reason batteries were being over charged. Batteries are/were about two years old.

Would like to know what would cause this?

What to check before putting new batteries in, to prevent the same thing from happening.

Is there a wiring diagram available that shows how batteries are connected while house power is in use?

Can a bad inverter cause this?

Just looking for a starting point here. So I can assist them in figuring out what caused this problem, not destroy another set of batteries or burn the trailer to the ground.

You're assistance will be appreciated.
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Old 11-20-2022, 02:42 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiDesertRat View Post
Can someone please advise:



This is my daughter and son-in-laws trailer, so I don't have all the information on it but will give what I know.



2014 Trailer, 32 Ft?, with slide out. Could give VIN, if that would help.



Here is the problem:



Trailer is parked, Plugged it into house power. Nothing being used, just sitting in the driveway.



The batteries began to smoke. I will assume for some reason batteries were being over charged. Batteries are/were about two years old.



Would like to know what would cause this?



What to check before putting new batteries in, to prevent the same thing from happening.



Is there a wiring diagram available that shows how batteries are connected while house power is in use?



Can a bad inverter cause this?



Just looking for a starting point here. So I can assist them in figuring out what caused this problem, not destroy another set of batteries or burn the trailer to the ground.



You're assistance will be appreciated.
First, Welcome to FRF.

Second, make and model number of the trailer would help the most. Without that information, we have no idea how the trailer is equipped.
Third, a wiring diagram probably doesn't exist.
Fourth, the trailer may have a bad CONverter(not inverter). You need a multimeter to test the CONverter. It's very unlikely that a 2014 trailer has an INverter unless it's a fancy 5th wheel.

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Old 11-20-2022, 07:19 AM   #3
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Agreed! Most likely a defective converter overcharged the battery. Producing smoke can mean a lot of things? Did the battery burn up or just get real hot?
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Old 11-20-2022, 07:51 AM   #4
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Two year old batteries that maybe have never had the electrolyte checked or topped up?
It's possible they are just dried up which can cause them to over heat and smoke/steam. Most likely the batteries are toast. The charger is in question but not necessarily bad.
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Old 11-20-2022, 08:27 AM   #5
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Agree with Kydan

If it has a Lithium Battery that is smoking... (someone may have put one in?) disconnect it. It needs checking by someone that knows what they are doing.
It can possibly be repaired !

check on battery fluid level if the batteries are Flooded Lead Acid

For sealed batteries... make sure there are no cracks in the case that has allowed the electrolyte to leak out
-----------------------------------------------------------------
To make sure the charging system is OK

has it got any solar panels... look if it has a solar charge controller
Disconnect it from the battery... you will test it later !

If no controller disconnect negative wire from solar panel to battery.

Disconnect battery negative cable
Plug in the 120v shore power

Get a multi meter .... measure the voltage by holding positive probe onto battery terminal and the negative probe onto the negative cable you disconnected from battery.

It should read around 13.6 volts for lead acid ....... 14.4 for Lithium Lifepo4

If the voltage looks good it is OK install a new battery
keep an eye on the new one ...

check it often for heating and fluid boiling off
-------------------------------------------------
If it has solar panels ... DISCONNECT the 120v shore power
use multi meter to measure the voltage when ALL the panels are exposed to full sun

same test method as above ... measure the Voltage that is going INTO the charge controller AND the output voltage that is getting sent to the battery.

If there is no charge controller ... just measure the voltage on the wires.
Usually this is for a single small solar panel that is designed to top up your battery.

You may have to temporarily connect the charge controller to the battery for this test?


If it is HIGH.. don't permanently connect the solar system
leave it disconnected and have the system checked .
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Old 11-20-2022, 09:11 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
Two year old batteries that maybe have never had the electrolyte checked or topped up?
It's possible they are just dried up which can cause them to over heat and smoke/steam. Most likely the batteries are toast. The charger is in question but not necessarily bad.
^^This^^
Start with the basics.
Have the battery checked/tested.
Use a multimeter to test the output of the CONverter.
Let us know your findings.

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Old 11-20-2022, 09:16 AM   #7
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Have your daughter/son-in-law take a pic of the decals on the side of the trailer which tell which company manufactured the trailer and which model it is. Post that to give us a few more clues - although taking previously posted suggestions should lead to a solution.
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Old 11-20-2022, 10:26 AM   #8
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ditto on what others here have shared, always start with the smallest/easiest question point first and work up from there.

FWIW, I had (on our previous rig) an Interstate Lead Acid battery at the 1.5 year mark "short a cell" and it was boiling and smoking the acid right out of the battery. Disconnected took it to my Interstate and their test is what certified a cell had shorted. New battery went in my rig and there were no problems after that fact.
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Old 11-20-2022, 01:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
Two year old batteries that maybe have never had the electrolyte checked or topped up?
It's possible they are just dried up which can cause them to over heat and smoke/steam. Most likely the batteries are toast. The charger is in question but not necessarily bad.
^
That is most likely the problem.
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Old 11-20-2022, 02:42 PM   #10
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On a lighter note, there used to be an old adage in the automotive world that once you let the smoke out of an electrical device, things stop working and you have problems.
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Old 11-20-2022, 06:08 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I believe he was able to figure it out. Seems one of the batteries did have a low cell, which caused the system to continue to charge the batteries. We are going to start there, let me know if you all think of anything else. Here is a rundown of what has been done and found:

1. It is a 2015 Coachman Freedom Express 29SE
2. Has a model WF-8955PEC Power Converter

Was able to find wiring diagram and information on the trailer. Look in my photo album on this site for some pictures.

Once battery was identified. He measured the output of the converter and was getting 13.6 VDC, so believe that is a good sign.

Going to get batteries checked out and replace if needed. Will connect things back up and see where it goes.


I am of the understanding; you can leave trailer plugged into shore power safely. Is there anything he should be looking at or set when connected to shore power? Do you need to have a battery disconnect if connected to shore power for extended periods of time (with very little power usage)?

I was under the assumption, if you had your trailer plugged into shore power, it was basically the same as having a trickle charger connected to the batteries. Am I wrong?

Again, thanks to you all for your comments and assistance.
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Old 11-20-2022, 06:42 PM   #12
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A low cell is often caused by low fluid level in the battery. Did they ever monitor the battery's fluid level?


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Old 11-20-2022, 06:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by HiDesertRat View Post
I am of the understanding; you can leave trailer plugged into shore power safely. Is there anything he should be looking at or set when connected to shore power? Do you need to have a battery disconnect if connected to shore power for extended periods of time (with very little power usage)?

I was under the assumption, if you had your trailer plugged into shore power, it was basically the same as having a trickle charger connected to the batteries. Am I wrong?

Again, thanks to you all for your comments and assistance.
A properly working converter/charger and properly maintained battery(ies) can be left in a unit connected to shore power. A good battery should not lose much water, if any, over a winter season. Still, monitoring the electrolyte level is standard maintenance procedure.

If the RV is just parked for a period of non-use, in a cool climate you could alternately fully charge the battery and completely disconnect it, and disconnect RV shore power. A charged battery sitting idle in a cool/cold environment will not freeze and will exhibit little or no self discharge.
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Old 11-20-2022, 06:57 PM   #14
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You can connect to shore power and run the 12v without a battery connected.
BUT... do not be surprised if some high load 12v stuff does not work correctly.
such as slide or awning motors... battery makes it easier for the motor to start moving.



if he has a pair of house batteries.. replace them as a pair otherwise the OLDER battery will have a negative effect on the new one...
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Old 11-20-2022, 07:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiDesertRat View Post
I believe he was able to figure it out. Seems one of the batteries did have a low cell, which caused the system to continue to charge the batteries.
Going to get batteries checked out and replace if needed. Will connect things back up and see where it goes.

I was under the assumption, if you had your trailer plugged into shore power, it was basically the same as having a trickle charger connected to the batteries. Am I wrong?
You have a smart son-in-law. A low cell would cause the problem.

You're not wrong. The converter will trickle charge the batteries the same as if you had it plugged into shore power.
However.....That doesn't eliminate the need for battery maintenance.
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Old 11-28-2022, 08:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiDesertRat View Post
Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I believe he was able to figure it out. Seems one of the batteries did have a low cell, which caused the system to continue to charge the batteries. We are going to start there, let me know if you all think of anything else. Here is a rundown of what has been done and found:

1. It is a 2015 Coachman Freedom Express 29SE
2. Has a model WF-8955PEC Power Converter

Was able to find wiring diagram and information on the trailer. Look in my photo album on this site for some pictures.

Once battery was identified. He measured the output of the converter and was getting 13.6 VDC, so believe that is a good sign.

Going to get batteries checked out and replace if needed. Will connect things back up and see where it goes.


I am of the understanding; you can leave trailer plugged into shore power safely. Is there anything he should be looking at or set when connected to shore power? Do you need to have a battery disconnect if connected to shore power for extended periods of time (with very little power usage)?

I was under the assumption, if you had your trailer plugged into shore power, it was basically the same as having a trickle charger connected to the batteries. Am I wrong?

Again, thanks to you all for your comments and assistance.

Just check water in battery every 3 months or when it's warm out and want something to do. As for your post when was the last time water was checked? Also install two new batteries don't just install one with the old one.
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Old 11-28-2022, 08:40 PM   #17
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Assuming batteries means more than one 12v battery and not a pair of 6v: Unless isolated the weaker battery -- or one with a bad cell -- will constantly siphon power from the stronger battery. Stronger battery is always trying to charge the weaker. This repeats in an infinite loop until both batteries are dead and often not recoverable. Find a way to isolate the batteries from each other or keep them on a battery maintainer such as a modern RV converter. If kept on charge periodic inspection of the electrolyte is required.

[plagerize]One of the most significant parts of lead-acid battery maintenance is monitoring water levels and adding water, as needed, to achieve improved performance.

But not just any water, so whatever you do don’t use water straight from the tap. Tap water contains dissolved minerals and salts, which can build up over time on battery plates, seriously shortening battery life and run times. Chlorine, added to some municipal water supplies to kill bacteria, can have the same ill effect on batteries.

What Is Deionization?

Water that has been purified of dissolved minerals and salts through a process called deionization is recognized as the best choice for maintaining lead-acid batteries. Deionization eliminates more impurities from water than distillation or conventional filters.

Minerals in water interfere with cell voltage and increase self-discharge, which progressively shortens battery run times. Deionized water also reduces corrosion of the cells.

With the mineral-ions gone, deionized water will not conduct electricity and thus will not hinder battery performance. While some might argue that removing undesirable content from your water isn’t really creating a solution (mixture), it is definitely the right solution for getting the most from your lead acid battery investment.[/plagerize]

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Old 11-29-2022, 10:08 PM   #18
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Yup. Early in our trailer ownership years we learned batteries need water. Huh. Nasty smell and "smoke" alerted us to a too dry battery.
Maybe start with a few simple checks then move to the bigger ussues.
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Old 11-30-2022, 07:36 AM   #19
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Yeah de-ionized water is $11/gallon but it should last a couple of years. 5 second Google search shows it's even available at Walmart.



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Old 11-30-2022, 08:03 AM   #20
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If the trailer has a simple flooded lead acid battery setup, and it isn't being used, why even have it plugged in?
When we had a 5th wheel, I would just disconnect the battery and put the battery on a trickle charger. Then connect the battery, again, when you are going to be using the trailer.
At the start and end of each season, just check your battery Distilled water level. More often, if you use the trailer frequently.
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