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Old 05-27-2014, 02:43 PM   #1
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Electrical Problem--battery/converter?--No clue what to do?

I hope someone can help me out here as I have an alone camping trip coming up in two weeks and am at a loss about the power issues I am having with my 2013 A frame Rockwood.

I should first explain that my dealer is 3 hours away and when purchasing it we had a family emergency (my grandmother died and I was her POA) so between all the tears and "hurry up we need to get out of here" we never did get a proper explanation of how things worked. My husband and I have never had a camper nor do we know anyone personally with one.

I purchased the camper in March of 13'--I would say it probably only worked once without issue (the charge from the battery while boondocking was a couple days)--after that this is what happened the other times we camped.

We always bring the camper to the house (it is stored in a warehouse otherwise) and then hook up the shore power to our house to 'charge' for at least 24 hours before leaving. It also of course charges off of my hitch from my SUV.

When we get to the campsite we hook up to the available power and things are all fine and dandy. A couple of hours or less in the power starts to dim and quickly goes out. The few things that run off of shore only continue to work--microwave for example--everything else dies.
I can then plug back in to my car to get things up and running again.

My initial thought is bad battery. I charged it fully on my trickle charger and took it in to a battery store today--it was fully charged and holding a load just fine. It is a dual marine battery.

I had already bought replacement fuses and a tester and had my husband test them all and they were fine.

I called the RV dealer today and they suggested testing fuses again as there is probably something wrong with the converter?

Thoughts of what we should try? Test every fuse on the board inside the camper again? See if our shore power cord is actually working?

Thoughts?
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:50 PM   #2
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Don't know A frames but do yu have a battery disconnect switch? A little silver knob you push or pull. Probably around the fuse panel. But again, there may not be such a thing on your A frame.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:53 PM   #3
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Read this thread it may help:

http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...tml#post620456
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:53 PM   #4
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A few quick thoughts - If you don't have one go to Sears (Kmart)/Lowe's/HD and get a multi-meter. Less than $20 and super handy if you own a camper.

With the trailer setup but not plugged in, check the voltage across the battery terminals with the multi-meter. You should get something less than 13 volts. A fully charged battery would be around 12.6 or 12.5 volts. If its drained, you might see 12 volts, or even lower. Then plug in the trailer and check again. Your converter should be putting out 13.5 or more volts. If you plug in and don't see a voltage boost I would suspect your converter isn't working.

Which is what it sounds like if your tow vehicle and your battery charger can charge it but it doesn't charge when plugged in.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:53 PM   #5
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I don't believe there is a disconnect switch--this is why I thought we may have ruined our battery as I didn't realize you were supposed to disconnect it between uses. It has been disconnected all winter though (only being used about 1 time per month in the summer).
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:54 PM   #6
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This is a great idea KMP44--I will purchase one tonight!
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girlbuffalo1 View Post
I don't believe there is a disconnect switch--this is why I thought we may have ruined our battery as I didn't realize you were supposed to disconnect it between uses. It has been disconnected all winter though (only being used about 1 time per month in the summer).
Most likely your battery's life has been shortened, but you should still get a few more years out of it. You should check the resettable current limiters as stated in the thread I linked before you go off the deep end.
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:58 PM   #8
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Ok I will definitely read the thread. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand without someone just telling me plainly what I should try or do (have tried reading some complex websites on how campers are powered) and end up getting confused!
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Old 05-27-2014, 02:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by girlbuffalo1 View Post
Ok I will definitely read the thread. Sometimes it is hard for me to understand without someone just telling me plainly what I should try or do (have tried reading some complex websites on how campers are powered) and end up getting confused!
A picture is worth a thousand words. I always try to use pictures...

Yours may or may not have a red cover on it. If it looks like these bad ones you will need to buy a new one and most likely replace the wire ends.
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:01 PM   #10
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Turn everything off. Disconnect battery cable. Reconnect it. Does the battery "arc" or spark when you re-connect it? If so, you are drawing a load somewhere that you don't know about. That may be drawing you down pre-maturely… The bigger the arc, the bigger the load! Also, if you are plugged into 120V AC, and the AC stuff still works fine, and the battery keeps going soft, than CLEARLY the battery charger built into the inverter isn't getting 12v DC to the battery. Could be a fuse or breaker on/in the inverter…
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Evereddie View Post
Don't know A frames but do yu have a battery disconnect switch? A little silver knob you push or pull. Probably around the fuse panel. But again, there may not be such a thing on your A frame.
Check the large red feeder to the power panel, remove cover first. Locate and check the white main ground connected to frame near battery. One of the two maybe corroded and getting hot with use, then stop all current flow. Doubtful the converter does this because battery would never charge.
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Old 05-27-2014, 03:27 PM   #12
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Check the large red feeder to the power panel, remove cover first. Locate and check the white main ground connected to frame near battery. One of the two maybe corroded and getting hot with use, then stop all current flow. Doubtful the converter does this because battery would never charge.
You are absolutely correct. I always seem to forget the electrons have to come from somewhere. The grounds are just as important as the "getting there"

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Old 05-27-2014, 03:45 PM   #13
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i would expect the battery is done. a previous poster suggested you unplug the trailer, check it with a multimeter then plug it in .. and recheck .. this will tell you if the converter is functioning properly.
also when plugged in .. put your ear to the converter area .. and check to see if you can hear a humm ...

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Old 05-27-2014, 04:32 PM   #14
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It also of course charges off of my hitch from my SUV.
don't assume this is occurring, it needs to be tested.
many vehicles, especially SUV's, don't have the fuse operative that allows for the vehicle charging.
and at best, your SUV will only trickle charge the battery and if it wasn't plugged in before you hooked it up the vehicle, the battery would be too low for the vehicle to full recharge it.
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Old 05-30-2014, 07:23 AM   #15
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I purchased my multimeter last night and will get the camper out of storage this weekend to start looking over the things you all have mentioned. Thank you for the tips.
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Old 05-30-2014, 08:19 AM   #16
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Well first of all with all the great idea's it could be overwhelming to the OP on which one to do first or what to check.

1) make sure battery is fully charged and ready to go before any testing.

2) install battery "double check that the correct cable is on the correct post"

2a) depending on your converter make and model your converter has reverse polarity protection via fuses that may "be hidden behind the panel cover" and not in plain sight.

2b) these fuses can and will blow if the positive and negative cables have been reversed during battery installation.

3) plug camper into shore power.

4) check voltage at battery "should be between 13 - 14 + volts".

4a) if desired voltage is present then all is well.

5) if voltage is less than 13 volts then you need to get the appropriate diagnostic trouble shooting manual online for your make and model of converter.

6) if after trouble shooting converter via the online manual and you find converter output at the converter is not acceptable after there diagnostic flow chart then the converter will need replacement.

7) if you find that the converter is putting out acceptable voltage at the converter then you have an issue somewhere between the converter and the battery.

8) possibilities include.
8a) battery cut off switch.
8b) bad circuit breaker "resetable or non resetable".
8c) bad ground.
8d) bad positive connection.

Hope this helps.



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Old 06-01-2014, 08:33 PM   #17
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Update

Ok--so I got the camper out of storage this weekend and the following tests out.

The battery when fully charged is showing a reading of around 13.5

When I plugged in the shore power there was no boost to this number.

I then unhooked the battery and tested all fuses both with a fuse tester and the multimeter and none are blown and all seem to be working. The camper is getting power through the cord.

What is next to test?

Both battery and converter seem to be working but for some reason the converter is not charging the battery.

I leave for my trip Wednesday! Helpz!
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:03 PM   #18
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So, the battery is reading 13.5 volts? Sounds like it is getting charged to me.
That is a surface charge left over from the charger being in "Absorption" mode 13.6 volts +

Once it is fully charged, it will drop into "Float" a trickle charge of 13.2 volts until the battery's capacity drops from use to about 80% of capacity when it will shift back into Absorption and the voltage will then return to 13.6 VDC.

FYI - to fully charge a battery can take over to 52 hours on shore power depending on the actual state of charge when you plug it in.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:35 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by girlbuffalo1 View Post

The battery when fully charged is showing a reading of around 13.5


What is next to test?

Both battery and converter seem to be working but for some reason the converter is not charging the battery.

I leave for my trip Wednesday! Helpz!
Did you first charge the battery on a seperate charger or did the camper's converter charge it to 13.5 volts?

Either way, it does sound like your converter is working properly. So if you are rapidly losing charge, I would suspect maybe the battery is bad after-all. Herk mentioned surface charge in his post above. I saw this in my last battery - I would put it on the charger and it would go from dead (11.8 volts) to 100% - 13.5 volts in about 30 minutes. Then I put it on the camper, and would very quickly go dead. That surface charge is just a false reading in the sense that the battery isn't really absorbing and storing any significant amount of charge. You are just getting enough charge on the surface of those lead plates to get a reading that shows charged. Sometimes when a battery gets to this state, a high end charger with a desulfonate cycle can reverse this process, but frequently, the battery is no longer able to absorb any significant charge.

Not sure what the age / conditin of your battery is, but if I was up against a trip in a couple days and wanted to get this resolved, I would probably replace the battery if everything else checked out OK. If you get a good deep cycle battery and make sure its always disconnected when in storage, it should last you several years.
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Old 06-02-2014, 10:55 AM   #20
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I would start by listening and see if I could hear the fan running on the converter. if not, I would check the breakers (not fuses yet). then I would make sure the converter is still plugged into an outlet.
I'm not clear if u got a charge from the converter before the trip or from the suv on the way. the breakers I would individually turn them off then back on (sometimes a tripped breaker is hard to spot).
if that is all good, I would proceed with what the previously posters said.
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