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Old 12-21-2010, 12:06 AM   #1
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Dead Batteries

Hubby went out to check the 2011 Berkshire 410qs and all the house batteries are dead!!! We have a battery charger and it stated that they were bad. Only have had MH for over 1mo. What would make them all go bad? Any suggestions?
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Old 12-21-2010, 12:44 AM   #2
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Well, let me take a stab at this. You assume a new Motor home came with new batteries. May not be true. You assumed they were fully charged when you bought the motor home. May not be true.

Now if the motor home has been parked, and not plugged in, it will kill the batteries in a month, especially if a light or the radio was left on. There are things that draw current from the batteries when not in use.

Get a voltmeter and measure the battery voltage. If it is below 5 volts, most newer battery chargers won't work to charge them up. Fire up the generator, and measure the battery voltage with the generator running, and it should slowly climb to over 13. ( the generator needs to be run once a month anyway.) After 30 minutes, shut the generator off, and measure battery voltage, should still be over 12.5 volts. Check them 24 hours later, and hope for more than 12 volts.

While the generator is running, go in the motor home and check for lights left on, radio, refer, furnace, and other stuff.

Don't blame the batteries just yet.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:10 AM   #3
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The carbon monoxide detector in our trailer will kill the batteries in no time, as it seems to pull a lot of juice. I disconnect the batteries whenever it sits for more than a day.
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:39 AM   #4
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Like others have said, don't blame the batteries just yet.
IF they are totally discharged you might have to use an external
battery charger to get them started or at least partially charged.

On-board items like the LP gas and possibly the carbon monoxide
detector can drain your batteries. The on-board power center
(battery charger) built in my trailer also is a slow drain when
the trailer is not plugged in.

For this reason I added a battery disconnect switch WHICH SHOULD
BE STANDARD EQUIPMENT in all RVs. Ahem.....'scuse me as you
can see this is a sore spot with me.

You are only one in a LONG line of RVers who have found their
brand new RV has dead batteries after just a brief spell of storage.

I installed my switch in the toe kick area right next to my
fuse box/power center. This required only a very short piece
of extra wire and one hole in the baseboard. Since I have some
electrical experience it was an easy (1 beer) job ;-)

Go to Amazon.com and search for
battery switch.
I have the top one on that page.

Maybe you can install it or maybe you have an experienced neighbor or
maybe your dealer will do it for a reasonable price.
It's a good "upgrade" and will save your batteries.

Once we return home from a trip and the fridge has been
emptied and dried and everything put away that needs
it, we shut off the battery disconnect.
This shuts off EVERYTHING including the LP gas detector.
My LP tanks are shut off at this point so I am not worried.
Our smoke and CO detectors are not in the house
battery circuit. They have their own (AA or 9V) batteries.

For your consideration-- I also use a "battery tender Jr."
while my trailer is parked at home. This little device keeps
my batteries at full charge all the time.
Keeping your batteries at full charge is the best way to extend their
lives and it means we are always ready to go battery wise.
Good Luck!!
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Old 12-21-2010, 08:40 AM   #5
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Well the bad news.
Once the batteries are dead; there is no freeze protection.
The Sulphuric Acid in the battery is what protects it from freezing.
A discharged battery has all the Sulfate plated on the lead cell walls and there is only a very weak acid left to protect the water (Specific Gravity close to 1.00 pure water).

If the water in the battery freezes it can: bulge/crack the plastic case and cause the electrolyte to leak out; crack the lead plates in one of more cells; or cause an internal short that will prevent charging.

Replacement is your only option for a battery that froze. Pulling it out and taking it to a battery shop will verify the battery condition.
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Old 01-03-2011, 11:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herk7769 View Post
Well the bad news.
Once the batteries are dead; there is no freeze protection.
The Sulphuric Acid in the battery is what protects it from freezing.
A discharged battery has all the Sulfate plated on the lead cell walls and there is only a very weak acid left to protect the water (Specific Gravity close to 1.00 pure water).

If the water in the battery freezes it can: bulge/crack the plastic case and cause the electrolyte to leak out; crack the lead plates in one of more cells; or cause an internal short that will prevent charging.

Replacement is your only option for a battery that froze. Pulling it out and taking it to a battery shop will verify the battery condition.

I feel very lucky after reading your post. I went out to check the battery on my TT, just like I do every month, and the meter on the wall didn't register anything. So I thought, well, I'm going to be giving the Bronco a tuneup today, so I'll just plug it into the garage circuit and let the converter do it's job. After about an hour, I went back in to check to see that it was indeed charging and guess what...nothing. Checked all the connections again, still not charging. Pulled the mainline and took my external charger out and set it up to start charging. 9 hours later at 2A, i'm back up to 91% and still going. Interesting that the converter wouldn't bring it off the bottom, but the external charger would. But that's not what makes me feel lucky...I feel lucky because we've had single digit temperatures here in N. Colorado for the last few days and on some occasions, below zero during that pre-sunrise time. Battery isn't bulging or cracking and is taking a charge. Whoa!

(Although, had it gone belly up, that would have given me the perfect excuse to tell the wife I need to go shopping for new 6V batteries for the trailer. )

All's well that ends well.

Joe
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:31 AM   #7
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So glad they are taking a charge. Hopefully no internal damage was done. I would keep an eye on them and see if they work as well as they used to.
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:01 AM   #8
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rthrbelsewhere,

I understand everything except the part that you feel lucky that it got down to single digits the last few nights ?
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:30 AM   #9
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rthrbelsewhere,

I understand everything except the part that you feel lucky that it got down to single digits the last few nights ?
He's feeling lucky that his batteries didn't freeze and burst.
Dead lead/acid batteries can freeze and split wide open.
Fully charged lead/acid batteries won't do that. That's why
it's so important to keep them charged especially in winter.
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:37 AM   #10
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Dan,
I know its early!
You need another cup of Joe! Wake up!
I think that was a joke.
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Old 01-04-2011, 08:50 AM   #11
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Dan,
I know its early!
You need another cup of Joe! Wake up!
I think that was a joke.
Dang, I'm ON my 2nd cup!
Sorry......
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:05 AM   #12
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I had two cups also when I posted my reply about the 12 volt LED lights. I should have waited till I had a third!
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:56 AM   #13
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Yea...you're right...my mind was talking faster then my typing.

I checked on it this morning and found the charger to be sitting at 100% and no mess coming from the battery .

Question - I heard one of you use one of those battery tender deals on yours. Could you give me a brief description of how that works? Is it just a trickle charger or does it actually have some kind of "brains" on board to know when to kick on and off. I'm interested if that bad boy would work to keep an "eye" on things during storage without any adverse effects. Would the battery still require some water level maintenance or would keep it form boiling over.

Sorry guys if I hijacked the thread...I can move it to a new post if need be.

Joe
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:04 AM   #14
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Who was that question for? I don't use a battery tender since they stay in the camper and its hooked up to shore power all the time (3 stage converter).

Could you be referring to my trimetric TM2025?
I attached the PDFs for it.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf UsingTriMetric Battery Maintain.pdf (61.0 KB, 10 views)
File Type: pdf TM-2025-Install-Instructions.pdf (208.2 KB, 8 views)
File Type: pdf TM2025-User-Manual.pdf (243.0 KB, 7 views)
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Old 01-04-2011, 10:21 AM   #15
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The question was for KyDan:

Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
...
For your consideration-- I also use a "battery tender Jr."
while my trailer is parked at home. This little device keeps
my batteries at full charge all the time.
Keeping your batteries at full charge is the best way to extend their
lives and it means we are always ready to go battery wise.
Good Luck!!

Thanks for the docs on your Trimetric, I'll read those tonight when I get home from work. What's your thoughts between the differences of the "Battery Tender" product and the Trimetric? I might be trying to compare apples to oranges here, but am still curious.

Thanks.

Joe
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Old 01-04-2011, 12:26 PM   #16
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Your Berkshire should have come with a three stage converter from the factory, which would only require a simple plug in while in storage. I, like Herk7769, utilize the built in three stage converter, which does a very good job of keeping the batteries up to par. Just plug it in to a short as possible heavy duty extension cord, and it should take care of your problem. Check the fluid in the batteries every couple months, to be safe. Another heavy battery drain while in storage is the small green light antenna booster, on the entertainment center. Mine will go dead in a week and 1/2, just sitting with this and the CO detector on. Randy
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:15 PM   #17
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I have a question on battery charging when unit is in storage. I have 4 coach batteries and 2 engine batteries. I have one - 1 amp battery tender attached to "one" of the 4 coach bateries and another tender attacheded to "one" of the 2 coach batteries. Will the tender charge all batteries if only attached to one of them ? Or a better way to ask this question - how does one keep all the battteies on my coach on a tickle charge in the off season so as to not have the batteries ruined. Hoping I don't need 6 battery tenders. Way I see it all the batteries are hooked together. Help ! Thanks...Ron
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Old 01-04-2011, 01:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rthrbelsewhere View Post
What's your thoughts between the differences of the "Battery Tender" product and the Trimetric? I might be trying to compare apples to oranges here, but am still curious.
Joe
I have 2 marine/crank/deep cycle 12v batteries.
Nothing special. Not nearly as much storage capacity
as some good 6v.
But-- we have camped in the summer for a week with
no hookups, used the ceiling exhaust fan over our bed
a couple hours a night, used some lighting late evening,
early morning, exhaust fan over the stove, water pump,
don't forget the control boards in your water heater
and fridge, etc.
We did not have any TV reception so it was not used.
Got by 6 nights without needing to fire up the little
Honda genny to charge batteries.
Since I can go a week I figure I don't need the
honking big 6v that many other folks use.

I use a battery tender Jr because it does have a "brain"
and it does shut off when the batteries are fully charged.
It has an LED that changes from red to green when the
batteries are fully topped up.
I admit that I don't know if my on board power center is
3 stage or not.
Don't really care.
I know it cost a LOT more than a battery tender Jr.
I -guess- it probably uses more watt$ of power if it's
left on 24/7/365.
I figure if we get a spike or lightning strike I'd rather buy
a new $30 battery tender Jr than a new power center.
Also I know that most all electronics have a life span.
Why risk an expen$ive piece of equipment when a much
cheaper one will do the job?
Just the stupid (noisy) fan on my power center would
cost more than a battery tender Jr.!

(I also use either a battery tender Jr or the cheap Harbor
Freight knock off version on my motorcycle, lawn tractor
and my Silverado when it's sitting idle most of the winter.
Of course, none of these have a built in charger!)

Others around here use their on board built in chargers
24/7/365 and get by fine. I probably would too.
I just do it my way....... (apologies to Frankie)

I gotta plug a local business.
http://www.derbycycles.net/
They have the Battery tender Jr for $20 and I -think-
free ground shipping. Not positive about the shipping...
That is the best price I've found anywhere period.

My 2¢
YMMV
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Old 01-04-2011, 02:15 PM   #19
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I have a question on battery charging when unit is in storage. I have 4 coach batteries and 2 engine batteries. I have one - 1 amp battery tender attached to "one" of the 4 coach bateries and another tender attacheded to "one" of the 2 coach batteries. Will the tender charge all batteries if only attached to one of them ? Or a better way to ask this question - how does one keep all the battteies on my coach on a tickle charge in the off season so as to not have the batteries ruined. Hoping I don't need 6 battery tenders. Way I see it all the batteries are hooked together. Help ! Thanks...Ron

Someone correct me if i'm wrong here, but I think you would be better off hooking up the battery tender to the same location where your red and black main lines connect rather then to "just one of the 4 coach batteries". That way your charge is cycling through all of the batteries and it treats it as one HUGE 12V instead of having it charge the one battery and letting that one battery equalize the other 3. Same thing goes for the 2 engine batteries. I think that leaving it the way you have it now would cause an uneven charge between all your batteries, but i'm no engineer. I know one of the others have researched this already, but for the life of me, I can't find his original post on this subject. Hopefully he'll chime in and I'll keep looking too.

Edit: I found it - http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ries-9866.html (Postings and references by herk7769)

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Old 01-04-2011, 04:43 PM   #20
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I am not familiar with the battery tender you are using, but I see no reason why the same logic for equalizing the battery resistance through the entire bank to prevent uneven charging and discharging would not apply in this situation as well. One lead on the closest (+) and one on the furthest (-). A photo of your bank setup might help visualize your needs.
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