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Old 01-15-2012, 01:55 PM   #1
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Default House battery issues

So I finally got my house battery installed today. When it was installed my furnace fan kicked on and wouldn't turn off (even when I turned off the breakers) so I pulled the fuse and that stopped it. Now when I turn the van on I can hear clicking/ pinging at my isolator/ inverter/ converter (I'll be honest I can't remember what I have where) It's also causing all of my dash lights and headlights to dim and I can watch the needle on my battery gauge in the dash go up and down with each click. I turned all the breakers off and it's still doing it. I read elsewhere when I searched

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Q: I'm hearing a ?clicking? or ?pinging? sound from my converter. What's going on?
A: The likely cause is the auto-reset breaker on the charger output cycling on and off. The DC load on the charging output exceeding the available output of the charge circuit causes this condition.
Can someone explain this in a more layman term to me so I can figure out how to fix it?
Dumb it WAY down. I'm terrified of electricity since a VCR tossed me across a room when I was 9 and really don't want to have to dink with it.
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: House battery issues

Breakers tend to be used for AC loads. What you've mention so far are all DC loads. DC circuits usually have fuses.

Re: furnace - Is there a thermostat in your van? If so, look for an switch on it to turn the furnace off. Then you can replace the fuse you took out.

Re: the battery issue. If you think the battery had low voltage when it was installed then I would plug the van into grid power and use the converter to charge the battery. You mentioned that you had turn the breakers off so they would have to be turned back on. The converter converts AC to DC. Check to make sure the fridge is off or on propane. You don't want it running on power from the battery. Van fridges often are three-way, AC, DC & Propane.

If your van is not plugged into grid power then your converter is not being used which means it couldn't be causing the problem.

It sound like the alternator is trying to charge the house battery but the draw is too much and is causing a DC fuse or breaker to repeatedly trip and self reset.

If the battery has a shorted cell then the voltage would be low at 10.45 to 10.65 volts. You need a volt meter or multimeter to check that. It would have to be replaced if it has a shorted cell.

I think you need to have it checked by someone with a volt meter or multimeter. The the battery is new from a store I'd take it back to them to get it checked.
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: House battery issues

I'm wondering if my isolator and other equipment are failing since it is a 1987 van with no updates to anything. I'll try plugging into shore power and see what that does.
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Old 01-15-2012, 11:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: House battery issues

Odd.

So something is drawing a whole lot of power for a few seconds, shutting itself off and then restarting....

I'd try markopolo's suggestion. Since the battery is the new kid on the block, it's the likely culprit. I don't know if a malfunctioning isolator would cause that. Could you have a leak (short) on the house positive battery cable? If it has just been moved around to hook up the battery... maybe???

One problem with older rv's is there could have been all kinds of changes made over the years.

Anyway once things begin working, you might want to pull all the fuses and replace them one at a time to see what they all do. Sometime there's a surprise or two.

Bob
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:25 AM   #5
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Default Re: House battery issues

So I tested the batteries - they're charged fine. My isolator seems to be functioning and my converter tested ok. The fridge is off, the furnace is off, the water heater is off, the A/C is off and it's still happening. Could my breaker attached to the isolator have gone bad? That seems to be where the clicking noise is coming from.
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:43 AM   #6
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Default Re: House battery issues

This may be a stupid question but is it possible that since the shop where I had my batteries changed installed a deep cycle battery as my starter battery that my isolator breaker is having issues delegating where to send a charge so it's constantly shifting charge between house and starter causing the surge? Can a deep cycle battery be used as a starter battery?

Edited to add - I replaced both batteries at the same time. Prior to the change I had no house battery as there was a dead gel battery in place when I purchased the van.
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Old 01-16-2012, 08:40 AM   #7
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Default Re: House battery issues

Cherry,

I think gel (AGM) batteries us different charging voltages and protocols. I'm not familiar with them but I suppose it it possible that is the problem. A charger/regulator set up for gels might try to push too many amps through a wet cell.

A normal wet cell deep cycle as a starting battery won't cause problems- it just won't have the "cold cranking" amps.

I don't have an isolator. I use a heavy duty switch. When I bought my camper the house battery was being charged by a poorly connected piece of 14 gauge wire. I added heavier wire, a fuse, and a couple of switches. One switch charges the normal house battery and the other an "extra" battery used for a light, my power hungry laptop and broadband dongle.

You might want to try disconnecting wires starting with the charging wire going into the isolator. If the problem continues after that wire is off- your issue should have nothing to do with the "house" system. Then disconnect the wire going from the isolator. If the problem continues you know the isolator is shot. The isolator still could be bad and only act up under load, but... Then disconnect the wire going into the new house battery- you're checking the wire between the isolator and the house battery. Then pull all the fuses and/or disconnect the converter to check the wire between. Just keep adding things until the problem starts. But it is likely with battery or isolator.

You mentioned the refrigerator was off. I was just pouring coffee this morning and wondered about that. There are "relighting".. doodads on some of those those that usually fail by not doing anything. I suppose one could fail by drawing WAY too much current. My reefer has after market parts and parts intended for other models. You never know what you'll find in these things. You mentioned a problem with the furnace It might be trying to relight. Just because you pulled the fuse that is supposed to control it doesn't mean someone didn't add anther circuit.

Here's an example to show the kind of thing you might find: The turn signals didn't work when I bought my camper. After taking the dashboard apart, pulling the steering wheel and taking apart every turn signal, I gave up and was going to add another compete set and aftermarket lever switch. During normal re-caulking, I found a short in a running light. I fixed that, replaced the fixture and the turn signals worked. Magic. Somehow the short was drawing enough power (it was HOT) to interfere with the turn signals.

OR: The engine wouldn't crank. I checked the voltages (fine) and replaced all the right parts. I finally wound up with a rebuilt starter. Still wouldn't crank. The rebuilt was bad. Got a NEW rebuilt that was checked at the parts store. Still nothing. I replaced the wire going to the starter (snaking that one through the E series engine compartment was "fun"). Still broke. All this time a transmission coolant line would get a little warm when I tried to start the engine. Finally that little cartoon light bulb came on. Whatever grounding strap that originally was there wasn't replaced when the rebuilt transmission was installed. The only return circuit was through that warmish coolant line. I used the old, still good, "positive" cable to the starter to ground the starter back to the battery all was right with the world. But if removing and replacing the starter on a Ford 460 ever becomes an Olympic event, I've got the gold medal locked up. Around the third "cycle" I got good at it!

Good Luck!
Bob
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Old 01-16-2012, 12:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: House battery issues

I think it is "get a mechanic time to come look at it time". A short circuit could cause a fire.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So I tested the batteries - they're charged fine. ---> How? was it with a multi-meter? What was the voltage at each battery? Did you also test with the motor running? Did the voltage spike up and down in time with the clicking noise? Did this happen on both batteries?

My isolator seems to be functioning and my converter tested ok. ---> Isolator is a DC wiring part. All it does it does is separate to house and starting batteries. When the van motor is running it allows both batteries to get charged. A converter takes incoming AC power and converts it to DC power that is used by the "house" part of the van. The converter does not charge the engine battery.

The fridge is off, the furnace is off, the water heater is off, the A/C is off and it's still happening. ---> How frequently did the clicks happen?

Could my breaker attached to the isolator have gone bad? That seems to be where the clicking noise is coming from. ---> If the noise is coming from then it certainly could be. I'm not sure what "attached to the isolator" means. I haven't seen that type of setup. Do you also have a "battery disconnect"?

This may be a stupid question but is it possible that since the shop where I had my batteries changed installed a deep cycle battery as my starter battery that my isolator breaker is having issues delegating where to send a charge so it's constantly shifting charge between house and starter causing the surge? ---> An isolator doesn't function like that. Typically it is not "smart".

Can a deep cycle battery be used as a starter battery? ---> A dual purpose battery like a marine type battery will allow both deep cycle and starting usage.

Edited to add - I replaced both batteries at the same time. Prior to the change I had no house battery as there was a dead gel battery in place when I purchased the van. ---> So the dead gel battery was the house battery? Were the wires still connected to it? And the the clicking noise is new?

Is the isolator in the engine compartment?

There are so many "isolators" out there. The two main types are diode based type and relay (solenoid) type. Explained well here: http://www.bcae1.com/battiso.htm

My guess is that you have the relay type. Maybe it is the problem. Any chance of a photo?
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: House battery issues

Just opening my eyes for the day but thought I would add some extra info by way of pictures of what I have.

I have a sure fire 120 amp isolator that is mounted under the hood on the back passenger side of the engine compartment.


Connected to that toward the drivers side about three inches over is a 12v 30amp breaker:


The house battery is a right pain in the ass as it is mounted UNDER the van on the drivers side just after the sewage tank and before the gas tanks. There is no easy way to get to it at all. There are also a couple of relays up there.

I'll be taking some of the other suggestions today and trying to nail down the issue. I'm short on time and need to get this fixed asap for as little money as I can because well I'm broke and about to be evicted out of my house.

By the way - yes, you can see the spike when the clicking happens at the house battery. The clicking happens every 10 seconds or so steady

Edit to add - my refrigerator is electric only I believe. I haven't put propane in the system because I haven't had the system checked to know if it is safe to fill.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: House battery issues

Is the clicking sound coming from the engine compartment?

That breaker would be easy and not expensive to replace.
To test to see if it is the problem is easy. ( I am assuming that all batteries are in fact near full charge and all other systems are ok )

The test:
You just need to temporarily remove it from the circuit. You can leave it in place. Just connect both wires that are on it now to the same terminal thereby removing the breaker from the circuit. Both wires could be connected together on the breaker terminal post that has the wire coming from the isolator. You'd just be joining the two wires together on that terminal and that would remove that breaker function from the circuit.

Either breaker terminal post would work for the test.

This is just for the test, don't leave it like this.

That breaker could be protecting your van right now from a short and a short could ruin things or cause a fire so it would be safer to just replace that breaker than trying the test I described.
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