Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 07-22-2012, 10:29 PM   #1
Gold Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 89
Default Odd Electrical Trouble

A few weeks ago I was dry camping in Acadia NP and had an interesting electrical issue...still not sure exactly what happened but we solved the problem and it hasn't happened since. I have a 2011 PW Plateau (Sprinter).

We started the day in Millinocket, ME and I switched off the propane and put the fridge on DC. (I'd been plugged into 15 amp service at the campground so it should have been charged, but the electrical service was iffy at best - my fridge was AC in the campground and it was NOT on auto so if the power had gone out it would have sounded the alarm and I would have fixed it.) We drove about 15 miles and stopped in a truck stop for what was going to be a quick stop but ended up taking 2+ hours. Fridge was running on DC. I then drove another 150 miles and stopped again for about an hour - left the fridge on DC.

When I arrived at the campground I switched the fridge to LP. I accidentally left the bathroom light on - it's not LED - while I was gone...about 4 hours. When I returned, and turned off the light, the battery was full. I used minimal electricity as I got ready for bed - a few LEDs and I ran the fan all night. I usually run the fan and usually after the 1st night dry camping the battery is down to 2/3. (I dry camp more than I'm plugged in).

In the morning I discovered that the battery was at 1/3. What? How'd that happen? I looked at everything and there wasn't anything that had gotten left on or anything. Since my propane detector will go off if the battery gets low I decided to run the generator to charge the battery. I ran the gen for about 15 minutes before I had to go. This is where it gets really weird....when I turned the gen off, the power went out to the entire coach. No lights. No water pump. Nothing. I tried running the gen again, but it cut out after about a minute.

Luckily my dad was there so he came over and we read the book and found the battery reset switch and pushed it and power was restored. We ran the generator for about an hour and left. When I returned that afternoon the battery was full. Again I used minimal electricity and the next morning the battery was on empty! I was heading out that day and didn't worry too much about it.

I drove 450 miles that day and was dry camping at Wal-Mart - when I arrived the battery was full. I ran the generator to heat dinner in the microwave - it didn't cause the battery to cut off. That night I was in the RV - LED lights burning all evening - and the next AM the battery was still full.

The only thing different was that at Wal-Mart I didn't run the fan (it was raining). Could it be the fan is dragging the battery down? My other theory was the fridge and running it on DC while I was driving and being stopped so long, but that doesn't really add up. I haven't had the coach that long, but in other settings I've run the fan at night and not had an issue with the battery - I can usually go 2 nights before I need to drive/run the generator.

After that I spent 2 nights at a KOA with 30amp and now she's back in storage so....

Just a random isolated incident or something bigger?
__________________

teachergal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2012, 12:22 AM   #2
Platinum Member
 
markopolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 7,814
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

Short answer: I wouldnít worry about the fan etc. The monitor panel is off a bit. KiBís allow for a 5% tolerance which is a lot. Full or C might be lit up at less than 12.7 volts. Your battery most likely didnít recover from the long stop with the fridge on DC. You started both nights with the battery very low.

Longer answer:
If you have a KiB Monitor Panel (newer than 1992)
Full: C - CHARGE 12.7 volts
2/3: G - GOOD 11.9 volts
1/3: F - FAIR 11.2 volts
E: L - LOW 6.0 volts

I donít know what fridge you have but some Norcolds will draw 15ah in DC mode.
If the first stop was close to three hours then your house battery (if you only have one) was pretty much fully discharged after that stop.

Then you probably drove for 3 hours which should have / could have brought the battery up to 90% charged. Then the next stop drew current at the 15ah rate again. Probably knocked it back down to 70% charged. Then there was probably some more driving (more charging) which may have been cancelled out by leaving the incandescent light on after you parked.

The panel should not have shown full at that point. (maybe the up to 5% tolerance coming into play here) I would have expected it to show G or Good which, at the lower end, is not good at all!

My guess is that you started the night with a battery at 70% capacity. The overnight fan might have taken another 15ah. At that point your battery would be below G or less than 11.9 volts which is basically discharged. The battery disconnect probably tripped from the high current initially drawn by the almost dead battery.

After one hour of generator run time I would have expected to see G again when you returned later that day. G is a voltage over 11.9v. My guess here is that your battery might have been at 70% state of charge (12.32 volts). You probably started the second night with the battery in a similar state to the first night.

Basically, with a KiB panel, a reading below G would mean recharge immediately to me. From the PW brochure, I think your van has a PD converter with a charge wizard. Iíd keep it plugged in at home all the time. It will go into float mode when the battery gets fully charged. (make sure you have the Progressive Dynamics converter with Charge Wizard)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Compare the following battery state-of-charge chart with the KiB panel approximate voltages.


source: http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm

KiB Monitor Panel (newer than 1992)
source: http://www.kibenterprises.com/troubleshoot/k_panel.pdf
Full: C - CHARGE 12.7 volts
2/3: G - GOOD 11.9 volts
1/3: F - FAIR 11.2 volts
E: L - LOW 6.0 volts
Attached Images
File Type: jpg state of charge.JPG (47.2 KB, 1136 views)
__________________

__________________
Two bikes on sliding cargo box: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/m...icture206.html & 1997 GMC Savana 6.5L Turbo Diesel Custom Camper Van Specifications: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...vana-5864.html
markopolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2012, 01:21 AM   #3
Gold Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 89
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

That makes total sense!!!!

So what I shoulda done was realize I'd left the fridge on battery longer than it should been and ran the generator when I got to the campground!

Would it have solved the battery disconnect issue if I'd started the engine and let it idle and then started the generator? (the chasiss battery does charge the house battery) Or would it have been better to let the generator run longer (in that setting I couldn't because I needed to go, but in a different setting I could have ran it longer).

Thanks so much for your help solving this mystery!

Unfortunately I can't keep the van at home - I keep it at a boat/RV storage place and there are no plugs so I disconnect the house battery when I leave it. So far I haven't disconnected the chassis battery when I've left it but I haven't had it in storage for more than about 4 weeks, if next winter is as mild as this winter I won't leave it then either!
teachergal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2012, 11:09 AM   #4
Platinum Member
 
markopolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 7,814
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

I should mention that I assumed that you have a single house battery with a 100 ah capacity. So you can see the impact a 15 amp hour load for three hours would have. 1/2 the capacity could be gone. True deep cycle batteries can be discharged 80% but many people recommend to not discharge your batteries below 50%. I mentioned keeping the van plugged in because it can take a few days to fully charge a battery.

The battery use and maintenance you describe is in common with many other RV'ers. You're doing the best you can.

Trying to charge deeply discharged battery by running the van motor can cause a temporary problem also. Most RV systems will have a circuit breaker of some sort on the wiring from the van isolator to the house battery. That breaker will trip if overloaded. Usually they are self-resetting after they cool down. But, while the breaker is in its tripped state, the house battery won't be charging.

Plugging in would be my first choice for recharging a deeply discharged battery. That will let the converter/charger do its job. Second choice for me would be a generator. Again, that lets the converter/charger do its job.
__________________
Two bikes on sliding cargo box: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/m...icture206.html & 1997 GMC Savana 6.5L Turbo Diesel Custom Camper Van Specifications: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...vana-5864.html
markopolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2012, 11:22 AM   #5
Platinum Member
 
markopolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Posts: 7,814
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

You could make a playing card sized laminated cardboard sign with "Fridge on battery" written on it and clip it on to your van key ring whenever the fridge is on battery. I've started putting a sign like that on my steering wheel whenever my van is plugged in. Mine says "van plugged in". I started doing that after I almost drove off with the van plugged in one day! Might sound like a silly idea. To this day I can't believe I could've driven off while still plugged in - it's such a basic thing. My co-pilot saved that day.
__________________
Two bikes on sliding cargo box: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/m...icture206.html & 1997 GMC Savana 6.5L Turbo Diesel Custom Camper Van Specifications: https://www.classbforum.com/forums/f...vana-5864.html
markopolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-27-2012, 08:47 PM   #6
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 51
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

I have had a similar problem last week with my PW Sprinter. We were dry camping with the fridge on LP. We watched TV for maybe an hour. Ran the fan a little, but not all night. Battery did not last long. Does the fridge draw much off the battery when on LP? I ran the engine fro about 15 minutes each day and it would bring the battery up but by the next morning it would be 1/3 or less.

The chart on battery level is handy.
Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-27-2012, 11:54 PM   #7
Platinum Member
 
Mike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Sarnialabad, The Newly Elected People's Republic of Canuckistan
Posts: 3,215
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

The fridge shouldn't use any electricity when it's running on propane.
The TV and fan, and any hard wired detectors like propane and CO will pull down your battery.
And there might be a vampire draw somewhere. In my 2002 Roadtrek, there are 2 courtesy lights
that run off the coach batteries. It's possible to accidentally leave one on, after the rear doors close
and not be able to see it, because it's located under the bed in that storage area. The other one is
in the external storage locker, driver's side. It can only be on or off, it doesn't come on when the
the external storage door is opened, like the one under the bed.

Have you had the battery tested, with a meter, or are you reading charge level on your monitor panel?
Running the engine for 15 minutes shouldn't recharge a battery which was run down to discharged.
I have 2 coach batteries rated at around 100 ah each and I'd have to drive it for at least a couple of
hours to fully recharge them from 50% discharged. You may be seeing a "surface charge" which can
give a false reading when tested too soon after running the motor.
Here's a short read. See section 3, which describes how to test a battery, and explains "surface charge".
http://marine-electronics.net/techartic ... /b_faq.htm
__________________
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
RV - 2018 Navion 24V + 2016 Wrangler JKU
Mike is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-29-2012, 11:56 PM   #8
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 51
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

Thanks for the info Mike, I think you are right about surface charge, it would show that it was charged up from 1/3 but shortly after running something it was back down. They tested the battery at the Benz dealer and said the battery is good. My old coach had 2 batteries and the lasted well. If I get a generator how long do you have to run it to bring the battery back to full charge frm 50%?

About the fridge, it is 6 cu.ft , when it was running on the hot days it was making a noise like a fan running. Was that because it was so hot?
Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2012, 03:04 PM   #9
Platinum Member
 
arrveedogz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 116
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

The RoadTrek Adventurous manual says "if the aux batts are not being used, they should be recharged monthly by connecting to an outside electrical power source such as connecting to shore power or by operating the generator, for at least 12 hours or by running your vehicle's engine for a minimum of 2 hours." -- my emphasis

I don't know where these people keep their rigs, but running the generator for 12 hours isn't going to fly.

During off season, I've been running the engine and generator (under load, ie with the AC turned on) for a short period (certainly not two hours) each month. Sounds like that may not be accomplishing much electrically, although I've only had one battery problem in 3 years - and that was due to a bad set of batts that wouldn't hold charge at all.

Sounds like it would be better to plug it in (with main batt switch on) for a 12 hour period.
arrveedogz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-30-2012, 04:57 PM   #10
Silver Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 51
Default Re: Odd Electrical Touble

Thanks for the information. I will have to see how long it last next time I am out. I know my fridge does take power to heat the strip between the two doors to prevent condensation according to the fridge book.
__________________

Rick is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT. The time now is 11:26 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.