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Old 12-11-2016, 03:08 PM   #1
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Another dead chassis battery/not charging thread

Hi All,
I went to pick up the coach from storage yesterday and the chassis batteries are dead. I had gone down there to plug the coach in the night before and apparently someone plugged something into the same circuit and popped the GFI on the circuit. I found another circuit and plugged in but the chassis batteries are not charging. The coach had not been plugged in for almost 2 weeks.
Anyway, I have read just about everything about BIRDs and other charging threads but I'm confused as to what I'm seeing when I use a DVM to check for cause.

Here is my Electrical bay


The BIRD is old but I think it is working. I measure 13.45v on the house line and 3.58v on the relay line.
Above the BIRD is the isolation relay (I think). I measure the 3.58V on the red wire from the BIRD and 13.45v on both sides of the relay.

To the right of the Iso relay is the coach load disconnect relay. I measure 13.45v on both sides of the relay if the switch in the coach is set to "Use" and only on the right side if the switch is in "Store" position.

The relay to the right is the ignition disconnect relay. I read 11.7v on the right side of it and if I turn on the ignition I see 11.7v on both sides.

Supposedly the chassis and the coach feeds are on each side of the Iso relay. This is where I am getting confused... if the relay is energized shouldn't I see a lower voltage, (I measure 13.4ish directly on the house batteries and 11.7v on the Chassis) being drug down by the chassis batteries?
I read in one of the threads that the control in the coach should be in the "Use" position but am not sure - I left it in the Use position today to see if that will help. I am not sure where the feed to the converter/charger is in the string of relays.
I went over to the bay with the charger/converter




I'm thinking I need to drop it off the wall and probe the outputs tomorrow. I think it's working though since the coach batteries are topped off.


I'll put a charger on the chassis batteries tomorrow and see if I can get them to take a charge. I assume that I need to unplug the coach and put the coach control in "Store"? Should I take the + or - off that goes back to the coach while charging? Anything else you can think of I should be testing or measuring?
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:42 PM   #2
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One thing I didn't try was to pull the relay wire off the BIRD and see if the Iso relay de-energized. Never thought to do that
I'm starting to lean toward the Iso Relay being bad? Pulling the relay wire may help to figure it out. I didn't try to read continuity across the relay as was suggested by someone in one of the threads I read.
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Old 12-11-2016, 06:23 PM   #3
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Any time you use the coach or have it plugged into at least 110 the battery cut off switch should be on and charging by BIRD will determine when the house batteries are fully charged.
It will than switch the charge to chassis batteries.
You can help if coach is in covered area so small solar panel can not charge the charge the chassis batteries make sure LP Detector is off and radio is completely off some radios require off switch pushed twice.
If you can not than get chassis batteries charged than maybe get into your clean for age charging system.
One other thing how clean are the battery negative cables to the chassis frame, clean and tight?
The voltages look fine to me for charging, did you run engine to see what they are off alternator.
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Old 12-12-2016, 04:15 AM   #4
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Ok, dumb question here - when you say the "battery cutoff switch should be on" do you mean in the "Use" position?
I notice that on the charger the "Inverter" switch is off - should that be on? I haven't touched it so it's been like that since I bought it.
We did clean all the battery cables and terminals about a month ago.
I can't start the engine, nor genny because the battery is dead.
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Old 12-12-2016, 07:08 PM   #5
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BCO switch yes USE or ON when ever plugged into shore power, ON when ever driving coach so alternator can charge the battery systems in reverse by BIRD.
Inverter should be off so no drain from it on batteries we are trying to keep at full charge.
Once the house batteries are fully charged then BIRD will switch charge to the chassis batteries.
The LP Detector maybe off your chassis battery and a switch in your display area marked LP should be off or LP will drain your chassis battery.
Hope your not in cold area need to get chassis batteries charged with external battery charger so they do not freeze.
All those wires tight under their screw connections?
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Old 12-12-2016, 07:18 PM   #6
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More troubleshooting... I spent the major part of today troubleshooting - hopefully this will help someone.
My chassis battery were dead - I used a hydrometer on the cells and they were all at 1125 or so. So I put them on a 50amp charger (I only saw 25amps max) for 2 hours. While that bank was charging I continued troubleshooting.
As I stated earlier I was measuring the same voltage on both sides of the isolation relay - in normal operation that is what you should read. But something wasn't right.

I want to give a big thank you to Mark from Intellitec - he was a great help reasoning through this with me but he could only go so far since he wasn't here at the coach.

About this time the charger finished.
I disconnected any incoming power - no genny or engine running and no shore power - control in "Store" mode. So at this point the BIRD should not be working. I was still reading 13.5 on both lugs - isn't that interesting. I thought that the relay was bad (Mark thought it was possible) and my chassis batteries were leaching into the coach batteries.

I removed what should be the chassis cable from the Iso relay and then measured the lugs on the relay and read 13.5v on the coach side and 0v on the lug that should be the chassis. I also read 0 v on the relay line of the BIRD so everything was working as it should be. I then measured the cable that I had removed and there was 13.5 on it too! What I was reading was coach battery voltage on both sides. I went to the battery tray and measured the voltage on the batteries and it was exactly what I was reading on the Iso relay and the hanging cable.
Mark recommended removing battery leads and keep measuring voltage and see what disappears as you remove leads. Being that I was reading coach voltage I started removing those positives one at a time.
The first one I removed was the one going to the inverter/charger (didn't know it until I reconnected it) so that didn't affect the Iso relay.
There were two more positives on one lug so I removed one and the coach side of the relay stayed the same (13.5v) but the cable that was disconnected and hanging now had 9 volts and was slowly decreasing. The voltage decreased down to 6v - I'm thinking there is a battery on this line somewhere.
I disconnected the other positive from the battery and the coach voltage on the relay disappeared. So now I know which wire is the coach side of the relay. What I was missing was a chassis cable. There should be a chassis cable on one side of the Iso relay. I measured the hanging cable again and it was now 0v.

This is when the light bulb went off in my head that the extra cable on the house side really belonged on the chassis bank. So I re-routed the cable behind the coach bank and to the chassis bank and landed it near the rear and then landed the hanging cable in the Elec bay on the chassis side of the relay. I measured the lugs and saw 13.5v on the coach side and 12.8v on the chassis side. I went inside and put the control in "Use" so I could use the power winder to unroll enough cord to reach the plug in and then plugged it in. Initially the voltages remained the same but after a minute I started reading 13.1 on both lugs - now the system was working as it should be - charging both banks.

So what does all this mean? I bought the coach on Nov 2nd and drove it 125 miles home and put it in storage - nice charge on all the batteries (had genny running for roof top air). A couple days later I brought a cord to plug it in to keep the batteries up, not knowing that the only batteries being charged were the coach. I drove the coach to my buddies house to work on it (17 miles) and then back to storage - this is when the chassis batteries were charged. It sat a couple weeks on charge (so I thought) and then I drove it to my buddy's house again and we worked on it for 5 days and left it plugged in the whole time. We started the engine to keep the air bags up (has a slow leak in the front) every day but that was the only charge the chassis batteries got.
I took the coach to a new storage place and it did not have hookup initially - I finally got a hookup 1.5 weeks later. About a week in I started the coach and it seemed harder than usual to start - so I started hunting for a plug in. Found one but as you can figure out it was of no good to the chassis batteries and they went dead.

So what I have figured out is the previous owner changed the batteries and didn't mark all the cables. He ended up with a red one so he figured "it must go here on the coach side". So when the BIRD was closing the Iso relay it was double feeding the coach batteries but never the chassis.

Problem solved. This was a BIG find.
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Old 12-12-2016, 07:36 PM   #7
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Good job and a good find glad you had the time to find and not when you were traveling some where.
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Old 12-12-2016, 09:12 PM   #8
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Thanks to both of you. I learned a lot from this discussion.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:01 AM   #9
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Just an additional detail, when lead acid batteries are cold, the charge voltage needs to increase in order to fully charge. That is the chargers are often equipped with a temperature sensor.

Many times, these sensors are not used in order to make things simpler, especially since many RVs are used in moderate weather, but it is a helpful feature when correctly implemented.

In post number 1, photo number 3, it appears that yours is not implemented. It will not save you, but it does help extend battery life.
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Old 01-04-2017, 07:05 PM   #10
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Good eye! I did see that but never gave it a second thought. Guess I should do a little googling to see what one of these sensors look like and how you use them.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:14 PM   #11
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It is called a ME-BTS. It is basically a thermostat connected to a data cable that attaches to one of the house battery post and is plugged into the Magnum Inverter. It just reads the ambient temperature at the batteries and the inverter adjust it's charge rate accordingly. Very good for hot or cold climates. In my case, it saves the batteries from boiling when it's 105 degrees while plugged in at home.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:29 PM   #12
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Thanks for that explanation Scotty I had a laps moment as to what he was talking about.
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:13 AM   #13
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Can I assume since it's just a temp sensor that a Magnum version will work on my Trace Inverter?
Disregard the price - you can find them for half of this price
https://www.amazon.com/Magnum-Energy.../dp/B016SPH3AA

Xantrex (uses the Trace) has a sensor that is very reasonable
http://www.starmarinedepot.com/xantr...FcVDhgodn1IPkQ
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Old 01-05-2017, 11:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKins View Post
Can I assume since it's just a temp sensor that a Magnum version will work on my Trace Inverter?
Disregard the price - you can find them for half of this price
https://www.amazon.com/Magnum-Energy.../dp/B016SPH3AA

Xantrex (uses the Trace) has a sensor that is very reasonable
Xantrex Battery Temperature Sensor-BTS - Star Marine Depot
__________

I have read so many inverter / charger / converter / LiFe battery BMS manuals lately that it is hard to keep them all straight sometimes, so I don't know how interchangeable they are.

The good news is that most companies have their product manuals on-line, so it is just a matter of reading through them to figure out how they work.

I do know that there are some units which are simply a thermocouple with analog signals detected by the charger, and some digitize the signal at the probe before sending the information, so not all models are compatible.

It is still worth keeping an eye on things when you are using the temperature probe, because you might notice that it is plugged in like an indoor telephone jack, and that connection isn't ideal for wet weather conditions.

Analog temperature signals from a thermocouple aren't very strong and a poor connection can really mess things up.
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