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Old 06-12-2016, 02:29 PM   #1
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Coach battery slowly goes dead...

I hope I have the right term. I'm new to class A, but I was always told that the "coach" battery is the one that runs the engine etc... while the "house" batteries are the ones that run the lights, water pump, etc...

Anyway, my coach battery slowly goes dead if the coach sits for two or three weeks. I do notice that the radio stays powered even with the key off, but that is probably "by design" so that you can listen to the radio while parked. I don't see any other obvious drains like lights etc... I also discovered that the slide out motors run from the coach battery, which I found surprising.

So, I'm considering the following options:
  1. (What I do now): Try to remember every week or so to plug in my charger and top off the battery.
  2. Permanently install a "DC to DC trickle charger" from the house batteries to the coach battery to keep it topped off. The house batteries stay charged from the solar, generator, and/or shore power. I've used one of these DC to DC trickle chargers successfully with my old trailer to keep its house battery topped off from my larger solar batteries. These have a very low charge rate (maybe 2 amps?) but that would probably be enough.
  3. Permanently install a "modest" proper charger that runs whenever there is AC power (generator, shore power, or from the inverter on my solar batteries. This has the advantage of charging to higher current than the trickle charger.
  4. Dig into the electrical system to find and stop whatever small drains are pulling down the coach battery.
  5. Re wire the solar so that I can choose to use it for keeping the coach battery charged (or the house battery) based on a switch setting.

I'm leaning towards (2) since that is a cheap and easy "permanent" fix and I won't need to remember anything. Option (5) also makes sense to me since the solar is ideal for a "topping off" situation. Any guidance? I might be missing something about how these systems are supposed to work -- for example, maybe there is supposed to be a way that shore power should be charging the coach battery?

Thanks!
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Old 06-12-2016, 03:32 PM   #2
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I would think there's a switch to turn off the power to the radio and should solve the battery drain problem. There should be a toggle switch on the dashboard area.
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Old 06-12-2016, 03:49 PM   #3
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I chose option # 2.

I use a Cyrix 120 battery combiner. Two, short, 8 gauge wires to each side of the boost solenoid and a ground wire.

I park the MH, lock the doors and walk away.
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Old 06-12-2016, 04:18 PM   #4
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Option #6 could be a hard wire disconnect on either the positive or negative battery lead. That would eliminate any parasitic draw. I had to do the same on my Itasca. More than likely yours wasn't originally set up with a trickle charger on the coach batteries, so your trickle charge idea is also a good one.
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Old 06-12-2016, 04:19 PM   #5
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All of your self-suggested actions are good to do. However, if you pull the fuse to the dash radio I suspect you will find that is the cause of your chassis battery drain. It has been a long-standing issue with many models of RVs over the years. When our dealer service center discovered our problem was the dash radio, we opted to leave the fuse out because we never use the dash radio. You can also install a switch on the radio that completely disconnects it whenever you choose. We still travel with a trickle charger, battery cables, and also use the chassis battery disconnect switch we installed to stop other parasitic drains on the chassis battery. One of these days we may decide to investigate what causes the short in the radio, but for now we are content with a resolution of the problem. Good luck!
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Old 06-12-2016, 04:25 PM   #6
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This DC to DC charger has a 15 amp charge rate.

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Old 06-12-2016, 04:32 PM   #7
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I have Battery Tenders on all my vehicles, even my lawn tractor. Never have a dead battery. You can even get doubles and triples. Search Amazon for Battery Tender. I'm guessing around 35 bucks, and never a dead battery. Some of my stuff sits for 4 months or more, and I've already had the year where every battery had to be replaced. My wallet wasn't happy. You can also put a disconnect on the chassis battery. That also helps. Any auto parts store have them for a few bucks. Good luck.
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Old 06-12-2016, 06:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patti Brown View Post
All of your self-suggested actions are good to do. However, if you pull the fuse to the dash radio I suspect you will find that is the cause of your chassis battery drain. It has been a long-standing issue with many models of RVs over the years. When our dealer service center discovered our problem was the dash radio, we opted to leave the fuse out because we never use the dash radio. You can also install a switch on the radio that completely disconnects it whenever you choose. We still travel with a trickle charger, battery cables, and also use the chassis battery disconnect switch we installed to stop other parasitic drains on the chassis battery. One of these days we may decide to investigate what causes the short in the radio, but for now we are content with a resolution of the problem. Good luck!
I am having the same problem on our 2014 Bay Star 3103. There are two power leads to the Dual X2DMA400 dash radio. Yellow is the memory wire. In a normal install, the yellow is hooked to an unstitched (constant) power source. The Red lead is the main radio power and would normally be hooked to a switched (key on) power source. What Mewmar did was to hook both wires to a constant power source, to allow you to listen to the radio without the key on. My initial fix was to install a switch for the Red wire so that I could cut the power while in storage. I called Newmar to order a blank switch, like I have for lights etc. the guy in Newmar parts dept made a suggestion. He said you know that blank switch you have on the dash next to the shade switch? I can sell you a switch that will go right there. It is more expensive, but pop the blank out and put the new one in, and you're done. The blank wall switch was about $5 for the base, switch and blank bezel. The dash switch was $31, but I don't have to cut any extra holes in the MH. I think it's worth the extra cost to make it easier. So I ordered the dash switch and 2 blank switch sets. I need to add a switch to the TST TPMS antenna booster in the back closet so that I can turn that off as well.

Sorry for the long post.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:20 PM   #9
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Wow, tons of good advice here! Thanks I will probably look into a DC to DC trickle charger / battery combiner AND figure out a way to shut off the radio if not being used.
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:25 PM   #10
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On our coach the radio draws from the house batteries when the coach is shut off. I thought most were designed this way......maybe not.
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Old 06-12-2016, 09:07 PM   #11
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Wow, tons of good advice here! Thanks I will probably look into a DC to DC trickle charger / battery combiner AND figure out a way to shut off the radio if not being used.
You asked about which battery is what.

"Chassis" battery starts engine and runs truck stuff.

"Coach" batteries run house stuff
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Old 06-13-2016, 09:44 AM   #12
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Twinboat is correct re terminology.
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Old 06-13-2016, 12:01 PM   #13
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I think you will find that disconnecting the radio will not eliminate chassis battery drain. There are so many little things in modern vehicles which have parasitic current drain, that makes the radio just a small part of many culprits. Electric step controllers, engine ECU, Transmission controllers, remote door locks, and probably some more all help to draw down the chassis batteries over time.

The Amp-L-Start. or the little brother Trik-L-Start, DC to DC chargers do a great job of keeping the chassis batteries topped off as long as the coach ( or house ) batteries are kept charged.

A main battery disconnect works too, but many ECU / TCUs have to re-learn their settings when power is removed, so each time you connect it up and start it those computers have to go through the learning phase.

Of course, a battery disconnect is a pretty sure way to prevent an electrical fire....
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Old 06-13-2016, 08:17 PM   #14
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If there's a draw you should correct that rather than a makeshift solution. Pull fuses and check for a draw across the terminals to isolate the offending circuit; only then can you decide if its normal, as from radio memory, or not, as from a lighting circuit. If the draw is from a short somewhere it will most likely not fix itself and eventually manifest itself into bigger problems. I can leave any one of my vehicles idle for months and still have enough juice to crank it over. My rig sat all winter and fired right up 4 months later.
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