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Old 07-29-2012, 04:45 PM   #1
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electrical, Holiday Rambler '99 Endeavor

Why I sent out this weekend in 111 degrees, I'll never know, but.....

Had electrical issue. I'll try to describe it accurately and where it makes sense. Any thoughts appreciated but I'm particularly looking for ideas of what to do if this happens again and how to diagnose whatever the problem is.

Parked Friday, 50 amp full service space. Everything going well and AC/Electrical performing well, front and back. Got up this am and it was cool inside. Sounded like AC was straining somewhat. Started breakfast and refer gave indications that DC draw was not adequate (error message on refer "dc lo"). Interior lights dim. Radio would just flash but not come on. Power was on at plugin box and appeared ok. Surge unit working ok and showed no errors. . Disconnected everything and attempted to turn on generator but battery dead. Engine started up just fine. By time I get home (2 hours) everything was running fine and batteries appeared to be charged.
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Old 07-29-2012, 05:05 PM   #2
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I believe you are mixing AC and DC together here. That would sound to me like it is all a DC voltage problem and either your Inverter/Charger was not functioning correctly and charging your batteries OR you have bad battery or batteries OR time to check the water and clean the connections to your batteries. How old are your batteries and have you checked the water in them lately. Can you monitor the voltage on your house batteries? If so see what their voltage is either with the genset running or plugged into shore power and what the voltage is with the genset/shore power off.
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Old 07-29-2012, 07:02 PM   #3
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Mike just about covered it. your converter or inverter was not charging the batteries. By the time you drove home, the engine alternator had charged the batteries.
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:10 AM   #4
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I believe you are mixing AC and DC together here. << I put everything into the message so that I didn't inadvertently leave out something that might have been important but in my ignorance didn't know the difference. >>That would sound to me like it is all a DC voltage problem and either your Inverter/Charger was not functioning correctly and charging your batteries OR you have bad battery or batteries OR time to check the water and clean the connections to your batteries. << Would the discharge in the batteries been just from the refer being on. Why would that have discharged when the refer was on AC while parked?? Also, for future problem resolution, how would I know this is occurring BEFRE it's too late?>> How old are your batteries and have you checked the water in them lately. << They were supposedly checked about 3 weeks ago when I had some other service done on it. I didn't watch them so who knows. >> Can you monitor the voltage on your house batteries? << Only with 'idiot lights' and not accurate. Any suggestions? I'm with you I want to 'monitor' them but would appreciate knowing and finding the proper tool. >> If so see what their voltage is either with the genset running or plugged into shore power and what the voltage is with the genset/shore power off. << What can be used to actively monitor the output of the inverter?? I've had my own suspicions on the inverter since we bought it but have found nothing that checks the inverter, only the effects of the inverter (batteries, charged states, etc). >> << Thanks for the responses >>
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:24 AM   #5
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Do you have date tags on the batteries or engraved ontop of the batteries so you know how old they are. If you have one or two batteries that are holding just a "surface charge" then that could cause them to what appears to charge normally but to run down fast. The refer should not use much DC power. It only uses a small amount for the control board so it should not run down the batteries. Without get complicated the easiest way to figure out what is happening is to buy a digital multimeter from Radio Shack or Home Depot. You can the put the meter across the two main battery cables and monitor the voltage. A fully charged battery should be around 12.5 to 12.7 volts. That would be without shore power or genset power. If running the genset or plugged into shorepower that voltage should climb up above 13.5 volts as it is receiving power from the inverter charger. The only good way to check the batteries is to hook up a load tester to each one and test it. This load tester has a big resistor in it that really sucks up the power and it has a volt meter on it so you can see what is happening. If the battery is good then the meter shows the voltage staying up but if it is bad the voltage will drop fast. If one battery is bad and they are all dated around the same time then time to replace all. Sam's has really good Duracell Golf Cart Batteries that are around $80-90 each which is not bad. The real killer of batteries is if the MH is not plugged in when in storage and does not have a solar cell.

Let me add this also. Since the batteries did charge up going home indicates that all the battery cable connections are tight and are working OK.
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Old 07-30-2012, 09:50 AM   #6
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You also said the air conditioner sounded like it was straining somewhat.

This can be an indication of LOW 120vat voltage, If the 120 volts is not quite up to specifications. then the converter may not be able to properly charge the battery.

DC LOW on the Fridge does not mean low current draw, it means low voltage.

I'm looking as I type at an MFJ plug in volt meter. (I will try to win it) It is an analog meter, You can find MFJ products at amateur Radio supply places.

I normally recommend the Kill-a-watt, which is a digital meter that performs (among other things) the same job, and a whole lot more, for around 20 bucks.

So you need to monitor your 120volt power, Also make sure you do NOT plug that into an inverter powered outlet if you have them.. The inverter will kick in if the voltage goes low and you won't see it.

You also need to figure out the 12 volt issue. Though it MIGHT be low mains voltage, I doubt it . More likely a blown fuse or tripped breaker, for some reaons my converter will, from time to time, trip the breaker. (couple times a year)

And onece,, My converter is a plug in model (Some are hard wired, some are intergrated into the power distribution panel, Mine plugs in) I knocked the plug out.. Thankfully a monitor caught it before it became critical and I just switched in the alternate converter. (I have 2, usually use the PD 9180 with wizard)
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Old 10-25-2012, 08:29 PM   #7
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I think I just figured out all of my problems. If you look through the various threads I have had problems with the electrical systems and finally a couple weeks ago I had indications of electrical failure possibly due to the alternator going out. Turns out that it was the alternator that went out but we believe we found the cause of the problem. It appears the master shut off to my start batteries had come loose and were arcing but we could not see that because they were behind and under the shutoffs. As we were tracing the cause of the electrical problem we noticed the intermittent contact. When we removed the battery shutoff we saw that it had melted much of the plastic inside. While we cannot be 100% positive this certainly tells us a lot and seemed to support our hypothesis that this might have caused the problem. Anyway I had to replace the alternator, the shut off and the two start batteries and now it looks like we're back up running and everything is good. Thanks to all the advice and information I got from other readers.
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