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Old 04-23-2011, 01:33 PM   #1
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Heater drained house batteries which start generator???

Hello all and let me say first- We just bought our 2000 Fleetwood Southwind 32v and used it for the first time, loved it overall!

Heres one problem we had that some of you may have a solution for?- We camped in a spot with no hookups and did not want to disturb anyone with the generator (onan 5500) at night. I turned on the heater when we went to bed at midnight and woke up at 730 with no power, no heat, no refrigerator, etc!!!

The generator wouldnt start because it fires off of the now dead house batteries (doesnt that seem like a silly setup?)

I tried holding the aux battery Switch down and starting the generator off the chassis battery but it didnt work in that direction- is it supposed to?

Should the heater (propane heat, but i guess battery sparked and dc fan to push air?) drain the house batteries overnight?

A fellow camper plugged in his Honda whisperquiet 2000w generator to my shore power cord and I was able to fire my generator and recharge the house batts (2 6-volts), then reset the refer.

What am i missing here? Should i

1) install some kind od low voltage cutoff on the house batts?
2) rewire the generator to the chassis battery?
3) are my house batts bad?
4) would a batterybooster box be able to jump start my generator? Thats a cheap bit of insurance

Any thoughts or advice would certainly be appreciated!

Thanks, Steve
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Old 04-23-2011, 02:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve480 View Post
4) would a batterybooster box be able to jump start my generator? Thats a cheap bit of insurance

Any thoughts or advice would certainly be appreciated!

Thanks, Steve
Steve,

Yes it will. Sorry, only part of your post I can help with. I carry a jumper box for mine just incase!

Chris
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Old 04-23-2011, 02:09 PM   #3
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Did you start the coach motor before you tried using the aux start switch? You need to start the coach and then hold the aux start switch down until you get enough power to start your generator.

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Old 04-23-2011, 03:37 PM   #4
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Hi Steve480,
Welcome to iRV2. To answer your questions:

1) install some kind of low voltage cutoff on the house batts?
Your house batteries should power the furnace for one evening.
Consider running the generator in the late afternoon or until you feel the neighbors would find it an irritation. It is important to start the evening with a fully charged set of coach batteries.

2) rewire the generator to the chassis battery?
I would not do this. It is inconvenient if the generator will not start. It is really inconvenient if the coach engine will not start. For me, only automotive components need be powered by the chassis battery.

3) are my house batts bad?
This could be true. If they are flooded cell batteries make sure the water level is correct. If the batteries are flooded cell batteries, fully charge them. Using a hydrometer, measure each cell. All the cells should be at the same rating. Fully charge the batteries (may take a couple of days on a portable charger). Take them to a battery store and have them load tested.

4) would a battery booster box be able to jump start my generator? Thats a cheap bit of insurance
I carry a battery boost box and a portable charger (120 VAC powered).
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Old 04-23-2011, 04:06 PM   #5
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Measure the voltage on those batteries and check water level. The Furnace does draw quite a bit of power, so depending on how charged your batteries were before the evening started and how often the furnace was cycling overnight will affect how quickly your batteries are drained. Ideally you want to start the evening with a fully charged set of batteries, and generally you don't really want to run wet-cell batteries below 50% charge (usually around ~12.2V or so). Once they're at 50% plan to charge 'em back up w/ the generator.

Have a look at this site:
Testing your RV Battery State of Charge

You do want some method of keeping track of state of charge in your batteries -> either reading directly from the batteries, or using some kind of monitor. Our RV came with a monitor (which was OK for "general" monitoring), but we installed a Xantrex for more accuracy, especially since we boondock alot. Trimetric make meters too.

As long as your batteries arn't totally drained you should be able to re-charge w/ the generator (again, make sure water levels are OK before doing this). If the generator is not cranking on it's own, you can try firing up the engine to crank on the generator....this should work (at least it does in our coach).
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Old 04-23-2011, 04:39 PM   #6
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Two suggestions...

Easiest: Start main engine, (it has it's own battery) Wait a minute or two with it running, start generator... This is by far the simplest way to do it, NOTE: may take a few minutes.

Page 2:
I carry a 12 volt jump pack I've had for years, it's on it's 2nd battery in fact and due for #3 (or a replacement) I've used it to jump the genny,, Right at the generator in my case I was able to easily get at the 12 volt positive and put the black lead on the chassis of the genny.. NOTE: this may not always work, and you have to remain connected till the transfer switch,,, transfers.

Option 3: Single jumper cable, main (Chassis or engine) battery to House battery POSITIVE only.. HOWEVER, I do not, actually, recommend this method.

Method 4: 120 volt powered jump (Booster) charger..
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:08 PM   #7
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I would have thought holding down the aux. battery/emergency start switch would have done the trick for you? It's supposed to work in BOTH directions. Starting the engine or starting the generator. Simply, it hooks the coach and engine batteries together while the button is held down. Just like a jumper cable from the coach to chassis batteries would do.
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:25 PM   #8
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On the Coachman I had, the aux switch would only go one way, from house to chassis. It's used to get the motor started. You should have been able to start the main engine, wait a few minutes, then crank the generator.

Unless you run a lot of extra stuff, two decently charged 6 volt should last all night.
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Old 04-23-2011, 08:47 PM   #9
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Always start the coach engine before trying to use the Aux switch in reverse mode. Otherwise you may simply drain the chassis batteries into the dead house battery bank and then not be able to start either the generator or coach engine.

Running the coach engine for awhile should be sufficient to put some charge back into the house batteries. Note I said "awhile", nit just a minute or two. The engine alternator will charge the house batteries, but it takes "awhile".
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Old 04-23-2011, 10:50 PM   #10
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I installed an auto start system on the Generator to avoid running the batteries down. I know that occasionally it will run during the night but I've never had a complaint, anybody who is boondocking should expect generators to run occasionally.
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:07 AM   #11
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Sounds to me like you have bad batteries. You said they are 6v, be sure they are wired in series to give you 12v. They should be deep discharge; not automotive type and as big as will fit in your battery compartment. The aux boost switch should work either way, but if you coach batteries are dead, it will ony drain your engine battery trying to recharge your coach batteries. AS said start the engine first and it will start to charge the coach batteries also. Then use the aux button to help start the gen. With 3 batteries on board already, I don't see the need for a 4th.as a backup.
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve480 View Post

The generator wouldn't start because it fires off of the now dead house batteries (doesn't that seem like a silly setup?)

Yes, it is silly that they wired it that way. Why some manufactures or I should say Engineer's would even design a system that does NOT allow you to charge up your house batteries with the generator once they are low. The generator should be wired to the chassis battery and NOT the house battery bank.

I tried holding the aux battery Switch down and starting the generator off the chassis battery but it didn't work in that direction- is it supposed to?

Yes, it will work in either direction. Basically, it ties both battery banks together, however, when one battery bank has been depleted too deeply, using the Aux Battery Switch is futile. As others have stated, you would start your engine first, let it run for awhile, and then attempt to start your generator.

Should the heater (propane heat, but i guess battery sparked and dc fan to push air?) drain the house batteries overnight?

Since your house batteries are essentially only one 12 volt DC battery, which isn't much at all, yes it will drain the battery quickly. By the way, with deep cycle batteries, they should never be drained more than 50%, otherwise you will shorten the life of the battery. When the voltage gets to about 11.9 - 12.2 volts, you have reached the 50% level and will now need to replenish the batteries to full charge either using shore power or the generator. If you have the room, I would install a larger deep cycle battery bank to draw upon.


What am i missing here? Should I.....

1) install some kind of low voltage cutoff on the house batteries? Yes, if you can.

2) Re-wire the generator to the chassis battery? YES !!!

3) Are my house batteries bad? Possibly, remove them, charge them fully and do a load test to see if they will take the load or not.

4) Would a battery-booster box be able to jump start my generator? That's a cheap bit of insurance. Possibly if it is hooked up correctly and not through the battery bank. If hooked to the house battery bank, then the voltage will be used mostly to charge the depleted batteries versus just starting the generator.

Any thoughts or advice would certainly be appreciated!

Thanks, Steve
Steve,

My thoughts and suggestions are listed above.

Dr4Film ----- Richard.
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Old 04-24-2011, 10:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Steve480
Hello all and let me say first- We just bought our 2000 Fleetwood Southwind 32v and used it for the first time, loved it overall!

Heres one problem we had that some of you may have a solution for?- We camped in a spot with no hookups and did not want to disturb anyone with the generator (onan 5500) at night. I turned on the heater when we went to bed at midnight and woke up at 730 with no power, no heat, no refrigerator, etc!!!

The generator wouldnt start because it fires off of the now dead house batteries (doesnt that seem like a silly setup?)

I tried holding the aux battery Switch down and starting the generator off the chassis battery but it didnt work in that direction- is it supposed to?

Should the heater (propane heat, but i guess battery sparked and dc fan to push air?) drain the house batteries overnight?

A fellow camper plugged in his Honda whisperquiet 2000w generator to my shore power cord and I was able to fire my generator and recharge the house batts (2 6-volts), then reset the refer.

What am i missing here? Should i

1) install some kind od low voltage cutoff on the house batts?
2) rewire the generator to the chassis battery?
3) are my house batts bad?
4) would a batterybooster box be able to jump start my generator? Thats a cheap bit of insurance

Any thoughts or advice would certainly be appreciated!

Thanks, Steve
Wow, this forum is a great resource! Thank you all for all the advice. I'll start going through each item you all commented on and see what the problem(s) are- ill report back on the solution and how it works out. Thanks again!
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Old 04-24-2011, 10:48 PM   #14
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Steve, yoyur southwind should have a DC control box under the hood, it's black, about 6" square, and has big red wires coming into it and a removeable cover.

Under the cover is a circuit board with lots of fuses, and 3 big relays, 2 are your battery disconnects, and the biggest is the aux start relay.

As was said, the aux start relay simply ties both battery banks together.

The RV Custom products board will energize that relay under certain conditions. One of course is when you hit the switch. It will also energize automatically to charge the chassis batteries when on shore power or genny, only once the house battery bank is full up, and also when running down the highway to charge the house batteries off the engine alternater, again, only once the chassis battery is fll up.

I've had a bad one that would not charge the house batteries off the alternator. Bit me a couple times where I went to bed thinking I had full batteries and I didn't.

Replacing the circuit board fixed it. A lil digital voltmeter that directly plugs into a lighter outlet was a big help in monitoring things, I still use it with the new coach.
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