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Old 01-11-2019, 01:26 PM   #1
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Weird issues with house batteries. Help a newb?

I recently got a 2017 Thor Outlaw 37BG. I'm on my first big trip.

This morning I was getting ready to leave camp. When I unplugged the shore power, everything inside the RV shut off, even though I had the inverter on. I realize that only a few things will run on the inverter, but even those shut off.

I called roadside assistance. They initially thought I had bumped the battery disconnect during the night, and the batteries drained from running everything all night. I had been told that the house batteries will literally only run the TV, the fridge, and some cabin lights, so this confused me. I definitely had some things running over night that weren't on the outlets they told me are powered by the inverter.

Anyway, they said that driving the RV would not be enough to charge the batteries back up, plugging back into shore power would not change the batteries back up, and that getting a jump from one of my neighbors' towed vehicles would not work. They said they needed to bring the tow truck to recharge the house batteries.

While I was waiting, I ran the engine, hoping that might give the house batteries enough juice to get me back on the road (and article I read online contradicted the assistance guy and said running the engine does in fact charge the house batteries). After about 30 minutes, I tried the inverter again. It came on, and it showed input of 13.5. I called assistance to tell them the truck could cancel, but they told me this was all a sign that the batteries and/or the disconnect switch were bad and that I needed to see the truck either way.

When the driver arrived, he was able to find that one of the wires connecting the house batteries was extremely loose. He tightened it back up, tested the batteries and their water, and said I was good to go.


I've been on the road for about 5 hours now, and some weird stuff has happened. First, the inverter input has been going steadily down and is now at 11.5. second, the "entertainment dash" used for music and such has turned off on its own a few times, requiring me to pull over and restart it. I thought the dash ran off engine batteries, but maybe it runs on the house batteries?


So, can anyone help me understand all of this? If it seems like I have an acute lack of understanding vis a vis RC electronics, that's because I absolutely do. I'm brand new to this world. I've been trying to learn as quickly as possible, but I'm still quite lost.

Are my house batteries okay? Is my inverter okay? Am I safe to continue my trip? Do I do something to make the inverter input (which I thought was a measure of the house batteries' charge) go back up? Is it weird that the inverter showed 13.5, if the batteries are supposed to be 12 volts? Is the dash turning itself off related to any of this?

If you can help in any way, I would be extremely thankful. I SO lost and confused.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:41 PM   #2
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You residential frig will run down the house batteries fast especially if it goes into a defrost cycle. Most find 8 hours is max off 220 amp-hour of batteries. Your batteries will not charge unless the use/store switch is in the use position. All radios and TVs run off the house batteries. The chassis battery only supplies power to the radio's memory circuits. The house batteries should be charged by the engine's alternator through the BIRD relay if the use/store switch is in the USE position,
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:45 PM   #3
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Thanks, I'll check the position. I'm on my way to a service center, anyway. When the inverter dropped to 11.4, it started being and gave an error coffee that translates to "undercharged, disconnect load and charge battery." Fun.

Edit: it's been in the "use" position this whole time. Maybe the service center can figure it out.

Also the fridge and dash shut themselves off, and the tank heating pads too, before I turned off the inverter. Fun!
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:00 PM   #4
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The use/store relay is located next to the power center and connects the house battery bank to the power center's 12 volt fuse panel. It is a latching relay and stays in the last position selected. Unfortunately Thor Motorcoach uses a dinky 50 amp relay that does not have a good track record. This relay handles generator and shore line charging of the house batteries, but it does not connect the engine's alternator with the house batteries. That is the BIRD. It is a by-directional relay that connects the house batteries with the chassis battery under certain conditions. It is usually in the house battery compartment on class As.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:11 PM   #5
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The use/store relay is located next to the power center and connects the house battery bank to the power center's 12 volt fuse panel. It is a latching relay and stays in the last position selected. Unfortunately Thor Motorcoach uses a dinky 50 amp relay that does not have a good track record. This relay handles generator and shore line charging of the house batteries, but it does not connect the engine's alternator with the house batteries. That is the BIRD. It is a by-directional relay that connects the house batteries with the chassis battery under certain conditions. It is usually in the house battery compartment on class As.

Wait, are you saying that the alternator does not charge the house batteries on my RV?

As for the use/store, that's been in "use"the whole time.
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:17 PM   #6
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How many batteries of what type do you have?

What are you trying to run off them?

Is your coach all electric? Confirm you have a residential fridge?

What happens when you run the generator? Do your electronics seem happy and the batteries charge? Do you have any solar panels or other forms of electricity capture/generation?

If you haven't read this about 12v systems, you should. The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
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Old 01-11-2019, 02:44 PM   #7
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How many batteries of what type do you have?
There are 4 batteries linked to make the "house battery." I'm not sure what type they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1bigmess View Post
What are you trying to run off them?
At the time that it gave the error message, I was only running whatever is automatical run by them while driving. I think that's the fridge and the radio dash?

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Originally Posted by 1bigmess View Post
Is your coach all electric? Confirm you have a residential fridge?
It's not all electric. The fridge is advertised as residential, although it would look pretty tiny in a house.

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Originally Posted by 1bigmess View Post
What happens when you run the generator? Do your electronics seem happy and the batteries charge? Do you have any solar panels or other forms of electricity capture/generation?
I haven't run the generator during all this. Electronics were fine last night, and I had a phone and a laptop charging at first this morning (all of which worked fine), but I unplugged everything when I saw the inverter start going down.

By the way, I turned it back on, and it's at 8.4 even though I completely turned it off at 11.4. ?

I don't have solar panels or anything else.

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Originally Posted by 1bigmess View Post
If you haven't read this about 12v systems, you should. The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
Thanks, I will.
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:18 PM   #8
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Inverter and charger lights come on?

Try the generator and see what you have for voltage. If you are reading the house batteries voltage at 8.4 you are about done for, pretty much completely discharged.

Sounds like maybe the alternator? Something doesn't add up here as per the other comments
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:29 PM   #9
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So many questions, now that you have battery wire tightened either plug it in or run genny and see if it charges. A 12 volt battery with 12 volts is almost dead sounds weird but true. 11.4 is dead and 8.4 is really dead.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:26 PM   #10
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So many questions, now that you have battery wire tightened either plug it in or run genny and see if it charges. A 12 volt battery with 12 volts is almost dead sounds weird but true. 11.4 is dead and 8.4 is really dead.
I don't understand that (haven't had a chance to read the "life of a 12 volt battery" yet). If the house batteries are "dead" after dropping less than 50%, what exactly are they meant to be used for?


As for our fiasco, we made it to a service center. What they said was that the park we stayed at last night must not have had true 50 amp service, causing the batteries to not get charged. The camp was pretty sketchy, so that's believable. On the other hand, I don't get how the inverter would have shown 13.5 this morning if the batteries hadn't been charging.

They also said that something had flipped one of the breakers in the house battery bay. They thought that probably happened after we disconnected from shore.

They charged the batteries to about 12.5 then said we were safe to drive to the next campground, so long as we keep the inverter off on the way, and that if it had decent power the batteries should be fully charged by morning. They said nothing about the batteries being "done for," despite testing them, but now I'm worried.

I'm at a KOA now. Hopefully it will have more reliable power than the mom and pop place we stayed last night?

Oh, and when we got to the KOA, the breaker in the house battery bay was popped again. I don't understand that. The inverter was running for a while on our drive from the service center (we misunderstood and thought we were supposed to leave it on but just not used anything that would draw power, but then we realized we had been told to completely turn it off), but we unplugged everything that could draw power from it.

Surprisingly, the dash media center continued to work even with the inverter turned off, as did the rear and side cameras. I thought those were powered by the inverter?

I guess we'll see what's going on in the morning. A bit of a nightmare trip so far.

Are there upgrades I can make to avoid some of this on the next trip?
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:27 AM   #11
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Shouldn't be happening with your stock equipment. You have something not working right. Find it and fix it and you will be fine.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:03 AM   #12
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I don't understand that (haven't had a chance to read the "life of a 12 volt battery" yet). If the house batteries are "dead" after dropping less than 50%, what exactly are they meant to be used for?


As for our fiasco, we made it to a service center. What they said was that the park we stayed at last night must not have had true 50 amp service, causing the batteries to not get charged. The camp was pretty sketchy, so that's believable. On the other hand, I don't get how the inverter would have shown 13.5 this morning if the batteries hadn't been charging.

They also said that something had flipped one of the breakers in the house battery bay. They thought that probably happened after we disconnected from shore.

Sounds like a large amp draw or a short somwhere

They charged the batteries to about 12.5 then said we were safe to drive to the next campground, so long as we keep the inverter off on the way, and that if it had decent power the batteries should be fully charged by morning. They said nothing about the batteries being "done for," despite testing them, but now I'm worried.

Batteries aren't done for but deep discharging shortens their life a bit

I'm at a KOA now. Hopefully it will have more reliable power than the mom and pop place we stayed last night?

Oh, and when we got to the KOA, the breaker in the house battery bay was popped again. I don't understand that. The inverter was running for a while on our drive from the service center (we misunderstood and thought we were supposed to leave it on but just not used anything that would draw power, but then we realized we had been told to completely turn it off), but we unplugged everything that could draw power from it.

Surprisingly, the dash media center continued to work even with the inverter turned off, as did the rear and side cameras. I thought those were powered by the inverter?

Media center, cameras and all the 12v items up front should run off your chassis battery with the lighting and so on off the house batteries, coaches do vary a bit
I guess we'll see what's going on in the morning. A bit of a nightmare trip so far.

Are there upgrades I can make to avoid some of this on the next trip?
I think you just need to find out what is wrong

Good luck with the rest of the trip
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:05 AM   #13
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Media center, cameras and all the equipment up front run off the chassis batteries in my rig
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:19 AM   #14
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You definitely need to read up on 12v batteries, and what various voltage readings mean.

No one has mentioned the 13.5v reading ... that indicates the battery is being charged by whatever power source is connected. Could be engine alternator, shore power, or generator.

As to driving with the inverter on, we rarely if ever do. Any refrigerator will stay cold pretty much all day w/o power as long as the door stays closed. In warmer weather when it might get warm faster, we are running the generator so we can run the house air so the refrigerator is powered then too.

I am a bit confused as to what you mean by "radio dash" ... some kind of entertainment center? The normal dashboard radio should be powered by the engine alternator/chassis batteries. Most motorhomes have a dash mounted switch that can be used to change the radio power source between chassis or house batteries.
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