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Old 03-25-2015, 09:56 AM   #1
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Travato Battery Question

Hello again,
We just finished our first 4 day boondocking trip in our travato. I have found on 2 separate occasions that when we were driving, the engine/alternator was not charging our house battery. And yes the battery disconnect button was on meaning lights and radio clock were on. We drove 4 hours home and the battery stayed at 1/3 full the whole time, actually it had depleted a bit during the 4 hour drive. This also happened once on the way home from the dealership (we bougt the rig 1500 miles from home).

It seems to me that sometimes the engine does charge the battery and sometimes it doesn't. Am I missing something?

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 03-25-2015, 10:44 AM   #2
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As you discovered, the engine alternator will not charge the house battery if the disconnect switch is activated. It's fairly easy to accidently bump that switch since it's down along the floor. If you say the disconnect wasn't activated, as the lights and radio would work, then you have other issues. The engine will charge the battery if the disconnect is off.

You don't say what is also running on 12v while you are trying to charge the battery. If you are also running the refrigerator in 12v mode, that is going to knock down your rate of charging quite a bit, as the refrigerator is hogging a good bit of the available power.

Also, if you've depleted the battery down to nothing several times, you've most likely ruined the battery and it's ability to charge and hold a charge could be diminished. Good rule of thumb is to only deplete the battery to 50% before you need to recharge it - that is if you want a long battery life.
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Old 03-25-2015, 11:02 AM   #3
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However, on our way home the fridge wasn't even on. We only have 2700 miles on it and I don't think I've killed the battery yet. Not sure why the inconsistency of the engine sometimes charging and sometimes not charging. I was very aware to check to see if the battery disconnect was tripped or not on the way home. It charges great with shore power. I'm a bit baffled. (However I am no mechanical genius by any stretch!) I have an email in to Winnebago. I will let you know if they shed any light on my mysterious battery charging problem that may affect other Travato owners.

Thanks for replying Wincrasher.

Cheers
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Old 03-26-2015, 06:55 AM   #4
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Let us know what you find out. It is strange if nothing else is running.

Bear in mind that a single event can ruin a battery. It could be a bad alternator too.
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Old 03-26-2015, 10:55 AM   #5
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The owner's manual says this:
"House batteries are automatically charged by the chassis alternator while the engine is running." They don't say anything about the battery not being charged if the coach battery switch is "off". Therefore, I would expect the switch to be in the line coming from the battery to the coach not in the line coming from the alternator to the battery.
In addition the chassis is wired so if the chassis battery is depleted you can use the coach battery to help with starting the engine.
I too will be most interested in hearing what Winnie has to say about your issue.
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Old 03-26-2015, 05:07 PM   #6
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I believe the charging is routed thru the main cutoff switch. I had an incident where my switch was in the off position and I drove for several hours. The battery charge level did not go up in that time. This may be a good question to pose to Winnebago, as you discovered, it's not mentioned in the manual.

We also don't know if the 110v charger will feed the battery while that switch is off. My assumption is that it does not, considering I went from being plugged in with a dead battery, to driving several hours with a still dead battery. After I flipped the switch, and drove for a bit, my battery level came up.
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:00 PM   #7
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We look forward to hearing what Winnie has to say. Many things defy logic. Another example is the switch for hot water. When you turn it on the light on the switch burns bright green. But all it's telling you is that the switch has moved from off to on. As I found out the hard way this weekend by hooking up to shore power but not making sure the campground circuit breaker was "on", I looked at that nice green light for a couple of hours before I realized that I had no hot water because there was no 110v power going to the water heater. You'd think the switch would be wired so it would not light up if 110v wasn't there. Oh well. . . .
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:25 AM   #8
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Wincrasher,

In an above post you stated, "As you discovered, the engine alternator will not charge the house battery if the disconnect switch is activated.
By activated I assume that means "on."

Are you saying that if that switch is on and the reefer is on, the coach battery will not charge while driving, resulting in a possible dead battery upon arriving at an destination? That doesn't make sense to me, am I missing something?

I am sure I have traveled with the disconnect switch "on" which has to be to power the reefer, and arrived at my destination with a charged coach battery.
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Old 03-27-2015, 08:53 AM   #9
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He said " disconnect switch activated" . I take that as, it is in disconnect position.

A disconnect switch should disconnect everything.

Although the house battery is disconnected, the refrigerator could be running, from power coming from the BIRD, while the engine is running.
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Old 03-27-2015, 02:56 PM   #10
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Well sadly I can't get it in to my local dealer for one month, busy time of year apparently. However I did get a reply from Winnebago and got the following:

"If the battery is not charging from the alternator the problem could be the battery charge solenoid. Without the opportunity to inspect your vehicle, we are unable to recommend the correct repairs. We suggest you contact your local Winnebago dealer for his assistance. If he requires technical information concerning this matter, he may contact this office for review.

We will be happy to help him in every way possible."

Looks like it will be awhile until I solve the mystery. Bummer.

Cheers
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Old 03-27-2015, 07:36 PM   #11
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We just returned from a 6 week trip to Florida. My house batt switch remained on all the way. The batt stayed fully charged all the time. I would assume the batt gets charged with the switch on or off. Just my guess.
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Old 03-29-2015, 08:18 PM   #12
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The "battery charge solenoid" connects your house and chassis batteries when ever the engine is running. You can download the 12v chassis wiring diagram for your coach from the Winnebago site and see where it is located behind the drivers seat. On the diagram, it looks to me to be a relatively inexpensive solenoid that should be readily available from auto parts suppliers. It is a very common point of failure in RVs and when failed, does not connect the house batteries to the chassis batteries hence they do not charge when driving. The charge solenoid on my Journey has failed three times in 6 years. It is very simple to change if you are handy and not "electrically declined". I now carry a spare as you can deplete the house batteries very quickly when travelling. In the mean time, you can charge the house batteries by plugging the coach into shore power as the solenoid is not used in that configuration. As others have pointed out, you must have your batteries connected if you want them to charge. Good luck with your new coach
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:06 PM   #13
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I posed this question to the Service Advisor at Winnebago with whom I communicate:
"Will the chassis alternator charge the battery no matter whether the coach disconnect switch is on or off?"
I received this response:
"Yes, the chassis alternator will charge the battery whether the disconnect is on or off."
I'll take that as my "final answer".
Guess I'd be looking at that solenoid.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:20 PM   #14
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Have you performed a simple voltage check at your house batteries. 11-12 V with engine off and unplugged from shore. 13+ volts with engine running and/or plugged in to shore. If no on the 13 V, then check at the solenoid. They do get stuck and they fail. Good luck.
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