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Old 01-06-2015, 08:11 AM   #1
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Bad batteries

Hi all! I recently bought a 2001 Fleetwood Wilderness FW. Got a real good deal and so far she seems to be in very good shape. I have a question though. Being fairly new to rving, if my two batteries are bad does that affect my furnace, fridge, water pump, etc?
The reason I'm asking is that all of a sudden the furnace (Atwood model 8531-IV-DCLP) is only running VERY sporadically and the brand new water pump I just installed suddenly sounds very strange. Almost sputtering instead of smooth like it originally did when I installed it a couple of weeks ago.
First sign of problems was the furnace's fan wouldn't shut off until I turned the battery disconnect off. I left it off (I'm plugged up to shore power) then a day or so later furnace wouldn't work at all. No fan, nothing. (Air worked so I kind of ruled out thermostat) Then turned battery disconnect back on, still nothing. Left it on and next day it started working like nothing had been wrong until last night when it never fired up at all.
I have a meter but don't know how to check "car batteries" with it.

Also, while plugged into shore power do you disconnect batteries or leave them connected? By the way, living in it full time while rebuilding house that burned down. Thanks in advance!

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Old 01-06-2015, 10:19 AM   #2
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Leave the batteries turned on while plugged, that's how they get charged. If you've been doing this for a while, yes the batteries are probably low. If they have tops, check for the water level, and only add the proper water to fill. Then, charge the batteries with the shore plug, generator, or an external charger, plugged in to an outside source, if needed. Once you get them charged, then you can load test them. If you have a 12v meter, just test between the positive and the negative posts. That will give you a voltage. You should get around 13-14 volts. If not, the batteries could be bad.

I replace batteries when they start giving me a problem, then I know when they were replaced. And then, I take care of them making sure the liquid levels are full, and keep them charged as much as I can.

And, I should have said this in the first sentence, check all the grounds in the system that you can find. If you have a bad ground, it can cause pure havoc on an electrical system. Let us know what happens......

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Old 01-06-2015, 10:52 AM   #3
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The furnace is controlled by the thermostat and it's control board, which are 12 v. You need to take some meter readings to assess what's going on. First, check voltages of batteries (disconnect one cable so you don't get a reading from the other one) disconnected from shore power. A charged battery in good shape is 12.6 v or so. A battery at 12 v is 50% discharged. Then plug in shore power and take a reading. Your converter/charger should be putting out at least 13.4 v to charge batteries. After overnight charging, disconnect shore cord, wait an hour or two for batteries to absorb any surface charge.Again disconnect one cable so you can measure each battery isolated from the other one. If not at 12.6 v on both, you have one bad battery at least. Once you've charged them to their capacity, the true test of battery health is to do a load test, offered free at an auto parts store.

If you find the converter/charger isn't charging, check that a circuit breaker, often a small push button on the side of the box, isn't tripped. You might note the make and model of your converter/charger and Google for a manual.

To understand the workings of your RV with 12 v and 120 v power and what does what, you might want to read this link:

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:05 PM   #4
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Not batteries after all

Well, my batteries checked out fine. Turned out a relay switch was bad. I had to break down and get a mobile mechanic come by. He had the part on his van and all. Parts, labor, and all came in under $175. Not bad in my opinion and now on this cold night it's nice and today in here.

Thanks for the help and advice. I've gained quite a lot lurking around here. This is quite a forum.

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Old 01-08-2015, 09:42 AM   #5
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Curious, where was rhe bad relay? Converter? Furnace?
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:43 AM   #6
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Please tell us what batteries you have, Six volt pairs (See note) 12 volt and if 12 volt what size (Group size).

Also what converter you have, MOST converters will power the furnace, water pump and such if you have shore power, even without batteries present.

That said: Voltmeter readings (At battery terminals) will help.

note on six volt batteries,,, These are always paired, the pair forms a 12 volt battery, Treat them as such (Do not measure voltage on each six volt, give us the voltage on the 12 volt assembly, as an example)

All your six/12 volt questions can be answered by thinking of each pair of sixes as 1/2 of a 12 volt (Size 4D) battery.
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Old 01-09-2015, 07:42 PM   #7
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Here is another great source of information written in easy to understand style about all the different types of batteries. Batteries -- and Other Electric Stuff by phred

Study carefully the area about 6v Golf Cart batteries, such as the Trojan 105. These are true deep cycle batteries and will outlast the two 12 RV/Marine batteries by 2 - 4 times longer and give you much more satisfactory performance. The other thing to consider is your converter. What model is it? Is it a "smart" charger? The above website also has another great article that is all about converters. You say you are new to the RV world - - this would be good reading for you. Good luck.

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Old 01-10-2015, 07:20 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by dtsmith77 View Post
Hi all! I recently bought a 2001 Fleetwood Wilderness FW. Got a real good deal and so far she seems to be in very good shape. I have a question though. Being fairly new to rving, if my two batteries are bad does that affect my furnace, fridge, water pump, etc?

YES, it does, all the devices you cite use 12 volts, The Fridge (And Water heater, And, optionally the air conditioners) use 12 volts for control power, and ignition power.. The furnace uses it for that, and it also runs the blower.

As the batteries run down the blower can no longer come up to speed due to low voltage,, In the outlet side there is a device called a sail switch,, WHEN the air blows hard enough this switch closes and the furnace lights and operates. Low battery = Low speed on the blower motor = Low blow = NO switch closure (NOTE: Same if you block heat outlets or ducts).

What converter do you have? Some rigs come with very poor converters (Magnatek 6300) others fair (parallix 7300) Good to great (most 3-stage converters) With the furnace you may not have enough converter to properly start the furnace.

Home is where I park it!
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