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Old 10-16-2012, 10:01 PM   #1
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Battery sparking and thermostat clicking?!

Hello all, I'm having a problem with my battery and thermostat. I disconnected my battery so I could do some work under the trailer and avoid any shocks (electricity terrifies me..). Anyway I finished all the work and left the battery unhooked as I was on shore power for about a month, thought I would reconnect the battery in case of a power outage the battery would run the furnace fan... Now I don't remember how the cables were hooked up when I took them off.
I hooked them up with the black to the negative and the white to the positive, when I touched the white to the positive it sparked at me, so I tried the positive first.. As soon as I touched the black to the negative it sparked... So I put the black on the positive and the white on the negative and no sparks.... Neighbor told me sparks means you have the cable backwards, no sparks means they are on right. So I tightened them on with black to positive and white to negative (no sparks) now when I try to turn up my furnace the thermostat clicks on then click click click click click if you move it anymore, I'm worried that there is something shorting it out, the only thing that has changed is me hooking up the battery... Is it hooked up wrong or did the sparking damage it? I know it wasn't working quite as sensitively as it should have been before but it didn't keep clicking when you moved the slider...
I know this is long winded but anyone have any ideas??
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:39 PM   #2
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The negative side of the battery should have the cable connected to it that connects to the frame of the RV. The positive side will be insulated wires to and through the fuse panel.
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:45 PM   #3
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If the thermostat is electronic then it is quite possible that hooking a battery up wrongly could damage it. Hooking a battery up wrongly when the shore power was hooked up and switched on could also cause damge to the converter or battery charger.

Are other 12V loads working OK with shore power disconnected - ie lights, especially any 12V fluorescent lights or LED lights.
Can you measure the battery voltage with shore power disconnected - should be over 12V if it is charged

BUT since the battery was disconnected for several weeks, it might be lower if your converter didn't get a chance to charge it up. In that case any sparking might have just been the battery charger trying to charge the battery.

If there is no standard for 12V wire colours, can you trace back the cables and see which is connected to the chassis. That will be the one that connects to the battery negative. The other cable should go to a fuse or circuit breaker board or similar
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:34 PM   #4
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Well I disconnected the battery again and the thermostat still goes click click click when you move the slider so I guess it must be hooped. Gonna go get a new one today and go look under the trailer for where the wires go to so I know which one is which.... I'll label them this time :/ anyway thanks for the help guys.. If you can think of anything else it would be appreciated.. Like I said in scares of electricity.
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Old 10-17-2012, 01:41 PM   #5
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It could just be a dead battery causing the thermostat to click. !2 v electricity will barely make you tingle if you get into the circuit, it is not deadly. 120 v AC is more dangerous and you should respect it.
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Old 10-17-2012, 08:38 PM   #6
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Just because it sparked means nothing. Usually they will spark just a little when I hook them up. If you tenderly put them back on the terminals not making a good connection, then you make and then break the connection, causing sparks.

Also, you do know that even with the batt unhooked, that hot wire was still hot since you were on shore power, right? Hope you taped up the wire end in case it touched ground.
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Old 10-18-2012, 09:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaker
I hooked them up with the black to the negative and the white to the positive, when I touched the white to the positive it sparked at me, so I tried the positive first.. As soon as I touched the black to the negative it sparked... So I put the black on the positive and the white on the negative and no sparks.... Neighbor told me sparks means you have the cable backwards, no sparks means they are on right. So I tightened them on with black to positive and white to negative (no sparks) now when I try to turn up my furnace the thermostat clicks on then click click click click click if you move it anymore, I'm worried that there is something shorting it out, the only thing that has changed is me hooking up the battery... Is it hooked up wrong or did the sparking damage it? I know it wasn't working quite as sensitively as it should have been before but it didn't keep clicking when you moved the slider...
I know this is long winded but anyone have any ideas??
It is extremely reasonable to be wary of electricity. However, a 12 volt battery is pretty tame. The voltage cannot hurt you. However, if you found a way to short your two terminals, there would be an immense current flow and could cause a fire or even blow up a battery. But electrocution is not an issue.

Typically, black = negative
Red. = positive

I don't know what to make of your white color, but never connect the black wire to positive.

A spark just means electricity is flowing. That happens every time anything is plugged in that is on. It can be OK. In your case, I suspect it just meant your system was starting to charge the battery.

Hooking them backwards, like you have to have done since you switched them, could have caused all sorts of damage. Take it to a service center before you try anything else.

BTW, when disconnecting a battery, always disconnect the negative (black) first. This removes the metal frame from being ground. As I mentioned above, don't short the battery. This can happen when using a metal tool to remove the positive wire and the tool touches the metal frame and boom. By disconnected the negative first, the metal frame is no longer ground.
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Old 10-19-2012, 05:56 PM   #8
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Typically, black = negative
Red. = positive

I don't know what to make of your white color, but never connect the black wire to positive.
Not typically.

Red is + first. Then black. Then blue.
If red is +, black is - usually.
If black is +, then white is -.

So saying never connect black to + is not a true statement.
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Old 10-21-2012, 11:25 PM   #9
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Not typically.

Red is + first. Then black. Then blue.
If red is +, black is - usually.
If black is +, then white is -.

So saying never connect black to + is not a true statement.
Battery Basics - How to Jumpstart a Battery - Printable Page

With all due respect, the positive wire is never black. All battery cables should be color coded and the positive wire will either be red, or it will have a red tab on it.

It is always possible some yahoo replaced the cables at some point and did it incorrectly, as I have seen some hatchet jobs. So, as one poster pointed out, to be certain, look to see which wire is connected to the chassis and that is negative. One could also confirm this with any simple volt meter that has a resistance setting.

The only time white is used as ground is in house electrical wiring (which is AC - all batteries are DC). In a house, black is AC hot, red is AC hot in a two phase 220 v AC circuit. White is neutral. Green is ground. But this has absolutely nothing to do with DC battery connections in a car or trailer.
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Old 10-23-2012, 12:05 AM   #10
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Thanks to all of you for the information. I know I shouldn't be afraid of a battery shock but I am 😬. So to answer a few questions, yes I tapped the wires so they wouldn't short.. It was the second thing I thought of as I held one wire in my hand😓. I did unplug the shore power before doing anything at anytime with the battery. I did try the lights in the trailer for power with the cables on black-negative, white-positive, no power to the lights this way but switching them to black-positive and white-negative gave me power and lights in the trailer. So that being done I crawled under my trailer again... No very easy starting into a Canadian winter.

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Anyway I found that the white goes into a junction box like you would have in your house (no water proofing or sealing just a normal household electrical box) like this:


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And the black attaches to a junction point behind it with a bunch of other wires and a red cover over them. So which one actually attaches to the frame I don't know. But since I have power with them black-positive, white-negative. Then I guess that's the way it needs to be, and I assume that it's because if it being an rv with a built in inverter.... Again thx for all the help, I really appreciate it.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:32 AM   #11
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I'd disconnect the wires again, then plug in the 120 v. Using a multimeter, check the output of the CONverter,(it makes 12 v DC from 120 v AC and charges battery and powers all 12 v items) if you have one. This will determine plus and minus. Re checking at the battery cables will show + & -. If you only have an INverter, (makes 120 v AC from 12 v DC) again, the labeling of the wires tapping into the inverter should tell you polarity. Your 12 v lights will work, even with terminals reversed. A fluorescent fixture might not.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:54 PM   #12
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Excellent comment above.

An additional way to check, that should work, is to unplug everything and turn the lights off. Do not connect the external AC. Leave the battery disconnected. Get your volt / ohm meter (DVM) and set it to resistance. Set it to the lowest setting. Connect one lead to the black wire and the other one to the metal frame and check the reading. Then remove the connection from the black wire and switch it to the white one, and the other one to the metal frame. Whichever gives the lowest, almost zero reading is your ground wire.

IF you find out that the black one is positive, then that is a very dangerous situation.
If your black wire is really positive, then someone hooked up these wires without regard to the accepted color code. IF that is the case, I would switch them so that the black is negative - remove the other end from the trailer and reconnect. Otherwise, someone in the future is going to hook up the battery backwards and cause a problem. If you do not want to physically reverse the wires, then at least go out and get a roll of red and a roll of black electrical tape and wrap the red tape around the positive lead many times, and the black one around the negative lead.

Good luck to you.
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Old 10-25-2012, 02:32 PM   #13
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In modern RVs the white is typically ground/negative and the black is typically hot/positive.

By connecting the battery backwards you have probably burnt a reverse polarity fuse in your converter. Read the manual for the converter.
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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I'll get pictures if you don't believe that black is ground and white is negative.
Also, white is not ground in house wiring. White is neutral. Green is ground.
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