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Old 09-07-2019, 06:40 PM   #1
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Deep Cycle Coach Batteries - HELP !

I'm a newbie when it comes to vehicles and RV's so please bare with me.

I am trying to understand my coach battery set up. I have 2 6V deep cycle batteries paired, I can see there are 3 chambers with water in them and that's about all I know.

They power the home part of my motorhome and I am struggling with them.

Please help!

1. How do I charge them? The person I bought the motorhome from said he would charge them with a running car for a full day the day before they went out camping. Is this realistic? Is there a faster or better way? I have a 100W solar panel that can charge them but it's not making a dent. I want to be full-timing in our motorhome so charging on a car isn't realistic. Someone recommended a trickle charger - would this work?

2. They would run the internal lights, water pump, internal plugs for charging cell phones, and whatever they do with the fridge (apparently the DC is needed to start the control panel before the fridge can run off propane or source). How quickly would all of this drain these batteries? What if I had the 100W solar panel out? How long could we stay off grid?

3. Is there a better option or are my batteries duds?

I don't think they will charge when I am plugged into source. The person I purchased it from didn't say anything about that when I asked about charging them.

Thank you so much for your help!
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Old 09-07-2019, 06:48 PM   #2
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First off Welcome

What kind of RV do you have? Year, Make, Model. So much anyone can say depends on that answer.

On my coach, it has 4 6 volt batteries and they get charged either by the engine alternator, or the generator, or shore power. BUT yours may be different.
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Old 09-07-2019, 07:32 PM   #3
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Your 27 ft Vangaurd should have a 12 volt battery charger built in.

The 2 6 volt batteries are wired in series as a single 12 volt battery and charged as one.

Get a DC volt meter and check your voltage with the engine running and then while plugged into shore power.

If things are working, you should see more then 13 volts at the batteries.

The batteries you got it with are probably bad, If the last owner charged them from his car only when he needed to use them. Storing batteries discharged is a death sentence.

If and when you replace them, take pictures of the cables, and reference the pictures when replacing them with new.

6 volt, deep cycle batteries are about $100 each and you need 2.
Costco, Sams Club and Batteries + will have them.
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Old 09-07-2019, 08:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kvg4 View Post
I don't think they will charge when I am plugged into source.
That would be the first thing I would want to verify. It either can, or you need to make it that way. Charging house batteries through external means is possible, but not terribly practical or convenient.

As far as how long they'll last or if they're any good you need to solve the charging question first, from there you can do a pretty simple capacity test to determine their health.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
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Old 09-07-2019, 09:17 PM   #5
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I would bet those batteries are to far gone to recover. Most MH system use what is called a Bird System. It allows the main engine alternator to charge the house batteries, but if the batteries are way below a certain voltage, this will not happen. A protection device.

There is usually a onboard converter that will allow the batteries to be charged when the MH is plugged into shore power. Also, if you have a onboard generator, this will also charge the house batteries.
Get a cheap volt meter from Harbor Freight or somewhere else. Get the leads properly installed to the meter. Black to ground, and red to DC/AC volts. Not AMPS!!!! Place the red pointed lead on the + (Pos) side of the battery post. This would be the one having all the large red #4 wire attached on the first 6 volt battery. Then place the black pointed lead on the - (Neg) side of the second 6 volt battery. You should at least want to see 12.5 to 12.7 without any charging or load on the batteries. Anything less than this is a very weak battery. You can also just test each 6 volt battery by putting the leads on the respective Pos and Neg terminal. Another good indicator the batteries good be weak. If you have lots of white corrosion on the Positive Terminal, it is a good sign the fist battery is weak and will not hold a charge for extended time. This happen to me, they would charge, but corrosion would built up very quickly. I was constantly cleaning terminal. Finally tested the batteries, and the first one was very weak. Also, never change just one battery, always replace in pairs. The reason is the old will weaken the the new very quickly.

As stated above, if you plug into shore power, you should see about 13.1 to 13.7 volts. This is indicating the charging system is working on the convertor. Next, unplug from shore power and start the main engine, you should see the same voltage, indication the Bird System is working. Last, ensure the shore and main engine power is removed, if you have enough power to start the onboard generator, you should see the above 13 volts, indicating the generator and convertor are working to charge your batteries.
I really think the biggest problem you have is dead or very weak batteries. That is why your solar system is not charging the batteries. As, stated, Sams Club sell some very good Duracell 105 amp batteries. I bought two last year, and have not had any problems. But feel free to look around at other stores. Just make sure you get the proper "group size."
I hope this helps in some way. Like others have said, the best way to help you is for you to list your Year, Make, and Model.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:39 AM   #6
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6v golf cart batteries are pretty tough. Even if they won't take a charge, a good battery shop may be able to bring them back. On the other hand, if they're more than a few year old, I'd get new ones at Costco, Sams Club, etc. If want to spend more, Trojans are generally acknowledged as a cut above the ones from Costco or Sams Club.
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:41 AM   #7
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Coming on the forum and asking question is a good way to learn, but I respectfully suggest if you know someone close with some rv experience, have them come by and give you some pointers. These rigs are very complicated, and the learning curve is large. You can do some expensive damage by not knowing. It might save you a lot of money, even if you have to pay someone. If you live in a cold weather area, it will soon need winterized. My first travel trailer, I froze the hot water tank because I didn't know how to drain it correctly. Even the current problem you have could be caused by 10 different things. Maybe someone from the forum lives close. Who knows maybe you will make a new friend. Cheers
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:19 AM   #8
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I gather you are a newby RV owner, and new to this forum. Welcome to the forum and RVing.
There are a number of different situations which can cause battery failure. If you are not familiar with RV electrical systems, it would most likely be in your best interest to have it diagnosed and fixed at a shop or by a mobile technician. It could be something as simple as bad batteries, a charging issue, a wiring issue, or any combination of issues.
I see you are from Canada and winter is quickly approaching. You will also need to winterize your RV to keep the water system from freezing and causing huge problems. Check out this forum for winterizing tips.
Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigd9 View Post
First off Welcome

What kind of RV do you have? Year, Make, Model. So much anyone can say depends on that answer.

On my coach, it has 4 6 volt batteries and they get charged either by the engine alternator, or the generator, or shore power. BUT yours may be different.

Thanks for the welcome! Itís a 1984 Vanguard. Ford.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Your 27 ft Vangaurd should have a 12 volt battery charger built in.

The 2 6 volt batteries are wired in series as a single 12 volt battery and charged as one.

Get a DC volt meter and check your voltage with the engine running and then while plugged into shore power.

If things are working, you should see more then 13 volts at the batteries.

The batteries you got it with are probably bad, If the last owner charged them from his car only when he needed to use them. Storing batteries discharged is a death sentence.

If and when you replace them, take pictures of the cables, and reference the pictures when replacing them with new.

6 volt, deep cycle batteries are about $100 each and you need 2.
Costco, Sams Club and Batteries + will have them.

This is helpful, I will try this. The person I have helping me has said the same thing that it should be hooked up to charge the coach batteries from shore power, it just doesnít seem to be working.

A new thing I noticed is thereís a line of lights along the back and up the right side of the coach (where the deep cycle batteries are) that donít work off of shore power. The water pump and stove fan are also on this side and donít work either. They do work when the deep cycle batteries are charged and they do work running off the front truck battery. I wondered if this could point to why the shore power isnít charging the deep cycle batteries?
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:20 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mark_K5LXP View Post
That would be the first thing I would want to verify. It either can, or you need to make it that way. Charging house batteries through external means is possible, but not terribly practical or convenient.

As far as how long they'll last or if they're any good you need to solve the charging question first, from there you can do a pretty simple capacity test to determine their health.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM

A new thing I noticed is thereís a line of lights along the back and up the right side of the coach (where the deep cycle batteries are) that donít work off of shore power. The water pump and stove fan is also on this side and donít work either. They do work when the deep cycle batteries are charged and they do work running off the front truck battery. I wondered if this could point to why the shore power isnít charging the deep cycle batteries?
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawkeye1995 View Post
I would bet those batteries are to far gone to recover. Most MH system use what is called a Bird System. It allows the main engine alternator to charge the house batteries, but if the batteries are way below a certain voltage, this will not happen. A protection device.

There is usually a onboard converter that will allow the batteries to be charged when the MH is plugged into shore power. Also, if you have a onboard generator, this will also charge the house batteries.
Get a cheap volt meter from Harbor Freight or somewhere else. Get the leads properly installed to the meter. Black to ground, and red to DC/AC volts. Not AMPS!!!! Place the red pointed lead on the + (Pos) side of the battery post. This would be the one having all the large red #4 wire attached on the first 6 volt battery. Then place the black pointed lead on the - (Neg) side of the second 6 volt battery. You should at least want to see 12.5 to 12.7 without any charging or load on the batteries. Anything less than this is a very weak battery. You can also just test each 6 volt battery by putting the leads on the respective Pos and Neg terminal. Another good indicator the batteries good be weak. If you have lots of white corrosion on the Positive Terminal, it is a good sign the fist battery is weak and will not hold a charge for extended time. This happen to me, they would charge, but corrosion would built up very quickly. I was constantly cleaning terminal. Finally tested the batteries, and the first one was very weak. Also, never change just one battery, always replace in pairs. The reason is the old will weaken the the new very quickly.

As stated above, if you plug into shore power, you should see about 13.1 to 13.7 volts. This is indicating the charging system is working on the convertor. Next, unplug from shore power and start the main engine, you should see the same voltage, indication the Bird System is working. Last, ensure the shore and main engine power is removed, if you have enough power to start the onboard generator, you should see the above 13 volts, indicating the generator and convertor are working to charge your batteries.
I really think the biggest problem you have is dead or very weak batteries. That is why your solar system is not charging the batteries. As, stated, Sams Club sell some very good Duracell 105 amp batteries. I bought two last year, and have not had any problems. But feel free to look around at other stores. Just make sure you get the proper "group size."
I hope this helps in some way. Like others have said, the best way to help you is for you to list your Year, Make, and Model.

Thank you for your thorough response! This information will be very helpful. My Motorhome is 1984 Vanguard. Ford. I donít have an on-board generator.

A new thing I noticed is thereís a line of lights along the back and up the right side of the coach (where the deep cycle batteries are) that donít work off of shore power. The water pump and stove fan is also on this side and donít work either. They do work when the deep cycle batteries are charged and they do work running off the front truck battery. I wondered if this could point to why the shore power isnít charging the deep cycle batteries?
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by winniman View Post
Coming on the forum and asking question is a good way to learn, but I respectfully suggest if you know someone close with some rv experience, have them come by and give you some pointers. These rigs are very complicated, and the learning curve is large. You can do some expensive damage by not knowing. It might save you a lot of money, even if you have to pay someone. If you live in a cold weather area, it will soon need winterized. My first travel trailer, I froze the hot water tank because I didn't know how to drain it correctly. Even the current problem you have could be caused by 10 different things. Maybe someone from the forum lives close. Who knows maybe you will make a new friend. Cheers

Thanks for the recommendation! Iím working on it with a good friend who has lots of mechanical knowledge and experience with RVs, and another friend who is an electrician. I was hoping to source some knowledge from this forum to bring to them. Weíre slowing plugging away at getting her ready for a trip across the States.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by txcpl View Post
I gather you are a newby RV owner, and new to this forum. Welcome to the forum and RVing.
There are a number of different situations which can cause battery failure. If you are not familiar with RV electrical systems, it would most likely be in your best interest to have it diagnosed and fixed at a shop or by a mobile technician. It could be something as simple as bad batteries, a charging issue, a wiring issue, or any combination of issues.
I see you are from Canada and winter is quickly approaching. You will also need to winterize your RV to keep the water system from freezing and causing huge problems. Check out this forum for winterizing tips.
Good luck and keep us posted.

Thanks for the welcome! I love my new Motorhome so much, dreams are coming true.

Itís unfortunate that there arenít many options for RV mechanics where I am. The one I found didnít answer my messages. Iím working on it with a good friend who has lots of mechanical knowledge and experience with RVs, and another friend who is an electrician. I was hoping to source some knowledge from this forum to bring to them. Weíre slowing plugging away at getting her ready for a trip across the States.

Thanks for letting me know about the winterizing tips. Iíll be sure to check them out!
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