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Old 01-12-2014, 02:48 PM   #1
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Cool Electrical Issue- 07 Itasca Sunrise 33v

Sorry in advance for the length of this post but I wanted to be sure I gave all the troubleshooting info we've got. This motorhome is a 2007 with 7000 miles that sat mostly unused until we purchased it 3 months ago but they did start it frequently and maintain it. Here's the issue:
1) We noticed right from the start that if we weren't plugged in to trickle charge our batteries would die and in turn the RV wouldn't start. We assumed we were na´ve and somehow left something on that drained the batteries. After trickle charging a few hours it was back to normal.
2) On our first campsite we plugged into shore power and noticed on the converter the "20/30/50amp" lights constantly alternated and didn't stay on 50amps like it does when we are on generator or the engine is running.
3) Noticed that the fridge turns off if we switch between gas heat and electric heat or vice versa
4)Noticed the amp usage numbers vary greatly with no difference in electrical usage. Sometimes it will say 2-3amps..others 33-45amps.
5)Last week on the way to Raleigh NC we stopped for food and when we came back everything was dead. Got a jump and managed to get somewhere we could trickle charge but had no power all night and could only start the engine every few hours for heat. Repair man came out the next morning and checked and said the alternator was bad. We replaced it and everything seemed fine. When we got back to the campsite we plugged in but just before I checked levels on the converter and the batteries read "dead". Plugged into shoreline power and everything is fine unless we use too much power and then lights start to flicker. The only way we can fix this is to trickle charge while plugged into shore power, which I know we shouldn't do but it seems to be the only thing that works.
6) We had someone come and check the batteries with a voltmeter because we're afraid to drive to an auto parts store but I'm not sure he did it the right way or if it's even an accurate reading if we don't take them out and unplug them first? Chassis battery read 13amps..the house batteries only showed .35 and .54 which makes no sense and I assume isn't accurate. I plan to check the water levels tonight but wasn't sure if I can do that while they are connected safely?
7) Car radio has a loose connection and most of my speakers aren't working on the drivers side. Not sure this is related but wondering if maybe I have a wiring issue since the converter is also on the drivers side.

Is there a way we can troubleshoot to see if the problem is the batteries or the converter without having to take it somewhere? I'm terrified of getting stranded again and would prefer to not drive it anywhere until I know what's going on. I'm also a single female so getting taken advantage of is pretty common and I try to make sure I at least sort of understand what I'm dealing with before I talk to mechanics and I am absolutely clueless when it comes to electrical stuff. If someone wants to walk me through I'll pass along my number..I just need someone to explain..I'm pretty handy and I do have most basic tools..
Thanks in advance! -Jo in Ashland VA
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Old 01-12-2014, 03:22 PM   #2
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First guess, the batteries are dead, or weak. Replace all, lack of usage is a sure killer for many systems. Speaking of age, I suspect the tires should be replaced, while the tread is ok, again sitting is a bad thing. Normally 7 year old tires should be replaced, lack of use shortens this time frame.

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Old 02-24-2014, 10:44 PM   #3
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In many cases batteries will not survive being run flat. Certainly the starter battery will need to be replaced for sure - they are cranking batteries designed for a quick burst of power for a starter and then remain fully charged from the engine alternator. Running them flat will kill them for sure - they won't hold a charge or won't charge completely after that.

The house batteries are a seperate circuit only connected with a isolator when the engine is running. I have the same coach (virtually) so you probably have two deep cycle 12-volts for the house. If those become fully discharged the only way to get them charged back up fully is with an automatic or intelligent battery charger. Chances are high it has the standard converter it came with and they only charge at about 10A and if your two house batts are 140-160 together it can take 24 hours or more plugged in and even then it doesn't peak them up properly like a regular charger or converter-charger unit would, so they never get fully charged up, only to about 80-90%. So you're down on capacity before you even unplug from shorepower. Plus this constant state of discharge will kill them prematurely. If the original batts are still there from new it's time for new ones.

My 12v deep cycles that came with the unit went south within about 3 years. I put two golf cart batts in - 6v 220A so together they are 12V 220A. They have held up well for the past five years but I will generally put an automatic battery charger on them to get them fully charged.

The end solution is a new starter battery for the chassis/motor, something with a good 700-750CCA rating, like a big group 27 or similar. If it's a workhorse it will take a GM type terminal but any battery can be adapted with a terminal converter like have - a good batt from walmart is better than nothing.

For the house, the standard recommendation is a pair of Trojan T-105's or two golf cart batts from costco or Sam's and wire them in series to give you 12V. The cables mine came with were no problem to connect two in series. Next replace the converter with a smart/intelli charger-converter like Power Dymanics or Iota. Then whether your'e plugged in or running off the generator your batteries will get properly charged - they have a 3-stage charger built in as part of the unit.

You are looking at about $450 for new batteries and a converter - problem solved.

I've been researching like crazy for the best converter setup for boondocking, perhaps even a solar array, and certainly a couple of new house batteries. Good info on the forum here if you know how to dig.
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