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Old 06-02-2014, 11:17 AM   #1
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House Batteries cooked on us!

We just purchased our Four Winds 33SW and took it on a 11 hour road trip to work out the bugs. After about 10 hours on the road, the house batteries died. We lost power to the chassis radio system and all internal components to the house. What is the switchology while travelling to keep power to the house components and keep the house batteries under charge? The house batteries in this unit are the power source for the radio in the chassis so they have to be used in order to use the avionics of the chassis and to see the side/backup cameras. Upon arrival at our destination we connected to a house receptacle and placed the house power "on". We then placed the converter/inverter "on" and saw the house batteries begin to charge. Several hours later we noticed a rancid smell. Upon opening the battery compartment for the house batteries, we saw smoke and fluid emitting from the batteries. We immediately disconnected the power source, then disconnected the batteries once they cooled. We made the return trip with no internal power. Should the converter/inverter revert to a trickle or maintenance charge once the house batteries are fully charged?
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:22 AM   #2
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Should the converter/inverter revert to a trickle or maintenance charge once the house batteries are fully charged?

Inverter should have nothing to do with it. I would suspect the charging regular to be bad sending an over voltage to the batteries which fried them.
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Old 06-02-2014, 11:34 AM   #3
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Sorry your here with trouble, for your first post.

Was the electrolyte level in the batteries ok before you left on the trip?
Can you remove the batteries and fill charge and load test them ?
Does your coach have multiple 6v batteries or 12v batteries ?
Coach is new to you, but to help with wiring info, members will need to know what year and chassis you have.
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Old 06-02-2014, 12:10 PM   #4
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Since it happened on the road and on shore power, it does point to bad batteries. On the road, batteries should be charged by the engine alternator. On shore power the (inverter/converter/charger (whatever you have) should do the charging. As Skip426 suggests, step one, check batteries, electrolyte levels, and specific gravity. If batteries are O.K., then clean all terminals and grounds and check charging voltages.
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Old 06-02-2014, 01:49 PM   #5
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I assume these are flooded lead acid batteries? Does your charger have a mode switch for different battery types? Is this unit new? Is so, bring it to your dealer for advise.

Did you neutralize the spilled acid in the battery bay?
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Old 06-02-2014, 03:05 PM   #6
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Step 1. Leave batteries disconnected. Step 2 .Take RV to dealer. Ford chassis regulator possibly bad, causing batteries to overcharge.
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Old 06-02-2014, 04:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dembree View Post
Step 1. Leave batteries disconnected. Step 2 .Take RV to dealer. Ford chassis regulator possibly bad, causing batteries to overcharge.
I'd agree about the regulator perhaps being the issue, but he reported the smell, smoke, and boiling over several hours after being on shore power.
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:24 PM   #8
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Welcome to irv2.
Batteries low on water will cause this and high charge from converter.
Here is a link with Tech stuff need to read up on battery systems and batteries.
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:41 AM   #9
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When our batteries cooked on the road about 2 yrs ago we found out that the solar controller, since it was 20 yrs old, either did not have a "stop charging batteries full" command or just did not have that command built in and had kept charging them. The inverter was also not working correctly so that may have had something to do with it so we not only changed out to a new controller but changed out the 1500 watt modified inverter to a 3000 watt pure sine inverter. Now we add very little to the batteries and they are doing fine, or at least they have been fine for the last 2 years.
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:49 AM   #10
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but changed out the 1500 watt modified inverter to a 3000 watt pure sine inverter. Now we add very little to the batteries and they are doing fine, or at least they have been fine for the last 2 years.
That must be one impressive battery bank to support a 275A current draw! Wiring must be massive between the inverter and batteries.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:45 AM   #11
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RV1597,
First off you said that you just purchased your coach and was taking a shakedown cruise. Since you didn't give a year one can assume that it is new. If NEW then back to the dealer to have everything checked. If your coach is used then back to the DEALER who sold it to you without having these items checked. If it was private owner then start from scratch.

Electrical issues must be properly diagnosed and done in a step by step process so nothing is skipped. Replacing or fixing what others have experienced to solve your problem is tail chasing. You first have to determine your problem.

1. Since the batteries were overcharged causing the batteries to boil nothing can be diagnosed until the batteries have been checked. Any or all of the batteries may be ruined. Heating the plates that much can cause internal shorts and other damages. You won't know the extent of the damage, if any, until you do this.

Remove all batteries from coach. Refill with distilled water. Hook up an external charger and charge them individually for at least 24 hours at a slow rate of charge. Ten-Amps or less would be OK. If they do recharge then have them load tested at a facility that can properly load test them. If you don't load test them you won't know if they will function when asked to do electrical work. Amperage draw is asking a battery to work. That's what a load test does.

2. If they do recharge and pass the load test you may have gotten lucky. If they didn't then replace them.

3. After the recharge or replacement Using a DVOM (Digital Volt Ohm Meter) measure the voltage across each battery and write it down. Hook the batteries to the coach and start the engine. Now measure the charging voltage at the coach batteries. If your system is working properly your engine alternator should be trying to recharge your coach batteries somewhere over 13-volts usually 13.6. Also measure the voltage on your engine battery. It should also be reading around 13.6-V.

3. If the voltage at the engine is much over 14-volts you engine alternator may be defective and should be checked. The same would hold true if the voltage at the coach batteries is over 14-volts.

The alternator has a built in regulator that controls the alternator output for recharging the engine battery. I don't have a schematic in front of me so I don't know exactly how the engine alternator is controlled to recharge your coach batteries. I guess there is a relay that connects the alternator to the coach converter charger so it can properly regulate the charge rate to the batteries. Exactly how it works it not necessary to determine your problem.

Without getting much more technical this much I can tell you. You have two ways of recharging your coach batteries. Your engine alternator and shore power. (1.) The output from the engine alternator goes through the converter and is connected to a charging system to recharge your coach batteries. (2.) When you are plugged into shore power the the 110-VAC is sent to the converter which changes it to 12-volts DC and it goes into the same charging circuit. Most modern converters have smart chargers which accurately monitors the charge need and controls the output so overcharging either from shore power or the alternator does not happen.

The charger in the converter (powered either by the alternator or shore power) monitors the need for recharging and controls the amperage output to prevent overcharging.

For the average guy it's much easier to measure the voltage at the batteries to determine if the converter charger is doing its job. When we read voltages much above 14-14.6-V's that tells us that some overcharging is taking place.

Once you get your charging voltage readings then you can take the next step and fix whatever is causing the overcharging.

I don't know your technical background but I hope this helps some.

TeJay
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Old 06-03-2014, 01:23 PM   #12
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Not sure if the OP's situation can be solved by a quick on-line course in RV Electrics 101.

If he could come back and give us some more info it would help. Brand new/used/ type of batteries etc etc.
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:27 AM   #13
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It has always been my position that when you head into a repair facility with a little knowledge or some previous testing results regarding any mechanical or electrical issue you are better prepared to describe to the service writer or the technicians the symptoms.

There are generally TWO reason why any vehicle is taken to a repair facility: routine service and fixing a broken part or system.

You the owner noticed the symptoms when something broke. You are the best source of information so the tech can zero in on the problem. Having a better understanding is critical to a correct diagnosis. In this case knowing the charging rates when plugged into shore power or when using the alternator are critical. If they are sharp yes they will probably do the exact same testing but the OP will at least know as well.

If the OP does not re-fill and then check to determine the charge condition of the existing coach batteries he'll pay for them to do it because that is the second logical step when diagnosing this problem. They just might replace all batteries but that's stupid if the original batteries will work. Because of the time that's a 2-day job.

Just last month a guy posted that he had charged his coach batteries for 2-4 days and they were still not accepting a charge. He used a portable charger. The first thing I suggested he do is to check the charging voltage from the charger. Guess what??? The charger was bad. Problem solved. Some times we assume that a tester, charger, etc is working. Sometimes we get fooled. I've been fooled a number of times and learned. He is newer at this stuff but he learned a valuable lesson. Never assume!!!

I also don't know the OP's technical background. He/she may be competent in some areas but not in others but with a little coaching they gain more understanding and are capable of diagnosing an issue.

TeJay
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Old 07-05-2014, 01:26 PM   #14
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I don't think anyone could go wrong with that very down to earth explanation of how to help yourself save time and money diagnosing this problem. Most anyone with a little aptitude could follow these procedures to the letter.
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