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Old 02-13-2011, 10:44 AM   #1
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Coach battery question! Help Please!

Good morning!
I am hoping that someone can help me out! One of the reasons we purchased "old Hamilton" is so I can drive him to work and stay in the parking lot when I work nights. I did this last month and my coach batteries died on the first night. When I got there in the morning, I turned the heater on low, because it was cold outside. I also had the fridge on (propane), and I had the hot water heater on. When I came out of work at 11PM, it was nice and toasty inside. I woke up at 7 AM and it was freezing cold inside, the water heater wasn't working and no lights! So I fired up the engine to warm it up and heat water for shower. I let the engine run for quite awhile, assuming that the coach batteries would charge. Left everything off this time, went to work and when I returned at 11 PM, no power again!!
So my questions are: How long should the coach batteries last? Does the furnice, water heater, and fridge draw from the battery? Are the batteries just old and need to be replace?
I have a generator, but not sure if I should use it in the parking lot since there are houses around. I don't want to disturb or wake anyone up.
I will be taking him to work again on Tuesday and will be staying for 3-4 days, would really like to have heat and water!!

Thanks,
Lori
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:01 AM   #2
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wreckenman

sounds like you should have the house batts ckecked and if your not sure of thier age i would put a hd deep cycle in. good luck let us now what u find.
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:54 AM   #3
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A battery just doesn't have much energy capacity and the service you get depends mostly upon how you use and maintain them.

An RV furnace can take up to 100 watts to operate. Your battery has maybe 15 watt hours per pound of usable energy so a typical 60# battery can run the furnace about 10 hours before it runs out. (2 batteries, 120# or so, would last twice as long).

An older or an abused battery may last only half as long - they are typically replaced when the owner can't stand it any more, which can be quite degraded and aged.

The water heater, fridge, and alarms have control boards that may take 10 watts or so from your battery.

The key issue with batteries is to not discharge them too deep (no more than 12.0v after they have resting with no significant charge or discharge for at least a half hour), to recharge promptly, and to apply a proper maintenance during periods of non-use that will both keep the charge on the battery and do something to inhibit sulfation.

Keep in mind that it can take 8 to 12 hours to fully recharge a battery properly. Running the engine to get some juice is an emergency measure for an immediate need and only that.

Get batteries from a retailer who sells a lot to folks who use them like you do and stand behinds what he sells. Look at warranty, price, and specs. Be very very careful about a lot of the stuff you read in these forums about 'deep cycle' and '6volt' and 'golf cart' and other marketing hype. If it can't be measured by someone who will put money behind the measure, take it for the money they will put behind it (i.e. none).

Your best bet is to see if you can find an electric outlet you can use while you are parked. Upgrade the converter charger in your rig to something like the Charge Wizard based things or the WFCO that has an intelligent charging capability plus a proper maintenance mode.

Also keep in mind that 10 hours of furnace operation will burn a couple gallons of propane depending upon the furnace size. You may want to look into a catalytic or blue flame heater to help out keeping things warm during the day. You may also need to take some care about plumbing issues if the average of the daily max and min goes below freezing.
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:47 PM   #4
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Sounds like your battery is weak, charge the battery and take it down to pretty much any shop and have it load tested.
As for power draws, your fridge may use a very minimal amount of power for the board, if it is electronic.
I could be wrong but I don't believe the hot water uses any power.
The furnace blower fan is the big power killer, turning it off or on the lowest temp setting will help while you are at work. You shoud still get a couple days out of a good battery.
If you are replacing your battery you might consider dual 6v batteries, they cost more but last longer than a single 12v when using high draw power items.
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Old 02-13-2011, 12:58 PM   #5
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re: "If you are replacing your battery you might consider dual 6v batteries, they cost more but last longer than a single 12v when using high draw power items."

The opposite is the case and is why diesels often have 12v in parallel as parallel tends to provide benefits in higher power draws. (look up Kirschoff's circuit laws and the circuit models for batteries to understand why)

But the difference in RV contexts is negligible and the advocacy only underscores the need to watch out for claims in these forums.

I'd also avoid shops that still do load testing. Look for one that uses conductance testing as that is less destructive to your battery and will tell you a lot more. -- the ultimate load test, though, is your usage. That tells you things, too.
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Old 02-13-2011, 02:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikakuja View Post
Sounds like your battery is weak, charge the battery and take it down to pretty much any shop and have it load tested.
As for power draws, your fridge may use a very minimal amount of power for the board, if it is electronic.
I could be wrong but I don't believe the hot water uses any power.
The furnace blower fan is the big power killer, turning it off or on the lowest temp setting will help while you are at work. You shoud still get a couple days out of a good battery.
If you are replacing your battery you might consider dual 6v batteries, they cost more but last longer than a single 12v when using high draw power items.
If his water heater is a DSI model it will require constant power to keep the tank hot as there is no constant pilot and manual thermostat, it is all run via the circuit board.
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Old 02-13-2011, 11:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BryanL View Post
re: "If you are replacing your battery you might consider dual 6v batteries, they cost more but last longer than a single 12v when using high draw power items."

The opposite is the case and is why diesels often have 12v in parallel as parallel tends to provide benefits in higher power draws. (look up Kirschoff's circuit laws and the circuit models for batteries to understand why)

But the difference in RV contexts is negligible and the advocacy only underscores the need to watch out for claims in these forums.

I'd also avoid shops that still do load testing. Look for one that uses conductance testing as that is less destructive to your battery and will tell you a lot more. -- the ultimate load test, though, is your usage. That tells you things, too.
Although I agree with you on why 12v batteries are used in diesel applications, compairing diesel starting batteries to deep cycle rv batteries is relativly pointless as they are designed for completely different perposes. Regardless, I am not saying you have to agree with me, I am simply making a "suggestion" based on my own personal experiences. I have tried running dual 12v, single 12 and dual 6v systems and my experience tells me that when I am camping for long periods in remote areas my dual 6v systems have given me the longest run times between charges...
As for load testing or conductance testing the battery, do whatever you will. I again didn't make a statement on what was better or easier on your battery.... That being said, if the battery is good a load test certainly isn't going to kill it, if it is shot it isn't going to make it worse either....
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Old 02-14-2011, 09:17 AM   #8
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re: "compairing diesel starting batteries to deep cycle rv batteries is relativly pointless as they are designed for completely different perposes."

it sounds nice, but look at the numbers the manufacturer or a retailer will stand behind. I think you'll see the difference is not all that large. It is good to buy batteries sold for the intended purpose but it should not be taken too far.

I know there are a number of people that will swear up and down about how brand x or voltage y or whatever has given them heads and shoulders better performance than other choices - but they don't sell batteries and aren't in a position to provide me with one that they'll guarantee will do they same for me as they seem to think it has done for them.

I see so much bad information, anecdotal testimony in defiance of what measure actually exists, appeals to authority, and so on that it bothers me to see so many lead down expensive paths.

That is why I suggest going by empirical measures that someone will put his money behind. Buy from a retailer who sells a lot to folks who use batteries like you do and will stand behind what he sells. Take care of your batteries to get best life and service.
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Old 02-14-2011, 10:12 AM   #9
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Thanks for the help! We went ahead and purchased two new 12V. batteries. I will be taking Hamilton to work tomorrw and staying until Friday! So wish me luck and warmth!! LOL
My plan is to only use the heat at night if it gets really cold, that should save power. I won't turn the pump or the water heater on unless I need them.

Now my next question! I forgot to ask about this in my first post. We also have a solar panel on the roof. We have no idea if it really works or not. Under the hood there is a little green light that comes on it the switch in the coach is turned on.
So question #1, If the sun isn't out or the switch is left on, will the solar panel suck juice from the battery?? Question #2, How do we know if the solar panel is working or not??

Thanks,
Lori
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Old 02-14-2011, 10:43 AM   #10
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Generally I expced 10-12 hours if you have the furnace on... You said something about a heater on low? Was this heater running off an external power source, or was it battery powered or was is fueled by an alternate means (Say propane)

IF you are running an electric heater, even on low.. One pair of T-105 or US-2200 (GC-2 size) batteries will last, at most 1 hour.
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