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Old 07-19-2013, 06:44 PM   #1
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fridge circuit problems

I am chasing various electrical problems on my 88 Champion LaSalle. I may have a bad ground I cannot locate. I have a 45amp converter, cannot tell what brand, but it does say "with charging". When I am on shore power my 12v fridge circuit slowly dies off, shutting down my fridge. This circuit consists of one set of ceiling lights, porch light and fridge. I now know this circuit is connected directly to my house batteries, and if I unhook the wires there, that circuit is dead. I also think this is the connection for charging the house battery from the converter. Maybe the converter is bad? I used to reset it by starting the engine and running it a minute. It would come back on, maybe for 20 minutes, maybe for a couple days. I have it on now and will do some more testing, how can I tell if my battery is charging from the converter? other than the obvious...
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:16 PM   #2
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Anyone who owns an RV, the first tool they need is a voltmeter and know how to use it. Get one and test the output of the converter with shore power to the coach.

It should be in the 13.4 - 13.7vdc range. If not, check the outlet it's plugged into for 115+ vac. If not there, check coach 120vac circuit breakers.

Back at the converter if still no output, check for any fuses on the unit. If no output or voltage below say 13v, replace it.

With engine running and coach batteries come alive, just means that aspect of the charging system is working. You would need to drive a few hours to fully charge the coach. This is why they only last 20 mins after shutting engine down. All this really points to a bad converter.
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Old 07-19-2013, 08:41 PM   #3
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I have a volt meter, know how to test systems. What I dont know is why my one circuit dies. Am I supposed to be running off battery or converter for that circuit when plugged in? Its not always 20 minutes, might last 3-4 days. I have it running now and waiting for it to quit so I can look around some more. you know whats weird? I cant find a fuse or breaker for this circuit. I see every other one but none operate this circuit. and I have pulled them all one at a time.
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Old 07-20-2013, 07:22 AM   #4
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When plugged into shore and the converter is putting out 13+ volts, the converter is powering the 12v systems. Lets just say the coach is demanding 15amps, that leaves a possible 30amps to charge the batteries, if they need it (but the charger is probably limited to 10 or so). You can actually remove the batteries on shore and the converter will power the coach.

You said earlier, that circuit was wired directly to the battery? When the coach was new, every 12v circuit in the coach went to the BCC (Battery Control Center) protected by a fuse and all the neutrals to a grounding block. It sounds like a PO had trouble on that circuit and instead of fixing it properly, just wired it directly to the battery.

If so, any time the battery gets low, that circuit will quit. Of course so will all others if on battery alone. If the battery was shot and you were on shore, all circuits would work, including the one on the battery because the converter is feeding 13+v to it.

So if the converter is working properly and you have 13v at the battery, that circuit should work. If not, then you have bad connection/ground someplace.

It's possible the converter/charger is working, but there is a loose connection to the battery. This would power all normal circuits but not the one in question powered only from the battery. That's why it's important to know voltage at the battery in your case.
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Old 07-20-2013, 10:26 AM   #5
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Ugg, I dont even know if there is a BCC, just this converter. I guess I can pull the panel by the fuses and see whats back there. I used to hear a fan running in there. It might fix itself, last week we broke down because the alternator wouldnt charge, found a way to cheat it to get home, then spent a couple days screwing with the battery isolator and other wires and all of a sudden it started working. I have no idea what I did because I removed cleaned and replaced so many connections i cant pin it down. oh and my engine battery was bad. Had voltage but Autozone hooked up to check my alt and the machine said the battery was bad. Sick of this rig right now and all the creative crap I am finding. Some may even be from the factory like that. Who runs wires right on top of a hot intake manifold??? I had 2 wires I pulled on and they came off in my hand, who knows where the went or what they were for. Thanks for your help though.
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Old 07-20-2013, 11:34 AM   #6
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Working on a 25 year old RV can certainly be aggravating, and this is if you fully understand RV systems. The worst part of course is the electrical because of age, corrosion, bad grounds, vibration and those pesky mice chewing wires in the walls and ceiling (been there before). Those "innovating" previous owners can also force you into drug use

If this is a Class C, your BBC should be in the coach behind a panel. It will contain the 120v breakers, the 12v fuses and the converter/charger will all be in the same 'box' behind the breaker/fuse panel.

I'm pretty sure it's an A though. Generally speaking, the BCC would basically be the 12v fuse panel on a circuit board and a solenoid or two. If you have a 12v switch inside to disconnect the coach battery from the coach, that solenoid type breaker will be near or behind that board. The connections would be there for the inbound converter/charger (in close proximity) and connections for the coach battery(s), which are generally very close too. These are generally in an outside bay close to the coach door. Good luck, you'll probably need it
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:10 PM   #7
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Some older RV's had a BCC, some did not (i.e Winnebago in the 80's). Assuming yours does not:

When you say the circuit is connected directly to the battery, do you really mean the DC portion (fuses) are directly connected to the battery and the offending circuit is a leg off of a DC fuse on the power panel? That would be normal for a unit without a BCC.

Like an engine alternator, the converter when connected to shore power would supply the 12VDC power to the house accessories and recharge the battery. How it does that is directly dependent on the model of power center / converter you have. So, we really need to know that info before the correct answer can be provided.

Would also be useful to know the mfg/model of your fridge.

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Old 07-21-2013, 10:26 AM   #8
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My house battery is now dead this morn, while on shore power, so my charger is not charging. Maybe, intermittent, but not today. I took the cover off and will try to post a pic later. Looks not good in there. So do I have to be charging to run my fridge? Remember its the 12v I'm not getting, the 120 plug in the back is good. If my converter/charger is not gonna charge is this a hazard? Nothings too high temp in there now. And my next question is.....what is my cheapest way to fix this or work around it, I only camp where we have plug in power. I hate to be spending $ on this right now.
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Old 07-21-2013, 11:15 AM   #9
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If there is a cooling fan in the converter and it is not working, the inverter could be shutting down on a thermal overload. If you want a cheap fix, I would remove the 120 vac from the converter whether that be a circuit breaker, fuse, or physically removing the wire from it and hooking up a battery charger to your house battery.
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Old 07-21-2013, 01:00 PM   #10
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If the converter/charger is shot, remove it to be safe, at least unplug it. Whether your fridge is on gas, 12v or 120v, you still need 12v in the coach to operate it. You also need 12v to control furnace and A/C, along with of course to operate lighting and water pump.

As geno suggested, an auto battery charger should get you by for awhile. A run of the mill one, will only have 10amps. This would be enough for control systems and a several lights. Since the battery is shot, that's all you're going to get. If your fridge acutually runs on 12v (rare these days) I don't know how many amps they use. So you could run into some limitations. 1 incondecent auto bulb uses 1+ amps.
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Old 07-21-2013, 02:04 PM   #11
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My fridge doesnt run on 12v but the controls are 12v so even on shore power I need the 12v or it wont turn on. Looks like converter/chargers are only $100 or so, maybe I can find one used.
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