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Old 04-24-2014, 04:56 PM   #1
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Can't charge battery with cable connected

Found the chassis battery sitting at 1.4 volts yesterday morning. Don't know what I did to kill it. Tried the battery boost button and nothing happened. Connected my trusty Sears diehard battery charger but it wouldn't charge. The needle gauge just kept bouncing from one end of the scale to the other in time with the sound of a relay or solenoid clicking somewhere in or under the coach. Disconnected the battery positive cable, reconnected the charger, and it's been charging at 2 amps for about 12 hours now.

Any ideas why the charger wouldn't work with the cable connected? What the clicking sound might be? Why the battery boost wouldn't work?

I'll start trying to figure out what killed the battery after I get it charged again. Just need to make sure I don't have a warranty issue.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:09 PM   #2
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In a situation like this you first need to determine if the charger is still charging. I would first put the charger on your car/truck battery to determine if it will still work. If it acts like it normally did then it's probably OK.

I re-read your post and you did say that you disconnected the positive cable and the battery did charge but slowly. At 2-amps per hour it will take a few days to charge the battery but that's OK. Slow charging is always better.

After the battery is charged you need to determine if there is an excessive current draw from the battery by something in the coach.

This may get confusing. You need to hook up an amp gauge to the battery cable. If you have a good meter sometimes they come with an AMP-clamp that goes around the battery cable and reads current draw. that would be nice to have. Check at your local parts house and see what they have. Check on-line and see what you can read concerning doing this. The amp gauge has to be hooked in series. There are specs on how much current draw is allowed.

87Rockwoods posting below is probably correct.

TeJay
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:15 PM   #3
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Sounds like you left something "on" like lights? The click is most likely the auto reset circuit breaker in the charger. The charger is trying to supply current to a flat battery AND what ever is still on or shorted which is why it pegs the meter.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:18 PM   #4
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2 amps is a maintenance charge, not the power needed to recharge a battery. If the battery was really 1.4 volts it's shot, a single cell should put out more voltage than that. If the clicking was a solenoid with 2 amps the charger is probably overloaded and kicking out, whatever load is on the solenoid, the coil of the solenoid and the battery are too much for 2 amps.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:25 PM   #5
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2 amps is not bad for charging a flat battery-it should increase with time if the battery can be recharged at all. Leave it on for 48 hours and then check voltage again. Again the click you heard in time with the needle pegging from max to zero is a internal thermal reset breaker inside the charger.
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Old 04-24-2014, 08:26 PM   #6
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It took most of 2 days but the battery is fully charged now. I wanted to bring it gently back up at the 2 amp rate in the hopes of saving the battery. I'll reconnect it tomorrow and check for an amp draw (my meter does have an amp clamp). Too bad this entry level coach doesn't have a disconnect for the chassis battery. I may have to add one.

I thought the clicking I heard was from somewhere else other than my charger but I could definitely be wrong.
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:01 PM   #7
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At that point battery is toast. Will never be worth keeping.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:07 PM   #8
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Last fall my Chassis batteries were low and I herd a clicking under the M/H and it tuned out to be step relay trying to close steps, charged batteries and all was good.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:33 PM   #9
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To put t in simple terms. Recharging a battery is like filling a balloon. You can blow very slowly or blow very fast. The balloon will fill up eventually but it will still fill up. Charging a battery at 1-amp or 2 amps it will still charge if it will accept a charge. In fact as the OP stated it's actually better to charge slowly. The process of charging is at the molecular level and the slower the better.

I would take the battery to and store that sells batteries and have them load test it. Even if it is charged and reads 12.6 volts you won't know if it can deliver enough current unless you load test it.

Load testing involves placing a large current drain (load) on the battery to see if it can deliver current for a certain length of time and still maintain a certain level of voltage. If the battery is bad when the load is applied the voltage will drop below 10.0 volts and probably well down below that.

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Old 04-25-2014, 03:09 PM   #10
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TeJay I will take your advice and get a load test.

I sent an email to Winnebago about this issue. Check out this great response:

"Subject: FW: 10R76447, battery questions

Mike,
*
You will want to disconnect the cables when you are going to be externally charging your batteries.* The battery mode solenoid is what controls the battery boost switch, inside your chassis electrical box is the battery mode solenoid and coach battery disconnect relay. This box is located on the driver’s side of the motorhome inside an exterior compartment just adjacent to where the batteries would be on the other side in the step well.* When the ignition is on the solenoid completes the circuit and the engine’s alternator charges the house batteries, when ignition is off it would break the circuit thru this solenoid. Likely the clicking you heard was from this chassis electrical box and the solenoid or relay.* The battery boost may have been stuck at the solenoid which wasn’t allowing you to use the battery boost option. It is possible that your chassis battery was way too low as well.
*
Thanks,*
Tommy Greenwood
Service Advisor
Winnebago Industries"

Also here is another email I sent back with a theory about how the battery was killed:

To: or@winnebagoind.com
Cc:
Sent: 2014-04-25 13:26:31 GMT
Subject: Re: 10R76447, battery questions


Thanks for the comprehensive response. I believe you are correct that the battery voltage was very low resulting in the relay or solenoid cycling.

Also I have a theory about how the battery was drained that needs to be verified. There are reading lights installed on the wall behind the driver and passenger seats. The power for the light on the passenger side is supplied by the coach batteries. The power for the light on the driver side is supplied by the chassis battery via the dashboard lights illumination intensity switch. This roller switch must be rolled all the way up to supply power to the light. It sounds like a relay is energized when the switch is in this position. Since the map light was turned off using its integrated switch, yet the roller switch was still in the up position, could this have been continuously supplying power to a relay and draining the chassis battery? By the way the wiring diagrams I found on the Winnebago site do not seem to show the light wired via the roller switch."
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Old 04-25-2014, 03:24 PM   #11
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Lots of good info here.

One thing I didn't see is this:
Some battery chargers will not charge a battery if it is dead or nearly dead. (I know mine will NOT)
Check the owner's manual for the charger, it may tell you that.
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:03 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traveler52 View Post
At that point battery is toast. Will never be worth keeping.
One of the big differences between Starting batteries (Chassis) Marine/Deep cycle, and true deep cycle is the above statment.

Which, by the way is true in this case.

You will need a new chassis battery .. In fact you may have one or more shorted cells already. (This would account for very low voltage)

True Deep cycle... I did that to mine a few times over their 9 years and they recovered nearly 100% every time.. alas, after 9 years (Average life 7-10) they did not recover..

In my case the house does charge the chassis battery buy when my chassis battery failed, finally (Also at 9 years but about a month and a half before the house side) it did not take the charge.. The new DEKA replacements (Made in the USA)... Are great.
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Old 04-26-2014, 09:55 AM   #13
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A couple things...

The flat battery may not be toast but but the clicking indicates it may have been sulfated...

Op states charger woukd go from little to max then click then zip.

What is happening maybe is as the voltage is climbing it reaches a level to where a selenoid kicks in to connect battery to a load that exceeds the capacity of the charger.

If chassis battery then that selenoid is the issue as it should not be comming on unless it is to connect it to another system for charging that is dead.

The sulfation statement is that the battery voltage came up too fast indicating high resistance in the battery.

Leaving the charger on the battery for a few days combined with some higher voltage equalizing charge may restore the battery.

It can be tested later.

Clamp amp meters are worthless for small current dc unless built for it.

Most that are do not measure low amps, fluke 375 is but not cheap...
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Old 04-28-2014, 07:41 PM   #14
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Brought the battery to Battery Mart today. They load tested it, checked each cell with a hydrometer, said to bring it home and put it back on the charger at 2 amps for another 24 hours - otherwise it's fine.

To review: See wiring diagram below. The chassis battery was at 1.4 volts when I tried to use the battery boost. Nothing happened. I then connected my battery charger but it would just bounce from one end of the scale while something (probably the aux start solenoid) clicked in time. Disconnected the battery cables and then the charger worked properly. The battery was not destroyed.



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