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Old 12-26-2012, 07:35 PM   #1
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Questions about electric

Looking for some answers to some questions I have about our motorhome.

The first question is this: Up front by the driver's seat I have two switches one is Battery Boost and the other Generator start. I was under the impression that if I pressed the battery boost it would feed off the engine battery and I could than depress the generator start button to start the generator if the house battery was dead. I was told by someone that this works the opposite direction and would make the house battery feed the engine if the cab engine needed help starting. Which in my opinion makes no sense, because I have never had problems with the engine battery dying only the house battery draining and never enough power to start the generator. Thanks to the DW of course.

Second question: I was also told today that some electrical things can be powered off the engine battery while you are going down the road and you will not need to run the generator. How can I figure what will run off the enigne and not just drain the battery? Is it somewhere in the manual or is this a flip a switch and see once type of a deal?

Thanks for the help. So much to learn on these things and all these options. Maybe should resort back to a tent...or on second thought hotels.
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Old 12-26-2012, 07:53 PM   #2
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The boost switch adds the house battery to the chassis battery - in case the chassis battery for some reason will not get you started.

In most coaches the engine alternator charges both the chassis and house battery. In turn those thing powered by the house batteries can be used without draining the house batteries. For example, with a previous coach, the television did double duty as the display for the rear view camera - and the television was powered from the inverter,
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:14 PM   #3
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The engine boost switch connects the chassis battery and the coach battery(s) together to start the engine if that battery is low. Also, if the coach batteries are low, you can use this switch to put power to the coach. Generally to start the generator since the coach batteries are used for that.

The generator switch is just a remote switch to start the genny from the cab.

Your second question-
When driving down the road, the engine alternator not only powers the chassis and charges the chassis batt, it also charges the coach batteries. This means whatever you use in the coach can be used with no fear of running the coach batteries dead and be assured the coach batts will be fully charged when your reach your destination.
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Old 12-26-2012, 08:21 PM   #4
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Some of the items in this thread may help you to relate to items on your coach.
The boost button will cut your house batteries across your chassis battery if your chassis battry is dead for starting your engine.
A inverter off your house batteries will operate some of your 110 outlets plus house batteries also supplies 12v to all your control boards such as the fridge, HW heater, furnace maybe some 12v tv's and may start your GEN.
If your able to park at home plug your shore power cable into a 120 outlet and with the battery cut off switched on keep all your battery systems charged through the converter. Just check the water levels during time its plugged in unless you have AGM's.

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Old 12-27-2012, 04:21 AM   #5
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This means whatever you use in the coach can be used with no fear of running the coach batteries dead and be assured the coach batts will be fully charged when your reach your destination.
Might be a bit ambitious if you load a 2000Watt inverter to the maximum and you only have a 100A alternator. Then you might end up with dead flat engine and coach batteries AND a cooked alternator.
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Old 12-27-2012, 08:24 PM   #6
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Might be a bit ambitious if you load a 2000Watt inverter to the maximum and you only have a 100A alternator. Then you might end up with dead flat engine and coach batteries AND a cooked alternator.
I would think a coach with only a 100a alt would not be equipped with a 2000w inverter in the first place. Then I can't think in the general scheme of things why anyone would have the need to run a 2000w inverter at full tilt going down the road for any lenght of time.
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:01 PM   #7
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I was told by someone that this works the opposite direction and would make the house battery feed the engine if the cab engine needed help starting. Which in my opinion makes no sense, because I have never had problems with the engine battery dying
Dead Chassis batteries are pretty common. Some rigs are setup so that both the chassis and coach batteries are charged when plugged into shore power but many rigs only charge the coach battery. The combo of parasitic draws and inactivity (not driving) slowly depletes the chassis battery - emergency start button has saved many an RVer.

If you want to start your generator with a dead/low coach battery you should start your engine - in most rigs this will automatically connect your coach/chassis battery and allow you to start the generator.

Hope this helps
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Old 12-27-2012, 11:40 PM   #8
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When you need light.

This reminds me of a time my buddy and I were parked in an area where we were dry camping.
That evening we were in his R.V. and we were playing cards after about two hours or so the lights were getting dimer and dimer when his wife ask him whats wrong with the lights I can hardly see what were doing.
So he gets up and goes up to the front and trys to start the Gen. set and the batteries were to low to start the Gen Set. Now what he said.
I told him to press the rocker switch on the left side of the dash at the same time press the Gen. Set which he did and the Gen. Set started and the M.H. lit up like it was day light.
Just a thought.
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Old 12-28-2012, 07:53 AM   #9
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This reminds me of a time my buddy and I were parked in an area where we were dry camping.
That evening we were in his R.V. and we were playing cards after about two hours or so the lights were getting dimer and dimer when his wife ask him whats wrong with the lights I can hardly see what were doing.
So he gets up and goes up to the front and trys to start the Gen. set and the batteries were to low to start the Gen Set. Now what he said.
I told him to press the rocker switch on the left side of the dash at the same time press the Gen. Set which he did and the Gen. Set started and the M.H. lit up like it was day light.
Just a thought.
We did that once with a mediocre chassis battery - still didn't start the generator and used enough of the chassis battery that we had to get a jump to get back on the road. Now days we start the engine rather than using the switch.
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:04 AM   #10
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The simple answer to your first question is that the emergency start switch closes the battery isolater relay. This connects the chassis and coach batteries togeather. It will allow you to start the truck with the coach batteries, or add power to the coach system from the chassis battery. This way you can use either battery system to start the gererator or the truck. It goes either way. The same relay closes after the engine starts, with a short delay, to recharge the coach batteries and power the 12 volt part of the coach. It also closes when on shore power, or generator, when the voltage is over 13.3 V to keep the chassis battery charged. The BIRD system and isolater relay does all the work.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:57 AM   #11
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To both things.. You were given inaccurate, but not necessarly wrong, information.

The battery boost switch.. The original intent of this switch was to allow you to "Jump start" the engine from the house batteries.. And on nearly every motor home it works that way unless it is defective.. SOME (Notabilly those with Intelletec battery control systems like mine) it will also work to start the generator off the chassis battery and I've used it that way a few times.

As for YOUR motor home.. No easy way to tell less you have the Intelletec battery control system.. That one I know, others I can only guess at so not having one does not mean yours does or does not.

Second "Some tings can be powered by the engine battery".

Actually, it's the house battery

And, Some things, Lights, fans, control power for the water heater (on propane) and fridge (likewise) water pump, all the 12 volt stuff, runs off the house batteries no matter what.

IF you have an INVERTER (Which depending on your model may be standard, optional, not an option, or as in my case after market) THEN some things (TV, Radio and related electroincs, GFCI loop and Microwave in my case, the list depends on which inverter you choose) can run off house batteries.

Of course the key phrase in that is the IF/THEN and the word OPTIONAL.

If you do not have an inverter, and wish to "Upgrade" After market, as I did,,,, May I recommend a TRUE SINE WAVE invrter.

inverters come in 2x2 types In-line (normal for large units) and Stand Alone (normal for smaller ones except for some motor home units) The break is roughly 1,000 watts. I leve the choice here up to you, In-line is an easier install.

True sine nad Modified sine wave

There is a list of devices that "May not work the same" on MSW, this list is long

The same list for TRUE SINE WAVE inverters is what is called a "Null list" that is, the only entry is there is nothing on it.

Though anything needing more power to start than the inverter can deliver,, Well... won't work no matter which kind you got.
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Old 12-28-2012, 02:36 PM   #12
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The simple answer to your first question is that the emergency start switch closes the battery isolater relay. This connects the chassis and coach batteries togeather. It will allow you to start the truck with the coach batteries, or add power to the coach system from the chassis battery. This way you can use either battery system to start the gererator or the truck. It goes either way. The same relay closes after the engine starts, with a short delay, to recharge the coach batteries and power the 12 volt part of the coach. It also closes when on shore power, or generator, when the voltage is over 13.3 V to keep the chassis battery charged. The BIRD system and isolater relay does all the work.
This much I know: When I push and hold the battery boost button, it seems as though sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't for starting the generator. I know if I have a full house battery the generator will start off the house with the generator start button beside it. Do you have to depress the battery boost button for a certain period of time for it to connect or should it be instantly? Does the chasis engine need to be running when this occurs?
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:48 PM   #13
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The emergency start button will close the relay instantly as long as it is working. The generator starts by using the coach batteries. The only time you might use the emergency start connection would be if the coach batteries are discharged too far to crank the generator. Then, if the chassis battery is charged, holding the emergency start switch in (it is a momentary switch) and pushing the generator start switch would let it start from the chassis battery. It might be better to start the engine and let the alternator start to recharge the coach batteries. The BIRD should close the isolater relay after a delay of around 2 minutes. This is the same relay that is closed with the emergency start switch. This relay should close automaticly when either shore power is charging the batteries and charging voltage is over 13.3 volts, or when the engine is running and the alternator is charging over 13.3 volts and the delay time is met. This is controlled by the BIRD (bi-directional isolator relay delay). The isolater relay is the same one the emergency start button activates. Remember the emergency start switch only connects when the button is held in. If the BIRD has closed the relay the emergency start switch will not do anything.
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