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Old 11-18-2013, 10:53 AM   #1
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Some general questions about batteries, & charging

I guessing these are pretty basic question, but I don't know the answers, and havn't met anyone that knows.
We have a 95 Coachman Leprechaun on E350 Ford. When at home I always keep the camper plugged in and the switch in the off position. Both the coach and the chassis battery are less then 1 yr old. The only thing that I run in the the camper is a small fan,just to keep the air moving. We were going camping last week so in prep I put a charge on the chassis battery to make sure it was at full charge. It came up to full charge very quick. So I thought great.
The day ahead I turned the power on (still plugged) and started the refeg. and packed up. We started out in the morning and of course had to stop at WalMart for a few last things. Came out of Walmart and the truck would not start, just a click.
Went back and turned the switch off to the camper and the truck started.
My questions are, in no special order
When and how does the coach battery charge. Does it charge when the truck is running? when its plugged to shore power?
What all runs off the coach battery?
What all runs off the house battery?
I am sure I have more questions,but can't really think of them right now, so please feel free to add whatever.
Thanks in advance

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Old 11-18-2013, 01:13 PM   #2
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I, too wonder about leaving the coach hooked to shore power. Is the battery being overcharged. 1994 Callista Cove on E350 Chassis. The owners manual for it is a pathetic example of an owners manual.

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Old 11-18-2013, 02:42 PM   #3
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To get started you will need a volt meter with a DC range. Plug in to shore power. Check voltage at both batteries. Battery switch on. Note the voltages. Unplug. Read the voltages again. Turn something on to put a draw on the chassis. Parking lights is fine. Note voltages. Plug back in. Coach voltage should be 13+ volts now. If chassis battery voltage is not very close to the coach (convertor) voltage than it is not being charged by the convertor.
Now unplug and start the motor. Note alternator voltage at the chassis battery. Should be 14-15V. Then check at the coach battery. If not the same or very close than the coach is not being charged. The battery disconnect switch for the coach needs to be on for the battery to charge either way.
Let us know what you get and we can go from there.
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:20 AM   #4
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Was waiting fdor the answer to the question "does the coach battery over charge if it is plugged into shore power for weeks at a time with the switch in the "on" position"?
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:28 AM   #5
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:54 AM   #6
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First answer to both Dave&Patty, fighterpilot and YZ...

It depends....
A 95 Coachman is new enough that it should have a three stage smart converter. If it does not - get one and install it. You will have to locate the current converter and find out who made it and what it does. You should be able to get a manual on the web once you identify it.

Response to Dave & Patty
Next, we have a terminology problem.
Most people say coach, they mean it has to do with the living spaces.
The same is true for house.
I am going to guess that by coach you were thinking of what most people call the chassis battery. The one that starts the engine. As I do boat work, I always call that the (main) engine battery.
Yes - The Chassis battery should be charged from the engine alternator. This is just like happens in a passcar.
Maybe - Most vehicles do not charge the chassis battery with shore power. It can be done, and it is not expensive. It does cost money and so it is not often included in the build.
The chassis electrical system includes what you would see in a passcar, exterior lights, a cab interior light and a radio. Nothing else should be on that system.
Most motorized RVs of all types include a feature to also charge the house battery from the main engine alternator. This is a feature that the coach builder adds and some aren't as good as others so this has to be understood and watched.

The house electric is everything in the living spaces. That includes all the lights, the water pump, the furnace blower, maybe controls for the reefer and some water heaters and the start power for the generator.

The roof air units are always run from shore or generator power.

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Old 11-26-2013, 09:09 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by MattC View Post
A 95 Coachman is new enough that it should have a three stage smart converter. If it does not - get one and install it.
X2! My 94 Pace Arrow did not (if that is any point of reference). I think all shore power charging questions should include the type of charger as it a very important piece of the puzzle. Without an intelligent charger, it is pretty common to over-cook the batteries.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:56 AM   #8
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thanks for your answers. I did mistype on
the coach battery?(meant to say chassis battery) and I was pretty sure what ran from that. The way you explained it is the way I thought it should be. Electric is not one of my strong points. It seems I have a drain somewhere in the system.
Is a three stage smart converter,or intelligent charger like a trickle charger?
I have the original manuals from Coachman and Ford, but they as stated above are not to useful. .
When the house battery is at full charge the truck starts right off, if the house battery is down or has something else pulling on it, the truck is either slow or will not start.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:52 PM   #9
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A smart charger has different voltages. The initial charge should be about 14.4 volts tapering off to 13.6 and then a trickle charge at 13.2. When I first plug mine into shore pwer the house battery charges first and at some point the chassis bat will start charging after the house batt reaches a substancial charge. On the engine alt I believe they start almost simultaneously charging and the alt puts out almost 15 volts so after a long days drive both batts are well charged.
You might have some problems with the control relays but as said earlier it would be good to determine the converter type and output.

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batteries, charging

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