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Old 08-02-2022, 10:48 PM   #1
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Alternator not charging house batteries

2004 Itasca Horizon 40KD. I assumed it was alternator and had it replaced today. Unfortunately, that was not the problem. I was doing some research and some suggested it was a solenoid, but I am not sure where that would be. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

The voltage on the dash while traveling is reading the chassis batteries at 13.0 volts which is pretty low, but that is with a trickle start keeping them up to 13, I assume. My house batteries drain pretty significantly on road trips (I have a BMS and lithium)
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Old 08-02-2022, 11:00 PM   #2
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Did your alternator EVER charge the battery's and , if so, have you had any work done on your coach that may have affected it?
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Old 08-03-2022, 06:18 AM   #3
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Yes, it was charging the house batteries just fine. We haven't done any work to it that would have changed that. We started full time RVing mid June and just recently noticed when we arrived after a 4 hour trip or so, our house batteries were down to 75% and started at 100%. Previously they would always charge on the road.
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Old 08-03-2022, 07:29 AM   #4
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Have you added a DC to DC charger for the Lithium batteries ?

If not and still using the original house battery charging system, they all need 13.4 or more volts before they combine the chassis to house battery solenoid for charging.

Push the Boost switch on and off while listening to the solenoid clunk on and off. That solenoid is the same one that allows the chassis battery to charge the house batteries.
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Old 08-03-2022, 07:38 AM   #5
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The problem may be the chassis alternator voltage. The panel gauge says 13.0 volts. If it really is at that voltage, it is probably too low to allow the BIM to engage. Check that voltage with a good voltmeter. If it really is 13.0 volts then work on that problem.

The only thing I can think of that may be causing that low voltage given that you replaced the alternator is if it is externally regulated and the regulator is bad. But externally regulated alternators are rare.

David

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Old 08-03-2022, 09:16 AM   #6
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Thank you very much for the replies, I have upgraded the inverter charger to a Xantrex XC2000, but I doubt that matters for this problem? Ihave not added and DC to DC charging options for the lithiums. When I hit the battery boost, with the engine and key off, I cannot hear a click. When I start the engine, I cannot hear a click due to the alarms and such since my jacks are down, etc.

I will continue to look into battery boost solenoid.
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Old 08-03-2022, 11:41 AM   #7
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Budreau-

According to the wiring diagrams for your coach (link here), the battery mode solenoid is behind a panel located in the last or next-to-last exterior storage compartment on the driver's side.
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Old 08-03-2022, 12:00 PM   #8
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Mark, thank you. I will dive in there.
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Old 08-03-2022, 07:54 PM   #9
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Budreau,
I just got to this post. We have the same exact coach, only 3' shorter. Our is an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the CAT C-7 330HP. Now, let's go over some things that you should know. First, the "solenoid" that you're mentioning is a dual duty solenoid. It has TWO functions. The first function has to do with connecting the HOUSE batteries to the CHASSIS batteries, to aid in cranking the engine over, in cases where the CHASSIS batteries are too low in voltage to crank the engine.

This is accomplished by pressing the *Aux Batt Boost* toggle on the dash. When you press that toggle, you send an electrical signal to that solenoid. It closes and basically connects the HOUSE and CHASSIS batteries together for more amperage/voltage for cranking.

Now, the second function of that same solenoid is to connect the alternator to the HOUSE batteries so they can be charged with the engine running. That is done automatically. Once the engine has started, an ignition HOT wire is connected to that solenoid that energizes it, in effect closing it to connect both sets of batteries together.

Now, just where is it you ask? Winne/Itasca decided to HIDE it in the shore power compartment. If you open that compartment door, you'll see in the upper right corner, basically a small cabinet. There is NO door to this other than, a removable panel on the front side. On the side of that little cabinet facing you are your cable TV connection, phone connection and a black toggle for turning on your utility light that's high on the left side of the coach.

Now, you've been advised to "Listen" for the click of that solenoid when you push the Aux Batt Boost toggle on the dash. Well, you may, or may not be able to hear it. It's only 30 some feet back from the dash so, if your hearing is GREAT you may be able to hear it. Besides, as stated, it's INSIDE the small cabinet, that's INSIDE the shore power compartment. I'm linking some pics of its location and what it looks like.

That solenoid is known as a CONTINOUS DUTY solenoid. Some of them have been known to correctly operate for several years. Mine was one of them. I got 11 years out of that original solenoid. Inside that solenoid is a contact plate and two contacts. Over the years of slamming closed and providing a pathway for some light and serious amperage, those contacts become carbon fowled. When that happens, the conductivity of them and the plate, becomes less and less. It can get to a point where there's ZERO conductivity. But, at the same time, if you're sitting alongside the coach, next to that shore power compartment with the compartment door open, and you have your significant other push that Aux Batt Boost button on the dash, you can still hear it slam closed. But again, that may not mean anything if the contacts are carboned up.

To gain access to that solenoid, you open the compartment door and, you'll need a Phillips screwdriver to remove all the panel screws on the front side of that tiny cabinet. It's gonna be a pain 'cause there's wires and all that junk in the way. But you'll see what it looks like by the pictures I'm linking. When you open that little cabinet up, you'll see TWO solenoids. The larger one on the left, is the one you're concerned about. The smaller one on the right, is the HOUSE battery shut down solenoid. No need to explain what that means.

But, if you have a VOM or, Volt Ohm Meter and are handy with it, here's a very simple test to tell if that solenoid is doing just what it's supposed to. Get your VOM all set up on 12VDC. Then, measure the voltage on that large solenoid by touching the large poll on the right side of it with the positive lead and, touching the left large poll with the negative lead. Note the voltage.

Now, start the engine up and let it run for about 10 seconds or so, so that things stabilize. Now, make the same contacts with your VOM on the same polls and, note the voltage with the engine running. In a normally operating solenoid, the voltage should go way up when the engine is running due to the alternator sending a charge to the house batteries, through that large solenoid. But, if that solenoid has failed or, if the contacts are carboned up to a point that they won't let voltage/amperage through from the alternator, then there's your problem.

If you find that's your issue, the smart thing to do is, get the same exact solenoid only one with SILVER CONTACTS! They last considerably longer in electrical connecting that the standard ones do.

One more thing. You mentioned a "Trik-L-Start" in your writing. I'm not sure what you know about the Trik-L-Start but it is contrary to popular belief, IT IS NOT A BATTERY CHARGER!!!!!!! It is simply a voltage/amperage ROUTER. When installed correctly, it's job is to monitor the difference between the chassis batteries and the house batteries. And, it has absolutely NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CHARGING of the house or chassis batteries, when the engine is running. It only operates during shore power ops.

As stated, its job is to monitor the difference between the two banks of batteries. When shore power is plugged in, if the Trik-L-Start sees .5 volts difference between the two battery banks, it goes into effect. It will ALLOW a maximum of 5 amps to be DIVERTED from the charge being sent to the house batteries from the Inverter/charger and send those 5 amps to the chassis batteries. Its bigger brother, the Amp-L-Start, does the same exact operation only, it allows for a maximum of 15 amps to be diverted to the chassis batteries.

Anyway, I hope I've not muddied things up too much for you. Hope this helps some. Your coach and ours are for the most part, direct sister ships. There are very little differences between ours other than length and maybe the engine.
Scott
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Old 08-05-2022, 12:18 PM   #10
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Wow FireUP I cannot thank you enough for that detailed explanation, much of which I did not know. The pics were very helpful! On an unrelated problem, I lost my toad (2021 Ranger) due to a transmission problem, so I am stuck in my campsite for now.

But I talked to Winnebago technical support who were very helpful. It was their opinion that the brand new alternator was bad, due to the max charging volts being 12.8 with the engine running.

I talked to Freightliner who suggested one of the two starting batteries were bad, and it would be highly unlikely the old alternator and the new alternator were both "failing" with the same voltage readings. He said to disconnect the batteries and test each one. The chassis batteries are three months old.

Well, I disconnected one battery and then the other and tested each way. One battery appears to be faulty. I am beside myself right now. I will got get this battery replaced and see what happens next. Just waiting for my truck to get out of the shop. Thanks again and I will update when this is resolved.
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Old 08-05-2022, 07:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Budreau View Post
Wow FireUP I cannot thank you enough for that detailed explanation, much of which I did not know. The pics were very helpful! On an unrelated problem, I lost my toad (2021 Ranger) due to a transmission problem, so I am stuck in my campsite for now.

But I talked to Winnebago technical support who were very helpful. It was their opinion that the brand new alternator was bad, due to the max charging volts being 12.8 with the engine running.

I talked to Freightliner who suggested one of the two starting batteries were bad, and it would be highly unlikely the old alternator and the new alternator were both "failing" with the same voltage readings. He said to disconnect the batteries and test each one. The chassis batteries are three months old.

Well, I disconnected one battery and then the other and tested each way. One battery appears to be faulty. I am beside myself right now. I will got get this battery replaced and see what happens next. Just waiting for my truck to get out of the shop. Thanks again and I will update when this is resolved.
Well Sir,
Glad I could maybe have provided you with some intel that may, or may not be of any good. As for your starting batteries and alternator problems, well, one thing at a time. About 99.999% of the guys who've got RVs and do much of their own work, will tell you to replace BOTH of those starting batteries if one is bad. And that includes me. Yes I know, the other may be still showing good but, for how long. And, if one is brand new and maybe holds a charge better than the slightly older one, it may be delivering better power and will be worked harder to start the engine. This is just some thoughts. I'm certainly no expert so, be guided by those who ARE experts.

Pertaining to the alternator, not a lot I can tell you here. I've got some experience with them, testing etc. but, not enough to advise accurately. I'd definitely find some sort of auto electrical shop to do some extensive testing on either one though, just so you're definitely in the know of what's what.
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Old 08-10-2022, 10:54 AM   #12
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Old 08-12-2022, 01:20 PM   #13
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How do I know if the solenoid is working or not?
Pretty simple - with the engine running, both battery banks (house + chassis) should read about the same voltage (the house bank might read 0.1- 0.5 V lower at first.) After about an hour (or less) of operation, both house and chassis battery banks should read about the same voltage (around 13.6) - if your house bank is reading say 12.6 volts and your chassis batteries are reading 13.6 volts, then the solenoid is probably bad.

LINK: from John Canfield's website
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Old 08-13-2022, 03:26 PM   #14
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Ok friends, still trying to get this figured out. I am fairly confident, thanks to FireUP that my continuous duty solenoid is okay after getting 13.24 volts on both sides. Although it did jump around on the passenger side post, wasn't sure if it was my fat fingers, but I did get a solid reading for several seconds at that 13.24 on both sides. I should probably just replace it anyway.

BUT....I've had a couple very concerning electrical issues. After a 4 hour drive today, several alarms began going off on the dash and my inverter alarmed and read "no battery." My hallway voltage monitor read nothing at all and 13.2 on the house batteries.

With the engine still running, my slides and jacks were acting erratic as well as the lights. I disconnected the chassis batteries with the engine running and got the slides out and the jacks down. I took the batteries to be load tested and they tested fine.

I put the batteries back and everything read good, engine started fine, good voltage, etc. Turned the engine off and after a couple hours, I re-checked the hallway monitor and there was no reading at all, completely dead.

Any idea what could be causing a total battery disconnect that resets after they are removed and time passes? Could this be related at all to the solenoid? Or maybe the other battery disconnect solenoid right by the other one?
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