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Old 02-21-2015, 09:03 PM   #1
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Battery charging question

This is a brand new 2015 Ventana (all electric) and we have just taken our first short trip. Before we set off I switched the inverter on to keep the refrigerator running and I assumed the alternator would keep the house battery charged. After our 3 hour trip the house batteries were very low so appear to have not been charged at all. Also now we are plugged into shore power the chassis battery does not appear to be charging. I have the house batteries on float at 13.4v but the chassis is showing 12.9. I have read about the BIRD system but am not sure if that is what I have. The dealer tech told me there is no battery combiner that charges the chassis battery while plugged in but I don't think that is true. Anyone have ideas?
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:20 PM   #2
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OK John, You have two sets of batteries, the Chassis batteries & the House batteries. Connected between both battery banks is whats called an Aux. start solenoid. When your driving down the road the alternator on the engine charges the chassis batteries, the aux. start solenoid should close connecting the house atteries to the chassis batteries. Your house batteries SHOULD be getting charged while driving down the road
You pull in to the rv park shutdown & plug in to shore power. The "Converter" thats plugged into the 120VAC out charges the House batteries.
Now, some coaches will energize that Aux. start solenoid, connecting the Chassis & House batteries so that now the Chassis batteries are getting charged as well.
Whaen your running the inverter off the house batteries you should NEVER run then below 12VDC. Not good for those house batteries!
It appears that aux. start solenoid is bad. Your coach might be slightly different.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:01 AM   #3
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You need the battery cut off switch always on when you are using coach or have plugged into shore power to charge batteries.
Here is you battery and Bird System charging information.
Bird system charges your house batteries first than your chassis battery when they are fully charged, when connected to shore power or Gen, it works in reverse when you are driving the coach from your alternator.
With the inverter/converter running you should see same voltage charge from converter across all battery banks.
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Old 02-22-2015, 07:11 AM   #4
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Hi Algoma,
Be careful when reading posts from members not owning a Newmar. Most know how their Brand coach works. It may or may not be the same for a Newmar coach.

The good news is you have a warranty and should now use it. If you are not near a Newmar dealer, consider contacting Newmar customer service to determine if there is a local shop or mobile tech they will allow to work on your coach and make a warranty claim with Newmar. The reason I suggest this is your coach is new and this was your first trip. Who knows what the factory did wrong? Gut feel says this is a manufacturing defect. If the coach and you had some history and things started off okay, then I would have some suggestions. If you try to repair this yourself and cause a bigger problem, Newmar may deny a warranty claim.

Start with what 007 posted and make sure all the owner responsibilities are correct. Then contact Newmar.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:31 AM   #5
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At 12.9 Volts , your chassis batteries are fully charged.
As for the RV house batteries, you need to start up your rig and measure the voltage to see if they are being charged.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:42 AM   #6
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Gary, thanks for the advice. In fact I am planning to drop by the dealer in 2 weeks as recommended by Newmar to get any minor issues resolved. Although we camped at the dealer for 3 days it is difficult to thoroughly check everything including anything that happens on the road.
I am hardly a newbie or unqualified to tackle anything on a motorhome and with my previous coach I knew more than the technician working on it. But the Ventana has systems that I am not familiar with so I am going through that learning curve. Even if I get the dealer to fix it I still want to discover as much as I can before hand. Turns out I have a BIM, not a BIRD. I also discovered I have an engine block heater which I was assured I did not have. I now know where that 10 amps was going before I found the breaker and turned it off.
So I guess my original question was on the off chance that someone else had the same problem and maybe its a fuse and they could tell me where to look. But you are right that I should check with Customer Support first thing Monday before getting further in to it.
Just discovered that turning off the block heater causes the monitor panel to show only 7 volts on L2. Isn't this fun!
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:52 AM   #7
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The BIM (Battery Isolation Manager) is a microprocessor controlled isolation relay. It IS a bi-directional connection that monitors the voltage on both battery banks and connects them when needed. This will be the unit in your Ventanna.

Now, based on your voltages you do not actually have an issue. If you unplug shore power and check your voltages you should see similar voltages on both battery banks. 6v or 12v batteries have maximum voltages they can produce. These are actually limited by physics. The "True" voltage per cell is 2.125 volts/cell. So on a 6v battery (which has 3 cells) this is 2.125 x 3 = 6.375 volts. When you series two of these batteries together you get 6 series cells producing a potential of 12.75 volts. So if your showing 12.9 volts on your chassis batteries then they are fully charged. When you see the 13.4 volts float charge you are seeing the Inverter/Charger holding a slightly elevated voltage to keep the batteries charged. With the charger off this will drop to somewhere between 12.6 and 12.9 volts.

If you see the chassis batteries drop to low 12's then you likely have an issue but as it's shown right now everything appears to be fine.

It's good to note that lead batteries can be considered to be 50% charged when they are showing a voltage of 12.06 volts. Once you hit this point you would ideally want to charge them. Once you delve into the 11 volt range you are actually "deep cycling" them and this is where you incur "sulfation" on the plates in the battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Battery University - BU804b
What is sulfation? During use, small sulfate crystals form, but these are normal and are not harmful. During prolonged charge deprivation, however, the amorphous lead sulfate converts to a stable crystalline that deposits on the negative plates. This leads to the development of large crystals, which reduce the battery’s active material that is responsible for high capacity and low resistance. Sulfation also lowers charge acceptance. Sulfation charging will take longer because of elevated internal resistance.
Source: Sulfation and How to Prevent it - Battery University

Hope this helps!
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:44 AM   #8
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BrooksW,
Please read the OP. While your post is correct, it does not seem to touch on Algoma's original problem of the coach batteries not being charged, while traveling.
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:49 AM   #9
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Hi Algoma,
Information about the BIM is attached to this post.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Battery-Isolation-Manager.pdf (81.1 KB, 35 views)
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryKD View Post
BrooksW,
Please read the OP. While your post is correct, it does not seem to touch on Algoma's original problem of the coach batteries not being charged, while traveling.
Well as the OP did not specify what voltage the house batteries were at (IE: What does the OP define low as) it could very well explain his situation. The BIM that Newmar uses does feed power either way depending on the need. And I find it unlikely that a faulty BIM would make it through line testing and a dealer PDI. It's more likely that the 10 Amps the block heater draws plus the fridge caused the house batteries to discharge faster than the alternator could charge them.

As for the warranty statement you made, as a Newmar Warranty Technician I can agree that taking it in would be a great idea. The problem being that many shops will take your coach in and it can take a few weeks to get to it. It's better to determine if there is actually a problem before allowing it to sit where the owner can not enjoy it.

Cheers mate!
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:24 PM   #11
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The problem with the house batteries is the Refrigerator.

There is a fairly long wire run from the alternator to the chassis batteries also it goes through the isolator and other things that may add a fraction of an ohm or two to the total run resistance, those fractions add up, and slow down charging of the house batteries.

Meanwhile you got this big fridge drawing over 100 watts (10 amps) off the house batteries,,,

your problem is you have say 10-15 amps draw and only 5-10 charging, clearly since you are replacing the charge slower than you are consuming it, sooner or later... all gone.

HOW TO FIX IT.. Well, IF, and I stress IF the alternator can support the load (this is a big and expensive IF if you guess wrong) heavier wire on that circuit might work.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:09 PM   #12
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Algoma, as Gary pointed out you have the B.I.M. unit, if I confused anyone its been brought to my attention the difference between the BIRD Systems and the Precision B.I.M. unit.
Sorry if there was any confusion.
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:15 PM   #13
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I would appreciate it if any comments directed at members or between members on this forum be of a friendly nature we are all here to help one another not work against one another.
Thank you "007"
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Old 02-22-2015, 02:17 PM   #14
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Before this issue gets out of hand here is a summary of what happened. Turning the inverter on to power the refrigerator does not power the block heater. That is not on the inverter circuit. The alternator can produce 200 amps which should be plenty to power the refer, particularly as it is not actually on for very long. We ran for 3 hours so the chassis batteries were fully charged and should not have affected charging the house batteries. When we plugged in to shore power the monitor said the house batteries were low and immediately started pumping 100 amps in to them. I did not check the actual battery voltage as I was not expecting this problem. As far as QC at the factory is concerned they are not perfect. In fact they shipped our coach with the wrong decal on the back. The VP of production was mortified. Also this particular test is not part of PDI.
It is on the list I have sent the factory so we will see what they suggest.
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