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Old 11-16-2020, 07:39 PM   #1
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Newbie question on house battery voltage while driving

I recently purchased a 2019 Dutch Star 4369, and I'm wondering about the voltage on my house batteries while driving, and whether or not perhaps I've got something set incorrectly. Today I drove about three hours from Indiana Dunes State Park campground to our next campground on the way home to Raleigh. When I stopped for fuel along the way, so while disconnected from shore power, I checked the display on the gauge above the driver's seat, and saw that it indicated the house batteries were only at 11.88V, even while the RV was running. I would have thought that while running, the alternator on the RV engine would be providing higher voltage to the house batteries (in addition to the chassis batteries).

Upon arrival at our campground, and after plugging in to shore power, I saw that the gauge above the driver seat indicated 3.3V for the house batteries (same for chassis batteries). And now several hours later, still on shore power, I see the house batteries indicate 12.1V, while the chassis batteries indicate 12.6V.

Does any/all of this make sense? Should I be concerned at the 11.88V indication on the house batteries while driving, with the RV running? Shouldn't I be getting higher voltage provided by the engine alternator?

Not sure if it's relevant, but while driving today (and since it was quite cold out), we had the electric floors turned on for all three zones in the RV (bed/bath/living), as they were left on from when we were connected to shore power at the previous campground. Not sure though if the inverter even powers those while driving.

In short, I've just got a general concern about what we should expect for house battery voltage while driving.

Thanks to the irv2 community for any insights!

Tom
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Old 11-16-2020, 08:30 PM   #2
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You need to find out if the floor heat is run thru the inverter.

If it is, the alternator won't keep up with that much draw on the batteries.
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Old 11-16-2020, 08:39 PM   #3
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Hi - Out of the factory the floor heat is not run off the inverter. While driving you should show in the 13.4 and up range on the house batteries. (In colder weather higher). House batteries at 11.88 are essentially dead. There appears there may be some sort of issue with the numbers you are getting so please check the voltages at the batteries for a correct reading.


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Old 11-16-2020, 08:52 PM   #4
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If the house batts are not getting any charge while the engine is on, it is "likely" the charge solenoid is gone bad. this solenoid failure seems rather 'too' common. solenoid is located in the power compartment, behind the power reel. there is a plastic cover velcroed to the wall. remove it and the solenoid is usually located on top right. see pic (the pic is sideways, rotate to R once).


to use floor heat while driving, need to have the gen running.
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:29 AM   #5
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Thanks to all for the replies so far. Still connected at the campground this morning, so haven't yet experimented further. One issue I've got is that I didn't receive the original manuals briefcase when I purchased the RV this past week (yet; still hoping to receive from original owner), so I'm kind of searching in the dark a bit at this point, so please bear with me if I ask some naive questions.

One basic one I've got is how does one go about determining what is/isn't connected to the inverter, vs. only powered by gen and/or shore (short of just seeing if it'll turn on/off while disconnected of course)? Where is the "panel" that governs what does/doesn't get powered by the inverter?

From the prior replies I see that "normally" the floor heaters would *not* be connected to the inverter (and that would make sense, since I would imagine they'd draw FAR too much current to be able to be driven by the inverter). But does that mean that the wall switch lights for the floor heat indicators should not even be on when disconnected from shore/gen? Or will those switch indicators still light up indicating "on," even when disconnected and even though NOT powered by the inverter?

I will do some more experimenting with actually measuring battery voltages with a meter and under various conditions, once I'm home where it's warm. Am I correct in understanding that by simply turning on/off the inverter and/or charger via the buttons up over the driver's seat on the "Magnum Energy" controller, that this will enable me to check the battery voltage properly both with/without the inverter running, and with/without the coach "trying" to charge the batteries? How about if I am actually plugged into shore power, but with the charger turned off at the Magnum Energy controller button? Does that mean the house batteries are essentially "disconnected" from everything, such that I'd be getting a "true" reading of battery state, even though plugged into shore? Or must I disconnect from shore power in order to get that "true" reading?

Thanks to the community for their patience as I come up to speed on the operation of the electrical systems (again, blindly, without the manuals, yet)! Thinking I should maybe go searching the internet for the various manuals, if I can determine the exact *models* of each of the relevant devices.

Tom
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:46 AM   #6
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One more thing to note: Dealer from whom I bought the unit last week mentioned that he had just replaced the entire battery bank a few days earlier, when he noticed that the house batteries were "reading very low" after just one day/night of sitting unconnected to shore power. By all accounts/impressions the dealer is very reputable (Showalter RV in Nappanee), so I fully trust that this indeed got done. But now I'm concerned that perhaps the reason this was happening with the house batteries was because they were "shot," due to this issue where they don't seem to be getting charged while driving, and hence there were regularly dropping down to below 12V in between plug-ins. And if that's the case of course, then I should expect the same thing to happen soon to these brand new batteries (so far we've only been disconnected from shore power for three relatively short trips since leaving the dealer (one hour, two hours, and four hours).

Just figured I'd share this anecdote, in case it sparks some suggestions. I realize I need to start diagnosing with some more specific measurements under more specific conditions. And I'll certainly look into that solenoid mentioned by RD1. Any specific suggestion for how to precisely diagnose/confirm that solenoid's operation? Is it just a matter of measuring the voltage at it's output with the "charge button" on/off at the Magnum Energy controller?

Tom

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Old 11-17-2020, 08:33 AM   #7
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If your coach was an older Newmar I would look at the BIRD unit, but not sure about the newer Newmars.
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Old 11-17-2020, 09:21 AM   #8
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You need to do some testing. If you monitor battery voltage, with shore power off, and turn on the heat, the battery voltage will drop a bit as soon as you switch it on.

As far as charging while driving, start the engine, wait 10 minutes and see if the house batteries come up to almost equal the chassis batteries. If not, your isolation/charging system is not working.
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Old 11-17-2020, 10:18 AM   #9
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A few tests to check the solenoid;


You can measure across the coil terminals when the system is to energize solenoids coil (small terminals and will measure between 10 – 14.5 volts DC.

When the solenoid is not energized (0 Volts on small terminals) measure DC voltage across the large terminals. I would expect to see between 10 – 14.5 volts DC.

When the solenoid is energized (10 – 14.5 Volts on small terminals) measure DC voltage across the large terminals. I would expect to see less than 1 volts DC.


FOr direction (+, -) you'd want to test both directions. One side charge comes from the engine alternator. And the other side, charge comes from the shore/gen power.


You might want to call newmar customer service, just to verify, as well to identify which solenoid you have. Originally, White Rogers was used, at some point 2017-18(?), they started to use Ametek. The WR solenoids are subpar. Ametek is ok/marginial, depending on the extent of use (how often your systems are under charge), they too will likely fail in 2-3 yrs.



I am not familiar with DSDPs, As for inverter v shore power, generally, in the mid bathroom (or somewhere) you have the breakout/fuse boxes. There is one for the 110V source and another for the inverter. You can review to see what components are on inverter.


Typically, all outlets, tvs, fridge and freezer, microwave/convection, slideout motors, etc.. are on inverter.
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Old 11-17-2020, 10:32 AM   #10
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I think RD1 is right - issue with charge solenoid. This would make sense as if you are not charging while off shore power, your inverter will be supplying power to other parts of the coach (refrigerator, etc) full time. Only when you have shore or generator power, your charging would kick in. Temporarily you could just run your generator going down the road (which I do all the time). In any case, Steve Showwalter is a great guy, and he will make it right. As to your other question, I've attached a picture that maps out L1, L2, and inverter circuits in my 2017 DSDP 4369, but I think that the 'inverter' tag will be there for all models.
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Old 11-17-2020, 11:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rd1 View Post
A few tests to check the solenoid;


You can measure across the coil terminals when the system is to energize solenoids coil (small terminals and will measure between 10 – 14.5 volts DC.

When the solenoid is not energized (0 Volts on small terminals) measure DC voltage across the large terminals. I would expect to see between 10 – 14.5 volts DC.

When the solenoid is energized (10 – 14.5 Volts on small terminals) measure DC voltage across the large terminals. I would expect to see less than 1 volts DC.


FOr direction (+, -) you'd want to test both directions. One side charge comes from the engine alternator. And the other side, charge comes from the shore/gen power.


You might want to call newmar customer service, just to verify, as well to identify which solenoid you have. Originally, White Rogers was used, at some point 2017-18(?), they started to use Ametek. The WR solenoids are subpar. Ametek is ok/marginial, depending on the extent of use (how often your systems are under charge), they too will likely fail in 2-3 yrs.



I am not familiar with DSDPs, As for inverter v shore power, generally, in the mid bathroom (or somewhere) you have the breakout/fuse boxes. There is one for the 110V source and another for the inverter. You can review to see what components are on inverter.


Typically, all outlets, tvs, fridge and freezer, microwave/convection, slideout motors, etc.. are on inverter.
Some systems for hold the solenoid in with 12 volts. The draw in at 12 volts but drop to 8 volts or so to hold it closed. Runs cooler that way.

The alternator is not tied to the charging/isolation solenoid, it goes to the chassis battery.

The isolation/charging solenoid is nothing more the a logic controlled jumper cable between the chassis battery and the house battery.

When activated, by voltage to the small terminals, voltage on each side, measured to ground, should be equal.
If not activated, you will read house battery voltage on one large post, to ground, and chassis battery voltage on the other large post, to ground.
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Old 11-17-2020, 07:35 PM   #12
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just as an fyi;





Some systems for hold the solenoid in with 12 volts. The draw in at 12 volts but drop to 8 volts or so to hold it closed. Runs cooler that way.


This is mainly re the Ametek 200A, which is "likely" what the OP may have in his unit. They run very hot. hard to touch when charged


The alternator is not tied to the charging/isolation solenoid, it goes to the chassis battery.


True.. should have been more clear.. the 2 bigger terminals, one towards the back of the unit is connected to the chassis and the one towards the front is connected to the house batts.


When activated, by voltage to the small terminals, voltage on each side, measured to ground, should be equal.


The test routines were provided by the Ametek engineer.
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Old 11-19-2020, 10:40 PM   #13
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Just a quick post to mainly acknowledge and thank all the responders so far, for all of the suggestions/tips for me to try to diagnose the issue with the house batteries seemingly not charging while driving. I apologize for the slow reply; we've completed our return trip from the purchase in Indiana, back to Wake Forest, North Carolina, but due to a whole bunch of other obligations I've yet to be able to sit down and methodically go through the diagnosis.

So stay tuned; I'll be posting back within the next few days after I've been able to follow-up on the sugestions, and do some more diagnosis. I once again want to express my thanks and gratitude for this community and all of your expertise!

Tom
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Old 11-25-2020, 06:20 PM   #14
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Okay, OP here again, and working my way towards getting some diagnostics done, but in preparation I was hoping to get a few more things clarified by the experts out there in the community, regarding how some of the related things are *supposed* to operate. So please bear with me as I ask a few specific follow-up questions.

But first, some updates I've already gotten after talking to Newmar:
  • Newmar confirmed that the floor heaters are *not* powered by the inverter
  • Newmar also confirmed that the wall indicators will still indicate the *setting* of the floor heaters, even when they are not actually operating due to being disconnected from shore power

So I understand the operation of the "charge solenoid," and that when activated, it essentially connects the positive terminals of the chassis batteries to the positive terminals of the house batteries, and hence that there should be no voltage difference between them when the solenoid is activated, whereas each side should reflect a different voltage to ground when the solenoid is deactivated.

But part of what I still don't have an understanding of is what exactly governs whether or not (and *when*) the house batteries should be getting charged. So here I go with a series of questions:

1) While driving (and hence while disconnected from shore/no generator), should the charge solenoid *always* be active, such that the chassis batteries are *always* charging the house batteries (since the chassis batteries will be getting the ~13.5V from the engine alternator)? Or does the charge management system "sense" the state of the house batteries, and cycle the charge solenoid on/off according to if/when it determines the house batteries need charging? If the latter, then what governs the voltage at which the system decides to activate the charge solenoid?

2) Can I "trust" the accuracy of the voltage indication of the house/chassis batteries that is given on the Magnum Energy display in the cabinet above the drivers seat? Or do I really need to ignore that, and go with direct measurements of house/chassis batteries using my meter? Actually, it's the display that's *below* the Magnum Energy controller panel that shows the house/chassis battery states (same screen that shows the fresh/grey/water tank states).

3) Does the charge solenoid have any role to play in charging the house batteries while connected to *shore* power, and/or running the generator? In other words, does that same solenoid get activated when the house batteries are getting charged by shore power and/or the generator? Or is there a *different* solenoid/system that controls charging of the house batteries from shore/generator? What exactly governs if/when the house batteries are getting charged, while connected to shore power, and same question for charging via the generator? Essentially what I'm trying to get to is the background on what various systems are going to be governing if/when the house batteries are "under active charging" vs. being "left on their own," so I can use that knowledge in conducting my measurements/investigations.

4) Twinboat, one thing you said earlier that didn't make sense to me is you suggested "turning on the heat" while disconnected from shore power, and then measuring house battery voltage to see if it dropped. But my understanding is that when disconnected from shore power (and with generator not running), there *is no heat*. That is, the heating systems (whether floor heat, or the heat pumps on the AC units) cannot be run off the inverter, but only shore power or the generator. Hence, there is no heat-based current draw that one could activate while disconnected to measure/detect a voltage drop at the house batteries. Rather, one would have to instead activate some things running off the inverter, such as microwave, or coffee pot, or perhaps a bunch of lights (although I believe the lights are all just 12V, so they wouldn't really be pulling off the inverter, but rather directly from the battery). But perhaps I'm misunderstanding something in what you meant about "turning on the heat" while disconnected.

In effect what I really need is just a bit of a tutorial as to which systems are involved and under what conditions they are activated, in governing the charging of the house batteries. I'm an engineer (as well as a motorcycle and automotive mechanic), so I have a pretty solid understanding of the basic concepts of electrical systems. I'm just ignorant on what systems are governing things on this RV, and how!

Anyway, sorry for belaboring, but I really appreciate being able to tap into the expertise in this community.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Tom
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