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Old 04-26-2010, 03:27 PM   #1
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Inverter/converter Overcharging Batteries

I have a 1997 Dynasty with the Freedom 20 Inverter/Battery Charger. It just overcharged the coach batteries. Stayed at 13.8 volts as far as I can determine for about 20 hours while plugged into shore power. The batteries were boiling.

The Freedom 20 is the original. It looks to me that the 3 stage charger didn't throttle back the voltage. Does anyone know if it is common for it to malfunction this way?

Or is there something else going on? In the rear engine compartment there is also an LE-415 battery maintainer and an isolator. There are several relays.

Any troubleshooting ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Ed
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Old 04-26-2010, 04:05 PM   #2
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That is one of the malfunction modes of converters yes.. I'd need to know more than I wish about the converter to say more but both Switching and "regulated" converters can fail in the "hot" mode.. Or in the Low mode, or in the no-current mode. Different parts and different failure modes.. but that is a failure mode

You are half way to a diagnosis now.. ANd your voltmeter is your friend. If it does it again, (Monitor the re-charge) it's bad.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:03 PM   #3
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I"m a fulltimer and my batteries are being charged by a Xantrex inverter. After I read your post I went to my electrical panel and my batteries are in a float charge mode charging at 13.6 VDC and has been for the past month. An average float charge is about 13.5 volts. Your charge voltage sounds pretty normal. You say your batteries are boiling. Are ALL the batteries boiling? Let the batteries sit for a couple of hours and use a hydrometer to take a specific gravity reading of each cell for each battery and record the readings, the readings should not vary by more than .05 between cells.
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Old 04-26-2010, 05:15 PM   #4
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I would check batteries first. Either specific gravity or output voltage after letting them sit as RJay suggested.
If you have one bad cell you will never achieve the desired voltage to lower the converter output.
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Old 04-26-2010, 07:52 PM   #5
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Ed....Have you done anything differently that may have caused this to happen. Your Inverter has an equalizing mode. Could it have been selected? Did you replace the batteries recently? There is an adjusment for different types of batteries.

Just some thoughts.
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:51 PM   #6
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I will report back some time Tuesday with the specific gravity and voltage readings. Both batteries were still warm and spitting out of the vent caps 2 hours after I disconnected the shore power. I didn't want to mess with them in that state. Never experienced boiling hissing batteries.

Don, the equalizing mode was not set. I checked all the dip switches in the remote panel and everything was set correctly for the configuration. The 2 batteries are Interstate SRM-4D wet cell. They were replaced about a year ago. Old batteries were exactly same brand/model.

I did have the inverter/charger repaired a couple of years ago because it was not charging at all.

I will get back over there on Tuesday to get those readings. I do know that about 6 months ago I checked all the cells and they were all good.

Thank you guys for your insightful input.

Ed
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Old 04-27-2010, 06:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edrt View Post
I have a 1997 Dynasty with the Freedom 20 Inverter/Battery Charger. It just overcharged the coach batteries. Stayed at 13.8 volts as far as I can determine for about 20 hours while plugged into shore power. The batteries were boiling.

The Freedom 20 is the original. It looks to me that the 3 stage charger didn't throttle back the voltage. Does anyone know if it is common for it to malfunction this way?

Or is there something else going on? In the rear engine compartment there is also an LE-415 battery maintainer and an isolator. There are several relays.

Any troubleshooting ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Ed
Ed
For the house batteries when the charger is in float the voltage varys depending on the temperature of the batteries.....in 32 deg f temps i have seen as high as 14.1v and as low as 13v in hot weather....but the temperature sensor (2x3 black patch with a wire on some or a ring terminal on the battery post on others) that relays the temps back to the charger must be placed between to batteries and make good contact to supply the correct voltage for the float charge.If it is reading ambient air temps the voltage will be higher in colder weather and can overcharge them.For the chassis battery the charger should maintain a constant voltage at around 13.1v ....there is no temperature sensor for them and is read off the house battery temps.
Sounds like your coach batteries are pooched....I would also check the alternater output voltage if you had a long run to your site.....could have been overcharged BEFORE you plugged in
Just my two cents
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Old 04-27-2010, 12:38 PM   #8
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Jeepsrule,
Use this chart when you take your specific gravity readings.

Open Circuit Battery Voltage
Approximate State-of-charge
Average Cell Specific Gravity
12.70 / 6.35 100% 1.265
12.45 / 6.23 75% 1.225
12.24 / 6.12 50% 1.190
12.06 / 6.03 25% 1.155
11.89 / 5.95 0% 1.120

Don't forget to adjust for temperature.
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Old 04-27-2010, 07:00 PM   #9
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Looks like the batteries are toast. One reads 8.8 volts and the other is at 10.4 volts. The one at 8.8 volts has 2 cells at 1.275 and 4 cells below the low of the scale which is at 1.100. The 10.4 volt has 1 dead cell at 1.100 and 5 look good at 1.250.

These batteries are only a year old and I know they were good 6 months ago. All cells were in the "good" range with the specific gravity test.

So next step is to replace the batteries and monitor that charger very closely. I am open to ideas on how to best test the charger.

Dennis you bring up a good point about the battery temp feedback. Don't have one. This unit is a Freedom 20 (now Xantrex). I don't see any mention of a temperature sensor in the manual. This is a 1997 Dynasty and I'm guesing it is the original Inverter. We purchased it in 2004.

My plan is to bring in the shore power for 20 mintues and monitor the voltage closely. Stage 1 is 13.9 volts. If the batteries are not at this level in 20 minutes maybe I should give it another 15 minutes. I just don't want to ruin new batteries working with a charger that may be stuck in stage 1.

Maybe I should just buy a new Inverter/Charger. Any thoughts on the age of this unit being an issue? It is pushing 15 years. I just don't have any experience with how long these devices usually last.
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Old 04-27-2010, 08:57 PM   #10
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edrt, I think your problem was with your batteries not the inverter/charger, to be on the safe side take specific gravity readings on the new batteries just to be sure they're alright. If the new batteries need water take the gravity readings before you add the water. You will want to keep an eye on them initially when charging to be sure the charger is working properly.
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Old 04-28-2010, 02:02 AM   #11
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Batteries at 8 volts with cells of highly different Specific Gravety is the other way a converter can overcharge.. Shorted cells... The problem is the batteries.

SO, now you know. Visit Sams or Costco and grab some GC-2 batteries (six volt) (An even number of them) and hook 'em up.. Then re-test

GC-2's hook up 2 at a time in series

In your hand they are six volt each
In your motor home they are 12 volt Pairs.

Think of each pair, as though it were a single 12 volt battery.
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Old 04-28-2010, 05:21 AM   #12
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hydrogen gas

Be careful, make sure all loads and power supply (shore power) are turned off, open up the battery storage compartment and let it vent out for awhile before you disconnect the batteries, I wouldn't be surprised if you have a sulfur smell, you could have hydrogen gas build up that is very explosive. The battery life could also have been shortened from a circuit, amperage overdraw. I would recomend that when you install the new batteries to check the system for any excessive current overdraw that could be caused from bad connections, contacts, grounding, etc. I see a lot of loose and corroded grounds. You can also locate poor contacts/connections by checking for voltage drop in a circuit.

Note; When you connect the new batteries (positive first, negative last) look for any strong sparks, if there are any this could indicate a current overdraw, you will probably get a very minute spark caused by your unswitched computer control and clock/timer circuits.

Good luck
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