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Old 10-23-2020, 05:06 PM   #1
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Is he right? (chassis batteries dying)

When I bought my new-to-me coach (Harney Riata, 2001) - unknown to me was the inverter was 'bad'. I had a local shop replace it ($1800 - those things are not cheap.)

Before that work, I had been starting and driving the coach from time-to-time.

After the inverter was replaced, there was a period of time where I didn't need to drive it anywhere - so it sat, on shore power, for several weeks.

Wednesday morning - I needed to go somewhere. Monday and Tuesday were colder than we've been having.

When I went to start the engine, I discovered the chassis batteries didn't have a sufficient charge to crank/start the coach. I used battery boost - and that allowed me to get the coach running. After it ran for a while - the chassis batteries were charged up and working fine.

So - called the local repair guy - he said, "If you're gonna use your coach for any period on shore power, you have to switch the chassis battery disconnect."

I don't know what that is - where it might be located - or exactly how to do this. But, before I started doing any digging - I thought it would be prudent to ask, here. So - is he right? Is this common?
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:11 PM   #2
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He is right and very common.

If I'm not going to use my coach for a couple weeks I use the battery disconnect switch that actually disconnects the engine battery completely.

If you can't find yours or it doesn't have one this will do the trick:

https://www.amazon.com/WirthCo-20128.../dp/B000CQFWLY
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:27 PM   #3
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So - called the local repair guy - he said, "If you're gonna use your coach for any period on shore power, you have to switch the chassis battery disconnect."

I'm not familiar with this RV, so don't know if it has the ability to charge chassis batteries as well as house batteries while on shore power. But if it doesn't, why not just invest in a Echo charger? I think I'd do that before a battery disconnect.
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:32 PM   #4
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So - called the local repair guy - he said, "If you're gonna use your coach for any period on shore power, you have to switch the chassis battery disconnect."

Sorry, but I'm not following the logic. If your plugged into shore power, what does that have to do with a chassis battery disconnect? I'm not familiar with this RV, so don't know if it has the ability to charge chassis batteries as well as house batteries while on shore power. But if it doesn't, why not just invest in a Echo charger?
See - that's my question. I would expect the chassis batteries to be either "isolated" so they don't lose power any more than they do in any other vehicle - or, there would be some kind of device that allows the inverter to charge BOTH chassis and coach batteries at the same time.

That's why I'm asking, TBH.
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:46 PM   #5
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See - that's my question. I would expect the chassis batteries to be either "isolated" so they don't lose power any more than they do in any other vehicle - or, there would be some kind of device that allows the inverter to charge BOTH chassis and coach batteries at the same time.

That's why I'm asking, TBH.
Just a guess, but I'm thinking the coach batteries are more likely to be discharged than the chassis battery, so you don't really want a single device charging them since it would overcharge the chassis battery.

I have a travel trailer rather than a motorhome, but I always disconnect the plug to the trailer before plugging in. Part of that is due to the truck battery probably being at full charge due to tow/haul mode charging, and part of it is just not wanting to risk my truck's battery to some bizarre park wiring problem I haven't noticed before plugging into shore power. I want to be able to get moving again!

I don't see a problem with adding something to charge your chassis battery, but I'd want to make it optional. If you're moving in two days you probably don't need it.
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:54 PM   #6
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I can put a battery maintainer on the chassis batteries - just never even thought I would need to do that.

I am a NEWBIE, though - so, please forgive me.
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Old 10-23-2020, 05:58 PM   #7
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If your unit does not have a method to keep chassis bastys charged...A simple maintainer or trickle charger is inexpensive and IMO a great way to keep battys charged up in storage or long term on shore power
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:07 PM   #8
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An open knife type switch in close proximity to a battery is a bad idea. Batteries produce hydrogen gas when charging and the spark from that type of switch can cause an explosion that blows the battery apart causing acid and hard plastic shards to be thrown around. A vapor proof marine type switch is what should be used in a battery compartment.
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:10 PM   #9
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When it stops actively snowing - I'll check the battery compartment for a disconnect.

Also - I may just hook up my smart-battery charger to the chassis batteries while parked ... it's not a heavy lift - there's a 110V outlet right in the battery compartment.
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Old 10-23-2020, 06:35 PM   #10
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Back to your original question...

He’s probably wrong. Most (all?) modern motorhomes have an isolater that allows the engine alternator to charge the coach batteries while not allowing coach loads to discharge the chassis battery. This means your house batteries are continuously topped up while you’re driving, but the coach cannot use the chassis battery when parked.

When you are plugged in to shore power the same device allows the coach‘s battery charger to charge the chassis battery as well.

I said “probably” because 1) your coach is 19 years old and things do change, and 2) I had never heard of a Harney and had to look it up.

Isolation devices do go bad, so if you do have one you might want to have it checked out.

Regards,

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Old 10-23-2020, 10:18 PM   #11
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As groswald mentions, Electronic devices do go bad. Some systems are designed to connect battery banks for charging purposes. I'm not familiar with the Harney, so I don't want to steer you down the wrong path.

If you do have something like a BIRD or IRD relay, they do fail, but can be replaced. If you don't have that or something that does connect the batteries together, I'd go the Echo Charger route. Once it's in, you forget it.

I would not go the disconnect route your service guy is talking about without more information.
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Old 10-23-2020, 10:29 PM   #12
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On my newish to me 94' Holiday Rambler navigator the shore power does NOT charge chassis batts. I just use the block heater receptical for a small battery maintainer. This was strange to me, it was also this way on my 89' ford class c. I wired in relays and such so that while plugged into shore power I would charge the chassis battery if I had the ign switched to on. It allowed me to use the dash 12v outlet and not kill my chassis bat.
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Old 10-23-2020, 10:37 PM   #13
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Nbluesky

May have hit the target, my stereo head unit is on the chassis battery’s but if you turn the key off it says on. So you can listen to the radio with the key off there are other electronics in a rv that are connected to the chassis battery’s that would normally turn off in a car or truck but stay on in an rv. This will discharge the chassis battery’s faster than a car or truck.

My stereo head unit pulled 2 amps when off. Could drain my battery’s in 4-7 days.
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Old 10-23-2020, 11:33 PM   #14
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Yeah - I'll bet that's it - and the disconnect (for the chassis batteries) would kill those small power suckers ... stereo head unit, 12v outlets, etc.

I'll confirm some things from the owners manual - and then proceed accordingly.

Those 'echo' chargers look to be something I wouldn't mind having. Does anyone have any specific experience with those? Ideas/thoughts?
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