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Old 09-19-2020, 08:51 AM   #1
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Question Newmar Dutchstar Battery Problems

We have a 2015 Newmar Dutchstar 4018 with the battery bank for running most things off the inverter. The last couple of days we pulled in for the night to dry camp while making our way back south from Canada and we only have power for a couple of hours and then black out. Started the generator, charged them back up and again they only last for a couple of hours. We had the engine and generator serviced a few months ago and Cummings offered a special where they checked and serviced the batteries throughout the coach. No problems up until this point but I did notice that the panel for the batteries showed the charge level only came up to 6 out of eight bars at best.

Anyone’s experience with this would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:23 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beedub View Post
We have a 2015 Newmar Dutchstar 4018 with the battery bank for running most things off the inverter. The last couple of days we pulled in for the night to dry camp while making our way back south from Canada and we only have power for a couple of hours and then black out. Started the generator, charged them back up and again they only last for a couple of hours. We had the engine and generator serviced a few months ago and Cummings offered a special where they checked and serviced the batteries throughout the coach. No problems up until this point but I did notice that the panel for the batteries showed the charge level only came up to 6 out of eight bars at best.

Anyone’s experience with this would be greatly appreciated.
Batteries are a tricky lot. I had the same issue last year with 13 month old batteries. After about 3 months of DYI (electrical is my weak suit) I finally discovered I had had a drainage from the dash stereo which had been wired hot, which means it is pulling juice even when battery cut off is used. This is NOT the way to wire a stereo for this obvious reason. As a result the batteries were actually bad and needed replacing.

I’m not saying it’s your stereo but you may have an unknown power drainage that can weaken and shorten a battery’s lifespan.

Also, I’ve had batteries with NO improper drain simply go bad well within their warranty life for no apparent reason. And this has happened over time and in a short period of time, hence my opening remark that they can be a tricky lot.

I’d start off by checking the health of the batteries.

Hope you guys get back safely,

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Old 09-19-2020, 09:29 AM   #3
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This is a quick, down and dirty, method for checking the batteries. It is definitely not all inclusive but can be a starting point.

“ How do you know if your RV battery is bad?
If your battery is reading 0 volts, chances are the battery experienced a short circuit. If the battery cannot reach higher than 10.5 volts when being charged, then the battery has a dead cell. If the battery is fully charged (according to the battery charger) but the voltage is 12.5 or less, the battery is sulfated.”
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Old 09-19-2020, 12:22 PM   #4
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Far too many variables to give any sage advice, but I'll offer some observations:


You can't just run the generator a couple hours and expect dead batteries to be fully re-charged. Or even 75% charged. You may be able to get to 80% charge in 2 hours if the batteries weren't too badly discharged, but if everything went dead before starting the genset, it's going to take several hours to get back to 75-80%.


The "bars" of battery level probably reflect voltage, which is no better than a broad indicator. The length of time you can run depends on the amount of load )amp draw) and the number of amp-hours stored in the batteries. Without any info on either of those, we can't even guess if you have a battery problem, or charging problem, or simply an excessive use/expectation problem.
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Old 09-19-2020, 12:38 PM   #5
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If your traveling during the days, your engine charging system should be charging your house batteries.

They use what's called an isolation solenoid to do that. If your not getting any charging while driving, there's a good chance that its failed. Its a very common item to go bad.

With engine running, are you getting an increase in volts ( bars ) on the meter ? If not that may well be your problem.

Unless you get it fixed, your next best thing to do, is leave the generator running for at least 4 to 6 hours during your daily travels, until the solenoid is fixed.
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Old 09-19-2020, 12:55 PM   #6
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How old are the batteries? (Apology if I missed it...)

Best,
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Old 09-19-2020, 02:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beedub View Post
...
2015 Newmar Dutchstar 4018 with the battery bank for running most things off the inverter.
...
we only have power for a couple of hours and then black out.
...
Started the generator, charged them back up and again they only last for a couple of hours.
...
the panel for the batteries showed the charge level only came up to 6 out of eight bars at best.
...
Good advice has been posted above. There are lots of possibilities and so different conclusions.

Your last observation is the most telling. 6/8 bars may say,
Batteries are defective and not able to accept a full charge or charger is not working fast enough or able to provide a charge.

However, the conclusion depends on what you mean by "only came up to 6" bars. If your ran the generator for 2 hours and got only 6, that is to be expected for fully discharged batteries. If you mean you ran the generator for 8 hours and got only 6 bars, that could indicate something is not working properly.

To make it more complicated, there are three main battery voltage profiles. Your 8 bar gauge does not know the difference so the number of bars means something different depending on what is happening.

I will assume your batteries and charger are working fine for the following explanation.

Running the generator for 1 or 2 hour to "charge them back up" will partially charge the batteries. It takes more than 4 hour for an 80% charge. 4 hours may bring the bars up to 8 even though the batteries are not fully charged. When charging stops, "Surface Charge" will bleed off over the next few hours looking like batteries are discharging fast even with little or no actual usage.

If you can't get the bars over 6 while generator charging, it means the state of charge (SOC) is very low. It does not mean you have 75% SOC. Recheck the number of bars after an hour or more without charging. Bars will drop fast due to surface charge depletion.

The voltage profiles are:
Charging - charger is working
Discharging - charger is not on and significant loading is in progress
Static - neither charging nor discharging

Static voltage is when charging has been stopped for 4 hours or more and no significant discharge is happening.
SOC / Volts / Bars
0%/ 11.4 / 0 Batteries are discharged
50%/ 12.2 / 4 Batteries are at half charge level
100%/ 13.0 / 8 fully charged

Discharging voltage profile varies a lot. Discharging voltage will be below Static voltage. The higher the discharge rate, the lower the voltage will be. Inverter can draw large currents from the battery depending on what is running on the inverter. Battery at 50% SOC can be 11.4 volts when inverter is drawing high current. Inverter may trip to "off" when voltage reaches 11.4 volts. All 120 volt appliances will stop working. 12 volt lights will continue to work.

Charging profile applies when the charger is working to charge the batteries. This could be plugged into shore power, generator power, solar charging, or engine charging. You have mentioned generator charging and engine charging.

First, it takes 14 to 18 hours to fully charge lead acid batteries and lead acid batteries must be stored fully charged for long life. If you have stored your RV at less than the 14 hour full charge, then your batteries may be on their last legs even if they are not old time wise.

Charging profile is consistent, but depends on your equipment. Assuming you have a 300 amp hour battery bank and a 60 amp charger, your profile may be as follows.
0% SOC - Gen Charge - voltage starts at 11.4 volts / 0 bars
25% SOC - Gen Charge - voltage slowly rises to 11.8 volts / 2 bars / 1 hour
50% SOC - Gen Charge - voltage slowly rises to 12.4 volts / 5 bars / 2 hours
75% SOC - Gen Charge - voltage slowly rises to 12.7 volts / 8 bars / 4 hours
100% SOC - Gen Charge - voltage rises to 13.6 volts / 8 bars / 18 hours
Voltage will hold at 13.6 volts until generator is turned off.
Some chargers will reach 14.4 volts during the first 4 hours. They will then drop back to 13.6 volts for the remainder of charging.

Your charger and battery bank should show a similar charge profile.

Battery University https://batteryuniversity.com/

How does the Lead Acid Battery Work? https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/...ased_batteries

Charging lead acid batteries https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/...d_acid_battery

How to Charge and When to Charge? https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/...o_charge_table

How to Store Batteries https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/...tore_batteries

Summary of Do’s and Don’ts https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/..._battery_table
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Old 09-20-2020, 08:00 AM   #8
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Sounds very much like what happened to us on our last trip. All of a sudden we could not get more than an hour or so our of our batteries. One cell in one of our 4 6V batteries was dead (3 year old original batteries). It was sapping the others. We unhooked 2 batteries to we would have 12 volts and did better that way until I could replace all of the batteries.
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Old 09-20-2020, 09:00 AM   #9
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Persistent's patient and thorough post makes a good argument for a better battery monitor...


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Old 09-20-2020, 07:05 PM   #10
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Real good advice already.

If all you have a volt meter (bars) that is an awful way to know if the both, the charging system is working and if the batteries are fully charged.

Assuming nothing is broken and the batteries are good I would charge for at least another 4 hours. Now its time to do some research into how your charger works and how to check the batteries with tools. Adding a good battery monitor is a great idea but you will still need to learn about the system.
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Old 09-20-2020, 07:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArkansasRomr View Post
This is a quick, down and dirty, method for checking the batteries. It is definitely not all inclusive but can be a starting point.

“ How do you know if your RV battery is bad?
If your battery is reading 0 volts, chances are the battery experienced a short circuit. If the battery cannot reach higher than 10.5 volts when being charged, then the battery has a dead cell. If the battery is fully charged (according to the battery charger) but the voltage is 12.5 or less, the battery is sulfated.”
X2 on this simple method of determining if you had a bad one (or two), and on Persistent’s much more detailed contribution. How old are the batteries? They may have checked ok 6 months ago, but you could be losing cells now. Also how low are you running them to get to “black out”. With a bar-graph type meter as your only way of measuring you really don’t have specific enough info to monitor the bank.
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Old 09-21-2020, 12:39 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArkansasRomr View Post
This is a quick, down and dirty, method for checking the batteries. It is definitely not all inclusive but can be a starting point.

“How do you know if your RV battery is bad?
If your battery is reading 0 volts, chances are the battery experienced a short circuit.
Actually if it's reading 0 volts then I'd first look for a disconnected wire between the battery and the meter. Only once have I seen a battery that was zero volts, and that had physical damage to the battery case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ArkansasRomr View Post
If the battery cannot reach higher than 10.5 volts when being charged, then the battery has a dead cell. If the battery is fully charged (according to the battery charger) but the voltage is 12.5 or less, the battery is sulfated.”
All of the above is true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by R.Wold View Post
X2 on this simple method of determining if you had a bad one (or two), and on Persistent’s much more detailed contribution. How old are the batteries? They may have checked ok 6 months ago, but you could be losing cells now. Also how low are you running them to get to “black out”. With a bar-graph type meter as your only way of measuring you really don’t have specific enough info to monitor the bank.
You really need a calibrated voltmeter - one that shows volts, tenths and hundredths of a volt. A meter that just has multiple bars is not telling you what 1 bar, or 2 bars, or 3 bars represents, just that 3 is more than 2 and 2 is more than 1.

Even the digital meter than Harbor Freight frequently has as a free-with-any-purchase-at-a-store bonus is better that an uncalibrated multiple-bar meter.
Look here: https://www.harborfreight.com/7-func...ter-63759.html
With an hour of instruction you can be comfortable measuring AC and DC voltage, current and resistance. But don't trust it unless you compare it (at least once) to a known good meter - I had one that displayed 110 volts when my Fluke and my HP both read 120 volts.

Now look at the table below...

Note that the difference between 25% and 100% charge is about 3/4 of a volt.

I'd also spend $40 (plus shipping) then punch two 1 and 1/8 inch holes somewhere and connect two of these voltmeters to the house and chassis batteries... https://powerwerx.com/panel-mount-di...volt-meter-red

it's a simple 2 wire connection... cheap zip cord works just fine... just battery hot and ground for each one.

Then you will have accurate and repeatable voltage readings and not have to break out a test meter and play with probes.

And charge times can be very skewed... on my RV the first 80% of the charge takes about 30% of the time, and the last 20% of the charge 70% of the time. If I'm on generator I usually just run it until it shows 80% state of charge and quit.

Mike
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Old 09-21-2020, 01:39 AM   #13
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A 2015 Newmar Dutchstar will have a better battery monitor than a simple bar graph. Actual voltage readings would be helpful.

Additionally, it's a strange coincidence that your batteries just happened to go bad when someone "serviced" them. I always look for sudden new problems in tbe area most recently worked on.

The bigger question is how you're "making your way south from Canada". I thought the border was closed to ground travel?
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Old 09-21-2020, 05:23 AM   #14
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Quote: AnotherMike

I'd also spend $40 (plus shipping) then punch two 1 and 1/8 inch holes somewhere and connect two of these voltmeters to the house and chassis batteries... https://powerwerx.com/panel-mount-di...volt-meter-red

it's a simple 2 wire connection... cheap zip cord works just fine... just battery hot and ground for each one.

Then you will have accurate and repeatable voltage readings and not have to break out a test meter and play with probes.



I have done this on last 2 coaches, mounted in dash, tapped both voltage sources from the momentary boost switch. These gauges have a USB port and an on/off switch:


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1



Quote: hohenwald48
The bigger question is how you're "making your way south from Canada". I thought the border was closed to ground travel?

We know a Canadian couple who purchased a new DP in January of 2019 in Florida. Stored it in Florida with the intention of returning in early spring to retrieve it. They were finally able to fly to Florida yesterday and are driving back to Canada starting this morning. Didn't ask them how they could cross from Canada to US but they said they have to quarantine for two weeks when they cross back with the RV.
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