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Old 01-10-2014, 05:38 PM   #1
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Weak House Batteries after Service

Just picked up my 02 Newmar Dutchstar 3852 from service. It was in for service on transmission and had fuel filter changed because I thought I had tranny problems but was just a very dirty fuel filter. House batteries were fully charged when I took it in but very weak after picking it up 4 days later. We did have that bitterly cold weather but coach was in a service lot shut down. The batteries are about 3 years old. I have four 6 volt batteries. Not sure of brand. They are deep burgundy in color FWIW. The coach was parked shut down in NC mtns over Christmas for 2 full weeks but no sign of weakness when I drove it home last Sat. So the battery drain occurred while at Caterpillar service. Can the bitterly cold temps zap the life out of the house batteries? The two starting batteries were perfect. The engine and genny started right up after 4 days in service lot? Any ideas? All thoughts and comments are appreciated.
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Old 01-10-2014, 05:49 PM   #2
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Cold can do a number on the batteries. Also, if the battery shut off switche(s) were left on while in service, it is possible that you have a house drain large enough to drain the batteries if not plugged in.
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:02 PM   #3
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Hi Mystery,
2X what jrgreen posted. Cold weather is strike 1. Leaving the coach at a dealer is strike 2. Charge the batteries and keep them fully charged. Wait until you use the coach to see if they hold a charge like before the servicing.
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:21 PM   #4
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Batteries are molecular level electron storage devices. They are subject to temperatures. The term"Absolute Zero", refers to a point when all molecular motion stops. That's around -473F or some there about. The exact temp is not necessary to know. So as the battery gets colder it becomes less efficient. A fully charged battery at 80 degrees may drop to about 70% efficiency when the temps hit 30. When it reaches zero it might be only 50-60% as efficient. At the same time that the battery is loosing efficiency the oil gets thicker, and everything spinning gets harder to spin.

A fully charged battery still will not freeze when the temps get well below zero. In very cold climates it's recommended that batteries be stored indoors until needed.

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Old 01-10-2014, 06:29 PM   #5
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jrgreen.......It's possible that while the service facility was working on your coach that they ran the heater, especially if they had to service anything through the rear engine cover(s). The heater can run batteries down quickly. You never know, they might have even watched TV or something.

Recharge the batteries and see what they do. It sounds like you have Trojan batteries from the color description. They're good quality. Water them up and get a full charge on them.
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Old 01-11-2014, 06:59 AM   #6
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Thank all of y'all for the comforting info! I will be able to charge them while driving to NC next Friday. I will run genny the whole way. Where we park in Nc the elevation is close to 4000 feet and we had several 0 or below nights and was in lower teens several nights this past week in Augusta.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:51 AM   #7
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No need to run Gen the alternator will charge your batteries through your BIRD SYSTEM you will just be wasting your fuel.

I would put a 12v stand along battery charger on them if the batteries do not come up to full charge on return trip and see if they can be brought up to full charge than keep coach plugged in so the Bird system can keep all your batteries house and chassis fully charged.

When you get service again use your house battery cut off switch so batteries do not drain so much.

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Old 01-11-2014, 09:56 AM   #8
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Mystery's plan to run the genny while underway to bring up severely depleted house batts is the right approach. Using the alternator to do this shortens its life due to the heat generated while it's running at or near its full output capability for a long period of time. PLEASE do NOT ask me how I know this!!! <G>
This use of the genny is also recommended after boondocking for several days.
As always, YMMV.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:21 PM   #9
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One thing I failed to mention is I typically leave the house batteries off when I leave coach. But, when I picked it up and started the genny after about 5 minutes several lights came on spontaneously. My guess is the shop left lights on and battery switch on so the frig ran and the lights.
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Old 01-11-2014, 01:35 PM   #10
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If your inverter/charger has and equalizer the batteries off with distilled water and follow the instruction for equalizing. I saved a set of my batteries that I let run dry and almost dead almost 2 years ago.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:59 PM   #11
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Cold weather and parasitic loads can do it.. Re-charge and either REMOVE negative cable or keep on charge.
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:24 PM   #12
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Any ideas as to how long to charge? Would 4 hours on genny be enough?
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Old 01-11-2014, 05:45 PM   #13
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4 hours with the genset running should bring your batteries to Float SOC.

Whenever I require work to be done at a shop, I ALWAYS request that the coach be plugged into either a 20, 30 or 50 amp service.

I have a residential fridge so depending on the length of time the coach is being worked on determines whether the coach is plugged in or not.

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Old 01-11-2014, 06:36 PM   #14
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Most likely some lights got left on, it would not take much to kill them in 4 days. Most service folks don't pay much attention to turning of lights. As other have said all you can do is charge then up and see what happens. Most likely 4 days of cold and deep discharge = new batteries.
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