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Old 03-26-2023, 09:54 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2019
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Bad Batteries or Bad Inverter/Charger

We have a 2006 Fleetwood Bounder 38N turbo diesel motorhome we purchased in March, 2019. It has a 2500 watt Xantrex Freedom 458 Inverter/Charger with remote control panel inside the front door. I replaced the old batteries in Aug., 2019 with 4 new Trojan T-105 deep cycle flooded batteries, then we began fulltime RVing in October, 2019.

We've only boondocked a few times and have used 50 amp hook-ups in nearly all our stays. We've averaged about 7,500 miles per year. I've maintained the batteries about every 3 months checking fluid levels, voltage with a multimeter, and specific gravity with a hydrometer with no red flags although perhaps a yellow flag with one battery showing slightly lower SG in one cell a month ago.

Two days ago we lost power to the 12 volt system. I checked fuses, GFCIs, circuit breakers, and the inverter. Voltage at the batteries was down below 12.5. The charger portion of the Xantrex unit finally started charging, but the same thing happened yesterday with voltage dropping below 12.0. Nothing would get the Xantrex unit to start charging the batteries so I started the engine and let the alternator do the charging. It got them up to about 12.7 volts but no higher. Today, Sunday, the batteries were in fault mode until I started the engine again.

My guess is that it is the batteries that have bit the dust and that the Inverter/Charger is still working fine. The 300 amp fuse between the batteries and the Xantrex is still good, and voltages were 12.77 at the batteries and 12.74 at the inverter/charger when I tested them yesterday.

Anyone have any advice before I go out and buy 4 new batteries tomorrow? TIA.
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Old 03-26-2023, 10:17 AM   #2
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Reread what you wrote? Because I more read it to say Xantrex is going bad/ intermittent? Bad relay contacts, failing Capacitors, cracked boards, or bad solder joints likely? Look up how much cell variance is allowed before battery cell labeled bad? 12.5 is still 80%+ charged and 12.65-12.7= 100% where 12.0= 50%+/-. Good Luck
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Old 03-26-2023, 12:14 PM   #3
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If the batteries were bad, the volts would drop to below 11 volts.

Check all cable connections, circuit breakers on the inverter, unplug battery temp sensor.
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Old 03-26-2023, 02:21 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies. Some details I left out involve how quickly the voltage on the batteries drops after shutting the engine down. It had dropped to around 10.0 on the remote control panel when we got up this morning. It quickly rose to around 12.5 after running the engine and alternator for about 15-20 minutes.

All the cable connections have been checked and tightened. The temperature sensor has been disconnected. Circuit breakers are okay as is the fuse from the batteries. When I used the multimeter to check voltage this afternoon, the front and rear pairs of batteries were both at 11.20 volts at 2:30. At 2:40, they both dropped to 10.93 volts. At 3:00 the front pair was at 10.62, and the rear pair were 10.61. Battery 3 was 5.26 volts while #4 was 5.35 volts.

The remote control panel now shows the battery in Low Battery Shutdown and voltage between 10.0 and 10.5. I may be able to run the engine and recharge the batteries just before bedtime to limp through the night then either replace the batteries tomorrow or call a mobile RC tech to make a house call.
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Old 03-26-2023, 03:22 PM   #5
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It sounds like your inverter/charger isn't charging. When you run the coach for 20 minutes it won't be able to charge the batteries very much. You may want to hook up an external charger, otherwise your batteries will be destroyed by being left depleted for an extended period.

Make sure it is getting 120v power when you are plugged in or running your generator. I'm not familiar with that inverter/charger, but it may have a circuit breaker on it that's tripped.

What devices go through the inverter? Do those work when you are plugged in or running the generator?

Are there any error lights on the inverter?, or error indication on your remote panel?
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Old 03-26-2023, 04:44 PM   #6
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I do believe before spending money,I would run a equalizing charge on the battery bank, do not add water to them prior to the equalize charge unless water is below plates, then just enough to cover plates. If filled first they will boil over from the high equalize charge rate of 15.5V for FLA batteries. Equalize charge brings all cells up to the same voltage.

If you suspect the batteries are sulfated, rent a pulse charger to charge/revive them as it is so seldom required.
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Old 03-26-2023, 04:59 PM   #7
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Another test before spending money is to recharge from the alternator, then disconnect the ground from the battery pack and monitor for a voltage drop on the battery pack as a whole and each of the four batteries. I assume you have a multimeter of some kind you can test with.

If the voltage has dropped by any large amount between completion of the charge process and a few hours you got one or more bad batteries. Has the water in any battery even gotten below the top of the plates? If so they well be badly damaged.

Good luck...
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Old 03-26-2023, 07:49 PM   #8
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It takes at least 4 hours to charge your batteries fully. First lookup how to reset your inverter. A hard reset. It will charge if the batteries have 9 volts or more iirc. Push all the circuit breakers on the inverter, three I think. If the panel charge light is on and you don’t have at least 13.4 volts going into the batteries read on how to disconnect the control panel and make the inverter to charge. If still nothing it’s time to suspect the inverter. Those batteries should have another 3 years in them under the use conditions you described.
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Old 03-27-2023, 06:24 AM   #9
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All the symptoms you describe is lack of charging. Whether it's from a failed inverter/charger or external in the form of a fuse, circuit breaker or bad connection is the first question to answer. The engine alternator will not restore a charge very quickly so don't consider that a substitute. If you're on shore power then a backup automotive charger left connected would help keep the batteries up until you can figure out the issue.

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Old 03-27-2023, 06:32 AM   #10
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Charger failing

Lots of good advice posted above.

The most likely cause is a failing charger. Of course many things are possible. I agree with the post that suggest getting a portable charger until the Xantrex is fixed or replaced.

Batteries charge as expected from the engine. That says they are OK. Batteries are 4 years old, but have not been charged and discharged excessively. That says they should be good for years yet.

Intermittent failure before total failure says it could be the charger or loose or corroded connection between the battery and charger. Don't forget to check ground cables. They often cause connection problems.

It takes 14 to 18 hours to fully charge deeply discharged lead acid batteries. They may benefit from 24 hours charging after days of deep discharge. This needs to be done soon to prevent sulfation of the batteries. This is best done with a 30 amp or larger portable charger. A 20 amp may do in a pinch.
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Old 03-27-2023, 07:02 AM   #11
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We have a large solar power system at our home with 32 T105s and from what you are saying, I would be surprised if you do not have an issue with your inverter/charger that has permanently damaged your batteries. Inconsistent charging can damage a battery and shorten it's life dramatically. I would fully charge the batteries, using a a stand alone charger, and after all of the batteries are 100%, unhook the batteries from the inverter and all other charging sources and let the batteries sit for about 8 hours. After 8 hours check each battery with your multimeter and any that are below 6 volts need to be replaced. I would also contact your inverter manufactures technical assistance and see if they can help you analyze the inverter to determine if it needs to be replaced. The charger not automatically starting and requiring you to go to additional steps to get it to work does not speak well for it's functioning properly but it may be something the manufacturer can pinpoint that is cheaper to replace than an entire new unit.
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Old 03-27-2023, 12:51 PM   #12
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Well, we decided to take the advice of the majority of posters and called a mobile technician to come check out the Freedom 458 Inverter/Charger before buying 4 new batteries. That level of electrical knowledge is beyond my expertise.

They immediately determined that some wiring inside the inverter/charger had overheated and melted the wires. It didn't trip the 25 amp breaker on the face of the unit or the 30 amp breaker in our main circuit box. They pulled the 30 amp breaker and found a large chunk of the back side of the breaker had melted. We feel very fortunate the MH didn't catch on fire.

A new inverter/charger, same model as the 17 year old unit, has been ordered and should be replaced by Wednesday. In the meantime, we have a charger hooked to the batteries to determine if they were drained too low for too long a time period.

Thanks to all who provided feedback!
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