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Old 10-27-2021, 12:22 PM   #1
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Generator doesn't charge chassis battery?

So it seems on my 1993 Newmar gasser with an Onan 6500 and an "I.R.D.". Notice it doesn't seem to have the added "B" of the later BIRDs.
I have been using my generator almost exclusively to run the AC's while driving. I needed it to run around eight hours by itself the other and discovered this. After maybe two hours it quit. Cranked very slowly when I tried to restart it. Cranked fine with the battery boost switch pressed. So I fired up the engine and let the alternator recharge for a while. Then cut it off and watched a digital volt gauge I have installed. It steadily went down until right about 12.2 volts the generator died. Repeated the experiment. (I also discovered that running the front AC on high and trying to microwave Raviolis at the same time pops one of the generator breakers.)
After looking at IRD manuals and fuse checking I have come to the conclusion that everything is working as designed. Even though I find it hard to believe no one ever boondocked in this this and found it to be a problem in all those years that's my conclusion. I find it unacceptable though.
I suspect my coach only ever charges the chassis battery when the engine is running. The converter only charges/maintains the house batteries with my setup.
OK, I admit I have not done due diligence here. I have not dug into all the wires to verify this and that is being charged under which circumstances with a meter. I'm inclined to believed that as old as my RV is and the setup being fairly common someone out there has already done all the grunt work. Maybe?

The only solution that has come to mind so far is to use a 120volt battery charger that can output slightly more 12 volt power than the generator requires while running and turn it on when I want to use my coach that way. Not at all an elegant solution and I as yet have no idea what the Onan's power draw actually is.

Lastly, seems like a dumbass way to hook up a generator. Did they really do it the way it is apparently working? Run off the chassis battery until it dies? Or have I overlooked something? All the fuses I can find seem in good shape. The rest of the IRD seems to function as designed.
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Old 10-27-2021, 02:33 PM   #2
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My generator will charge the chassis battery via a Trik-L-Start gizmo that draws a charge from the house battery to the chassis battery.

Shore Power will also charge the chassis battery the same way.

I got mine from Amazon and there are other brands.

https://www.rvupgradestore.com/Ultra...ik-l-start.htm

Yes, many MH are built that way.............
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Old 10-27-2021, 02:51 PM   #3
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FYI the Trik-L-Start is a 10 amp device, the
data sheet is here:
Mega TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer

The Amp-L-Start is a 15 amp device, the
data sheet is here
AMP-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer - Overview Page

The price difference is trivial, and the extra 5 amps might be a useful difference...

There are other devices that do the same job...

Mike
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Old 10-27-2021, 07:10 PM   #4
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Thanks. I have several battery chargers around of various types (too many vehicles). If that's the way it just is I guess I better find out what exactly the generator draws and which one might fill the bill. Probably just buy a dedicated one really.

Still can't wrap my head around the design though. As-is it's been like a sort of constant loss setup for 28 years and I'm the first one to want to do anything about it.
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Old 10-27-2021, 08:32 PM   #5
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Your generator doesn't charge batteries, it powers the converter/charger OR inverter/charger. That charges the house batteries.

Your problem isn't the generator, it's the charger you already have.
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Old 10-28-2021, 10:04 AM   #6
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Yes, I noted shortly after purchasing this coach that the converter only charged the house batteries with the coach plugged in.
My "problem" is that I can only run everything on the generator (with the engine off) until the chassis battery runs out juice.
What I really wanted to know was if the coach was really built that way. And in the first reply Deandec says they surely did.
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Old 10-28-2021, 11:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by GypsyR View Post
Yes, I noted shortly after purchasing this coach that the converter only charged the house batteries with the coach plugged in.
My "problem" is that I can only run everything on the generator (with the engine off) until the chassis battery runs out juice.
What I really wanted to know was if the coach was really built that way. And in the first reply Deandec says they surely did.
I would say that someone moved the generator cable to the chassis battery. A PO probably ran the house battery to low and it wouldn't start the generator. That along with a failed isolation/ boost start solenoid left him with a no generator start issue.

Move it back so it starts and runs on the house battery. Use a working boost start system if you run the house battery to low.
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Old 10-28-2021, 12:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
I would say that someone moved the generator cable to the chassis battery. A PO probably ran the house battery to low and it wouldn't start the generator. That along with a failed isolation/ boost start solenoid left him with a no generator start issue.

Move it back so it starts and runs on the house battery. Use a working boost start system if you run the house battery to low.
^^^ What he said ^^^
I agree that a prior owner made the change and for the stated reason. I've made the same change, and then put it back.

I'd suggest that you fix the boost start system before you need it.

And I'd add an Amp-L-Start as I mentioned above. That device is an install-it-and-forget-it device that will keep the chassis battery charged from the house battery. It's a simple install, you can bolt it right next to the boost start solenoid and hook the wiring to it.

Mike
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Old 10-28-2021, 01:08 PM   #9
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The generator cable runs to one of the IRD relays and nowhere near either set of batteries. Moving the cable was my first thought but I'd want to study on the situation as it may affect the battery isolation setup. The IRD/BIRD diagrams I've looked at do NOT show that the generator should be hooked to the house batteries. I saw mention somewhere of not overloading the converter so I would keep that in mind as it surely appears to be of the same vintage as the rest of the coach.

I can simply use a manually controlled battery charger. A less than elegant solution though.
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Old 10-28-2021, 03:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnotherMike View Post
FYI the Trik-L-Start is a 10 amp device, the
data sheet is here:
Mega TRIK-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer

The Amp-L-Start is a 15 amp device, the
data sheet is here
AMP-L-START Starting Battery Charger/Maintainer - Overview Page

The price difference is trivial, and the extra 5 amps might be a useful difference...

There are other devices that do the same job...

Mike
Iíam curious if this will work with solar house battery charger. My house batteries stay charged from the solar panels but chassis battery does not.
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Old 10-28-2021, 04:13 PM   #11
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Iíam curious if this will work with solar house battery charger. My house batteries stay charged from the solar panels but chassis battery does not.
Either device senses 13.2 to 13.4 volts before it connects the house to the chassis batteries.

If your solar brings the house batteries up to that, it will connect in the chassis battery.
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Old 10-28-2021, 04:18 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by GypsyR View Post
The generator cable runs to one of the IRD relays and nowhere near either set of batteries. Moving the cable was my first thought but I'd want to study on the situation as it may affect the battery isolation setup. The IRD/BIRD diagrams I've looked at do NOT show that the generator should be hooked to the house batteries. I saw mention somewhere of not overloading the converter so I would keep that in mind as it surely appears to be of the same vintage as the rest of the coach.

I can simply use a manually controlled battery charger. A less than elegant solution though.
There is only one IRD relay ( solenoid ) and it is often used to link to the disconnect solenoids and a junction for other things, like a generator feed.

90% of Motorhomes use the house batteries as generator start batteries and they don't overload the conveter/charger.

The converter is the power producing device, it can only output its rated amps, even at a max current. It can't overload itself.
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Old 10-28-2021, 04:47 PM   #13
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Just relaying what I read. Listed word for word from one of Intellitec's BIRD manuals:

"Generator Operation.

When the generator is operating, a 12 volt signal is applied to the generator input. This inhibits the isolator from
operating. This is to prevent the generator/converter combination from supplying power to the chassis
functions which might over-load the converter or the generator circuit breaker."

Even though they think overload needs a hyphen, there it is. I kind of hope that the people designing and building such things have a clue. But such isn't up my alley enough for me to call them out.
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Old 10-28-2021, 05:45 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GypsyR View Post
The generator cable runs to one of the IRD relays and nowhere near either set of batteries. Moving the cable was my first thought but I'd want to study on the situation as it may affect the battery isolation setup. The IRD/BIRD diagrams I've looked at do NOT show that the generator should be hooked to the house batteries. I saw mention somewhere of not overloading the converter so I would keep that in mind as it surely appears to be of the same vintage as the rest of the coach.

I can simply use a manually controlled battery charger. A less than elegant solution though.
You don't say if you have the factory wiring diagrams for your Newmar. In you shoes I'd be calling them and asking for a set so you can find out where things are supposed to be connected, and where the connections are located. I did that with Fleetwood (now known as REV group) and they emailed me some PDFs the next day. The biggest printer I had access to at that time was only 11x17 inches so I copied the PDFs to a thumb drive and took it to a blueprint shop that had a roll feed printer and charges by the square foot of printing. I got them printed on LARGE sheets. The diagrams allowed me to find a number of wiring issues and fix them.

Most of the FedEx Office locations have roll feed printers.

Mike
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