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Old 03-07-2022, 05:35 PM   #1
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House battery not charging while driving

Hello everyone - newbie here.

My house battery is not charging while the engine is running. After searching all over the place and trying different things, I'm still at a loss.

I have a 2004 Jayco Greyhawk with a Ford E450.

Here's what I've done and tested:

My Battery Isolator is under the hood on the drivers side. When the engine is running, I can see ~14 volts coming in from the chassis battery / alternator on the "inbound" post, but only 10 volts on the "outbound" post. When I measure the battery itself, it also has 10 volts. So I'm guessing the volts read on the "outbound" post are from the battery, not from the isolator.

Thinking the problem is with the isolator, I replaced it with a part of the local auto-parts store. It's a different type, but I didn't know if that matters. Mine has two large posts / terminals and two smaller / ground. The new one has two posts and one ground.

My first question is, shouldn't 14 volts be going out of the isolator to the battery? When the engine is running I see no jump in volts at the battery. It stays where it's at.

Here's what I can't find anywhere: I have a pink wire that's just "loose" in the area. I'm not sure if that's coming from the Aux Battery switch on the inside (ya know, to start the engine is the chassis battery fails) or if it's something else. I'm afraid to connect it to ground or the hot post for fear of shorting something out.

Any ideas of what else to check would be appreciated! TIA
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Old 03-07-2022, 10:55 PM   #2
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The relay you changed should have wire that energizes the it when the engine is running. To be charging the voltage should be the same on both of the large terminals. Maybe the mounting isn't grounded. That's what the second wire probably was (ground). Check it with your voltmeter.
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Old 03-08-2022, 04:07 PM   #3
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Battery not charging

Thanks for confirming my first question - the alternator charge should be going out on both sides of Isolator.
I tried connecting the loose wire to the ground position on the old unit, but that didn't change anything. The new isolator I got only had one ground post... I had connected the ground wire that was on the first one to that and then grounded it to frame. That's how it was with the old one. But I didn't try connecting the loose wire to the ground post on the new unit.
When I use my voltmeter to test, I get a reading when I put the black to the ground, but I also get a reading when I put the black to the loose wire. I'm just not sure what the isolator is missing in order to do it's job... that is, send the volts from the alternator through.
Is there anyone out there with a similar model that can take a picture and post it here of theirs?
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Old 03-08-2022, 11:53 PM   #4
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Pretty sure older models (like my 99 E450SD chassis) just use an IGN=ON voltage from IGN switch-controlled relay to control this CHARGE SOLENOID. On mine, I can hear it CLUNK just by turning IGN=ON, even w/ engine=not running. Plugged in, I can also see chassis voltage rise on my voltmeter/USB charger plugged into dash receptacle. New models use a BATTERY MONITOR/CHARGE CONTROLLER (OFTEN INTELLITEC Brand) that monitors both batteries, and charges both from engine or shoreline, but with priority to CHASSIS? Also read it has various delays built in for various reasons? CHARGE and BOOST SOLENOIDs should be RATED for CONTINUOUS DUTY to prevent short life burnout from coil overheat.

IF you have 12vdc to the smaller two terminals on the solenoid when IGN=ON, but NOT the same higher voltage on both sides of the larger battery terminals, it is defective. It happens. I replaced my BOOST solenoid under step a few months back.

If you do NOT have voltage to the smaller terminals w/ IGN=ON, then advise and we can discuss further.
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Old 03-09-2022, 12:01 AM   #5
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IF you are saying new solenoid only has ONE small terminal vs two, then the ground is through the mounting bracket. That small wire terminal then connects to IGN controlled B+ and solenoid should mount on grounded metal vs plastic, (as in a plastic battery box)

If you are saying you replaced an INTELLITEC Battery Monitor unit, it controls this IGN controlled signal voltage to the CHARGE SOLENOID, but you need to verify signal at the solenoid, or Not?

https://www.bing.com/search?q=intell...21219567b18414

PDF= https://www.bing.com/search?q=intell...21219567b18414
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Old 03-09-2022, 12:14 AM   #6
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These solenoids have one or two small posts. If only one, that is the hot signal wire that will close the solenoid. These use a built-in ground, the solenoid case. If that's the case make sure the case has a good clean contact to the chassis frame. The two post types, use one post for the hot signal lead and the other is the ground. The ground may be bonded to a local chassis point or go somewhere else. I think the two post versions are better.


These solenoids are likely a continuous duty type, in that the solenoid is getting power all the time the engine is running. I've replaced these solenoids before when the house batteries do not charge while driving. The same solenoid may also be used for a battery boost purpose.


I would run a continuity test between that black wire and a known good ground. If its a circuit then that is the ground wire for the solenoid. That pink wire might be the hot signal lead. Start the engine, make sure the RV can't move, and test if there is 12 volts on it. Then test it again with the engine off. If 12v when engine is running and 0 volts with engine off then that's should be the hot signal lead.


Once the solenoid is closed voltage should be equal on both large terminals.
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Old 03-09-2022, 01:05 AM   #7
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When you say "The battery" is 10v, do you mean the house battery? (I assume so).
Or are you saying the chassis battery?


Without the car running and without being plugged in to shore power, what is the voltage of your house battery(s)? If it is 10v, that sounds like it could be a dead house battery. You can always put a standalone charger on it overnight and then bring it to AutoZone or equivalent and they can test your battery for you to see if it is any good. If you have a bad house battery, then that could do "weird" things when you are trying to charge it (and while charging it from the alternator).


Note: Even if your house battery IS dead, I would expect the two posts of the solenoid to be close to equal voltage when the engine is running.


Let us know what you find out and how you resolve it. Good luck!


-Chris
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Old 03-10-2022, 06:49 PM   #8
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Thanks again for the replies, suggestions and ideas.

I don't hear a "clunk" when I turn the key like everyone is saying.

Also, as I read through your comments and questions I'm beginning to think I don't have an "isolator" but a charge solenoid. I've been following the wires and can't find what looks like an isolator anywhere. Mine looks like this: (can't seem to get the insert image to work, so here's a link)

https://www.amazon.com/Rodgers-Conti...6959688&sr=8-6

What I bought from the auto store to replace it looks like this:

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/smp-ss750

To answer a few questions:
I get voltage on both terminals regardless of the key position - on, off, engine running or not. As I've stated, one matches the voltage from the chassis battery or alternator (when running) and the other matches that of the house battery.

One lead is coming from my power distribution box with the fuses, the other "disappears" toward the back... assuming a connection to the house battery.

The two smaller terminals both act as ground. To read my voltage, I tap the red wire of my voltmeter to the large terminal and the black wire to the small terminal.

When I run a continuity test it's good between the two large terminals, whether the engine is running or not... key is ON or not.

The battery voltage has dropped a bit due to usage and not being charged to full again. So yes, the current voltage from the battery is 10. If I plug it in to shore power or run my generator is charges up again.

I have a few followup questions based on your feedback:
1. THenne1713 - mentioned having voltage on the smaller two terminals... those are acting a ground. I don't read any voltage coming from those ever. Am I understanding your question right? When I tap red to the large terminal and black to the small terminal it shows voltage.

2. The new unit (as pictured above) has two large terminals and one smaller terminal. You mentioned that the ground is probably the mounting bracket and an IGN controlled B+ would go to the smaller terminal... I'm not understanding this - what is that?

3. rarebear.nm - you suggested the pink wire might be a hot signal lead. From all my testing it too is acting a ground. When I touch red to the large terminal and black to this wire I get a voltage reading. This is the same whether the engine is running or the key is turned on or off.

I've ordered a replacement solenoid for one that looks exactly like mine (the first picture above) and will try that. If the other unit that I tried would do the same thing than I'm confused on the wiring, specifically the middle, smaller terminal.

Thanks again for the help!
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Old 03-10-2022, 07:27 PM   #9
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In that setup, two large posts and a small post; the small post goes to a hot IGN source and it causes the switch between the two large posts to close. In a simple solenoid like this it should not matter which large post goes to which battery. On some models the large posts have additional connections and battery connection is important.


As for test voltage for the most part I would use a good chassis ground or even better sometimes I run a wire from the NEG post on the battery to wherever I'm working. I know that will be a good ground. In this case the solenoid case should be a good ground if it is connection to a clean solid chassis point.


So measure voltage between each post or lead and this known solid ground. Anything else may add an unknown to the problem.


When I'm not clear about which posts are what I'll take some 12 volt power source on my workbench and use that to operate the item being tested. I make my measurements there.


I wonder as if the signal hot lead from the IGN is really good? One of the wires should be +12v when the IGN is on and 0V when off. If you do not have such a lead at the solenoid it will never work.
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Old 03-10-2022, 07:43 PM   #10
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That solenoid, if you got it working, would burn up in a few hours, it's a starter solenoid made to connect for 30 seconds.

Get a continuous duty 200 amp solenoid from Amazon. It is made to stay powered up full time while driving.

By now, you probably blew the fuse in the wire to the solenoids small terminal. Follow the small wire to where it meets the Ford wiring. There may be a fuse at that point, otherwise it will be in the fuse box.
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Old 03-10-2022, 09:51 PM   #11
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Did you check for voltage on either of the small wires with the ignition on?

It sounds like you are using your digital voltmeter to check.

If the ignition is off, and you check to see if the small wires have ground or power, they will both likely seem to be ground because the normal load of the ignition circuit will act like a ground. It really isn't.

Try to find a wire that gets hot when you turn your ignition on and use a jumper to energize the solenoid. You should have the same voltage at both big posts then.

If this is hard to understand, sorry, I'm not a teacher, just a mechanic.

Maybe you can find a mobile RV repair guy to take a look at it. Might be something very simple.
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Old 03-11-2022, 12:19 AM   #12
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A standard RV battery charging solenoid looks like this.


Click image for larger version

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Here's a title from Amazon.


Cole Hersee 24213 12V 200A Continuous Solenoid
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Old 03-11-2022, 01:14 AM   #13
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If you have two small terminals and two small wires, one wire and one terminal is GROUND.

(EXPLANATION of what YOU DID follows) IF there is NO VOLTAGE APPLIED to the other small terminal from the (other small wire) IGN source (IGN=OFF, 2nd small wire) and meter is between a larger terminal (=B+/B+2) and the small hot terminal, the small hot terminal is ACTING AS a METER GROUND, THROUGH the COIL WINDING WIRE, IT IS CONNECTED to Ground.*** This coil winding wire is low resistance, so no substantial voltage drop seen by the meter. CORRECT WAY is meter leads across the two small wire terminals to check for voltage to the COIL, WHEN IGN=ON. (*** The way you connected meter, you did verify two things: 1) COIL HAS A PROPER GROUND; 2) COIL winding is NOT burned out (YET :-) ***)

IF YOU DO NOT have voltage to one of the small terminals (Meter from small terminal to bracket or meter across the two small terminals), then check that loose PINK wire for voltage controlled by (Ignition Switch) IGN=ON/OFF should turn that voltage ON/OFF. (METER Leads to pink wire and ground/ bracket) HOPE this helps clarify?
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Old 03-11-2022, 07:26 PM   #14
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Your responses are helping! Thank you. So I understand the solenoid needs a lead that turns hot when the key is on. That closes the connection inside the solenoid so voltage can flow through from one terminal to the other... thus charging the house battery.

In the area under the hood where the solenoid is I can't find a hot connection that's only active with the key.

Here's what it looks like:
Click image for larger version

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I disconnected the red wire and checked that - no voltage on its own with the key on or off. Same with the orange wire (sorry, it's orange not pink!).

Your comments got me to following the wires around. The coil they all go into goes underneath, comes out with other wires under the driver's step and disappear into the back.

I went back to the house battery. I don't see the thick red wire come out back there - I have no idea where that goes or what function is servers. Same with the orange - I can't figure out where that ends up.

So, back to the house battery. I did see this back there:
Click image for larger version

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I believe the 5 amp fuse in the lower left is blown - although I can't through it, there's no continuity from stem to stem.

The large terminals on the left and the right both measure 10 volts (matching the current voltage of the house battery), whether the engine is on or off.

I couldn't get any kind of a reading from either of the two smaller volts.

A couple of questions: Could it be as simple as replacing the fuse? (haven't had a chance to do that yet and I don't have that kind in my glove box!)
Or do I still have the problem of needing 14.5 volts coming out of the solenoid under the hood?

What is the purpose of having both? Could it be that the solenoid serves some other purpose? ...maybe I've been barking up the wrong tree!

There is continuity between the two terminals on the solenoid - should there be?
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