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Old 04-01-2019, 08:11 AM   #1
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Inverter Drains Van Battery

Just got a 2003 SMB Ford E350 EB. The previous owner noted that the inverter (Prosine 2000W) would drain the van battery so they left it off.

I tested this and sure enough it drained the van battery with the van off.

What would cause this and what should I check?

I imagine it's connected to the van battery so you can get AC while the van is on, but while the van is off it seems like it should switch to the house battery.

I'd like to use the inverter in the future so was curious to get this fixed. From the inverter manual it seems like there should be a battery isolater like the house battery has. But I havent checked yet. Wanted to get a list of other things to check as well.

Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2019, 08:47 AM   #2
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Try Prosineís web site for the unitís operating manual. Even with no load plugged into an inverter, on standby as it were, they draw power. The bigger the unit the bigger the draw. The manual should outline it.

Many people use a smaller inverter in the system for lighter loads to reduce the draw down on the house battery.
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Old 04-01-2019, 08:57 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply. As mentioned above, I have the manual and it's the van battery not house battery.

I don't want to leave it on all the time, but when I'm parked (van off) it drains the vans starter battery, not the house battery.
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Old 04-01-2019, 09:10 AM   #4
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In general there would be one isolator between the house and van batteries. The Inverter should be connected to the house battery, so if it was not working then you could suspect a faulty isolator (or maybe bypassed). This should also effect the starting battery when using other 12 volt power from the house side. It is possible that you just haven't noticed that yet. It also possible that it is installed in some other way, but this would be the standard configuration.

Since your rig is a 2003 SMB it should have come with a Diode based isolator. There are ways to bench test the isolator, you can find a procedure in this thread: http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ues-20410.html

Your sportsmobile manual should have the location of the isolator, if you don't have a manual you can find a couple of versions here: http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...nuals-116.html There should be an 1998 and a 2004 version. 2004 is where sportsmobile switched to the Surepower Separator , but this manual still has isolator data.

Of course anything could have been changed at some time.

-greg
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Old 04-01-2019, 03:53 PM   #5
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So if I understand you correctly, the starter battery drains, but the house battery stays charged when you leave the inverter on? No drain at all on the house battery?

As has been stated, the 2 batteries should have an isolator to keep the 2 circuits separate when parked. But if it was JUST the isolator that has failed, I would expect both batteries to lose charge when the inverter has been left on.

That would lead me to believe the inverter had been wired to the starter battery instead of the house battery. Obviously you will want the inverter wired to the house battery instead.

Time to get out there and start tracing wires.

And FWIW, even connected to the house battery, I would not leave the inverter on except in those moments I needed to have 110V off the battery. Personally I would wire in an easy to reach switch to turn the inverter on and off as its needed and train everyone in the van to leave it off normally.

I purposely try to buy everything I can find in a 12V version so I don't need an inverter.
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:27 PM   #6
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So if I understand you correctly, the starter battery drains, but the house battery stays charged when you leave the inverter on? No drain at all on the house battery?
Yes. Exactly.
Also, I only turned the inverter on, I did not set it to actually start inverter mode(has inverter mode and charger mode). But either way I would expect it to drain the battery just by being on, even if the inverter mode is off.

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As has been stated, the 2 batteries should have an isolator to keep the 2 circuits separate when parked. But if it was JUST the isolator that has failed, I would expect both batteries to lose charge when the inverter has been left on.
Yes as well. This would be my expectation as well. The house battery does charge off the engine when running, but then doesn't drain the starter battery when the van is off.

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Originally Posted by shadetreevanman View Post
That would lead me to believe the inverter had been wired to the starter battery instead of the house battery. Obviously you will want the inverter wired to the house battery instead.

Time to get out there and start tracing wires.

And FWIW, even connected to the house battery, I would not leave the inverter on except in those moments I needed to have 110V off the battery. Personally I would wire in an easy to reach switch to turn the inverter on and off as its needed and train everyone in the van to leave it off normally.

I purposely try to buy everything I can find in a 12V version so I don't need an inverter.
That's what I'm scared of. Time to trace indeed.

I also would rather run everything on 12V as well but I work remotely and would like to be able to charge my laptop. Although I bet there is a 12V charger somewhere out there.
Also broken things bother me lol, so I want it working even if I don't use it lol.

Will have time tomorrow evening to go tracing, will report back.
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Old 04-01-2019, 06:06 PM   #7
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That's what I'm scared of. Time to trace indeed.

I also would rather run everything on 12V as well but I work remotely and would like to be able to charge my laptop. Although I bet there is a 12V charger somewhere out there.
Also broken things bother me lol, so I want it working even if I don't use it lol.

Will have time tomorrow evening to go tracing, will report back.
I hear ya on the not liking broken things. Good luck on your wiring discovery. But the inverter drawing the battery down over several days time doesn't necessarily imply the inverter is bad and/or broken. Just that it's standby draw exceeds the amperage available of the battery it's connected to.

In your case the fact its drawing the starter battery down is the biggest problem. Get it off that battery and on to the house battery where it belongs and it may be a different story.

What I didn't see in your explanation is how long it takes to draw the battery down? If it happens overnight I would wonder about the state of your starter battery and also the inverter. If your van sets for days/weeks without being driven I wouldn't be too concerned with either one yet. But either way I would definitely add a shutoff switch to the inverter feed wire. If its a daily driver it may not be strictly necessary, although I would still argue for adding one.

To my knowledge there isn't an available Apple Laptop 12V Charger, but they are easily available for the various manufacturer's of Windows Laptops. I've had a 12V-19V charger for mine for years now.

An inverter uses electricity to convert 12V DC to 110V AC, then you lose again when you convert from that 110V AC to 19V DC, or whatever your laptop requires for DC. Much less energy wasted to go directly from 12V DC to 19V DC. Less energy wasted means your house battery is going to have more amperage available for other needs.
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Old 04-01-2019, 09:27 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by shadetreevanman View Post
To my knowledge there isn't an available Apple Laptop 12V Charger, but they are easily available for the various manufacturer's of Windows Laptops. I've had a 12V-19V charger for mine for years now.

An inverter uses electricity to convert 12V DC to 110V AC, then you lose again when you convert from that 110V AC to 19V DC, or whatever your laptop requires for DC. Much less energy wasted to go directly from 12V DC to 19V DC. Less energy wasted means your house battery is going to have more amperage available for other needs.
Sure there is! It's all I've used for years. It is important to make sure you know which charging port your Macbook has as they've changed, like most Apple cords/plugs over the years. The one below is not necessarily your fit.

@Tnmarm, make sure you pay attention to Tim's last statement here. Most people assume a laptop is an AC appliance because laptops, like other computers, are sold with an AC charger. This is not the case. All portable batteries are DC, as in EVERY one in EVERY thing that has a battery, from flashlights to cars.

Your laptop is DC, like your car. You are convoluting things by changing DC over to AC via an inverter just to charge a DC appliance with the AC cord it came with. Pardon me for restating what Tim stated but I'm just trying to be clear. Find yourself a DC charger for your laptop, whatever the brand, and simplify your life!



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Old 04-01-2019, 09:34 PM   #9
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Thanks 86Scotty. In this case I'm happy to be proved wrong. That's a really inexpensive solution for Apple users.
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Old 04-01-2019, 09:41 PM   #10
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Thanks 86Scotty. In this case I'm happy to be proved wrong. That's a really inexpensive solution for Apple users.
Yeah, I was rather stoked when I found them. I have a few floating around. They are cheap and they are cheap so there's that, buy a couple if you buy one. Apple doesn't make one that I know of and this is a mystery to me. Perhaps they don't realize that most of their clientele are highly mobile types who would benefit much more from a off grid charger than a home type and it would probably be cheaper for them to produce.
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