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Old 07-18-2009, 04:38 PM   #1
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Need some quick help-battery problem

I plugged into shore power for the first time. Starting voltage on the 2006 Lifeline battery was 12.42. While plugged in the voltage was something like 13.34 so the charger was working.

I just came back and unplugged and checked voltage and it is 11.6

Do I need to run out and get a charger? What the heck is up? This reading seems impossible.

Thanks

Tom
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:44 PM   #2
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

Check your battery charger on board. It may be bad. Check the amperage it puts out when plugged in. That is the first place I would start.
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Old 07-18-2009, 06:47 PM   #3
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

This has been a special afternoon.

I thought, why not plug the SMB into shore power and top off that nice 2006 lifeline battery which was sitting at about 12.4 volts (after two months of ownership and a couple of thousand miles)? I did, and the built in SMB charger (an old Power Source 45) was putting out about 13.23.

I come back after 3-4 hours, still putting out 13.23. I disconnect shore power and suddenly the battery is in the 11 range.

I drive down to the auto store (in the SMB) to get a charger and charge off the alternator during the drive. At the store, it's reading 12.8 with the engine off but dropping like a rock (12.8, 12.79, 12.78, etc.)

I get home, strip off everything from the battery, remove the charger (thinking there must be a massive short). Some blood, lots of cursing..... During the time it has taken me to do this, we are now at 12 volts, 11.99, 11.98....

Now the "smart" batter charger hooked up and is telling me it's.......charged.....

The disconnected SMB charger is in my living room and is still putting out 13.23.

I like to learn from my mistakes. Did I just kill my battery somehow?

It's history is unknown to me so it could have been deeply and repeatedly discharged in the past. Was it just random chance that it picked this morning to die?

Tom

PS-sorry about the two threads on this topic, I didn't realize I would have a battery "emergency" until this afternoon.
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Old 07-18-2009, 06:55 PM   #4
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

You can fart around with this type of situation for weeks, and finally you'll find that the battery is starting to die. I had the most weird electrical problems, and it was my engine batteries failing. Nothing seemed to indicate that. New batteries, and ALL problems vanished.
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:19 PM   #5
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

Thanks. Electrical stuff just bothers me. I've been reading "The 12 Volt Bible" before bed each night. Doesn't take more than about a page to put me down.

Now that everything is out of the van and torn up, it's sitting at 12.54.

Is there a way to use the multimeter to see if the built in charger as drawing power (or shorted) when unplugged? Other than a dying battery, that's the only thing that I can think of that might have changed. But having written the question, even that doesn't make much sense.

I wonder if I can run the 12 volt system off the charger without a house battery? It produces up to 45 amps when plugged in. Would the Starcool and refrigerator be OK with no house battery and just running when driving or plugged in?

Tom
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:00 AM   #6
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

Tom,

I agree with Jeffrey, it is easy to go down the wrong path when checking your battery and charging system, it really becomes a process of elimination.

Because most folks don't have access to all the "good" testing equipment, I've seen mis-diagnosis because the volt meter being used was inferior. That being said, you might want to take your battery to a decent service center and have it load tested to confirm it's condition.

I have seen the Power Source Converter/Chargers have an internal short once 110VAC power was removed (this was one reason SMB switched to the Progressive Dynamics unit many years ago). The Power Source would charge fine, but then discharge the battery quickly once the van was unplugged. You could test this by using an ohm meter to check the resistance between the positive terminal and the ground (both the ground terminal and the case) on the Power Source when it is NOT connected to 110VAC power.

As far as operating the Starcool and refrigerator from just the Converter/Charger, you really want a battery to serve as a "reservoir" for times when the voltage will exceed the capacity of the Converter/Charger, such as when you initially turn the Starcool or ref. "on". While the Converter/Charger was designed to operate independent of a battery, I think you'll find it a real pain trying to keep things cool in the ref without having a battery.

I hope this helps.

John K.
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Old 07-19-2009, 06:59 AM   #7
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

Thanks. Good info. 75 ohms resistance across terminals of unplugged Power Source. Hmmm...I didn't smell smoke.....

Ok. Maybe time for a new thread or back to more research but I'll take a shot here.

I need a new battery. 100 amp hour or so. What's a respectable brand? (maybe not lifeline quality but decent deep cycle AGM.) or just tell me which to avoid. Walmart brand would be good.

I am going to replace the charger/converter/controller. I'd like to leapfrog from 1995 to 2009.

Important requirements/specifications:

-controller for solar (at least 5 watt trickle charger)
-overdischarge protection shutoff
-I'm open to other suggestions

I've got an old (1995) separator under the hood. Time to replace it or get an isolator? Or will a modern controller have one?

Thanks again.

Tom
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Old 07-19-2009, 01:37 PM   #8
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

Considering the amount of labor it takes to R&R batteries, I think buying anything but the best battery you can find is false economy. Just my opinion.
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:18 PM   #9
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Re: Need some quick help-battery problem

Tom I was told the older vans had an isolator. Those are a solid state device where the separator is a solenoid relay with circuitry that monitors voltages on both sides of the chassis/house systems. I prefer the separator even though I did have one fail. I had an isolator in my pickup fail years ago where it shorted and caused a slight drain which kept killing my batteries. It took some time to figure out what was going on. When the separator failed in my SMB it just stuck in the open position. If I had to, I could have added jumpers across the terminals to get me home but was able to get it working.

You might want to look into a good battery monitor. Between my monitor and charger display I was able to diagnose a shorted starting battery. I saw over 40 amps being pulled during a charge that would not taper off which was very abnormal. It kind of threw me for a loop. Finally I took it to a friends shop and tested the batteries. Problem solved. At least with a good monitor you can keep tabs on the DOD of your new battery. Someone on this site found a good price on the lifeline battery. They are very tougher than most and as long as you follow the charging rules should last about 5 years, possibly more.
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