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Old 04-08-2014, 10:03 PM   #1
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Very Basic Battery question

Our 1st SMB and our first RV. We are not very mechanically minded--so forgive the ignorance! We have a 96 Dodge SMB. It has 2 house batteries and a 2800 Onan that won't start. We also have a Power Switch model TS 30 and a PC 45 Power Source. We have read and re-read the SMB manual and still can't figure this out. When the van is turned off, will the house batteries power the 110 volt outlets by converting DC to AC or do we need to be plugged into 110 shore power to run those things that are 110 (like the microwave)? The house batteries and the van batteries all appear to be purchased at the same time but we have no record of when that purchase was made or history of use since they were installed. My best guess is they are at least 5 years old. Van turns over, no problem. House batteries have at least some charge but haven't had them tested to see how much. Thanks for the help!
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:08 PM   #2
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

Yes, you either need to be plugged in to shore power, be running the generator or have an inverter powering up the outlets from your house battery bank. Not sure what the power switch or the PC power source are? Might want to have your batteries bench tested, to make sure they are good, if not, replace all of them with new AGM batteries, depends on when/if they were replaced and how they were maintained by the PO, but generally speaking, 5 years is a good lifespan of any battery, so they prob need replacing. Not sure if your generator problem is battery related, but would assume it needs some sort of cranking power to fire up and one possibility would point to having bad batteries. Good luck, try to find a good shop that will help you out. I've replaced my batteries 2X as well as a friends, it ain't easy, but doable if you have some skills.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:35 PM   #3
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

Thanks for clarifying Power Source is Battery Charger Power Supply and the PS 30 is a Power Switch. I guess neither one of those is an inverter? The generator seems to turn over but just won't stay running. It's too noisy anyway. Might have to figure out how to get remove it and think about a solar charger.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:49 PM   #4
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

IIRC a PC-45 is a converter not an inverter. Converters take the AC shore power you plug into at a site that supplies typical grid power then changes it from AC to DC so you can keep from draining your house batteries so you can use DC powered items. I'm not sure but was thinking it also has a built in battery charger but I could be wrong.

Inverters on the other hand take DC power from your house battery system and changes it into AC so you can run things like your microwave when shore power isn't available.

The TS-30 is a automatic transfer switch that is used so you can't combine the generator power with the shore power.

It doesn't sound like there is an inverter on board so to get that microwave to work you'll have to get that generator working or plug the van into a shore power panel as REF pointed out. Your house battery system provides DC power only to the DC items on board... probably lighting, possibly a AC/DC refrigerator if you have one and some DC power ports.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:57 PM   #5
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

Quote:
Originally Posted by foco
The generator seems to turn over but just won't stay running.
How much gas do you have in the tank? Fuel pickup for the generator won't pickup if the tank is below a certain level, usually 1/4 tank, so that you won't run out of gas when parked in the middle of nowhere.

Could be the fuel pump for the generator or bad fuel lines to the generator - most common problems.
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Old 04-09-2014, 12:18 AM   #6
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

Maybe a fuel cutoff valve in the off position if the tank is full might be worth looking for.
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Old 04-09-2014, 07:41 AM   #7
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

thanks for all the suggestions on the generator. The fuel tank was at least half full when we tried getting it to turn on. We will look for a switch for fuel but I suspect it's clogged as I don't believe it's been run in a long time. It only has 16 hours total on it. According to records PO had it was fixed twice for carb problems. One time it cost $400 and the other time $600! We have a propane stove so can survive using only DC powered items. Fridge is AC/DC so it runs and so does the water pump. We are taking it on it's maiden voyage next week so guess by the time we get back we will have a better idea of how those batteries will hold up and start thinking about other options. The only thing I need AC power for was to charge electronic devices. I think we will be driving every day so should be able to charge those while the vehicle is running using a plug in converter. Again, thanks for all the help.
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Old 04-09-2014, 11:58 AM   #8
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Re: Very Basic Battery question

Could remove the generator and sell it - they are pretty desireable and scarce. That would free up some storage space. Also could remove the microwave which would create some nice accessible cabinet space. Unless you're going to be plugged in while camping, in that case the micro could be pretty handy.

The PC 45 was made by Todd Engineering? which is out of business. It should be fine for powering 12v things when connected to shore power, but maybe not optimized for recharging AGM batteries. The newer converter/chargers such as Sure Power are available for AGM recharging and are supposed to make that type of batteries last longer.

We have a Sure Power unit but hardly ever plug in so it would be a moot point for us.
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