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Sir Traveller

Charging house and chassis batteries / How often to disconnect from shore power

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Hello Everyone…

I have a 2003 Ford F-53 RV

 

I usually stay hooked up to shore power for 6 months, then leave the RV in storage for the other 6 months … So after 3 years of this schedule the  chassis battery died even though I was hooked up for months , and now the deep cycle batteries are leaking .. (I did replace the starting battery )

 

 

What are my options in this case to increase the longevity of both the starting and house batteries? (Since the charging system is built in) disconnect from the shore power for few minutes every day? For few hours every week?  Should I remove the negative terminal from the starting battery even when hooked to shore power? If so then how often?

Take into consideration that my fridge and microwave work only when connected to shore power… I do not know much about how electric systems work so that is why I ask all these details to make sure I get it right

 

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Check the voltage output of your onboard charging system at the various levels (bulk, float, etc) to make sure that the levels are in sync with what your particular batteries call for. Charging at too high or too low a voltage will shorten the life of your batteries.

My coach has 24v chassis batteries and 12v house batteries. There are separate chargers for each bank, both 4-stage smart chargers. They are plugged in at all times unless we're on the road or dry camping, and when we are on the road for more than a few hours I use a battery-to-battery smart charger to keep the house batteries topped off.

They've been plugged in this way going on 4 years now, and they still perform just as well as they did 4 years ago when we dry camp.

Your coach is from 2003. How old are the batteries? If the house batteries are leaking, then obviously they have problems. Is this due to them freezing? Overcharging? Hard to say without more information.

My immediate suggestion once you get the batteries replaced is to confirm that your charging system is supplying the correct voltage. If it is, then during the time the system is plugged in there shouldn't be a problem just leaving it do its thing. During the time you are in storage, you have to find out if there is any type of parasitic load on the batteries - both house and chassis - as a parasitic load will discharge them during that time and damage the batteries. It will also leave them subject to freezing should the temps drop. A charged battery will not freeze under normal circumstances but a discharged one will. If they freeze, the cases will likely crack and leak.

If you leave your coach for 6 months not plugged in, at the least you should make sure that the batteries are fully charged, water topped off to the correct level, and then fully disconnected. Better is to pull the batteries and take them home with you where they can be put on a plug-in smart charger to keep them fresh and in good health.

Hope this helps.

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If the batteries are flooded, the most important thing to do is to make sure the cells are kept full of distilled water.

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I would say the charge rate is too  high. Your lead acid battery charging rate should be 10% of rated capacity for best battery longevity. Lets suppose you have 1 chassis battery and 2 coach batteries, all are rated at 100A, that totals 300A X 10%= 30A maximum charging rate.

You can charge at a higher rate, the result is battery life is reduced and the cells require more frequent checking/adding distilled water, extreme over-charging may result in warped plates and acid solution boiling.

Edited by rayin

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On 2/5/2021 at 1:17 PM, richard5933 said:

Your coach is from 2003. How old are the batteries? If the house batteries are leaking, then obviously they have problems. Is this due to them freezing? Overcharging? Hard to say without more information.

The house batteries are exactly 3 years old , I replaced them in January 2018... I live in southern California, it is never below freezing here, temperatures are 100 daytime in the summer and 70s at night, in winter it is 60s daytime and 40s night time, usually the RV is in storage during  the summer and I use it ( hook it up to shore power ) from November to April ... I do not know what type of charger is installed in my RV , all I know it is a 2003 Ford F-53 RV Four Winds Hurricane 

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Sir Traveller, welcome.

Have you called Thor Customer Service?  Ask for a elect schematic and what your inverter/charger is!  Your inverter should be located in the house battery bay.

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I have 2003 Fleetwood Flair 31A and have been hooked up for months at a time.  But I do take mine out every 4 to 6 weeks for maintenance runs of 45minutes.   My batteries are Interstate and over 5 years old (flooded)   I do check my batteries every month and only use distilled water.   I also use a hydrometer about ever 6 months.  So like others I believe converter is overcharging your batteries

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navhtc.

You don't need to take a gas coach out for exercise, just a DP needs that.

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I know that this is a disputed position, but I'm not sure that any vehicle 'needs' an exercise run. That said, all will benefit from being driven regularly. Vehicles (our motor homes are vehicles as well as houses) are designed to be used, not parked for long periods of time. Seals & gaskets dry out, tires don't last as long, fluids don't get to temp and can accumulate moisture, etc. etc. etc. In my opinion, a vehicle which is well cared for and driven regularly will see far fewer problems than one which is parked for extended periods of time, regardless of the type of fuel in the tank.

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10 hours ago, richard5933 said:

I know that this is a disputed position, but I'm not sure that any vehicle 'needs' an exercise run. That said, all will benefit from being driven regularly. Vehicles (our motor homes are vehicles as well as houses) are designed to be used, not parked for long periods of time. Seals & gaskets dry out, tires don't last as long, fluids don't get to temp and can accumulate moisture, etc. etc. etc. In my opinion, a vehicle which is well cared for and driven regularly will see far fewer problems than one which is parked for extended periods of time, regardless of the type of fuel in the tank.

I'll second that!  Perhaps the only difference is it requires more driving time to completely get a diesel engine up to normal operating temperature, and it will never reach normal operating temperature at low idle per Cummins.

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11 hours ago, manholt said:

navhtc.

You don't need to take a gas coach out for exercise, just a DP needs that.

Actually, it is just the reverse. Gas monthly. If you cannot drive a DP for at least 25 miles, just let it sit. During the summer we go to a rally monthly, but in the winter it sits for 5 to 6 months. Caterpillar and Cummins state that you do not need to exercise monthly, but Onan generators do need to be exercised monthly to keep the windings dry. 

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If I had the choice between a 10-year-old coach which has spent nearly all it's life sitting in a long-term campsite or one which has been driven regularly and had proper maintenance, I'll take the one that's been driven.

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46 minutes ago, rossboyer said:

Actually, it is just the reverse. Gas monthly.

With the lousy gasoline that is being mandated that we use today, the need to drive gasoline engines is greater today than ever before.

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Richard, I think a case by case is more relevant on this. I bought a 20 year old Safari Panther with 12K on the odo that sat almost entirely for 15 of those years. Consignment dealer put a couple hundred miles on it after picking it up and returning to sale point. I have had zero mechanical problems over the last 50K and no others from the house that I could attribute to sitting all those years. The exception perhaps was the refrigerator but a change of the thermistor fixed that. I consider myself pretty good at the repair and maintaintence scene. A DP sitting for an extended period is not the same as a gasser fuel wise and yes location in the country could have some bearing on this decision. I think I was lucky that this rig was in the Pacifica Northwest opposed to Florida. Lots of factors could figure into this equation.

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I agree more with Richard. The diesel now days is a blend and doesn't do as well in storage as the old hi sulfur diesel. 

I think Bill was extremely lucky he didn't have algey in his system. That and lots of bad hoses.

Bill

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The issues I was referring to are not limited to engines. Even things as normally benign as wheel/hub seals can encounter problems if sitting for too long. The portion out of the oil can dry out, and the bearing surfaces out of the oil can eventually rust if any moisture is present in the oil. Rubber in tires does better when they are used periodically - you'll often notice that vehicles used regularly will have fewer problems with cracking sidewalls than those sitting for long periods. There are many other issues which can develop when a complex machine designed to have moving parts has stationary ones instead.

Sometimes you get lucky, but often not. In 1993 I bought a 1968 Cutlass with a hair over 3,000 miles on the odometer. The original owner died a month after buying it, and his family put it in storage till I bought it. Every problem I had with that car resulted from lack of use, from the flat sided bias belted tires to the leaky carburetor, from the rotted heater core to the dried out gaskets on the transmission. None of the problems was catastrophic, but it added up to a few months of headaches.

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Seals and gaskets on a modern engine/chassis are not an issue like they once were when they sit. Rope seals and cork haven’t been used in quite a while and the rubber type seals are much better now.
The biggest concern is the fuel getting skunked, be it diesel or unleaded. As Kay mentioned unleaded is terrible if no fuel treatment was added. Diesel is hit or miss, if it is a bio blend without treatment it’s probably going to cause you some grief. Just the corrosive properties in ULSD can be a problem also. If either is properly treated with a quality product you shouldn’t have any issues when you pull it out of storage. 
for battery maintenance I would use one of these so it keeps both banks charged;

https://www.amazon.com/Xantrex-82-0123-01-Echo-Charge-Systems/dp/B0016G8RT8/ref=asc_df_B0016G8RT8/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312228202241&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=811409713243073759&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9007361&hvtargid=pla-521303278049&psc=1
 

Edited by jleamont

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2 hours ago, jleamont said:

On my coach, when on shore power, the house batteries are charged.  When the charge gets to 13.3, the Charging Relay (older models have "Big Boys") opens and lets the charge go through to charge the chassis batteries.  When driving, the alternator charges the chassis batteries, and when they get to 13.3 the Charging Relay opens and the coach batteries get charged.  With this set up, the additional charger Joe noted is not necessary.

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I'm in process of changing out original batteries that can with 2016 Sunstar we recently purchased/used. Winnebago install 2 Dual Purpose batteries for house.  Everything I have read recommends using True Deep Cycle batteries for house.  Trying to convince RV shops of this is surprising. They all recommend Marine/RV Deep Cycle. Anyone have any recommendations?

I understand after changing batteries I must reset the Invertor? Trying find directions to do that.  Shops want over $150 to just change out the batteries. 

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tcisodar, welcome to the forum. Have you looked at using golf cart batteries instead of the   Marine/RV Deep Cycle? They are real deep cycle and you can usually get more  capacity in the same space. Where are you? $150.00 labor to just change out the batteries does  seam a little steep.

Bill

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1 hour ago, wildebill308 said:

tcisodar, welcome to the forum. Have you looked at using golf cart batteries instead of the   Marine/RV Deep Cycle? They are real deep cycle and you can usually get more  capacity in the same space. Where are you? $150.00 labor to just change out the batteries does  seam a little steep.

Bill

Bill, 

St Petersburg Fl.   Thought about golf cart but I need 4 and don't have that much room.  Original set up was 2  12V and starter battery.  First RV so new experience. 

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1 hour ago, wildebill308 said:

tcisodar, welcome to the forum. Have you looked at using golf cart batteries instead of the   Marine/RV Deep Cycle? They are real deep cycle and you can usually get more  capacity in the same space. Where are you? $150.00 labor to just change out the batteries does  seam a little steep.

Bill

That must have included the batteries; if I have the batteries I can swap them in  15-20 minutes, IF I  have taken a picture of the wiring first thing.

Several companies make true deep-cycle 12V batteries:

https://lifelinebatteries.com/products/rv-batteries/

MIghtyMax and PowerSonic

Trojan Motive

The best deep cycle batteries for 2021:https://cleanenergysummit.org/best-deep-cycle-batteries/

Edited by rayin

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