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SharDonnay

Charging System Woes

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Last December, we purchased a 2007 Fleetwood Revolution LE. Based on the records, it had new Interstate batteries (both house and chassis) installed in January 2014.

We have been getting a strong rotten-egg odor in the interior of the coach under the following conditions: a) when on the road for a couple hours or more; or B) when we have the generator running and charging the batteries; or c) when we are connected to shore power. The odor is strongest in the battery compartment in the basement, so I am convinced the odor is coming from the batteries (and not the gray or black water systems, as one dealer suggested).

At least two of the house batteries are consuming water.....I have to add water to three or four of the cells of two of the batteries on multiple occasions.

After the last road trip, I found one of the house batteries had "blown its top"......the case is slightly bulged, one of the caps was blown off, and battery acid was sprayed about in the battery compartment.

I talked to the Magnum folks to make sure the inverter/charger settings are correct for my batteries, but I have not made any functional checks of the operation of the inverter/charger.

I checked the voltage of the house batteries, found them low, and found the specific gravity of the batteries to be in the "red" zone of the hydrometer. I'm concluding my house batteries are shot and need to be replaced.

I am looking for advice on some checks I can make to my charging system before I just put in four new house batteries. I don't want to repeat the cycle of damaging good batteries.

Thanks!

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SharDonnay,

Welcome to the FMCA Forum!

The fact that you smell rotten eggs sounds like the battery's are boiling.

Check the coach 6 volt battery wiring layout and the way they are wired! Wrong wiring can cause the batteries to boil, both the chassis and coach batteries.

You might want to have them checked quickly because a boiling battery is discharging high levels of Hydrogen. Very Explosive should it is concentrating in an area.

You can attach a picture to a post so the group can get a good look at the wiring configuration.
If not please have it checked !!!!!

The charger / inverter could also cause issues, but first check the batteries because they are also charged by the alternator and you need the alternator when running the coach. One can still use the coach with out the inverter / charger if needed.

I do consider this to be a safety issue !!!

Rich.

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As Rich said, check the wiring of the house batteries, it appears that 4 6 volts were installed in 2014, if they were incorrectly wired, could cause ruination of the 6 volt batteries.

Two sets of the four should be in series, "positive to negative" with wires connecting in this manner, then the two sets should be in parallel with the charging system, "positive to positive to positive" and "negative to negative to negative". If any of the four batteries are wired with 6 volts are connected directly to 12 volts, will certainly be over charging and cause the symptom that you have described.

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With bad Specific Gravity readings (assuming batteries are fully charged, the batteries ARE bad.

Even one bad cell can cause a good alternator or inverter/charger to overcharge the remaining good cells to try (unsuccessfully) to achieve the proper voltage. Said another way, charging a 10 VDC battery (two 6 VDC batteries in series with one bad cell) WILL cause the other cells to overcharge.

Replace the batteries. Then verify that the inverter/charger is properly programmed for your batteries:

Correct type (wet cell/gel/AGM)

Correct amp- hr (size of battery bank-- if 4 golf cart batteries, likely about 440 amp-hrs @ 12 VDC)

Correct temperature (unless inverter/charger equipped with battery temperature probe.

And the fact that both alternator and inverter/charger (shore power or generator) both cause overcharging lends more creditability to having a battery with bad cell.

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I'm unable to attach a picture of the wiring due to the file size limitations on the site. The batteries are wired like the diagram on the door of the battery compartment; ......positive to positive......, negative to negative.............. All are 12 volt Interstate batteries.

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Hi Brett -- thanks for the advice. There is variation in the specific gravity readings from cell to cell within each battery.....some cells are much worse than others. This seems to go along with your idea of bad cell(s) causing over-charging.

Verifying the inverter/charger settings was easy (they were correct). One thing I found (and corrected) was that the battery temperature lead was connected to one of the battery positive terminals; Magnum says it should be connected to a negative terminal. I corrected this; I'm not sure if this was part of the problem or not.

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SharDonnay,

Thanks for the updates!

Looks like you are getting some good information.

Just got to ask - Are all the batteries 12 volts. Both the chassis, quite often 2 series 31 in size and connected in parallel.
The coach batteries are generally set up with 4-6 volt cells connected in a series / parallel configuration.
The 6 volt cells are built to survive a deeper discharge and multiple recharging cycles.

Rich.

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SharDonnay,

I wouldn't surprised that you have starting batteries in place of deep cycle for the house batteries. Be sure to get deep cycle batteries for the house and if you can change it to four 6 volts batteries as they have thicker plates. They will last longer and might be the reason the batteries are bad so quickly.

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All of the batteries are Interstate 12 volt. The chassis are 31-M HD, and the house are SRM-27 Deep Cycle Marine.

Being a newbie, how difficult would it be, when I replace the house batteries, to convert to 6 volt as suggested? Just re-wire to the series-parallel configuration?

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Looks like Wolfe10 was correct.......

I replaced the bad batteries with 12 volt Deka AGMs, and all is well. It's been a couple weeks now, and I've had no problems with any aspect of the charging system.

Thanks for the help!!

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