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Old 07-23-2021, 04:30 PM   #1
Dark Vader
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Default Charging the house batteries

As helpful as the good folks are on iRV2, there just aren't as many GS owners as I need there! So I joined you guys here in hopes I can get more details about my coach.

As a disclaimer and preamble, I will say that my house batteries are not really good anymore and need to be replaced. They are good "enough" for me to notice there are some issues, however. I would like to figure out these issues before replacing the batteries.

1. I have a Heart Interface Freedom 20 inverter/charger. It has an ON OFF switch inside, as well as a remote ON OFF switch. The INSIDE switch is always OFF (as per recommendation). When plugged into shore power and the inverter OFF, the batteries will come up to some charge but seem to charge very slowly. Yesterday the batts died (3-4 volts only) and I plugged into shore power. Immediately the voltage at the terminals was about 11 volts. Left plugged in overnight (again the inverter off) and it remained around 11.0-11.3 volts at the terminals. To me this means the house batteries aren't really charging while plugged in and inverter off (but it did bring up the voltage from 3-4 volts up to 11 volts!). I say this because of point 2:

2. When the inverter/charger is switched on (via remote panel), the voltage starts at around 13.5-14.0 volts (first stage charging), and will lower over time to high 12s/low 13s. Leaving the inverter on for a day or two brings up the batt voltage to about 12.5 give or take after being unplugged from shore. To me this means that the batteries are charging "properly" with the inverter on. (Again, I know the house batteries are crap, but at least they hold a few hours worth of charge after I plug in and turn the inverter on overnight.) This also suggests that shore AC power will ONLY charge the house batteries while the inverter is on. Is this correct? It doesn't seem right but I have heard this is possible. But my heart interface remote control panel has a light that says INV/CHRG, and so there is no way to indicate to the user that the INVERTER is OFF, but also charging. They both are the same light. This suggests that you can only charge with the inverter on (since the light tells me both or none).

3. The alternator does not seem to be charging the house batteries. The house batts died like I said, down to 3 or 4 volts. I drove it for about an hour and the house batts were still around that range. So driving it did absolutely nothing to the house batteries. I have heard many ways of the battery separator working, some charge house batteries if the chassis batts hit a certain voltage, or after a certain time, etc. I really don't know how mine works. I have looked all over; where can I likely find my battery separator solenoid/isolator?

4. I have a small solar panel on the roof, about 18x18 inches. It seems to have come with the unit back in the 90s as the instrument panel appears old. It has a light that says SOLAR on it (which is illuminated), and then a voltage meter. 13.5 volts is lit up bright (matching the chassis battery voltage), along with a dimmer voltage saying either 12.5 or 13 volts. Is this solar panel likely to charge the chassis battery only? As much as that is a great feature to have....would have been nice for it to work on both the house and chassis!

So my questions are: are my house batteries supposed to charge while the inverter is ON only? If this is the case that seems a bit strange. If not, why will my house batteries not charge properly with the inverter off? I know the batts are toast, but they charge way better with the inverter ON. When inverter is OFF, they don't go past 11.3 volts. But inverter ON, the batts will get up to 12.3-12.7 volts. And the other question is why aren't my house batteries charging from the alternator while I drive? Where is the battery separator solenoid and how can I determine if that is working?

Thank you!
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Old 07-24-2021, 12:12 AM   #2
Yukon Jack
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My BT coach has a 100 amp breaker in the engine compartment. If it trips or is turned off your house battery will not charge from the alternater. You should look for a breaker. If you have a battery isolater it may be defective. It will look like a finned aluminum block with 3 wires attached to the 3 studs. The isolater will be in the engine compartment. A Google search will tell you how to test it. If your charger or alternater is working you will see at least 13 volts at the battery terminals while the charger is on or alternater turning.
If you post your coach model and year, someone with a similar model will chime in.
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Old 07-24-2021, 02:28 AM   #3
Dark Vader
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yukon Jack View Post
My BT coach has a 100 amp breaker in the engine compartment. If it trips or is turned off your house battery will not charge from the alternater. You should look for a breaker. If you have a battery isolater it may be defective. It will look like a finned aluminum block with 3 wires attached to the 3 studs. The isolater will be in the engine compartment. A Google search will tell you how to test it. If your charger or alternater is working you will see at least 13 volts at the battery terminals while the charger is on or alternater turning.
If you post your coach model and year, someone with a similar model will chime in.
For some reason my signature is appearing on the desktop web site but not the mobile website. Anyways it's a 1993 Scenic Cruiser (8340) with a 5.9 Cummins. I managed to figure it out. The original separator must have been removed and replaced by a manual switch. Now it's just an ON/OFF solenoid which is activated by a manual ON/OFF switch on the dashboard. Would definitely prefer an automatic one as opposed to a manually controlled "separator". Would suck if I forgot to turn it on when I wanted to charge the house batteries, or forgot to turn it off after a couple nights of boondocking.

I suppose I can replace it with an automatic one. Also, all breakers are not tripped and look good.

As for the charging, still a bit strange how the inverter has to be on in order to charge, kind of annoying also as it would suck if I forgot to turn it on while on shore power, or forgot to turn it off while off shore power.
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Old 08-01-2021, 09:41 AM   #4
RY469
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Default Inverter/charger

Your Xantrex inverter/charger is the heart of the issue it seems. Note in your user manual:

http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Dis...ner_manual.pdf

That is says:

"NOTE: Freedom battery chargers are ON
whenever there is AC power connected to the
charger input, regardless of the condition of
the ON/OFF switch on the unit. The charger
can be controlled using the Freedom Remote
Control Panel or Link Instrumentation."

This is good, you want the charger function to be active when you have shore power. If it is not providing this, I recommend you read the manual a little more and ensure your Xantrex is setup properly.

As for charging from your engine alternator, there are several methods to accomplish this. Electronic modules (like a B.I.R.D.) or isolator solenoids, and then there's isolators that are simply two diodes in a finned case. Either way, you can replace your switch with one of these. My suggestion is to get a simple isolator (finned case with two diodes) and install it in place of the solenoid the switch controls. Might be the easiest (without seeing it that is).
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:20 AM   #5
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Re: 1) BEST PRACTICE/ BEST LIFE, Never let battery discharge below 50%= 12.0-12.1 range; 2) When ON, INVERTER will auto-switch to CHARGER when shore power available; auto switch to INVERTER when S-POWER LOST; turn. OFF FOR STORAGE/ BATTERY SAVING
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:40 AM   #6
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3) ENGINE/ TRAVEL CHARGING OF COACH: Either a SOLENOID. Or a BATTERY CONTROL CENTER (BCC); if solenoid, see if clicking when IGN turned ON; they can click and still NOT connect= bad; re: BCC, believe I read they only charge coach AFTER sensing chassis battery is charged? BCC. Often a black box, rectangular? LUCK TO YA
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Old 08-01-2021, 10:58 AM   #7
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Re: 2) 12.5vdc= 85-95% charged, that last 5-10% can take 24 hrs to get to 100% 12.65-12.7; must wait 30-min to w/ charger off to allow higher surface voltage from charger to dissipate to read accurate voltage.
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Old 08-01-2021, 01:29 PM   #8
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Our GS motorhome has two safety devices between the alternator output wire and the house battery. The first is a manually resetable circuit breaker mounted in the engine compartment on the passenger side. This is easy to find because it has #4 battery wire going to it.

The second safety is a 100amp solenoid in the line going to the house battery that disconnects it from load when ignition switch is off to prevent draining the engine battery below what is needed to start the engine. They really hid this one mounted in the wheel well behind left front wheel on drivers side. What a stupid place for anything electrical. Have had to replace it twice to keep alternator juice flowing to the house battery about midships.

These are easy to trace because of the large #4 battery sized wires.

[QUOTE=Dark Vader;34655]As helpful as the good folks are on iRV2, there just aren't as many GS owners as I need there! So I joined you guys here in n
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