Pop Up Battery Issue

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  #1  
Old 09-18-09, 01:01 PM
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Pop Up Battery Issue

So I have an old 96 Dutchman Camper that I finally had to replace the deep cycle battery. Last couple years it's worked fine, but this year it didn't want to hold a charge. If I hooked up the jumper cables to the battery from my truck battery - the electrical in the camper worked fine - and would temporarily "recharge" the battery.

So I purchased a new deep cycle (same ratings as the previous one). It came charged, but I topped it off anyway before I took it camping.

Lo and behold, things worked for a day/night and my electrical is down again. didn't leave anything ON inside the camper that I could find, so I really puzzled.

Is there anything - besides battery - that could be causing the pre-mature drainage? Could it be my power center?

Any thoughts?

Mike
 
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  #2  
Old 09-18-09, 01:25 PM
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Anytime you need to isolate a battery drain = battery from parasite drain, charge the battery, disconnect the negative cable and insert a test light between the battery and the ground connection. Then, turn everything off or one thing at a time until the light (assuming it's on) goes out.

If you have connected the test light and the light isn't on = no drain and the battery is at fault.
 
  #3  
Old 09-18-09, 07:15 PM
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Thanks for the tip - I'll give it a shot. It's got to be something I'm not seeing draining the battery..
 
  #4  
Old 09-20-09, 05:44 AM
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Mike
I think a couple things might be needed here after you do the test that marbobj suggested. I think you need to do a load calculation of what your using the battery for. Lights,tv,radios, all add up and if left on for hours and hours can run a fully charged battery down pretty quick. So a couple things that might help would be a battery switch that could be used to isolate battery when camper is not in use or when its being transported and a automatic charger that could be left on the battery when its being charged and when battery is not in use so to keep the battery in full state of charge.
 
  #5  
Old 09-20-09, 06:39 AM
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Lo and behold, things worked for a day/night and my electrical is down again.
As said are you sure the battery can handle the load placed on it?
How much current are you drawing from the battery?

Voltmeters specifically for deep cycle batteries are readily available and are not that expensive.
Many are marked in % of charge remaining so you don't have to remember voltage values.

Not all deep cycle batteries are created equally.
Batteries that are labeled "Marine/Deep Cycle" are usually not a true deep cycle.
They sacrifice a portion of deep cycle characteristics for cranking ability.
These normally don't hold up to dedicated deep cycle use as a true deep cycle would.
It seems that because many folks buy their batteries in stores that also have a food and shoe departments, they do not get good info.

Another way of testing for parasitic drain without a meter or test light is to ensure that all devices are turned off and then remove a battery cable in a darkened battery compartment.
Ensure that there are no flammable fumes or electronics turned on and then with the cable removed scratch the cable across the post to see if there is any sparking.
Sparking will show there is current draw.

You can also get a battery load tester at an import tool store for about twenty five bucks which would be a good investment.
 
  #6  
Old 09-20-09, 06:53 AM
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Old wiring can be a real headache. When I do the "everything off test for current" I use a volt meter instead of a light. I have a hard time seing a dimly glowing light unless it's dark outside.
 
  #7  
Old 09-20-09, 10:29 AM
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Thanks all for hte responses;

Let's see if I can address some of your questions - the battery size/capacity I really didn't calculate, yet. I just replaced the deep cycle battery that had been used for years with one of similar capacity (different brand).

As far as a battery switch - it doesn't have one, but we disconnect the + (using a ring connector/wing nut) when storing or traveling.

Here's where I'm at in troubleshooting.
1) I got the camper back home and made sure the converter was on battery and the lights (as I thought) did not work. BUT, I did kick on hte furnace and IT worked. (I had NOT charged the battery and it was transported back home disconnected)
2) Just to retrace and try and figure stuff out, I switched the converter and plugged in the trailer directly to an extension cord. Got out my volt meter. The furnace still worked, no lights, and the 110 outlets both checked out fine.
3) Switched back to "battery" on the converter (unplugged the trailer). Outlets did not work (which I expected), furnace still worked, NO lights.

So I started tracing the wiring in the light circuits, which led me the the little exterior light on the outside of the camper. I remembered a couple trips ago, I went to turn this light on (push button switch) and the switch broke. I pulled the lens cover off the light and jumped across the switch with my voltmeter, which read 12V. Then I rigged this jump in place and went inside to try the lights and bingo! The lights WORKED. I took my voltmeter off and it went back to lights OFF.

So at this point I know I need to replace the little light fixture. I have still have not charged the battery. I will figure out how to check the percentage of charge using my meter (maybe it can as someone previously suggested).

What I don't know - givin the timing of when things started to happen - was whether or not it was a bad battery at all originally.

I still don't understand WHY this may have been draining the battery (if in fact I've located the true root cause here!)

Thanks for all the help folks!
Mike
 
  #8  
Old 09-20-09, 11:42 AM
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If you are going to use a volt meter to check the % of charge and when testing a freshly charged battery you need to allow the surface charge to dissipate.
Either let it sit for several hours or operate a light or similar for a few minutes.
A fully charged deep cycle should show no less than 12.5 volts and is full discharged when showing 10.5 volts.
The span between these two readings will be between fully charged and discharged on a % indicating meter.
If you use a deep cycle battery and drain it below 10.5 you will slowly damage it.
 
  #9  
Old 09-20-09, 05:46 PM
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Thanks - measured 12.8V and that seems to agree with my charger. I hooked it up and it read about 80% and only took an hour or so trickle charging at 2A rate to get full charge.

Good to know, I'll get the light fixture replaced and hopefully that'll do it.

Mike
 
  #10  
Old 09-21-09, 08:25 PM
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Just another follow up -

I replaced the exterior light fixture and everything is back to normal. Battery is still strong and I double checked my trailer wiring harness to the truck. It ramped up to about 13.7V after a couple minutes, so I know its charging through the truck now too.

Thanks again all...
 
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