Batteries setting off the propane detector? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 05-25-2016, 05:17 PM   #1
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Batteries setting off the propane detector?

After 4 cool rainy days under heavy tree cover without hookups the battery monitor said it was at 90%. Drove home today under bright sun, mid 80's. Been on propane the whole time. Got home, unloaded the trailer, shutoff the fridge, closed the windows and door, left the vent closed from the drive home.

About a half hour later the propane detector went off.

No smell of propane, shutoff the propane, checked that the gas appliances were all off. Aired out the trailer, alarm cleared.

Closed up and turned on one LP bottle, soon after the alarm went off again.

Closed the LP tank, aired out the trailer again, alarm cleared.

Closed up the trailer, LP off, alarm went off.

Noticed charge voltage on the solar monitor at 15.3v.

Thinking the wires at the alarm may have gotten nicked, opened the dinette seat to take a look. No nicks but there is a pretty strong odor of what I suspect is the batteries.

Have always noticed this odor when charging at a high rate to to a lesser degree.

The 2 6v batteries on my TA are under the seat, after market solar charger set to 15.3v.

So the questions are, anyone ever hear of boiling batteries causing a propane detector to go off?

Anyone else notice a smell from the batteries?

At an earlier date I resealed the battery box. not much if any difference.
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Old 05-25-2016, 05:20 PM   #2
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Good mystery there.....I know the alarm goes off when the battery is low, wonder if the opposite is true. What was the factory setting of the stock charger vs after market charger?
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Old 05-25-2016, 05:23 PM   #3
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Funny...on my last outing I ended up cutting the wires.
One minute the alarm would be going crazy then it would reset, back and forth.
As I had no propane on I also thought I had messed up the wiring, but nothing?
Hope someone has an idea.
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Old 05-25-2016, 05:27 PM   #4
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I vacuumed the propane detector cover after my alarm went off. So far so good. There are weekly maintenance instructions in the manual that came with mine.
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Old 05-25-2016, 05:45 PM   #5
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Jim, best I can tell is the stock ETI chargers are 14.4V vs 15.3 on mine (per Interstate). I did try 15v, no difference.

Will try the vacuum tomorrow, if no go I can try lowering the voltage. although it's been fine for near 2 years set at 15.3v.

Vicky, that sounds like what I saw, alarm goes off, then clears on it's own, only to go off again for varying time periods.

Strange thing is, if you open the door and windows and turn on the fan, it stays off.
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Old 05-25-2016, 06:30 PM   #6
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In spite of earlier posts, 15.3 volts is too high of a general charge rate and is infrequently used for desulfation and stratifcation. Charging above 14.8 volts results in excessive off gassing and rapidly lowers the electrolyte levels in the battery. The battery electrolyte level should be monitored frequently when charging at a voltage above 15 volts during the short stratification/desulfation mode.
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Old 05-25-2016, 06:42 PM   #7
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Getting off topic here, but... I check the water often, a few times a year, they use very little.

Checked the manual, acceptable input voltage levels are 8-16vdc, so it's not an over voltage issue.

The manual also mentions it detects other gasses, butane and such. Maybe hydrogen fits the bill.
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:13 PM   #8
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Jim, best I can tell is the stock ETI chargers are 14.4V vs 15.3 on mine (per Interstate). I did try 15v, no difference.

Will try the vacuum tomorrow, if no go I can try lowering the voltage. although it's been fine for near 2 years set at 15.3v.

Vicky, that sounds like what I saw, alarm goes off, then clears on it's own, only to go off again for varying time periods.

Strange thing is, if you open the door and windows and turn on the fan, it stays off.
Perhaps because you are lowering the voltage by using the fan.....
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:39 PM   #9
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It seems at least possible that gas from the batteries could set off the propane detector, and based on smell there are clearly gases (which means more than hydrogen, because you can't smell that)... but why would those gases be in the trailer interior, with the batteries in a box which is sealed from the interior and vented to the exterior?
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Old 05-25-2016, 07:48 PM   #10
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It seems at least possible that gas from the batteries could set off the propane detector, and based on smell there are clearly gases (which means more than hydrogen, because you can't smell that)... but why would those gases be in the trailer interior, with the batteries in a box which is sealed from the interior and vented to the exterior?
was the fan on exhaust or blowing in? Perhaps the exhaust mode was sucking the gas into the trailer?
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Old 05-25-2016, 08:02 PM   #11
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was the fan on exhaust or blowing in? Perhaps the exhaust mode was sucking the gas into the trailer?
... or perhaps the fan was blowing out, and the replacement air was coming in windows or the door and bring the gas with it.

More disturbing: if there are no windows open and the fan is on exhaust, air will be pulled in from where ever it can get in. That shouldn't be the battery box!
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Old 05-25-2016, 09:15 PM   #12
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It seems at least possible that gas from the batteries could set off the propane detector, and based on smell there are clearly gases (which means more than hydrogen, because you can't smell that)...
You're right that hydrogen is odorless yet I've been in places with multiple batteries being charged and smelled an odor. Never thought about it too much but just googled it and some claim the odor from an over charged battery is hydrogen sulfide. Not good stuff to have inside a trailer. Maybe a lowering of battery charging voltage might be advisable.

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Old 05-25-2016, 10:31 PM   #13
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Bob,
I have had an identical situation occur. The cause is the high charge rate that you and I are using based on Interstate recommendations. There are three steps I have taken to address the problem.
  1. Be sure the battery box is sealed. If you have some question about the area around the wiring purchase some Duct Seal from the electrical department of a home improvement store. Replenish and/or replace.
  2. Check to be sure the outlet on the outside of the trailer is higher than the outlet on the plastic battery box. Fumes should flow up.
  3. Place a block of wood or some sort of wedge between the battery and the battery box wall at the vent. The clearance is slight in that box and the vent may be blocked. My box sidewall was caving in making for a very small vent opening.

The issue will only occur when the controller is at that peak charge rate and for only the two hour span that Interstate recommends. Once that time has passed the charge rate drops to maintenance.

On the 21 that CO detector is right at that battery box, my detector has gone off, for no known reason at night, on at least one occasion. On my 19 I replaced it after seeing an expired date stamp on the unit.
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Old 05-26-2016, 06:48 AM   #14
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Thanks folks.

Dropped the charge rate to 14.8, will let it recharge today with the trailer closed up and see what happens. Looks like another bright sunny day.

Meanwhile I'll check over the battery box and see if I can find where a leak may be, again.
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Old 05-26-2016, 08:02 AM   #15
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Tables don't copy/paste well.

I have a Xantrex TruCharge2 and I use the Lead-Calcium setting.
Absorption: 15.5 (vs 15.3 optimal)
Float: 13.5 (vs 13.4 optimal)
Equal: 16 (vs 15.6 optimal)
http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Bat...s%20Guide).pdf
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File Type: jpg Interstate 6V Battery Voltages.jpg (180.0 KB, 16 views)
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Old 05-26-2016, 08:22 AM   #16
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Doug, are your batteries inside out out in a box? I agree 14.8 is low, but I need to try something.
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Old 05-26-2016, 09:08 AM   #17
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Our detector started sounding its alarm at home in our garage with no propane on, but with the 2 6volts presumably being charged by the stock converter. Later, while traveling it sounded once at night and once for hours while we were away, as reported by campground neighbors.
Eventually contacted ETI, who said some were being reported as defective and to contact the manufacturer, who offered to send a new one while we were still traveling. Got it at home and replaced it. No alarms since.
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Old 05-26-2016, 12:01 PM   #18
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Our detector started sounding its alarm at home in our garage with no propane on, but with the 2 6volts presumably being charged by the stock converter. Later, while traveling it sounded once at night and once for hours while we were away, as reported by campground neighbors.
Eventually contacted ETI, who said some were being reported as defective and to contact the manufacturer, who offered to send a new one while we were still traveling. Got it at home and replaced it. No alarms since.
I replaced our propane/CO detector twice in the first 2 years that we had the trailer. They tended to go off, even when the propane was totally shut off at the tanks. The original detector I replaced myself. Second one Escape replaced complimentary while trailer was at ETI for some other work related to the fridge. We are on our third detector now, and so far it seems to be working fine.
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Old 05-26-2016, 12:35 PM   #19
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Doug, are your batteries inside out out in a box? I agree 14.8 is low, but I need to try something.
Front storage box.
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