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Old 07-10-2013, 12:16 AM   #1
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Baffling Battery Question

Anybody up for a baffling battery mystery to help out a naive battery owner?

Three times now, it seems as though our battery (one 12v) is losing charge after a trip of about 4 hours. The first two times I had plugged the trailer in for 12 hours to cool down the refrigerator and it was 100% charged when we left. By the time we arrived 4 hours later, the charge on the solar regulator showed 88% with a corresponding lower voltage. (The first trip we arrived in a cloudy sky under deep tree cover, so no amps were coming in from the panels and no load on the battery other than the sniffers. The second trip we arrived at night and again no additional load on the battery when I looked at the charge level.)

The third trip we started with a mostly full battery, drove in mid-day sunshine for four hours and arrived home at about 4pm pacific time. This time when i looked at the regulator it was showing 4 amps coming in from the solar panel. The only times I've seen that many amps coming in were when the battery was low enough to need them.

I spoke with Reace this morning and tried what he suggested: it wasn't loose battery cables, solar regulator cables, fluid level, or towing cable. The reason I'm concerned about this is that I don't want to start a boondocking trip with lower battery levels, especially if we are in clouds or shade and the solar panels can't charge well for us.

I would really appreciate any thoughts or insight...I am definitely no battery expert and would be grateful for any help!

Thanks so much,
Lisa
2013 Escape 19
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:02 AM   #2
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Not an expert but the battery should be charged by the tow vehicle when you are traveling through the 7 pin connector plug.

Are you using the 12 volt option to power the fridge or running it on propane? The 12 volt setting will drain the battery quite quickly.

Tight battery cable connections means really tight to get a good connection. Should not be a problem with a new battery in your 2013!?
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:07 AM   #3
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Hi Lisa! I have a few questions for you. Are you running the refrigerator on DC while traveling then switching over to propane when camping? If so, while you are moving, the refrigerator is drawing over 10 amps per hour from the battery and solar charging system with a little charging help from the tow vehicle but not much. When it is sunny you are charging around 4 to 5 amps from the solar so you could be seeing a net loss of around 5 to 6 amps from the battery each hour. If it's really overcast or at night the batteries are taking all the load. Either way, the solar system can't keep up with the amp draw from the refrigerator so you should expect to see a lot of solar charging amps later when the solar system is trying to recharge. What you are seeing I believe is typical.

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Old 07-10-2013, 01:23 AM   #4
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Reace advised me when I was purchasing my trailer, that if you were to run the fridge on DC while in transit, that there would not be enough power supplied to charge the battery and run the fridge. So, after a couple days at camp, with a depleted battery, if you run the fridge on 12v in transit, you arrive at camp with a depleted battery. But, your battery was fully charged.

Each time I've had a problem with the battery not being charged, the solution was to clean the contacts, even though they didn't appear corroded.
Had to do that just two days ago on my fishing trip. It worked.

I didn't go with the three way fridge and I shut the fridge down in transit. Left camp this morning and drove five hours with temps at 25 to 29 C outside. In the fridge the temp rose from 35F to 44F during that time. Food in the freezer was still frozen solid.
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Old 07-10-2013, 01:46 AM   #5
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Your solar panel should be putting out 19V in full sun. The charge controller reduces it to about 12.34 at the inverter. The inverter should equalize when the batteries get full and should go into float. Your trailer is brand new so I doubt it would be the inverter,
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:18 AM   #6
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Thanks for the quick replies! I am definitely NOT running the fridge while travelling, neither 12v nor propane...it is turned OFF. That's why I plug it in for so long beforehand to get it nice and cold. There is nothing on while travelling except the propane sniffer (and smoke alarm?). I start with a full battery and I arrive with a fair bit less than full battery. The battery terminals are very tight and they are so brand new and don't look remotely corroded. I checked that the battery energy from our van is going the proper direction by disconnecting the battery on the trailer (no lights in the trailer work), then plugging into the van (and the lights in the trailer work.)

This is all very mystifying to me. Thanks again for your help!
Lisa
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyFun View Post
Thanks for the quick replies! I am definitely NOT running the fridge while travelling, neither 12v nor propane...it is turned OFF. That's why I plug it in for so long beforehand to get it nice and cold. There is nothing on while travelling except the propane sniffer (and smoke alarm?). I start with a full battery and I arrive with a fair bit less than full battery. The battery terminals are very tight and they are so brand new and don't look remotely corroded. I checked that the battery energy from our van is going the proper direction by disconnecting the battery on the trailer (no lights in the trailer work), then plugging into the van (and the lights in the trailer work.)

This is all very mystifying to me. Thanks again for your help!
Lisa
Lisa, a full battery is sometimes hard to judge. When your battery is being charged by the GoPower Solar Charge Controller in your trailer it will show around 13.2 volts when it is in float mode but if you were to disconnect the charger from the battery it will drop to 12.8 to 13.1 over the next few hours. The battery may still be fully charged but now it shows a lower voltage reading while not on the charger. This is typical for batteries and to be expected. Your solar controller will probably still charge the fully charged battery for a short time until it has gone through the initial bulk charging step then it will maintain it at the float voltage again. I think your system is probably fine.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:09 AM   #8
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Do you have the heat pads for the tanks on? If the switch got flipped by accident or any other 12volt item plugged in that is casusing a loss.

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Old 07-10-2013, 08:43 AM   #9
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Another thing to check out is the battery itself. Sometimes you get a dud right from new! Take it to a mechanic & get them to do a load test. They'll let you know what state it's in.
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:25 AM   #10
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The battery that came with our Scamp had to be replaced on the first trip we took with it. As Gary says, some batteries are just faulty.
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