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Old 08-08-2010, 11:19 PM   #1
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Battery didn't charge while Driving

I almost always camp at sites with power - so I rarely pay much attention to the battery (other than taking it out for the winter). However, last week I spent 5 days in a site with no power and became somewhat obscessed with checking the power levels All was well while camping - and I expected that the 6.5 hr drive home would charge the battery.

When I got home, I checked the battery and got virtually the same reading as when I left my campsite!
- The fridge was turned off for the trip home.
- The trailer was plugged into the SUV and brakes, lights etc all were working fine.
- I checked for a blown breaker in the converter - everything looked OK to me.
- The battery is new (replaced late last fall) and all the terminal connections are solid.

I have it plugged into my house power now - so I'll see if that charges the battery.

Any ideas?? Could the converter have gone bad somehow? Is there any way to check it? Trailer is a 2006 so the converter is 4 years old.
A bad connection with the plug to the SUV? Sometimes I have to plug in/out a couple times to get the signal lights to work.

Electrically challenged in Portland, Anne H


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Old 08-08-2010, 11:59 PM   #2
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

Near as I can tell, pressing the monitor button to get a reading on your battery is only going to raise your anxiety and produce nothing but random results.

Just spent 10 days on the road. Left a campsite after being hooked up to power overnight, drove five hours and checked the battery level while connected to the vehicle. Monitor said fair when it should have said good. Started the vehicle and it still read fair ( I think it should have read charging ). Disconnected it from the vehicle and it still read fair. Got to next campsite ( no power ) and checked it again. It read fair. Half an hour later I checked it again ( not connected to power or the vehicle ) and it read good.

This continued throughout the trip. I had my Honda 1000 generator with me so I wasn't that concerned, but it still irked me that I got these seemingly random results. Only thing I can think of is that if there is any draw on the battery at the time that you press the monitor button that it affects the result. At no time did I get a "poor" reading.

I have replaced all but three lamps with LEDs and we weren't using the furnace. Fridge on propane still draws a tiny bit, but not enough to drain a battery and we read books rather than run radio or TV so I have no idea what the monitor was doing other than using up power to light up the indicator lamps.

So, I guess I'm no help.

baglo

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Old 08-09-2010, 02:57 AM   #3
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

I cross-posted this on the FGRV site - and folks think that the TV may never have been wired up correctly (wired for brakes and lights but the 12 V DC connection never made). Sure enough, when I look at the backside of my TV plug there are only 5 wires coming out (lights, brakes, left and right signals, ground?). I haven't actually tested the pin itself yet.

I am using a multi-meter on the battery to check charge - my Escape doesn't have the monitor panel.

So, my next step is the verify that the DC pin is dead and then figure out how to get it wired up.
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Old 08-09-2010, 08:12 AM   #4
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

Hi: Anne H... I had a good RV Tech wire our Taurus to tow the Boler we had. He added a charge wire (8 gauge) I think with a fuse link from the battery in the car to the battery in the trailer.
Then the 12V. fridge part 8) ed while driving and the car charged the batteries when towing. Just remember to switch the fridge off of 12V. if parking for a long time...lunch or shopping, or you might end up with two dead batteries. Alf
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Old 08-09-2010, 11:56 AM   #5
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

Even if the pin tests good, you may still have a problem. The only practical way to tell if you are charging is with an amp meter. If your charge wire is too small, either in the tow or trailer, the voltage drop between the alternator & the battery may be too much to provide acceptable charge current. It is also possible that the output voltage of your tow vehicle's alternator is not high enough for good charging. As Alf stated, a good sized charge wire is necessary. ?At least #10, #8 is even better. I don't know the wire size used from the connector to the batteries on the Escape, but the general idea is to have as little resistance as possible to keep the charge current & voltage as high as possible.
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Old 08-16-2010, 10:47 AM   #6
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

As Vermilye said, the best way to troubleshoot the problem is with an ammeter. A few years ago, clamp-on DC ammeters finally became available that allow you to measure the current flowing in a wire without actually cutting the wire. AC clamp-on meters have been available for a long time, but not DC. The first one that I bought cost me around $400 but it was worth every penny because it made troubleshooting trailers and other DC circuits so easy. Just last year, Canadian Tire started selling a great little AC/DC clamp-on meter part # 52-0163-8 for around $60, sometimes on sale for $30. I bought 2 and keep one in my trailer toolbox. http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/brows....jsp?locale=en
The meter also measures voltage and resistance so it is really the only piece of electrical test equipment that you need. I think that everyone with a trailer should carry one of these because it makes troubleshooting so easy.
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Old 08-16-2010, 11:10 AM   #7
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

Wow. A clamp-on DC meter for $60? Astounding. I will keep my eye open for this to go on sale.

Ron
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Old 08-16-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

I was intrigued by the possibility of owning such a device and looked to www.harborfreight.com, they have two models to choose from, 12.99 and 19.99 US.

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalog...&q=clamp+meter

A new toy, better yet an electonic toy.
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Old 08-16-2010, 04:40 PM   #9
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Re: Battery didn't charge while Driving

Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie
I was intrigued by the possibility of owning such a device and looked to www.harborfreight.com, they have two models to choose from, 12.99 and 19.99 US.

http://www.harborfreight.com/catalog...&q=clamp+meter

A new toy, better yet an electonic toy.
Unfortunately neither of those 2 will do DC current. Now you all have me searching for one too! Cheapest I have found so far with DC current:
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/72-7224
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