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Old 09-14-2015, 11:30 AM   #1
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Furnace draining battery

Having problem with battery draining way too fast. It is a brand new Trojan 27TMX.
I’m using two 40 watt solar panels to the battery terminals to charge it.
Yesterday we had full sun all day and voltmeter read 13.40 with charge ongoing.
Left the trailer at 6pm. Had forgotten to shut off furnace and I had my laptop plugged into a cheap inverter to charge.
I had not disconnected the solar panels.
Got back to trailer at 9pm and the voltmeter read 12.29.
Later I turned furnace on and voltmeter dropped from 12.29 to 12.00.
Furnace is Atwood 8012. It appears to me that it is drawing way more than one would expect.

Buddy is camping with me in his 19 ( dual 6V ) with no solar, no generator, and is doing just fine after four days.

Any ideas?
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Old 09-14-2015, 12:16 PM   #2
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Glenn, don't you have portable panels? What voltage are you getting out of them? ..... disconnect from battery first to measure. How long are your leads?


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Old 09-14-2015, 12:17 PM   #3
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I wouldn't overlook that little inverter as part of the problem. Don't how much your laptop charger takes but that type of inverter is capable of taking 8 amps out of the battery.

Did you notice what your battery level was at the beginning of the day?

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Old 09-14-2015, 12:30 PM   #4
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Could your battery be discharging through your solar panels? Is there a diode protecting each panel? If the battery is good, then a lot of current, like 20 amps is going somewhere.

I think the older model 8012-I furnace draws about 3A and the new 8012-II is better, at 1.8 A.

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Old 09-14-2015, 12:54 PM   #5
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I have two 40 watt panels. Don't know what voltage I'm getting out. They are connected to a hub which is connected to a 7 amp controller ( supposed to do the job ), which is connected to terminals on battery.
First night the furnace ran a lot overnight. I deployed one panel at 9am. By 11:15am I got 12.99 on voltmeter ( panel connected to battery ). At 12:45 pm I got 13.23 ( panel connected to battery ).
Next day I used two panels through hub.
I'm going to avoid using the inverter. Heading for Osoyoos and hookups today.
Had heavy dew turned to ice on stuff left out over night.
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Old 09-14-2015, 01:10 PM   #6
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Probably a silly question, but do you have the solar charge controllers hooked up inline too?
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Old 09-14-2015, 01:20 PM   #7
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Small picky point Glenn or others, but one is supposed to let a charged battery relax (no loads or chargers) for at least 30 minutes to avoid test readings tainted by surface charge. 12V side of life recommends even longer wait times.

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)


Can't help with original question.
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Old 09-14-2015, 02:21 PM   #8
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A surface charge mostly comes into play after a battery has just been charged. A person measures the voltage and it says "12.99" and they think that means that the battery is in super perfect condition. It doesn't and it's the surface charge that is misleading. I've found, in real life, running a device for a few minutes will take most of the surface charge off and give a more realistic reading of the battery voltage after charging.

In Glenn's case, I think the inverter was sucking out some juice but the charging voltage from the solar cell regulator, from what I'm used to, is also on the low side.

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Old 09-14-2015, 03:10 PM   #9
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Glenn, I decided that converting 12V to AC to then be converted back to 12V by the device charger wasn't the best use of battery power. For our phone and iPad, I use the same dual USB, 12V outlet charger we use in the car. I picked up another 12V model that puts out enough current to charge the MacBook now too. Battery drain seems to be very minimal with those compared to the inverter I used to use, but I've not done any real analysis.
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:42 PM   #10
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I think trying to use a volt meter to check the state of charge while hooked to active solar panels and a running furnace is not going to work. As mentioned, let the battery rest before checking it or use a hydrometer, if.I.have the right word.
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Old 09-14-2015, 07:07 PM   #11
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I agree with Bob about the inverter. Those inexpensive inverters can get pretty hot, indicating that they can be sucking down a lot of juice. It could also be malfunctioning.

Unless it was really cold and the thermostat was set up pretty high, the furnace shouldn't use that much.

But, when the solar panel is connected and getting some sun, the voltage readying you get will be more a factor of what the panels are delivering to the battery, than the battery itself - so that reading doesn’t tell you much.

I've also had the experience, with my Scamp, that the brand new deep cycle battery that came with it was defective. We discovered that the morning after our first night out. With minimal use overnight it had dropped to about 11V. I had to buy a new one at the closest NAPA and then Scamp would only direct me to the battery manufacturer for warranty.

Didn't you have a problem with a really low battery when you got home one time? Was that for sure the old battery's problem? If not maybe you could have an intermittent short somewhere? Mouse chewed insulation on a wire that sometimes causes a short? After what mice did to my old truck that sat outside I have mouse chewing paranoia
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:02 PM   #12
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I know about the surface charge etc. which is why I mentioned when the solar panels were connected and when not.
I would turn everything off, including furnace before taking a reading. The monitor in the Escape was much more optimistic than the voltmeter.
Anyway, I'm now connected to a power tree at Nk'Mip in Osoyoos, surrounded by Bigfoots. Their first rally here. Who would have anticipated that?
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
.... surrounded by Bigfoots.
Isn't the plural then Bigfeet?
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Old 09-14-2015, 09:56 PM   #14
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During Fall camping last year I experienced what I felt was an unusually rapid drop in battery charge, coupled with a slow solar-assisted recovery during the day. I almost changed out my battery this spring, but hung in there and it has performed well this summer. I'll be interested to see if that once again goes south (with the sun), as we increase the furnace use this Fall and deal with shorter days and lower sun angles.
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Old 09-14-2015, 10:24 PM   #15
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Had great sun for the two days I deployed the solar panels and we were hanging around camp so I adjusted them for best exposure.
Tomorrow, after an overnight on the power tree, I'm going to try recording events again, testing everything.
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:12 AM   #16
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Could be the fan motor in the furnace . Maybe the bearings are dry , if you can reach them a drop or two of 3 in 1 oil may help .
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Old 09-15-2015, 01:41 AM   #17
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Connections to the battery clean?
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:28 PM   #18
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Will check battery connections, although I installed new battery two weeks ago. Have problem with my cell phone data disappearing at a huge rate too.
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:31 PM   #19
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Could be the fan motor in the furnace . Maybe the bearings are dry , if you can reach them a drop or two of 3 in 1 oil may help .
Furnace motor uses sealed, "life-time" bearings. They last for their lifetime, not yours ( had motor replaced under warranty years ago, so that's how I know that ).
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Old 09-15-2015, 12:45 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Will check battery connections, although I installed new battery two weeks ago. Have problem with my cell phone data disappearing at a huge rate too.
Could be a sign to go live off the grid, with only wood to heat and cook with.
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