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Old 10-11-2014, 12:33 PM   #1
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Odd battery issue

We've had an issue with our dual 6v batteries - when the lights are on and the water pump comes on the lights flicker. After testing the batteries (they test fine) and having them tested at an RV place (they tested fine) we are dry camping for the weekend. Yesterday the batteries read 100% and the solar was charging them then in the middle of the day the GoPower panel numbers starting flashing. I pulled the booklet on it and saw that this indicates an error message, but there was no information on how to clear it. A few minutes later the flashing stopped and I assumed the error cleared. Fast forward until we need the lights... Nothing. There is no readout on the GoPower, nothing when I check the batteries systems monitor - batteries appear dead. I've checked the breakers and all the fuses (all ok) and checked the batteries themselves (they are low, but do register as having some power). I turned the battery disconnect off as there was no point in having it on.

This morning on a whim we turned the battery disconnect back on and we had power (battery levels 100%!) until we turned the water pump on and everything went dead again. I again checked the fuses and even switched out the fuse for the water pump - nothing. Everything is dead.

If anyone can recommend something, I'd really appreciate it. We can work around this for the weekend and take the trailer in for diagnosis and repair next week, but if I'm missing something easy and obvious, I'd love to take care of this so we can have an easier weekend.

Thanks in advance for the great advice! 😃
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Old 10-11-2014, 01:52 PM   #2
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I would start by checking the ground connections and I believe there is a fuse up front by the batteries some where. Short of that, give Reace a quick call as if anyone can help it would be him.

Doug
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Old 10-11-2014, 02:41 PM   #3
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Also check all 4 connections at your batteries.. you can get corrosion especially on the positives that will inhibit full current flow at the battery post connections but still show lots of voltage in your circuits.. until you connect a high amperage load like pumps, lots of lighting, fans etc.. or in an automobile.. the starter. By checking I mean removing, wire brushing/baking soda paste the posts and cable connectors if required..
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Old 10-11-2014, 06:09 PM   #4
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I would add two things to the above comments.

1. This is a situation where an inexpensive multi-meter really can help get answers. You can test connections and find problems quickly. Well worth having.

2. I'm not crazy about Escapes' wiring methods. The run a negative wire from the battery to the frame. About a foot away they run a ground wire from the converter to the frame. Makes no sense to me and your trailer is getting to the age where some corrosion could have developed between the steel frame and the ground leads. I'd undo the bolts, clean the terminals and re-install them.

On mine I installed a jumper between the two so that I have a tinned lug to lug connection instead of a lug to rusty steel connections.

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Old 10-11-2014, 07:14 PM   #5
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That may be the wiring technique on some models, however both legs of my 6V batteries were wired with #10 wire to the converter (hot through the disconnect switch & circuit breaker). They ran a separate wire between the converter ground & the frame.
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Old 10-12-2014, 11:40 AM   #6
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Update #2: grounded wire fine, no corrosion. I cleaned battery terminals two days ago when I put the batteries back in - all clean and tight.. Last night GoPower solar came back to life registering batteries at 100%, flipped battery disconnect switch - nothing, and GoPower panel dead. Turned it back off. This morning GoPower solar registering again, flipped battery disconnect switch - we have power. Waited a few minutes turned a light on (woohoo). Turned the light off and switched the water pump on - everything went dead. Leaving campground today and will call Reace in the morning.
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Old 10-12-2014, 12:27 PM   #7
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"will call Reace in the morning."

Holiday Monday here. No idea what ETI's hours are though.
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Old 10-12-2014, 01:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by BCnomad View Post
"will call Reace in the morning."

Holiday Monday here. No idea what ETI's hours are though.


Thank you for contacting Escape Trailer Industries.

Please note we will be CLOSED Saturday, October 11 through to Monday, October 13, 2014 for Thanksgiving Day. We will re-open on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 8am

Reace and Tammy Harmatuik
Owner's of Escape Trailer Industries Ltd.
T: 604 703 1650
Toll Free: 1 855 703 1650
F: 604 703 1651

43851 Industrial Way, Bldg. B
Chilliwack, BC, V2R 4L2
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Old 10-12-2014, 02:46 PM   #9
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The major problem is that Escape does not provide a schematic wiring diagram which makes trouble shooting more difficult.

Here's a photo of what I'm referring to in my previous post and I'd recommend that you check and see if you have the same situation. If your battery negative goes to the frame you should remove it and clean it and also any other ground cables you find.

You can also see that it's an exposed to moisture crimped connection. It will fail in time. The cable should be checked for excessive resistance. I solder all such connections.

You can see one cable bolted to the frame. About a foot to the left you can see a protruding bolt that attaches a ground to the other side of the frame. You can also see that even though my trailer was almost brand new when the photo was taken the there is some rust forming around the threads. That's why I've now jumpered the two lugs together to make a much more reliable connection.

Ron
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:13 PM   #10
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You can see one cable bolted to the frame. About a foot to the left you can see a protruding bolt that attaches a ground to the other side of the frame. You can also see that even though my trailer was almost brand new when the photo was taken the there is some rust forming around the threads.
Although my recent non-Escape RVs certainly have their issues, they do address this issue. Battery terminal connections are protected by a spray-on coating - presumably something like Permatex® Battery Protector & Sealer or CRC Battery Terminal Protector. I would consider that for this sort of frame connection.

I also think that a stud welded to the frame would be a better connection than a through-bolt.
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Old 10-12-2014, 03:21 PM   #11
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Hi Jane

I saw that you had the batteries checked by an RV center. Can I assume they did a load test and a hydrometer test? It really seems like faulty batteries to me.

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Old 10-12-2014, 04:19 PM   #12
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Thanks everyone! Grounded wire looks fine. Yes, they did a load test - and I did a hydrometer test too. We've now had the batteries tested multiple times because I was convinced the batteries are bad, but every test comes back fine. We actually took the batteries in to replace them because I believed they were bad given the flickering lights when the water pump was on and the drop in battery and time to rebound. The RV people tested them again. I'll go in there tomorrow and see if they will connect two new batteries and will report back.

Reace - thank you for responding on the weekend! There's still nothing on the GoPower panel (no read out whatsoever). We'll head home today and deal with it tomorrow. It's still better to be camping than not! . Have a good weekend!
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Old 10-12-2014, 06:24 PM   #13
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Grounded wire looks fine.
That isn't an absolute verification that its' OK. I've seen cables that~looked~ OK but had corrosion inside the crimp making them hit or miss for some loads.

The only way to systematically trouble shoot the situation is to use a multi-meter to locate where you have and haven't got power and test the cables with the ohmmeter to determine that there isn't high resistance from a bad connection.

Ron
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Old 10-12-2014, 07:31 PM   #14
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Actually, this is a case where making voltage measurements with a multimeter will probably lie to you. The connection/battery/wiring is failing under a heavy load (the water pump), not a light load such as the LED fixture. A multimeter does not put enough load on a circuit to show this kind of failure unless you do your measuring while the pump is on.

While it is pretty near impossible to troubleshoot without being there, it sure sounds like a bad connection somewhere between the batteries & the water pump. If everything shuts down when the pump is run, and the batteries are good, I would suspect the problem is between the batteries & the converter 12V distribution center. I'd also check the cross connect between the 6V batteries.
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Old 10-12-2014, 07:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Actually, this is a case where making voltage measurements with a multimeter will probably lie to you. The connection/battery/wiring is failing under a heavy load (the water pump), not a light load such as the LED fixture. A multimeter does not put enough load on a circuit to show this kind of failure unless you do your measuring while the pump is on.
That's not lying; that's showing that the voltage depends on the load. I agree - one would measure voltage with the pump on and with the pump off.
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Old 10-12-2014, 07:58 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
Actually, this is a case where making voltage measurements with a multimeter will probably lie to you. The connection/battery/wiring is failing under a heavy load (the water pump), not a light load such as the LED fixture. A multimeter does not put enough load on a circuit to show this kind of failure unless you do your measuring while the pump is on.

While it is pretty near impossible to troubleshoot without being there, it sure sounds like a bad connection somewhere between the batteries & the water pump. If everything shuts down when the pump is run, and the batteries are good, I would suspect the problem is between the batteries & the converter 12V distribution center. I'd also check the cross connect between the 6V batteries.
I agree with most of that except they did say the panel failed to display and that's not a heavy load.

But I agree, it has all the hallmarks of a bad connection somewhere. Yeah, difficult to trouble shoot at a distance, especially without a schematic, and a little frustrating when you know a few minutes with a meter could probably pinpoint the problem.

Ron
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Old 10-20-2014, 05:10 PM   #17
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Thanks everyone for your great suggestions and ideas! An extra special thanks to Reace for responding on a weekend! We took the trailer to a different RV repair place (to where we took the batteries to be tested the week prior) and he performed a quick load test right in front of me. The batteries read "weak." Two new batteries later and we're good to go! . Clearly the other place that told us they load tested the batteries didn't and we won't be recommending them. Now we can meet folks at the Lake Casita Rally on Ojai in a couple of weeks with no worries!
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