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Old 07-09-2020, 10:09 PM   #1
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Sudden loss of 12V

No hookups, no solar. So I was running the fridge on propane, occasionally the heater. Fan on also part of the time. I'd just switched to a new tank of propane about 5 PM and also around then turned the fan off. I plugged in a 12V tester to the inside outlet and it read 12.7 (two full 12V batteries). Then I plugged in a USB 12V charger to that same outlet but didn't hook anything up to it.

I noticed the fridge was off and figured it had gone off when the propane ran out so turned it on. It was on auto last I looked. So 2-3 hrs later went to get something out of the fridge and it was not cold and had turned off again. All the 12V is off.

Tester won't read anymore.

So I got out my multimeter and duh, left it on last time so it is also out of battery and I can't check the batteries themselves.

None of this is a big deal although I hope my batteries didn't really run to zero that fast. I can get a new battery for the multimeter tomorrow and start checking. But I know there is a 12V disconnect and I assume a fuse somewhere? I have no idea what to look for and I remember the former owner telling me he moved the disconnect as he kept hitting it and turning it off. But wondering if the charger thing blew the fuse.

Going to check propane now as I'm not sure why the fridge would have gone to 12V if it did. Nope, at least the gas works on the stove (and tank showed full when I switched over.)

Any quick fixes and where would I look?

And one more possible cause- this is the first time I've boondocked on this battery setup. Everything has worked fine on 120 since I put the two batteries in, but I haven't tried running 12V more than a few hours before today. (And wasn't that long today, either- total time about 6 hrs.)
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Old 07-09-2020, 10:18 PM   #2
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Well at least you get points for having a multimeter. I've done the same thing but have caught it before it killed the multimeter batteries.

Anything that you can improvise a test light with? For example a spare light bulb and a piece of wire. Even if you can't I'd start at the positive battery terminal and follow the heavy battery cable as best you can. It ends up at the panel but there may be a fuse and the mystery switch along the way.

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Old 07-09-2020, 10:26 PM   #3
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Well at least you get points for having a multimeter. I've done the same thing but have caught it before it killed the multimeter batteries.

Anything that you can improvise a test light with? For example a spare light bulb and a piece of wire. Even if you can't I'd start at the positive battery terminal and follow the heavy battery cable as best you can. It ends up at the panel but there may be a fuse and the mystery switch along the way.

Ron
Not very many points since I forgot to turn it off!

The main panel is under the bed so at the moment no go. Under the front driver's side dinette seat is where the 12V outlet is and there is a bunch of wiring but again, I have no idea at all what I'm looking for there.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:09 PM   #4
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Sounds like a lot of things going on but if the fridge was on Auto and ran out of propane...then I would expect it to switch to 12 volts and drain your battery.
This may not be the case but I would go directly to the batteries and check them first to see if they are dead...then work from there.
The more I learn about running the fridge on 12 volts...the more I would like to disconnect that feature. If I run out of propane, I can usually find some in a nearby town. But if the batteries are dead then the fridge will not run even with the new propane as there is no 12 volts to run the control board in the fridge.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:12 PM   #5
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You may also be able to salvage a battery out of a flashlight or the smoke alarm to get your tester going.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:19 PM   #6
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True, taking the 12V off the fridge would be good. But I had it run down on one battery before and that took a lot longer so I'm doubtful that's what did it. Not that fast. Unfortunately it is the only thing that was turned on at the time so I didn't see anything fade away (or not).

I guess the other thing I can do besides get a new battery for the tester tomorrow is to hitch up (have to move sites anyway) and if the 12V works while connected, it isn't the switch or a fuse, is it? But I'll have the battery before I have to move. I'll also refill the empty propane as I've found some things won't work when it gets below a certain pressure even if there is still enough for cooking- though I think I switched to a full bottle anyway.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:36 PM   #7
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Not sure if it’s true for all three way frigs but the one in my e19 and the one I had in my 2015 e15 did not go into 12v when it run out of propane, it just sat there with the “check” light on waiting for you to replace the tank and recycle the on/off switch. The “Auto” mode just makes it go to 110 if available and switch to propane when it’s not.
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Old 07-09-2020, 11:44 PM   #8
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Not sure if it’s true for all three way frigs but the one in my e19 and the one I had in my 2015 e15 did not go into 12v when it run out of propane, it just sat there with the “check” light on waiting for you to replace the tank and recycle the on/off switch. The “Auto” mode just makes it go to 110 if available and switch to propane when it’s not.
Same with the RMD8555 in my E21 (2014).
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Old 07-10-2020, 07:54 AM   #9
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I guess the other thing I can do besides get a new battery for the tester tomorrow is to hitch up (have to move sites anyway) and if the 12V works while connected, it isn't the switch or a fuse, is it? But I'll have the battery before I have to move.
Not necessarily. Depends on exactly how you are wired. The 12V power from the tow vehicle is it own independent source and typically intersects the trailer wiring in such a way that you can power the trailer directly even if a fuse between the trailer battery and the intersection of this wiring is blown. Typically the trailer 12V disconnect switch would not shut off power to the trailer from the tow vehicle since the wiring connection should be on the WFCO power center/converter side of the switch. Flipping the switch would just prevent the tow vehicle from charging the battery. The attached graphic courtesy of tdf-texas (with my annotations) may help you visualize what I am saying.
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File Type: jpg Battery wiring 19_LI.jpg (16.1 KB, 42 views)
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Old 07-10-2020, 07:56 AM   #10
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Well that could be what it did. It’s possible the charger I plugged in somehow shorted the system (nothing was attached to it and it has no lights so hard to see how it could have drained it.). I wouldn’t have noticed unless there was some kind of spark or something as nothing was turned on but the fridge.
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Old 07-10-2020, 08:29 AM   #11
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If you batteries are dead then you may not have an operating emergency disconnect set up which relies upon the battery to activate the trailer brakes in case of disconnect from the tow vehicle. There are multiple reasons not to use 12v operation of the refer unless you install a stand alone system of batteries, independent from the house batteries.
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Old 07-10-2020, 08:39 AM   #12
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I plugged in a 12V tester to the inside outlet and it read 12.7 (two full 12V batteries)
Bobbie: When you say "two full 12V batteries" do you mean you have two 12V batteries in parallel that you can switch between or did you really mean two 6V batteries in series (typical Escape option) giving you 12V? It may help with troubleshooting.
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Old 07-10-2020, 09:08 AM   #13
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I would check the simple things first: Is the battery disconnect switch tripped? Once you get a test light/multi meter, check to see if the switch itself has failed. Also, the system has a set of 12v circuit breakers that could have failed. Both of these would give you instant loss of power. Start at the battery and work your way through the system until you find the issue.
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Old 07-10-2020, 09:25 AM   #14
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We had a similar issue with our bumper mounted pair of 6v batteries - it turned out that the ground (attached behind the battery on the actual bumper had worked it's way loose.) It was a challenge to get at the connection, but we keep an eye on it now - keeping it clean and snug.
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Old 07-10-2020, 09:43 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
Bobbie: When you say "two full 12V batteries" do you mean you have two 12V batteries in parallel that you can switch between or did you really mean two 6V batteries in series (typical Escape option) giving you 12V? It may help with troubleshooting.
I mean two 12V in parallel not switched between. Load connected to one so both should drain equally. But this is the first time I've had it on for long- but it has been on enough to know nothing was wrong with the setup.

There was plenty of propane in the tank I switched to- still shows full this morning. I switched when the heater wouldn't turn on. (I had it turned off for the ferry and only turned one back on; when it ran out I turned the second one on.) So if the fridge switched to 12V it wasn't on it long but I couldn't see that it had.

I'm away from trailer now but will be back soon with 9V battery so I can test the batteries- and then go from there. If the batteries are dead something drained them; if not, something shorted out. I'm very suspicious of that charger plug. It was this: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1. I plugged it in and added the charging cords but did not test it or connect either of them to anything.
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Old 07-10-2020, 10:19 AM   #16
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I mean two 12V in parallel not switched between. Load connected to one so both should drain equally. But this is the first time I've had it on for long- but it has been on enough to know nothing was wrong with the setup.

There was plenty of propane in the tank I switched to- still shows full this morning. I switched when the heater wouldn't turn on. (I had it turned off for the ferry and only turned one back on; when it ran out I turned the second one on.) So if the fridge switched to 12V it wasn't on it long but I couldn't see that it had.

I'm away from trailer now but will be back soon with 9V battery so I can test the batteries- and then go from there. If the batteries are dead something drained them; if not, something shorted out. I'm very suspicious of that charger plug. It was this: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/...?ie=UTF8&psc=1. I plugged it in and added the charging cords but did not test it or connect either of them to anything.
I doubt the charging plug you described would completely drain a pair of 12V batteries in a day or two without going up in smoke.

On the other hand, if your refrigerator switched to 12V, that could easily completely drain them.
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Old 07-10-2020, 10:26 AM   #17
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I mean two 12V in parallel not switched between. Load connected to one so both should drain equally.
Since you have two 12V batteries consider installing a battery selector switch and use them one at a time. That way you'll never be left with dead batteries, the unused one will be charged and ready to use. Every boat and trailer that I've owned has had a selector switch, gives peace of mind knowing that you always have a battery in reserve.

If you need max. output, say for a microwave, you can always switch to "both".

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Old 07-10-2020, 10:32 AM   #18
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Since you have two 12V batteries consider installing a battery selector switch and use them one at a time. That way you'll never be left with dead batteries, the unused one will be charged and ready to use. Every boat and trailer that I've owned has had a selector switch, gives peace of mind knowing that you always have a battery in reserve.

If you need max. output, say for a microwave, you can always switch to "both".

Ron
Great suggestion. That is what I would do. In fact I really need to do this on my father's boat.
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Old 07-10-2020, 01:28 PM   #19
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It’s not the batteries, both are equally charged fully. So something cut off 12V. What am I looking for when I look for the shutoff? (I.e., what does it look like?) Or the fuse?
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Old 07-10-2020, 01:39 PM   #20
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You pulled a lead between the 2 batteries when you checked?
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