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  #1  
Old 09-07-2017
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Mikenjackie Mikenjackie is offline
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Default battery charging issue

My pt-40 has a Trace inverter. it is constantly showing "float charge" while plugged into shore power, but the batteries don't appear to be charging. While driving down the road, i'm showing about 14v charging, but if I stop, I need to use the "aux battery" switch to start. I'm now at a campsite, & it seems all the 12v systems are failing, although I'm plugged into shore power. I've just disconnected the ground cable from the inverter to the batteries & hooked up a battery charger to the batteries, hoping I have enough juice to start the engine in the morning. Any ideas???
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  #2  
Old 09-07-2017
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With the inverter ground disconnected & a battery charger hooked up, the fridge & toilet don't work, & the 12v lighting is just about non-existent. is this normal? Do the 12v house functions depend on the inverter being connected?
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  #3  
Old 09-07-2017
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No need to disconnect your inverter just connect a battery charger. With the little info you could have bad battery bank, bad alternator, Inverter/charger or bad connections.

Hope it starts for you but more than that, I hope you are able to find the problem.
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  #4  
Old 09-07-2017
Alan Alan is offline
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Last month my 12 Volt did the same thing. Found out it was the A/T switch. It's been eliminated, never used it anyway.
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  #5  
Old 09-07-2017
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I may be completely off base here but it sounds like maybe your chassis bank ground is bad. Have you checked the ground connections from the battery bank to make sure they are good and clean (where they connect to the bus/frame/etc...)?
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  #6  
Old 09-07-2017
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It could be the battery bank ground; I'm going to check that tonight. Am I correct in the following?
With the engine running, the alternator supplies power to all the 12v systems & also charges the battery bank.
While on shore power or genny, power goes to the inverter, which charges the battery bank. in this case, the battery bank supplies power to the house 12v systems.
While the motor is running, I'm showing 14vDC, so I know the alternator is OK. On shore power, the 12v systems last about 3-4 hours before failing. Last night, after the fridge & 12v lights dimmed & finally went out, the inverter was still showing float charge, & the "batteries full" LED was on. When I hooked up a battery charger, it initially read battery fully charged. Then, by mistake, I hit the "condition battery" button. After a minute or two, realizing what I'd done, I disconnected it from the battery bank to stop the process. When I hooked it up again & hit the "charge" button, it showed the battery bank at 70% & started charging at 10amps. This was about 1am, so I went to bed. When we woke up this morning, it was still charging & showing 85% charged. Fridge & all other 12v systems were OK. I still needed the "aux battery" switch to fire up the engine.
I measured all batteries, all 4 6v ones, wired in series/parallel, showed between 6.59 & 6.63, & the 12v starting battery, wired in parallel with the 6v bank, showed 13.6 (all measured while disconnected from each other), but one of the 6v ones had brownish sticky goop on the + terminal - I'd cleaned them all up a couple weeks ago, this was the only one where it had re-occurred. Could that be a symptom of it going bad, and if so, could a single battery take down a whole bank? I'm hoping this is the case so I can get back home. If I remove the cable from the positive terminal of the affected battery to the negative of it's series partner, would that isolate that pair and leave the rest of the bank viable? I'm going to try that tonight, hook up the charger again & see if it will maintain the charge overnight. Lastly, why would the inverter just show float charge, and the battery charger show fully charged while all the 12v systems gave the impression of a discharged battery bank? Any ideas welcome, meanwhile I'm going to check my ground connection, isolate the suspect 6v battery pair & see what happens.
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  #7  
Old 09-07-2017
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Default Some ideas

How old are the problem batteries? Time for new ones?
Have you load tested each battery by itself?
Terminals and cables all clean & tight? "Sticky goop" is not a good thing. That might indicate a bad cell/battery, especially if on only one battery.
Ground cable(s) to chasis all clean and tight?
Water levels in each cell all up to the correct level? (One dry cell can bring the whole bank down)
When you measured the voltages after charging, did you wait a couple hours before taking the measurements? Batteries retain what they call a surface charge for awhile after charging and that might be what you are reading. A "full" 12v battery should read 12.6 and a 6v half that.
Have you tried a regular auto charger (unhook each battery and charge each one by itself), then come back in a couple hours to see if the charge "took".

Continuously floating is not necessarily bad. That depends on how your charger is set to indicate "FULL" when in Float - straight time, amount of amps batt will take, volts, etc. Some chargers float continuously since they have no good way to tell when a battery has had enough. When a battery cell goes dry/bad it takes more current not less. That can give your little green light on a cheap charger the impression that it is connected to a "full" battery, based strictly on voltage.
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  #8  
Old 09-08-2017
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Mikenjackie Mikenjackie is offline
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Thanks for the advice, Van. To answer your questions, being on the road is limiting my ability to do all the tests you suggest. So far, I know all my terminal connections are tight & clean, re-did 'em all yesterday afternoon. I isolated the 6v pair that had the sticky brown goop forming on one terminal & it made no difference. I disconnected the 12v starting battery from the 6v pairs, intending to fully charge it, & almost immediately (within 10 minutes) was having problems; couldn't raise the antenna, step slow coming out, etc. Running the battery charger continuously, I can get up to 80% charged, but then, being a smart charger, it drops the charging amps & never gets beyond that level. I took the battery charger off for a couple hours this morning (I'm staying in camp today) & when I hooked it back up again it was showing 55% charge, with only parasitic drain. The batteries are Energizer FLA, about 3 years old, so I'm thinking maybe its time for a new set. Once I get home in a few days, I'll get them load tested.
I'm thinking of replacing them with AGM or gel. I saw these advertised at $140 on Amazon - does anyone know if they would work?
Optima Batteries 8010-044 6V RedTop Starting Battery
It says "starting battery" & doesn't say if they're deep cycle or not. Is AGM or gel better for house batteries?
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385-477-9780, ibmfixer@msn.com
"Retirement Bird" 1997 43WB
"Silver Shadow"1988 PT-40 Concept Coach - Sold!
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  #9  
Old 09-09-2017
mahansm mahansm is offline
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You don't want starting batteries for house batteries.

Starting batteries are optimized for brief bursts of very high discharge currents followed by a fairly quick recharge. They will not tolerate deep discharge cycles for very long.

You want something like a golf cart or trolling motor battery; these do not tolerate high discharge currents very well but are designed to provide steady current at a moderate rate over a long period of time.
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  #10  
Old 09-09-2017
badandy badandy is offline
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Did you check the water levels in the batteries? Do that! They are very likely to be low if you have never checked them. Also, measure the battery voltage without the charger running and see what you get.
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