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Electrical Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's electrical system.

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  #1  
Old 03-23-2010
wrsexton's Avatar
wrsexton wrsexton is offline
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Default Battery maintenance and disconnects

Hi all,
Hope springs eternal in Soonerland when the sun shines, so I've decided to make my PT40 a little less intimidating to the owner. Got my first three months' electric bills for the garage. Holy cow, $350!!. More than the house! Running the charger keeps the batteries up, but that's steep in my book!

The bus has 6 6 volt batteries for the chassis, 2 6 volt batteries for the coach, and 1 12 volt battery for the genset. The charger keeps all the 6 volt bats up fine (except when my efforts to economize resulted in turning off the breakers for the inverter and charger!), but the genset battery gradually dies over a period of a couple months. Not bad, without charger, 6 volt bats die in 2 or 3 days. No telling how this thing is wired, or rewired.

So, I put a Deltran .75amp 12volt battery tender junior on the genset battery (easily done, ran the cord under the garage door) and solved that problem. I'm slow, but I do come around. Got to thinking, if one's good, maybe a couple more's even better! called a couple battery stores, they think the junior is too little to charge the six chassis bats, but the 1.75 amp regular Deltran smart charger would be fine, if I installed a couple of battery disconnects. Those little things are state of the art 3 stage (or 4, depending on whose advertising you read) chargers, and apparently work on pennies, rather that dollars, per day.

I read a bunch of threads on here. Learned about smart chargers, learned about battery maintenance, learned some about disconnect switches, but haven't seen anybody putting little smart chargers on with disconnect switches, so i thought I'd ask what you guys think.

I have three of the little deltran chargers, use them on my trailer winch battery, lawn tractor, and Mustang, all of which basically sleep year 'round (like the bus). Those batteries are years old and still fine.

So two questions: 1) are the small .75 amp chargers sufficient, or should I buy the bigger one? It's a little pricey. 2) Those chassis batteries can put out 660 amps, and I shudder to think what the cold cranking amps are. The units used by forum guys all look light duty to me (not to be confused with cheap, I looked them up). I looked up serious units for diesel powered boats and came up with this unit: Blue Sea model 3003 http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...tch+4+Selector

Am I overkilling, or is this good? I anticipate your advice!!
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File Type: pdf 8g pt40 6volt battery configuration.pdf (38.5 KB, 232 views)
File Type: pdf Xantrex RV Series Inverter.pdf (109.5 KB, 1874 views)
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1985 Wanderlodge PT40 "BOB - the Big Ol' Bus"
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  #2  
Old 03-23-2010
fxdwg fxdwg is offline
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Raleigh,

I use the battery tenders on several vehicles/tractors/motorcycles in my stable. I will say they work, period. I can not tell you if the 0.75A is enough to keep the bus batteries going. I'd want to check the amperage draw to see what's being pulled out of them first. Disconnect a main ground strap and hook your multimeter from the end of the strap to a known good ground (with the meter set for amps) and see what it tells you. As long as the draw is low enough (I'd probably want under 0.50A or so), then you should be fine with the small tender. Otherwise, install a couple of disconnects and then a couple of tenders for each battery bank. That should get you where you need to be.

In looking at your battery drawing (the 8g 6V battery config) it shows you've got 2 house batteries and 6 chassis batteries. Is this correct? I'd think it would be the other way around- 2 chassis and 6 house.

Also, IF they are all 6V deep cycle- then you've got to change the chassis batteries to normal starting batteries and leave the house batteries as deep cycle. You won't get any life out of a deep cycle used for starting on a regular basis.

Definitely isolate your genny battery. You will ALWAYS want that one to start. If you can start the genny, you can start everything else.

And as far as the Blue Sea 3003, I'm not sure 500A is enough. You may want to consider something like the 9003 (where you'd need 2 of them, at least), which gives you 700A ability. I can't remember whether you have an 8V or a 6V. The 8V is capable of pulling almost 1000A when starting, from what I've read.
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Last edited by fxdwg; 03-23-2010 at 11:02 PM. Reason: adding info
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  #3  
Old 03-24-2010
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sfedeli sfedeli is offline
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Hi Raleigh,

I'd definitely use the Blue Sea systems switch that you referenced. It is rated at 2,750 amps of cranking current. The 6V92 draws around 1300 amps in cooler temps. Run the two negative leads from all of your batteries to that switch and then jump over to ground from the "common" lug. I'd leave all of the positive leads on one stud- but keep in mind that a maximum of 3 leads are recommended for any stud. With as many leads as you have, consider going to a heavy duty bus bar like this one- http://bluesea.com/category/9/35/products/2104. Somehow, you have 2 extra batteries. My PT only has 6 and they are all linked together for both starting and house. It's been that way and worked fine for 4 years now. I replaced that old "battery boiler" charger like you have with a ProSine Xantrex 2.0 unit- but if the Deltran's are working for you, keep using them. Pretty much all of the coaches can only go unplugged for 3 or 4 days before the batteries get too low. There are around 10 amps of "ghost drains" for clocks, ammeters, propane valves, voltmeters and radio memory that will pull the batteries down over time.
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  #4  
Old 03-24-2010
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wrsexton wrsexton is offline
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Default Thanks for suggestions

It's true, I have a large number of cables at the positive connection. There are actually two lugs already there. See attached photo. What looks like a red washer is actually a third lug with no stud. More is always better!

To John, I drew it up exactly as connected, with the aid of multiple photos and lots of stretching and searching. Yes, it is a 6v92, and that disconnect switch was the heaviest one I turned up in a google search. The ones other people have used on this forum are nowhere near as stout as that one. I was guessing as to which are chassis and which are coach batteries - they all go to the same place, so they may all be just one big group (I'm not an electrician). All looks like one to me. I will install disconnects before I use the chargers on the 6volt batteries.

So the charger I have is old? It was installed in October when the inverter was rebuilt. The charger has no date of manufacture on it anywhere, nor did a google search turn up anything on the company or the charger, so I probably got ripped again. It says clearly on it it's designed for vertical mounting and it's mounted on it's back above the bed next to (and connected in parallel with) the inverter. Anyone know if the RV2012 inverter also has a charger in it? The inverter has two green wires inside it that aren't attached to anything.

Thanks for your help. John, know any battery places in OKC that can put on cable ends so I can install the disconnect?
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  #5  
Old 03-24-2010
fxdwg fxdwg is offline
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IIRC, the Fleetpride truck parts place just west of McClain's on Reno on the south side of the road was doing cables the last time I was in there. It's the place that's the most west of that group of buildings on the south side of Reno. But the NAPA Heavy Duty parts house may be closer to you at 2801 W. Reno.

Since Shane knows a whole bunch more about your vintage than I do, I would venture if he says it's okay to use the 3003, you will be fine using it.

I'll bet the batteries are the opposite of what you've got drawn. Meaning you've got 2 for starting and 6 for the house. BUT they are normally separated by at least a relay to prevent totally discharging the chassis batteries when you dry camp. That's what the "aux batt" switch on your dash is supposed to do- tie the 2 banks together for starting purposes. When you get to installing your disconnects and such, I'd disconnect one bank only and see what still works! Then you'd know for sure. Of course, you never know what somebody else may have doen, so they may HAVE truly tied the 2 banks together.

I'm still learning about all the various inverters and chargers out there, so somebody else will have to jump in to give you info there.

Keep up the good work!
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96 WTOS 42'
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don't waste your time with a usa-spec ipod adapter- poor products with poor support

Last edited by fxdwg; 03-24-2010 at 04:06 PM. Reason: adding info
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2010
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Ed Wimberley Ed Wimberley is offline
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Raleigh
Yes the Xantrex RV2012 has a built in 3 stage charger it's the large wire lugs outside case mine is marked + -. The green wires should be hooked to grounds coming into inverter 2 sources shore is one generator is the other. Go to Xantrex.com and you can see wiring diagram.
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  #7  
Old 03-24-2010
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wrsexton wrsexton is offline
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Thanks John, yes, NAPA is about a mile away, other place is about 3 miles. I'll check on that straight away.

That's good advice on disconnecting one set to see what works, Hadn't thought to do that! Just because I have it drawn the way it's in the coach doesn't mean I know what I drew, or what it does! Here're photos of the batteries, hard to completely decipher without being here to look. They all connect to the big positive buss in photo 2.
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  #8  
Old 03-24-2010
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wrsexton wrsexton is offline
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Default revised wiring diagram

John, per your advice I revisited the battery wiring. What I thought were 2 lugs on the positive junction may be separate. The two lugs are mounted on an electrical box that is in turn attached to two other electrical boxes. I took a closer photo and the three positive cables for the six batteries all go to the terminal on the right in the photo. The black cable looping over the top to the larger terminal on the left is the positive cable from the two battery group. The larger terminal on the left has the positive cable for the two batteries, and two large orange cables (that say 27" on them) that go to Trace fuses for the inverter (and I assume, go to the inverter). Look at the attached photos and revised diagram and see if this matches your description as the six being the house bats and the two being the chassis bats. Would the box the two logs are on be the isolater assembly?
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File Type: pdf 8g pt40 6volt battery configuration.pdf (41.9 KB, 169 views)
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  #9  
Old 03-25-2010
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Raleigh,

Definately get rid of the two 6v batteries wired together and replace them with two 12v batteries in parallel (+ to +, - to -) and then wire them in to the system the same way the existing two 6v batteries are now. Pick a good quality starting battery with very high cold cranking amp ratings. You'll be much happier with the performance and life.
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  #10  
Old 03-25-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrsexton View Post
Hi all,
http://www.jamestowndistributors.com...tch+4+Selector

Am I overkilling, or is this good? I anticipate your advice!!
We used to have a battery switch on all fire trucks. A great idea and they work(if you turn the battery off when you get back from a run!). There will be some rewiring to do to incorporate this type of switch. On several fire trucks they snuck an electronic battery switch in the custom built vehicle and they do not hold up to fire service abuse. A good old mechanical switch is all you need. Easy to understand and diagnose when your coach has electrical grremlins. We used to spec a battery switch made by Cole Hersee, but can't remember the part number anymore. I retired in 2003. Hope this helps. Rick
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