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Old 12-01-2019, 07:53 PM   #1
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My batteries and charging - 2 topics...

The RV has been sitting in the yard for the past week or so. No shore power but nothing running. Ms WT went out this am and checked the battery button on the panel. 2 of 4 lights... I went out and checked the water level. I'd wager that the previous owner never opened the batteries and looked inside. I say this because the battery cabling is in the way of the levers to open and look inside. After a little wrangling I managed to open the tops on all 4 batteries. One has water below the plates. The other 3, the water is just above the plates.


FIRST issue / question: I know that the first needs distilled water and I think that the other 3 do as well. I looked online and the interweb says that the water should be just below the fill spout's bottom. Is this correct? I should fill to just below the bottom of the fill spout?


SECOND issue / question: I'm know that I'm not supposed to add water to a battery that's not fully charged. So I ran a 120V extension cord from a 20A receptacle in the garage. I put a multimeter on - 6.2V / 12.5V (they're 6V batteries). I thought that if the batteries were charging I'd get more than that? I read somewhere on this forum to look for 13V or so. I fired up the generator and the MM at the batter terminals still read 12.5V. Should I just let the shore power continue and check again tomorrow? Then add distilled water?
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:17 PM   #2
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I'd give it a day on shore-power, and then check it again....
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:23 PM   #3
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Should I top off the water before or after charging?
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:44 PM   #4
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Since they're that low: I'd top them off first.
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:56 PM   #5
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As far as your 12.5v is concerned, that is the mid level charge in what is supposed to be a three charge system. 13.1v - boost phase, 13.5v 50-90% And float charge after that about 12.1v. However, if you have the stock WFCO charger - if Thor is still using them - Many have found that they do not charge at the boost level or float level or both. If you are down that far and only seeing 12.5v from your converter/charger then it is suspect.
For the water, I am with Bob. You are right that topping off the batteries should be done when they are fully charged, however, charging a dry battery can cause an explosion or fire, so I would put some water in them before charging. If the water has been below the plates, then the batteries may be toast anyway.
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Old 12-01-2019, 09:01 PM   #6
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Besides: how could they possibly take a charge anyway?
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:42 PM   #7
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Well, I topped off the batteries. Took a lot of water. Hopefully I'm not hosed. After buying it less than a month ago, I really don't want another large expenditure so soon.

The RV is now back on the 120v shore power. We'll see what they look like tomorrow.

Thank you guys!
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Old 12-01-2019, 10:55 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by WearyTraveler View Post
The RV has been sitting in the yard for the past week or so. No shore power but nothing running. Ms WT went out this am and checked the battery button on the panel. 2 of 4 lights... I went out and checked the water level. I'd wager that the previous owner never opened the batteries and looked inside. I say this because the battery cabling is in the way of the levers to open and look inside. After a little wrangling I managed to open the tops on all 4 batteries. One has water below the plates. The other 3, the water is just above the plates.



My 25 cents worth in blue (mybe worth it):



FIRST issue / question: I know that the first needs distilled water and I think that the other 3 do as well. I looked online and the interweb says that the water should be just below the fill spout's bottom. Is this correct? I should fill to just below the bottom of the fill spout?


Fill all four 6vdc batteries to just below the internal fill opening battery cap retainers; not to the top of the openings. Always use distilled water if you can. Also where eye protection and be cautious when adding water for acid splashes on hands and clothes.....acid will eat clothing and will appear as holes in clothing in a few days (if you do splash that is).



SECOND issue / question: I'm know that I'm not supposed to add water to a battery that's not fully charged. So I ran a 120V extension cord from a 20A receptacle in the garage. I put a multimeter on - 6.2V / 12.5V (they're 6V batteries). I thought that if the batteries were charging I'd get more than that? I read somewhere on this forum to look for 13V or so. I fired up the generator and the MM at the batter terminals still read 12.5V. Should I just let the shore power continue and check again tomorrow? Then add distilled water?

I would not charge a battery that has water level below the plates; top them all and then start charging. Make sure your use/store is on. You should see at least 13vdc minimum approx (across each pair of series connected 6vdc batteries) if converter / charging is working. The fact that one battery had water below plates means it probably was being overcharged at some point and actually boiled off some water. Sulphation of the plates can occur quickly with uncovered plates and discharged battery voltage levels.....hopefully a "good charger" will bring the batteries back to full charge. It might be worth investigating your current converter/charger specs to see if it is working properly and of not, replace it with something better.......especially if your current batteries turn up damaged and not able to take a full reliable charge. Paying for new batteries (if required in the end) and charging them with a crappy charger system is basically throwing money away.
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Old 12-01-2019, 11:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WearyTraveler View Post
Well, I topped off the batteries. Took a lot of water. Hopefully I'm not hosed. After buying it less than a month ago, I really don't want another large expenditure so soon.

The RV is now back on the 120v shore power. We'll see what they look like tomorrow.

Thank you guys!
Good luck: I hope that you see 13 volts or better in them!
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Old 12-01-2019, 11:23 PM   #10
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FWIW, have never heard that one should NOT add water to a battery that is not fully charged....
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Old 12-01-2019, 11:52 PM   #11
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From Crown Batteries.

WHEN TO ADD WATER
Conventional batteries contain a liquid “electrolyte” which is a mixture of sulfuric acid and water. The plates in a lead battery contain an active material that should be continuously bathed in electrolytes while oxygen and hydrogen gas are released during charging.

While a battery should only be filled after it is completely charged, you should check the water level before charging. Before charging, make sure there is just enough water to cover any exposed plates. After charging, add enough water to bring the level to the bottom of the vent, about ¾ below the top of the cell.

It’s important to note that battery owners should never add sulfuric acid to their battery. During normal operation batteries will only consume water – and not sulfuric acid. When your battery’s electrolyte is observed to be low, filling the battery with water will keep the battery healthy and safe for use.



DON’T OVER WATER
While a battery is charging, the density of the electrolyte solution will increase. If too much water was added before charging, the electrolyte levels will expand and cause the battery to overflow and damage the battery. Additionally, excessive watering of a battery can result in additional dilution of the electrolyte, resulting in reduced battery performance
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:08 AM   #12
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I have a Chevy Malibu LS2010. Got to know from the service guy that my car battery's health is good quality but charging is too near to the ground. Can I charge my battery with the battery charger?
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Old 12-02-2019, 05:17 AM   #13
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Thanks and appreciate all of your sincere response
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:12 PM   #14
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OK folks - I fear that I'm hosed... The RV was on 120V shore power all night after I topped off (to just below the fill tube) the batteries. When I check the batteries on the panel I still get 2 of 4 lights.


I unplugged shore power and fired up the generator. Previously I'd get the 4 light reading. When I check the batteries on the panel I still get 2 of 4 lights.


When I turn on the inverter switch (just to get a reading) I show 11.9V and 1A.



Use / store is on use.


I am very non mechanical (which makes me wonder when the heck I bought an RV!). How do I check to see if it's the batteries or the charging system?



Help!
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:33 PM   #15
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It sounds as if it's time to break out the butter and jam: those batteries sound as if they're already toast!
Sorry...
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Old 12-02-2019, 06:37 PM   #16
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Go buy an inexpensive volt meter. Without one you are literally in the dark. Then you can check the voltage at the batteries with the charger on. They should read between 14.1 and 13.5v. If they do, let the charger run for a couple of hours, turn off the charger, let the batteries sit for a while and check them again, if they are fully charged they should read around 12.8v. As they get older that will decrease some. Partially charged (above 50%) somewhere over 12v.

Sounds to me that your batteries are toast. You can take them to NAPA or some other auto supply store and they will check them for you.

If you buy new batteries come back and learn how to check and see if your converter/charger is working correctly or if it is destroying your batteries.
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:34 PM   #17
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OK - I ran the RV for 30 minutes. The batteries are 4 of 4 on the panel and 13V with the multimeter. That tells me that the alternator will charge the house batteries!


I turned off the RV and left it plugged into the 120V 20A shore power. I will check tomorrow to see if the batteries remain charged.



If they don't remain charged, I know that they're bad because they won't hold a charge. If they remain charged, I'm thinking that the converter is toast.


I'm still uncertain as to why the batteries died in the first place? Could the low reading be because of the water I added and the converter is still the culprit?



Thoughts?
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Old 12-02-2019, 07:50 PM   #18
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I suspect that either the RV's converter/charger is failed, or a circuit breaker between the batteries and the converter is popped. Since you get 4 of 4 LED's with the alternator supplying the charge, it seems the converter is the problem. With the generator running or when you plugged into shore power, you should see 4 of 4 LED's showing that the converter is charging the batteries.

Be aware that it takes many hours of charging to get the batteries back to life after being run down that far. So you would need to get the converter (or an external battery charger) going for a good overnight if the batteries are ever going to charge.

If after a healthy charging time the batteries still fall off quickly, then they are truly dead.
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Old 12-02-2019, 08:03 PM   #19
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I suspect that either the RV's converter/charger is failed, or a circuit breaker between the batteries and the converter is popped. Since you get 4 of 4 LED's with the alternator supplying the charge, it seems the converter is the problem. With the generator running or when you plugged into shore power, you should see 4 of 4 LED's showing that the converter is charging the batteries.

Be aware that it takes many hours of charging to get the batteries back to life after being run down that far. So you would need to get the converter (or an external battery charger) going for a good overnight if the batteries are ever going to charge.

If after a healthy charging time the batteries still fall off quickly, then they are truly dead.

Tom is correct. And you should see all 4 LEDs lit when plugged into shore power as it is a simple voltmeter. It does not tell you the state of charge of your batteries when they are charging but it does tell you that there is enough voltage on the DC buss to charge them.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:21 PM   #20
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I screwed up....

Today I found I screwed up when I parked it in the yard. I connected it to shore power, then went to the breaker box and turned off everything I figured we didn’t need. I turned off the converter breaker. That stopped gen and shore power from getting to the converter, which allowed my already half toast batteries to go even lower. So - check your breaker panel and make sure that the converter is turned on.
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