Thursday, December 29, 2011

RV Batteries. Wind Turbine. High, Low Voltage. Shorts. Blitz. TX. Wounded Knee. Sold!

For "tRaVersing, or RV day":
No RV Battery Charging While Driving

"I enjoyed your recent FMCA seminar about 12-volt battery systems. I have a converter that doesn't properly give a full charge while driving! I have a Dodge Sprinter chassis with the Mercedes  turbo. The converter is the 7300 series by Parallax Power Supply. The two 12-volt house batteries are new and I've only used the rig for less than four months. Is there a better converter that I should buy? Glenn C". (Eugene, OR)

"Glenn, just to clarify, your Parallax converter/charger will not charge while actually driving down the road. It is powered by 120-volt AC electricity and should charge while plugged into shoreline power or when running the generator. The house batteries and the engine battery should receive a charge via the alternator on the engine while actually driving. It is plausible to run the generator while driving, but if the alternator is sized properly, both battery systems can be effectively charged while driving. Once you stop for the night, plug the coach into 120-volt AC park power and then the Parallax can top off the house batteries. (The Parallax will not charge the chassis battery).

If you're not getting a proper charging current to the batteries while driving, it will be necessary to evaluate the engine alternator and the battery isolator and all points between the alternator and battery bank. A proper setup will have the alternator output feeding into a dedicated dual battery separator or isolator.  The output amperage of the alternator is then split between the two battery systems, the house batteries and the chassis battery.

One quick test you can make is to measure the voltage at the battery bank with the motorhome engine off. Note that voltage measurement, then start the engine. There should be a 2-3 volt rise in the voltage at the battery bank if the alternator is charging. If the voltage remains the same or goes down at all, it may be a faulty alternator, a faulty battery separator or faulty connections between point A and B.... meaning, further troubleshooting is in order.

A Certified RV technician should be able to quickly diagnose which component(s) may be at fault and make the subsequent repair(s). In my RV Owner's Handbook, I give you the step-by-step procedures for testing the isolator and the wiring. But a quick voltage measurement with the engine off and then running will give you some indication of where the problem is originating. This, of course, is assuming the batteries themselves are in good condition." Posted by RV Doctor.


Best way to charge an RV battery 

RV DoctorThe RV Doctor, Gary Bunzer, answers your questions.

"Dear Gary,
I have an Itasca motorhome with two 12-volt batteries wired parallel. I have been dry camping with this rig and have nearly run down the coach batteries after a few days. When that happens I have to start my RV generator (which runs on propane) to charge the coach batteries up some. I thought I remember you saying that this is not very effective. Is running the RV engine more effective or taking it out and driving it a little? I am also thinking of buying a portable 2000 watt generator that I can just connect to the coach batteries and charge them in place. My plan is to buy the little generator and connect to the coach batteries in place without unhooking the battery cables. I have been told I can charge the two coach batteries together by hooking the positive clip to the positive terminal of one battery and the negative clip to the negative post of the other battery. Will buying the 2000 watt generator, which has a built in 8-amp charger, do the job?" --Jim G.,
Read Gary's response:

"Jim, I'm glad the seminar prompted some further contemplation on your part! And you remembered correctly; most modern RV generators do not have a dedicated battery charging circuit. They simply produce the 120-volt AC output that further powers a converter/charger or, in some cases, an inverter/charger for on-board battery charging.

As for connecting the load and a charger, both the load and the charger should be connected to the positive terminal of one battery and the negative terminal of the other battery in a two-battery, 12-volt parallel set-up.

But in my opinion, 8-amps would not be sufficient for effectively charging your battery bank. The general rule of thumb is C/5. “C” being the total amp-hour capacity of your battery bank, divided by 5, which equals the output amperage necessary to fully charge the bank in the least amount of time, without the fear of over-charging. This presupposes the battery charger is a sophisticated, 3-step charger. If your batteries are Group 27, you can store about 210 amp-hours, or so, of current since the two are connected in parallel. 210 divided by 5 means you’ll need a battery charger that can perform a bulk charge of about 40-amps. Anything less, simply will take much longer to charge and risk overheating the batteries.

Now the engine alternator will likely put out a lot more current, but it’s not very effective or efficient to actually run the motorhome engine just for battery charging purposes. Your best bet is a dedicated battery charger. You already have an on-board generator, so a portable generator just for charging the batteries is not what I would recommend. 

I have recommended the TrueCharge 2 battery charger since it came onto the market. You can read my review here. See what you think. I think it would be a much better option. "


How will my batteries cope with winter?

"Not every RVer uses their rig throughout the year. Some do a winter lay-up and wonder: Just how will my batteries cope with cold weather? Taking care of RV batteries will add to longevity--ignore them and you may wind up replacing come spring.
First, let's confirm that your rig will be stored somewhere in the lower 48. Alaska (so we're told) gets frigidly cold in places; if you have an RV in Alaska, your best bet is to bring it (and yourself) south of the 54th.

For the rest of us who stay out of Seward's Icebox, cold care for RV batteries is fairly easy. First rule: Never store your rig with batteries at anything less than a 100% charge. A fully charged battery won't freeze, but less-than-full batteries can (and sometimes do). A battery frozen is a battery that expands and can break the casing, ruining the battery and spilling acid causing still more trouble. So hang your charger on your battery and fill 'er up.

What causes batteries to lose their charge? Two things: A load on the battery, even small, "parasitic" loads like those placed on them by say, an LP gas detector or engine "computer" will with enough time, deplete the battery charge. The second cause of discharge is "self discharge," meaning that batteries, left to themselves, with time will simply discharge on their own.
Battery loads can be eliminated simply by disconnecting the batteries from their circuit. For "house" batteries that care for non-engine systems, disconnecting the load means loosening and removing the negative cable from the house battery bank. Of course, safety detectors in the coach will no longer work to warn your of any sort of disaster. Disconnecting the SLI ("starting, lighting, ignition") battery will cause any "trouble codes" stored in your rig's engine computer to vanish from memory. You may want to have a technician hook up a code reader to verify you have no stored codes--some auto parts stores will do this for free.

Even with batteries disconnected there's still the issue of self-discharge. Rule to thumb says, the colder the battery, the slower the rate of self-discharge. This means you might be able to come out and hook up your battery charger every few weeks to bring your stored batteries "up to snuff."
We're much bigger fans of just leaving the batteries hooked up to their related circuits and hooking a "smart" charger to them. A smart charger analyzes the battery's needs and charges them accordingly. Once at full charge, a smart charger applies a "float" charge that keeps the battery at the fully charged level, but doesn't allow for a damaging overcharge.

We have "seasonal use" car that we store away from shore power. When not in use, we have a regulated solar panel hooked up to the battery that keeps the battery topped off. Regulated, because any old solar panel hooked directly to a battery doesn't have the sense to stop charging when "full" is reached, and the result of overcharging can be fatal to the battery.
The same principle applies to RVs equipped with solar panels. If the rig is stored outside where the panels can find the sun, and the system has a regulator, your "house" battery issues are solved. Getting "juice" to the SLI battery in your motorhome is possible too, but it will require a bit more wiring and equipment to tie it to the solar array."   Russ and Tina DeMaris.


"The battery charger in the RV converter is only designed to keep the coach battery(s) topped off. It is not designed or capable of recharging a battery that is completely discharged."

"Camping/RV Battery Chargers- BatteryMINDers® are the new generation of SMART, pulse type "computer-on-a-chip" chargers, that safely charge and maintain all size / type / brands of batteries including starter, deep cycle and sealed types including AGM “dry” made by OPTIMA, ODYSSEY, EXIDE, INTERSTATE, et al. They do all of this without ever overcharging, no matter how long they are left on charge – days-weeks-or even months. Dubbed the chargers with "brains," they are the first to fully-automatically reverse the primary cause of early battery failure known as "sulfation". Sulfated batteries once considered beyond recovery can now be brought back to long-term useful condition. Certain models of BatteryMINDers® can more than double the useful life of new batteries."


Generate electricity with a wind turbine

"The Rover Series Wind Turbine Kits are rated for 300 Watts, perfect for mobile power applications. 

Rover is great for charging battery banks. We designed the Rover to be compact and easy to deploy. Consider it for both traditional applications as well as use on-the-go with your RV!
Rover Wind Turbine is easy to maintain and built for durability. It's perfect for supplementing your power needs, charging batteries if you're a casual camper that settles in spots for a few days at a time.
Ideal for conserving on gasoline consumption in more remote locations to power lights and appliances! The Rover is completely corrosion protected, with a layer of electro-coat followed by a layer of white powder coating to protect from the elements. The housing is sealed aluminum housing with 100% steel fasteners. 100% steel construction, including mounting frame, tail, and fasteners provides you with everything you need to assemble.
Comes with our acclaimed 28-inch HyperSpin aluminum wind turbine blades, providing a 60 inch rotor, as well as an oversized self-lubricating yaw bushing for effortless tracking in the wind! This is a 100% complete wind turbine kit! Mounts directly to 1.5 inch schedule 40 or schedule 80 pipe. More at:


"Batteries that are not fully charged in cold temperatures can freeze resulting in not being able to use the RV furnace. I recommend that you plan your stay where you have access to an electrical supply when camping in cold weather. When we are plugged into electricity we set the forced air furnace on a low setting, around 60 degrees, and supplement the heat with thermostatically controlled ceramic heaters. These heaters work extremely well and you don’t need to be concerned about a fire or carbon monoxide."   By Mark Polk.


"Before hooking your RV up to shore power. Such as the electrical hook-up at a campground, test the outlet with a polarity tester. A polarity tester is a small, inexpensive gadget you get at a hardware store, most Walmarts, or RV supply store. Plug it into the shore power outlet and compare the lights you see on it to the chart on the tester. Those lights indicate whether the outlet is wired correctly or not."


Do you need a surge protector for your RV? 

Danger! High Voltage!

"This article was prompted by an reader who wrote asking if it made sense to spend $300 on a surge protector for her RV.
Surge is one of those words that has fallen into common usage when in fact, it's not very descriptive of the situation. And interestingly "surge strips" do little to stop a long-term voltage "surge."

So let's start with a basic definition of voltage and the types of situations that can ruin your electrical gear. To gain a better understand of what we're going to discuss, re-read my article about voltage. As you will see, voltage is really electrical pressure, much like the water pressure in your pipes feeding the kitchen sink."      Article at:


Surge Guard on Duty

Surge Guard on Duty

"We saw an article about RV surge guards in a magazine that had a picture of the worse-case scenario of what happens when there’s a short or surge in the campground electric box.  Nothing left of the rig after the fire.  So we bought one and used it until in a state park in Minnesota it melted from a surge.  “Never happened here before, you bet!” the camp host assured me.  Didn’t matter – we were out a $56.00 surge guard (apparently $80.00 now) but thankful that was all the damage.  The 50-amp are much pricier, but I’m certain it’s a worthwhile investment

I used that replacement surge guard for about three months before donating it to another camper – not on purpose, but because I didn’t go down my takeoff check list until we were a good ways down the road.  An expensive mistake I (hope I) won’t make again."


Don't be zapped by low voltage

DANGER Low Voltage Cables

"In the classic monster movies, the mad scientist zaps his new "creation" with a huge blast of electricity--and it all goes bad from there. As RVers, the wrong kind of voltage can raise all kinds of problems for us: But what we may fail to be on guard against is not high voltage, but low voltage.

Pull into that "budget" RV park, plug into the electrical system, and prepare to cool down by switching on the air conditioner. But hang on a minute! Old RV parks often have an old electrical system--one that may well be under-rated for the needs put on it by present-day power-hog RVs. If the electrical system voltage is low--consistently below 104 volts--it can cause damage to RV electrical and electronic gear.

Your air conditioning system is one of the most easily grieved by low voltage. It takes a set amount of power to operate your air condition--it MUST have it. If the voltage is low, then the a.c. unit will still try and respond to your command to produce cool, but in the process, it will run hot. This puts a huge strain on the compressor motors, and given enough trouble, something’s gonna break--and we can guarantee one thing: It won’t be cheap to fix.

Digital Line Monitor

How can your protect yourself? Buy, install, and use a power line monitor. On those hot summer days when everybody around you has fired up their a.c. unit, before you switch on yours, take a quick peek at your monitor--conveniently plugged into a wall outlet--and make sure the power is safely above 104 volts.

We use ours as an added safety benefit against bad electrical wiring at the RV hookup. One of us gets in the rig before we plug into the power. The other plugs in the power, while the inside person verifies that the power monitor shows "good" wiring--no reverse polarity, no "no ground" situations--any of which are present can lead to safety issues.

Camping World sells a fancy power for about $65. If you don’t want to spend that much, the use your digital volt meter: Set the meter to monitor AC voltage and carefully plug the probes into the large, rectangular blade slots of one of your wall outlets as shown. Check the voltage that way--but don’t leave the meter probes plugged in unattended! An alternative would be to build yourself a "plug in" cord set, using a wall plug, some "zip" wire, and a set of plugs to fit your meter. With digital meters so inexpensive, you can build your own for a whole lot less."  From:


Locating 12-Volt DC Shorts in an RV

"Can my 1986 Yellowstone travel trailer have a positive grounded electrical system? When I wire it as a negative ground, I keep blowing 40-amp fuses. Also, would I be better off to use a standard battery charger than the converter? "Hank H., (Yuma, AZ)

"Hank, I've never heard of any recreation vehicle using a positively grounded DC system. Those even disappeared from the auto industry many years ago. It's apparent, however, that you have a direct short to ground somewhere within the 12-volt DC battery system. Equipped with a digital volt/ohm meter (VOM), it is relatively easy to "ring out" the circuits to find which contains the direct short. Here's how....

The first thing to do is to ensure all 12-volt loads are turned off. Then remove all the fuses from the DC fuse block. Next install a new 40-amp main fuse. If the fuse still blows, the short is between the battery and the fuse box and not likely within an individual DC load circuit. With all the fuses still removed, set the VOM to the ohm's scale and measure for continuity (zero ohms), between the load side of each fuse position of each circuit, to ground. If you measure some resistance, but not continuity, you're probably reading the resistance through that load so make sure it is turned off. You'll be looking for a direct short to ground.

Some digital meters will have a diode test function which is also good to use. In the diode test setting, the meter will emit a audible beep when there is direct continuity. The circuit that indicates continuity is the problem circuit to focus on.

Next, begin eliminating each device on that circuit one at a time. Obtain an automatic resetting 12-volt circuit breaker and attach two short leads with alligator clips to the two terminals. Use the breaker instead of continuing to blow fuses. Attach the circuit breaker to each side of the fuse holder. This test breaker replaces the individual fuse and will automatically reset after it cools down. This eliminates burning through a pile of fuses during the troubleshooting procedure."     Rest of article at:


On This Day:

Germans raid London, Worst air raid on London, Dec 29, 1940:

"On this day, German aircraft blanket incendiary bombs over London, setting both banks of the Thames ablaze and killing almost 3,600 British civilians.

The German targeting of the English capital had begun back in August, payback for British attacks on Berlin. In September, a horrendous firestorm broke out in London's poorest districts as German aircraft dropped 337 tons of bombs on docks, tenements, and teeming streets. The "London Blitz" killed thousands of civilians.

December 29 saw the widespread destruction not just of civilians, but of great portions of London's cultural relics. Historic buildings were severely damaged or destroyed as relentless bombing set 15,000 separate fires. Among the architectural treasures that proved casualties of the German assault were the Guildhall (the administrative center of the city, dating back to 1673 but also containing a 15th-century vault) and eight Christopher Wren churches. St. Paul's Cathedral also caught fire but was saved from being burned to the ground by brave, tenacious firefighters. Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and the Chamber of the House of Commons were also hit but suffered less extensive damage.

In May and June 1940, Holland, Belgium, Norway, and France fell one by one to the German Wehrmacht, leaving Great Britain alone in its resistance against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's plans for world domination.

By denying the Germans a quick victory, depriving them of forces to be used in their invasion of the USSR, the outcome of the Battle of Britain greatly changed the course of World War II. As Churchill said of the RAF fliers during the Battle of Britain, "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."


Texas enters the Union, Dec 29, 1845:

"Six months after the congress of the Republic of Texas accepts U.S. annexation of the territory, Texas is admitted into the United States as the 28th state.

The Texas volunteers initially suffered defeat against the forces of Mexican General Santa Anna--the Alamo fell and Sam Houston's troops were forced into an eastward retreat. However, in late April, Houston's troops surprised a Mexican force at San Jacinto, and Santa Anna was captured, bringing an end to Mexico's efforts to subdue Texas."


U.S. Army massacres Sioux at Wounded Knee, Dec 29, 1890:

"In the tragic final chapter of America's long war against the Plains Indians, the U.S. Cavalry kills 146 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

On December 29, the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James Forsyth surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under the Sioux Chief Big Foot near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. Big Foot and his followers had no intentions of attacking anyone, but they were distrustful of the army and feared they would be attacked if they relinquished their guns. Nonetheless, the Sioux agreed to surrender and began turning over their guns. As that was happening, a scuffle broke out between an Indian and a soldier, and a shot was fired. Though no one is certain which side fired it, the ensuing melee was quick and brutal. Without arms and outnumbered, the Sioux were reduced to hand-to-hand fighting with knives, and they were cut down in a withering rain of bullets, many coming from the army's rapid-fire repeating Hotchkiss guns. By the time the soldiers withdrew, 146 Indians were dead (including 44 women and 18 children) and 51 wounded. The 7th Cavalry had 25 dead and 39 wounded."



Jay and I walked Misty and Maddie down to the lake, the water has come up a bit, but there is still an island showing, that shouldn't be there.

The evening before I had listed my kennel cages on Craigslist, and had a reply in the morning.  We agreed to meet here in the afternoon, after I returned from Conroe.  They were driving all the way from Katy, TX.  Jay and I did a bit of thrift shopping, he bought a vintage sail boat, some shirts, and a hand blown bowl.

I bought some blue and white Corelle plates, but not the pattern I really wanted.  My living room TV shows a great picture, but the volume suddenly goes up and just blares.  I had been keeping an eye out for a bargain, so bought a 29" with built-in VCR for $20.  I know VCR's went out with the dinosaurs, but I still have plenty of tapes.  No, it isn't a flat TV, but the corner where it goes used to have a 32", so it fits just right.  Jay is the only one who ever turns on my living room TV, anyway.

After Jay helped me unload the TV and I had taken him and his bargains home, I had time to tidy up the grooming room a bit. The men arrived and bought not only my kennel cages, but also my expensive hydraulic grooming table.  I will have to find something else to use for a grooming table now.  The grooming room looks plum bare!

Even though it was sunny, it was still a cold day.


Rod Ivers said...

Are you out of the grooming business now?

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

Thank you for your comment, Rod.

I retired from grooming several years ago. I have only been doing 3 of the neighbor's dogs for a couple of years now, and occasionally Mindi's 3 remaining poodles.

Then I have to keep my Misty groomed, too.

I don't need a fancy $600 hydraulic
grooming table to groom them.

As long as I have my good clippers, blades and scissors, I can groom on any table!

Happy Tails to Biscuit, and Happy Trails to Loyce and You. Penny.