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Old 01-27-2024, 09:25 PM   #1
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New Travel Trailer Fast Battery Drain Issue. Dealer says ‘nothing wrong'.

We have an almost new 2022 Highland Ridge (owned by Jayco) Range Lite Air 23’ travel trailer and are having a battery drain issue. We purchased the trailer in June of 2023 and had the dealer install a 2nd 12 flooded 12v battery wired in parallel. That should give us 172 amp hours. The trailer has a solar panel of unknown voltage factory installed with a Go Power (cheap-looking) solar charge controller. The trailer has a propane fridge and we only run it in propane mode.
We have used the trailer for dry camping 3 times since purchasing. We are experienced dry campers and all 3 times, we either unexpectedly completely ran down the batteries, or came very close, despite being very conservative in our 12v usage and having ample sun exposure for solar charging.
I brought the trailer home last weekend to do some unrelated maintenance (the cabinetry is falling apart) and found that the battery bank drained from full (12.8 volts) to completely dead overnight with no services on at all (no lights, propane fridge, fans – completely cold and dark). Confused, I charged the batteries back to 100% the next day (by plugging in to household 120v) and again, the batteries fully drained overnight. A multimeter reading that morning showed the bank voltage at 3.8 volts.
We graduated to this travel trailer from a 2018 Forest River R-Pod 180. We only dry camp and never had to think twice about batteries in the R-Pod. They lasted days with plenty of headroom for our 2-3 day trips. The system just worked so we’ve been a little disappointed with this new trailer, to say the least.
Convinced that something is not right, I brought the trailer to the dealer to see if they can figure out why the trailer is fully draining its batteries overnight with nothing running. I called for an update yesterday and they said that they couldn’t find anything wrong with the batteries or system, though they did admit that the batteries are of low quality (Centennial Deep Cycle DP24MFS, which I found laughable since this is what they sold me). They gave me the spiel about all RVs have a phantom loads (smoke detectors, controllers etc) that will drain the batteries. I know that this is true, but I can’t believe that nothing is wrong with trailer with a dual 12v batteries that completely drains from full to dead in 8 hours with no usage whatsoever.
Wondering if anyone has any thoughts on what might be happening. Bad batteries? Short in system? Solar issue? My only theory right now is that while doing my own troubleshooting, I noticed that the solar charger set for AGM batteries, not flooded (I never set this myself, it came that way). Is it possible that the batteries were damaged by this incorrect setting?
I have purchased a Victron SmartShunt battery monitor to try to get a better idea of what is happening, but I the trailer is still in service so I can’t install it until I get it back.
My biggest concern is that the dealer is going to try to give it back to me with the issue unresolved. As of right now, I don’t think we could dry camp for more than a few hours before the batteries would be dead.
Any advice would be appreciated!
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Old 01-27-2024, 11:03 PM   #2
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If you do not have a clamp on multimeter that does DC amps, get one. You need to know how many amps that thing is drawing and be able to find out where it is going. If you need one, this is a cheap one and it has Bluetooth connectivity to your phone. Wasn’t available with Bluetooth when I bought my meter. That would be great to help find what’s drawing the power. https://a.co/d/bI74AL3
Question, how are you coming up with the 172 amp hours?
It does sound like you may have one bad battery. Take them to auto parts store and get them tested. Otherwise you are looking at 6 amps or more draining the batteries. Best wishes.
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Old 01-28-2024, 06:25 AM   #3
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The elementary way of checking to see if you have a short somewhere in the wiring or components, or an issue even in your radio unit if you have one, [in most radios now they have a memory in them that can short out from lightning or a low voltage event] which I have seen a lot is to begin by removing everyone one of your 12 volt fuses in your panel. I take a picture of the entire fuses fixed into the panel first, or pencil the correct sizes in the locations on a piece of paper, as my mind and memory can get lost or confused in just two minutes time. :<}

Make sure your batteries are fully charged. Then take a multi meter and disconnect your red lead to your batteries, even using just one battery to do a test, eliminating the issue of a possible bad battery in the two connected together from the combined setup.

Then touch your leads in line with the battery lead to the camper panel and the positive side of a battery. Then check the draw and see if you get any full 12 volt drain. If its just a volt or two, no biggie. Then have someone begin to put the fuses back in the panel, one at a time and see if you can create a solid 12 volt drain.

This may isolate a component problem in your camper or isolate even a short in your wiring in one area of the 12 volt system. I will say that if you have one new battery connected to an older battery, this too can create a problem of the new one working harder and getting drained by an older battery. But thinking more about this, try to just connect your camper with just the new battery and see if you can recreate the solid and short term emptying of your battery voltage.
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Old 01-28-2024, 01:03 PM   #4
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I have a DC clamp meter and now a shunt battery monitor. As soon as I get the trailer back (assuming the dealer service dept will just blow this off), I'll be able to do some more in-depth investigation.



The batteries are supposedly 86 Ah each, so two batteries in parallel, my understanding is you just the two together to get 172 Ah. Would be interested to know if this is not correct.
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Old 01-28-2024, 01:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jayflight 23 View Post
The elementary way of checking to see if you have a short somewhere in the wiring or components, or an issue even in your radio unit if you have one, [in most radios now they have a memory in them that can short out from lightning or a low voltage event] which I have seen a lot is to begin by removing everyone one of your 12 volt fuses in your panel. I take a picture of the entire fuses fixed into the panel first, or pencil the correct sizes in the locations on a piece of paper, as my mind and memory can get lost or confused in just two minutes time. :<}

Make sure your batteries are fully charged. Then take a multi meter and disconnect your red lead to your batteries, even using just one battery to do a test, eliminating the issue of a possible bad battery in the two connected together from the combined setup.

Then touch your leads in line with the battery lead to the camper panel and the positive side of a battery. Then check the draw and see if you get any full 12 volt drain. If its just a volt or two, no biggie. Then have someone begin to put the fuses back in the panel, one at a time and see if you can create a solid 12 volt drain.

This may isolate a component problem in your camper or isolate even a short in your wiring in one area of the 12 volt system. I will say that if you have one new battery connected to an older battery, this too can create a problem of the new one working harder and getting drained by an older battery. But thinking more about this, try to just connect your camper with just the new battery and see if you can recreate the solid and short term emptying of your battery voltage.
Great advice. I look forward to troubleshooting further as soon as I get the trailer back from service.
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Old 01-28-2024, 02:16 PM   #6
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I have a DC clamp meter and now a shunt battery monitor. As soon as I get the trailer back (assuming the dealer service dept will just blow this off), I'll be able to do some more in-depth investigation.



The batteries are supposedly 86 Ah each, so two batteries in parallel, my understanding is you just the two together to get 172 Ah. Would be interested to know if this is not correct.
That is correct to completely drain a battery. But you should not run them to below 50% as damage starts there. Not where I can check but 11.? Volts is half used. So at best, you have 86amp hours available.
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Old 01-28-2024, 04:32 PM   #7
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That is correct to completely drain a battery. But you should not run them to below 50% as damage starts there. Not where I can check but 11.? Volts is half used. So at best, you have 86amp hours available.
That make sense. I forgot about the depth of discharge for FLA batteries.



Thanks.
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Old 01-28-2024, 07:28 PM   #8
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Hope you find the issue soon! Best wishes.
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Old 01-28-2024, 08:20 PM   #9
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By any chance is there an inverter in your RV that powers a 120 volt item. It wouldn't take long for a small 120 volt item on an inverter to drain your batteries.
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Old 01-30-2024, 06:34 AM   #10
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Along with the DOD limit, once you damage the battery by over-discharging, that damage is done and you lose capacity. You started out with 172ah (86 usable with the 50% standard) but if you over-discharged a few times now, you might have a quarter of that or less. depends on how deep they went and how long they stayed. It sucks but you're moving in the right direction with the shunt monitor.
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Old 01-30-2024, 08:30 AM   #11
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Given the number of times it appears those batteries have been discharged, they may not be good anymore. And I wouldn't let the dealer put new ones in, I would get them yourself. Was the first battery original, or did the dealer just add a second battery to one that was there (you said the trailer was almost new), if so, the issue may have been that the original battery was used/damaged already, and the new battery was overcompensating for the old battery.

Another angle is to see if the trailer is has a converter that is compatible with Lithium. A Lithium setup handles deep discharge better than SLA and it charges faster. Even if your converter doesn't support Lithium, if the solar charge controller can be programmed for a Lithium battery profile, that will get you up to a full charge on the Lithium Battery. A 100ah Lithium based on 80% DOD is going to give you almost the same capacity as the current setup at 50% DOD. And if you go to 2x100ah Lithiums, that would be almost double. Or look at 2x6v SLA batteries in series, doing that should get up about 220-235ah (110-117ah at 50% DOD) which would be a little more than your current setup.

However, if there is a short/drain somewhere, that needs to be resolved first. Good luck and hopefully it's something simple.
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Old 02-15-2024, 09:45 PM   #12
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Ok everyone, I thought i would provide an update.



It would appear that the culprit was user error. The thermostat was set in a position so that the heater was not kicking on during the day (during investigation) but at night, the temp would drop low enough for the heater to turn on. Since the propane is off, apparently the heater tries to ignite for a period of time, with the fan running, and then gives up. This cycle repeats endlessly until.... the batteries are dead.



This is the one thing that did not occur to me to check. The thermostat in this traile is one of the old fashioned mechanical thermostats, and there's not much of a visual indication that tells you how its set unless you really get up close to inspect it.



I appreciate everyone's feedback and advice. I learned a lot just from your suggestions.
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Old 02-15-2024, 10:09 PM   #13
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Good to hear that you figured it out.

I actually had almost the same problem. When I took delivery of my new trailer, the furnace was left on by the tech and it was set just above ambient temperature inside. It wasn't until the next day that I heard the furnace fan blowing from outside the trailer. As you discovered, the furnace will continue to cycle if propane is turned off.

Fortunately, another mistake actually helped the situation. A solar panel had been installed at the factory and the dealership didn't know about it. So, when the battery was installed at delivery, it was connected directly to the battery, without a controller. Again fortunately, the furnace used enough power to prevent the solar panel from overcharging and destroying the brand new battery.
When I called to ask why the panel was connected directly to the battery without a controller, they couldn't explain why there was a panel at all.
I found it in my heart to forgive them and bought a my own controller.
So, there you have it; two wrongs made a right.
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Old 06-09-2024, 04:40 PM   #14
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No, if they are in parallel, he has 172 A available. Discharging fully a few times isn't the end of the world.
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Old 06-10-2024, 06:02 PM   #15
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Glad you found it. We had a slow but steady drain that killed the battery in about 10 days/2weeks when just sitting empty. Found main sources from the TVs and a Roku (110v) and the radio. Took out the bedroom TV as we never use it and put switches on all the rest of them and it helped quite a bit.
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Old 06-10-2024, 08:15 PM   #16
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User error are the most useful that's for my because if there is a user error to be made, I'll eventually make it.
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