Are my batteries working correctly?

New to camping and have questions? Wondering what the switch in the control panel does? Post your questions here and we'll (try) to answer them.
Post Reply
mtodd54
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:04 pm
B190 Year: 1995

Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by mtodd54 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 8:02 pm

New to RVs so started trying to figure how the batteries are used (engine battery, house battery) both under hood. On my 1995 the passenger side is the house battery. It runs my 12v interior lights with ignition off. When i turn the ignition on [and flip a 3 way switch on my dash hat engages the underhood solenoid) my inverter will try to work but only squeals....(which is a separate issue).... but my real question is SHOULDN'T THE INVERTER WORK WITH THE HOUSE BATTERY? My thinking is if you're parked overnight and need to run something 12v or 110v w/ inverter, wouldn't you want only use the HOUSE battery so you dont run the risk of not being able to start the engine the next day? Or am i not understanding the wiring? Thanks for any help you can give.

Also looking under the couch i see a terminal with an empty cable. [Pic attached] is this an optional place for additional batteries? Is it OK for this cable to lay loose, not attached to anything?
[image]
under couch cable.png
under couch cable.png (2.5 MiB) Viewed 185 times
[/image]

User avatar
190-b-651
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:35 pm
B190 Year: 0
WBCCI: 0

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by 190-b-651 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:06 pm

You understanding of the system is correct should be a relay the isolates the chassis battery when the ignition is off. The switch on the dash and the cables look to be something a previous owner has added. The dash switch maybe wired wrong or something you need a good voltmeter and some investigating. First thing is check to see if the dangling wire is hot! Next is check the switch to see what's going on with it. The inverter squealing is possibly caused by im thinking over voltage?
If the switch is wired wrong it could send 24volts to the converter.
Good luck

Dennis.

Sent from my SM-J727T1 using Tapatalk


mtodd54
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:04 pm
B190 Year: 1995

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by mtodd54 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:32 am

Thanks Dennis. The switch on the dash actually controls the solenoid under the hood that impacts how the batteries work, depending on the ignition key position:
> Ignition key = off, the switch on the dash has no impact and is not powered but the house battery will power the 12v lights.
> Ignition key = on, the switch on the dash can be flipped up (green light turns on) and the inverter engages (well... it makes noise anyway :)
> ignition key = on, the switch on the dash flipped down results in a blinking red light and doesnt seem to do anything.

"The dash switch maybe wired wrong or something you need a good voltmeter and some investigating." ... am I checking to make sure ONLY 12v is being passed from the battery?

"First thing is check to see if the dangling wire is hot!" -- Will do. I suspect this comes from the Generator, or maybe power converter. The van has a "32A power converter with battery charger" that looks stock. I will test the extra cable and see if it's HOT in any position but it sure looks like a battery should/could be added there.

Next is check the switch to see what's going on with it. The inverter squealing is possibly caused by im thinking over voltage?
If the switch is wired wrong it could send 24volts to the converter. -- Will do, Thanks again for your input! Todd

Good luck

User avatar
190-b-651
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:35 pm
B190 Year: 0
WBCCI: 0

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by 190-b-651 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 1:34 am

Unfortunately most of us have dealt with gremlins from previous owners. Its seems yours may have had a third battery under the couch? Mine did with it charging from the converter and a solar panel. I learned really quick after we pulled the down pretty good and I plugged in at the house my CO-2 detector went off about 11:pm I went out to check after hearing it laying down in bed. Could smell fumes and hear a sizzling the battery was boiling! My advice is replace your stock converter with a new one with smart three stage charging capabilities. You don't need to replace the hole thing just the lower section and the 12v fuse board can give you trouble also. Lead acid batteries cant take 14.5 volts no problem. But not safe inside.
Sealed agm or gell cell are safe inside but require different charging parameters because of being sealed they build pressure instead of venting hydrogen gas. Its just the lower section you need to replace. If you plan on just keeping batteries under the hood your stock one will be ok but not much room especially running a 12 to 120v converter it will pull it down quick.
Maybe you can call the previous owner?
Let me know what you figure out im curious now lol.
Ive posted pictures of my system on here somewhere?
But here's the converter I saw it on Amazon a couple days ago for $175
Dont let the magic smoke out lol..ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Sent from my SM-J727T1 using Tapatalk


User avatar
190-b-651
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:35 pm
B190 Year: 0
WBCCI: 0

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by 190-b-651 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 2:29 am

Todd

I've been thinking about your system when you say squealing it could be the fan in the inverter. The converter also has a fan but only comes on under heavy load being a 95 the fan may be seized up mine was on my 93 as most other things were.
It seems like the original system is still working it was designed to charge both batteries off the alternator with the key on when the key is off it isolates the house from the chassis battery so as you said it will start.
It kinda sounds like someone tried to use the switch to work as a selector for the different batteries? Especially with it being a three position switch and having a spot for a third battery. Looks like two leads to a breaker mounted on the inner finder where do they go? And where is the ground?
Looks like someone had a idea and couldn't figure out how to pull it off ? Idk
I kinda like electrical you've got my attention lol. If you get a chance check out the Facebook group ( airstream b190 nation) alot of the same people are here to but seems to be more active. Not taking anything from here Skater has done a wonderful job saving all this information for over a decade.
Dennis

Sent from my SM-J727T1 using Tapatalk


User avatar
skater
Site Admin
Posts: 1967
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD
Contact:

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by skater » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:27 am

I skimmed the other replies, so sorry if this was already covered:

No, that wire should definitely not be lying around like that. It's probably (hopefully!) disconnected somewhere, but I would remove it from the terminal block.

You are correct in that you'd expect the inverter to run off the coach battery - but there's no reason it couldn't be hooked strictly to the engine battery if they wanted to for some reason. After all, that's how it would be hooked up in a car or SUV. Maybe the passenger wanted to watch TV while they were underway or something like that. Answer: You have to trace the wires. Get out your multimeter (you'll probably find it useful for many things in a B190 if you don't already have one) and see what's what.

A switch alone generally wouldn't cause over voltage. I kind of wonder if it was wired such that the battery under the couch was set up as a separate bank from the one underhood, and the switch is what controlled which battery was used/charged.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

mtodd54
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:04 pm
B190 Year: 1995

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by mtodd54 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:06 pm

You guys are either clairvoyant, geniuses, or maybe have some experience with this stuff :) As I'm tearing out the old bunk area to replace it, I noticed a LOT of AV cabling running from the Microwave area upto the doghouse and dash... so I bet youre right they had this wired to invert WHILE driving. I bet youre onto something thinking the switch could have something to do with an extra battery under the couch. Headed out to find some supplies and investigate. Thanks again for the tips! (It's like a treasure hunt now).

mtodd54
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:04 pm
B190 Year: 1995

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by mtodd54 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:27 pm

Thanks again for the input, advice and great pictures. I have a long way to go on the interior rehab, but will look at the things like adding extra batteries and solar hopefully at a later date. Here's an update on what i found.... I found a ground cable under the couch also and the red lead from the junction was NOT hot. There are also imprints in the carpet that look like batter(ies) were likely there... so I think you're correct that it's set up for another set of batteries under the couch. The other 2 leads from the junction it connects to *appear* to run to the generator compartment and this PHOENIX GOLD (see arrow) Fuse panel that are labeled for Audio components... I"m not sure what this means. Does anyone have a guess, or can you tell me how your gear under the couch is wired?

I also found they had installed TWO amplifiers (black and white boxes in pictures). Any guess why anyone would have put two in there? ... I think this van was literally rockin' in the past. Need less to say I ripped those out to try and clean up and simplify what i have.

Th[image]Image[/image]anks Gents!
Attachments
line fuses.jpg
line fuses.jpg (4.22 MiB) Viewed 140 times

User avatar
skater
Site Admin
Posts: 1967
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD
Contact:

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by skater » Mon Dec 10, 2018 8:56 am

mtodd54 wrote:
Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:27 pm
I also found they had installed TWO amplifiers (black and white boxes in pictures). Any guess why anyone would have put two in there? ... I think this van was literally rockin' in the past. Need less to say I ripped those out to try and clean up and simplify what i have.
Pretty much - looks like they had a pretty large audio system installed in it, possibly for competitions. Phoenix Gold was a brand of audio components in the 90s and early 2000s (coincidentally, I just learned that the other day). The arrow is pointing at a fuse block/distribution panel. It's often difficult to run even one heavy wire from the battery at the front of the car, so generally they'll run one heavy wire, then use a fuse block like that to split to the multiple amps.

The usual wiring setup is that the amps get constant battery power via the heavy wire, and then there's a remote turn-on lead, usually controlled by the head unit in the dash. When the amp sees 12 volts on that line, it powers up. The remote turn-on lead carries very little power, so it's a pretty light gauge. Now I'm wondering if your switch is actually set up to turn on the amps.

Pyle is a low-end brand of audio components though (looks like a subwoofer).

Is that dynamat on the generator box? I'd definitely keep that - it'll cut the noise and vibrations from the generator when it's running.

Sloppy wiring, which isn't unusual with audio installations.

Edit: I just realized what I was looking at. This is looking down under the couch; driver's wall of the van is at the bottom of the picture. If you remove those amps, I'd caulk the screw holes shut to avoid any potential issues with exhaust coming in (it shouldn't but be safe), and to reduce the amount of warm or cold air coming into the van.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

User avatar
190-b-651
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:35 pm
B190 Year: 0
WBCCI: 0

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by 190-b-651 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:29 am

Todd
Sounds like you've figured it out. Definitely seal up the holes in the generator compartment. It could be used to your advantage but definitely mount the batteries to the floor or in a box for safety sake if you decide to replace them. I remember the stereo installers methods were sometimes questionable.
To answer the question or wiring on mine its a separate
System from under the hood charging off solar and the converter. Running the two AGM batteries under the couch charging off the alternator wasn't a option due to different charging requirements of sealed batteries. New converter with smart charging capabilities was added a 300a slow blow fuse at the house battery and inline switch the wiring is all #4 welding lead with soldered ends with a braided sheath and adhesive heat activated shrink tubing its super flexible and alot easier to work with than standard battery cable.
In the picture you'll see the ground bus and solar mounted to wood which has 10 magnets mounted on the back (no holes) its pretty tough to move.
Having the monitor system all the ground wires need to run through the shunt which is mounted directly below the ground bus.
The original system is still under the hood both batteries in place the old house battery doesn't do anything but take up space and get charged off the alternator.
Thanks for letting us know what you've found definitely something a little different
Now that you understand what and why make it work to your advantage lol.
Good luck.

Dennis

Sent from my SM-J727T1 using Tapatalk


mtodd54
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:04 pm
B190 Year: 1995

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by mtodd54 » Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:31 pm

well... i wouldnt say I've figured it out just yet :) I see where it's running but dont necessarily understand it. It makes me wonder if the 3-position switch on the dash has something to do with turning on the audio system.... LIKE maybe in the down position, it turns the speakers on? the radio head has always had power, but never made a sound and all the speaker wires run to the amps.

Dash switch... Ignition Key ON
switch up = green light, the inverter squeals
switch neutral = off
switch down = flashing red light... and i've found no use, but sounds like something an audiophile would use to push a 'thumpin base' :)

I'll run through the scenario again tonight and see if any changes since i've removed the Amps. (i'm thinking if i remove the Pyle sub, that would make a nice window for a fish bowl :) jk

Will definitely seal those holes up when i have the caulk out to install the new maxxair fan. Thanks again for all the advice!

User avatar
skater
Site Admin
Posts: 1967
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD
Contact:

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by skater » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:53 am

mtodd54 wrote:
Mon Dec 10, 2018 12:31 pm
well... i wouldnt say I've figured it out just yet :) I see where it's running but dont necessarily understand it. It makes me wonder if the 3-position switch on the dash has something to do with turning on the audio system.... LIKE maybe in the down position, it turns the speakers on? the radio head has always had power, but never made a sound and all the speaker wires run to the amps.
Are they RCA cables, or speaker wire? When setting up a half-decent audio system, usually you run RCA cables from the head unit to the amps, then speaker wire from the amps to the speakers. In a setup without an amp, the speaker wire would run from the head unit to the speakers directly. You can also run speaker wire from the head unit to the amp (for certain amps), but it's not the best way to do it from an audio quality point of view.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

mtodd54
Newbie
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:04 pm
B190 Year: 1995

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by mtodd54 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:50 pm

Both. from the head there is a bundle of RCA and speaker wire. He also had RCA inputs on a puck on top the dash, that ran through the headliner and back to the TV area. So he had the whole thing wired. Now that bluetooth is available, i will probably use a cell phone and pull everything out.. maybe use that dash space for a unit with a backup camera.

Interesting note for you guys.... I've been pouring through all your posts and learning a ton (still not absorbing it all... but will learn). anyway, i see a post for 'vinyl headliner' and the guy (David ) is saying his was sagging so he bought some rose type washer screws to hold it up as a quick fix. I bought my B from a guy that purchased it at auction. well... MY B has those same rose type washer screws in the headliner! what are the chances? Dennis has suggested i contact the old owner to find out how its wired.... could it be the same guy from several years ago?? Sent him a PM so we'll see, but could be one of those small world things. With < 2000 sold I bet its the same guy, we will call King David of Audio.

User avatar
190-b-651
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:35 pm
B190 Year: 0
WBCCI: 0

Re: Are my batteries working correctly?

Post by 190-b-651 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 2:02 pm

Skater has a airstream vin# registry it might solve the mystery. If you haven't given it to him yet its usually on the radiator support.

Sent from my SM-J727T1 using Tapatalk


Post Reply