Summer’s Technically Speaking
Q: I keep blowing the fuse for lights over the sink, refrigerator and hall light.…
It’s time to gear up for the first big RV trip of the summer and your RV has been sitting in one place all winter. So you decide to fire up the engine and take her around the block for spin. You slide into the pilot seat, put the key in the ignition and ready yourself for the sound of the engine roaring to life like a symphony. You turn the key and… nothing. No roar. No symphony. Your RV is as lifeless as an insurance seminar.
After letting your motorhome sit unused for a long period of time, chances are your batteries will need to be recharged. Below is a step by step guide for charging RV batteries to help you bring your RV back to life, so you can get back to where you belong – on the road!
Turn on your ignition and look at your voltage gauge, typically located on the dashboard (Figure 1). This gauge will reveal how much power your coach’s chassis batteries are currently pulling. In this case, your dashboard voltage gauge (Figure 2) is reading 9 volts, which is very low. Now go to your inverter panel and read your inverter meter. On this coach, the panel is located above the windshield on the passenger side of the coach. The inverter gauge (Figure 3) tells you the status of your house batteries. Looking at the panel (Figure 4), we see that no lights are illuminated, indicating that the house batteries are NOT supplying any power, either. The next step is to charge your chassis batteries.
Locate your chassis batteries (Figure 5). These batteries can be charged with jumper cables just as you would jump start a car. Place your cables correctly on both your motorhome’s battery posts, as well as your car’s, and allow your chassis batteries to charge (Figure 6). The time it takes for your chassis batteries to charge will vary. Typically it will take 30-45 minutes. Check your dashboard voltage gauge to determine when your batteries are charged. Prior to starting your engine REMOVE THE JUMPER CABLES to avoid potential damage to your car’s charging system. Once your engine is running, you can engage the auxiliary start switch and then attempt to start your generator.
Now that your chassis batteries are charged and your engine is running, locate your auxiliary start switch (Figure 7) and press and hold it down. Your auxiliary start switch essentially transfers power from one battery supply to the other. In this case, you want to transfer power from your chassis batteries to your house batteries. Once you’ve engaged the auxiliary start switch, turn on your generator. If it comes online, your house batteries should charge and register on your inverter panel. If your house batteries are successfully charging, the inverter will read “BULK CHARGING”. If your panel reads: “CHARGE STANDBY,” you will see a blinking green light. Push the “charge” button immediately to the left of this blinking light. The light will become a solid green and your panel should read: “BULK CHARGING” (Figure 7.5). If it does not, or if your panel reads: “FLOAT CHARGE” you must go to your inverter and reset it.
Locate your coach’s inverter* (Figure 8). At your inverter, feel around the right side for a small reset relay button. This is a 30 amp circuit breaker button and must be pushed IN. After you’ve pushed in the 30 amp button, you can go inside the coach and read your inverter meter. If your meter reads “BULK CHARGING”, your house batteries are charging. If not, go back to your inverter and press and hold the reset button on the front of the inverter for about 8-10 seconds (Figure 9). You will hear a clicking sound. When the Charging/Inverting light is solid green (Figure 10), the house batteries are charging. Check your inverter meter. If it says “BULK CHARGING”, congratulations! You’ve solved the problem. Your batteries are online and charging properly.