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House Batteries on 5th Wheel Trailer Not Charging

by Ryan Waters
(Palmer, Alaska)

I went camping with the family this week and came across an issue with my 5th wheel's 12v charging system. I have a 2006 Keystone Raptor 3712. If it is plugged in to shore power or running the generator all systems work except that the battery will not charge.

The battery power got low enough that when the furnace motor kicked on it caused the generator to cut off. I was able to plug it into my truck and restart the generator but I knew that would not work for the remaining 3 days of my 5 day trip in Eureka, Alaska (miles from anything resembling a town).

One of my two RV batteries looks like it had a leak (discolored top with a little corrosion on one post and a little swelling on the sides). I went to the nearest local business and was able to find a new battery about 25 miles away. After installing the new battery (and removing the two old batteries) I had 12v power but still got indications that the charging system was not charging the battery.

The charge light never lit up on the RV control panel. Luckily, one of my friends I was camping with had a battery charger with him. We plugged the charger into the AC power outlet on the outside of the camper and then hooked the battery directly to the charger. This provided me with plenty 12v power for the remainder of the weekend. With the generator running and the charger connected to the battery the RV's control panel showed the battery as being charged. I was able to basically use the battery charger to do what the RV charging system was supposed to do but was not. I would run the generator at night and leave it off during the day.

I also refrained from running any 12v lights or accessories to conserve 12v power. This worked well for the remainder of my trip. We drove home yesterday and plugged our 5th wheel into shore power. Still, the charge indicator does not show the battery as charging. Like I said before, all AC power works fine when the RV is plugged in or on generator power.

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After I parked the 5th wheel I unplugged it from my truck (2005 GMC 2500 HD Duramax) and parked the truck in my driveway. I went out today to run some errands and found that both my truck batteries were so low that my truck would not start. I took one battery off and ran to the local parts store. They tested my battery and it was ok but very low on charge. I purchased one of the rapid smart battery chargers like my friend let me use this weekend and brought it home. I had my truck started in minutes and it worked well the rest of the day.

I went to my RV dealer and spoke with my local service manager. He is backed up for three weeks and I have another trip planned in two weeks. I asked him if maybe the power converter could be bad. He told me to check the fuses on my power converter and see if they were blown. I went home and both fuses on the power converter are fine. I also checked all other fuses and they are all good as well. The power converter will cycle on and off every few minutes and when I pulled the power converter fuses and re-inserted them the system showed the battery charging for about 30 seconds.

Does it sound like I have a power converter issue?

What else could I test or check next to narrow down the issue further?

Thanks in advance,
Powerless in Alaska

ANSWER: Greetings Ryan thanks for submitting your question on our Ask An RV Question Page.

Based on your thorough description of your problem and all the steps you have taken the only conclusion that I can come to is that the Charger on your RV's Electric Converter is not charging the batteries. The only other thing I would check for is a bad ground somewhere.

You have done an excellent job of diagnosing the problem.

Do you have any suggestions or comments on this topic? You can add them to this page by clicking on the "Click Here To Post Comments" link located near the bottom of this page.

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Comments for House Batteries on 5th Wheel Trailer Not Charging

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Charging battery
by: Max

Does the main power on/off breaker have to be on to charge the battery when hooked up to shore power or the truck when traveling?

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