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Old 08-09-2020, 08:50 PM   #1
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Battery Power Issue

Good evening everyone. I am in the thick of rebuilding the front end of our Sunline right now. IN a few days I'll post some pictures to show the story in another thread. Right now though I have a quick question that may seem trivial or silly, Is there a switch to flip to put the camper lights onto battery power? We have a new battery, but the lights don't work when not connected to shore power.

Thanks in advance!

Miles
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Old 08-09-2020, 09:57 PM   #2
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Hi Miles,

In theses cases, it helps to know about what your electrical system looks like to help in a more definitive way. Pictures of your power converter and 12 volt fuses along with make and model numbers of the power converter really helps. And the year and model of camper.

As far as a switch, some of the older power converters had a battery charge switch that needed to be flipped to allow battery power to inside the coach. I have seen this on some older pop-ups, but not yet on a Sunline. But I am not the guru of what was put in the really old campers. And, we do not know if you even have that type of converter for this to be relevant.

As a generic answer, and maybe more likely the issue, again assuming a prior owner did not change something, since your lights work when the power converter is on, that is a good first step. Next is how to get the battery connected to the converter 12 volts system? Yes, that is the question and there may not be any switch.

I'm assuming you have the battery leads (cables) hooked to the battery?

Next and what may be the problem, there is often a special fuse in a different location between the battery and the power converter area 12 volt fuses. This fuse is to protect the battery from an overload or a short in the wiring to not damage the battery itself.

I am not sure where that battery protection fuse is located in your camper, but here is a start for you to find it. Find the 7 wire cable that plugs into the truck. Follow that cable until it enters the camper which is most likely under the camper up in the front area. It may come up from the bottom of the camper and seem to disappear into the floor. On many of the older campers, the 7 wire cable went up through the floor into a cabinet or under a couch into a little wooden covered box, mounted on the floor near the front wall of the camper. Have a look up front.

Take the cover off that small box and inside are connections of the 7 wire cable to the camper 12 volt system. There can be 2 fuses in that box. One is from the battery positive lead that is in the truck charging circuit in the 7 wire cable. The truck can charge the camper battery while towing. That truck charge fuse is to protect the truck from getting overloaded or a short in the wiring of the camper. Many times, that is a 30 amp fuse, but not always.

The other fuse, and many times is a 30 amp fuse, but not always, connects the battery positive lead to the 12 volt power converter. Again that fuse is to protect the wiring from a short or more current to or from the battery that the wiring can handle. If that fuse is blown, you will not have any battery power inside the camper. This is the place to start, find this fuse and make sure it is not blown and connected.

From there, there can also be issues in the 12 volt negative (-) wire (also known as the 12 volt ground wire). If the battery is not connected to the camper frame and or the camper 12 volt system inside, even if the fuse is not blown I mentioned above, then no battery power will not pass. Corroded wiring connections are common on campers due the wet and rusting over time.

As a general guide, (may or may not apply to your camper) Sunline used a heavy red wire at the battery for the positive (+) cable. Sunline used a heavy white wire at the battery for the negative (-) (ground) cable.

Hope this helps. We need some pics of the power converter, the fuses back by the power converter and what is inside that 7 wire cable junction box where ever it is. And the battery leads connections if someone added some kind of anything to the battery area other then positive and a negative wire to the battery.

We can help you sort this out, but we have no idea if a prior owner redid something, so we need to see to help better.

John
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Old 08-09-2020, 10:03 PM   #3
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Also, do you have a volt meter or a 12 volt test light and know how to use them?

If this is not as simple as a blown fuse, we will need to dig into where the 12 volts starts at the battery and then where is no longer reads where it should be.
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Old 08-15-2020, 11:57 AM   #4
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John - Thanks so much for the detailed reply.

We are just back from our first outing with the camper. I was able to replace the front rafters and ceiling structure the kitchen cabinets. I haven't figured out the electrical gremlins so in many ways it was a hard-shelled tent with a bathroom, but to us it was luxury.

Here are some pictures of the electrical system.
First the battery hookup. For some reason there is a yellow connection on the end of the black wire. I have it connected yellow/black to black and white to red.


Next the wire entry into the front of the camper along with a series of fuses in the front and a ground station that I believe are all associated with trailer functions.




Next the converter box inside and outside:




Finally two breakers, one 20 one 15. a former owner clearly did some work here that has made it impossible to get the breaker box cover back on, but does not otherwise seem faulty.


In answer to your question, I don't yet have a volt meter, but it seems like that should be the next tool I should acquire. So far as I can tell, all of the fuses are the correct size and not blown (I did replace a few). The breakers are not tripped at present, and have not been in the past.

My next move in this investigation will be the yellow wire that is attached to the black lead at the battery. I'm not sure why it is there and am not sure that it is a good connection. If I can take it back to the original black wire, at least I will know that we are starting out well from the battery.

Any further thoughts or advice would be most welcome!

Best,
Miles
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Old 08-15-2020, 01:15 PM   #5
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Update: The yellow wire proved to be some type of quick disconnect with a fuse embedded. The old fuse was blown. When I put in a new 30A fuse the lights in the camper began to work. Hooray!

There were some issues though, the light seemed to be somewhat cyclical, the got brighter and dimmer about once a minute. Also there was a pinging from the converter box that went along with this cycle. Lastly, the yellow wire got very hot very fast, I'm concerned that since it is narrower than the black wire it leads to it may not be of a heavy enough gauge to handle the load. I'm thinking I should remove it and just reattach the black wire to the battery lead directly.

Thanks again for the help and insight.

Best,
Miles
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Old 08-17-2020, 08:26 PM   #6
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Miles,

You get an A+ on the pics!. These really help.

But, it sure looks like you have a wire hookup polarity problem on the battery. The prior owner did some modifications which may not have helped, but you need to trace this out, as it looks like your battery is hooked up backwards.

This pic, it is showing the white heavy cable on the battery Positive + terminal. This is not normal at all. White at the battery, if has not been changed, is battery negative -.


This pic, from the original Sunline wiring shows the heavy stranded white wire as DC negative. I can tell from the way it is wired.


And that same pic, shows the 12 volt positive wire as black on terminal C.

This diagram confirms that the white wire on terminal D is supposed to be 12 VDC Negative (-) And the C terminal, positive + has a black wire on it.



And then this,

Quote:
Originally Posted by songsailor View Post
Update: The yellow wire proved to be some type of quick disconnect with a fuse embedded. The old fuse was blown. When I put in a new 30A fuse the lights in the camper began to work. Hooray!

There were some issues though, the light seemed to be somewhat cyclical, the got brighter and dimmer about once a minute. Also there was a pinging from the converter box that went along with this cycle. Lastly, the yellow wire got very hot very fast, I'm concerned that since it is narrower than the black wire it leads to it may not be of a heavy enough gauge to handle the load. I'm thinking I should remove it and just reattach the black wire to the battery lead directly.

Thanks again for the help and insight.

Best,
Miles
The prior owner added a fuse holder at the battery. That is not really a quick disconnect all though it will unhook the battery. That fuse may have saved you from a lot of issues. Do not remove it. The black wire feeding the fuse holder appears to be the Sunline positive wire if you can trace that black wire back to the power converter box. Since the prior owner added the fuse holder, he had yellow on one end and the black thicker wire on the other. It makes sense to put a fuse in the hot positive wire. He just confused the issue for the next person with the yellow. The fuse holder should be rated for 30 amps and have a no. 10 awg wire on it. It may or may not be. Something to check.

The reason the wiring is getting all hot, and the power converter making noises is most likely from the mixed up of the polarity at the battery. Just look under the camper. If that heavy white wire starting at the battery is connected and joined to the camper frame, and or gas pipe, that white wire is for sure the battery negative -.

Once you sort out and change the battery wiring polarity, then put a new fuse at the battery and try again. The reason the lights worked when you connected the yellow wire was, incandescent light bulbs do not have a polarity and do not care if the wiring is mixed up. But, all the other 12 volt items in the camper do care about the polarity starting with the power converter.

As FYI, this pic may not be a Sunline original. Or Sunline did something very different on the older campers. As to get all those wires on a fuses takes extra work. This looks like fuses in the 12 volt DOT lights. Meaning the stop, turn and clearance lights on the camper.


Also, a heads up. There are white wires in the power converter that are stranded wire. Meaning flexible small thin wires making up the wire size with insulation all around the strands. These stranded wires are 12 volts DC.

In the circuit breaker box, there are white wires that are solid, no small strands, and there is a white Romex wire cable cover holding the white, black and bare AC ground wire as a cable. Those solid white wires are 120 volt AC wires and are "never" supposed to touch the white stranded 12 volt DC wires,ever. They are very different wires, even thought they are the same color. Just a friendly heads up to not mix them up by accident.

Oh, and ideally you get the wiring fixed at the 120 volt AC breaker box so the cover can go back on. That cover being off is a shock hazard.

Hope this helps and let us know how it goes.

John
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Old 08-19-2020, 07:57 PM   #7
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John,

Thanks again for the insight and the time you took on your reply.
You were indeed right and I did have a polarity issue. I'm embarrassed that I didn't notice it right away. I did discover it though as I traced the lines and have corrected that now. Getting that attachment correct dealt with most of the issues and I think we are fairly well squared away so far as electrical issues go now. It is really nice to have the lights coming on!

I took some time today and addressed the wiring at the breaker box. I feel much better having that wire correctly routed and clamped.


My next series of projects will be the propane appliances. Aside from the stovetop, none of them want to light.

Thank you again, this forum has been extremely helpful and we are very appreciative.

Miles
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Old 08-19-2020, 10:42 PM   #8
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Hi Miles,

Thanks for reporting back. Glad all is working now.

And good job on fixing the breaker box cover. Nice work and much safer.


If you need help on the appliances, create a new post, add pics, make and models of the appliances and we can help.

John
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