View Full Version : Help Me Understand Landing Gear Power

08-06-2017, 05:49 PM
I've searched the forum but couldn't find this specific question/help needed answer. Sorry if I missed it so if it's out there point me in the right direction, otherwise any help is greatly appreciated.

We have a Forest River 33IK 5vr Silverback. It has the "level up" auto leveling system on it. We haven't had any issues with it at all until today. We hooked up and started the auto retract and the panel said "error. Low power". We were still hooked up to the 50 amp (and had already turned off the A/C units and put the slides in). The wife suggested maybe the CB tripped at the post. It hadn't but I recycled it anyway. Same problem. I turned the battery off and tried it, same problem. The wife manually raised one jack at a time to get us out of there but it was very slow battery in the off position).

This is why I'm confused. I thought if we're on 50 amp all weekend, batteries on or off, they should be charged, no? We usually don't even turn the battery iso switch on (have a couple of times), and I did this time for some reason.

That brings me to another question: Doesn't the hydraulic auto level system run off the 50 amp shore power as a default, rather the battery is on or not? I was under the impression that the default was if shore power is hooked up the batteries were not used and therefore should not drain, or if they are used the 50 amp is more than enough to keep them charged. Is that wrong?

My tow vehicle charged the batteries sufficiently in the 40 minute drive home to get the front gear down and unhook.

Please educate me. I can't find anything in the books that helps me so any help or explanations are greatly appreciated. ~J

08-06-2017, 06:41 PM
Understand that the gear works off the batteries whether or not on shore power--SP just powers the converter that sends juice to batteries...you should/must get the batteries load-tested, bet they are going bad. All of the 12volt items work off the batteries, not shore power.
And usually, the landing gear is wired around the battery-cutoff switch so the legs will still work if the cutoff switch is off.
Get the batteries checked, and charged, if they test ok. If they are ok, then something is wrong with the converter charging function. A tow vehicle will very seldom do much more for charging the batts other than maintaining them while traveling--too little power available from alternator and too small/long a charging wire.
Electrical problems can be very exasperating...

08-06-2017, 08:00 PM
Thanks for the education, Wingnut. Basically, without good batteries I'm up the (Cedar) creek without a paddle. I will definitely have the batteries checked.

As for the converter, there is a red box that I think is it because the salesman that sold me the RV said if I wanted to keep the fridge cool going down the road I could turn that on one fuel stop and turn it off the next and so on. I guess that means the batteries would run the fridge while towing if that red box (converter?) is turned on. I have never done this, I just put frozen bottles of water in the fridge on trips of 4 hours or more and it stays cold. I have never turned that red box on. Should I?

Anyway, you have given me a starting point and I am grateful. I'll post back on what I find.

08-06-2017, 10:56 PM
Do you have a residential fridge? If so, the 'red box' should be an "INVERTER" which is an electronic device that changes 12volt power to 120volt power. If that is the what the red box is, then it probably won't be able to do its job either if the batts are the problem.
If you don't have a res fridge, then I don't have a clue what the red box is...
If you have an RV fridge, it should work fine on propane traveling from one hookup to another.
Let us know more about your setup.

08-07-2017, 09:54 AM
The convertor will not charge your batteries if the battery switch is turned off when plugged into shore power.


08-07-2017, 10:00 AM
It is a residential fridge (I remember being disappointed when I was told it wouldn't run on LP like the one in our Casita did).

My TV is a 2015 F-250 Lariat 4X4 PSD with the camper/RV package. According to the sticker it has dual heavy duty alternators and of course being a diesel it has two batteries.

When we got home Sunday the gear lifted the 5vr with no problem and no low power warning. So it seems like there was a little charging going on? I dunno.

We take the 5vr out at least once monthly and often twice -as much as we can. I normally plug it into household 120 via adaptors 50A to 30A to household plug -that's just the stuff I have- to get the fridge cold. The battery cut out is always "off" and the inverter is never "on". I just now remembered that this time it was very hot inside so I attempted to turn on the ceiling vent fan and it would not open or run, though it tried. I was perplexed because I was plugged in to 120 and thought it should run. Thanks to you, wingnut, I now know better. The battery had to have been dead because the fan worked great as soon as we set up at the park. Again, seems like the battery charged as we traveled. Based on what happened when we left, the battery being low, it seems like it did not charge. You are right. Electrical problems are very exasperating.

I intend to get the batteries check in the next day or two and I will post what I find. Thanks again. The education is greatly appreciated.

08-07-2017, 10:05 AM
Porkchop: I think you may have hit on my problem: User error. I almost always have the battery cut out switch (the red key) in the "off" position. I thought it only needed to be on if we were boondocking or something -which we haven't done yet and we do not have a generator. So, from now on any time I am on SP I will make sure the battery cut out is in the "on" position.

I'm still a little confused about why it was fine to lift the RV off the truck when we got home without a low power warning. I will still check the batteries and see what I come up with. Thanks a ton for the info.

08-07-2017, 08:20 PM
I would leave the switch on unless leaving the unit in storage for a long period...
Remember, everything in the trailer that is 12-volt is still 12-volt even on shore power. Certainly need the switch on whenever you are using the trailer.
And if you need electrical advice/knowledge, not many better than Porkchop.

08-07-2017, 08:28 PM
Thanks guys. I think I'm realizing the problem has been my lack of understanding how things work. Hopefully I haven't killed the battery -an expensive lesson. I will verify that my ignorance is the only problem by turning the battery on and hooking up SP for a few days and see what happens. I can also ck the batteries before and after.

Thanks for the help. I will post the results.

08-08-2017, 12:00 AM
If you determine that the converter is not charging the batteries, many of them have fuses in the unit itself. Check them first before getting a new converter.

08-08-2017, 09:11 AM
Thanks for the heads-up on that, wingnut. Will do.

08-12-2017, 01:39 AM
So, after several days on SP the battery seems fully charged and good to go.

That means my issues were probably user error which, although embarrassing, is inexpensive.

I want to thank you guys for your insight and tutelage.