OUR 2015 ROADTREK E-TREK

What we have learned

During our two-month ordeal, when we experienced problems on our various trips to Gettysburg and Boston, we had been studying the 2015 Roadtrek E-trek manual and corresponding with Roadtrek to try and answer some of the basic operation questions. Initially we thought our problems were due to our being new RVers–of course, we would learn after being serviced at Mercedes-Benz and our dealer that we were not to blame .

Since the Roadtrek E-trek is very different from traditional RVs (i.e., uses battery bank rather than propane generator), we needed to speak to a technician who was familiar with the particulars of the Roadtrek E-trek. Specifically, we needed to clarify some of the “known unknowns.”

  • The percentage increase per hour charging by the various methods with everything turned off, so no power is being consumed: (1) driving, (2) idling, (3) plugged-into shore power with 30 amp, (4) plugged into shore power with 15 amp adapter, (5) solar charging sunny day, and (6) solar charging cloudy day.
  • Define as a percentage what the E-trek manual (p. 85 FAQ: Electrical) means by “moderately depleted,” “adequately charged,” and “minimum battery charge.”
  • The battery percentage which will trigger the inverter alarm and the same for the CO Alarm?  (The Roadtrek E-trek Manual only makes vague reference to preserving a “minimum battery charge.”

In the meantime, we continued our own testing to see if we could finally charge the batteries driving, idling, and solar. We used  an Excel spreadsheet to log our findings, which we had created in May after our second trip to Gettysburg Trip #5–More Technical Difficulties. The Roadtrek E trek Manual provides some idea of the expected charging times for driving, idling, plugging in, and solar; however, we had not been able to confirm our calculations with Roadtrek.

To see our spreadsheet, click the following link: Etrek Battery Log

We did eventually get a response from Roadtrek, who provided the following answers to our questions:

All our stats are in volts and watts, not percentages, so we are not able to give you answers in percentages, but please see below for responses to your questions.

Please confirm the percentage increase per hour charging by the various methods with everything turned off, so no power is being consumed:

  1. driving, while driving the under hood generator will be providing 3300 watts at 24 volts with 2000 RPM
  2. idling, 2000 watts at 24 volts @ 1000 RPM
  3. plugged-into shore power with 30 amp, 50 amps at 24 volts
  4. plugged into shore power with 15 amp adapter, 20 amps @ 24 volts but it will depend what else it plugged into that 15 amp circuit
  5. solar charging sunny day, 30amps @ 24 volts
  6. solar charging cloudy day. This is subjective as how overcast is overcast, so it is not possible to give an answer on this question. 

Please define as a percentage what the E-trek manual (p. 85 FAQ: Electrical) means by “moderately depleted,” “adequately charged,” and “minimum battery charge.” 

  •    Full charge…..25.5 volts
  •   Moderately depleted…..24 volts
  •   Adequately charged…..23.5 volts and above
  •   Minimum charge ……21 volts 

What is the battery percentage which will trigger the inverter alarm and the same for the CO Alarm?  (The manual only makes vague reference to preserving a “minimum battery charge.”)

  • The inverter will alarm at 21 volts and shut off at 20.5 volts
  • The CO will run down to 7 volts before alarming

 We have not taken a trip since receiving this information; however, we will continue testing and report our findings on future posts.

17 thoughts on “OUR 2015 ROADTREK E-TREK

  1. Thanks for your informative blog about your experiences and difficulties. Most other sites are more like sales pitches, but you have documented your actual experience fairly and concisely.

  2. I am really sorry to hear about all the problems you have been having with your unit.

    My attraction to the E-trek was the fact that (in theory of course) the battery and charger and everything should be fully automatic. I liked the idea of being able to travel down the road with my 3 kids in the back and the AC full blast WITHOUT having to run a propane generator like all the other class B RVs.

    Your travails have given me 2nd thoughts….

    Knowing what you know how and (hopefully) all the solutions to the issues you’ve been experiencing, would you buy the E-trek again?

    Thanks,
    An anxious soccer dad in Texas (ergo the need for the coach AC all the time!)

    1. Thank you for your interest and questions. The E-trek appealed to us for the same reason you mentioned–no propane. Yes, we have had difficulties but we still like it very much and hope now that we have addressed the various problems we can enjoy many trips. We are planning a trip shortly and will be keeping a close eye on the battery and solar panel performance, and we will publish our findings in a new blog entry. Another issue in an earlier post was that the ride (especially in the back) is a lot bumpier than we expected. We have looked into upgrading the suspension, but it does not look like it will be possible due to lack of clearance. (The company that does this work, VB Suspension, needs 18″ clearance, and the water boiler is too low.) Definitely take a test drive with your family to make sure they will be comfortable! Good luck!

  3. and PLEASE keep us informed of your experiences!!! Your views and insight are genuine from first time RVers (like we will be) and we can all learn from your observations.

    ROADTREK — are you LISTENING???

    1. As of today our E-trek is back at Mercedes-Benz for service. We were idling the engine to charge the battery and when the battery wouldn’t charge we looked at the engine–it appears the belt has slipped off again. Stay tuned for updates.

  4. Be careful, I purchased this e-tek so my dog would have ac at the lacross games. It does not last a whole game. in Fl. the batteries last 51 min. before it shuts down.

    1. Less than an hour seems really short, even if it is very hot. We have tested ours with fully charged batteries, and the AC will run about 4 hours before shutting down. Of course, it is not as hot in NJ, but we did turn the thermostat down low (60 degrees F) so the AC would stay on. Our problems have been with charging the batteries, since the underhood generator, which charges the batteries while driving or idling, has not been functioning. Our E-trek is currently at the Roadtrek factory where they are trying to fix our problems once and for all. In addition to repairing the underhood generator, they are installing a balancer/equalizer that should improve the battery performance. What model year do you have?

  5. I recently purchased a 2016 Roadtrek E-Trek on the Mercedes Chassis. Haven’t taken it out of town yet. When I received it the windshield had a noticeable rock chip. That took a few days to replace. Had some cabinet door latches broken. That took two weeks to replace. The TV/DVD remotes got lost during the repairs and had to be re-ordered. The Mercedes Navigation System was missing the Navigation Module. That took 4 weeks to replace. Now there is a Fluid Leak under the engine compartment. Dripping on the drive way. Pink Fluid. Plus, the undercarriage is rusted. All the suspension bolts and the Spare Tire rim are rusted. The Unit appears to have never been undercoated. Maybe stored in an area where Salt was used on the highways. That is being looked into. But, the sound system is great. I wanted to purchase a couple of “Optional Items”. but couldn’t find a site where these items can be ordered. Brochures show them, but nobody knows how to purchase. I am beginning to think I made a Mistake.

  6. Thanks for this blog. I have owned an Etrek for a few years now. It has been a continuous problem. Twice it has been back to the factory for work on the electrical system. Nox sensors have been replaced a few times. Five trips have now been side railed or derailed because of problems with both the chassis and the conversion. When it is working properly it is a dream. But it is like living with someone with bipolar disorder…..you never know when the bottom will fall out so to speak. The day I purchased it I began having problems with the cabinet hardware so I immediately replaced all and not once have I had an issue with the new replacement hardware. What I find particularly problematic is the overall attitude of RT corporate. They are certainly not going to acknowledge that there are universal problems. Good luck with yours.

  7. We just bought a Roadtrek etrek 2017. We left on our first trip. The batteries ran down so low that it started to shut of key functions in the Mercedes vehicle. After being plugged in overnight, all functions came back up and we drove another day and the batteries continue to drain to 12.8v with what we think had everything turned off. It doesn’t seem like the engine is recharging it. Any helpful hints?

    1. Please read this post from September 2015 Trip 7–Boston Deja Vu where we discuss our problem with the serpentine belt slipping off the pulleys, which was preventing our underhood generator (engine) from charging the batteries while driving or idling. First pop your hood and make sure the serpentine belt is in place.

  8. I am surprised that you state the generator put out 24 VDC: The RoadTrek factory tells me the output is 12 VDC.
    I have put together the following, if you like you may provide it to others.

    RoadTrek Power

    There is a large variety of power available within the RoadTrek.
    The source is different between models and options available.
    So, let me concentrate on the CS Adventurous.

    The Shore power provides 115 VAC to supply the various loads and charge the coach batteries.
    The engine alternator charges the engine battery and can charge the coach batteries.
    The optional engine generator will charge the coach batteries and adds 2-6V batteries; total 2 pair.
    The optional solar panel charges the coach batteries.

    Inverter
    The inverter/converter consists of 2 parts;
    A converter: to convert 115 VAC from shore power to 12 VDC to charge the batteries.
    An inverter: to change 12 VDC from the battery to 115 VAC to supply the coach loads.

    The inverter must be ON and have shore power connected to be able to charge the batteries.

    The power cord has a blue light at the end where it plugs into 115VAC. The other end that plugs into the RoadTrek has a red light. The lights indicate that 115 VAC is connected and being supplied to the coach. The inverter control panel has an indicator light at the top right that shows that the battery is being charged. Make sure that this light is ON. If the shore power becomes disconnected, the Battery charge indicator will be OFF and the Inverter power on indicator will be lit.

    When shore power is not connected, the inverter automatically switches to the inverter mode to draw power from the batteries to supply 115 VAC to the coach.
    The Inverter consumes 100 Watts from the batteries even with no load connected to the inverter.
    2-6V AGM batteries, one pair, provide about 2000 Watt-hours. Since it is recommended that the batteries not be drawn down below 50%, only 1000 Watt-hours is available. With the inverter running with no load, the inverter is consuming 100 Watts and will deplete the battery in 10 hours.

    Only turn your inverter on when you want to charge your batteries while connected to shore power.
    or when you need to use an appliance that plugs into the wall, such as a microwave, hair dryer, TV or blender. At all other times keep the inverter OFF.
    The switch on top of the inverter should always be OFF.
    Turning it ON disables the remote switch above the side door.
    Use the remote switch above the side door to turn the inverter ON & OFF

    Optional generator
    The engine generator generates 3000 Watts at highway speeds. At that rate it will charge the 2 pair of AGM batteries that are down 50% in about 2/3 hours ( 2000 watt-hours 3000 watts = 2/3 Hr ).
    The dealer says, with the engine running at idle, a single pair will charge in about 30 minutes. The generator is on whenever the engine is running. No attention is required.

    Solar power
    The solar panel is rated at 240 watts. As a rule of thumb expect about 4 hours of peak production per day. Under average conditions, the solar panel will generate about 940 watt-hours per day. With the single pair of batteries discharged to 50%, 1000 watt-hours is required to fully recharge them. Thus, it will take 24 hours to recharge a single pair of batteries using the solar panels.
    The solar panels are on at all times and are charging the batteries continuously. No attention is required.

    Alde heating
    The Alde electric element uses 1800 watts. This will kill 2 pair of batteries in an hour.
    Always turn OFF the electric heater element in the Alde when not connected to Shore power.

    Use propane setting.
    About 30 watts is still required to operate the circulating pump.

    While traveling down the road, the engine generator will provide enough power to supply the Alde electric element. The propane setting can be turned OFF.

    Remember to turn off the electrical element when the engine is off.

    Refrigerator
    The compressor refrigerator draws about 60 watts.
    If operating from the inverter 115VAC, the inverter draws 100 watts and the refrigerator draws 60 watts.
    If operating from 12 VDC, only 60 watts is drawn from the batteries.

    When 115 VAC is available, the refrigerator will switch to operate from 115VAC.
    (115 VAC is available whenever the inverter is on or when connected to shore power )

    It is more efficient on 12 VDC. (Thus, when boondocking, less power is consumed from the batteries)
    To force the refrigerator to operate from 12 VDC,
    unplug the refrigerator from the 115 AVC outlet under the galley sink.

    Remember to reconnect the refrigerator plug when connecting to shore power.

    Instant hot water dispenser.
    The hot water dispenser draws 750 watts from the 115 VAC.
    The instant part is that if you apply power to the dispenser for about 15 minutes, the water will be at about 200 deg. F and will be instantly available when you turn on the faucet.

    Without shore power, that is 750 watts plus the 100 watts for the inverter = 850 watts for 15 minutes.
    Or, 850 watts x 15/60 = 210 watt-hours.

    The microwave takes 1220 Watts plus the 100 watts for the inverter = 1320 watts for about 3 minutes.
    Or, 1320 watts x 3/60 = 66 watt-hours.

    I guess if you want instant hot water, the microwave would be faster.

    1. Hi Rich, Thank you for the detailed information. We have a total of 6 coach batteries in our E-trek RS Adventurous. When fully charged, our batteries have a total of 28 Volts, which is why we needed to have the battery balancer installed so the batteries would be used more efficiently, for example, to run the 12V fridge and 12V Webasto heater/hot water heater. When we run the AC, microwave, or use outlets, the inverter must be turned on to produce 120 VAC. You can see some pictures of our inverter display in this article.(We do not have a propane generator, compression refrigerator, or Alde heater.)

  9. I have 2016 Etrek on the Chevy 3500 210 popular model. I was plugged into shore power last night and the ac and the TV was on then it went off along with all other electrics. I checked the breaker on the shore power pole was fine…I re-flipped then started all over…nothing until I started the main engine for about ten minutes, then the battery system indicated it was charged…The inverter is directly under where my head is on the bed and there was significant heat coming from that area…so I decided to use the roof vent and open windows and didn’t use the AC or the TV. I have had one inverter switch/indicator replaced and the system still doesn’t have the lights go on when the inverter is switched on….I do have the automatic charging system with the second alternator. I am very aware of what lithium Ion batteries can do when overheated and they go run-away into flames…anyone else have heat issues with their invertors?

  10. Hello Captain, Thank you for your message. We are not familiar with the lithium ion batteries since our unit had AGM batteries. Have you contacted Hymer/Roadtrek? I would also suggest you join the Roadtrek & Hymer Owners Facebook Group, as someone may be able to help. Good luck! Marjorie

  11. Thanks to all whom have posted. I sincerely hope all your issues are resolved. But I have so much doubt now that I will never own a Roadtrek though Dealertrek would be more suitable in my opinion. Although you may never have the vehicle described in their literature, they have lost $100,000+ on the vehicle I refuse to buy. Good luck!

  12. Hello all. I have a 2017 SS Agile 4×4 with E-trek. To say the vehicle has been problematic would be a kind understatement. Beginning with the Mercedes chassis, required replacement of the front wheel drive assembly, service bulletin on clunk in driveline due to over tolerance in machine parts, leaf spring service bulletin for grumbling in driveline, cracks in dash instrument panel glass and vehicle required alignment in less than 12k miles. Breaks squeal.

    Now the coach. The diesel Alde heat system does not work. Diesel line to furnace came un-done (never clamped) causing vehicle to shut down on interstate, also spilling diesel into the frame rails. Hot water heater poppet valve discharged flooding coach (thru-floor drain line never installed). Poppet valve continues to randomly discharge emptying fresh water tank. AC thermostat is located on an uninsulated exterior wall making it incapable of properly controlling the interior temperature. Gray water & Black water tank sensors show full at all times. Shoreline power randomly trips breakers when using the AC. Now the newest problem and perhaps last straw, Underhood Generator System failure (meaning now everything’s now working).

    While the Mercedes problems are unfortunate, their service ahs been outstanding. Roadtrek on the other hand has been, non-returned voicemail, non-answered email, find a repair service near you and good luck. Service schedules take weeks, parts take weeks, many service centers are “unfamiliar” with the vehicles and put you aside when you’re asked “did you buy the vehicle from us”.

    First let me say, the appeal of the vehicle and the intent of how its all supposed to work is exactly what was what we envisioned, however “the supposed to work” part of this statement is what’s missing. Instead of being for our enjoyment and travel comfort, its become a full time job of trying to schedule repairs and making due with what’s not working in the meantime. Chasing the promise of Roadtrek’s 6 year warranty has become an unwanted burden. I’d suggest that when you spend $132,000 on a vehicle, at minimum it should work. Buyer be ware.

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