Battery voltage? - Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-24-2015, 10:57 PM Thread Starter
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Battery voltage?

What are you guys seeing for voltage? Today while making a long trip I turned on the voltage reading and was watching it. It would read 13.8, expected, then it would just drop to 12.5 and then be back a 13.8 30-40 miles down the road.

I was running 70-75 with AC on like normal. This is the first time I have ever really watched it. Are you guys seeing the same thing?

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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-24-2015, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by team helotes View Post
What are you guys seeing for voltage? Today while making a long trip I turned on the voltage reading and was watching it. It would read 13.8, expected, then it would just drop to 12.5 and then be back a 13.8 30-40 miles down the road.

I was running 70-75 with AC on like normal. This is the first time I have ever really watched it. Are you guys seeing the same thing?
That is pretty much normal for newer GM programming. Sometimes it will go to the higher 14's for a short period if the truck has been parked for 3-6 days. They are trying to monitor electrical loads and battery temp closely to conserve fuel and make the battery last longer.

This has been a problem on our police pursuit Caprice vehicles as the 12.4 to 12.8 range often does not provide enough voltage for 120v AC inverters with 600w to 1.2kw DC surge loads such as a laser printer warm up. They have high wattage alternators, but the lower voltage poses a problem with some added electronics. Battery in the rear and insufficient cable size doesn't help.

Should be fine for everything on our trucks except a high current array of audio amplifiers.

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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-25-2015, 07:32 AM Thread Starter
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So are they shutting off and not charging it all the time? Just when the battery gets below a certain voltage?

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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-25-2015, 12:10 PM
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Sounds normal for GM's Regulated Voltage Control (RVC). It operates in 6 (or more) different modes. Depending on conditions, voltage can range from 11.5V - 15.5V. It improves fuel mileage by about 1%, without degrading battery life.

More info here: http://www.motor.com/article.asp?article_ID=1606

Last edited by Outahere; 07-25-2015 at 12:20 PM.
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-25-2015, 12:21 PM
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Here is a really good write up on the charging systems different modes.

AGCO Automotive Repair Service - Baton Rouge, LA - Detailed Auto Topics - Why GM Voltmeters Show Low Voltage
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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-26-2015, 07:38 PM
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Yes they will drop in voltage when the battery is at a full charge most new cars do this. Saves the life of the battery, altinator and improves gas milage. In therory just gm shows it it the guage where other manufactures do not.
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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old 07-27-2015, 07:35 PM
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The vehicle has Electric Power Management (EPM) that estimates
the battery's temperature and state of charge. It then adjusts the voltage for best performance and extended life of the battery.
When the battery's state of charge is low, the voltage is raised slightly to quickly bring the charge back up. When the state of charge is high, the voltage is lowered slightly to prevent overcharging. The voltmeter gauge or the voltage display on the
Driver Information Center (DIC), if equipped, may show the voltage
moving up or down. This is normal. If there is a problem, an alert will
be displayed.

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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-13-2017, 07:50 PM
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After searching the site I found this and a number others ...tho this is 2015 and mine is 2016 Duramax...
I started a thread with the title "Battery Drain" .... not sure that was the best way to state it but
I found my battery low with DIC notice low battery safer activated....not sure why.... I got it to start after a number of attempts and road for an hour to recharge...a couple days later ..today..I drove for a couple of hours. I noticed that while the truck was off but electric on the battery stated 12.3... when I started the truck it went up to 13...then 14...then 15.2 after about 10 minutes on the road it settled and stayed at 15 V for 30 minutes. Again when the truck is off it states 12.2. Is the DIC stating the alternator output or is it the charge in the battery... I am confused. Is this high voltage (15) overcharging the battery?

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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 01:25 PM
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Anyone know the minimum voltage required to start up the truck (worst case scenario). I may end up using the battery while camping when the truck is turned off and want to know how many volts I can drain it to before the truck wont start. TY.

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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 01:41 PM
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When I was installing light pods and wiring them, I wired up a fuse block off the empty connections next to the main fuse box where the main power comes in. When I first did it, the eye on the cable running to my new block was touching one lead of that midi fuse. When I was driving around after, I got a low power warning and checking the voltage on DIC it was going down, slowly. I got to 11.5-11.8v when the battery saver message came on but the engine and lights didn't change or anything. I got down to 11.1v by time I got home. Checked around thinking I had messed something up and noticed that eye touching, moved it so it wasn't and started the truck right up again with no warnings.
Ran high 14s into 15v for a bit after that but one commute and it went back down to 12-13v display on the DIC.

It's kinda cool how the systems change now with demand and battery state for longevity and parasitic loss. Makes sense with how many electrical components and computers run the vehicles now. No longer rev higher to increase voltage.

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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mummel View Post
Anyone know the minimum voltage required to start up the truck (worst case scenario). I may end up using the battery while camping when the truck is turned off and want to know how many volts I can drain it to before the truck wont start. TY.
Mine wouldn't start and it read 12.5 with my volt meter. Still in the shop

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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-18-2017, 02:40 PM
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If I'm pulling 6amps / hour, Im just trying to figure out how long I can use the factory battery for and still leave enough battery power to start up the truck.

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Last edited by mummel; 01-18-2017 at 02:52 PM.
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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 09:25 AM
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FYI, in TOW/HAUL mode, the alternator is supposed to increase the output. I haven't really noticed any difference, and that doesn't help mummel with his squid fishing, but for a good meal of fried calamari, I am sure he can find someone to jump him off he kills his battery.

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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by crabbcat View Post
Mine wouldn't start and it read 12.5 with my volt meter. Still in the shop

It doesn't really matter what the voltage says with no load, it matters a lot when you turn the key to start though... ;)

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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 11:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckland View Post
After searching the site I found this and a number others ...tho this is 2015 and mine is 2016 Duramax...
I started a thread with the title "Battery Drain" .... not sure that was the best way to state it but
I found my battery low with DIC notice low battery safer activated....not sure why.... I got it to start after a number of attempts and road for an hour to recharge...a couple days later ..today..I drove for a couple of hours. I noticed that while the truck was off but electric on the battery stated 12.3... when I started the truck it went up to 13...then 14...then 15.2 after about 10 minutes on the road it settled and stayed at 15 V for 30 minutes. Again when the truck is off it states 12.2. Is the DIC stating the alternator output or is it the charge in the battery... I am confused. Is this high voltage (15) overcharging the battery?
Sounds to me like your battery is dieing. Like its trying to charge it but it can't take the charge. That would be a good reason for it to throw 15v at it. I would get it checked.

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post #16 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-19-2017, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by savagebob View Post

This has been a problem on our police pursuit Caprice vehicles as the 12.4 to 12.8 range often does not provide enough voltage for 120v AC inverters with 600w to 1.2kw DC surge loads such as a laser printer warm up. They have high wattage alternators, but the lower voltage poses a problem with some added electronics. Battery in the rear and insufficient cable size doesn't help.
Hey there savagebob, I had the pleasure of repairing patrol cars for 20 years. I've been retired for 10 so I'm a bit behind now...Laser printers in cars? What is wrong with inkjet? I'm sure it would pull a lot less power....;) Sounds like that inverter needs to be very close to the battery with at least 4 gauge. Don't those things shut down at about 11v? Anyway, if I had a nickel for every set of brakes I put on a Crown Vic I'd be filthy rich. I'm sure you know what I mean...Have a good one!

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post #17 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 01:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckland View Post
Again when the truck is off it states 12.2. Is the DIC stating the alternator output or is it the charge in the battery... I am confused. Is this high voltage (15) overcharging the battery?

It just measures what's in your electrical system. When the truck is off, the only power is from the battery, so you just see it's voltage. Once started, the whole system sees what is coming from the alternator.

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post #18 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 02:50 AM
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So are they shutting off and not charging it all the time? Just when the battery gets below a certain voltage?
I've been reading all this mess and it doesn't seem a whole lot different than the old school regulators. Computer controlled yes, but not all that different. The bottom line: I think it can basically sense when the battery isn't up to par (well, below a predetermined value anyway). I'm guessing it learns the "highest voltage it can safely charge the battery" (to a point) and adjusts to that, compared to the old fashioned regulator that is set to a battery that is 100 percent. That's my guess anyway. If you think about it, if it is supposed to save fuel, it can't do that in any other way than to NOT charge the battery as much as the old system (when the time comes). I'm thinking it knows if it is wasting energy trying to charge a "bad" battery. Nothing is free......

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post #19 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-20-2017, 01:13 PM
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I am not familiar with the GM Electrical Load detection. I am familiar with the Honda system and assume the GM did something similar.

First a few basic lead battery charging rules. Charging a 12 volt lead-acid battery at over 14.4 volts will cause it to boil or out gas. The battery will take a higher voltage for a short term if it is cold. So a higher voltage will work for a few minutes until the battery warms up. Most modern alternator systems start out at a high voltage and reduce the charging voltage as the battery, alternator, and ambient air temperature rises.

What a computer controlled alternator does is monitor the above items plus the charging rate and then adjust the voltage accordingly. To increase fuel mileage Honda added something called ELD (Electric Load Detector). This is a additional device that monitors the current flow into and out of the battery. This additional information is retrieved by the computer and used to to help determine the correct output voltage. Using an ELD, the computer can reduce the voltage and engine load to improve fuel mileage and battery longevity when lesser voltage and engine load can be tolerated.

All of the above said, I assume that GM is doing the same thing but maybe in slightly different ways.
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post #20 of 37 (permalink) Old 01-21-2017, 11:49 AM
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It's smart system and will vary charging voltage as needed. (This should be a sticky)

From the Electrical Manual:

Charging System Description and Operation

Electrical Power Management Overview

The electrical power management system is designed to monitor and control the charging system and send diagnostic messages to alert the driver of possible problems with the battery and generator. This electrical power management system primarily utilizes existing on-board computer capability to maximize the effectiveness of the generator, to manage the load, improve battery state-of-charge and life, and minimize the system's impact on fuel economy. The electrical power management system performs 3 functions:
• It monitors the battery voltage and estimates the battery condition.
• It takes corrective actions by boosting idle speeds, and adjusting the regulated voltage.
• It performs diagnostics and driver notification.
The battery condition is estimated during ignition-off and during ignition-on. During ignition-off the state-of-charge of the battery is determined by measuring the open-circuit voltage. The state-of-charge is a function of the acid concentration and the internal resistance of the battery, and is estimated by reading the battery open circuit voltage when the battery has been at rest for several hours. The state-of-charge can be used as a diagnostic tool to tell the customer or the dealer the condition of the battery. Throughout ignition-on, the algorithm continuously estimates state-of-charge based on adjusted net amp hours, battery capacity, initial state-of-charge, and temperature. While running, the battery degree of discharge is primarily determined by a battery current sensor, which is integrated to obtain net amp hours.
In addition, the electrical power management function is designed to perform regulated voltage control to improve battery state-of-charge, battery life, and fuel economy. This is accomplished by using knowledge of the battery state-of-charge and temperature to set the charging voltage to an optimum battery voltage level for recharging without detriment to battery life.

Charging System Components

Generator

The generator is a serviceable component. If there is a diagnosed failure of the generator it must be replaced as an assembly. The engine drive belt drives the generator. When the rotor is spun it induces an alternating current (AC) into the stator windings. The AC voltage is then sent through a series of diodes for rectification. The rectified voltage has been converted into a direct current (DC) for use by the vehicles electrical system to maintain electrical loads and the battery charge. The voltage regulator integral to the generator controls the output of the generator. It is not serviceable. The voltage regulator controls the amount of current provided to the rotor. If the generator has field control circuit failure, the generator defaults to an output voltage of 13.8 V.

Body Control Module (BCM)

The body control module (BCM) is a GMLAN device. It communicates with the engine control module (ECM) and the instrument panel cluster for electrical power management (electrical power management) operation. The BCM determines the output of the generator and sends the information to the ECM for control of the generator turn on signal circuit. It monitors the generator field duty cycle signal circuit information sent from the ECM for control of the generator. It monitors a battery current sensor, the battery positive voltage circuit, and estimated battery temperature to determine battery state of charge. The BCM performs idle boost.

Battery Current Sensor

The battery current sensor is a serviceable component that is connected to the negative battery cable at the battery. The battery current sensor is a 3-wire hall effect current sensor. The battery current sensor monitors the battery current. It directly inputs to the BCM. It creates a 5 volt pulse width modulation (PWM) signal of 128 Hz with a duty cycle of 0–100 percent. Normal duty cycle is between 5–95 percent. Between 0–5 percent and 95–100 percent are for diagnostic purposes.

Engine Control Module (ECM)

When the engine is running, the generator turn-on signal is sent to the generator from the ECM, turning on the regulator. The generator's voltage regulator controls current to the rotor, thereby controlling the output voltage. The rotor current is proportional to the electrical pulse width supplied by the regulator. When the engine is started, the regulator senses generator rotation by detecting AC voltage at the stator through an internal wire. Once the engine is running, the regulator varies the field current by controlling the pulse width. This regulates the generator output voltage for proper battery charging and electrical system operation. The generator field duty terminal is connected internally to the voltage regulator and externally to the ECM. When the voltage regulator detects a charging system problem, it grounds this circuit to signal the ECM that a problem exists. The ECM monitors the generator field duty cycle signal circuit, and receives control decisions based on information from the BCM.

Instrument Panel Cluster

The instrument panel cluster provides the customer notification in case a concern with the charging system. There are 2 means of notification, a charge indicator and a driver information center message of SERVICE BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEM if equipped.

Charging System Operation

The purpose of the charging system is to maintain the battery charge and vehicle loads. There are 6 modes of operation and they include:
• Battery Sulfation Mode
• Charge Mode
• Fuel Economy Mode
• Head lamp Mode
• Start Up Mode
• Voltage Reduction Mode
The engine control module (ECM) controls the generator through the generator turn ON signal circuit. The ECM monitors the generator performance though the generator field duty cycle signal circuit. The signal is a pulse width modulation (PWM) signal of 128 Hz with a duty cycle of 0–100 percent. Normal duty cycle is between 5–95 percent. Between 0–5 percent and 95–100 percent are for diagnostic purposes. The following table shows the
commanded duty cycle and output voltage of the generator:

Commanded Duty Cycle Generator Output Voltage
10% 11 V
20% 11.56 V
30% 12.12 V
40% 12.68 V
50% 13.25 V
60% 13.81 V
70% 14.37 V
80% 14.94 V
90% 15.5 V
The generator provides a feedback signal of the generator voltage output through the generator field duty cycle signal circuit to the ECM. This information is sent to the body control module (BCM). The signal is PWM signal of 128 Hz with a duty cycle of 0–100 percent. Normal duty cycle is between 5–99 percent. Between 0–5 percent and 100 percent are for diagnostic purposes.

Battery Sulfation Mode

The BCM will enter this mode when the interpreted generator output voltage is less than 13.2 V for 45 minutes. When this condition exists the BCM will enter Charge Mode for 2–3 minutes. The BCM will then determine which mode to enter depending on voltage requirements.

Charge Mode
The BCM will enter Charge Mode when ever one of the following conditions are met.

• The wipers are ON for more than 3 seconds.
• GMLAN (Climate Control Voltage Boost Mode Request) is true, as sensed by the HVAC control head. High speed cooling fan, rear defogger and HVAC high speed blower operation can cause the BCM to enter the Charge
Mode.
• The estimated battery temperature is less than 0C (32F).
• Battery State of Charge is less than 80 percent.
• Vehicle speed is greater than 145 km/h (90 mph)
• Current sensor fault exists.
• System voltage was determined to be below 12.56 V
When any one of these conditions is met, the system will set targeted generator output voltage to a charging voltage between 13.9–15.5 V, depending on the battery state of charge and estimated battery temperature.

Fuel Economy Mode

The BCM will enter Fuel Economy Mode when the estimated battery temperature is at least 0C (32F) but less than or equal to 80C (176F), the calculated battery current is less than 15 amperes and greater than −8 amperes, and the battery state-of-charge is greater than or equal to 80 percent. Its targeted generator output voltage is the open circuit voltage of the battery and can be between 12.5–13.1 V. The BCM will exit this mode and enter Charge Mode when any of the conditions described above are present.

Head lamp Mode

The BCM will enter Head lamp Mode when ever the head lamps are ON (high or low beams). Voltage will be regulated between 13.9–14.5 V.

Startup Mode

When the engine is started the BCM sets a targeted generator output voltage of 14.5 V for 30 seconds.

Voltage Reduction Mode

The BCM will enter Voltage Reduction Mode when the calculated ambient air temperature is above 0C (32F). The calculated battery current is less than 1 ampere and greater than −7 amperes, and the generator field duty cycle is less than 99 percent. Its targeted generator output voltage is 12.9 V. The BCM will exit this mode once the criteria are met for Charge Mode.

Instrument Panel Cluster Operation

Charge Indicator Operation

The instrument panel cluster illuminates the charge indicator and displays a warning message in the driver information center if equipped, when the one or more of the following occurs:
• The engine control module (ECM) detects that the generator output is less than 11 V or greater than 16 V. The instrument panel cluster receives a GMLAN message from the ECM requesting illumination.
• The instrument panel cluster determines that the system voltage is less than 11 V or greater than 16 V for more than 30 seconds. The instrument panel cluster receives a GMLAN message from the body control module
(BCM) indicating there is a system voltage range concern.
• The instrument panel cluster performs the displays test at the start of each ignition cycle. The indicator illuminates for approximately 3 seconds.

Display Message: BATTERY NOT CHARGING SERVICE CHARGING SYSTEM or SERVICE BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEM
The BCM and the ECM will send a serial data message to the driver information center for the BATTERY NOT CHARGING SERVICE CHARGING SYSTEM or SERVICE BATTERY CHARGING SYSTEM message to be
displayed. It is commanded ON when a charging system DTC is a current DTC. The message is turned OFF when the conditions for clearing the DTC have been met.

Electrical Power Management Description and Operation

The electrical power management is used to monitor and control the charging system and alert the driver of possible problems within the charging system. The electrical power management system makes the most efficient use of the generator output, improves the battery state-of-charge, extends battery life, and manages system electrical loads.
The load shed operation is a means of reducing electrical loads during a low voltage or low battery state-of-charge condition.
The idle boost operation is a means of improving generator performance during a low voltage or low battery state-of-charge condition.

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