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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > New Batteries, Charger acts much differently.(update)

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KendallP

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 02/15/12 10:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow!

OK. So can you chalk it up to operator error, or were you legitimately careful and the float is just THAT thin?


Cheers,
Kendall

1986 Winnebago Chieftain 22RC
Our Camper (Don't laugh...
Unlike our credit cards... she's paid for)


landyacht318

Near a large body of water

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Posted: 02/15/12 04:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The Glass float, I had returned it into the glass tube with the foam protector, but a little too far and could not grab it with my fingers. I used a set of plastic tweezers to grab it, and it broke with minimal pressure. I won't be making that mistake again

I was in Pep Boys today, and saw a glass East Penn LYNX hydrometer for 5$ and bought it:

It is not quite as large as the OTC, and does not have the thermometer on the lower rubber part. The bulb is smaller and of stiffer rubber too.

I am assuming that I can use the glass float from the East Penn and use it in the OTC without issue.
Correct?

BFL13

Victoria, BC

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Posted: 02/15/12 05:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Try the bobber in each and see if it reads the same close enough. Should.


2003 Chev 2500HD Gas, 2003 Komfort 26FS 5er
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KendallP

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 02/15/12 06:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BFL13 wrote:

Try the bobber in each and see if it reads the same close enough. Should.

Agreed

landyacht318

Near a large body of water

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Posted: 02/15/12 06:35pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well, I am going to do the comparison tests between the plastic and glass on my old engine battery's 3 most accessible cells when the wind lets up some. At some other point I'll take baseline readings for the Crowns after the next Schumacher high voltage blast. It won't do it when the batteries are this full.

This morning, after I unplugged, I started my engine on only my engine battery which did not take part in last night's charging session.

My Monitor indicated only a quickly tapering 20 amps. Once it leveled off at 6 amps in about 30 seconds, I turned my battery switch to both, bringing in the pair of DC crowns into the loop. Monitor indicated 3.8 amps going into all three batteries. Then I turned the switch to 2, removing the engine battery, and the amps fell to 0 amps and 14.1 volts.

The Solar panel was making 3.4 amps at the time, so in effect, my solar panel was helping to run the fuel pump and ignition, and the Crowns wanted nothing.

This is very easy to notice when accelerating slowly with a cold engine compared to when the alternator is making 62 amps at 800rpm and 92 amps at 1600.

landyacht318

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Posted: 02/19/12 03:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Okay, got around to climbing inside my cabinet to recheck battery SG, AND compare my Napa plastic Hydrometer to the Glass Deka/OTC hybrid.

Battery 1-----Initial test------Second test-------GLASS Hyd test/Temp Comp(-8)
__________2/7/12__________2/17/12________2/17/12

Cell 1:-------1.280-----------------------------------------1.297(1.289)
Cell 2:-------1.290-----------------------------------------1.297(1.289)
Cell 3:-------1.275----------------1.280-----------------1.293(1.285)

Cell 4:-------1.280----------------1.290-----------------1.298(1.290)
Cell 5:-------1.275----------------1.280-----------------1.290(1.282)overfull
Cell 6:-------1.305----------------1.280-----------------1.290(1.282)overfull

Battery 2
Cell 1:-------1.305----------------1.285-----------------1.295(1.287) low
Cell 2:-------1.285----------------1.290-----------------1.305(1.297)
Cell 3:-------1.280----------------1.285-----------------1.305(1.297) low
Cell 4:-------1.300----------------1.280-----------------1.300(1.292)
Cell 5:-------1.275----------------1.290-----------------1.300(1.292) low
Cell 6:-------1.275----------------1.280-----------------1.300(1.292) low


Battery temperature was 63f for first test, 63.5f for second test.
Batteries spent several hours at 15+ volts on Schumacher charger a few hours before test and after a few hours of float.

The OTC glass hydrometer has a thermometer on the lower bulb. It read consistently at (subtract 8) This number rose from -12 with the electrolyte in the hydrometer. The batteries are warmer than the surrounding air.

Cells 1 and 2 on Battery 1 are very difficult to access. I skipped them for the comparison of the two hydrometers.

Battery 2 had a few cells low on water. 1,3,5, and 6 took about 2 cups between them with cell 1 taking the most.


I took readings after adding water, and each cell dropped. What was interesting was that there was no way to flick the bubbles off the floats just after adding water on the plastic hydrometer. The Glass one shed the bubbles much easier but it was noticeably worse after adding water.

Summary:
the plastic and Glass Hydrometers read very close to each other on Battery 1, much less so on battery 2.

I took two readings on each cell, refilling the tool, and vigorously flicking the plastic one to knock the bubbles off the float.

The batteries have been performing well, and I'm glad I did this test as I never expected the water level in those few cells to drop that much while some others remained overfull, as I got them nearly a month ago.

BFL13

Victoria, BC

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Posted: 02/19/12 07:14am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Looks good. I always have one 6 in each pair showing slightly less SG than the other. I wondered if it had something to do with which one had the pos and neg load wires but couldn't prove it by switching them. Not enough data

The high voltages they get now will mean more watering required. PITA with your battery access issue, but gotta do it.

KendallP

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 02/19/12 10:16am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Glad you got that glass unit. Now you can feel more confident in your readings from here on out. I'd say your plastic rig did a better job than the average one, but still not likely accurate. And I disagree on your assessment between the two. Without temp compensation, your readings were 10 units or so apart. To me, that's fairly significant. Of course the difference was much more dramatic in battery 2. Clearly the plastic hydrometer would serve you better by keeping paper from flying off your desk. Just be sure to clean it real good first!

Sorry. We forgot to cut you in on another important factor. Adding water will cause instant stratification that will not easily wane, i.e. the water will not mix without some vigorous gassing (bubbling) for an hour or two. Since you can only pull electrolyte from the top, your readings on cells with recently added water will be low.

Also... if you take readings when the cells are low the electrolyte should be a little more acidic than usual, so those readings should be a little on the high side.

So...

What you want to do is...

1. With the batteries at or near full, check the levels first.

2. Then add water to bring the levels 1/8" below the fill rings (maybe 5/8" below the top of the battery.)

3. Then get the batteries bubbling for an hour or two, depending on how vigorously they are bubbling/how much voltage you are giving them. With my Harbor Freight beast at 16.5V, we'd be talking more like fizzing over the occasional bubbles. I would probably limit this to a half hour or so

4. Then... Ideally... let 'em rest for a day or two and repeat. You might get a little more mixing, though, perhaps not a whole lot.

5. Let 'em rest, disconnected from any charge or draw for an hour or so after your last charge before testing.

It sounds like a PITA, but it's really pretty basic. And really... I think it's fair to use the cells that were at the correct level as your baseline and call it good.

I'd say you already know more about batteries than 99.9% of the public, but you're well on your way to becoming a true battery expert!

landyacht318

Near a large body of water

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Posted: 02/19/12 12:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I did not do any subtractions for temperature compensation with the plastic Hydrometer, it claims to do so automatically, so on Battery one, it was pretty darn accurate with the Glass one after subtracting.

While The glass one I felt confident on calling 1.297 or any number between .005, the plastic one's demarcations make my readings just an estimate of true +/- .007

On battery 2, where the readings were much different between the two, I did several tests and the differences were consistent between the two. I was kinda rooting for the plastic, but it failed.

I did take SG readings after adding water, but all the results posted above were before I added any Distilled water. All results after adding water were lower, as expected.

Overall I am surprised at the amount of water battery two took, especially cell one, which is the one where the (+)cable enters/exits the bank. I wonder if this is indicative of anything.

One problem with my tests is that my batteries are always in use. Always charging or discharging. Both previous and current tests were while the charger was still going in float(13.4) with the batteries accepting only 0.1 amps.

In the not too Distant future I am going to move my charge controller closer to the batteries over thicker cabling, as well as add 68 more watts to my roof. At this time I will probably clean up some other wiring in the area as well.

I am hoping the extra 68 watts helps diminish water loss. Depending on what time my solar can get the batteries upto acceptance voltage, every time my fridge cycles on, the solar cannot hold this acceptance voltage, and it resets the clock on how long it will stay in acceptance. So basically it can seesaw between 14.6 and 15 volts all afternoon which must use up a lot of water.

At least the battery which is using more water is the easier one to access the cells on.

Thanks for the input guys

KendallP

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 02/19/12 12:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

landyacht318 wrote:

I did not do any subtractions for temperature compensation with the plastic Hydrometer, it claims to do so automatically...
Reserving comment on that claim for now

While The glass one I felt confident on calling 1.297 or any number between .005, the plastic one's demarcations make my readings just an estimate of true +/- .007

On battery 2, where the readings were much different between the two, I did several tests and the differences were consistent between the two. I was kinda rooting for the plastic, but it failed.

I did take SG readings after adding water, but all the results posted above were before I added any Distilled water. All results after adding water were lower, as expected.

Overall I am surprised at the amount of water battery two took, especially cell one, which is the one where the (+)cable enters/exits the bank. I wonder if this is indicative of anything.
Typical

One problem with my tests is that my batteries are always in use. Always charging or discharging. Both previous and current tests were while the charger was still going in float(13.4) with the batteries accepting only 0.1 amps.
No problem if just in float mode

In the not too Distant future I am going to move my charge controller closer to the batteries over thicker cabling, as well as add 68 more watts to my roof. At this time I will probably clean up some other wiring in the area as well.

I am hoping the extra 68 watts helps diminish water loss. Depending on what time my solar can get the batteries upto acceptance voltage, every time my fridge cycles on, the solar cannot hold this acceptance voltage, and it resets the clock on how long it will stay in acceptance. So basically it can seesaw between 14.6 and 15 volts all afternoon which must use up a lot of water.

At least the battery which is using more water is the easier one to access the cells on.
Talk to BFL for more, but the less often you need to goose them with equalizing voltages, the better... AND the less water they will generally use.

If you discharge and recharge to 98% or so each time, you shouldn't need to give them more than 15V or so, depending on temperature... and can generally get by with less than that.

It gets more complicated when you start doing successive 50-90% charges and the like.


Thanks for the input guys


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