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 > Battery Recommendations - confused...

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Claybe

Denver, CO

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Posted: 07/27/06 11:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I currently have a deep cycle battery in the camper, but think it can't hold a charge (am in the process of testing and charging). I am confused as to what kind of battery I can put in there. Should it be another deep cycle battery and why? Can it be a regular car battery or another sealed battery so I don't have to mess with water? I only have one battery and for some reason it has not been able to hold a charge on the last two trips even after direct charging with a generator. I need to fix this before winter as it can't run the heater! Any suggestions would be welcome (brands, experience, etc.) Thanks!

mjgcamper

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Posted: 07/28/06 12:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Most deep cycle batteries are just a combination of a starting battery and a deep cycle. There are only a couple brands that are truely a deep cycle. Trojan is one of them, and you need to choose the biggest one that still fits nto the compartment.

The maintenance free type batteries do not have as many true life cycles as a true deep cycle battery. Trojans are the ones that you need to mess with water refilling, but, you should only use distilled water only. Number of life cycles are the number of times a battery will cycle at 50 percent discharges and then recharges. Trojan has a higher rating than most other wet cells. They are the least expensive per number of times it can be cycled, compared to other batteries. A gel cel type battery is better for those that don't like to keep them fully charged all the time, because they will get far less damage from this type of neglect. Gel cells are more sensative to overcharges and can be damaged that way. Plus it needs a charger that can be set for a particular voltage setting for gel.

Last but no less important, is the fact that a good wet cell battery can be damaged from an overcharge if you allow the electrolyte (water) to boil down below the lead plates. It can also be damaged from letting it sit discharged for any lenght of time. In any case you need a good charger that knows when to shut down and when to start charging.


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Raften

Northern Calfornia

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Posted: 07/28/06 12:07am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You didn't say how old the battery is but as far as I can tell, most any deep cycle over 2.5 years old is suspect. They don't seem to last much longer than that and still put out enough power.

You mentioned the heater. Get as much battery reserve as you can because the fan just drains batteries. Best bet is to get an Olympic cat heater. Just my opinions of course and I am sure there are lots of others that feel differently.


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vanbikehorse

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Posted: 07/28/06 05:59am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Make sure you have a good three stage charger and then pick a strategy. I'm thinking there are three, but there may be variations.

1. Conventional deep cycle. Cheapest and most available to buy; lasts the shortest period of time.

2. Dual 6 volt "Golf Cart" type. Not much more $ to get, availablity limited (in terms of just driving into a store and buying. Lasts longer.

3. Gel Cells. A lot more $. Availability limited (except Pep Boys is Carrying now). Lasts the longest.

I go for the first one. I'm starting my 5th year with them and they still seem to hold a charge fine. I check charge/water 4 times a year.


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3D

Tennessee - but have itchy feet

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Posted: 07/28/06 07:29am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Keep it simple. Get a good deep cycle group 31 battery (read - not marine deep cycle) and not the ABS or sealed type. Then if you have the space and funds go buy another one. Even better, if you have the funds now, buy two golf cart T-105 6-volt batteries which will provide ample capacity for your fan. Either way buy a decent three stage charger (Schumacher from WM and wish I did have stock in them).
You did not state how you are charging the battery you currently have, but if you are not charging it properly, it will not hold a charge. If you have not checked either the electrolyte specific gravity with a hydrometer or measured the voltage after charging, then you are wasting your time. You must know what the battery state is whether you use the old one or buy a new one.

mjgcamper

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Posted: 07/28/06 08:06am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Gels do not have as many life cycles as a good deep cycle electrolyte battery. But, and this is a big however, a gel will last longer if your in the habit of neglecting your batteries and leaving them in a discharged state.


In any case you don't want a maintanence free type battery, they cannot take deep discharges due to the thinner plates. The number of cycles of a maintanence free car starting battery for example, is as little as 4 or 5 times, but some wet cell T's can take up to 2000 times. This requires having a good automatic charger, and never leaving them in a discharged state for any length of time

A gel is around 400 times. Keep in mind this for 50% discharges, more than that usually means less life cycles.

Surferkim

Sunset Cliffs,San Diego,Ca.

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Posted: 07/28/06 08:24am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My vote is for a AGM, have one and Love it...


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Reddog1

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Posted: 07/28/06 08:36am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Claybe - Most people really do not know the real differences in batteries, actually not even the different types. I would encourage you to do a search on "batteries", on rv.net. There is so much to know about batteries, and it can be a big expense. If you only limit yourself to post that have been made, or will be made on this thread, you might as well just draw straws.

Each of the deep cycle batteries has their pros and cons. To begin with, for camper applications there are really three batteries (deep cycle) worth considering; flooded wet cell (most common), gel (not too common) and Absorbed Glass Mat (very common).


Flooded Wet Cell- Overall the least expensive initially, but usually (not always) the most expensive in the long run. Most fail due to improper long-term storage, improper charging and/or lack of maintenance (water) they require a vented area. They occasionally need a special charging process, or their life will be greatly shortened. Must be mounted with the water filler caps up.

Gel - Very expensive. Pretty good long-term investment. No maintenance required, but very picky on charging. Standard RV charging equipment will require modification to work well with Gel batteries. I may stand corrected, but I do not think they require a vented area. Although they can mount in various positions, I have read that the gel inside the battery can develop air pockets, which can cause premature battery failure. They appear to be less and less popular. I think due to the charging requirements.

Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) - Very expensive. Said to be the best return for the money long term. NO MAINTENANCE period. AGMs are in fact a wet cell battery, and use the same charging process (and equipment) as the flooded wet cell. The only exception is the AGM rarely needs to be equalized. They use no water and can be mounted in any position, and frequently mounted in non-vented areas. They are the best for long-term storage; because of the length of time they hold a charge.

Like most subjects, there is a lot to know, and lots of misinformation. If you really want to know, do a search.

After many hours of research, I prefer and use a 100 amp Lifeline AGM.

EDIT: This is a good place to start The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)


Wayne

* This post was edited 07/28/06 09:00am by Reddog1 *



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Surferkim

Sunset Cliffs,San Diego,Ca.

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Posted: 07/28/06 09:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wayne, great post, informative, thanks, Kim

WarrenS

Cypress, CA, USA

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Posted: 07/28/06 09:25am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was killing a battery about once per year. I started with a Trojan went to an AGM, then an Interstate RV deep cycle. Leaving the camper plugged in with the factory installed Magnetek converter charger was overcharging them and not plugging it in would let them die and sit dead.

I installed a Progressive Dynamics PD9160 with the optional Charge Wizard and a new Kirkland (Costco) RV deep cycle battery. Not only has my battery lasted longer (about a year and a half now) but it's still holding a charge as well as it did new. Even now, a charge lasts longer than any of the others did even when they were new. I attribute this to the charger, not the battery.


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