Gell Batteries - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-21-2013, 02:07 PM   #1
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Gell Batteries

I have not paid much attention to discussions involving gell batteries in the past. They just cost too much. But recently I have come across some cheep, (free). Gel batteries in 55, 65, and 75 Ahr sizes. They are not new, but in really good shape.
I have two 95 Ahr group 24 batteries on the tongue of my trailer. Since they produce hydrogen, when charging, keeping them outside makes sense. But it is my understanding that gel batteries do not do this. Is this true?
I would like to locate one of the gel batteries under the gaucho, right beside the 1000w inverter ($35) that will power my 700w microwave ($40). I have tested this arraignment in my basement, and it works.
I plan to parallel the gel battery with the two other batteries on my tongue. The point of this is so I can run short #2 wires between the gel battery and the inverter, while still charging it from the tow vehicle.
I would also like to install one of the gel batteries inside my van. This would be an accessory battery for the TV and sound system, for when the engine is not running.
Please comment on the advisability, or not, of this plan.
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:01 PM   #2
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What I want to know is how you get all these bargains.
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:16 PM   #3
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I played with gel cells years ago. I had a couple of 7 AHr batteries i used for lighting when the power went out. As I recall I had to build a constant current source to charge them. Raz
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Old 04-21-2013, 03:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
I have two 95 Ahr group 24 batteries on the tongue of my trailer. Since they produce hydrogen, when charging, keeping them outside makes sense. But it is my understanding that gel batteries do not do this. Is this true?
Valve-Regulated Lead Acid batteries - which includes gel and AGM types - do produce hydrogen like any lead-acid battery, but they keep it contained inside the battery and re-absorb it later. The valve only releases anything if the pressure gets too high; it is a safety release and should never let anything out in normal operation.
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Old 04-21-2013, 04:15 PM   #5
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I have one of the those recycled 50 amp hour gel batteries. I'm not sure I would want to charge it with tow vehicle. The charge rate might be way too high and cause it to overhear or safety valve to release.
I charge mine with my solar panel. The charge controller has a setting for sealed batteries, which limits the maximum voltage the battery is charged to. Since I'm only charging with 4 amps all works well.

The alternator system of a vehicle is designed to charge rapidly. Here's an example, when I got back after 3 months the group 24 cranking battery of my second vehicle was completely discharged. I removed the battery and connected it to my tow vehicle. Started the tow and within 1/2 that dead battery had a full charge. That's a pretty rapid charge rate. Be careful.

A better solution is to reduce your power usage or always stay at a place with electrical hookups. Reducing power usage isn't that difficult. We have been out for over 3 months at time the last 3 years. Total time with hookups about 7 nights spread over those 3 years. Battery - on 74 amp battery.

Sometimes it's a good idea to separate wants from needs.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:49 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Thomas G. View Post
What I want to know is how you get all these bargains.
I shop kijiji mostly. The 1000W inverter I got for $35 was exactly like this one:
XANTREX Power inverter 1000W - Edmonton Parts, Accessories For Sale - Kijiji Edmonton Canada.
but rarely, I buy new. The microwave was on sale at Walmart for $40. I bought two.
-In the case of the batteries, my brother works at a company that has several divisions. One division does stair chair lifts, wheel chair elevators, handicap scooters and wheel chairs. When someone's wheel chair run out of power, they call my brothers company, and when they get there, they change the battery. This battery may not have anything wrong with it, other then it is half discharged. Since they don't sell used batteries, they throw them away. Two of the batteries had demo written on them. Of the 9 gel batteries that they were disposing of, two had a voltage of ~4 VDC, so I left them there. The others were between 12.1 and 12.4VDC. So I took them home. After charging them with my 2A battery charger, I tested them with a battery tester. One is mediocre, but the rest are in good shape.
They also have a pallet of 7 Ahr batteries, from stair chair lifts, I think. At least half of the ones I tested were over 13VDC. What a waste!
There are at least three such companies in Calgary, and probably at least one in every city over 100000. That is a lot of wasted batteries.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:56 PM   #7
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David, are those really gel batteries? I would expect the applications which you listed - particularly the scooters and wheelchairs - to have AGM batteries. The risk of charging too rapidly with AGM is much lower than with gel.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:08 PM   #8
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We lived with solar and gel cell power for 8 years full time on our sailboat. They actually will take 14v when cold. We had a temperature compensated Morningstar controller. Make sure your controller has a setting for gel cells, or whatever type of battery you use. Each battery has its own preferences
We went gel for our battery in our Compact II, it is inside under the bed. It is charged by a roof mounted 20W panel ( all LED lights, socket to charge phones and iPads on mini-inverter). We are pretty minimalist.
We have no concern about hydrogen.
Congrats on your great find. The only drawback to gel is the initial price. We have had some last over 13 years and still going strong
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:32 AM   #9
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Picture of the batteries

These are the three sizes that I have.

I did a search on the biggest ones model number:
http://www.solarwyse.ca/batteries.html
http://dekavista.com/pages/duracell_specs.pdf

I went again today. Four more batteries to test.
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Batteries.jpg  
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Old 04-22-2013, 02:43 AM   #10
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So, what I am picking up from the discussion is that as long as I take care to charge the batteries at a low amperage, and the correct voltage, then I am correct that they should be OK to use inside the trailer, or the van.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 04-22-2013, 04:49 AM   #11
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I played with gel cells years ago. I had a couple of 7 AHr batteries i used for lighting when the power went out. As I recall I had to build a constant current source to charge them. Raz
This is incorrect. It's NiCads that I was thinking of. The gel cells were voltage charged.
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Old 04-22-2013, 05:54 AM   #12
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David

In addition to the different charging requirements that the new batteries may have,it is rarely a good idea to have mixed battery types wired together in a circuit delivering your power as well as being charged together.

There are even chargers sold that take this into account and offer different charge rate and type selection for more than 1 battery bank on a vehicle and this is what I would try to use and in fact what I do use.

Merely connecting batteries in parallel can be a bad choice even with batteries that should appear identical from the label,most batteries will be slightly different and the parallel connection provides both the charging performance and output delivery of the weakest battery from both of them as they are not isolated from each other at all.

Tis is why a battery isolator is used in a vehicle with multiple batteries usually so each can both work and be charged with little effect on the other.

There is a lot of good info out there about this and I would research it a lot more before going here even though the batteries were free.

Also all batteries can and will discharge gas when improperly charged.
Mixing battery types in a trailer being charged together could almost guarantee that some of them will not be charged properly,not a setup I would suggest.
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Old 04-22-2013, 08:27 AM   #13
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It would seem that these batteries are better suited for a solar install. So, anyone in the Calgary area who would like one cheep, (free) please contatct me. I will not ship them.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:48 PM   #14
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OK, I went with a volt meter this time. I had to return four of the small batteries that were really low voltage. I took all the batteries on the skid that were 55 Ahr, (2), 65 Ahr, (4), or 75 Ahr, (7) and a few 35 Ahr non jel batteries. Every one that was over 12 VDC.
I will stop now. I am just finding it difficult to cope with the obvious wasted resource. I have tested the batteries with my handy dandy Princess Auto, analog battery tester:
6/12V Battery Tester | Princess Auto

It can't be hooked up backwards. It doesn’t care. 50A,... OK what ever, I'm not going to calibrate it. It smells funny when you use it too much. When the only button is pushed it loads for thirty seconds, (also not confirmed), but is still reading voltage. Of the batteries recovered, the worst one dropped from 12.5 ish to 11.5 ish. over the course of about thirty seconds. Seems acceptable to me.

So, what I want to know is how, in this reduce, renew, recycle world is this allowed to happen? I mean, this is real value being completely wasted. We recycle the mountain of paper that is as waste goes, inert, if not beneficial. But we just callously toss literally tons of lead, a less benign substance. Yeah, I know it all gets recycled, buy why recycle perfectly good batteries. This is the first that I have looked into this, I doubt that this is an isolated event.
OK, I get it from a business perspective. There will be no profit margin, and it would compete with your bread and butter business, ain’t nobody got time for that.
There should be some way to divert resources from the waste stream.
Another example, also from my brothers company. They have to pay $50 a ton to dispose of dunnage, the wood that big stuff is packed with. He now knows to separate out the oak for our Friday night fires. That stuff burns HOT! I also get it from Engineered Air, a large roof mounted air conditioner manufacture. They have bins outside their gate. All their excess dunnage goes in them. They even cut it up into 16” lengths sometimes. I get 8' lengths of 4x4 oak. I could easily heat my house all winter long on the wood that I take home in the poop fly. Most of it goes to keeping me and my brother warm while we drink beer around a really big, really hot, fire. The police helicopter usually fly’s directly over my house at least once every Friday.
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