Hot battery! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-17-2009, 11:11 PM   #1
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Okay, I am asking this for a woman (and her dogs) camped across from me tonight. When I pulled in, I couldn't believe there was a Casita RIGHT across from me (Llano River State Park, TX, beautiful!). So I went over to check it out, of course, seeing my first Casita in real life (exciting!). Anyway, she was telling me and showed me that her battery had gotten REALLY hot! She bought her Casita new in 2003 and has never had this problem before, the battery is two years old. She showed me how she has it on only the right power source and all, but cannot figure out why it had gotten so hot. Anyone with any info? I will let her know in the morning what all you fine people have for advice. Thank you!
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Old 04-18-2009, 07:44 AM   #2
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Water Level May Be Low and it's charging itself to death. Or Maybe had the heater constantly on inside the trailer with constant draw on the battery ...... or maybe the converter is overcharging. get one of those plug in type voltmeter's and be sure it's charging at or around 13.5 volts. if no tester unplug the converter from the outside a/c current and see if it cools down....there could be other things but this is the first that comes to mind. If it gets too hot to the touch the battery could explode.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:02 AM   #3
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My first thought would be that the battery is shot. Normally, when a battery is being charged it is normal for it to get a little warm, but it should never get hot. If it is hot, it generally tells you that the plates have shorted together internally and is no longer usable. When the plates ground out together, the charger "thinks" that the battery voltage is low, so, being the dumb machine that it is, just keeps trying to charge it up. The problem is that the battery will no longer accept the charge and all the energy is being wasted as heat. This causes the battery casing to become hot and indicates that the battery is shot. I would suggest also disconnecting it from the charger until it is replaced so that it doesn't burst open or cause a fire.

When you take it in for a replacement battery, also have them check your charging circuit's output voltage, which should be between 13.8 ~ 14.0 volts. This charging current should drop down eventually to a steady charge rate of approx. 13.7 ~ 13.8 volts as a float. Just a guess, but I'm thinking that with the age of her Casita, that she has the older model 6300 series converter installed. These (and also the newer 7300 series converters as well) are not three stage chargers. Simply put, they should not be left on continuously, or they will fry any battery if left on for long periods, particularly when a trailer is laid up for winter storage for example.

I'm inclined to think that the charger is fine, but has been left on too much for too long, and replacing the battery should correct the problem. In the future, charging cycles should be limited to just a few days a month when the trailer is not in active use (storage periods), and not left on continuously as many tend to do. And keeping an eye on the water level in the battery is also a good idea. Overcharging is the single biggest killer of batteries that I know of.
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Old 04-18-2009, 11:26 AM   #4
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If she's hooked up to 120V she doesn't need the battery, so she can unhook the ground cable from battery until she can get it checked out. the ground would be the minus mark on the battery. I agree with Greg, its on its way out although adding water may help. Actually if she doesn't do any dry camping she doesn't need a battery at all, I ran without one for about 6 months with no battery.
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Old 04-18-2009, 09:43 PM   #5
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Unhooking the battery may not work because some converters will not function if there is no battery connected.
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:26 AM   #6
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It doesn't have any affect on it one way or the other with either the 6300 series or 7300 series converters (and Magnetek too, which by the way, is now also part of Parallax). A battery isn't required with the converter as long as you have shore power. All your 12vdc power will come from converted shore power, even if the battery is hooked up. The battery, if installed, only supplies power when no shore power is present. The battery really does nothing while hooked up to shore power, other than recharge itself, so whether it is hooked up or not doesn't matter one iota.
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Old 04-19-2009, 11:01 AM   #7
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How hot is hot? Was the battery too hot to touch, or is the case simply bulged out a bit on the end, or is there some other evidence of overheating?

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Old 04-19-2009, 02:06 PM   #8
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Greg, some converters *require* the battery to be connected because they are using it as a filter on some of the circuits. Depends on the converter design. It's more than just charging the battery. One would have to consult the owner's manual for the particular converter to find out if this is a factor.
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Old 04-19-2009, 06:29 PM   #9
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Hi Pete,

Back up on top of this thread, in the very first post, it was stated that the trailer with the converter problem is said to be a 2003 Casita. I believe that these trailers, in that year, used the 6300 series converters, which do not require a battery attached in order to function. I'm not sure what Scamp installs in their trailers, not being a Scamp owner, but I'll defer to you on those since you have one, and I believe that you probably know your rig pretty well. But with either a 6300 or 7300 series converter, the Casita shouldn't have any trouble running 12vdc loads without the battery installed.

By the way, just to satisfy my own curiosity, what converters does Scamp install in their power distribution setups?

Dan,

To answer your question on "How hot is too hot?". If your battery reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F (or higher), then you've fried it and it is thereafter "toast", as in "time for a new one". Also, if the sides are bulging I would definitely remove it from any further service ASAP. Hope this helps.

Greg
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Old 04-19-2009, 07:36 PM   #10
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Hi Pete,

Back up on top of this thread, in the very first post, it was stated that the trailer with the converter problem is said to be a 2003 Casita. I believe that these trailers, in that year, used the 6300 series converters, which do not require a battery attached in order to function. I'm not sure what Scamp installs in their trailers, not being a Scamp owner, but I'll defer to you on those since you have one, and I believe that you probably know your rig pretty well. But with either a 6300 or 7300 series converter, the Casita shouldn't have any trouble running 12vdc loads without the battery installed.

By the way, just to satisfy my own curiosity, what converters does Scamp install in their power distribution setups?

Dan,

To answer your question on "How hot is too hot?". If your battery reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F (or higher), then you've fried it and it is thereafter "toast", as in "time for a new one". Also, if the sides are bulging I would definitely remove it from any further service ASAP. Hope this helps.

Greg
Many times when the battery gets too hot it will smell like rotten eggs (sulfuric acid) thats when they are really cooked
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Old 04-19-2009, 08:42 PM   #11
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A hot battery, eh? My first thought was, I wonder where she stole it.
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Old 04-20-2009, 08:46 PM   #12
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Greg, I don't know what converter Scamp installs -- And they have definitely changed over the years.

My 1991 came with a transformer-style stand-alone Magnatek with internal 12VDC fuse block and the 120VAC wiring totally separate, but I ditched that years ago in favor of a real battery charger (after salvaging the fuse block). Scamp currently uses converters that include both the fuse block and the 120VAC setup, so there's less wiring to be done.

There's no guarantee that any manufacturer will install the same off-the-shelf product in any two units, even in the same year, which is why I am hesitant about broad statements. That seems to hold true for fridges, furnaces, water heaters and converters.
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:07 AM   #13
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>snip<

By the way, just to satisfy my own curiosity, what converters does Scamp install in their power distribution setups?

Dan,

To answer your question on "How hot is too hot?". If your battery reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F (or higher), then you've fried it and it is thereafter "toast", as in "time for a new one". Also, if the sides are bulging I would definitely remove it from any further service ASAP. Hope this helps.

Greg
Hi Greg

The converter in my 2000 Scamp was a MagneTek 6700 series. I replaced it with a Parallax Power bolt-in replacement a little over a year ago. It went bad after one season. I'm now using a NAPA automatic battery charger to keep the battery ready-to-go.

About battery temperature, what you are saying is if the battery is too hot to touch, it's too hot.

FWIW, I've seen brand-new plastic cased batteries with ends that bulge out a bit. I can't believe this is a problem. If the sides are bulging, there is likely a structural failure of the case and it is time to remove the battery from service.

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Old 04-22-2009, 10:12 AM   #14
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Hi Dan,

Yes,
While a slight warming during charging is normal, if you can't comfortably keep your hand on the surface of your battery, it is way too hot (not a good thing), and should be a strong indicator that either the charge rate is too high, or at that level for too long, or also possibly from a battery which is internally grounded out (shorted plates), causing the charger to think that it is low and needs more charging, so it just keeps trying to pump more current into it. (Hey, it's just a dumb machine and it doesn't know any better.)

If your battery's casing is bulging, it is building up excessive pressure, which is generally a result of heat expansion caused by overcharging (gassing). When a battery begins to "gas", it is telling you that you are exceeding the battery's charging rate, which is too high. Stated a little differently, a battery can only absorb a certain amount of charging current at once. A good analogy is to think of trying to get a drink from a fire hose. Once a battery's absorption rate has been exceeded it begins to gas. While bulging is most commonly seen in so-called "sealed" batteries, because they can't dissipate this gas (hydrogen) fast enough, it also occurs in wet cell batteries too when they are charged too rapidly. This condition can be very dangerous, due to the potential for the battery to explode. High pressure, excessive heat, and hydrogen gas, combined with a sealed container...BAM!

Any battery which exhibits swelling, bulging, cracking, or other structural deformities, should be removed from service right away. It could ruin your whole day having a battery explode in your face spewing you with acid! Many have been blinded and severely burned by it happening. Stay safe friend!

Greg
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