Time for yet another new battery. - Fiberglass RV

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Old 03-03-2016, 10:28 AM   #1
Senior Member
Name: Patrick
Trailer: R-Vision Trail Lite
New York
Posts: 605
Time for yet another new battery.

I have been reading a lot about batteries for my travel trailer.
After much research I have focused in on AGM type deep cell units.
Amazon has an Excide brand AGM with a 100 AH rating for a little over $200.
The battery comes with a two year free replacement warranty.
Lithium batteries are also worth considering but availability and cost are a concern. I want something that will last.
Last year I purchased a group 27 size deep cell standard liquid acid battery made by interstate. It came with a one year replacement warranty. It discharged to about zero on two occasions when parked without power and no real load...
not good...I was so upset that I returned it at the end of camping season last November and insisted on a full refund not a replacement. Since I purchased it at a Walmart the refund was not a problem.

I plan on having my trailer's electrical system checked to make sure that the rapid discharge of last year's battery was not caused by my converter or some other system failure. I will do this before I buy another battery.

First question is what battery to buy...right now I am focused on an AGM type.
Second question is am I missing anything else that could cause battery failure.
My goal is to buy the right battery with a long life expectancy and not spend a fortune.

Any and all advise appreciated. Thank You.

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Old 03-03-2016, 11:39 AM   #2
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Casita 17 ft DLX SD
NW Wisconsin
Posts: 3,212
Is the converter / battery charger in your trailer compatible with an AGM battery ?.

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Old 03-03-2016, 12:38 PM   #3
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Name: Patrick
Trailer: R-Vision Trail Lite
New York
Posts: 605
My research into AGM batteries indicated that they are the same acid based technology but are sealed units using Asorbed Glass Matt technology resulting in a sealed "no leak" unit and produce higher AH ratings. They also require no routine maintenance like liquid acid batteries.
User reviews indicate a high satisfaction index only complaints were about price.
Amazon takes some of the sting out of the price factor. Because they are sealed and do not leak they can be shipped via UPS or FedEx.

Technology is changing the world we live in at a fast pace...keeping up is a full time job.
The complex electrical system in the average RV is very complex with two voltages to deal with and automatic change over when we plug into "shore-power"
I do not understand it so rely on RV dealers for their service knowledge.

By early April I hope to have this all worked out and be on the road again...it has been a long winter.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:48 PM   #4
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Casita 17 ft DLX SD
NW Wisconsin
Posts: 3,212
The wiring systems in an RV are actually fairly simple. You have 2 systems 12VDC and 120 VAC . The wiring in most trailer's is old technology and the code requirements for a trailer are far less stringent than standard building wiring.
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Old 03-03-2016, 12:59 PM   #5
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Name: Patrick
Trailer: R-Vision Trail Lite
New York
Posts: 605
My Dad was an electrician but his knowledge was not passed on in our DNA.
If he had not passed on many years ago I'd just ask him how to test my converter. My recent battery charging/dis-charging mystery is to be found first in testing the charging feature of the onboard converter...if not that then broaden the search to locate the problem. If no problem is found then it was the now defunct battery.

Either way I need a good battery. On that subject my guide has always been:
"Buy The Best...you'll never be disappointed " (well almost never).

The newest in battery technology is the Lithum Battery. They however can cause fire or so I have heard. They seem to be used most in solar systems and carry a prohibitive price tag. I don't want to go there!
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:32 PM   #6
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Name: Carl
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5.0TA
Posts: 1,070
A battery should not "discharge to zero" for no reason. Could be slow drain in storage, e.g., a propane detector. The best thing to do is to disconnect the battery and put a smart trickle charger on it when not in use, such as a Battery Minder or a Battery Tender. You should be able to get 3-4 or more years out of a properly cared for RV battery.

Sent from my iPhone using Fiberglass RV
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:34 PM   #7
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Casita 17 ft DLX SD
NW Wisconsin
Posts: 3,212
I was an electrician for over 40 years and my son had no desire to follow me in the trade . He told me many times that he had no intentions to work that hard and get that dirty in order to make a living. Now that he has purchased a home his outlook has changed.
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Old 03-03-2016, 01:59 PM   #8
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Name: Floyd
Trailer: 2004 13 ft Scamp Custom Deluxe
Posts: 6,537
My vote is to continue using Lead Acid Deep Cycle batteries for these small Fiberglass RVs. They are cheap and reliable.
If you have concerns about voltage drop during storage, you should be sure that the battery is clean on top, full above the plates with water, and fully charged before storage.
You could install a kill switch to assure no load loss, or simply remove the fuse at the battery for storage.
A good battery, properly stored should not require a charger for a few months of storage, but if you wish to, then there are "battery tenders" on the market which claim to maintain batteries while in storage.

I just got back from a five week trip and found that my Ford Escape started vigorously. That was with all the "keep alive" losses inherent with a late model car. My '66 Falcon had no "keep alive" power except for an aftermarket radio and it started every spring after several months in storage.
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Old 03-03-2016, 03:02 PM   #9
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Name: John
Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500
Posts: 837
I just returned from a 5 week trip with our Trillium 4500. For a 1-week portion of the trip, we dry camped and successfully used a Optima Yellow Top AGM battery.

Background: In preparation for the trip, I tested the battery by fully charging it with a CTEK smart charger, then subjecting it to the predicted load in the camper over a one week period. During the test, I took periodic battery voltage readings with a multimeter. This test discharged the battery down to 50%. The battery performance during the trip yielded similar results.
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Old 03-04-2016, 08:40 AM   #10
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Name: Darral
Trailer: Scamp Standard 13' 2010
Posts: 1,547
You can also use a cheap Harbor Freight (or any other) volt meter and set it to check amps. Mine you set on "10A" and move the probe over one hole. Undo one of the battery cables and just put the meter inline- one probe on the cable, the other on the battery terminal. If you get readings, then you definitely have something "live" inside your trailer pulling on the battery.

Floyd and others have installed an "on/off" switch to prevent this. I have never used a switch but never had a problem with my battery dying-- well except when I left the fridge on a couple of times and pulled it down completely. And yes, I can tell it has been reduced in capacity. But still, that battery is still going after 6 yrs. I also keep a $25 Battery Tender plugged up to it year/round.

One thing to keep in mind, I'm not a boondocker so I dont rely heavily on my battery...other than just lights etc when I go down to my Scamp periodically.
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Old 03-04-2016, 08:49 AM   #11
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Name: jim
Trailer: 2016 2ndGen Escape19 Prairie Schooner pulled by 2014 Dodge Ram Hemi Sport
Posts: 6,428
A good battery disconnect switch would prevent parasitic draw during storage and a small solar panel should keep your battery charged during storage.
Never in doubt, often wrong
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:20 AM   #12
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Name: Glenn ( second 'n' is silent )
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B '08 RAV4 SPORT V6
British Columbia
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
A good battery disconnect switch would prevent parasitic draw during storage and a small solar panel should keep your battery charged during storage.
Cheap and lazy solution is to just disconnect one of the battery terminals.
What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:46 AM   #13
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Name: kevin
Trailer: 13' Scamp
Posts: 170

You were looking for advice to keep your batteries from abuse. Here it goes.

1. Always keep battery fully charged.
2.. Buy a small solar panel to maintain the battery when in storage. Buy a bigger panel if you want to boondock.
3. If you are using the original converter to charge the battery, junk it and buy a modern one. Those old ones are designed specifically to kill batteries. Don't be afraid of installation. Just connect positive to positive and negative to negative on both the 120 AC side and 12 V DC side. Super simple.
4. No point in buying an AGM battery unless you are going to take care of it using the steps above.
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:55 AM   #14
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Name: David
Trailer: 1998 Casita 17 SD
Posts: 673
You mentioned Lithium batteries. All I can say is if you have never seen a lipo fire, just youtube it. I would not like in a casita where the battery is under MY head. The charging system for a lead acid battery can be a pretty crude device to computer controlled device with multiple charge steps and nothing really bad will happen other than killing a battery(yes you can have a blown up battery, but pretty rare). A Lipo charger is very specific charging scheme and if its not followed, you will have a fire, period. Even under perfect conditions, sh-t happens and lipos are not forgiving at all. They also do not recover from over discharge at all. Anything below 3volts /cell and most lipo chargers will not even try to charge.

I fly Electric RC airplanes and have been using lipo's for about 12 years no and sold chargers, batteries and everything to do with the hobby use of these batteries plus I am an electronics tech by trade.

As for your lack of knowledge about electrical testing, then youtube has you covered.

Every owner of a trailer should have a meter and know the basics of how to use one. It doesn't have to be a $300 fluke meter, a $6 Harbor Freight meter will do most jobs just fine.

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