Battery maintenance - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-30-2013, 04:14 PM   #1
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Battery maintenance

I have read HandyBob and understand what he is about.

The RV Battery Charging Puzzle HandyBob's Blog

It seems that vitriol aside, he is pretty well educated on the subject.

I found this by a manufacturer of AGM batteries which pretty much backs up HB's information.

http://www.energy1batteries.com/Tech...cteristics.pdf

And this which points out that our built-in chargers don't work very well:

Charge Wizard RV Battery Charging and Battery Monitoring Products from Progressive Dynamics

Notice that this "wizard", which you have to pay extra for, simply times these things.

No wonder ole Bob is so vitriolic.

And the PD4045 found in the Scamp is even worse, NEVER doing any true "Boost mode". I found this true by simply monitoring the voltage on my brand new golf cart batteries as I initially plugged in the PD4045 to AC. It went straight to 13.6v.

Sigh.

Which means I am already damaging my batteries by failing to ever charge them to "full". Notice that PD specifically states that "The Charge Wizard has been shown to increase the battery life by 2 to 3 times or more.", IOW that their other chargers will damage our batteries.

Don't ya just love an honest manufacturer.

Of course increasing the battery life, of a battery being damaged by incorrect charging, by a factor of 2 or 3 is somewhat unimpressive.

Notice that the PDF from the AGM manufacturer specifically states that the charge voltage duration needs to be programmable. And the PD "wizard" is not.

I have never seen this subject discussed on this board. Lots of "just use the PD4045", which seems like really bad advice. I have one and want to find a solution that will really work.

I intend to go get some solar panels and a true programmable charge controller, but the problem is that does nothing for the plugged in to AC state "sitting in the shade" which is my normal position at the camp host spot at the campground. The solar panels will likely never really charge things up, though one never knows.

AFAIK none of the programmable charge controllers for use with solar arrays will accept AC and use that to CREATE DC to feed to the batteries. And none of the AC powered chargers (that I have found) are programmable.

So what's a guy to do? And why, in 2013, are we buying brand new Scamps from the factory with PD4045 charge controllers guaranteed by the manufacturer Progressive Dynamics to damage our batteries?

I would love to discuss options in a non-confrontational manner because I want to be able to unhook from AC power and expect my costly golf cart batteries to be fully charged and undamaged, ready to provide me with 110 AH of power.
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Old 09-30-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
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Gee, the batteries in my large fifth-wheel (two parallel 12V, maybe group 27 size) and my motorhome (two series 6V, similar size) all seem to be working fine after a few years of living on Progressive Dynamics converter/chargers. When I'm in them and using power, I can see the mode changes in the brightness of the lights and the speed of the furnace fan - they're not just sitting on maintenance mode. The trailer has a Charge Wizard accessory; the motorhome has the same functionality built in. They are the 60-amp model, which works the same way as the 45-amp model.

From my reading of these discussions, the issue with the PD charger seems to be with some specific AGM batteries.

I'm surprised a Scamp doesn't come with something cheaper than the PD9245; this is pretty radical technology for them.


What about my Boler? That one has no onboard charger at all (just charges from the tug or at home on a portable charger), so it doesn't help this discussion.
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Old 09-30-2013, 04:48 PM   #3
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I think you will find,as you likely already know that it is just about the money.

The standard RV converter has ac and dc power distribution,battery charging and power supply duties all in one box.
That is a big job and as with many things in the RV world adequate performance at low cost seems to trump high performance every time.

I look to the Marine environment where the stakes are a lot higher and the performance is more critical in general and the breadth of better designed options is much bigger.
The operating voltages are the same but the battery banks often bigger and more expensive and there is a lot more variety there and most is well proven too.

I use Xantrex chargers mostly.
I also have some Guest chargers and look forward to getting something like this:

Pro Mariner Pro Nautic 1230P 30 Amp 3 Bank Battery Charger

Which has different charging profiles for different battery types.

Many chargers can also operate as power supplies which is essentially what the converter is.

There is a lot of good info on this site too and understanding battery systems can seem confusing until you research things a while.
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Old 09-30-2013, 04:51 PM   #4
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John, you may have already read/seen it but The 12 volt Side of Life does talk about the pros and cons of various set ups.
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:05 PM   #5
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I agree with Brian. We had a PD converter with a Charge Wizard on our motorhome charging two 6 volt Trojan 105s. The batteries were 14 years old when we sold the motorhome and were working just fine.

Before LEDs, you would see the lights visibly brighten when the converter jumped to a measured 14.4 volts as directed by the Charge Wizard. I will say except when boondocking, the batteries were always on the converter even when idling for the summer in NH.

The converter also charged the Bounder's truck battery, a less sturdy battery. We replaced the first truck battery after 8 years after it 'jumped' off it's mounting tray while coming down the Chaco Canyon road.

I consider 14 years to be worth the charge wizard and justification for installation in our Scamp while upgrading.
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Harris View Post
The standard RV converter has ac and dc power distribution,battery charging and power supply duties all in one box.
That is a big job and as with many things in the RV world adequate performance at low cost seems to trump high performance every time.
I guess my quibble is with the definition of 'adequate'. When the manufacturer selling you the 'wizard' is telling you that if you don't buy the wizard then their charger will damage your batteries...

Read their own 'wizard' literature carefully.

Apparently charging at 13.6 volts will never fully charge the battery, or even come close. AFAICT the charger in my scamp maxes at 13.6 v. And fixing the problem is a simple matter of raising the bulk charge voltage.
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
I guess my quibble is with the definition of 'adequate'. When the manufacturer selling you the 'wizard' is telling you that if you don't buy the wizard then their charger will damage your batteries...

Read their own 'wizard' literature carefully.

Apparently charging at 13.6 volts will never fully charge the battery, or even come close. AFAICT the charger in my scamp maxes at 13.6 v. And fixing the problem is a simple matter of raising the bulk charge voltage.
I agree really.

The mindset that tells you the "Wizard" is essential also somehow sells the units without them?

Sort of hard for me to trust anything they say?
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:46 PM   #8
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Norm, 'working just fine' has a specific definition. If I buy golf cart batteries rated at 220 ah then 'working just fine' means getting 110 ah out of them before reaching 1/2 discharge state. Anything less is by definition NOT working just fine. HB is correct in that it takes charging at the manufacturer's rated charge voltages to correctly charge a battery. The battery type is really irrelevant.

So when you say they 'worked just fine' i assume you mean they provided enough power for your requirements. That definition 'works' (for you) but it doesn't mean that the batteries were performing at their full capabilities.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:14 PM   #9
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John,

Running fine to me means meeting the needs of a boondocking motorhome. I do recognize that having a 3300 watt generator that ran for short periods every day is different from trailer boondocking.

I can say the quiescent current draw of a boondocking motorhome is significant: non Led Lamps, control boards on everything, TV/Sat dish amplifier, 400 watt inverter for running TV, charging phones and computers, propane detector, CO detector, running propane heater fan.

The batteries easily supplied our needs backed up with the ability to run the generator each day to recharge. To me that's what I define as working fine. Meeting our needs means the batteries easily met the requirements of boondocking in the motorhome for some 14 years averaging 7 months a year on the road and never needed to be replaced...just add distlled water.

In the third year of the batteries' life we discharged the batteries well below 50% and they recoverd just fine and were used for 11 more years. Did they always have 100% charge? I really don't know but I do know they did the job.

I don't know what charge voltage you require but the 14.4 volts seems to be adequate for Trojan 105s.
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:37 PM   #10
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John
I thought Scamp was now installing PD-9130s. That's what my 2011 S-16 has and I think that's what the literature says they are installing. The PD-9130 is a single voltage charger. I had to buy the $25 charge wizard pendant to make my PD-9130 a 4 stage smart charger. Are you sure you have a PD4045.
Eddie
Just checked, The PD-9130 is what they sell in their parts store.
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:59 PM   #11
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Norm,

Here is what Trojan says.

Trojan Battery Company


Notice that it does not say 14.4 is "adequate" for flooded cell batteries.

The following discusses maintenance.

Trojan Battery Company

It has an interesting chart at the bottom that discusses the charge state at specific voltages.

My point is that MY charger, in MY Scamp does not EVER charge at even 14.4 volts, never mind the 14.8 recommended.

I disconnected the AC and left 3 LEDs running for a couple of hours. Then waited several hours, then measured and my batteries were at 12.65 V. Pretty good right?

Wellll... how about roughly 90% After a drain of .6 amps for three hours? 1.8 ah drain on a 220 ah battery leaves me with 90%? I have been plugged in for two months!

I will admit this is very unscientific (before I read this page) and I will be doing more testing using their recommendations. My point though is that MY charger simply has NO adjust-ability and apparently seems destined to ruin my batteries if I don't do something.

So apparently I go buy a new charger, throw away the one I already paid for, and do a lot of work swapping out.

So with all due respect Norm, "did the job" is just about meaningless. Did "a" job, "provided some power for awhile", backed up by the ability to fire up the generator...

We have no idea whether you fired up the generator twice as often as you really should have had to, if you see what I mean.

And I hope you will pardon me if I don't jump right on buying another unit from PD who admits right in their wizard advertisement that I have to buy their add on wizard or their own unit will not do an adequate job and will probably ruin my batteries.

Even WITH the wizard we are in trouble.

From their literature:

"The addition of the Charge Wizard makes your 9100 Series converter an intelligent battery charger that will safely and rapidly recharge a discharged battery by selecting the Boost Mode (14.4V) of operation. Once the battery reaches 90% of full charge, the Charge Wizard automatically selects the Normal Mode (13.6V) to safely complete the charge."

Notice that their "boost mode" is only 14.4 volts, NOT the Trojan recommendation of 14.8V. Notice that their "normal mode" is 13.6V when the Trojan chart says that a 100% charged battery needs to be 13.73V. How exactly is 13.6v applied to the battery EVER going to "finish" charging it to 13.73 volts?

I've been in electronics for 30 years and there's something fishy here. Actually nothing fishy, PD has simply implemented a "close enough for government work" solution IF you buy the charge wizard.

And so I am looking for a discussion of equipment that really implements the battery manufacturers' charging recommendations. This board has amazing expertise and I am hoping to get that flowing.
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:07 PM   #12
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Eddie, not sure. My new to me Scamp is a 2009 and I thought I had the older one. I will look at my manual again. Am I supposed to feel better that Scamp now sells a single stage that you can spend an extra $25 to get a 4 stage that still does not do the right job?
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
Norm,

I disconnected the AC and left 3 LEDs running for a couple of hours. Then waited several hours, then measured and my batteries were at 12.65 V. Pretty good right?
Not to me ;-) my question would be what was the resting reading on your battery prior to running that test? Is this battery new or just new to you and any chance its been run down to below 11.9 a few times before you got it.... in which case it will drain a lot faster than a well maintained battery.

I hear you though in regards to smart charges vs not so smart charges.
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:23 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jwcolby54 View Post
Norm,

Here is what Trojan says.

Trojan Battery Company


Notice that it does not say 14.4 is "adequate" for flooded cell batteries.

The following discusses maintenance.

Trojan Battery Company

It has an interesting chart at the bottom that discusses the charge state at specific voltages.

My point is that MY charger, in MY Scamp does not EVER charge at even 14.4 volts, never mind the 14.8 recommended.

I disconnected the AC and left 3 LEDs running for a couple of hours. Then waited several hours, then measured and my batteries were at 12.65 V. Pretty good right?

Wellll... how about roughly 90% After a drain of .6 amps for three hours? 1.8 ah drain on a 220 ah battery leaves me with 90%? I have been plugged in for two months!

I will admit this is very unscientific (before I read this page) and I will be doing more testing using their recommendations. My point though is that MY charger simply has NO adjust-ability and apparently seems destined to ruin my batteries if I don't do something.

So apparently I go buy a new charger, throw away the one I already paid for, and do a lot of work swapping out.

So with all due respect Norm, "did the job" is just about meaningless. Did "a" job, "provided some power for awhile", backed up by the ability to fire up the generator...

We have no idea whether you fired up the generator twice as often as you really should have had to, if you see what I mean.

And I hope you will pardon me if I don't jump right on buying another unit from PD who admits right in their wizard advertisement that I have to buy their add on wizard or their own unit will not do an adequate job and will probably ruin my batteries.

Even WITH the wizard we are in trouble.

From their literature:

"The addition of the Charge Wizard makes your 9100 Series converter an intelligent battery charger that will safely and rapidly recharge a discharged battery by selecting the Boost Mode (14.4V) of operation. Once the battery reaches 90% of full charge, the Charge Wizard automatically selects the Normal Mode (13.6V) to safely complete the charge."

Notice that their "boost mode" is only 14.4 volts, NOT the Trojan recommendation of 14.8V. Notice that their "normal mode" is 13.6V when the Trojan chart says that a 100% charged battery needs to be 13.73V. How exactly is 13.6v applied to the battery EVER going to "finish" charging it to 13.73 volts?

I've been in electronics for 30 years and there's something fishy here. Actually nothing fishy, PD has simply implemented a "close enough for government work" solution IF you buy the charge wizard.

And so I am looking for a discussion of equipment that really implements the battery manufacturers' charging recommendations. This board has amazing expertise and I am hoping to get that flowing.

Question for you.
You're quoting readings to 2 decimal points. When was the last time that meter was calibrated? How accurate is it?

Actually I think you're tying to split hairs.

FYI I retried from the electronic as EE after 45 years. I don't worry about actual charge voltages of my battery. My battery gets charge one of three ways, from a Battery Minder, A solar panel, or my Dodge Dakota 4.7l magnum, with tow package. Batteries are cheap enough that's it's no big deal to replace it every 5 or 7 years.
Fuss less camp more.
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