Death of a battery??? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-10-2013, 07:50 PM   #1
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Death of a battery???

Okay, I was dumb enough to schedule the state inspection for my rig for the first week in December. All trailer registrations in NY expire the end of December, so I thought I'd get the most for my money. Dumb move, since I was too lazy to pull the battery and bring it indoors for the winter after rinsing all the mud off the rig after the 25 mile round trip to the inspection station.

I finally had the inspiration to check the battery monitor last week. There was nothing to check. No lights, no LCD read out, the battery was dead. The battery in question is an LP12-35 SLA (sealed lead acid, 35 AH battery.)

I connected the shoreline and let the rig charge for 24 hours and then pulled the plug. I watched the monitor go from green light at 13.65 v to yellow light at 11.9 v with no load inside of about 5 minutes. Not a good sign.

I pulled the battery and brought it inside and let it warm up for about 8 hours before connecting my 2/10 amp charger at the 2 amp level for about 24 hours at which time the charger indicated a full charge. I pulled the charger and initial, no load voltage after 5 minutes was 13.4. 24 hours later, I checked again again and had 12.98. Another 24 hours and I am now reading 12.92.

Have I gotten lucky and resurrected this battery or will I have to replace it before the season starts? It used to run my refrigerator and LED lights for about 14 hours between two hour generator charges but, I'm not so confident now. I've inspected the case and found no bulges or cracks, but I'm hoping that someone with more experience (or someone who has made the same mistake) can advise.
Thanks
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:05 PM   #2
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You may get different readings under "load", i.e. operation. Check again then, you may be lucky. How old is the battery?
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:08 PM   #3
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Not the same issue but I had a wierd battery issue last week. I was using my tractor to move trailers around. I had started the tractor about 5-6 times that day and the battery was strong. I turned the tractor off and after about 5 min I tried to start it and it would not trun over. First I checked all the interlocks they were OK. Voltage was good. I checked the switch, selnoid and starter. The voltage was great until I hit the starter then voltage would drop to nothing. I cleaned all the cables and grounds. I put it on the charger and the charger indicated it was fully charged. After several hours of messing around I took it to the auto parts store and load tested it. Results, static voltage good, starting voltage zero and shorted cell. This was the first battery I had fail while I was using it. BTW the battery was 10 years old.

Eddie
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:12 PM   #4
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I'd say you got your money's worth, Eddie. My tractor batteries only lasted 4-5 years. But that was what I was trying to say, "under load" is the real test for a battery.
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:31 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
You may get different readings under "load", i.e. operation. Check again then, you may be lucky. How old is the battery?
The battery is about 15 months old. I guess I could reinstall and turn on the refrigerator and see how rapidly it discharged. Sound reasonable?
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:35 PM   #6
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yes, try it and then measure.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:03 PM   #7
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The sure way to know is either pick up a load checker (as at Harbor Freight, etc.) or have any automotive parts store check it. They will do it for free. Walmart can also do a load check.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:04 PM   #8
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[QUOTE=Brian M. in NY;368670 I pulled the charger and initial, no load voltage after 5 minutes was 13.4. 24 hours later, I checked again again and had 12.98. Another 24 hours and I am now reading 12.92.
Have I gotten lucky and resurrected this battery or will I have to replace it before the season starts? [/QUOTE]

The fact it stayed above 12.6 after resting is a good sign. How lucky you have gotten and how well it works/lasts under load in my experience has a lot to do with how many times it has been allowed to drop below 40%/11.9 previously. If more than a few times you may find its isnt giving you near as great of service as it did previously.

IMO age does come into play as well but as yours is still pretty new it shouldn't have much of an impact. I do a lot of off grid camping I have pretty well come to expect that a battery of more than 4 years of age even if I have been nice to it and have not allowed it to dropped below 40% is not going to perform as well as as I would like it to, so I replace it.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:36 PM   #9
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I have a load tester that I use to check batteries, cost was a little under $100 as I recall. When I worked on trucks that had 3 or 4 batteries we would load test them at every service. I had the same experience as Eddie last year at my part time job with their John Deere lawn tractor. Was running it for a couple hours, shut it off for 15 minutes, went to start it, and it wouldn't crank. After charging it and load testing it I found the battery was no good. You never know with batteries, they can last for several years, or fail in an instant. Some time back there was a discussion about battery maintainers or trickle chargers. I don't believe in having a charger connected for long term storage. I was just reading my current issue of "Auto Restorer", and the tech that answers readers questions stated that he had one cook a battery dry resulting in it exploding when he tried to start the car. It was a name brand battery maintainer. His opinion, don't do it, and you can't have an electrical fire if electricity is not present. Any batteries that I have in storage I will put a charger on every month or two, and only while I am present and awake. I installed a battery disconnect switch in our Uhaul for when we are not using it.
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Old 03-10-2013, 09:44 PM   #10
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I was having a similar problem in my van.
Before springing for another battery, I thought I would do a good cleaning/check of the terminals. The terminals at the battery weren't that bad, but I spent some time with my pocket knife, an old toothbrush and baking soda scraping and cleaning. Put it on the charger and so far haven't had any more trouble. I don't drive it often, but start it once in a while to check the battery. So far, so good. I thought I had a power drain somewhere, but apparently it was dirty terminals.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:04 AM   #11
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It is common that as a battery ages it losses its peak charge abuse won't help.
I have a couple of AGM batteries that are five or six years old they won't hit the numbers as when new.
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:46 PM   #12
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Thanks for the great advice everyone. The battery hasn't changed even a hundredth of a volt since the last reading. Still 12.92. Nevertheless, I'm going to order a load tester. It looks like a handy tool to have and at around $35.00 they are affordable as well. It looks like i dodged a bullet this time but I'll bet I've lost a few charge cycles. I'm sure going to play closer attention in the future!
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