Deep cycle battery maintenance? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-03-2013, 05:47 PM   #1
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Deep cycle battery maintenance?

My old, hand me down battery got recycled today because it would no longer hold a charge, so I'm looking for a new one. I had it for four seasons; the lady before me had it for at least two, but it might have come with her trailer, so I'm uncertain of the age.

I'm concerned that I did not draw it down enough between charges. How do I do that when the only thing it powers are a 3 interior lights?

Questions are: What solutions have others found to keep their battery properly charged? Do I go ahead and run the fridge on it, just to use up the juice? Maybe I skip getting one altogether? Thanks!
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Old 08-03-2013, 06:35 PM   #2
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  1. Check the distilled water level often, it needs to fully cover the plates inside.
  2. Keep a float charge on it during long periods of storage.
Forgetting to keep the water level maintained is how all of my battery failures happened. I have a second battery that I only use during boondocking. Most of the time it is stored in my shed connected to solar panels on the roof. Both of my WalMart batteries are over 4 years old and still functioning well.
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:08 PM   #3
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Forgetting to keep the water level maintained is how all of my battery failures happened.
Not so funny story, I have a "whole house generator" which has a battery which it uses to start the generator for a weekly maintenance run. It has a very poor (I've since discovered) trickle charger which charges it all of the time.

It boiled the juice out and then it exploded. Violently!

It seems that the boiling creates hydrogen which is flammable. Towards the end of the sad story it apparently sparked internally and BOOM! Pieces of battery (and acid) everywhere!

Moral of the story, CHECK THE WATER!
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jlbails View Post
My old, hand me down battery got recycled today because it would no longer hold a charge, so I'm looking for a new one. I had it for four seasons; the lady before me had it for at least two, but it might have come with her trailer, so I'm uncertain of the age.

I'm concerned that I did not draw it down enough between charges. How do I do that when the only thing it powers are a 3 interior lights?

Questions are: What solutions have others found to keep their battery properly charged? Do I go ahead and run the fridge on it, just to use up the juice? Maybe I skip getting one altogether? Thanks!
Not running it down is not an issue Running it more than half way down is an issue. The easy way to monitor charge level is with a voltmeter. You can wire one in directly or wire in a power point then insert a voltmeter made for this purpose.
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Old 08-03-2013, 09:54 PM   #5
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I'm concerned that I did not draw it down enough between charges.
You may be thinking of nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries, which developed a "memory" if not fully cycled. This are rarely used now, and the lead-acid batteries which have always been used for starting engines and in RVs have the opposite characteristic - they don't ever want to be deeply discharged.
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:05 AM   #6
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So the key would be to charge it after every use, even if I'm only running the small lights, and to charge it monthly over the winter?
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:17 AM   #7
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What I do on a couple of my maint free batteries ( motorcycle and another similar size battery ) is keep them hooked to a Deltran Battery Tender. I have that charger plugged into a simple digital "switch timer" from Lowes ( like you would buy to turn a lamp on and off in your house ). I have it set to give one hour of charge time per day, and this has maintained these batteries perfectly for years.
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:17 AM   #8
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Over charging batteries gives off hydrogen as stated - this can be detected by the nose - smells like rotten eggs. If you are charging a battery and you come back the next day and smell eggs immediately open windows/doors air out the space/garage/etc, then unplug the charger (don't disconnect the battery as this can cause a slight spark)

anyway, yeah, full discharge can cause sulfates to build up on the battery plates - this insulates the plates from the water around them lowering the efficiency of the reaction that creates electricity - this is what kills batteries.

Generally the vibration caused by sitting in a vehicle and driving around, in addition to constant charging from the tow vehicle, holds this at bay but every battery has it's day. The best thing you can do is get a good quality charger with a charge processor and maintain the battery with it in between trips. These types of chargers will dynamically change the charge levels to appropriately and effectively desulphate and charge your batteries while not over-charging.
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Old 08-07-2013, 10:30 PM   #9
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Jamie, Check this link out:The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
It includes a pretty good discussion of how to maintain a battery, and what causes them to fail.

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Old 08-22-2013, 11:15 AM   #10
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I maintain my battery by way of a digital voltmeter with an on-off switch. Posted beside the voltmeter is a table of volts vs percent charge. The voltmeter is a very cheap automotive aftermarket that reads to 0.1 v. No surprises anymore. For example, if some dirt gets into the 12 v connector from the car so the refrigerator is running off the camper battery I will see the voltage drop at the next driving break and can attack the dirty contacts. Hooch
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Old 08-22-2013, 11:46 AM   #11
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We had two 6volt Trojan 105s in our Motorhome and except when boondocking were under constant charge for 14 years The batteries seemed as good after fourteen years as the first year. They were charged by a smart charger with a desulfating cycle.

Also don't count on odor to detect hydrogen, it is odorless.
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Old 08-22-2013, 11:48 AM   #12
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I use a Battery Tender or Battery Minder connected all the time the egg is in it's nest. I have both tender and minder, one seems to work as well as the other. One of the reasons for leaving them connected full time is they both has a desulfate mode along with standard trickle charging.
Since deep-cycle battery is a flooded cell, not sealed, I do have check the electrolyte levels. After two years I had to add a little distilled water to 3 of the cells.

When camping for more that 4 or 5 days I recharge with solar at about a 4 amp rate. If I'm not in one spot for that long the tow recharges. Sometimes the amount discharged is almost nothing, sometimes it's down about 40% before recharging.

This all seems to work quite well for me.
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Old 08-23-2013, 10:07 AM   #13
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Anybody have a Link 10 or similar battery monitor? It was installed by the PO, and I'm still struggling with the 100 page plus manual, but it seems pretty handy to be able to switch from volts to amps to amp-hours to capacity remaining with the push of a button.

However, WRT the manual, I remain unconvinced it is programmed correctly. I need the short course.

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Old 08-23-2013, 05:41 PM   #14
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Chuck dont have the Lark 10 but a *real* simple battery monitor - nothing more than the ability to display the voltage and set an audible alarm that goes off when the battery is drained down to a certain point - I have mine set at 11.9 - gives me warning its time to plug in the solar or hook it up for a recharge if no sun before it drops down to 11.5 or lower.

I have found that if a battery is allowed to drain right down or below 11.5 volts 3 or more times its ability to hold a charge or run anything on the trailer for any length of time is greatly reduced.
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