Then HOW ON EARTH do the cells on the left side of each batter test out as BARELY fair, and the cells on the right side of each battery test out great?
Both batteries have the same issue. The cells to the far left are barely into the "fair" category and the cells to the right are great. How can this happen? I have never let the battery run dry. I did overfill them once. (Lesson learned at cleanup.) But ? Can having your rig parked less than level affect the cell charges?
I can't for the life of me figure out how/why a brand new battery should be testing this way. I hope I am not looking at having to replace batteries every 6 months... I've only owned the thing (from new) 4 months. This just does not seem right. I'm ricidulously overzealous (there's another word I have in mind but I'll spare folks) in checking and maintaing...so what's the deal? Could they have been funky to start with?
Jeep Liberty toad
Frankly, I've never had much luck with 12 volt deep cycle marine type batteries lasting beyond 12-24 months in an RV situation. Call it bad luck, low tech converter/chargers, or cheap batteries but when I finally switched to a pair of 6 volt "golf cart" batteries wired in series, average life jumped to 4 years and more.
I bought it in April 2, 205. On April 28, I left for California, and drove for 4 days. It was parked, plugged in most of the time, for 5 weeks. The batteries have never been disconnected except once when testing it. During this time I checked the water levels. this was the longest time the coach has ever been parked in one place. It usually never sits for longer than 3 weeks anywhere; that at home. Most of that time, it is not plugged into AC, and when I need to charge it, I drive it. I usually only have it plugged into AC for 2-3 days at a time. I use batteries minimally during this time.
so no deep discharges. No full discharge. No long periods of anthing. But the fact is that the cells ont he far left of each battery test poor and the further to the right you go, the better they get. It is strange I think.
I have only owned the thing for these 4 months. So I don' tknow how in that time, the batteries can already be bad.
I don't know how to replace with golf cart batteries...do they fit into the same spot? Is the factory converter good enough for those? I could just consider batteries that are better than the type 27?
I am still not sure how this could be. I'll check the warranty on them.
Jeep Liberty toad
I believe Born Free still has been installing Interstate SRM-27 batteries in their coaches. At least that was what my 1999 24' RB (it was delivered with only one battery and I added the second) and my current 2002 26' RSB came equipped with. I had to replace both batteries in my 2002 last fall because of poor battery maintenance by the former owners of the coach.
If you decide to replace them you could install two 6V Trogan golf cart batteries wired in series rather than parallel like your present batteries. Also, f you have two SRM-27 batteries, you will have a 1" wide wood spacer to make your present batteries fit snuggly into the retractable holder. I removed this spacer and put new 1" wider Interstate SRM-29 batteries in. They fit tight but will give an increase in total amp-hour capacity of 210 amp-hrs for the pair versus 170 amp-hrs for the original pair of SRM-27 batteries - a 23.5% capacity increase.
If you are not into any extended dry camping then larger capacity batteries and/or changing to the 6V golf cart batteries may not interest you.
I do know that the original Parallex 7345 Converter/Charger in your coach, if left plugged into shore line power for extended periods of storage, will over-charge your coach batteries, boil out the water, and shorten battery life. I and other Born Free owners have replaced the 7345 Converter/Charger with various models of the Progressive Dynamics PD series of smart 3-stage units that offer both rapid recharge from either the shore line connection or you generator and will also treat your batteries with loving long term care during storage periods while plugged into shore line power to keep your batteries fulled charged and desulfated. The particular Progressive Dynamics unit I converted to was their 60-amp PD9160A model with Charge Wizard option. This system works really well.
OK. I'm just guessing. Is it possible that when the batteries were over filled that one side was over filled more than the other?Trisha wrote:I did overfill them once. (Lesson learned at cleanup.) But ? Can having your rig parked less than level affect the cell charges?
A subsequent loss of electrolyte from boiling over after overfilling would certainly result in cells testing low. Refilling with water after losing electrolyte will result in a diluted electrolyte. If they were unevenly overfilled the loss of electrolyte would also be uneven and result in different test levels.
Unlevel batteries could result in plates being exposed on the uphill side but all cells within the battery should be in the same attitude and therefore would be in the same condition - provided they were filled to an identical level of electrolyte.
2005 26' RSS Diesel
I will have to look and see if there's a spacer in my rig. I do boondock more frequently than I am plugged in to AC.
how hard is it to swap out inverters?
The cells that are showing weak are actually on the side the rig leans toward. So that's not it.
I thought you were supposed to add distilled water when the cells get low. That dilutes the electrolyte, but there's no such thing as "electrolyte" fluid to add, you're supposed to add distilled H20. Suffice it to say I am confused that a person could dilute the electrolyte.
Yes, bill, they do use the same type 27 batteries.
i'll test them again in a day or two and see what the deal is.
Jeep Liberty toad
I may have misunderstood. You had indicated that the batteries had been overfilled at one time. They normally should be filled so the plates are covered and the split ring is just touching the top of the electrolyte. Batteries can be filled too high, eliminating the space above the liquid that accomodates fluctuations from thermal expansion and from the amount of hydrogen trapped within the cell while charging. If the batteries were topped off and then charged you would indeed have a large acid overflow to clean up and that would be very messy. I thought maybe this was the "clean-up" you had refered to. Had the acid overflowed and the cells subsequently been refilled with water, the remaining acid would be diluted.
This mystery set of batteries reminds me of a battery I once had in a new Toyota. Within a few months it failed to hold a charge and a simple voltage test implied 2 failed cells - cell levels were even and perfect, the system was delivering good charge voltage and there were no parasitic drains. In the process of replacing it, I was taking the old one out, tilting it out of a very tight location, and there was a gurgling whoosh sound. It had trapped a large amount of hydrogen in the bottom of the battery. Once the hydrogen was released you couldn't even see the water level from the top.
I filled it back up again (with a lot of water) and a couple of months later it was again failing to recharge adequately - same problem. And, there was no sign of overflow! This was supposed to be a maintenance free batttery which should not have need this much water.
Rather than live with a battery than was now marginalized and opbviously needed burped and fed once a month it got replaced and Toyota got a letter. The new battery was good for another 6 years and never needed anymore attention. The point is, sometimes you can get a funky battery or battery design.
2005 26' RSS Diesel
As indicated earlier, I removed the standard single-stage Parallax 7345 Charger/Converter and replaced it with a Progressive Dynamics PD9160A Charger/Converter and optional Charge Wizard that gives the system 3-stage charging performance.
What the 3-stage charger does is initally charge your coach batteries at voltage of 14.4 VDC to provide very rapid initial recharging until the batteries reach 90% of their full charge and then the system automatically reduces the charging voltage to 13.6 VDC which it will stay at for 30 hours. Then the charging voltage will be reduced to 13.2 VDC which is a floating charge voltage which will maintain the coach batteries at full charge while your motorhome is storage during periods of non use. At this 13.2 VDC level, the charger will not overcharge your batteries and will not boil off any water.
The standard single-stage Parallax 7345 Charger/Converter has a fixed charging voltage of 13.8 VDC. This voltage is too low for quick recharging of your batteries after you have discharged your coach batteries during periods of dry camping. But if you leave the coach plugged into shore line power for extended periods of time, that 13.8 VDC while initally slow at recharging your batteries will eventually charge them up fully and then after that the voltage is too high and will result in overcharging of the batteries with resulting pronounced water loss. So with the Parallax system, you never want to leave your coach plugged into shore line power for extended periods of storage. You may desire to do this to keep the batteries charged but in fact they become overcharged and boil off water.
Below is my website link containing 20 pages of detailed instructions and photos on how to replace the existing Parallax 7345 Charger/Converter with a new Progressive Dynamics PD9160A Charger/Converter: http://home.earthlink.net/~whemme/
Below is the website link to the Progressive Dynamics RV Products factory where you can review their various Charger/Converter products and also the necessary but optional Charge Wizard: http://www.progressivedyn.com/rv_products.html
BestConverter.com is one potential source for the Progessive Dynamics PD9160A and Charge Wizard. I think the price for both is approximately $200. Below is their website link for there various RV products: http://www.bestconverter.com/view_category.asp?cat=64
Now I need to tell you that their is an alternative 3-stage charger/converter that can replace the Parallax 7345 in your Born Free. It is called the WFCO Charger/Converter and is made in China. BestConveter.com has put together a kit for that product to replace the Parallax 7345 that probably is much easier to install than the PD9160A - but I have no direct experience with it. It apparently has the same 3-stage charging characteristics as the PD product.
The BestConverter.com website link for installation instructions for the WFCO converter/charger is as follows:
http://www.bestconverter.com/infopage.a ... =8&extra=1
So if you want to tackle this conversion job, above is all the information that I know about it.
A Born Free is not normally equipped with an inverter from the factory but may have been supplied as an option. The purpose of an inverter is to power 120 VAC 60 Hz equipment from the 12 VDC coach batteries whenever shore line power is not available or you do not want to run your generator. Typically you would use an inverter to power an AC only TV, VHS/DVD recorders, satellite TV receivers, electric shavers, etc. It is generally not practical to use an inverter to run your microwave, toaster, or air conditioner - the high DC current draw required is just too severe.
and earlier in the thread "Batteries can be filled too high, eliminating the space above the liquid that accomodates fluctuations from thermal expansion and from the amount of hydrogen trapped within the cell while charging. If the batteries were topped off and then charged you would indeed have a large acid overflow to clean up and that would be very messy. I thought maybe this was the "clean-up" you had refered to. Had the acid overflowed and the cells subsequently been refilled with water, the remaining acid would be diluted. "
Whoops. That's exactly what happened. You understood and I did not.
And yes it was a mess. The baking soda industry loves me.
So it appears my own ignorance (once again) has come back to bite me. I was born and raised in the era of usually maintenance free batteries and al of this maintenance stuff is a pita. However, I now know what not to do. But probably took much life off the battery. I suppose it is like the miles I took of the clutch the first time I learned to drive one of those.
Bill, please one more question. Define "extended" in "extended time". A week? A month? 3 months?
Thanks everyone for helping a rapidly gaining info newbie.
Jeep Liberty toad
The definition of extended period of time relative to battery charging is unfortunately a variable. But I will try to make sense of it. If your coach has a single-stage Charger/Converter such as the Parallax 7345 and the batteries are already or close to being fully charged from the chassis alternator while driving the unit home from a long trip and then you put your unit into storage and hookup shore line power to keep the coach batteries charged, then you will most likely immediately begin to overcharge those batteries. In that case an extended period of time would mean almost immediately.
At the other extreme, if your coach batteries are 90% discharged and then you plug into shoreline power to recharge them, you could safely let the batteries recharge in that manner for probably up to 5 to 7 days before overcharging would become a problem. So in that case an extended period of time would mean any plugged in charging time beyond those 5 to 7 days.
In my prior 1999 BF 24' RB unit that I owned for 6 years and 54,000 miles with the same Parallax 7345 in it, I could never figure out why I had to always add water to the coach batteries - probably at least every 3 months. I finally researched this problem and discovered that in trying to keep the batteries fully charged during periods of storage by plugging the unit into shore line power, I was actually overcharging those batteries and boiling out the water. After I purchased of my current 2002 BF 26' RSB as a used unit last year, I had to replace the then three year old Interstate SRM-27 batteries due to poor prior maintenance and that is when I installed the pair of new larger SRM-29 batteries. I also then installed the PD9160A Charger/Converter shortly thereafter.
Now in the 11 months since, I have never had to add water to those batteries and the unit is always plugged in during extended periods of storage which may vary from one week to 3 months before the next outing.
I imagine I've done some harm that will certainly shorten the life by overfilling and boiling over like I did. And what a mess. I mean a really ugly corrosion mess that made it impossible to pull the battery drawer open and I had to rig a longer brush I dipped in baking soda and water and paited all the corroded surfaces, then had to clean the whole thing.
I wish they warned as much about over filling as they do about not filling. Or even have a little battery demonstration. Nobody ever explained that room for the gasses need to allowed. Have yet to see it ina book. they "say" just cover the plates. Okay, what's a plate? I assume it's that yellow metal thing on the bottom. But sheehs...they assume you know already. Not necessarily the case. I suppose Imight have cost myself a premature battery and I will likely add a different converter.
Your info is very helpful. I'll have to atch more careful but here's my routine....
I travel home or back from hojme....and if I'm just getting home, I don't plug in right away. i ususally wait 4 or 5 days, until I'm about 50% and then I plug into shore power. But that's only for a few days untilthe rig is clean. Then I unplug until right before I get ready to leave. I plug in for maybe the week before I go. The rest of the time I use the lights but not much more. I usually don't plug into AC here unless I'm going to vaccuum or start prepping (and want some TV or AC) while doing it. But I've never been home longer than a month since I got it. Usually it's 2 weeks and I'm back out on the road. Looks like the next few months, I'll be away more than I'm home by a significant margin.
Should I wait until after my Mexico caravan to replace batteries or do you suggest I have everything all upgraded and replaced before I go?
You are welcome to dinner anytime
Jeep Liberty toad
I have a slightly different routine after a trip. When I return home it is usually a drive that is long enough to fully charge the batteries off the chassis alternator. So as soon as I arrive, I unload the fridge and shut everything down and I turn off the master battery switch. This removes all parasitic drains like the gas detector. (I love that master battery switch and use it all the time.) If the weather is warm and I'm going back on the road within a month, I will only check battery status once after a few days to makes sure every thing is in order and then every 2-3 weeks.
Longer term and thru the winter there are a number of different strategies for maintaing batteries and it propably wouldn't hurt to list them and keep them in a site library.
Aside: Does our new club site have the ability to maintain a data bank of information where we can deposit files like FAQs, BF checklists, photos, spreadsheets and such? I would compile the battery charging FAQ.
1. With my old 6300 converter, I would put a lamp timer on the coach and run it 30 minutes a week in the winter.
Pro: $10 solution.
Con: Requires a power source. Monitor often.
2. Use a small .5w solar panel which does not need a controller. Make sure there is no drain on the battery while in storage.
Pro: $25 solution.
No power required.
Panel can be placed on the roof of your storage facility.
Con: Requires hook-up.
Check water level periodically.
3. Large solar system with solar controller. This is truly a low maintenance and low worry solution.
Pro: Less oversite required.
$200 - $infinity solution.
No power required.
Con: Large installation project.
Not useful if you park in a garage. (I'm considering a skylight over the coach in my new storage barn.)
$200 - $infinity solution.
4. Drive the coach to work one day every 2-3 weeks.
5. Purchase a small independent trickle charger. Plug it into 120 VAC and attach alligator clamps to battery terminal. Make sure there is no drain on the battery while in storage.
Safe and sure.
Requires little oversite.
Con: Requires shore power.
If others would add their solutions like charger/inverters and add ons like the Charge Wizard we could get a fairly comprehensive guide to the options available. As you can see there are many options.
2005 26' RSS Diesel
If you don't want to go thru the expense and hassle of changing out your charger/converter to better 3-stage unit, I have another solution for you that will treat your coach batteries kindly during storage periods.
Concerning if you should replace your potentially damaged coach batteries before you go on the Mexican Caravan, if you think they are damaged, I certainly would consider replacing them before leaving on such a long event.
First, from your recent postings, you never mention using your coach battery cutoff switch which leads me to believe that you may not be aware of it. As Mike and Jean mentioned in their recent post when putting your coach into storage you need to shut of this switch to remove all loads from your coach batteries. Now if you want your interior lights, water pump, etc to work during storage of course you will need to turn this switch back ON or plug into shore line power. In my 2002 26' RSB coach and in my earlier 1999 24' RB coach, this cutoff switch was located down below the right side of the driver's side front seat. It may be located elsewhere in other BF coaches.
My cheaper solution relates to Mike and Jeans choice #5 in their recent post. The trickle charger that I have used and recommend is called the Battery Minder and is available for $59.95. It is a 3-stage charger but has a very low max charging current capacity of 1.0 amps which is plenty to slowly recharge and maintain your pair of coach batteries.
Here is the website link to VDC Electronics, Inc., the maker of the Battery Minder: http://www.vdcelectronics.com/batteryminder_12v_1a.htm
The unit you want is the 12 VDC, 1 AMP unit P/N 12112. When you put your unit into storage, turn off the coach battery cutoff switch and then connect this Battery Minder using either the alligator clips provided or the more permanent quick disconnect cable connected directly to the battery terminals. It will slowly charge your coach batteris if discharged and then will convert to a float charge to maintain the charge level without ever overcharging the batteries. I used one of these before getting the PD9160A Charger/Converter installed and learned about it from other RV owners. The only downsides to this unit is that you have to manually hookup and unhook it from your coach batteries, it requires a plug in source of 120 VAC, and it also does not have the capability to rapidly recharge your coach batteries if needed from your generator or shore line power.
Also remember that you can overcharge your batteries while out camping and hooked up to shoreline power. Extended periods of time connected to shoreline power while camping is no different than while connected during times of storage. To avoid overcharging your batteries while camping and plugged into shore line power you can shut off the battery charging section of the Parallax 7345 Charger/Converter by just shutting OFF the 30-amp MAIN circuit breaker in your power panel during the day when your are gone from your coach. Refer to my Photo #2 in the link to my website showing the detailed installation procedure for the PD9160A system. The left most circuit breaker is the MAIN breaker and when shut off will stop and charging of the coach batteries from the shore line power connection. Of course when you are back in the coach and need to run AC powered items, you will need to turn this breaker back ON.
Here is our experience while dry camping. If it is cold at night and you use the furnace to keep warm, the furnace fan is a heavy draw on your coach battery capacity. With my pair of SRM-29 batteries, I can run the furnace for two evenings before depleting those batteries. Anyway that draw plus the draw of running your DC TV (or in our case our 19" AC TV via a 300 watt inverter, running your DC lights, etc will take a toll on the charge level in your batteries. The only way while dry camping to recharge those batteries is with your generator. With the Parallax 7345 Charger/Converter, you had to run that generator a long time during the day and/or night to keep the battery charge level up. I estimate that the PD9160A will recharge your batteries at least 5 to 10 times faster from your generator. That means running the generator for only an hour in the morning would generally keep my batteries up.
With the Parallax 7345, sometimes on the third day of dry camping I would have to let the generator run all day to bring the battery charge level back up to normal. Some people have installed solar panels to recharge their coach batteries during the day while dry camping and that is another potential solution to the problem.
If you dry camp a lot, you will learn a lot about your coach batteries and the proper methods of charging them.
Users browsing this forum: Semrush [Bot] and 2 guests