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Old 10-19-2011, 08:49 PM   #1
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Chassis Batteries -- What do you have and why?

So, after a few long days of smelling what we *thought* was a foul, sewage smell, we found out that it was actually our chassis batteries cooking themselves. They're five years old, and now, FRIED (we just bought the coach). doh.


So now, we're in the market for new chassis batteries. The Optima's looked pretty good.. but not sure if the marine version would do for an RV..

Also looking at the Lifeline line, which seem to be pretty well reviewed.

What've you all got in your rigs? And how do you like them?
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Old 10-19-2011, 08:54 PM   #2
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I would suggest that you have your converter/charger checked. When batteries are "cooking" it usually isn't the battery's fault.
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Old 10-19-2011, 09:05 PM   #3
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Replace your 12 volt converter immediately with a modern 3 stage converter. Also think about running 2 six volt batteries in series for 12 volts. I'm using Interstate 6 volt batts.
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Old 10-19-2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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Don't feel too bad, Chassis Batteries lasting 5 years is not too bad!

Intellipower with the Charge Wizard is pretty popular, and a great charger.

I agree with Dadstoy on the double 6V Batteries, but you might need to have your Battery tray deepened...
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Old 10-19-2011, 09:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenivan View Post
What've you all got in your rigs? And how do you like them?
To answer your question, we have a plain old wet-type marine deep cycle battery in our current trailer, same as we had in the last one, and have never had any trouble with it.

I have smelled the smell you describe when a failed battery charger/maintainer overcooked the battery in our riding lawn mower. When I walked into the barn I thought something had died in there. Turned out it had--only it was the battery, not an animal.

As others have already said, replace your converter/charger before you replace the batteries--that's most likely what fried them.
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:15 AM   #6
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@ DadsToy:

When you say immediately, does that mean we should not be using the motorhome's electric system at all (until we replace the converter)?

Right now, I've got the chassis batteries disconnected, but we're still in the coach using the electric (shore). Am I frying other stuff?

Also, do you have any recommendations for a newer/modern converter?

@ Everyone else: THANKS! Keep it coming!
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:26 AM   #7
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Also worth noting that we've got a simple pair of solar panels that trickle charge the house batteries, and a newly installed BatteryMinder also keeping things charged up. Maybe the combination of all of them is creating extra problems?

We have been wanting to get a new converter, though. It's been very very noisy (under passenger side bed).
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:27 AM   #8
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I have a Freedom 2500 inverter/charger in mine it is nice if you plan on putting a big bank of golf cart batts or a larger bank of deep cycle batteries in (more then 400ah). I like it for a few reasons one it has a 130amp charger and I can run a table saw without starting my gen ;-)
It is the best one in the marine world and yes there are true sine inverters but thy dont last I have installed 20 of these and all but one are still in the boats I put them in. It will be the best $999.99 you ever spent .
Xantrex Freedom 2500 Watt Inverter - PPL Motor Homes
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Old 10-20-2011, 12:43 AM   #9
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First, your converter/charger may not be the culprit, but if your budget allows, upgrading to a modern 3-stage type converter/charger will usually treat your batteries much better as it will automatically go into a 'float' mode to avoid overcharging...contact Randy at bestconverter.com - he's the expert and can suggest a replacement...

With older batteries, if one cell fails (internal short between plates), you now have a 10 volt battery, and the C/C then looks at it as an undercharged battery and 'pours the coal' to it try and bring it back up to a full charge - this high rate of charge soon 'boils' the fluid from the cells, causing that 'rotten egg' smell you experienced - let the battery cool down, wear safety glasses, and carefully unhook (avoid sparks that can ignite any hydrogen gas in the area) at least one cable at the battery...

As for replacements, yes the two 225 amp hr 6 volt deep cycle (golf cart type) batteries are a good choice for the coach...Lifeline's are great batteries, but VERY pricy...I'd avoid the Optimas as their amp hour rating is much lower than other 'rectangular' type batteries of the same size...

You may wish to simply replace the batteries with the same size, flooded cell, deep cycle batteries that fit in the compartment - nothing wrong with flooded cell batteries, they are much cheaper than the AGM types...You'll have to check the fluid level every few months though - BUT, with a new converter/charger, you'll find that you almost never have to top off the batteries!

Happy trails...
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:46 AM   #10
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Quick note: Our Costco no longer sells Optima batteries. Auto tech does not know why, but says reliability dropped off after they moved manufacturing to Mexico a couple of years ago. I suspect the price difference between Kirkland (Costco's house brand) and Optimas may have reduce sales on the significantly more expensive Optima brand.
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:10 AM   #11
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We bought 2 29 series AGMs to go with our 2 Kyocera 130 solar panels...a bit pricey, but maintenance free. With the 6 V, if you lose one cell, your system is down. Having said that, a golf cart seems to run for ever on 6 V. Compartment space will be a consideration, and other pluses for AGM is that they can be sideways or upside down without worry, and can be put inside the unit...we have the AGMs in the battery tray, but have reserved space behind the passenger seat for two more, when finances allow...not sure about a 280, but I know the 310 has a battery compartment in the floor as you enter the steps. LOTS of options out there, and LOTS of good advice. m
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:31 PM   #12
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I replaced my converter with an Intelli-Power and I might have even gotten it from Bestconverter.com. My dad replaced bats more then he should have (I've got the old receipts). This was due to the original converter that Airstream used...still have that old thing sitting in the garage. The original is noisy like you say and this is what cooks your batteries. My six volt "golf cart" batteries are the same physical size as the old fashion large 12 volt batts, but like others have mentioned, check for space issues first. I replaced mine with Interstate batteries. Some Costco's carry six volt batts.

See my thread "DadsToy" for some of the electrical I have done.

You can run off of shore power with the old converter, just replace your converter before you spend good money on new batteries.
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Old 10-20-2011, 04:35 PM   #13
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I have a freedom inverter sitting in my garage as well. My dad had it. I would have liked to put it in, but it's a much bigger job. Got to have space for it. Got to have probably more then two batteries. Batteries need to be located very close to inverter, again space issues. You also have to nstall it correctly with correct size cables, fuses, control panel, etc. Very costly and dangerous if not installed correctly. Not sure what I will ever do with mine.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:51 PM   #14
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For the coach we have marine batteries in our MH and got them at Wall Mart.They fit right in and I like the idea of being able to replace one or both no matter where we are if needed. Our start battery has the same cranking power as whatever came in it new.

If your convertor turns out to be the culprit I also recommend BestConverter - Converters, Inverters, Electrical Supplies, Electronics. We purchased one from Randy a few years ago and have not had any battery issues since. Knock on wood. Call him for excellent advice.
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