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Old 06-25-2009, 04:35 PM   #1
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Battery Problems

Our trailer has been in storage for over 6 months and I am worried that the batteries (two new deep cycle units which were installed by an Airstream dealer last summer) may no longer have a sufficient charge to run the power lifting jack. Is there a way I can recharge them over a period of a few days so that I can at least hook-up and let the batteries charge normally during the trip we will be taking?
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Old 06-25-2009, 04:39 PM   #2
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Connect to shore power and that should allow you to operate the electric jack immediately after connecting shore power (unless you activated the bypass, then you need to connect it to the tow vehicle or better yet a plain old battery charger for a few minutes to deactivate the bypass so that shore power can flow to the converter and in turn to the batteries). It is not a bad idea to either take the batteries out and keep them connected to a battery tender trickle charge type thing (particularly if you store in the cold), or upgrade your converter to a three stage unit that can be kept on all the time and not cook the batteries out. Additionally, the cells, if not maint free should be checked periodically and distilled water added as needed.

Allowing deep cycle batteries to fully discharge will without question shorten their life, as will cooking them with the factory installed converter.
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:49 PM   #3
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Thanks, SilverTwinkie for the reply. I went to an Internet seller to price a couple of chargers and the guy I talked with said the batteries could be dead if they were dormant for 6 months. I thought the batteries might be run down but I didn't expect to buy new ones. Is this likely?
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Old 06-25-2009, 07:16 PM   #4
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Welcome to the Forum!

For keeping the batteries from discharging while in storage, I recommend disconnecting the batteries.

When our '05 was new, even though the switch for storage was on, if the trailer was left for more than a month, the batteries would severely discharge. I started disconnecting the positive and negative cables that link the batteries (while the unit is in storage) and voila...no more run down batteries from storage.
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Old 06-25-2009, 07:35 PM   #5
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If the batteries had a drain on them they could be dead. But it is worth trying to charge them.. I always disconnect my batteries between trips. Better yet just get yourself a disconnect installed...
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:35 PM   #6
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Even disconnecting the the battery and letting it sit for 6 mos can still kill off the battery particularly if left in the cold. Deep cycles hate cold.

My batts are still org (5 years old). I fully discharged them 3x. Thing is that if cold didn't get 'em, just let 'em run to empty, most likely depending how long they were dead, they would have significantly diminished capacity but maybe not totally shot. Oddly, last two years, knowing mine were near end of life, I left them in and connected during storage, not connected to shore power.

They still work, though I doubt I'd get much more than a day. I'll be getting new batteries soon.
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:01 AM   #7
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Your batteries, being fairly new like that, should come back to life in a usable condition, but it will take awhile...plug into shore power, and let them charge for several days! It will take a while to get the plates charged all the way through (not just a surface charge), when they've set in a discharged state for several months...

What kills undercharged batteries, is the sulfate that become deposited on the plates as the 'charge' is depleted...

The sulfate is initially like a 'film' on the plates, and as you recharge in a timely manner, this 'film' goes back into solution in the electrolyte...some more sophisticated chargers have an 'equalizing' setting, that elevates the charging voltage for a short period of time to help break down this sulfate that accumulates on the plates, but you usually don't see this type of charger on trailers...

Anyway, if you allow your batteries to sit in a depleted condition, over time the sulfate 'film' becomes more of a 'crystalline' form and gets entrenched in the pores of the plates...making it difficult for the recharge phase to get the sulfate back into solution...

You've probably seen older batteries that become 'bulged' at their ends - and if you tap the battery case ends, they feel rock hard - that's the sulfate crystals that have built up over time, expanding the plates sideways - time to replace em' if you find your batteries in that condition!

Your batteries need a little 'TLC' to keep your 12 volt stuff running when you're off the grid camping...
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:32 AM   #8
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If you do pull them, it's also not good to store them on cold concrete a board or on a bench.

I left mine in unconnected all winter in Colorado and they both nearly had a full charge this spring. Guess I was lucky....
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Old 06-26-2009, 02:52 PM   #9
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Batteries should be fully charged and disconnected before storage, or the propane detector and other "phantom electronics" in newer Airstreams will drain them completely in a couple of weeks. Check out the battery selector/isolator switches on marine Web sites, like the Perko switches on West Marine's site, which will allow you competely disconnect power just by turning a switch. Also, don't store a discharged battery exposed to below freezing, cold weather; it will freeze and burst.

By the way, most AGM batteries will hold a charge almost a year in storage.
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