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Old 05-25-2015, 09:48 AM   #1
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2008 25' Safari
Littleton , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 46
Newbie Battery Woes

We purchased new-to-us 25' 2008 Safari SS in Nov 2014. Took her to a lake near us to try out all systems last month (full hook ups) and everything worked like a charm. Took her out "boon docking" this weekend for Memorial Day and had to come home early because batteries would not hold a charge. We were very conservative in our use of battery power, but when we woke up the first morning the LPG detector gave us 3 little beeps (which we later discovered that meant the battery was so low it was not able to operate). We connected the generator during breakfast prep and cleanup, recharged for a couple hours, but the charge lasted less than 3 hrs before the systems monitor went yellow. This was while we were out hiking, not using any battery other than what the frig or other background parasites were consuming. We ran the generator at dinner and again just before bed, used no heat that night (despite temps in the 30s) (Colorado mountains) and woke up to red systems monitor again.
Bottom line: I think we ran the battery down too low the first night and now it won't hold a charge. We don't know the condition of the batteries when we purchased it although a thorough inspection of the trailer at an Airstream dealership in April did not note a problem with the batteries.
We like boon docking and are seriously considering adding a solar system, but the first opportunity we would have to do that would be October of this year. We need something to get us through the summer. It would be great to add something that could be utilized when solar is added, but we aren't sure what that would be. Maybe the best temporary sol'n would be just to put new deep cycle marine Interstates back in there to get us through the summer, but they would be wasted (I assume) when solar is added. If we do simply replace what is there for this summer, we need to learn how to monitor the battery more effectively so we don't do what we did this last weekend. Is the system monitor accurate? If not, what do people use?
Thoughts and suggestions for the whole situation would be appreciated.

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Old 05-25-2015, 10:06 AM   #2
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Lexington , Kentucky
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They might just be old. The battery manufactured date is usually stamped on the battery top. Some are plain mmyy or yymm, some use a code, like A=January followed by the year.

Are you sure they are deep cycle and not marine starting batteries? You don't want starting batteries or dual purpose batteries, you want deep cycle.

Are they sealed? If not, check each cell to make sure there is water (acid) covering the plates. If there is, you can get a hydrometer (cheap ones at auto stores, good ones at Amazon) to check each cell to see if any are weak. One weak cell will drag down both batteries. When replacing, replace both or the weaker one will draw down the new one. If the water/acid is low, fill to the little circle with distilled water. (If it was weak before, this may only aggravate the situation of a dead cell.)

Has the original converter been replaced? The two stage converters installed by AS can overcharge and kill batteries if they are left on for long periods. The PO may have kept the AS plugged up all the time and overcharged them. Consider replacing the original with a new 3 stage converter (lots of info on those here on the forum.)

Lifelines and Trojan AGM batteries are considered the best, but they are expensive. I use Lifelines but I personally like Deka marine/RV batteries, available at Lowes by ship to store, used them for many years in my bass boat. After that, get a brand name, deep cycle battery. Make sure it's deep cycle.

Search the forums for more information on the battery brands and opinions.


Rich & Yvonne
2006 Safari SE -Dora-
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Old 05-25-2015, 10:13 AM   #3
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Yeah I would just replace them. It's nice to know you're starting with fresh batteries. I might even consider AGM?????? Lifeline???
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Old 05-25-2015, 10:55 AM   #4
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If you have budget restraints at this point, here is the order of things that I would personally do if I were in your situation:

1. Replace the two type 24 batteries you have in your battery box with a pair of 6 volt golf cart batteries from Costco or Sams. Cost will be about $200 or so. You will need to add an inch and a half of height to the box. A number of places here on the forums tell you how to do that including my post #18 in this thread:

This will not only replace your batteries now but add approximately 1/3 more capacity and the new ones will work just fine with any future solar system.

2. Change the Parallax converter/charger in your system to a better 3 stage unit such as a Progressive Dynamics 4655. Cost is about $250 or less. Some work on your part is needed to change it out.

3. Add a battery monitor system such as a Tri Metric, which will give you a much better handle on how much power you have in your batteries and how much more you can use. Again, price range in the $225 if you self install it.

I don't know if your 2008 has LED or halogen lights. If LED, you are fine, if Halogen, they should be changed out for LED which will reduce your lighting load by about 80%.

After all of the above is done, then consider solar systems.
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Old 05-25-2015, 12:01 PM   #5
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2008 25' Safari
Littleton , Colorado
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Thanks for the helpful replies so far. Just checked the date on batteries and they were installed Aug of 2009. They are deep cycle Interstate marine/RV batteries, but looks like they may be at the end of their useful life. As far as upgrading the converter, we are not particularly handy and we do not feel like we have enough knowledge to do something like that ourselves with the understanding that we have to pay others to do the work. While the budget is not limitless, we do have funds available to get what we need to be able to enjoy the trailer in boon docking situations and to pay someone to do the work. We were not particularly pleased with the local Airstream service center where we had it checked out recently. Are there listings of independent parties who have the knowledge to do different types of Airstream repairs or upgrades?
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Old 05-25-2015, 01:00 PM   #6
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Get a couple if the correct batteries at SAMs club and go camping. Don't overcharge, check fluid level periodically. Jim
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:00 PM   #7
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Did you check to see that the break-away plug was securely seated? I have to disconnect mine when I unhitch and forgot to plug it back in so it quickly drained the batteries.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:24 PM   #8
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I suspect a pair of batteries will be all you need. Be aware that the new batteries will discharge over the period of a few weeks unless they are completely disconnected. You can either pull the trailer's negative terminal off the battery, or charge on a regular basis, or put a trickle charger on the batteries. If the trailer is outside, a solar system will keep them charged.

The reason the batteries discharge so quickly is the phantom load (things that run when the batteries are connected) from the CO and LP gas detectors, and maybe sound system components. These run even when the battery disconnect switch is switched to off.
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Old 05-29-2015, 06:30 PM   #9
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A new converter is very easy to install
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Old 05-31-2015, 08:11 PM   #10
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2008 25' Safari
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Thanks again everyone. Your input, advice and encouragement is very much appreciated. There is a lot to learn when you have never owned one of these beasts!
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Old 06-11-2015, 12:22 PM   #11
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1996 25' Excella
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You need to get Deep cycle RV batteries, not Marine deep cycle. Marine battery plates are not as thick as "deep" cycle batteries strictly for house battery use. Marine batteries need to perform starting functions so they will not take a deep discharge as well as "deep cycle" batteries

Lifeline, Johnson Controls and Trojan seem to be the most mentioned brands on these posts. I 'm in need of new ones...will be looking at Johnson Controls which are available at Wal-Mart
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Old 06-12-2015, 10:30 PM   #12
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Not to be a smarta$$, but those 3 choices should not be mentioned in the same breath. If you are looking at top of the line batteries...... Lifeline occupies that spot alone.

Trojan probably makes the best liquid cell of the group, with Johnson Controls (maker of Interstate batteries) bringing up the rear. WalMart????? Really??? Great of you want to replace them under warranty every 2 years due to failure.
Lots if folks want batteries that can depend on year after year that don't re quite maintenance.

I post this from 15 years of installing and servicing battery systems in just about every type of RV. I have Lifeline battery banks on their 10th year. What else performs like that? (Except the new LiPo batteries).

When buying batteries, the old adage 'you get what you pay for' couldn't apply more!!! Do the math and you'll see why folks spend for better batteries.

Lew Farber
RVIA/RVDA Nationally Certified Master Tech
Master Tech Energy Systems, Inc.
AM Solar Certified Installation Center
Lifeline Batteries**Magnum Inverters
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Old 06-13-2015, 12:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by lewster View Post
When buying batteries, the old adage 'you get what you pay for' couldn't apply more!!! Do the math and you'll see why folks spend for better batteries.

Lew Farber
But also realize that the very best battery can be quickly ruined by misuse, overuse, and improper charging. So, just buying better batteries will not create a good system. A lot of things will need to be understood by the user as to how to use the system, and other items probably will need to be changed to take advantage of a good battery.

Lew will agree with me on that, I know.
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Old 06-13-2015, 12:25 AM   #14
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Your in Colorado, close to me, I will help you out for free... Just PM me...

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