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Old 08-17-2016, 08:47 AM   #1
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Proper Battery Management?

Greetings all:

I'm in a situation where it looks like I will need to replace my Interstate batteries (again). I purchased the last set 18 months ago and now it looks like these ones are shot also.

I have been noting that my batteries are not holding a charge very well. So I purposely charged them and then disconnected the batteries and let them "rest" for about 6 hours before I put a multi-meter on them to test the outputs. The result was one is putting out 11.75V and the other is putting out 11.25V so from what I've read they need replacing...

We upgraded the stock investor/charger to a Progressive Dynamics PD4655V last winter so that should be looked after.

As I mentioned above the current set of batteries are only 18 months old but old enough to not have any warranty on them anymore. So with that in mind, I'm looking at opening my wallet again and buying new batteries.... I looked at higher end units like Lifeline, but the cost is just crazy from what I can see. A lifeline battery would cost me about 350.00 (here in Canada) each compared to a replacement Interstate at 118.00.

I guess my first question is what other options should I look at for batteries? As you can image I'm not a big fan of Interstate with the track record I've had. But the cost difference I'm seeing with the Lifeline's would have me buying Interstate again as spending 700.00 for a set of batteries is just crazy. Even if the life expectancy of the Lifeline units are double the Interstate, the Interstate would be a better value based on the huge price difference.

Next I wondering if these battery issue are actually my fault as much as anything? Is it possible for someone to articulate proper battery management to me. At this time when we use the trailer we travel about every third day, camp normally with full hookups and so the trailer is charging and plugged in most of the time when we're on the road. When at home I keep it in heated storage, and plug it in every couple weeks for a night just to keep everything charged up.

Anyway, if folks can jump in here and point me in the right direction that would be great.

Thanks

Doug
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:30 AM   #2
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You do get what you pay for in batteries but I understand your reluctance to spend the big $ on a new set given your bad experiences so far. I'm not going to address the cost benefit of Lifelines vs. Interstates as I'm sure you will get plenty of advice on this topic from others.

As to what is going wrong, there is definitely something wrong. Even Interstates should last more than 18 months if properly cared for.

So, here is some food for thought:

1. If these are wet cells, are you keeping the water levels topped up?

2. You should never run AGM or wet cell batteries below a 50% charge rate which can be determined by checking the voltage of a batter at rest (i.e., not charged or used for about an hour or so.) The 50% voltage for both wet cells and AGM's is approximately 12.2 volts. Each time you go below 12.2 volts you are damaging your batteries. You mentioned readings in the low 11 volt range. At that voltage, those batteries are useless and cannot be saved.

3. Are you storing your batteries at a full charge? And running a trickle charger or otherwise topping off the charge during long periods of storage? Storing batteries at less than a full charge will also damage them.

4. Do you regularly recharge your batteries to 100% every couple of days when in use? A full charge is measured at between 12.6 and 12.8 RESTING volts? By resting volts I mean that the battery has been disconnected from the charging source and not drained for about an hour or two before testing the voltage? While charging the battery, the indicated voltage will be artificially high due to the incoming charge.

Any or all of the above could be contributing to your bad experience with the Interstates.

Best of luck!
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:40 AM   #3
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I'm not a battery expert but replaced my interstate's with 2 Trojan T105-RE's at the beginning of this season. They are 6 volt 225 amp. Installed in series. I also have the Zamp factory installed solar system. I almost never plug in, even while using the furnace some I've never had them dip below 12.2v
These were $200 each here in the US. Wet cell. Golf cart batteries so no cold cranking extra capabilities, which we don't need with our trailers. Just alot longer at a steady rate. One thing I did notice with these is the power jack runs slower.

I'm very happy with them.
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Old 08-17-2016, 09:59 AM   #4
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Doug, IMO your batteries should have lasted longer especially with a PD4655 smart charger/converter (which we intend to upgrade to at some point).

At the risk of posting research material you may already be familiar with, here are some basic battery primers:

https://www.batterystuff.com/kb/arti...ry-basics.html
http://www.progressivedyn.com/battery_basics.html
http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/

In this sub-section of the last link, in Table 2 it reviews the charge levels, echoing the 12.2 level re: 50% discharge mentioned earlier:

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/a...tate_of_charge

Similar: http://www.autobatteries.com/en-us/b...battery-works/

I can't find another good source I had located a while ago, and will look for it and post an update.

The upshot is that there are many steps to maintaining batteries in good and consistent health, which Bob outlined. Also there are many other relevant threads, as you are probably aware, in this sub-forum:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/

And in the Batteries sub-forum: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f449/

Good luck,

Peter
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Old 08-17-2016, 12:41 PM   #5
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One tool that you might consider to add is a battery monitor. These devices continuously measure the current into and out of your batteries and can tell you at a glance if your batteries are fully charged or how depleted they may be. This method is much more accurate than observing battery voltage.

Take a look at TriMetric or Victron for a quality battery monitor as a suggestion.
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Old 08-17-2016, 01:20 PM   #6
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Arctic Fox. Alano beat me to it. I had the same problem with my 2014. The dealership was kind enough to replace my batteries the first time 6 months in so I too went the PD route as well as a battery monitor ( TM2030) and I was surprised to see that when the unit battery monitor was reading full, the TM showed nowhere close. It took a lot longer to get the batteries to full than I thought. I now safely leave the trailer plugged in all the time while we are not using it and I haven't had to add water in almost 12 months.
I will replace these batteries soon with 6 volt as I want greater amp capacity but until then. My suggestion is to leave your unit plugged in all the time and I think that will solve the immediate issues, but a good battery monitor is priceless.
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Old 08-17-2016, 03:31 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the info and advise....
I think I will go shopping for a Battery monitor ASAP. Not sure what is the best to get but I'm guessing some hear can point me in the right direction.

I'm amazed that its okay to leave it plugged in all the time. I guess changing out the investor/Charger to the PD4655V is the tick to allowing that to happen. Or at least I hop it is.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you all for your help as I want to get this looked after before we head out for our fall trip.

Cheers
Doug
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:36 PM   #8
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If a solar upgrade is in your future then I would suggest going with one of the Blue Sky controllers and adding the IPN Pro remote. This way you'll only have one additional panel to add. If solar isn't in your future, then the Victron and Trimetric monitors both have good reviews.
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Old 08-19-2016, 07:12 AM   #9
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When plugged into shore power, is the Use/Store switch always in Use? If not, they aren't charging. The PD4655 will supply all the 12vdc you need but it won't be charging the batteries; simple mistake. It should be in Store only when in storage unplugged.

Harbor Freight has an inexpensive battery load tester. While battery voltage can be a good indicator, the load tester puts resistance on the battery and checks its strength.

You can have AGMs shipped directly to you. They are the only type of battery that can be shipped since they don't leak. There is no need to turn in the old battery but you can take them to any auto parts store to get rid of them (illegal to put them in the trash/land fill).
http://www.powerstridebattery.com/

I don't know if Lowes is in Canada, but you can get Deka deep cycle RV/Marine (not marine starting or combo) shipped to a local store. They will take your old batteries for the core charge. Deka makes a very good deep cycle battery, I've used them in my Ranger bass boat since 1994, excellent service. They are not AGMs but are a cheaper alternative.
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