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Old 05-30-2008, 12:29 PM   #15
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exactly the info i was looking for... thanks all!
now to research LP compatible gensets...

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Old 06-01-2008, 09:15 PM   #16
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Just traded my 87 34' for a 98 34' with has solar. Someone has suggested gel batteries which are expensive. What is the recommendation on the best batteries to hold the solar charge?

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Old 06-01-2008, 09:39 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by tslanier
Just traded my 87 34' for a 98 34' with has solar. Someone has suggested gel batteries which are expensive. What is the recommendation on the best batteries to hold the solar charge?
You'll get as many opinions as on what oil to use, but I (and many others here) have had great success with Lifeline AGM batteries. These are sealed, absorbed gless mat batteries, also called 'starved electrolyte' because the acid is contained in glass mat 'sponges' between the plates that are 99% saturated with the electrolyte, resulting in no free liquid.

As such, they can be safely shipped by UPS and even by air. These are not to be confused with 'gel' batteries, where the electrolyte is in gel form. These are very voltage sensitive and improper charging will cause 'scabs' on the plates where the gel will no longer adhere...resulting in lower performance.

The Lifelines are probably the most expensive batteries out there, but carry a 5 year warranty and typically last 8-10 years when properly charged and maintained.
Lew Farber...RVIA Certified Master Tech...ABYC Certified Master Marine Electrician
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:37 PM   #18
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Gel Cells have had their day. They are too picky about charging and use compared to other options.

Lew is a bit optimistic, I think, about the life expectancy for AGM's. Az Wind Sun, for example cites 4 - 7 years. (it is an interesting chart, wish I could see the raw data. it tends to refute several common battery myths)

AGM batteries are nice if you can't store them properly or have a need for large discharge rates (e.g. inverters) if cost isn't an issue. They really don't gain you that much for typical RV solar service from anything I can see or the experience I have had with them.

The biggest battery problem I see with RV solar systems is either with underpowered panels that have trouble keeping the batteries charged or over potent panels that tend to float the batteries. Lead acid batteries need appropriate exercise and full charges to maintain good health.

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