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Old 07-31-2009, 07:32 PM   #29
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GOOD NEWS!! You can charge your batteries without taking them out of your trailer.Things have a strange way of working out.Not always to our liking.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:46 PM   #30
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Funny you should post just when I am thinking up my next question on this....

I noticed before I left the ranch that the voltage meter was making it up to 14! My set point was at 14.4 per the manual. Then I would check it later just after sundown, with no loads put on it all day and it would come down to 12.8. Seemed to hang in there to 12.6 with a light and a radio for awhile, which is much better than it ever did before.

QUESTION: If my batteries were sold to me not charged up for some time and became "sulphated," (Could someone please explain that term to me and the consequences of it?) now that I am back home and can plug in the juice, will they come back to optimal shape? I want to know if I should take them back to Sears and ask for new ones....

Carol
Electroidiot Department

PS While you are all typing, I will resume trying to back the trailer into my yard. So far the hitch is on and the car attached to trailer. Now the fun begins...
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:01 PM   #31
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Sounds to me like your batteries are charged and your controller is doing a good job. 14 while charging is normal, as is 12.6 or so after dusk with a slight load. I assume that the green lights on the controller show that the charge is in the good range.
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Old 07-31-2009, 09:08 PM   #32
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I haven't seen the little green light go on in my controller since all this trouble started. Back when the old batteries were still chugging along and I was heading for Montana, plugging into shore power at campgrounds and the solar doing it's thing, I would see it bounce up to 14.4 and the green light would come on.
Maybe when I plug into the house tonight, it will give me the boost I need..

What is the lowest that I should let the voltmeter drop to safely, before I start turning everything off and make myself go to bed.....?

Carol
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Old 07-31-2009, 09:46 PM   #33
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When the battery drops under 12 volts it is down to around 50%. At that point your battery need to be charged. The numbers can be misleading if you are drawing current when you measure the voltage. The voltage measurement is most accurate with no drain on the battery.
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Old 08-07-2009, 05:00 AM   #34
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I'm back with yet another question on this..
Now that I am home and hooked up to the house, my voltage meter in the trailer reads out 13.2 all the time, loads on or off, AM or PM. Why is this? Are the batteries still OK?

C
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:40 PM   #35
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Because your converter/charger is doing it's job of provideing "12v" power to the 12v system.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:49 PM   #36
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So, I should take that as a "Yes, the batteries are OK?"
I don't need to take them back to Sears as we discussed earlier to have that "load test" put on them to see if they were "sulphated?"
Still am not sure what sulphated means....

Carol
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:06 PM   #37
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1) See here

If you think there is a problem with your batteries, then yes you should have them checked. When you are "plugged in" at home, or anywhere, the converter/charger will convert 120v to 12v running all the 12v system stuff, and charging the battery. If I remember right you have AGM's correct? If so, I am not sure they sulfate..

edit: yes AGM's sulfate, gelcells don't.
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Old 08-09-2009, 02:38 AM   #38
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The liquid in most batteries is sulfuric acid. When regular batteries (with the fill caps that you have to periodically add water to) get old, the lead plates start to sluff off lead sulfate (PbSO4) as a conductive precipitate that falls to the bottom of the acid reservoir.

Each separate cell (most 12 volt batteries have six, with one filler cap for each individual cell) has multiple lead plates with separators (spacers) that keep the plates that are connected to the positive post from touching the plates that are connected to the negative post. The positive and negative plates are alternately stacked together to maximize the chemical reaction between them, and the separators keep them from shorting together. Also, the plates don't go all the way to the bottom of the reservoir, so there is room for the lead sulfate to accumulate without touching the plates.

When the lead sulfate builds up in the bottom of a cell to where it shorts the bottoms of the plates together, the cell is "sulfated". In other words, the lead sulfate shorts the positive and negative plates together, which stops the chemical reaction that produces the current flow from that cell. The result is a battery that now measures about 10 volts instead of 12. The other cells may still be good, but the battery no longer produces the correct voltage for the 12 volt items in your trailer, and most will not function properly, if at all.

I am unsure exactly how this works in AGM batteries, but I suspect that the lead sulfate still accumulates in the glass mat, eventually shorting out the spiral wound plates with the same end result -- a bad battery.

By the way, a good battery usually measures anywhere between about 11.5 volts up to 13.5, depending on whether it is under load or being charged. Your solar setup may allow the voltage to go up a little higher, but as long as the voltage doesn't drop below 11-11.5, your batteries are probably OK (though perhaps in need of charging). If it gets down to 10-10.5, you probably have a bad cell; although, this may still be OK if you are running your microwave or other heavy current load device. It probably would be best to measure the voltage when these devices are not on.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:28 PM   #39
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By the way, deep-cycle, marine/RV batteries have more electrolyte in a larger reservoir, and slightly smaller plates, which lowers the maximum current that can be drawn from them (for cranking an engine or running high current devices) while allowing more "total power" to be drawn. Also, the larger reservoir will accomodate more lead sulfate before the plates short together, which is intended to give them a little longer life over a "starter battery".

Again, I am unsure how AGM batteries accomplish this same task, although a deep-cycle AGM battery most likely has more electrolyte in it than a starter battery.

Also, it should be noted that leaving a battery in a discharged state accelerates the creation of lead sulfate and shortens battery life.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:48 PM   #40
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Wow! I certainly understand what sulfation is now. You guys are the best....
Maybe sulfation also occurs in the brain and that is why it took me so long to comprehend all this.

Thanks so much,
Carol
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