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Old 04-25-2012, 12:01 PM   #1
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Are These Batteries Still Good?

Ever since I bought them, when not in use I've kept my Interstate batteries on a Battery Tender. I'm preparing to travel to Alaska this summer, so I took my 38 month old batteries into the Interstate battery store today. They tested them and said they tested like new. They didn't recommend replacing them.

We'll be traveling with a caravan, but I'm not bringing a generator. I'd rather not have battery troubles on the trip, but I don't want to waste good money an needlessly replace something that is still good. What do the experts out here think?


Randy and Pat Godfrey
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:20 PM   #2
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Batteries only last a couple of years in Arizona due to the extreme heat. We bought our Bambi new in 2005, and one of our OEM batteries died the next year. And, the second battery died about nine months after that one. For reference, an Optima replacement battery died after three years; and I thought it would last much longer (four to five years).

If we were planning a trip to Alaska, I'd buy new ones as insurance against having to replace them on the road where the selection may be limited and more expensive. However, since they tested OK and you live in Florida, you might be OK.

Also, you might consider buying just one battery as a backup; or join AAA, which has a new battery replacement program (tow truck carries replacement batteries on board). Travelling with a caravan may be helpful, as others may be able to provide a loaner battery and/or generator.

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Old 04-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #3
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Are they wet cell? Deep Cycle?
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:33 PM   #4
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If the batteries passed the load test I would go with them. After all batteries are available anywhere and if your trailer has 2 12 volt in parallel you can always disconnect the one that fails, if it fails. If both quit you can run off the TV until you can get one.

I would not buy 1 battery in advance as they really should be changed in pairs and if you don't have a failure you just have a battery sitting around getting old.

I have 6 volt golfcart batteries and they will be 9 years old in June,.
I change my truck batteries every 5 years whether they need it or not.
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:38 PM   #5
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They are wet cell, deep cycle. They passed all tests, specific gravity and load. Like the tech said, they tested like new even though they are 38 months old and the warranty is only for 30.

Randy and Pat Godfrey
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Old 04-25-2012, 12:40 PM   #6
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Never replace one battery of a pair. This will cause one to draw against the other and kill it in no time.

If you are concerned consider buying the new batteries at Wal Mart, guaranteed replacement any ware for 3 years, just before you cross into Canada. The batteries sold in the north are about 20% stronger than those sold in the south, I got stuck this year in Texas when one of mine died from route 10 in LA.

With the exception of Dawson Creek to White Horse or White Horse to Tok you will never be far from a Wal Mart so I would just head north and have fun.
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:00 PM   #7
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Yes, all good comments above...Being in the Battery bizz for many years, I concur - if the load tests were good, go with your existing batteries

Another good point mentioned above, you'll be able to find replacements on the road if you need em'...

ALSO...the current issue of Trailer Life Mag (May 2012) has an excellent article on RV batteries and their maintenance, etc - all good info for beginners and oldsters too! Haven't checked, but it may be avail online...In any event, great reference material in that article...

Have a great trip!
Ray & Pat; Morada, CA
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Old 04-25-2012, 01:14 PM   #8
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If you are on a caravan that will have you stopping only in CG's with 30 amp power, you don't need a generator or new batteries.

If you are off grid, then that's another question. And if you leave the caravan for any reason, you may have issues with electricity. Everything costs more in the North Country too. Batteries can be found, but they may be hundreds of miles down the road. To be careful, some sort of backup helps. New batteries is one way to go, or a generator is another. If buying new batteries, you might as well get really good ones because they last longer and less worry about dying batteries and going through replacement problems. We went to AGM's because it made sense to us. We also upgraded to series 27. That meant some modifications to the battery box.

Battery testing is not necessarily accurate. Did they use only a hydrometer? Our OEM batteries tested very well but were not holding charge well. It was only a matter of time. They lasted a bit less than 4 years. Seems like people report series 24 wet cell batteries last 3-5 years. I am not good at explaining battery testing, but if you can observe how long the batteries last while boondocking and have a voltage readout to make sure (much better than the monitor the trailer comes with) you should be able to see how long they last. There are plenty of threads on batteries and some will tell you about testing. Also make sure the terminals are clean and tight and the connections to the converter are also tight.

A trip to Alaska is a big deal and an expensive one too. You may only go once. New batteries seem like a good investment. A good camera with a telephoto lens is also a good idea. A tire repair kit, good compressor and lots of tools are also good ideas. The caravan people are probably telling you these things.

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Old 04-25-2012, 02:03 PM   #9
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since you have some time give them a test yourself. power off the converter and use the trailer as you usually do and see how long the battery voltage holds up. keep in mind that the biggest consumer of 12v dc while boondocking is the furnace heater. spend a night at home in the trailer, run the fans and lights and have a little party! :-)
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Old 04-25-2012, 02:39 PM   #10
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If the Interstate folks said they were "good to go" then that is pretty much straight from the horses mouth - but - as you travel along - if the batteries don't feel up to snuff then purchase along the way.

If there is some instant failure that leaves you completely without power when you need it most then one of the great benefits of a caravan is that you have folks with you who are immediately available to help out - if you don't have a generator it is likely others will - no great deal to hook up an extension cord.

Maybe a call to the organizers will help ease your mind (or not) - then you can take it from there.

Enjoy your trip.

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Old 04-25-2012, 02:53 PM   #11
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Just my opinion, and nothing else.

If the batteries test good under load and the electrolyte gravity is good, then I would not replace them.

But, I would not consider leaving home without some generator capacity. I have been limited too many times by thinking we would not need it. Trees on power lines, wanting to camp somewhere other than where we thought we would, a cold snap that takes more furnace use than the batteries can supply.

We chose the red twins, and I will not leave home without at least one of them.

Especially, if I were off to the wilds of Alaska.

I hope you enjoy your trip, whatever your choice.

Jeff & Cindy
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:25 PM   #12
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re: "Never replace one battery of a pair. This will cause one to draw against the other and kill it in no time." -- this conclusion doesn't pass the most simple consideration of the effects of age on batteries. Think about it: old batteries have the same voltage parameters as do new ones. Think about it: most RV's connect the starting and house batteries in parallel when going down the road.

All that happens, old battery or new battery, small battery or big one, is that the battery with the greatest capacity will do most of the work and accept most of the charge. That does tend to wear it a bit more but nothing catastrophic.

Wet cell, deep cycle, 6v vs 12v - again, not at issue. By far and away the most significant impact on battery age is use and maintenance, not type, not voltage, not marketing focus, ...

If you look at the NAWS FAQ you'll note that they think 4-7 years is a reasonable life span for lead acid batteries. AGM's may last a tad longer. Then look at warranties.

38 months is more than 3 years so the batteries are getting long in the tooth. The Battery Tender(tm) is a float trickle charge thing - better than nothing but it doesn't do anything to inhibit sulfation.

The simple 'load tests' you get in most places are worthless IMHO. Battery end of life is mostly deciding how much degredation you can tolerate and RVers (some of them, especially those who brag about excessive battery life, seem to be able to tolerate a lot),

The note that these batteries are commodity items and available most anywhere is probably the most valuable I see. If your batteries are doing fine for your normal camping, don't worry about them. The cost isn't all that bad even if you have to pay a premium price.
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Old 04-25-2012, 04:47 PM   #13
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My comment should have been qualified: We use a battery isolator switch and only use one battery at a time. So, the new "backup" battery could be used to replace the one that fails. If both trailer batteries fail, one new battery is better than none at all; especially if you don't have a generator. Also, in a pinch, the new battery could also be used as a temporary replacement in tow vehicle, if it's battery failed.
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Old 04-25-2012, 06:16 PM   #14
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Thumbs up No science involved

I would say that the simple act of someone who makes a living selling new batteries telling you that yours are still good, pretty much says it all.


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