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Old 05-20-2007, 01:07 AM   #1
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Batteries Killed at Casini

Hi, my trailer is two and one half years old; Will be three on September 7th 2007. On my last trip out [Casini Ranch] my batteries vertually died. While being plugged in to shore power my battery meter, on the monitor board, shows battery good. As soon as I disconnected from shore power, my battery meter shows two red lights on the bottom of the scale. Today I brought my batteries to work to test them on the new Ford battery charger/tester. Tests show both batterries are bad. Both batteries show 12 + volts, but vertually no amps.
Costco has the best price for group 24 RV/Marine batteries. Wal-Mart was higher and Camping world even higher. Costco has Kirkland, Wal-Mart has Everstart, or something like that, and Camping World has Interstate. I'm tempted on just buying the cheapest for a few reasons. (1) Short life. (2) Short warranty. (3) Very little boon docking. (4) Kirkland $53.00 / Lifeline $150.00 24 to 30 month warranty. (5) No generator or solar cells.
Do you agree with me, for the short life span and the short warranty, I should just go for the cheap batteries or do you see something from a different angle that I should think about before buying new batteries?
[according to the Interstate Battery web site, my original batteries were warranteed for 18 months]
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Old 05-20-2007, 01:30 AM   #2
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Well I do for one. When I got batteries for Buttercup I bought the cheapest things I could find at batteries plus (about $56 each) and they are still plugging along. I add distilled water every year if they need it and make sure they are maintained. I even load test them by putting 500 amps draw for 15 seconds to check for volts at full load (an indication of sulfation buildup on the plates). I use a load tester that I got from Harbor Freight Tools. It is a great tool to see how your batteries are doing. If the plates do build up sulfation they can show good voltage but they will have such high internal resistance that they will not be able to deliver load. Any load put on them will just cause the voltage to drop out the bottom.

Your batteries probably went bad because they went for a long enough time, perhaps on the dealers lot, without a proper charge which will build up the sulfation. It doesn't take much to make a battery go bad. But it also takes so little to keep them happy.
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Old 05-20-2007, 05:32 AM   #3
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A little known secret is the cheaper, lower cranking amp batteries will generally last longer because they have fewer plates, and more electrolyte capacity. This holds true for deep cycle batteries as well, even if we don't use the cranking amps.
The fewer plates, the less chance of two plates touching under a sudden load, and shorting. Also, the more electrolyte, the better the heat dissipation qualities while charging.
While I wouldn't recommend getting a Jim & Bob's Generic Battery Co. battery, any "well known" economy deep cycle battery would do the trick.
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Old 05-20-2007, 05:50 AM   #4
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Buttercup is right on. It doesn't make any difference whether you have cheap (inexpensive) or or expensive batteries. If you don't take care of them, they won't last. Besides adding distilled water, removing sulfation from the plates is important to a properly functioning battery. I'm starting my 6th season with my battery and it's still going strong. I use a PulseTech Power Pulse desulfator module to keep the sulfation from building up. It only costs $67.95 (not much more than an inexpensive battery).
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:13 AM   #5
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Don't forget your converter. ANY battery loves a 3-stage charger that the newer converters use. If you're still using a Univolt, use it as an anchor on your boat and invest in a quality switch-mode electronic converter.

You and your batteries will be MUCH happier!!
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
Don't forget your converter. ANY battery loves a 3-stage charger that the newer converters use. If you're still using a Univolt, use it as an anchor on your boat and invest in a quality switch-mode electronic converter.

You and your batteries will be MUCH happier!!
A desulfator is a good way to go but the modern 3 stage chargers will go a long way towards preventing sulfation buildup on the plates. BTW, there is no proven chemical that I know of that will "rejuvinate" a battery. Once the plates are sulfated, it's over - even if you use a desulfator. At this point a desulfator will improve a battery's condition but not much more. If you do decide to use a desulfator, start using it early. It could pay for itself. I say that assuming that you have a univolt and not a modern 3 stage charger OR that you do not keep your trailer plugged in and charging all the time. I keep mine plugged in to allow my intellipower to do it's daily maintenance cycle.

For trailers with the 3 stage charging the desulfator is probably not needed - again provided you are plugged in all the time.
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
A little known secret is the cheaper, lower cranking amp batteries will generally last longer because they have fewer plates, and more electrolyte capacity. This holds true for deep cycle batteries as well, even if we don't use the cranking amps.
The fewer plates, the less chance of two plates touching under a sudden load, and shorting. Also, the more electrolyte, the better the heat dissipation qualities while charging.
While I wouldn't recommend getting a Jim & Bob's Generic Battery Co. battery, any "well known" economy deep cycle battery would do the trick.
That is an interesting observation.I would have figured you get what you pay for, but, when I think about it, I have had better success with inexpensive automotive batteries that the premium priced ones. In fact, every time I had a premium battery go out on me, they died without much warning.

The inexpensive ones, gave warning.

Sam
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:55 AM   #8
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Lew is right on.

As for cheap batts, that's what was in our Airstreams to start with. Of course, because my converter is not 3 stage, my batts would be on constant charge and if not careful, they'd dry out. So, I'd unplug from shore power, only to get there late 2x and they were totally dead....now, they have very little capacity. First step in any batt replacement is to replace the converter. Even the el cheapo batts will last longer as will the more expensive ones with that step out of the way. You then can leave the RV plugged in and let the converter worry about it the right way from what I understand.
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Old 05-20-2007, 08:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttercup
For trailers with the 3 stage charging the desulfator is probably not needed - again provided you are plugged in all the time.
So has Airstream produced any trailer years with this style charger, or are you addressing this line to folks who have done upgrades?

Jack
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Old 05-20-2007, 10:12 AM   #10
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Univolt?

When did Airstream stop using Univolt?
How do I tell what I have in my 1995 Excella?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
Don't forget your converter. ANY battery loves a 3-stage charger that the newer converters use. If you're still using a Univolt, use it as an anchor on your boat and invest in a quality switch-mode electronic converter.

You and your batteries will be MUCH happier!!
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Old 05-20-2007, 10:43 AM   #11
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I have Costco deep cycle batteries in my MH and they have provided good service. They are over two years old and still going strong. Costco is very good about returns although the warranty on the deep cycles is not the same as with the starting batteries. I was told by a fellow at the repair shop where I take my MH that Costco batteries are made by Interstate.
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Old 05-20-2007, 12:40 PM   #12
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Just an FYI--as a former employee of Interstate Batteries, I can tell you that Interstate is an automotive battery distributor, not a manufacturer. Their batteries are mostly made by Johnson Controls. (They actually do manufacture some of their small batteries but not automotive batteries.)

Just FYI!

Susan
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Old 05-20-2007, 02:49 PM   #13
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I am still on our original two Interstates, and this will be our third year.

I've made every attempt to be kind to them: In the fall attached to BatteryMinder until spring. Checked water levels, though I have never had to add water.

I was just at the storage place today and after sitting for a few weeks with out any shore power, they read 12.2 volts.

I think this means they are still OK. If we boondock, I make sure that every day for an hour or so, I zap the batteries with the Honda generator.

Is 12.2 volts still OK?

Jonathan
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Old 05-20-2007, 03:09 PM   #14
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Battery Died

Seems like a few of us are having battery problems, must be in the air.
My husband just left to re-place our battery it was an Interstate Aug 2002 yes you read right a 5 year old battery and it just bit the dust. I can't complain it has been a good one.
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