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Old 08-05-2011, 05:51 PM   #15
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Bought a cheap hydrometer batterys sat all night on shore pwr and read approx 12.8 when I switched off. 45 min latter 12.6/12.4. Pulled batteries out and 1st cell borderline red 3 more solid green and one off the chart red. 2nd battery no better. At the end of test one battery was down to 12.37 and falling the other holding at 12.42. Bad batteries... best guess cause overcharging.

Also some cells appeared to me to very low on water the old instructions from my youth to fill to bottom of extended lip is no longer on batteries but the level here was very much below that level but not below the cells. Any point in filling w/water and re-checking?

Recommendations on new batteries? Should I trouble shoot for possible drain w/new battery or old.
Is a new converter really necessary or should I just be more careful with shore power?
Should I always disconnect when on shore power?
Again thanks for all advise...my experience to date has been just w/tractor and RV w/o converter batteries and battery charger was just to get vehicle started.
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:43 PM   #16
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I use the Interstate deep cycle batteries. Formerly use the Walmart deep cycle. I manage with the converter ( I guess I am stubborn and cheap). One thing you can do is put the trailer on a timer and just run the power 1 or 2 hours a day to keep the batteries up without boiling them as fast. Would not hurt to still check for draw. Ampmeter or perhaps as simple as looking for a spark when you hook the last positive up. Or you can leave the trailer hooked up and put just the converter on a timer. My trailer has a switched outlet for the converter.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:05 PM   #17
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aswbe..

Do you NEED a new converter, no.
But if you use the AS a lot and and want more peace of mind when using shore power it would probably make sense.

Do you NEED expensive AGM batteries, no.
But if the freedom to go without shore power, extended run time, longer service life and the convenience of a sealed battery is important. It's worth considering.

I replaced the OEM converter with an IOTA IQ4 55a and the batteries with two Lifeline AGM grp 27 100a.

No regrets.
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:51 AM   #18
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yes a hydrometer will tell you which cell is dead ... but all you need to know is if the battery is bad or not and that can be done with a voltmeter.

As for hazmat precautions and contamination, no I am not kidding. I know very well how sensibilities for such things have changed over the last 40 years and I also know about the sort of events that have caused folks to re-think the need for proper procedures when dealing with caustic acids and batteries.

I do not think it wise to dismiss or ridicule hazardous materials caveats and cautions.

Used to be that acid holes burned in clothing was no big deal. Neither were a few facial scars or maybe even a lost eyeball. Things are a bit different now. (we used to chase mercury blobs from broken thermometers around the floor, too. Now that's a school shutdown even)

The plain fact is that, for most RV needs, a voltmeter will suffice just fine.
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Old 08-06-2011, 10:09 AM   #19
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bryanl make a good point...I have been in the habit of using the hydrometer because that was the way it always was done. But the fact that it shows a bad cell, therefore a bad battery, does not help you. You can't fix it anyway. Testing the battery for the ability to hold a charge tells you the same thing. If it's bad, it's bad.

So - anyone want my hydrometer, cheap?

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Old 08-06-2011, 10:32 AM   #20
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I think a hydrometer is still useful. It tells you when a cell is becoming less good even though the battery is still holding a charge and allows you to read all the battery threads, price batteries and be ready for new ones.

Pat, keep your hydrometer. It's still a tool and a lot easier to use than checking charge over a period of days and disconnecting and re-connecting the batteries.

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Old 08-07-2011, 09:01 AM   #21
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Battery issues

Gene
I agree, for those of us who are electrically challenged this was a quick and easy way to determine I needed new batteries. Living a 30 mile round trip from auto repair facilities/stores and working long hrs my time is limited to diagnose and fix (any kind) of problems. This forum has been extremely helpful on many issues for that reason. I will continue to research long term fixes and upgrades and group them all together for an off season trip to an RV service center.
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:22 AM   #22
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re: "It's still a tool and a lot easier to use than checking charge over a period of days and disconnecting and re-connecting the batteries."

It is much much easier just to measure the voltage with a good modern DVM, much safer, much more convenient, less like to have something untoward happen, and voltage, properly measured, will tell you all you need to know.

Both specific gravity and voltage are primary indicators of battery state of charge, both need proper measurement technique, and both need proper interpretation of the measures.

I still don't think it a good idea to ignore advice such as at Lead-Acid Battery Info or Lead Acid Battery Maintenance and Safety Protocol (which cites "Nationally, 2300 people are injured each year using lead acid batteries. Acid burns to the face and eyes comprise about 50% of these injuries as these batteries can easily explode. The remaining injuries were mostly due to lifting or dropping batteries as they are quite heavy.")

What intrigues me is that there is such a cavalier attitude about battery safety, where there is a measured risk, while issues such as hitches and weight ratings, where there isn't sufficient data to assess risk, cause people to go absolutely bonkers about safety issues.

Note also in the quote above about the confusion between battery condition and battery state of charge and battery failure. These are entirely separate things. Specific gravity and voltage tell you about state of charge. The modern method to determine battery condition is usually with what is called a conductance test (see batteryuniversity.com for more about this). Conductance tests have replaced load testing because it is less destructive.
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Old 08-07-2011, 09:31 AM   #23
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I still don't think it a good idea to ignore advice such as at Lead-Acid Battery Info or Lead Acid Battery Maintenance and Safety Protocol (which cites "Nationally, 2300 people are injured each year using lead acid batteries. Acid burns to the face and eyes comprise about 50% of these injuries as these batteries can easily explode. The remaining injuries were mostly due to lifting or dropping batteries as they are quite heavy.")
I didn't know that using a hydrometer would cause a battery to explode, or that using one causes a battery to drop through the bottom of the battery box.

When quoting a source to prove a point, you should use a quote that actually applies to the situation. And I doubt anyone is ignoring the advice, but are choosing whether to follow it or not according to the situation.

I suppose there is someone who uses a hydrometer as an eyedropper, but that seems pretty unlikely except for someone so self destructive that they will find some way to blind themselves even if the hydrometer is taken away from them. Careful people usually do quite fine and careful people are usually aware of the dangers involved with sulphuric acid. There's nothing we can do about self destructive people except provide funds for mental health treatments. Fortunately we have choices—hydrometer or not, multitester or not.

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Old 08-07-2011, 09:50 AM   #24
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Even though the batts in the AS are sealed I still have a use for this in two out of five of my applications.

To quick and easy to give up....sorry.
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Old 08-07-2011, 12:08 PM   #25
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What intrigues me is that there is such a cavalier attitude about battery safety, where there is a measured risk, while issues such as hitches and weight ratings, where there isn't sufficient data to assess risk, cause people to go absolutely bonkers about safety issues.
as someone that has used one over many years i have to agree that i should have known what i know now before i used one. i rarely use one now and sometimes just dip the voltmeter tip into the electrolyte to get a cell voltage reading. (not advised)

i find adding water to be much more dangerous and would encourage water auto fillers before ditching the hydrometer. i store mine in a glass jar and keep baking soda and water with my battery tools.

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Old 08-07-2011, 07:37 PM   #26
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You can use a turkey baster to add water to a battery. Never had a problem with this primitive method.

It is not a good idea, however, to use the turkey baster to baste turkey after using it to fill a battery.

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Old 08-08-2011, 09:04 AM   #27
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As for my quote being appropriate to the context, the snark about hydrometry causing a battery to blow up (and dipping voltmeters), and the 'always done it that way" -- my, oh, my.

It is very interesting the extent to which the mind will rationalize ...

Gaining access to batteries in Airstreams usually requires pulling them from a small compartment. They are heavy. They are in tight quarters. They are full of acid. Stuff happens. It has in the past and there is a risk that it will again.

Unless you are a masochist or stuck on outdated habits or something, you don't need to drag the battery out of its box and play with acid. You can simply use a voltmeter appropriately, like any other measuring tool including a hydrometer, to find out if your battery needs replacement.

The key is that you do not need to know if a particular cell is bad, only if the battery is bad. There is no need to take the risks of hydrometry for that (and no need to rationalize taking those risks, either!)

I wonder, is safe practice and recognition of risk something to be treated as it has been here (dismissed, minimized, or ridiculed) or is another approach perhaps more responsible?
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Old 08-08-2011, 10:29 AM   #28
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Gaining access to batteries in Airstreams usually requires pulling them from a small compartment.
Perhaps in your 1975 Ambassador you have to remove the batteries to test them. You may be unaware that removing batteries is not necessary to test them with a hydrometer in other models. It is certainly not necessary to remove them in any car or truck I have seen.

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