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Old 08-11-2008, 02:20 PM   #1
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Battery life

Our dear Lucy is a 2005 25FB that we purchased new on June 1, 2006. At time of purchased our Airstream Dealer installed two brand new Interstate Marine/RV Deep Cycle Batteries.

Here we are 2+ years later. We have pulled Lucy 33,000+ miles and have spent almost 300 nights in her. These batteries have not given us any problems whatsoever.

What can I expect in the service life of these original batteries? Is there a way to test them that will give some indication of their remaining service life?

We are preparing to take a six week Western trip right after Labor Day. We are trying to avoid any problems on the road, and I got to thinking about Lucy's batteries.

I am also looking for recommendations for new replacement batteries. We do some boondocking, but have a pair of Honda 2000's to keep the batteries charged.

Brian
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:38 PM   #2
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I would think you should be fine. My thought is you have a few to maybe 3 good years left. Alot depends on storage. Last time I replaced mine were in 1998. My sons and I went hunting for 1 week. Ran them dead everynight charged um back up with the truck. They still seem good. I dont care for it like I should cuz I keep expecting to replace them in the spring. If they are a good battery you should be fine. I have Castle brand. I was told to pick up the battery Before I buy it and choose the heaviest 1. I did I was told it has thicker lead plates in it. Napa makes a good 1 to
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:49 PM   #3
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Mosetags,
I had to replace the original Interstate batteries in our '06 half way trough the season this year. One of them boiled, so I replaced both. I don't understand why one boiled. I am fanatical about keeping the electrolytes topped off and I periodically put them on a good trickle charger. And they are always removed during the winter and placed in a warm basement and charged every other week.

I think a battery warehouse should be able to place your batteries on a load tester to tell you how far gone your batteries are.
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:55 PM   #4
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Here in Florida, 2-3 years is about it for batteries. If yours are 2+ years old, and yo are going on an extended trip, I would seriously consider replacing them as a preventative measure. I replaced the battery in our coach early this year, the battery that was in there was just over 2 years old.
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:35 PM   #5
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I replace mine every 3-4 years after learning the hard way. Heat can kill quickly.
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:37 PM   #6
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Boil Over is from over chargeing. I had an old univolt that did that but I cought it in time. I switched to the blue univolt , the old 1 was tan I must have gotten lucky so far on the age of my batteries
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:24 PM   #7
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Moose.

I have a Safari 30 bought from Ol Bates RV July 06, and just had to replace my batteries. I do think however despite what they told me, these batteries sat on the lot for the year and a half the trailer did. Mine were the Interstate deep cycle, one was still good and the other sulfated despite my best maintenance. We we fixing to leave to Wyoming for three weeks and I replaced before my trip.

Oh, by the way Optima has the blue tops with a 25 dollar rebate each until August 31, thats what I replaced them with. I seem to have much better amp hours I like the anti corrosion element they feature. I have an optima in my 01 Suburban that is 7 years old!!
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:14 PM   #8
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It's my opinion (I'm a battery shop owner) that Optima's are not the best choice for use in deep cycle service...they are only 55 amp hour rated, while flooded cell deep cycle batteries of the same size (10 inch long) have about a 90 amp hour rating....the larger the amp hour rating, the longer you can run your stuff!

If you are after a sealed battery similar to the Optima, look for an AGM type...they are rated at about 75 amp hours, but cost at least twice as much as flooded cell types.

Corrosion of flooded cell types should not be a problem if you keep the terminals clean and coat them with any grease type product that will keep the the oxygen away...vasaline even works, or any one of the flexible type products sold for coating battery terminals.

I've used flooded cell batteries for years and years in all my stuff without any real corrosion problems...but I do try to take care of them, and actually LOOK at them every couple of months...that's the real 'secret' of long lasting battery banks - don't neglect them - you change the oil in your TV's engine to make it last longer, why not your battery system as well????

I usually advise customers in my battery shop the their new deep cycle batteries, if cared for properly will have a useful service life of 4-6 years.

There is no real test that I've heard of that can predict the remaining useful service life of a lead-acid type battery...If you notice that your stuff isn't running as long as usual, it's time to think about replacement.

As to the 'boiling' comments...if your battery has a shorted cell, you then have a 10 volt battery, and your 12 volt charger will 'boil' the fluid from the remaining cells...or possibly, you have an older type charger that doesn't have a 'float' setting, and if you're plugged into shore power all the time, your charge will eventually 'boil' the fluid away!

Sorry gang, 99% of the battery problems I see are due to negelect...bad connections, frayed or undersized cables, dirty battery tops, with road crud, low fluid level, overcharging, or no charge at all for months, etc, etc.

If there is a real 'warranty' type mfg. problem with a battery, it will usually show up quickly when placed in service....after that, it's up to we users the take care of them properly to get a long service life.
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mexray View Post
As to the 'boiling' comments...if your battery has a shorted cell, you then have a 10 volt battery, and your 12 volt charger will 'boil' the fluid from the remaining cells...or possibly, you have an older type charger that doesn't have a 'float' setting, and if you're plugged into shore power all the time, your charge will eventually 'boil' the fluid away!
Mexray,
I do all the things that you state to try to keep my batteries in tip-top shape. When in storage during the camping season here in PA, I turn of the 12 volt master switch (I know it isn't a total disconnect) and she is not constantly hooked up to shore power unless in preparation for a trip or while out camping. The charger in our '06 is a Parallax series 7400 model 7455. Do you knoe if that model has the 'float' setting that you talk of?

I replaced the Magnatek converter in our '87 with the the 60 amp Inteli-Power 9200 model and it works GREAT. But I really don't relish the idea of replacing a brand new functioning converter in our '06.

Any thoughts?
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:30 PM   #10
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I have a 2005 AS with the Interstate batteries and I replaced them this year. We do a lot of boondocking and I found I wasn't getting much more than a night of battery life when fully charged. I replaced them with Exide Nautilus Gold Marine/RV Deep Cycle. I'm back up to about 3 nights of battery life without recharging.
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:44 PM   #11
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It's all about the AMP HOUR rating...the higher the AH rating, the longer you can run your stuff...Interstate sells similar sized batteries with different ratings, check out the specs before buying!

I don't sell converter/chargers...I would check Parallax's web site, or ask the guys at BestConverter.com for some spec info to see it your particular model is a '3-stage' type charger.

Make sure you batteries are fully charged prior to putting your AS in storage...then you should probably try to give them a boost charge every 3 months or so...unhooking from the trailer electrical system also helps...a discharged battery will allow for quicker build up of sulfate crystals on the places, causing a decline in capacity.
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:51 PM   #12
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Something that helps ours, is we have a small solar trickle charger to keep the battery topped up. A downside to life in Florida is the combination of nearly year-round heat, humidity, and if you are within a few miles of the coast, you get salt spray and sea fog. Salt will cause problems with the batteries, as well as contribute to corrosion on the terminals.
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:51 PM   #13
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Exclamation Battery Life

I agree with Mexray.
Just want to add a few tidbits.

Batteries used for stationary generators (FAA Navigational Transmitter Sites back up generators: 8 to 10 years) will last longer than ones used in mobile equipment.

Vibration is a conventional batteries worst enemy. There have been a lot of advancments to fight the effects of vibration over the years.

First both my Interstates boiled last week. Come to find out (yes I kept an eye on the water and there was no corrosion) both were bad (shorted cell in one, reduced voltage in the other{old age}).
If your battery mysteriously boils do this:
1. Remove the battery from your trailer.
2. Charge it on an automatic battery charger for 24 hours on the 2 amp rate.
3. Remove it from charge and let it sit for 24 hours.
4. Measure the voltage of the battery using a multimeter. You should have at least 12 Volts showing
on your multimeter. Any less than that and the battery needs to be replaced.
The reason the battery boiled is because the converter is trying to (if it is a three stage charger) charge it up to 13.6 to 13.8 volts and the best the battery can rise to is less than 12 volts. The converter sees this as a load and will allow more current to flow. This excess current is changed to heat and will eventually boil the battery.
The 2 amps from the trickle charger used previously will not boil the battery but will charge it up if it is good.
Take your volt meter and measure the unloaded output of your converter (turn off all load and disconnect both batteries). If you have a Charge Wizard you can step through the three levels and see if the voltages are within reason. A voltage chart is available at

Charge Wizard

Mine read 14.5, 13.8 and 13.4 respectively.

Saturday morning I placed a known good car battery in one battery box, energized the trailer and turned on the battery switch. Because I had previously charged this battery the voltage level selected by the Charge Wizard was 13.8 volts. After 30 plus hours (inaccordance with the chart refer to above (web site) the Voltage level dropped to 13.4 as it should. A couple hours ago I peeked in on the Charge Wizard and it was at high charge (LED on solid), and hour later it was back at one flash every 5 seconds (in accordance with the web site).
Lessons learned:
1. Just because the battery boiled dosent mean the converter ran away.
2. Two Batteries can fail at the same time. (Mine were both of 2002 manufacture).
3. Remove the batteries and place them on trickle charge for 24 hours, then remove the charge and let set for 24 hours and measure the voltage. I the voltage is less than 12 volts (if the battery is bad it will usually be 10 volts or less) the battery is bad.
4. Obtain the charging rate charts from your manufacturer and using a good smaller battery ( a junk yard battery less than 2 years old that takes a good charge) and test the converter as I have. It could save you several hundred dollars.
5. The selection of charge rate seems to determined by current draw (for either Boost or Normal) and time (Normal or Storage) since the converter was energized. I have the luxury of being able to step through the charge rates and see if the converter is regulating properly.
Any corrections or additions are welcomed.
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Old 08-19-2008, 07:20 PM   #14
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This is not in camping application but I think it might hold some truth for camping. I Drag Race a Mustang (No chargeing system) I was using deep cycle batteries but I couldnt make it 3 rounds with minimmal draw. I talked around and I needed more "reserve capacity" Now I can race all day without a charge maybe 9 rounds depending how far I go before elimination. I learned no matter what I replace batteries in I look for reserve capacity. This has made all the differance in the wolrd for me. Optima didnt have what I needed but the big advantage to optima was mouting them in anyposition or a roll over. I didnt care about either. I went with a good NAPA brand. I am not that sold on Interstate anymore. Mine didnt last all that long. New Castle Battery or NAPA is where I had my luck. New Vastle has been in there since 1999. When I hunt I back it up with a NAPA out of my Mustang hooked in parralel
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