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Old 08-20-2014, 08:44 AM   #15
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There is no reason your Sears AGM should fail any sooner than any other battery assuming it is a premium battery with a long guarantee. The agms in my boat are going on six years.
If it lasted only a few years and you have upgraded your Univolt to a three stage charger, you should consider if there is a problem in your electrical system which caused your batteries premature failure. A short or current drain would keep your battery discharged and shorten its life. Long deep cycle battery life is dependent on not completely discharging your battery.
Your battery isolator switch should cut off most 12v circuits so you can troubleshoot the few remaining. Other posters have reported battery draining problems in the isolator switch itself, the trailer jack or the propane detector.
You can test circuits one by one by hooking a multimeter to your battery and seeing if there is a voltage drop as you turn on individual circuits. Good luck in finding the root of your problem.
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Old 08-20-2014, 09:02 AM   #16
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In my opinion, which battery to buy depends largely on how you use your rig, i.e., frequent boondocking, or primarily with electrical hookups.

There are many battery brands, or labels in the US, but very few battery manufacturers. Most batteries are essentially private labels manufactured by one of the very small number of manufacturers. This is not something that I constantly revisit, but when I initially looked at replacing the OEM batteries a few years ago for my 2000 AS, my usage was, and remains, primarily with electrical hookups; consequently I looked at the less-expensive lead acid RV batteries, rather than the more expensive AGM, etc. At that time, I looked at several brands, including Wal-Mart, Sears Diehard, Interstate, Costco, and others. At that time, ALL were manufactured by Johnson Controls for the various retail labels. I don't know this for a fact, but I suspect that the manufacturing and private labeling process makes it more efficient/economical to label one of Johnson Controls "shelf products", rather than uniquely build a certain battery for a particular brand.

In the specific size category of interest to me, Group 27, according to the specs provided by Johnson Controls on their website, I compared their physical size, AH, Reserve Capacity, etc., and their weight. I interpreted the "weight" as a proxy for comparing the lead plates inside the batteries. I don't remember how many were identical in every respect, most were, but I do remember that Interstate and Costco RV batteries were identical, including weight. Consequently, I decided then, and continue to buy based on price and warranty.

I'll leave it to others to comment on the best battery for boondocking, and on the condition of your converter.
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Old 08-20-2014, 10:16 AM   #17
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I go expensive

My experience with batteries is that when they fail, you wish they had not at that instant. Consequently I have always bought top of the line replacement batteries.
In my boat I used Lifeline AGM with good experience and with a good battery monitor you can tell when they are beginning to deteriorate. Applicable to our trailers although we do not need cranking amps.
In my cars, I have replaced the OEM with Odyssey, a pretty bulletproof, albeit expensive replacement.
I am tempted, when my Airstream Lifelines die to try to replace with Odyssey but there may be some fit issues as Group 24 is not really a vehicle spec, it seems.
Of course if you never expect to rely on your batteries then the cheap solution is Wal-Mart. Flooded cells are fine if you take care of them, watch the water level and beware of over charging or excessive discharging.
Larry
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Old 08-20-2014, 10:31 AM   #18
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Mimi

Your shelf may be 14x7, but I suspect you have the same space back there that I have. I would remove the metal shelf and just install a plywood shelf. Mine is 3/4", but 1/2" would be fine too. Take a look at my "Dan's Tradewind Improvements" thread, post #8. The golf cart batteries are 10.5x7" and there is plenty of room for two of them. The photo below also shows a 400 watt inverter connected to the batteries. This gives me outside 120v power for my fan and a small table lamp.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f116...nts-94152.html

Dan
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Old 08-20-2014, 11:03 AM   #19
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Yes to all of the above, mimiandrews. If you are familiar with keeping an eye on the electrolyte level, you can keep a battery healthy longer. Sealed tops just surprise you one day. And I'll go one step beyond handn and advise you to get a four stage converter. What all that means is: a standard two stage charger willl deliver a low charge rate of maybe 10 or 20 amps, and when the voltage drops below a certain point they switch to the max rate (usually marked on the label). They are for camping and using the trailer, not for long term battery storage. If left on for extended time they will cook your battery and then probably go on and burn their own self up trying to charge the dead carcass (to use technical terms). If you have one of those you should simply turn it off at the breaker when you store the trailer and use a small float charger or solar panel for long term maintenance. A three stage charger has a very low "maintain" rate of about .5A or less that it automatically switches to when the battery is fully charged so it won't boil off the acid. A four stage charger adds yet another function. If it is left on for a programmed period of time (typically a week) it briefly applies a higher voltage to dislodge gas bubbles on the plates and stir up the acid, intended to prevent a sulphate coating from forming. If you do need a new converter you might as well go for the whole deal, but if the old one is still working it must be a tough one. Why not keep it? Just get one of those little cube maintainers from any auto supply. As to battery selection, location must be considered. My Bambi has the tray on the tongue so I really don't want to add a second battery and add all that weight. I am currently using the second battery from my boat for in-shop power with my new Boondocker 60A converter. When the trailer is ready for the road I will buy the group31 marine deep cycle battery that weighs the most, regardless of the numbers on the outside. It's the amount of lead inside that matters.
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Old 08-20-2014, 02:54 PM   #20
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Been there, done that--battery is bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by handn View Post
There is no reason your Sears AGM should fail any sooner than any other battery assuming it is a premium battery with a long guarantee. The agms in my boat are going on six years.
If it lasted only a few years and you have upgraded your Univolt to a three stage charger, you should consider if there is a problem in your electrical system which caused your batteries premature failure. A short or current drain would keep your battery discharged and shorten its life. Long deep cycle battery life is dependent on not completely discharging your battery.
Your battery isolator switch should cut off most 12v circuits so you can troubleshoot the few remaining. Other posters have reported battery draining problems in the isolator switch itself, the trailer jack or the propane detector.
You can test circuits one by one by hooking a multimeter to your battery and seeing if there is a voltage drop as you turn on individual circuits. Good luck in finding the root of your problem.
I think all that you're recommending has been done already. I went through that trailer with an ohmmeter, and there's nothing there that should kill a battery. The only continuous load of any kind is the propane detector, and there's a switch that will isolate that. Resistance between the positive and negative battery terminal wires (with the battery removed, of course) is infinite.

As I said previously, the converter has been changed, and there is no battery isolater in this trailer, other than the previously mentioned manual switch.

I think I just lucked into a battery with a fault in it somewhere. The last test, with the battery completely removed from the trailer, shows that it took less than four days for what should have been a fully-charged battery to drop from 12 volts to less than 10 volts. Trust me, that battery was connected to nothing but air.
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Old 08-20-2014, 03:09 PM   #21
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Thanks Aironius. I have a 3-stage converter, and do not leave the trailer plugged in while in storage. A small battery maintainer is connected to take care of the battery then.

The battery that has failed ate up the maintainer, and that's what started this investigation.

I'll keep in mind what you said about weight of a battery as an indicator of quality.

Thanks TouringDan, but I don't think we'll boondock enough to justify another rebuild of that battery rack. There's a lot of plumbing, etc. in the area, and access to that is a good thing.

I have looked at the golf cart batteries, and each of those weighs almost as much as the AGM battery that I'm replacing. My interest in two batteries has to do with saving an old lady's back, not in increasing battery capacity.

I've already rebuilt the original battery support in this trailer to help it handle the weight. Original was just a piece of thin galvanized steel bent into a shelf and riveted into place. It now has a support truss welded up out of 1/2" square steel tubing underneath and that is securely mounted to the trailer floor.

Thanks everyone for the recommendations for a good battery. I think I'll go back to the wet cell type. A voltmeter and a hydrometer will tell me most of what's going on in one of those. Besides, I can buy two or three of them for what Sears charged me for that AGM.

Thanks everyone for the recommendations and for participating in the discussion.

Mimi
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:07 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DryFly View Post
We, and our neighbors, buy our marine deep cycles from Costco. They are "warrantied" for 60 months. At 61 months, they die, so we buy another.
I shopped around and the Costco batteries were the best deal for the money and warranty.
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:14 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pappy19 View Post
I shopped around and the Costco batteries were the best deal for the money and warranty.

Posted from elsewhere:

Quote:



For those who are interested, we are on our third set of Costco deep cycle batteries in 6 years, About every two years we need to replace them and these are just under that 2 year limit. I know some of you battery elitists are thinking, 'man, that's not lasting very long. My fancy $600 pair of agm batteries lasts 5 years before I need to replace them.' Well, that may be true, but battery life is based on the number of charge cycle they get and since we are plugged in less than 5% of the time, these go thru a lot of cycles in these same two years. Also, Costco gives me 25% credit towards new batteries if I bring them in before the 2-year mark. That means it only costs me $100 every two years to replace both batteries. That's compared to $600 every 5 years for a pair of fancy AGMs. My math tells me I am $350 ahead in those same 5 years.
I run a Sears Diehard Platinum AGM battery in my Adventure Mobile. It's a rebranded Oddessy battery. But the above post has me considering Costco's batteries for our Stream.
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