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Old 03-13-2012, 08:52 AM   #1
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Best RV Battery?

Hi Folks! Newbie here, with our 24' Argosy... loving it! So here is the first of what I'm sure will be many questions.... which is the best RV battery on the market? We live in Key West, and while I don't plan on sinking this thing, should I get a marine battery, since we are surrounded by ocean air? I appreciate any thoughts on this, thank you! Jim C.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:36 AM   #2
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(EDIT) Oops - on this your first post... Welcome to the Forums!

A marine battery is a hybrid between deep-cycle and automotive starting battery, designed with a longer discharge capacity similar to the deep cycle while still having a large surge capacity to handle motor starting requirements. So the marine battery will play a radio for 'x' hours longer than an automotive battery and still (usually) be able to start the motor to get back to the dock. Throwing high current to a starter motor is its own design thats not compatible with low trickle discharges like reading lamps or playing a radio softly.

They sell a lot of marine-style batteries so the price & availability might be more attractive but its still a compromise - for a trailer the sweet spot on batteries is pure deep cycle and there are just a few of them in the standard sizes AND twelve volts.

AGM and gel style batteries have a 75-150% price premium but will hold their charge 10x longer, last 2x as long if meticulously cared for, and generally are not made to be a starter battery so provide low current loads for a much longer time than the FLA. (AGM absorbed glass matt between lead plates, gel is a jellied electrolyte that makes it spill proof but needs higher charge currents to keep the gel circulating, FLA is flooded lead acid construction that is the cheapest but can spill and bubble out sulfuric acid mist)

BUT AGM and gels require a lower charge voltage - and temperature compensation (warm batteries get lower voltages) to make them last more than half of their warrantied period. So the fancy batteries may require a new-tech converter-charger.

Anyhow - using what is provided with your Argosy, original charger and battery box, stuff a marine battery in it but you will probably need to be able to add water or at least check the electrolyte levels during a heavy season of use.

Many marine style batteries are the 'sealed' maintenance free flavors not really intended to be on a charge all summer long so being able to shut off the charger when the battery is 90%+ charged (and remembering to bring it back online before the battery uses 25-35% of remaining charge) would be good husbanding of the system.

Clear as mud, right?
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:41 AM   #3
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Try and find the highest Amp Hour Rated, Deep Cycle, RV/Marine battery in the size that fits your battery box...

Group 24 is about 10 "long and usually about 80 AH rated
Group 27 is about 12" long and about 100-105 AH rated

Those are the two popular sizes for RV's...just make sure you get a DEEP CYCLE type...
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:43 AM   #4
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Hi Jimmy

Welcome to the forums.

The best battery to use is a deep cycle battery that includes an amp-hour rating. While the battery box size varies from one model to another, most Airstreams will accept Group 27 batteries. Group 27 deep-cycle batteries are widely available at discount chains and usually retail for around $70. That is what I use myself and would suggest to you.

AGM batteries have their advantages but I do not use them because of their high cost.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:40 PM   #5
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Avoid any terms that don't have a clear and objective definition backed up up by some pertinent measure or specification. (i.e. 'deep cycle' and whatnot only tell you marketing target and mean very little as far as the battery goes)

By a battery from a retailer who sells a lot to folks that use them like you do and will stand behind what he sells. Then go by cost, specifications, and warranty.

Put your effort into your equipment and management. That will make more of a difference in battery satisfaction than anything else.

Upgrade to a converter that does multiple stage charging and has a battery maintenance mode that will assure a full charge and apply a sulfation inhibiting technique on the battery when you are not using it. Avoid running the battery below 12.0v as measured after at least a half hour of no significant charging or discharging. Keep the battery out of the heat.
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:59 PM   #6
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Welcome! Always nice to see more Argosy owners signing up.

I'll second the advice to make sure you have a good converter to maintain the battery. The PO of our Argosy installed one that's working fine for us, though I think there are several nice ones with more bells and whistles than ours.

Your next task after selecting a battery: Post more pictures!
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:45 PM   #7
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We've gotten good service out of our Optima Blue Top batteries. They seem to last longer and require little service. I do pull them and keep them on a trickle charger in my conditioned shop during the cold winter months.
Good luck and welcome to this forum.
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Old 03-13-2012, 03:16 PM   #8
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I would purchase a group 27 marine batter first. Learn how to maintain it . Batter care is a learning curve. Improper maintenance of a battery will destroy an expensive battery just as it can a cheaper battery. When you feel that you have been able to keep it for its rated lifetime then I would go to a better battery
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZoominC6 View Post
We've gotten good service out of our Optima Blue Top batteries. They seem to last longer and require little service. I do pull them and keep them on a trickle charger in my conditioned shop during the cold winter months.
Good luck and welcome to this forum.
I have Blue Tops as well, but I let the converter handle them during the winter (it requires having power to the camper, though, which isn't possible for everyone).

I went with the Blue Tops because I was able to get a pretty good deal on them, which was nice since I needed 3, and because we don't boondock enough to make the storage capacity difference between those and the Lifelines that lots of people recommend worth the extra money. Plus I had good luck with a Blue Top in my prior camper.

As others said, though, what matters more is that you have a good charger - even a cheaper wet cell battery will perform well if the charger doesn't kill it for you by boiling the liquid. And a bad charger will kill a Blue Top or other AGM battery quickly.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:02 AM   #10
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I love this stream of information, thank you all.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:33 AM   #11
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...

I went with the Blue Tops because I was able to get a pretty good deal on them, which was nice since I needed 3, and because we don't boondock enough to make the storage capacity difference between those and the Lifelines that lots of people recommend worth the extra money....
OK, I gotta ask. Although I can see that three Blue Tops would have more capacity than two Lifelines, or should anyway. Still, if you don't boondock much, why do you need three batteries?
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:06 PM   #12
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OK, I gotta ask. Although I can see that three Blue Tops would have more capacity than two Lifelines, or should anyway. Still, if you don't boondock much, why do you need three batteries?
It's a good question. It's mainly because the original owner put a third battery and ~225 watts of solar power in/on the trailer, and I didn't want to go to the trouble of removing the wiring for the third battery, or try to tape it off only to have it short out on us at some random point later. We figured it was better to leave it alone if it's all working correctly. (That didn't stop me from upgrading the converter, of course.)

And with that kind of capacity, we probably will do more boondocking - we never tried it with the B190, because the water tanks were too small, and we haven't had the chance to try it with this trailer. We have reservations in May at a national park campground with no hookups.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #13
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OK, that makes sense. Besides, you're ready for a power outage anytime.
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Old 03-21-2012, 01:26 PM   #14
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OK, that makes sense. Besides, you're ready for a power outage anytime.
Yeah. I keep the camper plugged in so the converter has the batteries topped off for just this reason. Kinda sad considering how close we are to DC and Baltimore.
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