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Old 10-23-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
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Choosing new battery

I've just finished reading all of this year's threads on battery choices thinking I could get the info I wanted without posting a new thread. Not so.

I have a 1998 25' Safari and as far as I know it has all the original equipment and no mods have been done to the electrical system.
We use our trailer during our canadian summer months (approx 4 continuous months and the odd fall trip. Every summer, we travel with it - 4-5 days in one spot then move on to the next one. We usually get camping sites with electricity but we do like to go into provincial parks or state parks where we have no power at all (I guess that's what boondocking is?). In those instances we've been able to last 2-3 days on our battery - we use power sparingly in this situation. When not in use, I take the battery out and keep it charged with a trickle charger. With that in mind our battery last 2-3 years.

Now, from what I've read, I have two choices: replacing the battery with reasonly priced deep cycle one or bying an more efficient one, say an AGM type and have it last longer. I've come to the conclusion, being a non electrical guy on any sort, that bying a cheap battery every 2-3 years is fine enought with me. The system works so why fix it.

However, I have not been checking the fluid level in the battery as often as I should and the present battery is in bad shape -sulfation! We also overdid it this summer by staying 5 days in a non-electircal site. I have no generator and have no intention of getting one. I pay to obtain a relatively quiet camp site - not to hear the neighbor's generator rattling at all hours of the day. If one needs power, one should go to a site that has power. I am contemplating solar panels but that's another story.

My question is this. When using shore power, it is recommended that I shut off the battery charger as there is 110 volts coming in, especially if we stay in one spot for a week. I have a switch on the wall that shuts off the converter. Is that what is meant by cutting the charger out?

Soory for the long preamble. Any advice will certainly help.
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Old 10-23-2010, 09:30 PM   #2
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John,

I would just buy a decent deep cycle battery (the largest that will physically fit in your battery compartment) Mine came from NAPA.

If you make the effort to be more attentive to the water level, the new battery should last for years.

As for shutting off the charger -- that will also deprive you of 12V house power which you need for the control boards in the frig, water heater and furnace. You could theoretically isolate the battery but it does serve as a "load" in the circuit and smooths out the power.

When your converter eventually dies (and it will), be sure to replace it with one that has variable charging rates (mine came from Progressive Dynamics and has the Charge Wizard built in). Simplifies everything...

mike
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:13 PM   #3
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I may know a guy who might have put an RV switch on the battery while leaving the converter connected while on shore power.
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:24 PM   #4
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Hi, unless you plan on doing a lot of boondocking, changing to a three stage converter, and installing solar panels, I would buy deep cycle batteries from Costco. That is what I did and plan to replace two batteries every three years.
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:28 PM   #5
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John,

The lights, water pump, furnace, water heater (if electronic ignition) and refrigerator use or need 12V to operate. If you disconnect the converter, then after a while the battery(ies) will run down and those items will not work. At that time only the 110V outlets, air conditioner and microwave will work.

Bill
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Old 10-23-2010, 11:29 PM   #6
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Being in the Battery Biz for years, I always recommend Deep Cycle Flooded Cell batteries over the AGM types...

AGM's, while 'maintenance free', cost OVER twice as much as their flooded cell cousins - BUT they don't last TWICE as long in useful life... also, flooded cell types usually have a higher Amp Hour rating giving them the edge when it comes to running your 12 volt stuff when you're off the grid (boondocking)...

You usually don't have to turn off the converter when you're hooked to shore power, as there's enough 12 volt usage to prevent the batteries from being overcharged - unless you're plugged in for extended periods...you can get a cheap digital volt meter to keep an eye on the battery circuit voltage, and if it gets too high - turn off the converter for a while...the batteries will keep any 12 volt 'boards' (refer, smoke detectors, etc) up and running...

BestConverter.com sells a neat digital voltage meter called the Voltminder that allows you to keep an eye on the 12 volt systems voltage...it also has a built in alarm feature you can set to a lower voltage to warn you when your system's voltage is approaching the time to turn on the genny, or turn off the TV, etc., to conserve the remaining charge...etc., etc...

You might want to consider asking Santa for a new Converter/Charger that has 3-stage charging capabilities...this kind of replacement upgrade will recharge your batteries faster, while then switching into 'float' mode to keep your batteries fully charged without any elevated overcharge voltages that your old 'Univolt' converter/charger provides when you're plugged into AC power for extended periods...

The newer 3-stage chargers will usually extend the life of your batteries as well, helping to pay for the upgrade...

Good luck...Ray
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Old 10-24-2010, 07:07 AM   #7
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I bought a voltminder from Randy at Best Converters. I really like it. Sure, it is not a fancy as a computer batter monitor, but it gives a good info on battery condition and cost about 1/10 the money.
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Old 10-24-2010, 09:26 AM   #8
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All good advice. I had to replace our 3 year old battery because I didn't watch the water level close enough. It was GR 24 so I replaced it with a GR 27 Interstate deep cycle.
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:03 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice people. Hi to the California croud. We will be taking our Airstream to your beautiful state next spring.

I wil now be moving over to the sun panel section of this forum to get some advice on portable solar panels to replenish the battery when boondocking.<<John
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