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Old 01-02-2015, 09:06 AM   #1
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Do Our Batteries Ever get Charged to 100%?

I've been reading a little about RV solar and 12v and 6v batteries, contemplating whether to switch to 2 6v batteries when its time to replace my 2 12v batteries and I read an article converters installed into our RVs will never bring the batteries to a full charge because they don't supply high enough volts long enough for the battery to ever be fully charged. This is complicated also by the temperature. Lower temperatures require higher volts and higher temperatures lower volts.

So if this is norm with RV batteries only charged to 75% they gradually sulfate and have to be replaced.

I think I'll pull the batteries our of my AS this weekend and bring them home and put them on my charger.

I have a Progressive 4655 and it only provides 14.4v up to 90% then drops to 13.6v

This is the article I read.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/

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Old 01-02-2015, 10:07 AM   #2
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Before you buy 6V batteries make sure they will fit in your battery conpartment.They are taller than 12V ones.They would not fit in mine.
I use a good solar system and it keep our batteries charged 100% it goes to 15.2.It also equalizes them.
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Old 01-02-2015, 10:57 AM   #3
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What controller to you use? The author of the article states the manufacturers of the controllers and converters don't seem to talk to the battery manufactures so it appears they come in a little low on voltage to match the battery charge requirements.

I'm aware of the size and weight differences of 6v batteries and the need to modify the battery box to clear the 6v batteries. I may not switch over if that task is beyond my capabilities.

I'm also hoping if I switch to 6v there will be enough room to install the controller in the battery box. I plan to use a portable solar system, 200w.


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Old 01-02-2015, 12:52 PM   #4
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First, I would look elsewhere for the information that you are counting on rather than 'Angry Bob's' blog. While he criticizes everyone else for having an 'agenda', he never recognizes that he has one big agenda of his own.

I have read his 'information' several times and while there are snippets of useful information there, most of it definitely follows HIS agenda!

All batteries are different and correspondingly, have different charging parameters. Your research should include matching those charge parameters with the voltage output of your charging device.

The BEST charging device is a fully programmable inverter/charger with full temperature compensation. Devices like Magnum Energy's inverter/chargers are perfectly suited for this purpose, even if you never use the inverter section, the charger is well worth the price of admission.

Most, if not all converters presently available are a compromise, either in amperage output, voltages used during the 3-stage charging process and the lack of temperature compensation.

Do your searching for sources that have substantial knowledge and experience in this area, and not any self-anointed Gurus. You will be far better for it.


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Old 01-02-2015, 01:38 PM   #5
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Maybe he has an agenda and a bit long winded but his experience living off the grid is much more than mine, It was his technical points that peaked my interest in this subject. I don't think my two batteries are getting fully charged. I would expect voltage to stay up higher with two batteries in parallel especially now that I've converted all the light fixtures to LED. I have two grp27 Interstates.

So Trojan requires 14.8v to fully charge yet my 4655 only charges at 14.4 and I don't know how long it keeps that voltage before going to float voltage. Interstate indicates higher voltage. Maybe that is why Interstates have a bad reputation is because we can't get those batteries fully charged and the sulfate and die early.

I'm not really interested in installing an inverter that is why I didn't consider Magnum. The only appliances that I would need to run on shore power are the AC, microwave and a toaster oven which I can get along without when not connected to shore. If its too hot then I'll move to a campground/RV park with hookups.

What response I was hoping for are experiences with charging the trailer's batteries.

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Old 01-02-2015, 01:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
First, I would look elsewhere for the information that you are counting on rather than 'Angry Bob's' blog. While he criticizes everyone else for having an 'agenda', he never recognizes that he has one big agenda of his own.

I have read his 'information' several times and while there are snippets of useful information there, most of it definitely follows HIS agenda!
Yes, Angry Bob has quite an agenda of his own. I just spent time going through his information and opinions (and agenda) and found it rather shrill and dogmatic in it's own right. As Lew says, he never recognizes the big one he carries.

There is good information in his blogs, but when coupled with questionable stuff, I cannot say how valuable it is to the average person from an overall standpoint.

We all have Opinions based on our own experiences, which can degenerate into Agenda's, me included. An Agenda is an Opinion gone rogue, taking on a life of its own.
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Old 01-02-2015, 03:04 PM   #7
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It wasn't my intent for this thread to argue about Bob but to discuss whether or not the equipment in our Airstreams can charge our batteries correctly. Let's not talk about Bob anymore and stick to the technical issue of getting our batteries up to 100% charge whether its just plugging into shore power, solar, running a generator during the campground generator hours or when towing.

We all complain about the lousy converter Airstream installs and battery problems are widespread on this forum. So we replace the OEM converter and buy new batteries but has that solved the question of if our batteries are getting fully or under charged?

Kelvin

If you have camped several days without hookups, solar or generator, will driving for 8 hours fully charge your trailer batteries?

Does running a generator for a couple of hours fully charge your batteries?

Can you fully charge your batteries off solar? Say I'm at a Natl Park campground with no hookups and pull in the afternoon, use the lights, watch my TV via a small inverter and have to use the furnace a little. The next day I pull out a solar panel, say 200w, and set it out and say it gets 8 hours of sun while I go out sight seeing. What can I expect the state of my batteries. If I repeat this cycle over a few days will I be able to maintain or will my batteries have less and less charge?
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Old 01-02-2015, 03:35 PM   #8
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Well, my magic amazing micropulse RV monitor tells me all the time my batteries are at 100%....good nuff fer me!

I did just read the article...boy, these subjects are complimicated to us electrical lay people....its not the subject of this thread, but its often an issue we all face...how the hell do we know what to read as accurate and not in the old interwebs?! I am the sorta person that likes to see objective credentials to establish some sense of trust.

I always chuckle at some of the rhetoric used by such people...I work in medicine, the stuff I get to see in the same ballpark are books and articles with titles like:

"What your doctors do not want you to know about...."

Ill be interested in hearing the responses to the more specific questions though you raise....my understanding to date (its crude) is that most batteries could never hope to be charged to "100%" in 2 hours with any setup? That is more of a question rather than an assertion....
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Old 01-02-2015, 04:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
It wasn't my intent for this thread to argue about Bob but to discuss whether or not the equipment in our Airstreams can charge our batteries correctly. Let's not talk about Bob anymore and stick to the technical issue of getting our batteries up to 100% charge whether its just plugging into shore power, solar, running a generator during the campground generator hours or when towing.

We all complain about the lousy converter Airstream installs and battery problems are widespread on this forum. So we replace the OEM converter and buy new batteries but has that solved the question of if our batteries are getting fully or under charged?

Kelvin

If you have camped several days without hookups, solar or generator, will driving for 8 hours fully charge your trailer batteries?

Does running a generator for a couple of hours fully charge your batteries?

Can you fully charge your batteries off solar? Say I'm at a Natl Park campground with no hookups and pull in the afternoon, use the lights, watch my TV via a small inverter and have to use the furnace a little. The next day I pull out a solar panel, say 200w, and set it out and say it gets 8 hours of sun while I go out sight seeing. What can I expect the state of my batteries. If I repeat this cycle over a few days will I be able to maintain or will my batteries have less and less charge?
Sorry, but to me and a lot of folks on this Forum, qualifications, experience and context go a long way to legitimize what one says.....but as we all know.......everyone can be an expert on the internet! Not to be redundant, but my qualifications include a Master's Degree in Engineering, over 1000 hours of class time on RV, solar, battery and related topics and 15 years of field experience. And if that is not enough for you.............you can add an ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) Master Certified Marine Electrician rating at the end of this month.

Getting back to your original question.......YES!!! Your batteries CAN and WILL be recharged to 100 % on a regular basis, but you MUST use the battery charging system that most closely matches the manufacturer's stated charging voltage requirements! The Parallax 'converter' that Airstream provides in their trailers is essentially worthless for proper battery charging. Not only will you never get a full charge, but it will constantly overcharge your batteries by it's 13.6 VDC constant output. It's only value is to provide your trailer with a continual 13.6VDC to energize all of your DC circuits while connected to shore power or generator. In these instances, you don't even need a battery for everything in the coach to function.

All lead/acid batteries (lithiums have different charging requirements), whether liquid, gel, or AGM require 3-stage charging for proper battery maintenance. The voltages for these stages must closely match what the requirements are for your specific batteries.

I'll use Lifeline AGMs as an example, as these are the only lead/acid battery that I sell. Lifeline specifically states that their batteries need a bulk/absorption charge of 14.2-14.4VDC @77ºF (25ºC standard) and a float charge of 13.2-13.4VDC at the same ambient temperatures (these voltage points change and are fully dependent on the ambient temperatures of the batteries at the time of charging, and WILL fluctuate as the battery temperatures charge). The charging system connected to these batteries MUST be capable of applying these specific voltages for full and complete charging and maximum battery life, and MUST be temperature compensated to provide these batteries with proper voltage for the desired charging results. Will something else, like a Progressive Dynamics converter work? Certainly, as it's 3-stage charging is light years ahead of a Parallax but it is STILL a compromise.

A Parallax converter will under/over charge Lifelines in a mater of a few weeks, causing them to be irreparably damaged. So will charging them to voltages that are significantly different from their stated requirements. Will they still work? .....perhaps......but at a greatly reduced charger retention capacity.

ALL liquid lead/acid batteries require the same type of charging with temperature compensation, but will have different charging stage set-points.

With regard to the charge line going from the tow vehicle to your batteries.... this is no better than a Parallax converter from your batteries' standpoint, as your TV will be sending a continual 14.2 VDC (or close, depending on the alternator's output). When/if your trailer batteries are full, they will begin to overcharge as they will not have the benefit of receiving a float charge from the alternator. I disconnect the charging line fuse on every solar charging installation that I do to prevent battery damage from alternator overcharging.

Will a generator fully charge your batteries? It gets back to what type of charging system you are using, as stated above. A generator simply becomes a replacement for a shore power post and has no other magical properties or abilities.

The solar charging systems that I install get the batteries to 100% every sunny day by design. Will 200 watts suffice? Depends on the type of batteries you have, the depth of discharge condition of said batteries when you start the charging, and the output and charging efficiency of your solar charge controller. Note that liquid lead acid types require more charging voltage and longer re-charge times than AGMs due to their much higher internal resistance.

Hope this helps clear the confusion..................
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Old 01-02-2015, 04:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
Maybe he has an agenda and a bit long winded but his experience living off the grid is much more than mine, It was his technical points that peaked my interest in this subject. I don't think my two batteries are getting fully charged. I would expect voltage to stay up higher with two batteries in parallel especially now that I've converted all the light fixtures to LED. I have two grp27 Interstates.

So Trojan requires 14.8v to fully charge yet my 4655 only charges at 14.4 and I don't know how long it keeps that voltage before going to float voltage. Interstate indicates higher voltage. Maybe that is why Interstates have a bad reputation is because we can't get those batteries fully charged and the sulfate and die early.

I'm not really interested in installing an inverter that is why I didn't consider Magnum. The only appliances that I would need to run on shore power are the AC, microwave and a toaster oven which I can get along without when not connected to shore. If its too hot then I'll move to a campground/RV park with hookups.

What response I was hoping for are experiences with charging the trailer's batteries.

Kelvin
The answer to your question does the factory airstream on board charger fully charge your batteries simply NO ,,,, different battery types and manufacture have specific charge voltages that must be followed to fully charge your airstream battery, You must also have a battery shunt with a amp meter ( wizbang junior from midnite solar ,a fully programable charge controler 3 stages ,bulk, absorb,float , and equalizing stage for maintenance, such as the midnite solar kid , a solar panel aprox 100 watts or more, if you don't have a way of monitoring the amps going into your battery you are guessing at when the charge controler will go to float as most charge controllers use voltage and a time to be in the absorb stage , this is not acuate, a battery will be fully charge when the amps going into the battery drop to a certain value set by battery manufactures when in the absorb stage , also battery tempature needs to be monitored to prevent damage to it .also voltages during different charge stages need to be adjusted according to temperature,a wet cell battery needs more maintenance ( top up water monthly, and equalization charge , were a absorb glass mat ( AGM ) battery will never need water and the equalization should be done when the battery shows signs of capacity loss or yearly, all deep cycle batteries should not normaly be discharged more then 50% Or life will be shortened. And one really important thing just because it says deep cycle it maybe isn't a real deep cycle battery a easy way to tell is if it has a label with cold cranking amps ( cca) then it's not a real deep cycle battery , also you can get a idea if it's more of a deep cycle battery by weight the heavier the battery the more lead in it ( thicker plates designed for deep cycles) . This is of the same group size battery.

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Old 01-02-2015, 04:25 PM   #11
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Great stuff, Lew, as always. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us.

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Old 01-02-2015, 04:42 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by KJRitchie View Post
It wasn't my intent for this thread to argue about Bob but to discuss whether or not the equipment in our Airstreams can charge our batteries correctly. Let's not talk about Bob anymore and stick to the technical issue of getting our batteries up to 100% charge whether its just plugging into shore power, solar, running a generator during the campground generator hours or when towing.

We all complain about the lousy converter Airstream installs and battery problems are widespread on this forum. So we replace the OEM converter and buy new batteries but has that solved the question of if our batteries are getting fully or under charged?

Kelvin

If you have camped several days without hookups, solar or generator, will driving for 8 hours fully charge your trailer batteries?

Does running a generator for a couple of hours fully charge your batteries?

Can you fully charge your batteries off solar? Say I'm at a Natl Park campground with no hookups and pull in the afternoon, use the lights, watch my TV via a small inverter and have to use the furnace a little. The next day I pull out a solar panel, say 200w, and set it out and say it gets 8 hours of sun while I go out sight seeing. What can I expect the state of my batteries. If I repeat this cycle over a few days will I be able to maintain or will my batteries have less and less charge?

I have read bob stuff and it make sense to me as well..

I think the problem with only 200 watts and only 15 volts is during 8 hrs unless you are moving the panels to keep them right at the sun the amount of power will start low, move to high and then taper off in afternoon. Plus it depends on your charge controller be it a magnum or a blue sky etc. and the voltage to batteries.

In reading bobs and others info a bit more watts and higher voltage panels plus large wires go a long ways to helping with the charge issue on batteries.

I'm think one 325 watt 30V panel will do a great job of charging especially with tilt bars like AM solar has. The 30 volts going to a nice charge controller will allow for somewhat smaller wires from panels to charge controller and batteries which should be very close together in the first place.
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Old 01-02-2015, 04:43 PM   #13
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yes

thanks LEW…

i have a 2005 international…that i bought from the original owner in 2013…

it has a magnum energy solar system installed by someone in florida…it has the original batteries…2 lifeline 8D's…..still charging 100% every sunny day…it can remain unplugged for months and the batteries just hum along…..

whatever a magnum system cost…it is well worth the price….as i had a previous new airstream a 2008…with the OEM parallax and it only failed twice….

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Old 01-03-2015, 09:07 PM   #14
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Airstream is now using battery temperature compensated converters for the solar option. Although, my original converter was stock 2006 without compensation my AGMs lasted 7 years with hard service, deep discharges and long storage periods during the thunderstorm and tornado season. I did eventually disconnect all parasitc drains so the AGMs would not be drawn down.
My experience over the years is that AGMs pay for themselves in the long run. I just replaced four Optimas for $208 ea. online including freight to my garage door. My 44 years of aluminum trailering says don't let/leave batteries run down and don't overheat/ over charge them. Although, not automatic, a battery switch that completely isolates the batteries is a must. Ideally, a switch on each battery would be best because in long term storage a dead cell in one battery would eventually kill the bank of parellel batteries. A good digital DC voltmeter wired into the system will help you keep track of the system. I have seen solar system controllers with volt meters significantly out of calibration causing inaccurate maintenance decisions.
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