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Old 07-26-2015, 04:28 PM   #1
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Factory batteries dead after 10 months??

We purchased our 19' International last September and have taken about a half dozen trips of 2-4 days since that time. We have three trips planned in the next month from 4-9 days each and after picking up our AS from storage yesterday our factory Interstate batteries seem fried. The trailer had been in storage for about two months, although we do have a dealer-installed 95 watt solar panel I expected would keep the batteries topped off. The battery switch was in the "store" position, but it was my understanding the solar charge would still reach the batteries. After connecting the AS to 15 amp shore power for eight hours the solar controller was showing battery voltage at 12.2, which from what I have learned is pretty poor. I left the roof fans running all night along with the fridge fan. This morning the solar monitor showed like 9 volts, which doesn't seem possible. The fans were still running although the sun was out and the panels were collecting about 4 amps at the time.

So now I am wondering how things will go with a four day trip to southern California coming up on Tuesday and whether we will have any battery power after the first day. We are staying in a county park with no hookups (as we typically prefer). I was tempted to pick up a Honda 2000 watt generator a couple weeks ago before this battery issue, but prefer clean solar power if possible. We are not huge power users (roof fans, fridge fan, water pump, LED lights - no TV or AC is fine). Any advice is greatly appreciated as this first year of trips is my chance to convince my wife and our 14 year old daughter that the AS life is amazing. Without power I might have a difficult time doing so!

Thanks so much.
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:35 PM   #2
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It's not all that unusual for the "original" batteries in an new trailer to have a relatively short useful life since they may very well have been mistreated by the dealer prior to the sale. Also, the stock charger is a single stage one and known to cook batteries. I would plan to replace the batteries and charger before the trip to ensure family harmony!

There are plenty of threads on this forum about the benefits of a three stage or "smart" charger and recommendations for brands/models etc... Use the search function to find them.

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Old 07-26-2015, 04:55 PM   #3
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Thanks Bob. I have read several threads on the three stage chargers and this sounds like a mandatory upgrade for us. We have been debating an investment in higher quality batteries (Lithium Ion possibly?) as well as upgraded solar equipment for the type of trips we enjoy. Sounds like replacing everything at once will be the best option for us.
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Old 07-26-2015, 05:24 PM   #4
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The batteries on your "new" trailer may be old as the trailer may have sat on the lot for months. Before I upgraded my charger converter to a 3 stage one, all I got was two years out of a set of lead acid batteries.
Once you upgrade your converter charger, you can upgrade to agm batteries (absorbed glass mat). They have more charge discharge cycles than flooded cell and if properly cared for may last as long as 6 years.
We also upgraded to group 27's from the stock group 24's. They will fit in your stock battery box with a little squeezing.
We are in the process of changing all of the light bulbs in the trailer to led. They burn a fraction of the power of incandescent ones.
Since we camp in the fall when it is cold, we put a catalytic heater in our trailer. We don't sleep with it running but it keeps the trailer toasty warm on a cold day.
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Old 07-27-2015, 06:42 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canyonduck View Post
Thanks Bob. I have read several threads on the three stage chargers and this sounds like a mandatory upgrade for us. We have been debating an investment in higher quality batteries (Lithium Ion possibly?) as well as upgraded solar equipment for the type of trips we enjoy. Sounds like replacing everything at once will be the best option for us.
We are getting Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries for our Airstream this September from AM Solar in Oregon (NOT Lithium Ion.) These are not cheap, our 400 AH bank will cost about $3,000. But we are serious boondockers and have 540 watts of solar panels on our roof. I won't even tell you what this entire set up costs! Unless you want to follow in my footsteps, which will cost you well north of $10,000, I would get a good three stage charger and AGM batteries and see how your camping style develops from there. If you have room, consider getting so-called golf cart batteries (i.e., 6 volt) as they will give you more capacity pound per pound than 12 volt cells will give you.
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Old 07-27-2015, 02:21 PM   #6
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Batteries

Buy golf cart batteries. The are better than Deep Cycle and regular car batteries. The lead plates inside the battery is 4X thicker than those of a Deep Cycle batteries. I think they cost about the same amount.
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Old 07-27-2015, 03:56 PM   #7
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We have the factory single stage charger and original 2 interstate 24s installed in a 2012 FC. I Always leave the trailer in storage with battery switch on and plugged into 110 power. The trickle on the factory charger always keeps batts at 13.8 volts. Have never added water and the interstates seem as powerful on overnight boondocks as 3 years ago. If staying with either 6 or 12 volt lead acid, I would think twice about a new charger until trying new batteries first. Gel or AGM, then yes, you need to go to a 3 stage charge system.
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Old 07-27-2015, 08:58 PM   #8
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Did you keep the batteries topped off with water?


Regards,

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Old 08-01-2015, 11:16 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
Did you keep the batteries topped off with water?


Regards,

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I've never had to add water in 3 years.


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