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Old 01-19-2015, 08:42 AM   #1
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What is the best way to charge the batteries?

My batteries are nearly dead sitting unused in storage. I was wondering if it would be better to plug in and let the converter charge the batteries or use a smart charger/trickle charger/battery tender. I tend to think the latter because I don't have to worry about the batteries being overcharged/boiling/exploding or damage to the converter.
Please share your thoughts. The trailer will most likely be stored for 2 more months before the season of 25 trips kicks off-
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Old 01-19-2015, 08:56 AM   #2
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I plug in the TT for lead acid charging off the three stage convertor. Ck the water and go. Let the Wizard do the work.
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Old 01-19-2015, 08:58 AM   #3
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Your converter will never do as good a job as a good smart charger. But if the batteries are nearly dead, simply recharging them will never give you the capacity they once had. Rule of thumb is to never let a battery get below 50% of its capacity. If you never use battery power I guess all you would care about is enough battery capacity for the electric brakes in an emergency.
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Old 01-19-2015, 09:27 AM   #4
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Pull the batteries and store at home. If flooded batteries top any cells off with distiller water. Charge them at home with a smart charger. If you have flooded batteries get a hydrometer and check each cell. If any cells are low the battery needs to be equalized. This would require running 15.5v for a few hours then take the charge off and let sit for an hour. Retest with the hydrometer and repeat. If the cells don't recover replace the batteries. For AGMs all you can do is charge them and take them somewhere to get load tested.

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Old 01-19-2015, 09:36 AM   #5
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Smart tender is what I use during the winter. I have them in the garage, because there's no power at my storage location. I put them on tender for a week, off for a week, etc.
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Old 01-19-2015, 12:00 PM   #6
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Pull the batteries and store at home. If flooded batteries top any cells off with distiller water. Charge them at home with a smart charger. If you have flooded batteries get a hydrometer and check each cell. If any cells are low the battery needs to be equalized. This would require running 15.5v for a few hours then take the charge off and let sit for an hour. Retest with the hydrometer and repeat. If the cells don't recover replace the batteries. For AGMs all you can do is charge them and take them somewhere to get load tested.

Kelvin
The trailer is stored at home- or in the funeral home parking lot behind the house-
I can do either option. I can simply plug the shore cord into a wall socket (with a 50 to 30 adapter and a 30 to 20 adapter- all I should need to charge batteries or run house lights or refrigerator), or I can plug the battery tender into a wall socket. There is a shed next to the trailer with an outside receptacle.
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Old 01-19-2015, 12:15 PM   #7
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Smart tender is what I use during the winter. I have them in the garage, because there's no power at my storage location. I put them on tender for a week, off for a week, etc.
The trailer is stored at home (at the funeral home behind the house beside a shed. I have a wall socket near the trailer. Couldn't I hook up the battery tender (or plug the trailer into shore power) and leave it that way indefinitely?
The next batteries will probably be AGM? batteries so I don't have to worry about water-
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Old 01-19-2015, 12:28 PM   #8
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The trailer is stored at home (at the funeral home behind the house beside a shed. I have a wall socket near the trailer. Couldn't I hook up the battery tender (or plug the trailer into shore power) and leave it that way indefinitely?
No problem leaving the tender on indefinitely. Of course, if you plug into shore power, you'd have to flip your battery switch to 'store' to avoid overcharge (if you still have the original converter).
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Old 01-19-2015, 12:41 PM   #9
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You describe your batteries as being "nearly dead" - if they measure below 12.2V, and if they've been that way for more than a week, do yourself a favor and replace them before your next trip. They will never recover properly.

"Equalizing" was mentioned above. That's a method of intentionally overcharging flooded batteries for a short period of time. It usually involves a specialty charger that has the ability to provide such high voltage. Feeding a battery high amperage at about 16V will cause it to heat up and the electrolyte will boil, which can aid in stirring up the electrolyte to solve a problem called "stratification," where the electrolyte is at higher specific gravity toward the bottom of the battery, which results in the lower portions of the plates doing more of the work, which will cause the battery to age unevenly. Equalization must be done with caution, because the boiling electrolyte will give off hydrogen gas (explosive) and oxygen (corrosive). It must be done with adequate ventilation and no exposure to sparks. It should only be done to a fully charged battery in good condition. Equalizing a battery that's been dead for some time can be disastrous. Plates can overheat, warp and touch each other, which can lead to a messy, dangerous explosion.

I use a Battery Tender at our storage unit. I have purchased a three-step charger to replace the cheapo one that came with the trailer. I weill probably wait until we get to warm weather next month to install it.
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Old 01-19-2015, 02:10 PM   #10
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No problem leaving the tender on indefinitely. Of course, if you plug into shore power, you'd have to flip your battery switch to 'store' to avoid overcharge (if you still have the original converter).

The switch is in the "store" position.
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Old 01-19-2015, 02:15 PM   #11
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You describe your batteries as being "nearly dead" - if they measure below 12.2V, and if they've been that way for more than a week, do yourself a favor and replace them before your next trip. They will never recover properly.

"Equalizing" was mentioned above. That's a method of intentionally overcharging flooded batteries for a short period of time. It usually involves a specialty charger that has the ability to provide such high voltage. Feeding a battery high amperage at about 16V will cause it to heat up and the electrolyte will boil, which can aid in stirring up the electrolyte to solve a problem called "stratification," where the electrolyte is at higher specific gravity toward the bottom of the battery, which results in the lower portions of the plates doing more of the work, which will cause the battery to age unevenly. Equalization must be done with caution, because the boiling electrolyte will give off hydrogen gas (explosive) and oxygen (corrosive). It must be done with adequate ventilation and no exposure to sparks. It should only be done to a fully charged battery in good condition. Equalizing a battery that's been dead for some time can be disastrous. Plates can overheat, warp and touch each other, which can lead to a messy, dangerous explosion.

I use a Battery Tender at our storage unit. I have purchased a three-step charger to replace the cheapo one that came with the trailer. I weill probably wait until we get to warm weather next month to install it.

Based on the lights being dim- a couple of weeks ago they were brighter- the use/store switch stays in the "store" position unless I need the lights to see. We brought in all the groceries that would expire before March to eat them in the house. Every once in a while I need a tool or a rally directory out of the trailer. Sometimes I just want to hang out in there. We camped in January 2014, so last winter it didn't sit unused nearly as long. This fall/winter it will sit from the last trip in November until March.
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Old 01-19-2015, 03:18 PM   #12
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What is the best way to charge the batteries?

Smart converter and always plugged in to run dehumidifier is what used to work for me. If it doesn't do the trick after dead storage (and no solar) then new batteries are now on the list.

I'd rather ignore them with a half smart charger until such a time that a better system is installed.

As a note, as I think there has been drilling/fracking in MS, the local well service companies here take no chances with equipment batteries. Pallets of six month old Optimas for $50/ea. They take em in straight from dealer delivery and say swap them. My truck and trailer will get $900 worth of batt for $250. CK around.
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Old 01-19-2015, 04:21 PM   #13
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Im also having some battery issues, if i keep the switch in USE position the solar should charge the batteries right? Does the solar charge the batteries if in the STORE position?
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Old 01-19-2015, 04:23 PM   #14
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I would suggest removing the batteries and checking the specific gravity of each cell with a battery electrolyte checker (available at auto parts houses, w-mart.)
Note the readings and then place on a automatic charger overnight.
Recheck the specgrav and if the battery has regained a charged state the SG will be higher.
Specific Gravity is the indicator of a battery's health. When that checks out to your satisfaction, you can place it on a float charger. I keep my Interstate RV battery on a 2 amp continuous charge with a standard charger, not on the convertor.
If you want to dig deeper, you can load test the batteries and see how they perform under more realistic conditions. Any auto parts place and w-mart can do this for you.
Generally, a typical lead acid battery is good for about 4-5 years before they start to deteriorate.
In my experience with batteries, they tend to last longer and behave better if they are removed and placed on a low amp constant rate (LOW) charge. It slows the rate of sulfation that is the battery killer.
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