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Old 11-18-2009, 12:16 PM   #1
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Should I physically disconnect batteries if on shore power for 30+ days?

My batteries (2006 Interstates) just died. I added almost a whole gallon of water to them, but of course they won't hold a charge and are totally out of warranty.

My situation is that I have to be in my 2007 International for at least 5 more months. I am connected to reliable shore power. I know there is controversy about the converters, Use/Store switch, etc and I have read all that. But for me, right now, the most useful info I could have is simply this:

If I am going to be connected to shore power, is the safest thing just to physically disconnect the batteries, and then physically reconnect them for a day or so every week just to keep up the charge (in order to prevent over-charging and drying out/ruining the batteries)?

thanks in advance!

marco
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:26 PM   #2
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Just my opinion, but that's what I would do...

Currently, we leave our 19-foot Bambi connected to 110 VAC, 24/7; but I installed a marine battery isolator switch to disconnect the batteries. There are some threads on these switches elsewhere on this forum.

I charge the batteries overnight, once a month, to keep them ready for the next roadtrip. Otherwise, they are disconnected, and the internal lights and electronics are powered only by the converter.

Our Airstream has two Optima blue tops that are almost three years old. The OEM batteries pooped out, one after one year, and the other, about six months after that.

The marine battery isolator switch also allows you to use battery A, or B, or A+B, besides being able to disconnect both of them. We use only one battery at a time, and switch to the second, when the first one starts to go low.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:26 PM   #3
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Dead batteries can cause major problems...disconnect them.
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:26 PM   #4
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Interstate batteries are junk, IMHO. I switched over to GM AC/Delco "Voyager" sealed batteries years ago and have had no problems sitting on the grid for extended periods. I do shut off the charger overnight to give the batteries a chance to "work".
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Old 11-18-2009, 12:32 PM   #5
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NO

The converter is not designed to be the sole source of 12 volt power to the trailer but rather it is to charge the batteries at a rate slower than your higher demand that the battery can supply at different points in the day.

If you are going to remain plugged in you want at least one battery in the system.

Now that said you should not install batteries other than in sets. So unless you think 1 battery will be enough for your continued camping go ahead and install 2 now.

However before you buy new batteries you want to know why the last set Cooked. It could be the converter is charging at too high a rate in which case it will just Cook the new batteries or it could be the batteries were bad. Try and get a battery, from your car or a shop, and hook it up long enough to test the output of the converter. Anything above 14 volts may indicate the converter is out of calibration. If it is a World Friendship converter it is most likely bad. The Chinese junk they are now using does not last that long.
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by foqus View Post
...My situation is that I have to be in my 2007 International for at least 5 more months. I am connected to reliable shore power...

If I am going to be connected to shore power, is the safest thing just to physically disconnect the batteries...
NO, as howieE suggested.

and if you are USING/living in the trailer, u will be using 12v lights and 12v circuitry IN the fridge,

and perhaps OTHER 12v things (heater/water pump) even while plugged into AC current.

so the best thing (IF keeping the current C/C) is to check water levels regularly on the new batteries...

and OCCASIONALLY unPLUG from shore juice and run them DOWN 30-40%...

cheers
2air'
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Old 11-18-2009, 01:24 PM   #7
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Current situation:
If the battery you now have is DEAD...it should be disconnected
and not re-connected. Leaving a DEAD battery connected will lead
to major problems.
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Old 11-18-2009, 02:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethowens View Post
Current situation:
If the battery you now have is DEAD...it should be disconnected
and not re-connected. Leaving a DEAD battery connected will lead
to major problems.
Like "BOOM" massive explosion, fire!

---------------
I concur that you should check and refill your batteries as needed. I don't care if they are advertised as "sealed no-maintenance" ALL batteries dry out, sealed ones may take a tiny bit longer to do so. And use DISTILLED water not just bottled. They will last longer. Follow 2Air's advice too.
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:04 PM   #9
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If you have added nearly a gallon of water to your batteries, the electrolyte is now so diluted that those batteries are no longer useful and should be replaced.

Interstate batteries are not what they were a few years ago. If you want a long lasting battery, check out Odyssey batteries, or Deka Intimidator AGM batteries (also the same as O'Reilly's Super Start AGM batteries.)
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Old 11-18-2009, 03:37 PM   #10
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thanks for all the advice

I guess I will install my two new batteries now, and then disconnect from shore power now and again to run them down a bit.

thanks for all the help!

marco
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Old 11-18-2009, 04:44 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post
NO, as howieE suggested.

and if you are USING/living in the trailer, u will be using 12v lights and 12v circuitry IN the fridge,

and perhaps OTHER 12v things (heater/water pump) even while plugged into AC current.

so the best thing (IF keeping the current C/C) is to check water levels regularly on the new batteries...

and OCCASIONALLY unPLUG from shore juice and run them DOWN 30-40%...

cheers
2air'

Uh-oh, now I am concerned, as I had planned to do just what teh originator of this thread was suggesting - ie disconnect my nice new (& expensive!) AGM batts whenever we were on shore power for more than a day or two in order to prevent any possibility of overcharge.


In fact, to make this real easy to do, I picked up a couple of these quick disconnects although I haven't installed them yet.

- Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices

(You just have to turn the knobs on these battery clamp units about one turn in order to disconnect the batteries, easier than dragging the batteries out and getting a wrench to deal with the battery clamps)


I had done a bit of checking and figured it would be fine to do this based on the following:

(1) I don't know whether or not it is the case with the Parallax 7400 series converter in my AS, but in my last trailer, (Magnetek converter,) the charger section was completely separate from the 12v power feed to the trailer.

The Magnetek even incorporated a relay that took the batteries completely out of the power feed line whenever you plugged shore power in to the trailer (they were still left on charge however.)


(2) I checked my Airstream manual to see if it offered any guidance. It said:

" The converter enables you to use interior lights, fans, pumps, and 12 v appliances, whether operating on self contained battery power or 120 v. city power. The converter provides power to charge the trailer battery and to operate the 12volt interior electrical system."


(4) I have a brief owners manual that came with the Parallax 7400 series converter. It doesn't really specify either, although it does say:

"Although the converter is an excellent battery charger, the converter does not require a battery o be connected for its proper operation."


So it seemed reasonable to me that I could disconnect the batteries when on shore power.

My converter is rated to put out something like 45 or 55 amps which I felt was surely more than enough to handle a few lights (now have LED's even!) and whatever the fridge/furnace/water heater/fantastic fans might need in the way of 12volt power

So that had been my analysis, but now you guys have me wondering, maybe I am missing something here!

Please don't take my comments as argumentative, just trying to make sure I understand properly before I screw something up - wouldn't be the first time!

Brian.
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:10 PM   #12
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please don't confuse ME with some1 who understands juice, C/C, or any thing 'lectric...

but YOUR situation doesn't seem anything like the o.p.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
Uh-oh, now I am concerned, as I had planned to do just what teh originator of this thread was suggesting - ie disconnect my nice new (& expensive!) AGM batts whenever we were on shore power for more than a day or two in order to prevent any possibility of overcharge...
the o.p doesn't have a series 7400 p-lax

the o.p. is using flooded wet cells not agms.

the op is parked and living in and working from the stream LONG term with continuous AC power.
____________

should the o.p. decide to REMOVED the 12v supply there are issues...

for example WHEN (not if) there is a power interruption IN the AC shore power...

the contents of the fridge and any fans/lights left ON while away will be WITHOUT juice.

because the fridge won't auto switch to lpgas WITHOUT a 12v power source.

it's NO FUN to spend the day away only to return and find the freezer defrosted, and the vent fans OFF.
____________

u may certainly do exactly as planned with the 12v INTERRUPT switches...

but i see NO REASON to do this or USE the cutoffs while traveling.

the 7400 series p-lax works FINE with agm batteries and DOES have a stepped down stage...

it just doesn't have the 3 stages (bulk UP) or LOWER/adjustable intelligent FLOAT feature.

in addition the agms have NO free water to BOIL off or replenish during regular usage.

the 7400 p-lax unit /with agms worked PERFECTLY in my 'stream for nearly 4 years and plugged in 24/7 when NOT traveling.

this is HOW a/s currently equips and builds these units even with the SOLAR upgrades.

and the P-lax eventually DIED secondary to LOW VOLTAGE from an AC power source, a COMMON event.

used WHILE traveling the p-lax will NOT over charge 2 agms when the trailer is plugged in to AC for just a few days.
______________

basically disconnecting the batteries as you are suggesting means they are either DORMANT or charging...

versus being USED and cycled even while on AC shore supply.

the suggestion to USE the batteries is NOT really about IF the converter functions withOUT storage cells,

but the practical side of long term connection is ONE location.

AC power may seldom be interrupted in 1-2 nights camping

but in MONTHLY spots it is not uncommon for the juice to be OFF.

and these batteries we have do better/last longer IF exercised regularly.
__________

cheers
2air'
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:18 PM   #13
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Converter options

I was shopping converters the other day for a friend that I'm helping restore a Silver Streak and came upon this. <<< DLS Series 12 Volt. If you scroll down you run across this statement.

Can be used with or without a battery
When used as a converter/power supply, the IOTA power converter will only supply what is required by the load. When not in use it is essentially off, reducing electricity usage.

Is this an option for you?
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Old 11-18-2009, 06:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post


for example WHEN (not if) there is a power interruption IN the AC shore power...

>>I hadn't considered the power failure aspect!<<


in addition the agms have NO free water to BOIL off or replenish during regular usage.


>>I wasn't sure about the implications with an AGM a battery. -In fact, I thought it might be worse in that perhaps the gel might tend to dry out and you would not have any option to do anything about it. At least when water boils of a conventional battery, you can top it up! Maybe it just isn't an issue.<<


the 7400 p-lax unit /with agms worked PERFECTLY in my 'stream for nearly 4 years and plugged in 24/7 when NOT traveling.


>>Well I guess that would seem to be the proof of the pudding and I should not need to worry about disconnecting batteries whilst using the trailer.

I had thought to disconnect them any time we stayed in one spot on shore power for more than a couple of days.

You do bring up a good point about the fridge not switching to gas in the event of a power failure if you have no 12v source attached.

When we have the trailer in storage, I bring the batteries home and put them on charge once a month or so, although perhaps there is no need, I have read AGM batts with no draw will hold their voltage up to a year.<<

Thanks for the additional info ........ Brian.
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Old 11-18-2009, 08:00 PM   #15
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my understanding is that agms CAN off-gas under extreme conditions.

imm, extreme conditions are REALLY HOT (100+) days and HIGH charge voltages (>14.2)

but there is NOT a way for the user to service AFTER those events, we can only try to prevent them from venting acidic gases.

these batteries should be USED/cycled but NOT abused or left dormant.

again my understanding is that agms self discharge at a MUCH SLOWER/lower rate than conventional flooded cells...

but DO still loose juice.

there is GOOD info on the lifeline site, with graphs and so on.

the a/s has some PHANTOM loads and 1 of the fume detectors is wired to 12v,

so the agms will drain if left IN the trailer, especially in COLD temps.

it does seem reasonable to TAKE THEM OUT/home for long/cold storage of the trailer.

either that or VISIT the unit and charge use/charge them occasionally.

a gen set fills this purpose, where wired power isn't available.

cheers
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Old 11-18-2009, 10:36 PM   #16
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In case you didn't know, deep cycle marine batteries will be best suited for your application. They are designed to be discharged and recharged as your application may encounter.
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:01 AM   #17
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Why are we talking about physically disconnecting the batteries when dropping power to the converter alone would suffice? If you know you will be loading the 12V side trip the timer, it will reset in less than 24 hours so no/low harm...

A quality 3-prong grounded timer in the supply line set for 30 minutes, an hour, two hours a day and monitor voltages (electrolyte specific gravity is more precise) to see where the battery is resting before the next charge cycle toward keeping battery at/near 90% state-of-charge (SOC) for our purposes is good enough.

Once or twice a month keeping the flooded battery on charge with full bubbling action to reach 97-100% charge and never deeper discharge than 50% and you've made paradise for your deep cycle. That final 10% of SOC can take 2 or 3 times (or more) the length of time of current flow and could be called 'equalizing' since it forces the individual cells into rejection of charge while it undoes plate sulphation etc..

The vent-of-death for AGM, gelled or semi-gelled batteries isn't really the direct loss of moisture, its the gas pockets or voids formed in the intimate plate spaces that resist gravity and reconsolidation and lower the plate surface area since the gooey electrolyte can compress it but not expel it...

When it happens once it's not like that will be the trouble spot next time since it never heals (like brain cells?) and an avalanche effect of more bubbles and lower plate surface area is injected into the schema which lowers the usual output and life span.
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Old 11-19-2009, 09:32 AM   #18
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Just MHO which is not worth much sometimes but I would take those batteries out,they are toast.Just bite the bullet and replace them. Because of lack of water over the plates,because you did not check them once a month. I replaced my batt's with deep cycle group 27's from Auto Zone. They had the best price at the time. Do NOT buy NON-SERVICE type batteries. Just by checking the water and adding DISTILLED WATER when needed. Our PO had let them get low on water and discharged and they frost and busted. Batteries will self-discharge in about 30 day when not in use.
We have just been thru our 2 nd season with these batteries. No problems yet and we are still using the original Univolt that is 33 yrs old.I have had to add water several times in the 2 yrs of service.
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Old 11-20-2009, 07:27 AM   #19
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A simple question:

What is the harm in not having any battery at all for 5 months
if connected to reliable shore power? If it will not harm the
converter, why go to the expense and trouble?
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:16 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kennethowens View Post
A simple question:

What is the harm in not having any battery at all for 5 months
if connected to reliable shore power? If it will not harm the
converter, why go to the expense and trouble?
Depending on your usage, if you are using a mim. amount of current, it may not hurt the converter but it will hurt your lights. The life expectancy of a light bulb is a function of the voltage applied. The converter will put out more than 13.5 volts and that voltage is enough to kill your lights.

The converter is designed to RECHARGE a battery for a long period of time. It is not designed to replace a battery. Think of a converter as stream filling a lake behind a dam and that dam has generators in it. The lake fill slowly put constantly and has a very high potential. The generators, batteries, supply a regulated source of voltage, even while there draw down rate is greater than the stream flow, and remain available as demand is reduced.
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