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Old 12-20-2019, 05:43 AM   #1
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What is the 'stock' AS battery? Upgrade immediately?

Hi all,


We're picking up our 2019 AS this weekend, had questions about the battery.


- Unit manufactured in Dec 2018, I was going to push for new batteries. Worth the effort?

- What are the standard batteries that come with it? 6v? 12v? How are they connected?
- Should I consider upgrading them immediately? (eg. Trojan 6v, that's what I put into previous trailer, an SOB)


I expect much of the time we'll use campsites that have power but we also enjoy boondocking.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:59 AM   #2
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There is lots of good information available in the owners manual and Airstream makes them available as free downloads

Toward new batteries or not, that really is a personal decision. Without knowing the actual battery's manufacturer, cannot really address the implicit question of whether the time of one year since manufacture is a factor or not.

And apologies if this seems curt.
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Old 12-20-2019, 06:28 AM   #3
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As mentioned there are a lot of battery threads. Search for them and read a few. Lot's of rational opinions, lots of good advice, lots of bad advice and some just plain wrong opinions. If you read enough you will be able to pick out the good from the bad.

OK, AS delivers 12V Flooded Cell Lead Acid batteries that require regular maintenance including addition of water from time to time. They are inexpensive and they work well. If you treat them kindly, they can last 5-10 years. If you misuse them, they will fail early. Some fail early due to production variations and quality control issues. Some fail early because the trailer may have sat at the dealer and the dealer mistreated them (most commonly let them go dead, worse thing you can do to these batteries).

AS uses 12 V AGM batteries when a solar system is installed primary to avoid the maintenance of having to routinely add water but there are other reasons discussed in many other threads.

AS connects batteries in parallel when there are multiple batteries. They are wired to the Tow Vehicle connector and will slow charge from the tow vehicle while on the road. The Tow Vehicle will generally not fully charge the trailer batteries for reasons I will not explain here, but everything helps, right? Well most of the time.

AS provides a battery disconnect solenoid to "store" the unit with all loads disconnected (except the propane detector which is always active and several other devices (invertor , convertor, jack) that can generate parasitic loads if they develop issues even when they are off). Lots of posts on this topic as well.

As I said there is no end of advice in other threads but since you asked and since I have opinions..... I would not upgrade immediately since you are planning to stick to campgrounds mostly. Get a feel for camping, get to know what your battery can and can't do, read the other threads and then consider upgrading after some use.

If you want to understand the batteries condition because you have suspicion that it is weak from dealer mistreatment of quality control, there are ways to determine its health but you'll generally have to use it for at least 4-8 hours. Ask how or google for it if you are interested. It is not simple but it is not overly complicated either.
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Old 12-20-2019, 06:47 AM   #4
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Agree with Bayou, use your stock batteries to learn what kills Airstream batteries before you purchase a better set. But YES, demand new batteries because an Airstream built in Dec. 18 and sitting on a dealer lot will have dead batteries. I like 6V golf cart batteries wired in series either Trojan or Duracell EGC2. I have the Duracell EGC2's with 250 deep cycles over two years and they still test and perform as new. The Trojan's or Duracell's are rated around 220AH where the stock wet cells are rated around 160AH. Others may disagree with me that these quality 6V golf cart batteries are designed to be repeatedly discharged to a 20% state of charge. I would not discharge the stock batteries, or any RV/Marine battery, below 50% state of charge. Read Starting, Marine, or Deep-cycle Batteries section of this article: https://www.solar-electric.com/learn...tery-faq.html/ Actually, the whole article is good!
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Old 12-20-2019, 08:08 AM   #5
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Great advice from AirMiles! One additional thought. If the trailer does have solar installed, the likelihood of dealer mistreatment is greatly reduced since unless the solar had issues it does what dealers generally don't. The AGM batteries don't require maintenance either so double plus. If solar, should you still insist the batteries be replaced? .... I don't know, but look, if the dealer knows the replaced batteries are good, they will find a use for them, so no harm done.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:07 AM   #6
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Hi

If you want to go crazy, check the manufacture date on the batteries. Sometimes they get swapped around and you get some *really* old batteries on a trailer that has been. on the lot for a year. The date codes should be some time past mid 2018 on a Dec 2018 trailer.

Bob
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:21 AM   #7
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I can’t believe AS would sell you a trailer with bad batteries. But the will.
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Old 12-20-2019, 10:36 AM   #8
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I have very negative feelings about the stock wet cell batteries and would replace as soon as possible with AGMs. They are inadequate for dry camping especially in cooler weather with the furnace fan running.

The stock batteries will barely last one night with temperatures under 50 F. The parasitic loads remaining after the "storage" switch will pull the stock batteries down in under 2 weeks.

The other essential to get is a kill switch to completely disconnect the battery during storage. These cost less than $15.

Finally, I think most people end up getting a Victron battery monitor which gives a much better picture of battery condition than the simple voltage display that comes with the trailer; but no need to buy it immediately.

Energy management (propane and electric) is a constant concern of the RV life.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:29 AM   #9
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Okay, I'll be the odd man out.
My 2017 came with two 12v. group 24 Interstate Batteries.
I don't have solar nor do I see it in my future.
I still use the original batteries. They have not failed me.

I've devised a battery disconnect, and I keep them topped with distilled water.
I try to not leave them on the converter for too long.
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Old 12-20-2019, 11:41 AM   #10
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Kalashnikov,

You must be very excited to take delivery on you new AS. I assume you are purchasing yours from the same dealer that I did my FC30 back in 2018. In my case, The lead acid batteries were working fine at delivery. I would check battery status on a regular basis using the display in the trailer. Several months later, I discovered that my electric motor at the tongue would not work. My batteries were weak. The dealer claimed that I did not maintain them (top off cells with distilled water). I did not realize that the electrolytic would get cooked out over such a short time. So, I received no warranty benefit. Lesson learned. I replaced both batteries with Optima AGMs. No electrolytic maintenance.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:02 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone!


No solar on this unit. I'm tempted to put in Trojans but OTOH I guess there's no rush. I'll push for new batteries but don't plan on causing a huge stink about it.



Battery disconnect I'll certainly plan on! I've use the marine switch before and it's solid.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:08 PM   #12
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Hats off to you Mollysdad. Maybe it's just me, but I am envious of those who routinely make "good enough" work for them. After all a pig wearing lipstick is still just a pig!
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalashnikov View Post
Thanks everyone!


No solar on this unit. I'm tempted to put in Trojans but OTOH I guess there's no rush. I'll push for new batteries but don't plan on causing a huge stink about it.



Battery disconnect I'll certainly plan on! I've use the marine switch before and it's solid.
One more bit of advice: Buy a battery maintainer if you keep the wet cell batteries (most likely Interstate). Put maintainer on all the time if you don't use for long periods of time. Wet cell last longer when fully charged. Also every once in a while take off for awhile. Let them discharge a bit, then put battery maintainer on. This brings the voltage of the battery up to 14 volts. From what I've read on web sites this is good for the battery cells.

But my guess is your existing batteries will be kaput. I bought 2 new Interstates after the first year (Warranty is only a year) for about $280.

Happy camping.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:55 PM   #14
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We have a 2017.

The batteries failed on our first camping trip.

Later tested by Interstate, found to be defective and replaced under warranty.

Others have reported similar experiences, believed to be due to battery neglect on the Airstream lot.

I wish I had made it part of the deal that the Airstream place swap out the batteries with a brand new pair before we rolled our trailer off the lot.

With the new Interstate batteries, we've had no problems.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:22 PM   #15
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If your dealer isn't willing to provide newer batteries, and if your time is worth less than the cost of newer replacements from Costco (I think mine cost under $90 each) then you could remove the batteries and take them to an Interstate dealer for load testing and press the issue if they test bad.

Perhaps the best option is to check each cell with a hydrometer. They are cheap, readily available and you could test the batteries before leaving the dealer's lot.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:26 PM   #16
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Good advice from WhereStream... Interstate is great with testing and warranty replacement if the battery has a bad cell.

I had issues with our 2018 FC23FB Interstate because the trailer sat on the dealer lot and wasn't maintained. Dealer got Interstate to replace one and a month later I took the other battery to the local Interstate retail store. Counter person pulled out his hydrometer and found two low cells. Handed me a new battery - no paperwork! Great service.

Check your water levels frequently. Low water will kill a battery quickly. Get a cheap hydrometer and test each cell. They should all be close in range. You can tell the charge level by the acid's specific gravity. Charts are online. Plug into shore power when battery voltage drops near 12V or sooner.
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Old 12-20-2019, 01:26 PM   #17
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Wandered on an Airstream lot a while ago and out of curiosity I checked the the battery levels as I looked at the trailers and every one was at 11.5 volts or lower, some were in the high 10's.

Yup they all were abused that day.

Thanks,
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Old 12-20-2019, 02:09 PM   #18
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Solar panels are relatively inexpensive, one of the best options for a trailer. Longer battery life and longer off grid possibilities.
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Old 12-20-2019, 05:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BayouBiker View Post
As mentioned there are a lot of battery threads. Search for them and read a few. Lot's of rational opinions, lots of good advice, lots of bad advice and some just plain wrong opinions. If you read enough you will be able to pick out the good from the bad.

OK, AS delivers 12V Flooded Cell Lead Acid batteries that require regular maintenance including addition of water from time to time. They are inexpensive and they work well. If you treat them kindly, they can last 5-10 years. If you misuse them, they will fail early. Some fail early due to production variations and quality control issues. Some fail early because the trailer may have sat at the dealer and the dealer mistreated them (most commonly let them go dead, worse thing you can do to these batteries).

AS uses 12 V AGM batteries when a solar system is installed primary to avoid the maintenance of having to routinely add water but there are other reasons discussed in many other threads.

AS connects batteries in parallel when there are multiple batteries. They are wired to the Tow Vehicle connector and will slow charge from the tow vehicle while on the road. The Tow Vehicle will generally not fully charge the trailer batteries for reasons I will not explain here, but everything helps, right? Well most of the time.

AS provides a battery disconnect solenoid to "store" the unit with all loads disconnected (except the propane detector which is always active and several other devices (invertor , convertor, jack) that can generate parasitic loads if they develop issues even when they are off). Lots of posts on this topic as well.

As I said there is no end of advice in other threads but since you asked and since I have opinions..... I would not upgrade immediately since you are planning to stick to campgrounds mostly. Get a feel for camping, get to know what your battery can and can't do, read the other threads and then consider upgrading after some use.

If you want to understand the batteries condition because you have suspicion that it is weak from dealer mistreatment of quality control, there are ways to determine its health but you'll generally have to use it for at least 4-8 hours. Ask how or google for it if you are interested. It is not simple but it is not overly complicated either.
Not bad advice, but I would surely check out your batteries first! Many of us who have owned "new Airstreams" have had battery issues within the first month or so...not fun on a camptrip to have them replaced. Likely you have Interstate 12V deep cycle batteries...thats what most of these come with. My last 2 new models, including my currant 28', had batteries go bad within 2 months or so...I know many friends in same boat. You can go to Interstate and have them checked, and replace right away if they are bad. Some may offer trade up credit to AGM or 6V or perhaps Li batteries...I just took the new 12V batteries this last time and sold them on Craigs list as new, and applied the money to 2 6V Trojans...but, Costco, Sams offer good choices also if your interested in just doing something. If your lucky, yours will be fine to start with, but have them checked when you can. Congratulations and good luck!
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Old 12-20-2019, 07:10 PM   #20
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Google "Lot rot". Don't expect much life if the trailer has been on the lot. I had always kept my battery charged and just replaced it after six months, 6 weeks camping. Two cells are crudded over. I noticed it was not right earlier when using the hitch jack. It's the standard Interstate flooded battery shown in the picture in a previous post.
I'm feeling stupid, since I should have checked the battery at the dealer but can't prove anything now. (Take along a set of safety goggles and a flat bladed screw driver to pop the caps and look inside. Better yet, use the hydrometer as suggested above.)
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