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Old 04-07-2009, 12:35 PM   #1
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Replacement of stock batteries with AGM's

Well, the time has come to replace the orginal batteries in my AS. I have been waiting for this day as I want to go with the AGM's.

The Lifeline batteries are $500 for two but I can get get Optima batteries at Costco for much less and I like their exchange/return policy plus Costco's are everywhere.

BTW, I do have solar panels and charger.

Your feelings on this?
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Old 04-07-2009, 03:30 PM   #2
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We've had two Costco blue-top Optimas in our 2005, 19-foot Bambi since 2007 -- No problems so far. The OEM batteries only lasted 18-24 months.
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:31 PM   #3
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I too replaced my batteries last week. I first went to Batteries Plus and asked them about the Optima. They said you don't get much for your bucks. I have had two Sears Die Hard batteries in this rig one for 6 years the other for 5. If you get much more than that in Arizona you are doing good. These batteries are being used 6 months of the year so they are getting plenty of use. I will stick with the Die Hard ($89 + tax)
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:35 PM   #4
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Have you then decided on AGM batteries?
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Old 04-07-2009, 06:55 PM   #5
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ya gotta remember, though, that even though the optima's are half the money...they're also half the amp-hour capacity.
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Old 04-07-2009, 07:35 PM   #6
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Chuck's got that right. Very important that you check the amp-hour capacity. That is the key element ESPECIALLY if you are using a solar charging system. You then need to match your battery capacity to your solar charging capacity in terms of amp hours so that you do not constantly drain down the batteries and shorten their life. The AGM's are the way to go, but there are a lot of different levels in terms of amp hour capacity.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:22 PM   #7
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Yes, though this is true, keep in mind for what you are going to spend on AGM batteries over the course of the ownership of your Airstream, compared to that of lesser batteries, you can pickup a very nice generator, and and LP generator at that which will top off any batteries very nicely.

If of course you plan on only owning your Airstream for 5 or 6 years, then yes, either way the investment of higher grade batteries or a generator is not worth it....but if you use the RV and don't want to spend $500 every 5 years (about), then spend about $200 on lesser capacity batteries, but pickup a generator and don't worry about how long the batteries will last while out boondocking.
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:31 PM   #8
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Or, if you are like us and you are interested in reducing your nasty carbon footprint and the noise you create in camp, GO SOLAR!
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:35 PM   #9
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AGM's

I went for the Optima AGM batteries a year ago when my OEM wet cells fizzled. I am very happy so far.

I priced them at Sams, then went to Interstate Battery store and got a better deal since I was buying two of them.

Dwight
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Old 04-07-2009, 08:35 PM   #10
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I agree solar and wind are good things, but in reality if you are like me in the woods, there can be great sunlight above the treeline, and wind, but not as good on the ground. Getting and LP generator is not as bad as a gasser and if you get a inverter type they really are not all that bad in terms of sound. I will be the first to admit you go out and get a gasser that is 3000 watts and 6-8hp, you might as well not go camping, but my Yamaha 1000 is a really small, very efficient unit with eco-controls meaning it doesn't always run full bore does a great job and is quiet. I have had mine running for well over 20 hours and have yet to empty one 20lb tank.

I get 1000 watts out of it if needed, but if you boondock and have very ample sunlight, then yes, solar would be good and would do a fair job. 1000 watts good? I don't know, but solar is silent and zero emissions.
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:36 PM   #11
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Good points Silvertwinkie, and I appreciate your efforts to reduce your noise and footprint. Solar and wind are not always readily available or practical. However, if you balance your batteries, and reduce your needs, you can live remarkably well with little or no impact on the environment. I do happen to agree/think that if you might as well not go camping if you are going to pull into camp, fire up a huge generator, watch your TV and light up the microwave! Try going outside, firing up the campfire, listen to nature and taking a deep breath of unpolluted (i.e. no generators) air!
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:13 PM   #12
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In the spirit of having long lasting power supplies and eco-friendly devices, I am also trying to replace commonly used lights with non-incandescent type bulbs. All exterior are now LED. Since LED is still expensive and not as good as florescent for inside lights, I've been starting to replace the interior lights with florescent.

Part of the equation is having efficient draw for the needs you have.

I did some very basic research and found that the standard incandescent bulbs not only run hot, but just drink the 12v like it was candy.

I can run all of the trailer running lights with a 2a fuse off the batteries of the trailer.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:27 PM   #13
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More good points! Interior LED's which greatly influence your battery usage (as opposed to running lights which generally are running off your TV) are rapidly going up in output and efficiency, and coming down in cost. Here is a good source for interior high output, low cost LED's:

12 Volt LED Interior Lighting

While florescent light are more efficient, they still measure draw in amps, averaging about 10 amps per fixture. LED's measure draw in milliamps. Almost too little to measure! We are replacing all of our interior lighting with LED, and will draw less current total than one of our florescent or incandescent lights did previously.
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Old 04-07-2009, 10:30 PM   #14
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PS- We may be going "off topic" a bit here, but I think it all relates, and I am passionate about the subject!
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:34 AM   #15
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I just checked out the link. I am inspired to go at least partial LED. But, I do have a question. I live on the gulf coast. This means we have maybe 2 months a year of nice weather. 2 months of cold weather (which I love) and 9 months of hot and humid. Short of plugging in, Pole electricity or generation, How do I keep the trailer comfortable. Fans help and the windows work, but at night during the summer, It Is Brutal. This is why we stopped tent camping.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:05 AM   #16
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Now that is a good question! We live in Oregon, and are usually far more concerned about freezing than humidity! So, I have never calculated the energy requirements for AC. I do know that you can get small evaporative coolers that use a lot less energy than AC, but without knowing how much energy they use, I cannot say if you could run them off a solar system or not.

Here is someone who sells them:

Surround Symphony Portable Evaporative Air Cooler Offers Environmentally-Friendly Cooling

Might be worth looking into. Only other suggestion is a good pair of skivvies and a cold bottle of beer!
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Old 04-09-2009, 06:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
ya gotta remember, though, that even though the optima's are half the money...they're also half the amp-hour capacity.
Actually, it is 80 vs 55 amp hour capacity. I also have solar which has worked well for us even with the wet cells. I also have a Honda 2000 generator which we hardly ever use but it gives us some confidence to stay off the grid for a long time.

I did get the Optimas at Costco as they were $140 after rebate vs $250 for the Lifelines (times 2, mind you). I would prefer the Cadillac but I think these will work well for us with my backup systems all working.

Thanks to you all for your input.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:39 PM   #18
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These swamp coolers work fairly well when the humidity is low, but in 90% humidity they just make a soggy mess. I know we have options, but are there any green options that will keep us comffy in our neck of the woods. (big thicket that is) Green is good, but three people in a 95 degree airstream is bad. But these swamp boxes may likely be a very good alternative in dry areas. Thanks for the post.
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Old 04-12-2009, 09:41 AM   #19
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I'm not sure that you get the bang for the buck with AGMs. For what it's worth I upgraded just over 2 years ago to a parralex 55 amp temp control charger and add 2 more batteries using vent boxes inside the airstream. I decided to get the highest amp hour output that I could for the money so I went with 3 Walmart 29 series batteries that are 125 a.h. each. The 29 series battery is slightly larger then a 27 but I found that due to the design of the walmart battery they will fit in most boxes that a 27 series will fit in. We boondock and dry camp a lot and even with 4 of us going for a week at a time I've never ran into a problem of running out of power, of course we do conserve. I leave the batteries hooked up in the airstream all winter with the temp control charger on them and it seems to do it's job very well. In the spring I've had to add very little water to the batteries, less then a cup each and they stay at full charge without overcharging. Winters are harsh where I live at 9200' so the charger is really kicking out the juice to keep up at that time, and much less so at other times, but it would be just as cold in my garage. I just checked the batteries yesterday as we're planning a trip soon and they still check out like new. It looks like I'll at least get one more year out of these and may get more then that. If I can get 3 years or more out of these batteries that give 375 a.h. total with a combined cost of $195, I'd have to spend approx. 5 times as much with lifelines to get the same a.h. and they'd take up more space. I'd also have to spend 5 times as much with the optimas which would require a great deal more space then that to have 375 a.h. I don't think they'd last 5 times as long.
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Old 04-12-2009, 11:02 AM   #20
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I think this "even though the optima's are half the money...they're also half the amp-hour capacity" may answer my latest question: I picked up a blue top at Costco and it has been hooked up with the trailer plugged into 120v AC for like three days now, but my trailer panel battery charge indicator reads only "fair." That's as good as one blue top Optima will get, isn't it?
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