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Old 12-11-2010, 06:31 PM   #1
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Battery Replacement

Has anyone replaced your coach and chassis batteries with Gel or AGM type batteries? We have a 2008 mid door 40' limited. The batteries were all shot when we bought ours as a new coach from Bank of America after the dealer who had it originally went BK. That was in May 09 and I used the normal golf cart batteries from Interstate as well as their chassis batteries. The auto fill is a joke and basically just makes a mess by flooding the compartment. Our chassis batteries are still good, but the house batteries are about shot and will only provide about one or two max nights in the coach (even just parked) without driving a lot or shore power to keep them up. I am thinking of replacing the house batteries (at least) with eight or possibly ten AGM or Gell type batteries as there is enough height to stack them with use of a rack. I think the Xantrex inverter can be set to charge them, but do not know if you can mix types for house and chassis or if you have to do them all at once. I have heard the Apex had 8 or 10 batteries, but have not actually seen one. Has anyone made this conversion? Is my thinking correct to gain more battery storage volume will extend days of use? If they drop much at all, it effects the Aqua Hot, refrigerator etc. Any comments from the wise ones out there would be appreciated. On another subject, has anyone solved how to keep water out of the drivers side compartments when it rains and the front roadside slide is out? (Other than closing the slide quickly) Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:47 PM   #2
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I have four 300AH 6volt AGMs, for 600AH at 12V for house batteries, and the low-no maintenance flooded cell starters the coach came with. Works BRILLIANTLY. Xantrex works so much better w/these batteries than the original flooded cell units which were a constant pain in the rumpus. These charge to less than 10A float, while the flooded cells would constantly float much higher and boil, boil, boil. I tried all kinds of tweaks to the charge settings, but once on AGM settings, I haven't had to do a single thing.
No issues w/the starters w/the Xantrex set for AGMs.
AGMs don't come cheap. Usually.
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Old 12-11-2010, 09:58 PM   #3
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Just Cruising,

Yes, the house batteries can be a different type battery than the chassis batteries. However, all the house batteries need to be the same type. All the chassis batteries need to be the same type, but can be different than the house batteries.

I don't recommend Gel house batteries, due to a number of issues. See this link:
Deep Cycle Battery FAQ

However, I had eight 6 volt Concorde Lifeline AGM batteries installed in my 2006 Alpine at the factory before I picked it up in May 2006. I love 'em. They are still working just fine.

I never have to water them. I never have any out-gassing or corrosion. Due to less internal resistance, they charge much faster than the regular golf cart batteries. The 8 batteries provide 880 amp-hours of capacity.

The owner of Lifeline batteries also has a 2006 Alpine Coach in which he had Lifeline batteries installed.

If you have AGM batteries installed, be SURE that the installer knows to change the Xantrex charging parameters to specifiy AGM.

My batteries were sourced from:

LIFELINE MARINE & RV BATTERIES
955 Todd Avenue
Azusa, CA 91702
Tel. 626-969-6886
Fax 626-969-8566

See this link for the exact batteries: Lifeline AGM batteries

See these links for a discussion of house batteries and what to replace them with:

House Batteries, what kind?
Batteries
Battery vent caps
Storage in battery compartment
Swollen batteries
How long can an engine sit dormant?
house batteries
Battery Solenoid Clicking On and Off


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Old 12-12-2010, 10:51 AM   #4
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I also went with AGM batteries. Once you set them up you can basically forget them. Like they said above, the Xantrex settings need to be changed, but that is simple.

They are quite a bit more expensive, but worth it.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:28 PM   #5
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Add me to Dale Dowdy's comments. I installed 8 Lifeline AGM batteries to replace the factory batteries like he did originally, but I did it after my old wet cell were shot. They work wonderfully. E-Mike's idea of fewer, bigger batteries is a good idea if you can fit them in. But we wouldn't go back to wet cells -- too much fuss and not worth the trouble, in my opinion. And Lifeline's owner does own a 2006 Alpine (or did), and he gave us a lot of good advice.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:34 PM   #6
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Also, on your comment on the rain getting in around the slide-we drop that side of the coach slightly with the jacks, when't it's raining hard, and that solves our problems, except our slides are on one side only. However, that driver's side living compartment slide is the biggest one, so I'm sure that makes a difference. You might try that, and if you get rain in the curbside slide, I would work on making sure your slide rubber seals are soft, pliable, and not leaking around the slide. It they are, search this forum and IMHO is correct, you will find some answers to that same problem with others.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:42 PM   #7
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I had all wet cell batteries, then changed the chassis battery to AGM. Now I have AGM house batteries and a wet cell chassis battery. In my case, changing the converter to a 3 stage one solved most of my battery problems.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:10 PM   #8
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Hi to all that replied. I have contacted Lifeline and spoke with the owner (Jim) who in fact still does have an 06 Alpine and gave me some good information and what I believe is a very fair price even with freight to Idaho. I will probably be ordering the eight batteries from him soon after I measure again to confirm the eight will fit , but it looked as though they would on my initial measuring (measure twice-cut once rule). I also am checking my inverter to make sure it is the proper one as I like to cover my bases ahead of time.
On the second subject about the rain draining into the roll out compartments when the front roadside slide is out, I believe this is a Alpine mid door design flaw which allows water to run down the slide and back under it and drop into the compartments. The seals are in good shape and that is not the problem. My only solution so far was to double seal the edge around the compartments which solved the problem when closed, but when it is open, it will drench the compartments quickly. So far we just run to close the slide when it begins to rain. I just wondered if any mid door 40' Alpine owners have the same problem and if they do (or did), how they solved the problem. Thanks to all who answered as your help and experiences shared from your coaches.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:59 PM   #9
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Just Cruising,

The rain issue may be different on 40' than 36' Mid Doors, like ours. Ours doesn't leak, but tipping it slightly down on the driver's side in heavy rains keeps it from being a problem for us.

One idea you might think about on those Lifeline batteries when you install them. Our 8 batteries in the '06 have terminal posts that sit a lot lower down (closer to top of the battery) than the original wet cells. The new posts could contact the battery hold down straps if they shifted slightly unless the hold down straps were insulated. To keep that from happening, we cut pieces of heater hose and ran the hold down straps through them to keep the battery posts from contacting the hold downs. It has worked just fine so far.

One other idea Jim may have told you that he told me was clean the battery compartment area with household ammonia and water instead of baking soda and water when you take the old batteries out. That's what he uses to clean his battery shop and he said it doesn't leave a residue like baking soda and water does. We did that and our compartment was very clean, just like new, getting rid of the old residue. The Lifeline's have been in about two years and the area still looks nice and clean with no sign of corrosion.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:19 PM   #10
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Marvin:

Sometimes a well placed line of caulk at the edge of the slide will act as a drip-rail, not sealing the slide, but causing the water to drip down, though tilting the coach a bit ought to do the same.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:24 PM   #11
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One Fellow added some "J" type rubber gutter rail at the bottom of the large slide and that seemed to stop the drips into the bays. You start at the inside of the slide 5 inches up from the bottom, and angle the J rail down to the outside of the slide. I see this on a lot of Monaco units, and they don't report leaks. I have to find the stuff and put it on, and I will add it to all my slides. You trim the outside end a bit so it lets the water drain. I would also clean (Use alcohol) all the seams and then use a good outside caulk of your choice and go over all the exposed seams. This should keep any water getting into the slide themselves.
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:15 AM   #12
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Your original interstates are 9 years old.. Not bad.. I would be surprised if AGM's lasted that long and I will tell you now GEL wont'.. You'd be doing good if GEL lasted 2 years.

Now: Many have replaced their wet cells with AGM's.. You really should make a minior adjustment in your charge system if you do this but the difference is minor.. The biggest draw back on AGM's is the cost. I have both AGM and flooded wet cells on board here (Two different systems) and frankly I'm not happy with the AGM's at all. But others rave about them.

If your auto-fill system is making a mess of things.. Then there is something wrong with the auto-fill system.. You may wish to figure out what's wrong with it.. That would be my recommendation.
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Old 12-15-2010, 10:35 PM   #13
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Do searches on battery fill system, you will find all the information you ever wanted to know. I pulled mine out, and manually check the system monthly. It never would work correctly, and I did not want to take all the time necessary to fix a system I would never trust anyway. I however left the distilled water tank, and a short piece of hose, so I have an on-board supply of water to fill the batteries with in case I run out of the two gallons I carry. This is JMTCW.

I cannot speak for the AGM's, those who have them love them, but they cost 2.5 times as much as lead/acid type. Interstate replacements for my coach were priced at 95 dollars apiece wholesale. That is what I would replace mine with, and put on Hydro caps. I like the idea of cleaning the compartment with ammonia before and scraping all the old paint off and repainting with some kind which won't allow rust. I don't know for sure, but might have one of those bed liner materials sprayed into this compartment on the bottom to make sure I stop the corrosion problem, and the batteries won't move as much. But that hopefully is a project for next year. I do need to hydrometer each of them to see their status, and load test the chassis batteries to make sure they are still good. I don’t have a load tester with me, so maybe I can get someone to help me do it at DRR. OAT (on another topic) – the Delco Remy alternator I just replaced is the best thing I have done to the coach. Everything seems to just run better I don’t know why.
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Old 12-17-2010, 01:15 PM   #14
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AGM

I was always working to keep the batteries working, and the water fill system was a waste of money. I replaced the original batteries 2 years ago, and needed to replace them again this year in Sept. I installed the AGM from Lifeline Batteries and I feel that was the best thing I ever done to my coach. No more problems and same battery capacity. I used 4 of the larger batteries and 2 of the smaller ones as the larger ones would not fit in the back of the tray. I also installed all new battery cables from Lifeline, as the taller batteries caused some cables to be short. Jim at Lifeline was a great help to me, and that he also had an Alpine was extra help. He told me what I needed and how to match the 2 sizes of batteries and that the back batteries would have to be shorter. I will never have another coach without AGM batteries.
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