Go Back   iRV2 Forums > MOTORHOME FORUMS > Class A Motorhome Discussions
Click Here to Login
Join iRV2 Today

Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
Reply
  This discussion is proudly sponsored by:
Please support our sponsors and let them know you heard about their products on iRV2
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 08-10-2012, 01:50 AM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Everything you need to know about house battery maintenance

My dad is a proud owner of a 2006 Fleetwood Discovery Diesel Pusher, and he's still trying to figure out some of the basics since he doesn't use it much - while it's stored, it is plugged into 50amp shore power. It has four 6V deep cycle house batteries (Interstate). I kept telling him he has to check the water levels, but since all the battery terminal connections were in the way of the vent caps he didn't think he had to check. So new batteries it is! I saw there is a separate thread on here on installation, but i'm still confused on maintenance of the new batteries after talking to some battery folks and reading "The 12 volt side of life" article, so please bear with me on all the questions. My dad thinks some of the stuff i've heard/read is not what most folks really do, so i would really appreciate any feedback.

1) How often do you all really check your water levels - i've heard every 4-6 weeks or every other month. Since my dad is planning on traveling soon for about 6 weeks and it seems pretty hot everywhere, i told him he will need to check on his trip, but he disagrees and says they should be fine?

2) Do you all really go through the hassle of pulling off your battery cables or do you just use a battery watering system? If the latter, do you really leave a bottle of distilled water in the battery compartment for the pump - seems like there would be no room and it wouldn't be good for the water?

3) Was told since the batts were new, they should be cycled 15-20 times (to 50%, i think) by unplugging shore power and running appliances on the batts. Before my dad goes on his trip? Seems like it would be difficult to do 1 cycle since there would be enough power to last a couple of days boondocking? And wouldn't it be difficult to get to 50% normally b/c something would always be charging the batts - like the alternator when driving or the inverter/charger when plugged in?

4) I tried by turning on the Inverter (Xantrex Freedom Inverter/Charger) and running appliances, including the microwave. I read later some folks say doing that is bad for the microwave, so they don't use the inverter? (The Xantrex manual says the inverter provides power to the microwave.)

5) I also noticed the DC volts on the Xantrex turned from green to yellow and lit up only to 11.5V while the appliance was on. Is it okay to look at this reading to see where the state of the house battery bank is (which should not be below 12V for 50%)?

6) My draining efforts barely made a dent. I also noticed somewhere it is not good to leave house batts in a partially used state, so i plugged in shore power and let the inverter/charger do its thing.

7) How often do you equalize your batteries? Heard once a year is good, or checking with a hydrometer for a 10-point spread (usually every 2-3 months).

8) Finally, when the rv is being stored for a while on shore power, should the house battery disconnect switch be engaged to conserve the batt or should the inverter/charger just keep it charged?

Thank you for reading; apologies this turned out to be so long. Kudos to all of you for being so knowledgeable about so many complex things!!
__________________

__________________
mpa24 is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 RV Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

iRV2.com RV Community - Are you about to start a new improvement on your RV or need some help with some maintenance? Do you need advice on what products to buy? Or maybe you can give others some advice? No matter where you fit in you'll find that iRV2 is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with other RV owners, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create an RV blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 08-10-2012, 03:10 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
vsheetz's Avatar


 
Fleetwood Owners Club
Ford Super Duty Owner
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: SoCal
Posts: 11,775
We use our MH about once/month plus a couple three trips of a week or two each year. I check batteries before each trip or once a month if no trip. Coach is plugged into shore power all the time and do not use the disconnect switch. No cycling, equilizing, or similar activities.

Batteries are accessible to fill with water so don't have a filling system.

Four 6V Trogen batteries with 3000 watt inverter. Runs the microwave just fine.

Last set of batteries lasted 6+ years (don't know how long the plus is, the batteries came with the coach and don't know how old total). Current set is about 5 years old.
__________________

__________________
Vince and Susan
2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
vsheetz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 08:12 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
vraines's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 695
I leave my DP connected to shore power when not in use.
Check the batteries every couple of weeks until you are comfortable with how hard the inverter is on them. Very inexpensive to keep them serviced. I now check every month or so.
Keep the terminals clean and corrosion free. Good products in auto supply stores work well.
Safety first when checking and servicing. No jewelry, good ventilation.
There are some threads on this site for home made servicing kits. Check them out.
They should last more than three years if maintained. My dealer says to expect no more than three years, but my experience has been better than that.
I use Interstate, but have had smarter people than me say there are cheaper batteries that are just as good.
I have not dry camped, but would expect to get several days on a charge if no microwave and refrigerator on gas.
If you change them out, take a cell phone pic of the connections, or make good notes.
Again, lots of amps here. Get the ground disconnected first.
Good luck.
__________________
2007 Dutch Star 4320
2010 Mazda Miata 6 speed
Roadmaster tow
vraines is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 08:16 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
vraines's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 695
Oh,I have never equalized, and I leave the batteries connected when stored. No cycling required.
__________________
2007 Dutch Star 4320
2010 Mazda Miata 6 speed
Roadmaster tow
vraines is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 08:27 AM   #5
Moderator Emeritus
 
RickO's Avatar


 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Litchfield Park, Arizona
Posts: 10,530
Hi and welcome to the forum.

My thoughts are:

1) I check my batteries about once per month. If I skip a month it's not likely to be a problem.

2) Your life will remain very difficult until you remove all of those battery cables, clean them, and then reinstall with them properly dressed and routed around the filler caps. Having to remove the cables to check the water is not acceptable. Watering systems are very nice to have. I don't believe folks keep a jug of water always attached to the system but rather attach one when checking water levels and then remove and stow it.

3) I've never heard of cycling new batteries 15/20 times.

4) I'm really surprised that your microwave is powered by the inverter and would be cautious when using it in that mode.

7) I don't equalized my batteries. I believe my inverter "conditions" them about every 10th cycle or so but it's done automatically.

8) When connected to shore power during storage, I wouldn't disconnect the batteries but rather let your inverter manage them. Just be sure to check water levels monthly.

Best of luck

Rick
__________________
Rick, Nancy, Peanut & Lola our Westie Dogs & Bailey the Sheltie.

2007 Itasca Ellipse 40FD
RickO is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 09:13 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
Triker56's Avatar
 
Fleetwood Owners Club
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,945
Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by mpa24 View Post

1) How often do you all really check your water levels - i've heard every 4-6 weeks or every other month. Since my dad is planning on traveling soon for about 6 weeks and it seems pretty hot everywhere, i told him he will need to check on his trip, but he disagrees and says they should be fine?
I check the water in mine every 45 days and have a reminder on my PC calendar.

2) Do you all really go through the hassle of pulling off your battery cables or do you just use a battery watering system? If the latter, do you really leave a bottle of distilled water in the battery compartment for the pump - seems like there would be no room and it wouldn't be good for the water?
I use Flow-rite RV Battery filling systems, Quick Fill, Qwikfill, profill, pro-fill, battery water level Camping World - Flow-rite RV Battery filling systems, Quick Fill, Qwikfill, profill, pro-fill, battery water level - Product - Camping World to fill mine in less then 5 minutes. Keep a gal of distilled water in another compartment Also use it if needed for radiator 50/50 mix.

3) Was told since the batts were new, they should be cycled 15-20 times (to 50%, i think) by unplugging shore power and running appliances on the batts. Before my dad goes on his trip? Seems like it would be difficult to do 1 cycle since there would be enough power to last a couple of days boondocking? And wouldn't it be difficult to get to 50% normally b/c something would always be charging the batts - like the alternator when driving or the inverter/charger when plugged in?
They don't need cycled as each cycle shortens the life of them.

4) I tried by turning on the Inverter (Xantrex Freedom Inverter/Charger) and running appliances, including the microwave. I read later some folks say doing that is bad for the microwave, so they don't use the inverter? (The Xantrex manual says the inverter provides power to the microwave.)
On some Discovery's the inverter is the only feed for the Microwave/Convection. And there have been no reported damage from it doing so.


5) I also noticed the DC volts on the Xantrex turned from green to yellow and lit up only to 11.5V while the appliance was on. Is it okay to look at this reading to see where the state of the house battery bank is (which should not be below 12V for 50%)?
The Yellow light means the battery bank is receiving a charge from the Inverter/Charger and is Normal.

6) My draining efforts barely made a dent. I also noticed somewhere it is not good to leave house batts in a partially used state, so i plugged in shore power and let the inverter/charger do its thing.

7) How often do you equalize your batteries? Heard once a year is good, or checking with a hydrometer for a 10-point spread (usually every 2-3 months).
My D's batteries are now 7 years old and they have never been equalized. I am plugged in to shore power 24/7.

8) Finally, when the rv is being stored for a while on shore power, should the house battery disconnect switch be engaged to conserve the batt or should the inverter/charger just keep it charged?
If it is plugged in. Never turn house or chassis switch off. And check water in house batteries every40-45 days

Thank you for reading; apologies this turned out to be so long. Kudos to all of you for being so knowledgeable about so many complex things!!
For a lot more info for a Discovery and support.
Check out
DOAI MAIN PAGE
__________________
99 Discovery 34Q ISB
2014 MKS AWD EcoBoost Toad
Fulltime Since "99"
Triker56 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 10:44 AM   #7
Moderator Emeritus
 
Gary RVRoamer's Avatar


 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Silver Springs, FL. USA
Posts: 18,062
Quote:
1) How often do you all really check your water levels - i've heard every 4-6 weeks or every other month. Since my dad is planning on traveling soon for about 6 weeks and it seems pretty hot everywhere, i told him he will need to check on his trip, but he disagrees and says they should be fine?
Best to check monthly until a usage pattern is established. With a quality inverter/charger, he probably won't have to add water that often, but until you know for sure how fast the water evaporates, it is best to check often.

Quote:
2) Do you all really go through the hassle of pulling off your battery cables or do you just use a battery watering system? If the latter, do you really leave a bottle of distilled water in the battery compartment for the pump - seems like there would be no room and it wouldn't be good for the water?
You should NOT have to pull off wires to check water. Need to do some re-routing. Or add one of those watering systems if that is not practical. Just keep a jug of distilled water somewhere in the coach - does not have to stay connected.


Quote:
3) Was told since the batts were new, they should be cycled 15-20 times (to 50%, i think) by unplugging shore power and running appliances on the batts. Before my dad goes on his trip? Seems like it would be difficult to do 1 cycle since there would be enough power to last a couple of days boondocking? And wouldn't it be difficult to get to 50% normally b/c something would always be charging the batts - like the alternator when driving or the inverter/charger when plugged in?
I've heard that mentioned recently for the very first time. Seems improbable to me. Lead acid batteries don't need to be conditioned like that.

Quote:
4) I tried by turning on the Inverter (Xantrex Freedom Inverter/Charger) and running appliances, including the microwave. I read later some folks say doing that is bad for the microwave, so they don't use the inverter? (The Xantrex manual says the inverter provides power to the microwave.)
Pure hogwash. Running the microwave and other appliances is one of the reasons to have an inverter in the first place.

Quote:
5) I also noticed the DC volts on the Xantrex turned from green to yellow and lit up only to 11.5V while the appliance was on. Is it okay to look at this reading to see where the state of the house battery bank is (which should not be below 12V for 50%)?
Sure, use the voltage display. That's what its there for. But remember that the volatge will be low wheile the inverter is drawing power. A soon as the load stops, e.g. microwave shuts off, the voltage will bounce back up again. The 50% discharge level is measured with the battery at rest, not under load.

Quote:
6) My draining efforts barely made a dent. I also noticed somewhere it is not good to leave house batts in a partially used state, so i plugged in shore power and let the inverter/charger do its thing.
Right.

Quote:
7) How often do you equalize your batteries? Heard once a year is good, or checking with a hydrometer for a 10-point spread (usually every 2-3 months).
I don't bother equalizing (I have AGM batteries), but if you choose to do that, your method is as good as any.
Quote:
8) Finally, when the rv is being stored for a while on shore power, should the house battery disconnect switch be engaged to conserve the batt or should the inverter/charger just keep it charged?
If plugged to shore power, leave the disconnect in the On position (batteries "live"). No need to disconnect when shore power is available and in fact that might even stop the inverter from charging them (depends on the design of the electrical system).
__________________
Gary Brinck
Former owner of 2004 American Tradition
Home is in the Ocala Nat'l Forest near Ocala, FL
Summers in Black Mountain, NC
Gary RVRoamer is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 05:55 PM   #8
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 4
Lots of great input and clarification! Thank you for helping me understand better. Hmm, guess my dad was right - the whole thing is not supposed to be so complicated (with the cycling and equalizing, etc).

My dad tried to clear the vent caps during his install of the batteries, but the fit is kind of tight. Last time he had Camping World install the batteries & they ran the cables over the caps, so now he knows better. I also now see i misunderstood the "automatically sends water to low cells only" for the battery watering system - thought the system & pump filled automatically, hence the confusion about the water bottle placement.
__________________
mpa24 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-10-2012, 07:09 PM   #9
Registered User
 
Fleetwood Owners Club
Freightliner Owners Club
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Posts: 1,857
These will help

When I changed from Interstate to Kirkland 6V batteries I had the same problem with not being able to get the caps off due to the routing of the wires. Re-routing the wires was out of the question so I got 8 of these

Battery Doctor/Brass extender with nut for top post batteries (30600) | Battery Terminal End and Adapter | AutoZone.com_

to raise the wires up off the caps.

As far as adding water to the batteries goes I use a battery filler, but a bicyclist water bottle will work. I've seen people use turkey basters with success too. Distlled water only. If you're unsure how much water to put in get the battery filler.

If the tops of the batteries are dirty it's OK to spray them off with water, being careful not to spray it directly on the caps to much. Then let it dry before you remove the caps. Anyting that gets in the batteries that isn't distilled water is generally bad for them.
Attached Images
 
__________________
Muddypaws is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-11-2012, 03:28 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Cat320's Avatar
 
Fleetwood Owners Club
American Coach Owners Club
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 4,744
A lot of this discussion concerns checking the water, moving cables, charging issues, etc. Those problems can be solved by getting Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries.

They don't leak, don't freeze, don't require any maintenance and can sit along time without recharging. The down side is that they are expensive.

AGM Battery | AGM Batteries | AGM Deep Cycle Batteries
__________________
2014 American Eagle 45T
DD 500
Pulling a Honda CRV
Cat320 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-11-2012, 04:47 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
Jack1234's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 967
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat320
A lot of this discussion concerns checking the water, moving cables, charging issues, etc. Those problems can be solved by getting Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries.

They don't leak, don't freeze, don't require any maintenance and can sit along time without recharging. The down side is that they are expensive.

AGM Battery | AGM Batteries | AGM Deep Cycle Batteries
You are so right....but at about 3x more expensive, I "wish" I could justify the $$$$$. Wishing just won't work for me, so the small amount of work to insure my charger is properly set-up, my cables are clean, my caps are unobstructed and the water levels managed, will have to do....besides more $$$$ for golf!
__________________
Jack & Maggie
04-Rexhall Roseair (37)
Cummins ISC / Spartan
Jack1234 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-11-2012, 05:22 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
justaroamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ozarks
Posts: 517
"Every Thing You Need to Know About House Battery Maintenance" ...Simple get AGM Batteries and ForGget auBoutit!
I agree totally with the previous 2 posts...AGM is the only way to go, have 11 of them, house (8) and chassis(3)...never need to do filling, etc. and don't have the "white battery mold" from constant outgassing as wet batteries do.
At an approximate cost of $2k for all, that is only $400 per year over a 5 year life span.
Yes the AGM's should and will outlast the wets, as they have a better life cycle and more deep cycle rating. Much of the outgassing comes from one bad cell/battery in the bank that will charge and "boil" the stronger cells/batteries, which leads to maintenance and which with the lack there of, shortens the life of the entire bank. AGMs charge to 100%, where wets only charge fully to 80% (to avoid outgassing/boiling). There is a reason that one needs to set the charging mode on your convertor/charger control panel as it needs to know what batteries it is dealing with.
If one worries with battery price, then one probably worries with fuel mileage...get out there and enjoy...
Life is better with AGM's.
__________________
♫ Happy Trails... to You ♪....., Until We Meet Again ♪..... ♫
justaroamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-11-2012, 06:24 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
clyon51's Avatar
 
Monaco Owners Club
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Arizona West RV Park, Yuma, Az
Posts: 4,113
I really have nothing against AGMs and I understand why people like them. However, their cost is prohibitive for many especially when you compare Amp Hours vs $ and longevity. With a good smart charger like the Progressive Dynamics 9200 Series and some good Trojans or Interstate 6V CG batteries, they last 10 years. IE, I'm almost at 1 year with my new setup and have yet to add water to my Trojans and my coach is plugged in 24/7. I doubt you will find any serious boondocker who uses AGMs since they don't really compare in storage capacity.

On the other hand, if you just bop from campground to campground there's no real concern. AGMs are great for folks who want to add extra batteries, but have to put them in living space, along with those that don't have 30 mins a year to check their flooded cells It really boils down to the money you want to spend, what kind of RVing you do or, if you like to tinker or just drive and camp. As always, to each his own
__________________
John & Clare Lyon
2007 43.5' Monaco Dynasty Palace III (All Electric)
Towd: 2011 Chevy Equinox
clyon51 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-12-2012, 05:32 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
justaroamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ozarks
Posts: 517
Quote:
Originally Posted by clyon51 View Post
I really have nothing against AGMs and I understand why people like them. However, their cost is prohibitive for many especially when you compare Amp Hours vs $ and longevity. With a good smart charger like the Progressive Dynamics 9200 Series and some good Trojans or Interstate 6V CG batteries, they last 10 years. IE, I'm almost at 1 year with my new setup and have yet to add water to my Trojans and my coach is plugged in 24/7. I doubt you will find any serious boondocker who uses AGMs since they don't really compare in storage capacity.

On the other hand, if you just bop from campground to campground there's no real concern. AGMs are great for folks who want to add extra batteries, but have to put them in living space, along with those that don't have 30 mins a year to check their flooded cells It really boils down to the money you want to spend, what kind of RVing you do or, if you like to tinker or just drive and camp. As always, to each his own
Ughhh... "AGMs since they don't really compare in storage capacity." You might want to check this a bit more.
Are the electric cars/hybrids using GC wet batteries? Wet batteries is a technology that is centuries old...time to change, many do. Cost is comming down on AGMs and I might mention that the capacity of a wet is at 100% and they only charge to 80%, where as AGMs are rated and charged to 100%. Do the math.
No offense and with all due respect....do you tow the Dolphin with the Super Duty or is the Super Duty your Toad???
__________________

__________________
♫ Happy Trails... to You ♪....., Until We Meet Again ♪..... ♫
justaroamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
battery, maintenance



Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:01 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.