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Old 03-22-2015, 11:18 PM   #1
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Batteries not holding a charge

Hello,

I'm sure there are other posts that have dealt with this before, but I can't seem to find any that answer my question.

My wife and I are relatively new RVers, having purchased a 2014 26' Springdale by Keystone travel trailer last year. We have taken it out several times, and everything has been going great, except lately we have been having problems with the batteries holding a charge.

We first noticed this at the end of the season last year when the batteries would be fine when we went to bed, but by the time we woke up, they were almost dead. It was late in the season so we thought it was the cold maybe killing the battery efficiency. But we just took it out for the first time this year, and we had the same problem, only it seemed to be worse- by the morning the lights we dim and there was not even enough juice to run the water pump. The lows were around 30 degrees F, so the heater was running a decent amount, but the 2 deep cycle batteries we have (less than a year old) should have gotten us through the night. We have a 2000W generator that I have been running for about an hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, but that is just barely getting us through. Is that adequate to charge the batteries?

We having been thinking we should replace our light bulbs with LEDs, maybe insulate the batteries with a box, or maybe the batteries are bad?
I have had the batteries on a trickle charger most of the winter. How do I test the batteries? Also the battery monitor has "C, G, F, L" on it- is this charging, good, fair, low?

As you can see, I have a lot questions and a lot to learn- any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Matt
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Old 03-23-2015, 12:45 AM   #2
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Changing to LEDs will take a large drain off your batteries. Unless you plan on getting a portable Honda generator, I suggest you consider having a solar panel or two installed on your coach. It will help recharge your batteries during the day and keep your batteries charged when in storage. AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems
To have your batteries tested for holding a load, just stop by any Interstate Battery Dealer. It's free. O'Reilly's and Auto Zone may also do the tests for free but will require you to remove the batteries.
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Old 03-23-2015, 05:30 AM   #3
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You need to think of your batteries as a can. You are taking juice out of the can, for 21 hours and pouring it back in for 3.

You know you are using all of the juice ( AH ), because things don't work in the morning.

Find out how many AH the batteries have , then find out how many amps your charger puts out.

If you use, say 200 AH, and you have a 40 amp charger, you need to run the charger 5 hours, just to get even. ( a little more, but keeping it simple )

Unless you leave lights on a lot, LED lights won't help much. Your heater, probably, is your big power user.

If you keep using more the 1/2 of your juice, ( down to where your water pump won't run ), your batteries will be shot in a year.

You could use Wal-Mart batteries, they have a 1 year replacement guarantee.

My recommendation is to run the generator much longer, or get a bigger charger.

You also need to find out if you have enough battery capacity, to run the heat all night. You may need more batteries.

Solar is a great addition, but you need to size it for your use. Unless you get big panels, they don't pour much juice, into the can.

Enjoy
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:51 AM   #4
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Just for the fun of it...What batteries do you have?

GC-2 (Six volt golf car)
Group 24.27.29.31

How many

Are they
Flooded wet (Removable caps you add DISTILLED water when needed)
Maintenance free (Can not remove the caps but you can hear/feel liquid slosh if you slosh them
AGM: No removable caps.. NO slosh, NO "This side up" marking)
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Old 03-23-2015, 08:14 AM   #5
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You are using the trailer's built-in converter/charger to charge up the batteries with your generator? If so, it's probably not really getting them fully charged each day. Repeat this cycle and you batteries will get sulphated and deteriorate.

My trailer's WFCO converter usually doesn't go over 13.6VDC when plugged into 120VAC (generator or household). Not good enough for battery charging.

So now I use my big solar panels and controller to bring the batteries up to 14.8VDC every day, followed by "float" at 13.2V. That seems to keep them from sulfating. I also "equalize" the batteries at over 15VDC every few months, but that requires that they be separated from the rest of the trailer to prevent burning out sensitive circuits with the over-voltage.

I would consider getting a better charger that you can run off the generator. Progressive Dynamics comes to mind.
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Old 03-23-2015, 09:59 AM   #6
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You did not post what batteries you have installed now, so you might what to do that ..

I have just made both the LED and the Battery change on our Jayco Jayflight 26rKS and will be taking it out for the first time this May.. here is what I did.
1. I changed out all of my incandcent bulbs with LEDs, (search for my other posts on LED's) I have cut my draw more than half I purchased 12 LED's each thime for a total of about $150.00 I think I used about 18 of them to replace the Incandescent. I"m very happy with the light it is brighter, cleaner looking and cool.

This week I replaced the 1 12V Group 24 84 AH interstate battery I had with 2 Trojan T105 batteries.. I went from a capacity of 84 AH to now a minimum of 225AH.. Cost was about $250.00

While changing out the battery I did some current draw measurements and with no lights or anything on other than the Gas Detector I had a draw of .168 amps which is acceptable. I went through fixture by fixture and measured the draw as I added lights... With 3 2 bulb fixtures running (plenty of light for us to sit in the living area and then I'd switch them off for less in the BD at night... with 3 fixtures a total of 6 LED's I ended up with a 1.77 amp draw... less than half of what the incandescent would be... I turned all the lights on just to see the draw and I was still under 4.5 amps.... I didn't check the furnace as I doubt I'l need it.. but I may do that before we go on our trip..

On the Trojan Battery website there is a great calculator to figure load and it is interesting to see the change as you add lights or fixtures.. My TV draws less than 64 watts and I may try it at the end of our trip on an inverter but I'm not camping to watch TV :-)

So, hope that info helps
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Old 03-23-2015, 10:35 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gogreenwave View Post
Hello,

I'm sure there are other posts that have dealt with this before, but I can't seem to find any that answer my question.

My wife and I are relatively new RVers, having purchased a 2014 26' Springdale by Keystone travel trailer last year. We have taken it out several times, and everything has been going great, except lately we have been having problems with the batteries holding a charge.

We first noticed this at the end of the season last year when the batteries would be fine when we went to bed, but by the time we woke up, they were almost dead. It was late in the season so we thought it was the cold maybe killing the battery efficiency. But we just took it out for the first time this year, and we had the same problem, only it seemed to be worse- by the morning the lights we dim and there was not even enough juice to run the water pump. The lows were around 30 degrees F, so the heater was running a decent amount, but the 2 deep cycle batteries we have (less than a year old) should have gotten us through the night. We have a 2000W generator that I have been running for about an hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, but that is just barely getting us through. Is that adequate to charge the batteries?

We having been thinking we should replace our light bulbs with LEDs, maybe insulate the batteries with a box, or maybe the batteries are bad?
I have had the batteries on a trickle charger most of the winter. How do I test the batteries? Also the battery monitor has "C, G, F, L" on it- is this charging, good, fair, low?

As you can see, I have a lot questions and a lot to learn- any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Matt
Matt
Are you running an electric space HEATER with inverter power?
That will depleat your batteries fast!

Even running your propane RV FURNACE may deplete only 2 house batteries overnight.

Although LEDs are a not a bad idea...me thinks you need "more house battery", "better 12V energy management" and "longer generator run times"... more than you need LED lights when camping without a shore power connection.

BTW, IMO, insulating the batteries will do nothing to solve your problem.

Mel
'96 Safari, (4 12V deep cycle marine house batteries)
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Old 03-23-2015, 10:35 AM   #8
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One of the best information sites on deep cycle batteries Deep Cycle Battery FAQ
Are you monitoring your batteries, if you draw them down below 50% state of charge they will be hurt and shorten their life dramatically. A Trimetric or Vectron battery monitor will monitor the current coming out of and going into your batteries and tell you what is happening. I chose the Victron BMV-700 series - Victron Energy because of ease in set up and size.
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:25 AM   #9
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Update

Hello everyone,

Thanks for the replies- Just wanted to say I am using the maintaince-free deep cycle marine batteries that came with the trailer, and the WFCO power converter that came with the trailer. I am thinking I need to be running my generator for a lot longer, maybe get a solar panel and switch out some lights for LEDs, and get a better monitoring system for my batteries- the 4 lights on the trailer for battery level just aren't cutting it I think. Would a new converter help?

Being a novice, I have let the batteries get low a few times- hopefully I have not cut thier lives short.

Thanks,

Matt
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:49 AM   #10
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Dunno about Centennial Batteries, but most battery manufacturers have detailed instructions for charging their batteries, and maintaining that charge. And you'll find that the WFCO converter/chargers just don't cut it.

The simplest might be to get a separate charger powerful and sophisticated enough to charge your batteries as the manufacturer wants, using your generator.

The trick is getting the voltage up to what the manufacturer recommends and holding it there during the "absorbtion phase". If the charger is limited to 13.6VDC like the WFCO) you could run your generator all day and not get the batts fully charged.

Not sure if those group 24 batteries can be saved. "Maintenance Free" does that mean sealed AGM? It would be a shame to lose a pair of AGMs ...
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:08 PM   #11
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Well looking at your photo I think I found your battery website here :centennialbatteries.com -products

Your batteries like my original battery is a group 24 and like I said my battery was an Interstate group 24 and my rating for that battery was I think 84 ah. Even with 2 in parallel you would have about 160 ah. If it were me, I'd pull the batteries and take them to a local dealer of that battery... Or as suggested to a number of shops that can do a full load test. Depending how far you let them drop they could be bad but the only way to test the battery is with a good load test. Typically these batteries don't like high discharges so there may be damaged cells.

If you are going to change them again, look in to changing them out with 2 6v GC batteries like the Trojan T105 or equivalent Interstate they will take more abuse in discharging..

Once you get your battery figured out... Use a Amp meter and start with nothing on and then start to turn on lights and other devices and see what kind of draw you have. My guess you have 2 issues a battery issue and perhaps what you are using in the TT... both issues are fairly easily addressed..

I also suggest you use the battery calculator on the Trojan site, it's free (you don't have to buy anything) but it will calculate your draw and by putting in various bits of information it will suggest different batteries to use with your draw.
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:59 PM   #12
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If you don't have one, rent a battery charger with a desulfation feature. Use it per directions before replacing them. Your onboard charger is a threee-stage charger, which should make batteries have a longer life. Due to being depleted several times they become sulfated and will not accept the proper charge-as designed. A desulfation cycle should improve their performance.
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Old 03-25-2015, 04:16 AM   #13
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Look at the Optima battery chargers.. I haven't tried one yet ,but they claim to bring back batteries from the dead and have good reviews.
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Old 03-25-2015, 07:24 AM   #14
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First, you have hybrid batteries. These are designed for boats so that they can be used for starting or house loads. They are a compromise and not a true deep cycle. Being maintenance free, doesn't mean caps can't be removed. If you can remove the caps then fully charge them (about 2 days with the wfco converter) then check the water level and specific gravity of each cell.

Hybrid batteries will have a very short life if fully discharged just a few times.

How much was the heater running? The fan draws about 10amps, you should have enough capacity to run it for 7-8 hrs straight. After that, you'll need to charge for 24-48 hrs to fully replenish the battery or 6hrs to top it off to 90%
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