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Old 02-11-2019, 02:16 PM   #1
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Question 6V Battery issues - where to now?

I am at my wits end about this. I've talked to battery people, but they get so agitated when explaining things. It's very frustrating...

A few weeks ago I went to the Big Tent Show in Quartzsite. My power setup failed after 4 hours of using just my cpap machine.

When I bought my trailer new, I immediately bought 2 215AH 6v Duracell batteries. We've gone camping maybe a dozen times, and we've dry camped without hookups maybe 4 times.

I use the factory converter (WFCO unit at 60amps I believe) to keep the batteries charged, and I monitor the voltages frequently through the day. I am usually at 12.8v resting before I hook up my 1200w inverter. In the morning I am usually at 12.4 or sometimes 12.3v.

On this last trip, I would start at 12.7v, turn on the inverter, and then at 3am I would wake to the low voltage alarm. Batteries at 11.6v. I charged them all day off the generator (via converter, 13.7v) but the same thing happened the next night.

I always put away the coach with full batteries, usually a 12.8v reading or higher, and I disconnect the batteries when in storage (usually 3-4 weeks)

Per suggestion from many people, I bought a hydrometer. All cells fair to good, and I am religious about water checks and they are all full. I bought a 100amp battery load tester, both batteries show good. Both batteries show 6.4v at rest, and 6.2v at load. I then installed a 100amp shunt/monitor and measured the Inverter at less than 1amp draw at idle. I also powered the coach (I only run the outlets) and the reading didn't change.

Finally, I measured my cpap machine, and the most energy it ever uses is about 75 watts.

I figure my 14 month old batteries are giving me a lot of false good readings? Should I switch back to 100ah 12v batteries with my usage? While it's not a huge deal if I have to replace $200 worth of batteries every year and a half, I would prefer I purchased something that worked with our camping style.

Searching the forum didn't give me a lot of answers, so please don't rip me apart too much. I still hurt from the last battery dealer I spoke with!
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:26 PM   #2
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There is a lot of good info here: The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:38 PM   #3
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Danny,

It looks like you did everything right, but you WFCO let you down.

Was that 13.7 measured at the bank?

If it is only charging at 13.7, it could take more than "All Day" to recover the 100+ Amp hours you pulled out of your house bank. This is why you need either a real battery monitor or a hydrometer (or refractometer) to actually measure the electrolyte density.

Now that the bank has been run as deep as 11.6 (you really don't want to go below 12.0) they may have trouble recovering that capacity. What you might do is try to score a Progressive Dynamics or Iota converter and let them cook on the bank a while. GC2s really like getting kicked with 14.4 to get back to full density. For your GC2s, 45 amp is about right and 60 won't hurt them if you are careful.

Do Not go to 12v jars. You will not end up with capacity X2, it will be more like 1.75. This is because the resistance of the connections will bite you.

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Old 02-11-2019, 04:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by F76Marion View Post
Danny,

It looks like you did everything right, but you WFCO let you down.

Was that 13.7 measured at the bank?
Yes. I have a plug on the side of the trailer for "solar" charging that I use to test voltage. It is wired straight to the battery. The times I have tested on top of the posts, there was no difference in voltage.

When charging off a stand alone charger, do I need to disable my converter? (flip the breaker)
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:16 PM   #5
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If it's easy enough to do, remove one of the wires leading from the battery to the trailer, which is very easy for me to do, but might not be for you.

If you disable the converter will you get any power anywhere in the trailer?
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:30 PM   #6
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If it's easy enough to do, remove one of the wires leading from the battery to the trailer, which is very easy for me to do, but might not be for you.

If you disable the converter will you get any power anywhere in the trailer?
Well, it depends... If I don't flip the battery disconnect bar, then 12v remains powered by the battery bank. If I flip the battery disconnect, then nothing will be powered by DC in the trailer. I guess what I should do is just flip the 12v battery disconnect.

Turns out I've had the Progressive Dynamics 9260 in my wish list for as long as we've owned this trailer...
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:42 PM   #7
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is the any chance something else is on using power that wasnt before? leave any lights on in the storage areas or anything simple
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 1bigmess View Post
If it's easy enough to do, remove one of the wires leading from the battery to the trailer, which is very easy for me to do, but might not be for you.

If you disable the converter will you get any power anywhere in the trailer?
quick question. it sounds as if you are checking with the solar still actively charging the batteries? I made that mistake early on not even considering they would give me a false reading during the day or even under the right parking lot lamps.

If you want yo check during the day I just remove the inline glass fuse on my "system" panel. Then wait a bit to check after enough rest. My really low power 100w panel can send the 13.3-14v looking charge but it's not a lot of amps from my panel and it's converter.

It sure doesn't sound like your batteries are the issue. I sure would agree swapping to a new Progressive Dynamics converter charger was a great move for my system
Batteries actually charge. Mine replaced the CA 1997 version of the same one your rig currently has and it was old & worn out.
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Old 02-11-2019, 08:46 PM   #9
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Does your refrigerator have a frame heater? Some refrigerators have them and they're a drain on the battery that can be significant.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:50 PM   #10
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quick question. it sounds as if you are checking with the solar still actively charging the batteries? I made that mistake early on not even considering they would give me a false reading during the day or even under the right parking lot lamps.

If you want yo check during the day I just remove the inline glass fuse on my "system" panel. Then wait a bit to check after enough rest. My really low power 100w panel can send the 13.3-14v looking charge but it's not a lot of amps from my panel and it's converter.

It sure doesn't sound like your batteries are the issue. I sure would agree swapping to a new Progressive Dynamics converter charger was a great move for my system
Batteries actually charge. Mine replaced the CA 1997 version of the same one your rig currently has and it was old & worn out.
This one is easy. I don't have solar...


Quote:
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Does your refrigerator have a frame heater? Some refrigerators have them and they're a drain on the battery that can be significant.
My understanding is that the frame heater models would have a switch on the bottom of the top panel when you open the freezer. My refrigerator has exactly two switches. On/Off and Auto/Gas. I couldn't even find those handy clips some people have in their doors that prop it open to defrost after use. Grrrr...
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:55 PM   #11
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is the any chance something else is on using power that wasnt before? leave any lights on in the storage areas or anything simple
Sorry, missed this one. I have two storage compartments, and only the front one has a light. Even if I left it on, all the lights are LEDs and draw a whopping 1 to 2 watts each.

The first night it happened, I had only switched off the converter. The 2nd night, I switched everything off, even the amplified antenna!

Our next dry camping trip is Memorial Day weekend, but sure would like the peace of mind that comes with knowing what my issue is before then.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:14 PM   #12
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Depending on how your inverter is wired in a couple things to consider is to make sure your converter and refrigerator are not tied into the inverter circuit. The converter will try to charge the batteries off of the batteries through the inverter. Also if the fridge is on same circuit and set to auto that will deplete the battery in a few hours. Not sure how your inverter is setup.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:17 PM   #13
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The first thing is get a good quality voltage and current monitor. Many to choose from, but follow recommendation for here. This is going to be KEY to understanding your issues.

A typical lead acid battery that is fully charged will have a resting voltage of 12.7V-12.8V (after disconnecting from any charger or load and allowed to rest for about 1 hour).

Starting batteries, including "marine" batteries, should not be discharged past 80%, about 12.4V-12.5V.

True "deep discharge" batteries, like golf cart batteries, should not be discharged past 50%, about 12.0V-12.1V.

Discharging past those numbers will significantly reduce the life of your batteries.

WFCO chargers are "not the best", but it sounds like for some reason you are drawing more power now with you inverter and CPAP. You need that ACCURATE current meter that I mentioned at the beginning. I would also look into a DC power supply for your CPAP so that you are losing less power than with your inverter.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:46 PM   #14
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A Clamp-On Amp Meter like this would allow you to measure the actual current leaving the battery.


https://www.amazon.com/Auto-Ranging-.../dp/B019CY4FB4


Also equalizing the batteries might restore them. Equalizing typically charges at a higher then at normal voltage (like 15V) for any where from a couple of hours to 8 hours. The more sophisticated battery charges have this function.



You said you installed a shunt amp meter. Is the amp meter monitoring all the battery current or just the inverter circuit? If not monitoring all the current then I would move it so it is.
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