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Old 03-19-2011, 01:19 PM   #1
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Equalize Batts with which charger????

I believe the time has come to “equalize” my two Interstate U2200, 6v, batteries. I have a $90 battery charger, but it is totally automatic so I can fig out how to get it to equalize. Please advise any normal consumer type battery chargers with equalization. I’ve tried Google them to no end with zero success!

All ideas welcomed!
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Old 03-19-2011, 06:53 PM   #2
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You should not need to worry about equalizing your batteries used in typical RV service.

Equalizing is hard on batteries. It is an overcharge to try to get weak cells up to a full charge but that overcharge tends to harm those cells that are already at a full charge.

In RV service, the batteries should get an appropriate amount of exercise that minimizes an imbalance in cell charging. This exercise is discharging the batteries down 20% to 50% and then charging with a good converter.

A good converter is sized for your batteries so it will get a good current to them and then proceed through the battery charging stages appropriately. It will have the time (8 to 12 hours) to fully charge then entire battery. And then it will go to a maintenance mode to keep the battery fully charged and also do some things to inhibit sulfation.
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:31 PM   #3
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To equalize a battery, the voltage is raised up into the 15.6VDC area for a 12VDC battery. For this reason, anything and everything that runs on 12VDC should be disconnected.If your charger does not have an equalize mode, it won't work. Specific gravity should be monitored during the gassing stage to determine when the process is complete. The battery is considered to be completely equalized when the specific gravity stops rising.
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Old 03-20-2011, 09:59 AM   #4
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Thanks BryanL! I've never equalized batteries before, but I feel saure my two Interstate U2200 have been run up and down too many times. I looked at both the Interstate and Trojan sites and they say to equalize so what's a guy to do? One even says to equalize every month!!! Unfortunately my trailer doesn't have a converter looking after the batteries. I thought if I could find a cheap charger with an equalize setting that I'd just shoot it once and see what happens. I have three charges now - NONE OF WHICH HAS THE EQUALIZE SETTING

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Originally Posted by BryanL View Post
You should not need to worry about equalizing your batteries used in typical RV service.

Equalizing is hard on batteries. It is an overcharge to try to get weak cells up to a full charge but that overcharge tends to harm those cells that are already at a full charge.

In RV service, the batteries should get an appropriate amount of exercise that minimizes an imbalance in cell charging. This exercise is discharging the batteries down 20% to 50% and then charging with a good converter.

A good converter is sized for your batteries so it will get a good current to them and then proceed through the battery charging stages appropriately. It will have the time (8 to 12 hours) to fully charge then entire battery. And then it will go to a maintenance mode to keep the battery fully charged and also do some things to inhibit sulfation.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:09 PM   #5
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Do you know of any "consumer" battery charger that has the equalize setting on it? I can't identify any.

Thanks for your input!
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To equalize a battery, the voltage is raised up into the 15.6VDC area for a 12VDC battery. For this reason, anything and everything that runs on 12VDC should be disconnected.If your charger does not have an equalize mode, it won't work. Specific gravity should be monitored during the gassing stage to determine when the process is complete. The battery is considered to be completely equalized when the specific gravity stops rising.
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:33 PM   #6
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My inverter/charger has this feature built in.

My solar controler has this feature built in.

Most chargers do not properly charge a battery as they do not bring the voltage up to 14.8 volts and hold it there for at least one full hour, two or three hours are better. My inverter/charger is like this as it goes into absorbtion at 14.4 volts.

My solar controler does it the right way. If batteries are charged properly equalization is not necessary.

See Handy Bob Solar's blog for the full story on battery charging.
His web site is in boondocking under "Solar That Really Works".
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Old 03-20-2011, 04:57 PM   #7
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I have been driving HandyBob nuts with questions - He sure is one helpful, knowledgable fellow

When I get a full-blown solar setup I'll have a good charger taking care of things. For now I'm just putting in one panel to keep the batts going just to run a minimum of 12 v stuff.

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My inverter/charger has this feature built in.

My solar controler has this feature built in.

Most chargers do not properly charge a battery as they do not bring the voltage up to 14.8 volts and hold it there for at least one full hour, two or three hours are better. My inverter/charger is like this as it goes into absorbtion at 14.4 volts.

My solar controler does it the right way. If batteries are charged properly equalization is not necessary.

See Handy Bob Solar's blog for the full story on battery charging.
His web site is in boondocking under "Solar That Really Works".
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Old 03-22-2011, 04:11 PM   #8
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re: "I looked at both the Interstate and Trojan sites and they say to equalize so what's a guy to do?"

What a guy needs to do is to learn why these manufacturers recommend the procedure, what it does, and whether it is needed in your circumstances.

There is an awful lot of bad, misinformed, out of context, or simply wrong information out there. For example, I just got my latest Highways and really feel sorry for those who read the Tech Topics for battery advice. Bob has a real whopper in the April issue regarding battery aging characteristics. All you have to do to really question his advice is to consider the implications in the mismatch between house and engine batteries which are often connected in parallel for charging.

Things need to fit together and make sense and "a guy" needs to actually fit the pieces together and consider pertinent questions rather than just take what is offered as gospel.

An equalization charge is an intentional overcharge in order to make sure any weak cells are brought up to full. So the first thing to do is to figure out why some cells in a battery might not get a full charge compared to the others.

There is a hint: I think you'll find that the battery manufacturers are talking in the context of solar systems that don't have a lot of vigor for charging and the batteries are in something closer to float duty than anything else. In contrast, RV service will usually drain the batteries 20% to 50% followed by a grid powered charger that can provide good charging current. It is also connected for a long enough time for the entire battery to get up to full charge.

Another question you can consider is why you get the longest warranties with SLI (starting) batteries yet there is no recommendation they be subject to equalization charges. What is going on here? (and watch out for the cute rationalizations, trolling, and whatnot, too as critical reading and thinking skills are what "a guy" has to depend upon).

I'd also tend to maintain a degree of skepticism related to the degree of confidence folks have in their own qualities. Hubris does not often lead to a good education. The more assertive someone is about their being right, the more effort I put into skepticism.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:18 AM   #9
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Thanks for you input!

I have to wonder if Trojan and Interstate don't know how to maitain deep cycle batteries. It would seem if anybody knows about that it would be those two.

Anyway, I don't currently have solar and we only boondock, so I've allwed my batts to go too darn far down. Maybe I've ruined them?

I'm just trying to lear and appreciate the help all of you have offered!

Bob
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:45 AM   #10
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if you have a modern multi stage converter chances are it automatically provides a periodic equalization charge. If you have an older converter you might consider an upgrade since an upgrade doesn't cost much and can significantly extend the life of a battery.
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Old 03-23-2011, 08:15 AM   #11
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re: "have to wonder if Trojan and Interstate don't know how to maitain deep cycle batteries." -- They do provide a good resource for battery maintenance - if you read carefully! There is no single formula that applies in all cases and circumstances so matching these up to recommendations is important.

There are a few good general principles but some things (such as equalization) really apply only in certain circumstances.

re: "I've allwed my batts to go too darn far down. Maybe I've ruined them? " -- if you haven't run them down so far as to reverse charge a cell, you might be OK. Running the batteries down on occasion should not make much of a difference unless you are a really heavy battery user or run them down way way too far (circumstances and context - again!)

re: "if you have a modern multi stage converter chances are it automatically provides a periodic equalization charge." -- I am not aware of any converter or other charger intended for full time connection that will automatically do a 'real' equalization charge. I do know some that use 'equalization charge' as a marketing term for their suflation inhibition technique but a 'real' equalization charge (as described by Trojan and Interstate, for example) should not be done without careful manual monitoring due to the risk of damage.
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Old 03-23-2011, 12:13 PM   #12
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Thanks Bryan, I guess I take better care of my dog than my batteries, but then who doesn't?!
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Old 07-26-2013, 11:37 AM   #13
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Here is a link to what I found to be a pretty good 'basic' tutorial on batteries and especially the art of charging, etc.

How Lead Acid Batteries Work: Battery Basics from Progressive Dynamics

I just recently replaced my 30 Amp converter on my Carriage RV with a new WFCO Electronics model WF 9875, a 75 amp unit. Did I need a 75 A converter? Probably not but for the small increase in price I felt it worth the extra bucks to make sure it would always be running well under its' max rating. Also, this charger is a three phase charger with auto equalization feature. It is designed specifically for RV's and I should never need to worry about equalizing my RV deep cycle batteries.

Final point, for the 75 amp unit that I purchased, I only paid $165 + SS on ebay. That's not much more than you would expect to pay for a 'good' battery charger with the equalizing capability.
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Old 07-26-2013, 12:16 PM   #14
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You'll never use that 75amps in your 30ft rig. WFCO is also made in China and have a pretty bad reputation. You should have bought a Progessive Dynamics PD 9245 for $130.
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