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Old 06-16-2012, 07:52 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: wpbfl
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now i AM worried! ka-boom!

i installed an electric gate opener at the s&b a while back, the kind that runs on a car battery but has built-in charging controller. i bought a new deep cycle marine battery for it but cycled my old one out of the camper to the gate and kept the new one for the camper. made sense to me at the time.

now it's a year or so down the road after the install and my kid comes in from work about 1am last lite. i'm just drifting off to that warm, fuzzy place, and WHAM! BOOM! sounded just like when the power transformer out front got hit with lightning last year. kid calls, 'dad! come quick! the gate just blew up!'.

got there to find pieces of the battery and the weather plastic case it lived in strewn across 25 feet of driveway and the road beyond. battery was ripped open on both sides showing plates like a monster movie shows teeth, top caps blown off, case badly buckled, most of the weather case totally gone. the kid was petrified, thought his car had blown up.

kid said it went off just as he pressed the clicker to open the gate. today, after i cleaned up the mess, i put in a new battery, checking the charge volts and amps. 16v open ckt, 14 v loaded with the battery. amps <1a. gate worked ok afterwards.

point is, maybe this could have happened while that battery was in the camper! hate to think of it like that, but let's be real... it might uv.

anyone here have any such experiences? any ideas about the science of why good batteries turn bad and go boom in the night?


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Old 06-16-2012, 08:53 PM   #2
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There was a thread about a week ago where a guys battery blew up in the rig. Blew the compartment hatch open. Was your battery in a sealed compartment or was it vented? When you son pushed the button to activate the gate is could have ignited the built up hydrogen if not vented battery compartment.

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Old 06-16-2012, 09:01 PM   #3
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There had to be fumes contained in an area where the controller caused a spark; or an internal seperation in a battery cell that sparked when the load of the motor started to draw power. Uncommon but not un-heard of.
I would ask if the charge rate is within spec's ? Any chance a componant in the system was hit when the lightning got the transformer ?
Clean everything with a strong baking soda solution and flush with lots of water.
Worst I ever saw was in a VW with the battery under the back seat .
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:06 PM   #4
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Sounds like the battery box was not vented and it had a hydrogen build up.

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Old 06-16-2012, 10:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TXiceman View Post
Sounds like the battery box was not vented and it had a hydrogen build up.

Agreed. This is one of the reasons RV's have(ours does at least) vented batter boxes.
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:52 PM   #6
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battery was in a vented plastic box made to keep batts out of the weather. battery was by itself in the box, away from the rest of the gate equipment. because the explosion was so catastrophic i must agree it was due to h2 gas buildup.

the ignition is what has me puzzled, after at least a year in use with the gate before this happened. i cleaned the terms about every two or three months. the charge is a slow trickle charger built into the gate controller, measured <1a with replacement battery.

i'm also wondering what i should have been doing about checking the fluid.... it's a maint-free battery, so i never gave the water a thought. don't even know if the triplet caps could have come off, i mean, before the explosion! sure came off during.

nothing on the battery anyplace about maintaining water levels either. someone said maybe if the water level is low enough to expose the plates this could have done it... (sounds like the jap nuclear issue?) dunno much at this point. i just want to get a better understanding so i can prevent same from happening in the camper.

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