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Old 08-19-2010, 05:08 PM   #1
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6 Volt Series House Battery charging

I have a 30" Monaco Monarch with 2 6 volt batteries in series for the house batteries. In using a separate charger instead of the converter on board. should I disconnect the batteries or is it enough to open the battery disconnect in the battery compartment. Then is my Schumacher charger is pretty basic but I can't afford a new one right now. With that caveat, it has a 6 volt charge setting and two twelve volt settings with one being about 2 amp and one about 6 amp. Which one should I use?

How can I equalize if it is necessary (How can I tell?)

Thanks for your replies
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:00 PM   #2
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Paul, if your Schumacher charger is the old-fashioned manual type it does not regulate the voltage at all. It can be used to charge and maybe equalize the batteries but it is not the best tool.

As long as the battery disconnect disconnects everything you should be OK.

With a manual charger, monitor the charge level and electrolyte level and fill (carefully, it's acid) with distilled water as necessary. Electrolyte level should be above the plates at all times, but do not overfill.

The best way to monitor charge level is to measure specific gravity with a hydrometer. Look at your battery mfr website for specs on specific gravity vs charge level, here (Lead-Acid batteries) is a generic website if your mfr does not have a table.

You should be able to get to 100% charge, but it may take days with the charger you are planning to use. If you leave the charger on long enough, you will equalize the battery, then boil the electrolyte out as they do not shut off when fully charged (that's why you have to monitor the electrolyte level).

I would use the 6V setting and charge each battery one at a time, but as long as you monitor the electrolyte level in both batteries you could do them in series with the 12V setting. What may happen is one battery will get fully charged before the other and boil the electrolyte a lot more.

Note the boiled electrolyte may vent out of the caps so make sure you clean your battery tray well after you're done.

A good investment if you are planning on doing this more than once would be a 25 to 35A "smart" charger (usually available at your favorite discount store for about $70).

Good Luck!
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Old 08-19-2010, 08:28 PM   #3
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One line I often use here is "There are not six volt batteries in RV's"

I know, you look in and you see two of them, So do I , but still There are no six volt batteries in RV's

What you have there is a 12 volt battery that, for ease in handling, has been broken into two parts.

Think of it that way and.. You question is answered.

I would invest in a better charger of, if the one in the RV is a modern 3-stage converter use it instead.. Trust me when I tell you 3-stage converters pay for themselves rather quickly.. How do they do this.

They save you replacing batteries, that's about 150 worth of batteries that can last 1-2 years with poor care and feeding or 6-10 with proper feeding.. 450 dollars would go a long way toward the top of the line best 3-stage converter made.. IN fact it would go so far it would pay for 2 of them and likely dinner besides.
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Old 08-20-2010, 04:59 PM   #4
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Guys,

Thanks for the excellent advise. i did go out to Wally World and bought a Schumacher microprocessor unit that charged at a high level and tapered off as the battery reached full. I had expected it to be a couple of 100 bucks but at $50 it was a good investment versus new batteries if I did not maintain them properly. It read fully charged by this morning. The unit says it will de-sulfate them also. When do you use a charger versus plugging in to shore power? Can use the charger while I'm camping instead of the converter on-board? i know if I do that I need teh battery connected to the on-board systems instead of disconnected. I suspect that the charger wouldn't keep up with the load, but thought I'd ask anyway.

Any information on how you use a charger is greatly appreciated. My Navy shipmate is buying an RV and we are going on an inaugural trip to the USS Bon Homme Richard reunion in Baton Rouge soon. I still have a lot to learn but plan to winter out in CA with the wife and our old Navy friends so any tips are always welcome.

Thanks once again for your help!!
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Old 08-20-2010, 07:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
One line I often use here is "There are not six volt batteries in RV's"

I know, you look in and you see two of them, So do I , but still There are no six volt batteries in RV's

What you have there is a 12 volt battery that, for ease in handling, has been broken into two parts.
Put another way, a common "12 volt" automotive battery is simply a box containing a group of *6* individual 2 volt cells connected together. A "6 volt" automotive battery is a box that only contains *3* of those same type individual 2-volt cells.

The fact that for 12 volts, the required six 2-volt cells are sometimes arranged in 2 separate boxes of 3 each, instead of one single one, is meaningless as far as operation, and maintenance is concerned.

We don't get all paranoid about "equalizing", or "de-sulphating" the individual 2-volt cells when they are all encased in a single 12 volt package/box - so why fixate when they are broken into 2 separate boxes of 6 volts each?
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Old 08-21-2010, 09:03 AM   #6
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Good way to put it Gary. Thanks
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Old 08-23-2010, 11:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
When do you use a charger versus plugging in to shore power? Can use the charger while I'm camping instead of the converter on-board?
With our old coach, I used the Vector equivalent of your Schumacher smart charger all the time while camping. Since it charges the batteries up faster it will reduce your charge time, for example, when running on generator.

As far as running on shore power and using the added charger leaving your batteries hooked up, I had no trouble doing this. I could run the charger plus the internal converter at the same time, you can experiment and see if you can also. In my case the wimpy charge provided by the converter did not mess up the smart charger's charging algorithm, it charged them without complaining or ending charge early.

If necessary, you can add a switch to cut off either the DC output of AC input of the internal converter while you use the smart charger. I'd recommend disconnecting the AC side, but you may find it easier to disconnect the DC side. A lot of coaches have a dedicated AC breaker for the converter so you may be lucky and have one, too.

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Old 08-24-2010, 02:10 AM   #8
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converter

Quote:
Originally Posted by wa8yxm View Post
One line I often use here is "There are not six volt batteries in RV's"

I know, you look in and you see two of them, So do I , but still There are no six volt batteries in RV's

What you have there is a 12 volt battery that, for ease in handling, has been broken into two parts.

Think of it that way and.. You question is answered.

I would invest in a better charger of, if the one in the RV is a modern 3-stage converter use it instead.. Trust me when I tell you 3-stage converters pay for themselves rather quickly.. How do they do this.

They save you replacing batteries, that's about 150 worth of batteries that can last 1-2 years with poor care and feeding or 6-10 with proper feeding.. 450 dollars would go a long way toward the top of the line best 3-stage converter made.. IN fact it would go so far it would pay for 2 of them and likely dinner besides.
how can you tell if you have a 3 stage converter?????we have something called a parallax 7400converter/battery charger....do you know asnthing about this converter????????????
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:13 AM   #9
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You can get by with a separate charger and use your 12V power with no problems, except the inconvenience. When at a campground you will need to plug in the 120V for your AC appliances and also plug in your charger to keep your batteries charged. It is an inconvenience. You should be able to buy a converter for your MH for about $200 and that is the ultimate solution. A converter will de-sulfate and keep your batteries going a long time.
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:46 PM   #10
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A duck is a duck...

We get it wrong on batteries and it gets us in trouble.

What we have are cells or jars depending on what you have and your trade.

Dry cells for flash lights like a D cell 1.5 volt are one example, wet or flodded cells that are used in large plants are 2 volts each are another.

When we group them together then we bave a battery of cells, or battry plant, and we just call it the battery.

The 9 volt battery we use in our old transistor radios is correct, the AA, AAA, C and D products labeled as batteries are wrong packaging because that is what the consumer calls them.
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stegosaurus View Post
I have a 30" Monaco Monarch with 2 6 volt batteries in series for the house batteries. In using a separate charger instead of the converter on board. should I disconnect the batteries or is it enough to open the battery disconnect in the battery compartment. Then is my Schumacher charger is pretty basic but I can't afford a new one right now. With that caveat, it has a 6 volt charge setting and two twelve volt settings with one being about 2 amp and one about 6 amp. Which one should I use?

How can I equalize if it is necessary (How can I tell?)

Thanks for your replies
You have gotten some good info but I have one question. Why don't you use the built in converter. And what kind/model is it?

You will get a much, MUCH faster charge using a good 3-stage converter than with a 6 A Schumacher. A 1/2 discharged house battery is typically down by 100 or so amps. A 6A box will take 18-20m hours to return it to nearly full charge. A 3-stage can charge at 40 or more amps and will get you back to near full in 3-4 hours.

You can purchase a PD9260 for ~$175 off ebay. Good investment.
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Old 08-25-2010, 03:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by faye View Post
how can you tell if you have a 3 stage converter?????we have something called a parallax 7400converter/battery charger....do you know asnthing about this converter????????????
That is easy Just follow the link http://www.parallaxpower.com/7400/51...%20rev%20H.pdf

This is the owner's manual for that converter.

What it says is not encouraging,, If your converter is a 74xxT then it has the timer option, the timer option puts it into a "Boost" mode for a period of time then cuts back to "Float" alas, that's not the proper way to charge a battery.

If there is not "T" then it's a single stage

I would recommend an upgrade.. Xantrex True Charge XADC or Progressive Dynamics 9200 (make the last two dights the same less you have bigger batteries)
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:08 PM   #13
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Never Equalize and charge corectly.

In the good old days this was a common term, it was used for large battery plants full of flooded cells.

During their long installed life of 10 to 20 years or so the surfaces of the plates would change, sulfur buildup or loss of material and so on.

Given they are all different units they would do things at different rates, the most common problem is sulfur buildup on the plates.

The current capacity of the cell is based on the surface area of the plates along with other variables, so over time the cells would have decreased capacities due to this.

The "equalizing" of the batery plant is simple cooking of of the sulfur by over-current charging for a period of time with the hope that the sulfur would fall off the plate or be absorbed into the acid.

To do this correctly requires proper skill set, equipment and batteries.

If you have a AGM or VRLA battery the design of these have the acid in a matting, and the warranty will be voided if they are equalized.

Now for charger selection.
More money may be better charger, but what is best for your needs and budget?

If your needs are to maintain the battery plant during storage, and restore the charge between use, and the use is not too often then a lower rate of charge is far better than the high rate fast chargers.

Most batteries are rated for no more than 25 to 30 amps charge rate for more than an hour or so, while most will handle 1C (labeled capacity of battery) for a few minutes.

So a 100 AH battery can handle 100 amps of charge for a couple minutes, it will be ok with 25 amps for a little longer.

Given watts is amps times volts, the charging current into the battery will generate heat.

This heat will help the water evaporate form the battery, and if VRLA and the current is excessive the charge will cause the valve to open to allow excess gass to escape and cause permenant loss of capacity.

In the real world wet batteries like to be about 70 degrees and would like to be float charged with a current not exceeding 1% of the labeled capacity.

So the 200 amp hour battery plant should be floated at 2 amps.

The happy voltage is 2.25 VPC, wich is 6.75 for a 6 volt battery and 13.5 for the 12 volt battery.

If you are a full timer then you may need a more complicated charger that will have the higher charge rate that later drops to float.

The output of the charger is only charging the battery, so if the battery is still connected to the loads in the coach then those loads must also be added to the chargers capacity.

If one had a well regulated power supply that output 13.5 constant voltage then the batteries would be OK, if the power supply had temperature feedback to control current then the batery would be very happy, this is how it is done in fixed DC plants with active battery systems, the DC power supply outputs the required voltage applied to the systems, the voltage is set for the float voltage the batteries require and the batteries are directly connected to the same lines via low voltage drop control.

If you have plenty of time to restore the charge then there are small chargers that are designed for float service that will output less than 2 amps constant and peak a few more, depending on the size of your battery plant these may be a solution in the short or long term, they are very reasonable in price, easy to install and best for the life of the battery.

Simple charge time based on no official math is to double the the capacity of the battery plant and divide by the charging current capacity of the charger, this gives the estimated time for a reasonable guess to be fully charged.

As the voltage comes up the current will drop, so the total time will not be charing at the same rate.

So 200 amp 12 volt battery plant doubles to 400

If charging at 10 amps then 40 hours would result in a battery charged fairly well without excess heat, 120 watts at peak and less than 2 days if there are no other loads.

Also download a manufacturer datasheet for the batteries you are using, it will contain the charging rates in addition to any specific restrictions or other valuable data so you will be better informed to what to expect from your battery.

Because the label states 100 amp hours, it may be at the 8 hour rate or a 20 hour rate, big difference there, that is a whole new topic but for charging calculations it does not matter.
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Old 08-27-2010, 10:45 AM   #14
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TQ,

What conclusion is to be taken from your post?
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