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Old 06-21-2016, 11:37 AM   #1
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overcharged house batteries?

Our MH is parked in the driveway with all systems off except for the Solar charger. It is connected to shore power as well.

For some reason the CO detector keeps going off. It's only 4 years old and the beeping stops if I take the detector outside into fresh air.

The manual states that the presence of certain substances could cause the alarm to give a false alarm. Such as Ethylene, ethanol, alcohol, some solvents, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide.

Well, hydrogen sulfide. Thats something.

The only thing that changed recently was I refilled all 4 of my new 6v batteries. They were all pretty low (but no exposed plates). The Solar charger says the batteries are at 100 percent. The house charger is also running.

Is it possible that the batteries were being over-charged and emitting too much hydrogen sulfide?

Two of the batteries are located in a standard battery box under the stairs, which is well-vented and well sealed from the house. The other two are in the exterior cargo box that's positioned roughly under the kitchen area. The venting situation here could definitely use some improvement. It smelled a little "eggy" when I opened it to fill the batteries.

The smell and the wonky CO detector has me a little concerned. How can I tell if the batteries are being overcharged? How can I tell of the batteries are toast?
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Old 06-21-2016, 11:50 AM   #2
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Okay - clearly I have not done a very basic thing, which is check the volts. So I have.

The solar charger has a monitor panel which says the batteries are at 13.5v which is also roughly what my analog VOM says. When I turn on the house convertor, the volts creep up to 14.6volts.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:28 PM   #3
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So with just the house converter OR just the solar the volts are at 13.3-13.5. With both engaged (which is what I have been doing) the volts are 14.4-14.7, which seems a little high to me, possibly enough to make the batteries gas a bit.

When I checked the battery water, they might have felt a tiny bit warm but certainly not hot. It's hard to tell when it's already 97 degrees out.

So what I've done is add a panel cutoff so the solar charger and in the future be mindful of not running the two systems simultaneously. The original "canary in the mine," the CO detector, will be monitored to see if the cause of it's chirping was, in fact, hydrogen discharge.

I'll post any further findings. I hope this thread can help someone at some point.
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:35 PM   #4
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If you overcharged your batteries, you would certainly smell it. It smells like propane mixed with pig crap.

Do you physically pick up any smells? Especially near the batteries?

What about taking the solar charge out of the equation for a few days and see if your alarm continues or clears?
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:55 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deprived View Post
Our MH is parked in the driveway with all systems off except for the Solar charger. It is connected to shore power as well.

For some reason the CO detector keeps going off. It's only 4 years old and the beeping stops if I take the detector outside into fresh air.

The manual states that the presence of certain substances could cause the alarm to give a false alarm. Such as Ethylene, ethanol, alcohol, some solvents, hydrogen, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide.

Well, hydrogen sulfide. Thats something.

The only thing that changed recently was I refilled all 4 of my new 6v batteries. They were all pretty low (but no exposed plates). The Solar charger says the batteries are at 100 percent. The house charger is also running.

Is it possible that the batteries were being over-charged and emitting too much hydrogen sulfide?

Two of the batteries are located in a standard battery box under the stairs, which is well-vented and well sealed from the house. The other two are in the exterior cargo box that's positioned roughly under the kitchen area. The venting situation here could definitely use some improvement. It smelled a little "eggy" when I opened it to fill the batteries.

The smell and the wonky CO detector has me a little concerned. How can I tell if the batteries are being overcharged? How can I tell of the batteries are toast?
deprived
Overfilling lead acid batteries, (or topping them off when they're not fully charged), can cause excessive gassing when they are charging.
(The resulting hydrogen sulfide gas can trigger LP detectors, smoke detectors and/or CO detectors).
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Old 06-21-2016, 01:16 PM   #6
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Are we talking CO detector or LP detector? Usually the CO won't detect nothing but CO, but an LP detector will sense most any hydrocarbon.
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Old 06-21-2016, 06:00 PM   #7
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I had an overcharging issue last week.
Installed new toilet, first night camping smelled sewage dumped & flushed tanks, seem OK, next night 2am bad sewage smell eoke me up, tanks should be clean, dumped & flushed at 2am, opened vents, went back to bed, smell still bad, came to me it was a sulphur smell vs sewage, got up checked battery it was hot , disconnected it and thru it outside, hit it with an IR gun it was 280 degrees. Smell went away in about 15 minutes. No alarms went off, all are new this year, LP,CO and smoke.
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:02 PM   #8
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When I'm plugged into shore power... my charger starts out with a higher level of charge and than the charge wizard drops the charge level to about 13.2-13.4... I can absolutely confirm that if you are seeing 14.6 volts while on shore power you are over charging the batteries.. that is too high...

What I'd expect to see is moisture at or around the caps... and maybe some additional corrosion around the battery posts.. gases tend to migrate up past the post and this allows the corrosion.. there are washers BTW that will stop/neutralize this gas....

so I think you need to find out why your unit is charging at this higher level...
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Old 06-21-2016, 09:58 PM   #9
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Deprived, I would like to hear your results when you get them, and I think it would be helpful for others who find this post later.

I was thinking about this today, and if the only thing you have going on is the solar power, then I personally would want to remove the solar charging for a few days and see if that has an effect.
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Old 06-22-2016, 06:46 AM   #10
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Overfilling lead acid batteries, (or topping them off when they're not fully charged), can cause excessive gassing when they are charging.
Wow - I had no idea. Great info.
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Old 06-22-2016, 06:51 AM   #11
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If you overcharged your batteries, you would certainly smell it. It smells like propane mixed with pig crap.

Do you physically pick up any smells? Especially near the batteries?

What about taking the solar charge out of the equation for a few days and see if your alarm continues or clears?
Yeah - there are some smells, which you've described perfectly - nothing overpowering but enough to convince me that the exterior battery compartment wasn't ventilated anywhere near enough.

I have added a cutoff switch for the solar panels in order to take them out of the equation, as you say. So far, the CO detector has been quiet. But we'll see.
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Old 06-22-2016, 06:54 AM   #12
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I can absolutely confirm that if you are seeing 14.6 volts while on shore power you are over charging the batteries.. that is too high...
See, I wasn't sure about that. I had previously thought that it wasn't uncommon for batteries to get charged at around 14.5 but now I'm not so sure.
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Old 06-22-2016, 08:57 AM   #13
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Short answer is overcharging.

Always confirm what your exact battery needs but most all flooded batteries are happy at 13.5 +- 0.2 max.

Once charged the "trickle charge" term often used is "floating" and this is the tricky part.

The charge current to float a battery is tiny being at 0.1% C where C is the 8 hour rating of said battery.

So if you have a pair of 6 volt units rated for say 200 amp hour then C is 200 and 1% of C is 2 so 0.1% is 0.2 amps.

Larger currents are needed to carry house loads and recharge so will stop there on that.

If either charger by itself is 13.5 but combined they are 14+ then you have a regulator problem in one or both.

It could be one is current limited and is really only capable of small current and the load limits the voltage.

When the second unit is connected then the current from that one combines with first one allowing the higher output.

Disconnect both from battery and see what voltage is output from each.

If one is higher than 13.5 then it will damage the batteries.

Batteries do wear out so please do some searching of this forum for battery charging and maintenance as there as re many posts and about a week or three of good reading.
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Old 06-22-2016, 11:56 AM   #14
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Short answer is overcharging.

Always confirm what your exact battery needs but most all flooded batteries are happy at 13.5 +- 0.2 max.
Once charged the "trickle charge" term often used is "floating" and this is the tricky part.
The charge current to float a battery is tiny being at 0.1% C where C is the 8 hour rating of said battery.
So if you have a pair of 6 volt units rated for say 200 amp hour then C is 200 and 1% of C is 2 so 0.1% is 0.2 amps.
Larger currents are needed to carry house loads and recharge so will stop there on that.
If either charger by itself is 13.5 but combined they are 14+ then you have a regulator problem in one or both.
It could be one is current limited and is really only capable of small current and the load limits the voltage.
When the second unit is connected then the current from that one combines with first one allowing the higher output.
Disconnect both from battery and see what voltage is output from each.
If one is higher than 13.5 then it will damage the batteries.
Batteries do wear out so please do some searching of this forum for battery charging and maintenance as there as re many posts and about a week or three of good reading.
TQ60
The adjustable charge voltages of the 3 stage automatic charger in my Heart Freedom 20 inverter/charger are set to 13.9V bulk...13.4 volts float... (have been for 20 years, 148k miles).
For those 20 years my coach has always been connected to shore power, (except when traveling or dry camping).
I am currently on only the 3rd set of batteries...(the 1st and 2nd set of batteries each lasted over 9 years each).
I check the electrolyte level every 6 months and find that I only need to add distilled water once a year.
Many inverter/chargers have adjustable settings.... following the recommendations in the manual for them will help determine the correct settings for the batteries used in the RV.
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