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Old 11-25-2016, 08:37 AM   #1
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Auto battery maintenance

guys,

Is there a system or product or something out there that I can install on my house battery pack that can automatically maintain my water over longer periods of time?

Here's the thing. I've moved the coach to our southern compound for the winter. That's about 460 miles away. We anticipated moving down for the winter but due to some medical complications the wife is not able to travel and may not be able to for some time. So we're here and the coach is there - a long ways away.

I just installed 6 new batteries and a Flow-Rite filler system. The coach is on shore power, the batteries are currently topped off and off line. Freezing is not an issue. They are still going to burn through water and I can't drive down every week or two to maintain them, that would be silly.

First, do I have a problem, and if so what do folks do to maintain there battery packs over long periods of time?

cheers...
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Old 11-25-2016, 08:48 AM   #2
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If you know someone at the compound perhaps you could ask them to disconnect the RV from shore power and plug it back in on a monthly schedule to recharge the batteries. Overnight should be sufficient.
I hope your wife gets up and going soon.
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Old 11-25-2016, 09:40 AM   #3
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I tried to edit my post but for some reason I couldn't.
I would also ask if whoever did the unplug and plug in could disconnect the ground cables from the batteries ( Both house and chassis ) while they weren't on shore power. Other than keeping batteries charged I see no good reason to keep the unit plugged in anyway.
When I put my MH in winter storage I remove the house batteries here at home, drive to the storage location and after I'm parked I remove the chassis battery and bring it home. I check the batteries on occasion throughout the winter and put a trickle charge into them if the voltage drops off more than a couple tenths of a volt. I check the water level in the house batteries regularly but the chassis battery is maintenance free.
When I bring the MH home in the spring I install the house batteries here and I'm good to go. This saves dragging around batteries in my truck other than the chassis battery. I have to carry along less tools to ready the MH for the short drive back home too.
At the very least maybe someone could turn the disconnects off inside the MH if and when it isn't plugged into shore power.
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Old 11-25-2016, 12:11 PM   #4
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Thanks for the kind thoughts Lynn, we all hope DW gets better soon.

We just bought the house down south and haven't had a chance to meet many of the neighbors yet. Disassembling the whole battery pack/Flow-Rite system and dragging them back here seems pretty drastic, plus I don't know that I could even lift the back batteries out anyhow.

As for disconnecting the ground I'm a little confused. Are you saying if the ground is removed they won't burn water at all? They could sit for months without having to be re-filled or maintained? And this is different than taking them off-line with the battery disconnect on the control panel in the coach? I thought the purpose of the disconnect is to isolate the battery pack from any phantom draws that will slowly drain them down over time.

I suppose removing the ground makes some sense, new batteries can sit on the shelf in the store for who knows how long before someone comes along and buys them.
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Old 11-25-2016, 01:22 PM   #5
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I am not aware of a fully automatic system but there are indeed systems you can install that make it easier.. You simply add Distilled water when they need it and they will fill each cell as needed.

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Old 11-25-2016, 01:53 PM   #6
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I am one of those knuckleheads that uses mineral oil to top off the 6v battery cells. Done this for many years and the off-gassing / evaporation of the distilled water is kept to a minimum. I check / fill / top off every 6- months. Never a problem.
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Old 11-25-2016, 01:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Michaels View Post
I am one of those knuckleheads that uses mineral oil to top off the 6v battery cells. Done this for many years and the off-gassing / evaporation of the distilled water is kept to a minimum. I check / fill / top off every 6- months. Never a problem.
I'm a knucklehead too. About twice per year is adequate.
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Old 11-25-2016, 03:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ardbark View Post
Thanks for the kind thoughts Lynn, we all hope DW gets better soon.

We just bought the house down south and haven't had a chance to meet many of the neighbors yet. Disassembling the whole battery pack/Flow-Rite system and dragging them back here seems pretty drastic, plus I don't know that I could even lift the back batteries out anyhow.

As for disconnecting the ground I'm a little confused. Are you saying if the ground is removed they won't burn water at all? They could sit for months without having to be re-filled or maintained? And this is different than taking them off-line with the battery disconnect on the control panel in the coach? I thought the purpose of the disconnect is to isolate the battery pack from any phantom draws that will slowly drain them down over time.

I suppose removing the ground makes some sense, new batteries can sit on the shelf in the store for who knows how long before someone comes along and buys them.
I am kind of overly protective sometimes. Disconnecting the ground only assures you there is no chance for a voltage draw. Of course the ground would have to be reconnected before plugging back into shore power so the charging system will function.
Living where I do we experience some really cold weather in the wintertime. There is no heat in the barn where I store my RV so bringing the batteries home is the best way I have to keep them in a warmer area and I can monitor them handily. I have only two 6V. house batteries. They are heavy and a bit of a chore to get out of the carrier but I feel the extra effort is worth the trouble. There is always a chance for rodent damage no matter where you park your RV. The owner of the storage barn has a rule all batteries must be disconnected or removed after parking the rig. He is only helping to protect everyone's property by doing this.
Once the barn is full of stored vehicles it is locked up and won't be unlocked until April 15 of next year.
You are right about the batteries on a dealer's shelf. They have a small advantage though as the batteries are brand new, have never been drained down and will remain fresh for quite sometime. Once a battery goes into service it is subjected to constant draining and recharging. It is wearing out from use right from day 1.
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Old 11-25-2016, 03:10 PM   #9
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I like Knuckleheads! That's the kind of thinking I was hoping for. I mentioned in both posts I already have a Flow-Rite installed, which definitely makes it easier to add water but... you have to be there to use it. Since I'm not there, NOT having to add anything for months at a time is music to my ears.

Ken, when you say check/fill every 6 months is that while the coach is in use? Stored? Doesn't matter? Also, what does "top off" equate to? 1/2 inch in each cell? More? Less?

The reason I ask is since I just "topped off" a few days ago it will be a while before the batteries get thirsty again, just wondering how thirsty they need to be before I can add the correct amount of mineral spirits to do the trick.

Oh, one other thing - what do battery manufacturers think about adding mineral spirits? My 6v's are only a couple of months old, I'd hate to void the warranty right off the bat (pardon the pun :-)
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Old 11-25-2016, 04:32 PM   #10
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Auto battery maintenance

Quote:
Originally Posted by ardbark View Post
Oh, one other thing - what do battery manufacturers think about adding mineral spirits? My 6v's are only a couple of months old, I'd hate to void the warranty right off the bat (pardon the

Not mineral spirits! ! Mineral OIL.

Medical grade found at your local pharmacy.

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f84/my-ba...oil-65596.html
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Old 11-25-2016, 05:08 PM   #11
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Auto battery maintenance

Excessive battery electrolyte loss is most often caused by improper inverter/charger settings and poor 12V electrical management.
IMO mineral oil is a band-aid for the problem, not a fix. That has been my theory all along. I am convinced that I only need to top off the cells once a year because of my charging system.
I check my Magnum Energy readout often as I pass by it. If it goes to Absorb charge at 14.5 or higher for more than a few minutes after you plug the coach into the pedstal, or goes above Float charge rate of 13.6 often, the charger is not on par.
Another thing is that when charging is happening as it should, it will periodically show Full Charge. If it doesn't there are likely battery or charging issues.
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Old 11-25-2016, 05:35 PM   #12
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I check my levels monthly and haven't had to add water in over a year. Coach is plugged in/ batteries on charger 24/7 when we are not on the move. I guess that means my charger is doing a great job.


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Old 11-25-2016, 05:37 PM   #13
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Dave, everyone has an opinion on this subject for sure. Here is mine.
The idea actually goes way back to old Tom Edison so it's been around for a while.

I did not add mineral oil as a band aid but rather a battery maintenance aid. By adding 4 oz per cell it forms a film on top of the electrolyte which helps reduce off gassing during charging. (Yes, even at 13.5 - 13.6 VDC float charge)

I agree that proper charge voltage is critical to obtain maximum battery life but adding mineral oil does not have any negative effects and in fact may increase the lifespan of the batteries by reducing the chance of allowing the plates to be exposed from low electrolyte levels, Depending on proper charge voltage/cycling and general maintenance of course.

My coach is plugged in to shore power 24/7 unless we are traveling and then it is plugged in wherever we park. I add water a couple times per year and have Never had any terminal corrosion issues since I installed the batteries over six years ago.
So, IMHO, for the cost of a few ounces of mineral oil, it certainly does not harm them and may even give me an extra year or so.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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Old 11-25-2016, 05:52 PM   #14
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Auto battery maintenance

Dennis, there can be harm if the system is overcharging and you don't know it. When it's cooking hard, there is gassing, and that shortens batt life.
I would know because the Magnum and Morningstar readouts show me both batt banks and the inv/cnv fan kicks in when Absorb Charging.
And having no terminal corrosion et al, and filling only once per year, I see no risk without mineral oil.
Tom Edison didn't have a charging management device.
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