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Old 05-28-2020, 08:42 PM   #1
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Batteries for boondocking

I have a 2001 National RV Tradewinds Diesel and we are using it off grid on our property in the mountains. I have 12 135ah 6volt Golf cart deep cycle batteries wired in series/parallel as 6 - 12 volt batteries. I have 6 150 watt solar panels charging the batteries. During the day the batteries show 14 Volts. By evening when the sun starts going down the batteries drop to about 12.5v or less. By the next morning the batteries are down to 12v or less. Can anyone tell me what is going on? Are the batteries shot?
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L Christensen
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Old 05-28-2020, 08:44 PM   #2
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What are you powering during the day? Can't begin to answer without knowing that.

If you're powering very small loads, then bad battery/ies, or some huge drain going on.

If you're running your A/C, then not so much.
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Old 05-28-2020, 09:40 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by laddcc View Post
..... Can anyone tell me what is going on? Are the batteries shot?
Thank you...
L Christensen
Yes, solar panels do not work at night. More often than not they do not work very well during the day based on utility studies.

If you are going to be off grid you need to learn how things work and not have to ask a question like you just did. Solar is not a magic bullet.

To start with is sounds like your batteries are fine. A load tester is about $20 at harbor freight to check if they bad under load.

I have 4 GC2 batteries. I have to run my generator about once a day for an hour to charge up 1200 watts.

I have a propane/elec frig. When I turn off the generator I expect batteries not to drop below 12.5 volts for several hours. If it does, oops I forgot to switch the frig to gas and it is running on 120 vac from the inverter.

The point is you have to know and manage your loads. The chromebook I am using to write this uses 7 watts, my TV draws 30 watts, lights are LED. I boil water and use a French press to make coffee instead electricty.
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Old 05-28-2020, 09:53 PM   #4
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Very little during the day, water pump, maybe stereo. LED lights at night for a couple hours. The batteries were charged today to 14v. It is now 10pm and they read 12.2
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Old 05-29-2020, 12:21 AM   #5
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Very little during the day, water pump, maybe stereo. LED lights at night for a couple hours. The batteries were charged today to 14v. It is now 10pm and they read 12.2
Do you have a battery monitor? Some way to check how much power is flowing out of your batteries?

If you don't have some huge load somewhere that you don't know about, then you have either a bad battery that is killing the rest, or your battery bank is just shot.

You're going to need to unwire all of your batteries - from the system and from each other - and then get each tested under load. One dead battery - a shorted cell - could be killing all of the rest as the power flows from good to bad. (A bad battery will very quickly drain all connected good batteries.)

I would do this very soon. If it is just one or two bad batteries draining the rest, and you catch it quick, you may not have to buy 12 new batteries. But if you let the bad batteries drain the good ones down to lower than about 30% State Of Charge (about 11.8v, IIRC) too many times, the good ones will die too.
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Old 05-29-2020, 12:27 AM   #6
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If flooded batteries, ensure full on water, check specific gravity. Load test.

Install a battery monitor such as a Victron BMV712 or SmartShunt. This will tell you charged AH and usage AH.
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Old 05-29-2020, 04:09 AM   #7
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First, they don't make a 135 AH 6 volt battery. The least AH capacity 6 volt battery is about 190 AH and that's an AGM.

With 12, 6 volt batteries you should be good for at least 2 full days. Just because the voltage climbs to 14 volts doesn't mean they are charged full. They need a few hours at 14.6 volts to get near 80% charged, then another 4 to 8 hours to reach 100%.

900 watts of solar is good, if its wired correctly, and its getting them charged but probably not fully. A monitor will tell you that.

12.5 volts us a good voltage, if under load ( inverter on and running things ) and discharging down to 12 volts is still OK, considering you may be starting with batteries at 80% charged.

Remember, you have about 1000 AH of battery to charge. If down to 50% capacity, you need to replace 500 AHs. That will take 6 to 7 + hours of 100 watt solar input. You won't have that much sun except maybe in mid summer.
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Old 05-29-2020, 07:22 AM   #8
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Check batteries with a hydrometer to see if there are any dead cells.


What model solar controller do you have, what amperage. Some of have max amp limits for charging, you can put more solar into it but won't charge the batteries above max limit.


Check individual solar panels for charge, I did this by covering all but one during the day at high noon and see what amperage your charging at, rotate the coverings until you check all panels. I had 3 panels on my DP when I first bought it and suspected something was wrong and checked and found 2 of the 3 solar panels were bad. Fortunately the manufacturer replaced them free of charge even though I was not the original purchaser.
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