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Electrical Discussion of preventative/corrective maintenance and other technical issues regarding your coach's electrical system.

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  #21  
Old 01-28-2013
peteaeonix's Avatar
peteaeonix peteaeonix is offline
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The most cost effective approach for the average owner is to use true deep cycle 6 v batteries. There are many brands, but Trojan is probably the most well known. They come in three basic models, the T-105, T-125, and T-145. Most commonly, the T-105 model is used by most WL owners, but the T-125 and T-145 both offer more amp-hours which would give you more off-grid longevity (something to consider if you do a lot of boondocking). These three battery models have the same "floor space" requirement, but the higher-numbered models are taller. Check your measurements if you wish to move to the higher capacity models.

I would strongly suggest an "automatic" watering system if you go with a flooded cell battery unless you're really good at checking and servicing your batteries. (I note that on my coach, dirt, etc., would accumulate on the battery tray runners, making it near-impossible to pull out the batteries for service.)

The primary advantage of AGMs (Absorbed Glass Mat) in an RV application is that they are truly "service free." However they are significantly more expensive than flooded cell batteries. They also require different protocols for charging, etc. They do allow a greater discharge (but "full" discharge is still damaging and frequent maximum "safe" discharge will shorten their life (as it does for flooded cell batteries).

There are some batteries (gel-type) that offer some of the advantages of the AGM, but they are kind of passing out of the market since AGMs are superior and are not that much more expensive that "gel" batteries.

There are also "service free" flooded cell batteries. These batteries simply have a slightly larger electrolyte capacity and 'caps' that are glued shut. In reality, in an RV service, where there are frequent deep discharges, the water will get "boiled away" during recharging cycles and these "service free" batteries will require added water which becomes a problem because there are no caps that can easily be removed. Avoid this type of battery. (They're fine in an automobile that gets regular use.)

Also those with older coaches should seriously consider replacing their "battery boiler" chargers that came as OEM, if they haven't done so already. The modern 3 stage chargers will do more to lengthen battery life (regardless of battery type) than almost anything else you can do. What a three stage charger does is sense the charge condition of the battery, and vary the amount of energy being sent to the battery based on the charging need. Ultimately it resorts to a "float" charge level that simply keeps the batteries at full charge without overheating and boiling away the water in the electrolyte.

Note: AGMs do have rather specific charging voltage limitations to keep from being overcharged. The P.O. installed a Heart Link 2000R controller that managed both the chargers (on the inverters) and the alternator (on the engine) to ensure proper charging voltages at all times. This product or something with similar functionality is ideal for use with AGM batteries.
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  #22  
Old 01-28-2013
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Pete - That is the most accurate sensible battery info I've read in a long time..

Nailed it! :-)
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  #23  
Old 01-28-2013
davidmbrady
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Most folks seem to forget that AGM's can be charged and discharged at least 2 times the charging/discharging rate of FLA's (Flooded Lead Acid). This is important for boondockers who must abide by quiet time hours. If you only have short periods of allowable time to run the generator to get the batteries up to charge, then you want to sink the maximum current into them in the shortest time - AGM's win in this regard.

I use AGMs cause they're clean (no acid dripping, no messy watering system, no corrosion, no spilling, no freezing and splitting), they're safe (no hydrogen or oxygen off gassing), they're fast charging and discharging (a minimum of 2x faster than an FLA, and my coach was delivered from the factory with 280 Amps of smart chargers), they co-exist quite nicely with FLA start batteries (charging protocols are sufficiently similar), they're original equipment on my LXi, and they're the de-facto standard for high-end coaches (buyers expect to see them).

Of course, if an owner still needs to spend money to convert from boilers to smart charges, I can see the need to save money with FLA's.

Last edited by davidmbrady; 01-29-2013 at 12:34 PM. Reason: Spaelling
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  #24  
Old 01-28-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rtpn60 View Post
There are MANY sources for 6v batteries. Do not use marine deep cycle/starting batteries, those are not true deep cycle batteries.

Best bang for buck is Coscto or Sam's club. They have 220ah 6v batteries for around $80 each.
I checked both Sam's and Costco within the last hour and here in the Phx area Costco 6V Deep Cycles are $79.99 and Sam's club are $81.82. Gonna quit jump starting my Cat with the Generator Battery.
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  #25  
Old 01-28-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DTW1086@cox.net View Post
I checked both Sam's and Costco within the last hour and here in the Phx area Costco 6V Deep Cycles are $79.99 and Sam's club are $81.82. Gonna quit jump starting my Cat with the Generator Battery.
Good for you Dave.. I've got 3 years on my Costco batteries and working on 4 here in the desert. So far they've cost me $300 over 3 years or $100 per year to maintain the 4 deep cycle batteries. I'm sure I'll get 4-5 years out of them as I use a smart charger and don't abuse them (run them down to less than 12v)

So soon I'll have to adjust my number to 4 deep cycles for $75 a year. or even to $60 for year 5. It's just hard to compete with that.
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