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Batteries, or something else?


oletimer

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I have 10 GPL-4CL AGM batteries with 2 of them in a satellite off to the side for the house batteries. So when I programed my TM-2030 monitor and TS-MPPT-60 controller and monitor I used the 8 battery specs of 880 AHs. The last couple years I have had a few problems as we take our "winter swing" thru the SW. So before we left Kansas in September I took great pains(not enough I guess) to check every thing out, and install the battery monitor. When I charge my batteries I get them up to like 13.0 volts, and let them set for 24 hours with no load, and them loose about .3 volts to about 12.7. I still had trouble last winter keeping them charged. BTW I have 800 watts of solar, and generator. The first 4-5 months of winter travel we have FHUs and now we start our boondocking, and I'm in deep stuff!! For the last 4 nights, we have had a low voltage shut down, can't hardly get the genset started even. Still after working most of the day with the solar, and genset, by early afternoon, I'm up to 13.0 volts and 100%. Last night I went to bed at 11, and was at 12.8v/98% charge, the fridge drawing about 12 amps, total draw of 16.4 amps. I thought well, even if the fridge runs more than the 25-35% time I should be OK. At 3:00 AM, I got a low voltage warning, 10.8Amps. I shut down the invertor, and 2 minutes later the monitor shows 12.5 volts and 96% charge. I switch ALL breakers, turn the invertor back on, and within 1 minute, I'm at 11.4 volts, and the invertor is only drawing 4.3 amps. What am I missing? Can I have good volts, and NO AMPs? Do they have a stress test for batteries? Bad ground? I have tried just about everything I can think of, now we are in the boonies, but if I have to replace batteries, I need to get it done. I would be thankful for any help! Thanks, Dick T

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There is a stress test for batteries. Normal name is a load test. Basically, get them up to full charge, put a load on them, and map how the voltage falls vs time. (plot on a graph).

 

Sec 5.7 (pg 21 of 38) - http://www.lifelinebatteries.com/manual.pdf

 

While you are doing stuff, measure the voltage across the connections. This is like battery lead post to battery lead post. The "drop" would indicate how good your connection is.

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You've definitely got something wonky going on there. That is not at all a heavy overnight load for the size of bank you have... and from the crazy readings you're getting.. it's gotta be a bad ground or your inverter is having issues. It is possible for one of your cells to be playing havoc, but across that size of a system it wouldn't be my first guess.

 

Assuming that all connections have been tested and secured within your bank, and you have backed up your 2030 readings with a manual voltmeter, I would physically (as opposed to just a disconnect switch.. if so equipped) disconnect the inverter and charger and run a load test for a couple of hours. Maybe 5-10 amps continuous.

 

You might also just be getting a bad read from the Tri sensor. Hmmm.. really strange.

 

What do you get back on the stand alone load test?

 

On edit: It would be really helpful to see the logs for the past couple of days from your tri as well.

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There are a lot of basic things to check. If the batteries are over 4-5 years old they may have been abused and be in poor condition.

 

But first:

  1. Verify your charger settings. Make SURE you are getting the correct charge in. The numbers you are quoting are not correct if I am reading things right.
  2. Verify the physical integrity of your wiring. Every lug and every bolt needs to be individually verified.
  3. Next the logical integrity of your wiring: is the shunt wired correctly?
  4. Then, and only then, I would look for a bad battery. Via load testing.
  5. After that, I would look for a bad charger.....which is less likely than the above items.

Assume nothing. Check everything.

 

Sorry I can't just "solve the problem" for you....it is going to take some investigation.

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Thanks guys, for the response. Sorry I'm so long getting back here, but my satellite is down, and we are several miles from

Wi-Fi. I didn't install my battery monitor until this summer after a post here, then being scolded by Jack for not having one. (Just joking Jack). I went back over the install this morning(AGAIN) making sure everything was correct, terminals, cables, wiring, etc. The only thing I could find was MAYBE the ground cable was a little small. I made a new one 2-0 welding cable, and went over all settings. Will now monitor closely for a day or two. We are in the Big Bend Park(SW Texas our 23rd year here) no sun today go figure! My batteries are 8 years old next week, so maybe they are like me OSD( old, slow, dumb), but they still test kinda' OK. I have taken fairly good care of them, but I'm sure there was a few times they got too low. One thing that puzzles me is when the defrost comes on the TM-2030 monitor shows a discharge of 35 to 40 amps. When just cooling the discharge is about 12 amps. Does that sound right? Thanks again for all the help I get from you guys-in-the-know. I'll let you know what happens.

Dick T

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When I charge my batteries I get them up to like 13.0 volts

 

I'm not an AGM expert but the 13.0 volts sounds really low to me. What does your battery data sheet show for your bulk to acceptance voltage and your acceptance to float voltage settings?

 

If that 13.0 isn't a fully charged voltage then I'd expect the drop you are seeing since the battery is already well discharged and once the surface charge is absorbed the voltage will drop.

 

I'd expect something closer to 14.5 to 14.8 for a fully charged voltage but my experience is flooded batteries.

 

I couldn't find the battery you listed but did find this one that might be similar:

 

http://www.batterystuff.com/batteries/golf-cart-products/6-volt-deep-cycle/gpl-4ct.html

 

 

DC Output Voltage 6 V

Bulk Charge Voltage 7.10 - 7.30 V
Absorbtion Charge Voltages 7.10 - 7.30 V
Float Voltage 6.55 - 6.70 V

 

so that would be these in a 12 volt setup:

 

DC Output Voltage 12 V
Bulk Charge Voltage 14.20 - 14.60 V
Absorbtion Charge Voltages 14.20 - 14.60 V
Float Voltage 13.10 - 13.40 V
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Dick T, this is just one of those questions where there are so many variables (connections, batteries, chargers, inverters) its hard to diagnose the problem over the internet. It seem's you're already aware of all this, but if I were there I would systematically troubleshoot the basics and do something like this. Remove, inspect, clean and wire brush bright, each and every cable and battery and terminal connection. I have seen crimped on cable ends that look fine externaly but there's corrosion and carbon underneath between the cable and connections. Next Id check the voltage of each battery and run a load test on each and every one. After that I would measure the open unloaded and then the load connected voltages on chargers and inverters. The charging voltages seem to low to me but I don't have any of your data or specs. If the voltage outputs of your charger seem fine and all connections and grounds, Id suspect at least one battery has a problem which is sucking the others down, but again that's ONLY a guess with so many variables and unknowns.

 

John T

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Test your batteries and see any of them are warm or hot to the touch. If any are then separate each one that has a problem from the good ones. That battery maybe internally shorted. Then that battery maybe making things hard to register correctly and make the charging system be confused on what to do.

The other thing is your ice maker. Is it turned off. When the heater comes on to allow the ice cubes to loosen up and be push out, it use high amps.

 

 

Safe Travels, Vern

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Stan's voltages (above) are about right. That is why I said the voltages you quoted were funky. Again, you are going to have to go back to the basics and debug everything to find what is up. But it could just be you have a bad battery or batteries.... No way of telling with the provided data. For SURE you have suspicious charge settings.

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I had a set of 4CL's that went south a year or two ago. Called Lifeline and after checking the batt's serial #s, turned out my 4CL's were part of a bad batch. They replaced them free.

 

It may be a long shot, but it's worth a call.

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I did make a mistake or two in my original post as I was going by memory. The 13 volts I spoke of was this year while camped here with just solar charging. The 10.8 amp reading should have been 10.8 volts. That happened within 2 or 3 minutes after I turned on the invertor, it when from 12.7 volts to 10.8 volts with just about a 18 amp draw.

 

Stan, thanks for your remark: DC Output Voltage 12 V My settings are: Voltage 12v

 

Bulk Charge Voltage 14.20 - 14.60 V- Mine-- Bulk/Absorption: 14.4

 

Absorbtion Charge Voltages 14.20 - 14.60 V Mine-- Float: 13.3

 

Float Voltage 13.10 - 13.40 V Mine-- Equalize: 14.8

 

I seldom equalize though, because it seems there is some confusion about that with AGMs. Maybe I should more often, but I seldom get to a low charge voltage, that is until recently.

 

Jack, I think with my earlier comments is why you thought my readings or settings were funky.

 

Yarome, same for wonky.

 

I thank my batteries are just TIRED!!! Yesterday, I ordered 10 new Lifeline GPL-4CTs from Centrex Batteries, Bastrop, Texas.

 

Lifelines web page showed it as being in El Paso, but that is not correct, however, it worked out OK, and what a great guy to work with. Price was the very best I could find anywhere plus, when the LTL shipping was going to take to long for us, this guy boxed, and shipped each battery FedX. So tomorrow(hopefully), I will receive 10 boxes here in Study Butte, Tx. Need new batteries, go here: marc@centexbatteries.com 877-308-9002/512-308-9002

 

Thanks to ALL your responses, because each and every one has helped. I'll let you all know what I find out.

 

Dick T

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Dick, thanks for the update, those latest figures do make more sense and if your open circuit unloaded charge voltages are sufficient yet the voltage drops significantly and doesn't recover well when the batteries are connected assuming your connections and all else is okay, I tend to agree your batteries may just be TIRED. Those ten new Lifelines ought to get you going. Keep us posted

 

John T

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It sure is nice to deal with a merchant that does exactly what he says he will do. I ordered my batteries Wednesday at about noon, and received them Friday by 11:30 AM. This is in a place in Texas where you have to drive about 90 miles to buy milk by the gallon. Anyway, I R&R the old batteries. WOW, I was in the Feed & Seed business for about 35 years, and tossed 50-100# bags around all day, now it takes me 1/2 day for 10-70# batteries!!! Now, things look great, but more questions. When I built my battery compartment in the 5th, I was using wet batteries, thus I built a tray in a sealed compartment vented outside. Never had any corrosion problems. This last summer, after some problems, I checked the batteries, cleaned ALL connections, treated with dielectric grease, and reconnected everything, except 1 ground cable. I did that because I kept reading you should only have 1 ground in your system. Yesterday, when I removed the old batteries, there was what I'll call quite a bit of corrosion "dust" in the bottom of the battery tray. Plus, several of the (-) cables had some corrosion. I've never had that before, that's why I reinstalled a 2-0 cable the other day. Could my removing the stronger cable this last summer caused that? Things look great now, after doing a test with no shore power, but I'm still a little confused about a couple things. #1. Should the battery monitor show a 35-50 amp draw when the auto defrost turns on, even though only for a short time? #2. The corrosion? I guess time will tell on that. Zulu, I thought 8 years was pretty good, so I didn't try that. Yarome, I'll do a better job watching my log, and try to let you know. JohnT, I have been doing a better job on keeping everything clean. Vern, thanks for the comment about the icemaker, I didn't know the defrost came on to make the cubes release better. Jack, I did install a battery monitor after your suggestion this summer, now I just have to learn how to use it, I'm kinda' dumb. Again, thanks to all you folks for the help. Dick T

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"Should the battery monitor show a 35-50 amp draw when the auto defrost turns on, even though only for a short time?"

 

Yes and with some fridges it can be over 100 amps of DC. Remember 35-50 amps of 12 volt is only around 3.5-5 amps of 120 volt.

Thanks Bill,

If I knew that, I didn't know I knew it. :wacko: Dick T

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"Should the battery monitor show a 35-50 amp draw when the auto defrost turns on, even though only for a short time?"

 

Yes and with some fridges it can be over 100 amps of DC. Remember 35-50 amps of 12 volt is only around 3.5-5 amps of 120 volt.

Bill,

"Should the battery monitor show a 35-50 amp draw when the auto defrost turns on, even though only for a short time?"

 

Yes and with some fridges it can be over 100 amps of DC. Remember 35-50 amps of 12 volt is only around 3.5-5 amps of 120 volt.

Bill,

I'm confused (as usual) because on my monitor, a TM-2030-RV, all my loads register more correctly. That is like TV, with sound about 3 amps, fridge running, about 4-6 amps, etc. Lights, micro wave,(not correct, the micro shows a 135 amp draw) coffee pot, all just about the correct draw, then all of a the fridge will show a 35-50 amp draw. I flip the breaker on the fridge, wait a few minutes, turn back on, and I'm back to a 4-6 amp draw. That is if the compressor is running. I just assumed that was the defrost. I don't often run the micro, coffee pot and other high loads when off grid, but did so to check the monitor. The fridge is new, and is keeping the box about right 40*/0*, but I have a MSW invertor and I know that is not the best, and after installing the new batteries, I'm not seeing that BIG draw. I've been unhooked only 2 days, and so far I'm

using about 110 amp hours per day, as per the monitor. Good sun, and in the AM 94% full then getting to 100% by afternoon. So far have not had to "flip the breaker", maybe the batteries? We will see. Thanks for all the comments, will let you know in a few days. Dick T

 

I have edited this post, because while the low amp draws are like I posted, Bill is correct about the high amp draws, I just never use those appliances without the genset, so went back today for a recheck.

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This has not been our most carefree year for travel. We left Kansas in mid-late September as always and headed for Brackettville, Tx., and 3 months of R & R and golf. Although my golf game doesn't really mean R&R. Went back to Kansas for Christmas, then because of some health reasons, plus travel to Puerto Rico, we didn't get back to Texas (Big Bend) until the last of January. Internet shot craps (Hughesnet), battery trouble, TPMS monitor, a couple more little health issues, etc., but we still headed for Ajo, Az. 2-10-15. Never made that and we are now in Casa Grande(Rovers Roost) on their WiFi. Have been here a few days trying to get some help for our Hughes service, but that ain't going to happen. Now heading back to Kansas, 1,200 miles, got a Hughes installer heading to the farm, I think this will be my last attempt at Hughes. We do have a couple other things to get straightened up also, then would like to head back west for a while if all goes well. I'll have to talk fast to talk the "Top Dog" into that though. Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining(much), and we both thank God everyday for our health, and the ability to live this life on the road. At least diesel is a little cheaper this year.
I do want to say this!!

To all you guys that offered suggestions about the battery question, THANKS! It looks as though the new batteries did the trick. We have had very little sun here for 2 days now and still have 90% full batteries. Dick T

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We left Kansas in mid-late September as always and headed for Brackettville, Tx., and 3 months of R & R and golf.

Do you have a lot at Ft. Clark Springs? We have good friends who live there(former fulltimers & Escapees).

 

Where in KS are you heading now? I have lots of family in the state.

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Do you have a lot at Ft. Clark Springs? We have good friends who live there(former fulltimers & Escapees).

 

Where in KS are you heading now? I have lots of family in the state.

Kirk,

Sent you a PM, because as folks can tell from my last post, I sometimes ramble too much.

Dick T

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry I have been so long without an update, but had to return to Kansas for some health issues for us both. Then got to be with my Mother for her final few days on 2-24-15. She just turned 100 on 1-25-15, and knew the Lord, plus she was ready. Then more Dr. stuff, THEN on 3-16-15 headed out. We are now in Barstow, Ca., soaking up some sun, and so are the solar panels, and new batteries. They go down to about 92-95% by 10:00 PM, but with sun, are back to 100% by about 3:00 PM.

Sooo, I guess the question of "Batteries or something else", has been answered. Thanks for all your comments folks, I have learned a lot. Now if I can just remember what I have learned.

 

Dick T

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