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What do you use for Battery Boxes?


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We are planning to install ~750 Watts of Solar panels, and are planning on 6 or 8 T-105 batteries. Our 5er doesn't have pre-configured storage for this many batteries, but does have space to store them if properly contained.

 

I found these: http://www.allbatterysalesandservice.com/browse.cfm/4,5576.html -- but I'm concerned about whether they are "sturdy enough".

 

I know some folks say they build their own boxes. What do you use? Anybody have pics or sketches?

 

What about venting the boxes? Do you need lower & upper vents?

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I looked at the same box but instead went with a plastic storage tote from Lowes for $10.00 http://www.lowes.com/pd_44066-61896-44066_4294713243__?productId=3551290&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=. Trust me when I say I measured allot of boxes before I found this one. Keep in mind, I have four T-145s. I welded in a new frame in the front basement (to hold the battery box on the ODS), and bolted down 3/4 plywood to frame. Then I welded four golf car battery hold down rods to two 1-1/2 x 1/8 strips of steel the length of the battery box and bolted the strips of steel to the plywood. I decided to use a drain for the bottom of the bucket, both as a vent and a just in case....... Then I drilled holes in the bottom of the bucket to match the battery hold down rods and the drain, and applied a bunch of silicone and inserted the battery hold down rods through the bottom of the box. So the box is not structural, it mainly contains the gases and what fluid (leaks) should they occur and protects the batteries from my stuff I carry in the basement. I did vent the bucket lid using swimming pool hose to the existing battery vent in the ODS wall. Hope this makes sense.

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I'd go with an upper and lower vent as my first choice. If getting the plumbing sloped properly is a problem you can get a vent booster fan that will run while you are charging.

 

You might get by with a large diameter top vent if it sloped up continually so the hydrogen could rise out of it.

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Georges box is very nice - I've seen it in person. If you can find a plastic box to use that is a good way to go. I f you have to make a box, using plywood and then coating it with rubberized pickup bed spray works well. Just make sure you get several coat inside. This way you can have a custom sized box. Stan has explained how to vent it so I won't go over that....

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I used the quad box from the web site the first poster mentioned. Has worked great and was the only box that would fit in the compartment. I could find totes' coolers' etc. but they all had too much wall thickness. The folks at the site were great to work with.

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Thanks to ALL of you for your help & insights! George, your set-up is "georgous"! LOL! Also the tips on building your own! And it's good to know that the pre-made one works out well too. Now I just have to make up my mind what will work best for our trailer....

 

Again, thanks!

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I used the quad box from the web site the first poster mentioned. Has worked great and was the only box that would fit in the compartment. I could find totes' coolers' etc. but they all had too much wall thickness. The folks at the site were great to work with.

Like Bob, I used one from the web site to hold my 2 batteries. Has worked great for us.

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  • 2 months later...

Well, I finally decided to go with the pre-made boxes from All-Battery. (http://www.allbatterysalesandservice.com/browse.cfm/4,5576.html)

 

I am happy with their weight & construction. I cut holes to just fit 1 1/4 PVC pipe & connected fittings which I then connected to the two vents already installed in the front of the trailer by Heartland.

 

Here is the end result:

DSC_4048-Medium.jpg

 

DSC_4051-Medium.jpg

 

Again, thanks to all for your input & suggestions.

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A short while back we had an excellent discussion on battery boxes. The two primary concerns are 1) Adequate ventilation so hazardous potentially explosive gasses are exhausted out of the enclosure and NOT allowed to concentrate where any spark producing devices may be located and 2) Again adequate ventilation for cooling purposes so the box doesn't overheat. If you were pumping say 50 amps of charging current into the box at lets say 13.6 volts, that's 680 watts and at 3.41 BTU/Watt that's 2318 BTU of heat that needs to be extracted out to the ambient surroundings (to maintain the temperature). NOTE not all that energy may be converted into heat but this is just a starting reference point for you. Should be fine, you're NOT using an insulated cooler as one other gent proposed which would better maintain the heat.

 

As long as cooling and gas exhaust is adequate with no sparks in the area you should be good to go.

 

John T Electrical and NOT Thermodynamics Engineer so no warranty but I believe my figures are in line.

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Jack, after that long discussion a few weeks back where many of us discussed battery box ventilation, I actually went out and DOUBLED my total battery compartment vent areas, some on the compartments bottom and others near the top of the box for that natural heat rising convection flow you mentioned (sort of like the chimney affect). I never experienced problems prior and now I have twice the vent area so hopefully (absent any actual CFM or BTU calculations) I'm good to go.

 

About all I recall from Thermodynamics Class was "heat lost = heat gained" and something about adiabatic walls, hey they had a serious R value, like infinity.

 

John T

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Where can one buy on line a thermostatically-controlled switch to turn on a low voltage fan for set ups like these?

 

Jerry

 

While one priority is to ventilate for cooling, the danger is in Hydrogen buildup. A temprature controlled fan will not directly address Hydrogen buildup.

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I don't think temperature would be that big a deal when charging, a good charger will adjust the voltages to match. We didn't do fast charges on our four GC batteries that were in a sealed compartment with minimal ventilation and they never got too much warmer than the outside temp. When equalizing they'd warm up a good bit and I'd at least leave the door open, often slid them out.

 

 

If you are thinking of a switched fan, instead of temp being the control set the fan to only come on when charging as that is the only time you are making hydrogen.

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In the event you were to install a fan for forced battery box ventilation, for safety concerns here is what I would do.

 

1) Use a Marine grade type of vent fan. 2) I would place the fan OUTSIDE the box and use it to blow clean fresh ambient air INTO the box bottom (I believe hydrogen is lighter then air so it wont accumulate in boxes bottom) creating a positive pressure so any hazardous fumes exit out the top in a safe area away from the fans location so it can rise and vent to the surroundings and NOT where acidic fumes might cause harm.. I would NOT use the fan to exhaust the gasses such that they have to pass through the fan (that's why Id place it outside forcing clean air into the box)

 

I would think its needed most when the batteries are under a high charge rate, but not sure how or if its possible to switch/cycle it on only during such periods, it depends on the charger used and what if any switches or contacts may be available. Sure you could thermostatically control its operation, but I agree that's less critical then its use under high charge rate conditions (but that's still the highest heat production period, more amps x volts = more watts). Some of those low CFM muffin fans operate at 12 volts and draw little current.

 

If you have adequate vent openings (I have some in battery compartment bottom and others in top above my batteries) and ARE NOT using like an insulated cooler for your battery box, I believe the fact that heat rises and hydrogen is lighter then air will allow for adequate natural ventilation and cooling BUT IM NOT A THERMODYNAMICS ENGINEER I considered use of a fan for cooling and ventilation, but instead recently just increased my vent opening areas.

 

While I have owned RV's that had the batteries factory installed in a plastic box in the living space say under a booth dinette with a hose out the top to the outside to vent gasses IM JUST NOT A FAN OF THAT METHOD and would rather be safe then sorry and sleep better if my grandkids are sleeping in the dinette area if the battery box was NOT under them.

 

John T

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I'll say this one more time and then never comment on it again.

 

I have NEVER seen heat build up to a significant level in a battery box that was being charged by a temp compensated charger, and had proper convection venting as described here. NEVER. And I have seen a lot of them. If you equalize you need to open the battery box and take other appropriate actions for equalization. I'm talking about normal usage.

 

Proper venting of gasses is required. It is not an option. Convection flow works well. Only in exceptional circumstances would forced air be even a consideration.

 

You can add fans, etc, but you are simply complicating things and adding expense. IF you add fans make sure you use the right ones, as also described elsewhere.

 

And, like John, I do not recommend installing flooded cell batteries in a living area.

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Where can one buy on line a thermostatically-controlled switch to turn on a low voltage fan for set ups like these?

 

Jerry

You can purchase an inexpensive switch that's set to a specific temperature at a website like this. Another option might be to call Fantastic Vent company and ask them if they'll sell you a replacement thermostatic controller used on several of their roof vent fans. That way you would have an adjustable thermostat.

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I'll say this one more time and then never comment on it again.

 

I have NEVER seen heat build up to a significant level in a battery box that was being charged by a temp compensated charger, and had proper convection venting as described here. NEVER. And I have seen a lot of them. If you equalize you need to open the battery box and take other appropriate actions for equalization. I'm talking about normal usage.

 

Proper venting of gasses is required. It is not an option. Convection flow works well. Only in exceptional circumstances would forced air be even a consideration.

 

You can add fans, etc, but you are simply complicating things and adding expense. IF you add fans make sure you use the right ones, as also described elsewhere.

 

And, like John, I do not recommend installing flooded cell batteries in a living area.

My cooler battery box was part of the tread a couple weeks back. The discussion resulted in me purchasing a thermometer with a remote sensor that I could place inside the battery box to monitor temps. I know there are many, many variables but since installation we drove from central Washington state boondocking along the way when possible and are now at our place in Alaska. I checked the temperature everyday and sometimes more often. Bottom line at no time did my vented cooler battery box temperature reach that of ambient. Yep you read right. It was always cooler than the outside temp.

Later,

J

PS Venting: 2" hose out the top at one end and similar sized opening at the bottom of the opposite end. Charger: Progressive Dynamics PD9280.

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THANKS FOR THE UPDATE KODIAK JACK, I have to also say and agree 100% as long as there's ADEQUATE VENTILLATION to exhaust the gasses and extract the heat, then there's never a problem with heat or the hydrogen gas BUT THATS SORT OF A "WELL DUH" NOW ISNT IT LOL

 

Of course, if the ventilation is "adequate" then the temp will NOT rise NOR will the gasses accumulate to an unsafe level. Its ONLY if there's "inadequate ventilation" that temperature could rise (subject to BTU's of heat generated by charging??? and R Value of battery box???? and air flow around and other numerous thermal factors???). The laws of Physics and Thermodynamics still apply.

 

Sounds like "adequate ventilation" is certainly attainable WITHOUT using forced air. That's the method I'm currently using, and as I posted its like twice as much as I had previously ALL THANKS TO YOU AND OUR DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING BATTERY BOX VENTILATION It also sounds like, depending on the box and its location and other thermal factors (air flow, what other heat sources are near, engine, exhaust, furnaces or water heaters, heat generated inside box, etc etc) THE BOX INTERIOR COULD BE EVEN COOLER then the ambient !!!!!!!!!!!! Heat lost has to = heat gained, I do remember that

 

Thanks Kodiak Jack, you started this mess lol Take care now

 

John T

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You can add fans, etc, but you are simply complicating things and adding expense.

 

One step further.. you're introducing a potentional spark source.. even with the marine grade fans. An appropiately sized intake and top vent are more than sufficient. Free exchange of the air space is critical, but doesn't require "forced" air to do so.

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I got it. Delete-delete-delete re fan. However . . .

 

Whenever we do these battery threads, the posts are a mix of wet cell (Trojans, usually) and AGM. As the result, it's difficult for me to know which posts really apply to me. I'm putting 2 AGM Lifeline 6V's in an appropriate box inside my towed Jeep. The only ways I can get a vent hose to the outside are to lower a window (which I won't do, both for rain and burglars) or cut a hole in the side of my fiberglass hardtop and install a marine vent.

 

I'll do the latter; but only if I have to. I've read lots of urban legend posts that AGM batteries don't off gas unless something's going badly wrong with over charging. IF that's true, I'm content to doing without a hydrogen hose vent. My box is not air tight because of the cable accesses. I can foresee the interior's reaching 140* in the summer.

 

So, speak to me from an AGM only point of view. Do I still need a nose to the outside?

 

Jerry

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