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Battery maintainers


MsChrissi

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We've just replaced our four batteries with four new ones.

I suspect they experienced their early demise due to lack of use (average 2x long trips per year) and Randi overcharging them with a "trickle charger" which is an old world 2-5A box she attaches now and then depending on level of unfounded paranoia about batteries going flat.

The last set were cooked dry.

We must have about eight other batteries on all sorts of things with maintainer or float chargers but did not know what to hook up to the big bank in the RV so the little cooker was used.

Maintainer or float chargers come in several sizes, does anybody who uses their Volvo occasionally have personal experience with determining what was an appropriate device other than settling for what was on the shelf at the time?

Another point is that due to the frequent welding on the chassis we have tended to disconnect all of the cables from the bus bars. Now we are done welding there will be the additional discharge caused by Volvo's little boxes online.

Thanks in advance for your insights.

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I just use the basic Battery Tender and it has done the trick for me. When we were storing in the winter I brought the batteries home and alternated 2 Battery Tenders on 4 batteries, checking and recording voltage each time I switched, about once every two weeks. My first set of batteries lasted 8 years that way.

 

Now that we snowbird and store for a couple of months in the warm weather I leave the batteries in the truck, disconnect the ground and put one Battery Tender across all 4 batteries. After three or four weeks the BT goes green and stays there. So far so good, batts are now 2-1/2 years old.

 

I leave my car at home for 5-6 months in the winter with a BT and it does just fine.

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The battery minders usually are low amp output, around 8 amps maximum AND they usually need reset every time you drop AC power to them.

 

A Progressive Dynamics converter/charger is about the same cost with a lot more output. The PD9200 series comes in 45 - 80 amp sizes. They come with a charge wizard that you can mount remotely to see what is going on and use it to force the battery into any condition you want. If some reason your batteries went dead when you had no AC to keep them charged, the PD will charge the batteries very quickly while the minder will not. Nope, I do not sell PD, I just get good service from them.

 

The Charge Wizard constantly monitors battery voltage and battery usage then selects one of the following four operating modes to properly charge and maintain the battery.
BOOST Mode 14.4 Volts - Rapidly brings the RV battery up to 90% of full charge.
NORMAL Mode 13.6 Volts - Safely completes the charge.
STORAGE Mode 13.2 Volts - Maintains charge with minimal gassing or water loss.
EQUALIZATION Mode 14.4 Volts - Every 21 hours for a period of 15 minutes prevents battery stratification & sulfation - the leading cause of battery failure.

 

The batteries in my 5er came out of the motor home I sold 5 years ago and they were old when I took them out. The motorhome ran a PD9260C as does my current 5er. My Volvo has a 45 amp model.

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I have been quite satisfied using my Triplet Inverter/Charge in my truck. Built-in transfer switch and the charger function can put out up to 100 amps but does in a 3 stage smart charge.

 

Needed the Inverter anyways and it was only a few bucks more for the Inverter/Charger. Current batteries are 5 years old and are in fine shape.

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Short time user here - I have the Nico Genius (we'll see) charger - http://www.geniuschargers.com/G7200

 

It has an IP 65 rating - NEMA 4 - good for protection against water jets (weatherproof)- http://www.geniuschargers.com/G7200/specs - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_Code

 

It will NOT keep up with the draw of the refrigerator in the Texas heat. Then again, maybe the frig needs some cleaning and a helper fan. It does real fine with sitting loads and playing the radio while working in the truck etc.

 

Multiple profiles and ratings - I replaced the truck batteries with AGM's - 4x100 AH Group 31 and it has an AGM profile. And has the bulk, absorb, Maintain, float, etc.

 

(Edit after Jack's post below) The Nico also has that, not sure if it is relevant on AGM's though. Same with the 'stirring' equalizer cycle.

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Mark brings up a good point. If you are starting fresh I'd put in an inverter/charger as long as it has 3 stage charging(most do). The only downside to doing that is you do not get the desulfation mode that the Battery Minder has. I don't know if that is a significant contribution to the 9 years I got from my bank or not. But it cannot hurt.

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I used to have some sort of battery tender in my previous rv. The one I had always needed to have a couple buttons pressed to set it for the right batteries when it was plugged in. Is this what "NeverEasy" was referring to? My current rv has an Iota converter/charger. Like this much better because when I plug it in to shore power I don't have to press any buttons or do anything.

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We have a Magnum MS2812 to tend to the house batteries which will be AGM deep cycle types. For the time being we only need one battery for that function as we do not have the loads available for more batteries, house battery compartment can handle 4 total. It would be nice if the Magnum could handle two separate banks and fully maintain/monitor them but in reality once parked the Volvo batteries will only be needed to pull up the Bigfoot levelers and restart the RV when it is time to leave. All other loads are on the house batteries.

 

What we are considering doing would be to put a Trimetric monitor on the Volvo batteries which we can then keep on a maintainer, charge from the Rigmaster when on the road or worst case hook up the Honda generator with the DC charging leads to give them a boost when needed.

 

This would leave the Magnum MS2812 to deal with house battery needs only.

 

We have considered large yacht type battery switches but would need several due to the number of taps on the Volvo's bus bars so not going to happen. Would require one huge switch, one tap and then a secondary bus bar after the switch.

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I use the 5-stage 100A charger that the Magnum MS 2012 provides in the truck. I also use charger maintainers on several other batteries over the winter and in storage. The one important thing for me up here in Canada is the ambient operating temperature spec of the chargers. The last charger I bought (Smart Car) when I was looking was the Noco Genius models but their lowest temperature rating was for is 0C (32F). After some more looking around I ended up with Ctek 4.3 model which is rated -20C (-4F) and has a cold weather mode and temperature compensation. This may not be so important to my southern friends that don't see these kinds of temperatures but up here it is very important.

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We have a Magnum MS2812 to tend to the house batteries which will be AGM deep cycle types. For the time being we only need one battery for that function as we do not have the loads available for more batteries, house battery compartment can handle 4 total. It would be nice if the Magnum could handle two separate banks and fully maintain/monitor them but in reality once parked the Volvo batteries will only be needed to pull up the Bigfoot levelers and restart the RV when it is time to leave. All other loads are on the house batteries.

 

What we are considering doing would be to put a Trimetric monitor on the Volvo batteries which we can then keep on a maintainer, charge from the Rigmaster when on the road or worst case hook up the Honda generator with the DC charging leads to give them a boost when needed.

 

This would leave the Magnum MS2812 to deal with house battery needs only.

 

We have considered large yacht type battery switches but would need several due to the number of taps on the Volvo's bus bars so not going to happen. Would require one huge switch, one tap and then a secondary bus bar after the switch.

 

This may be of interest to you. I am planning to add a couple of batteries to the truck and I purchased it to help charge the second bank of batteries.

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I chose to go the simple route. I take the negative cable(s) off the batteries when Its parked for more than a week, and have a cheap ($40@ Walmart) 1.5A battery maintainer connected to the batteries. I have these on 2 HDT's, the RV and a Ag tractor. So far--they work great. I'm gonna get a couple more for my other tractors (may need to add some more outlets to my machine shed!) I think the key is to disconnect the batteries AND use the maintainer. There is absolutely no need for a high current battery maintainer if you disconnect the batteries so there is no draw.

 

I'm not saying anything against the more expensive battery minders...just that even a simple cheap maintainer is better than letting your batteries go flat.

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This may be of interest to you. I am planning to add a couple of batteries to the truck and I purchased it to help charge the second bank of batteries.

I have one of the Sure Power battery separators in my truck so the alternator charges both the chassis batteries and the house batteries I have in the sleeper. I like it a lot. I also added the switch that momentarily ties both banks together if I ever need any extra juice to get the truck started.

 

We have a Magnum MS2812 to tend to the house batteries which will be AGM deep cycle types. For the time being we only need one battery for that function as we do not have the loads available for more batteries, house battery compartment can handle 4 total. It would be nice if the Magnum could handle two separate banks and fully maintain/monitor them but in reality once parked the Volvo batteries will only be needed to pull up the Bigfoot levelers and restart the RV when it is time to leave. All other loads are on the house batteries.

 

What we are considering doing would be to put a Trimetric monitor on the Volvo batteries which we can then keep on a maintainer, charge from the Rigmaster when on the road or worst case hook up the Honda generator with the DC charging leads to give them a boost when needed.

 

This would leave the Magnum MS2812 to deal with house battery needs only.

 

We have considered large yacht type battery switches but would need several due to the number of taps on the Volvo's bus bars so not going to happen. Would require one huge switch, one tap and then a secondary bus bar after the switch.

If you have a Magnum MS2812 you can use the Magnum Smart Battery Combiner (ME-SBC) to send some of the charge to a secondary battery bank. This will allow you to charge both battery banks from the one source.

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Those Blue Sea Systems combiners and switches look to be the ultimate but my guess is by the time it is all installed you will be out $800~$1k with all the bits and pieces.

What we will look into is the Magnum smart combiner, I think I had that in my notes before, plus a big switch to cut the Volvo off when not in use, a good maintainer and possibly a Trimetric just so Randi does not get paranoid about me turning on a reading light in the cab (we have about 10 LED flashlights in there that MUST be used instead).

This is all probably overkill for our tiny motorhome but the loads once fully implemented will be high.

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If you are wanting to monitor two banks and you have nothing currently then look at the Pentametric (Bogart), which will monitor multiple banks. It does require a lot more "diddling with" than the Trimetric, but it has lots of capabilities. Once set up it is pretty easy to deal with. And it has full computer interface. I would not recommend it for most people unless I was installing it, but y'all can handle it.

 

Or, you might add a BMK to the Magnum (assuming you have the right remote display) and then just use a Trimetric on the truck.

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Jack, I believe we have the ME-RC (50) monitor/remote control for the Magnum..it is the simpler of the two but should do an adequate job of monitoring the house batteries?

The ME-RC50 will work with the BMK just fine. As long as it is not real old. You need firmware 2.0 or greater. Which if you bought in the last 3 years you have.

 

Believe it or not, it is actually a little cheaper to put in a Trimetric with shunt, than to put in the BMK. But that requires display space in your cabinet which you may not have the luxury of doing.

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