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Have I fried my house battery?


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A couple of evenings ago the lights in our RV started dimming (a noticeable flicker when the propane fuelled heater kicked on). It also appeared that a couple of receptacles were dead. The next morning I noticed that one of the breakers for small receptacles was tripped.

Subsequently, I managed to open the house battery and to my horror (always thought these things were self maintaining...duh) the electrolyte level was almost empty therefore I added distilled water to the cells (being careful to underfill rather than overfill).

The voltmeter reading before the addition of distilled water was 11.45 with no load and 14.15 with engine running. I did a quick reading immediately after adding the water and the reading was 11.70.

Returned home in the evening and thankfully the lights were noticeably brighter, certainly not dimming or flickering so I thought that I'd dodged a bullet and the house battery was recharging itself.

However when I read the house battery this morning it showed a reading of 10.75 and the same small receptacle was tripped again.

I was planning to top off the water level in a few days in expectation that the voltage reading would rise not fall.

Now, I'm starting to think that the battery (two batteries) is indeed fried.

 

Does anyone have any suggestions as to my next step please. TIA

 

Marc

 

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Would be helpful to know battery age and whether or not you were boondocking when these events occurred ...I am guessing you were. I believe your batteries are shot/need to be replaced. Readings below 12 indicate various levels of dead, and one that has boiled dry in trying to charge is almost certainly toast. I just replaced 3 that were in fact charging to some extent, but were also getting quite hot to the touch in the process.

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How old are your batteries?

Here is an article on calculating their life expectancy: http://rvservices.koa.com/rvinformation/rvmaintenance/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-rv-batteries.asp

 

I have seen several charts like this over the years "RV Converters and AMP Draw" that might be of assistance.

Thanks for the articles.....continually a learning process isn't it?

 

I bought my RV from a dealer approx eighteen months ago. They're both Pro Master GC 10..the numbers and dates on the batteries aren't checked so I can't tell the birthdate of them. Therefore all I know for sure is that they're at least eighteen months old with minimum usage (we usually draw power from shore) but maximum neglect (first time I ever checked the electrolyte levels).

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Would be helpful to know battery age and whether or not you were boondocking when these events occurred ...I am guessing you were. I believe your batteries are shot/need to be replaced. Readings below 12 indicate various levels of dead, and one that has boiled dry in trying to charge is almost certainly toast. I just replaced 3 that were in fact charging to some extent, but were also getting quite hot to the touch in the process.

 

We're hooked into shore power right now... been a number of outtages here in YNP during the past two weeks (snowing now as I type).

 

Hmm...so it looks like the house batttery is shot then.

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Reed, I know I am hijacking thread but here I go anyway. When you say the fan was integral to the batteries what do you mean? Did it come as part of the housing for the battery pack? I like your idea of the light bulb.

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The bad news is that for a battery's electrolyte to get so low that the plates are exposed to the air will always damage the battery, no matter how new it happens to be. But it isn't possible for us to say much specifically about how badly they were damaged without a lot more information. The more plate which is exposed, the shorter time is required to do damage and the more attempts to charge and discharge the batteries in that conditions, the worse it is as well. The only accurate way to access battery conditions is by use of a hydrometer, but even then you need some information to compare those readings to.

 

Since you do not know the age of the batteries, there are several steps which I would take first. The Fiesta is not a high end RV so I'd suspect that you probably do not have an inverter, but that too is part of the equation. Most inverters are better battery chargers than are the standard converter found in a typical RV. Since you bought used, we don't really know if yours is the OEM converter but assuming that it is your best means of charging your batteries is by driving the RV. If you have an automotive battery charger that will do a far better job than your RV converter and it will do so in much less time.

 

If this were mine I would first make sure that the electrolyte is at the proper level, as indicated by the level tube inside of each cell. Next I would give it the very best charge that I could, using a 3 stage automotive battery charger and leaving it on the batteries for 24 to 48 hours. Once that is done I would take those batteries to a reputable battery seller and ask to have them load tested, which should cost you noting and will give you much more idea of the battery condition. If you would like to see some charts which show battery charge conditions based upon both voltage readings and specific gravity(from a hydrometer) I have a series of these charts posted on our website for you.

 

Batteries need to be checked at least monthly at least until you get some idea of how often you will need to add water to them. Always use distilled water and not tap or even the demineralized water found in stores. Read the label as distilled usually sells for the same price.

 

The next morning I noticed that one of the breakers for small receptacles was tripped.

I'm not quite sure just what you are telling us here. Are you speaking of a 12V outlet of the round type like in an automobile or one of the typical 120V-ac plugs for an appliance? If for 120V then I really don't see what the connection to your batteries may be unless you have an inverter and that outlet is only supplied from the inverter.

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I would agree that your batteries are toast and need to be replaced. You will need to check them monthly as Kirk stated until you know what the cycle is to top them off. As far as your converter goes it's possibly the original equipment which is not multi stage. You can buy upgraded multi stage converters that will slide right into the existing location. Wiring it in is quite simple.

 

Are you work camping in YNP and where are you, or are you on vacation. We'll be camp hosting in Grant this summer.

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The bad news is that for a battery's electrolyte to get so low that the plates are exposed to the air will always damage the battery, no matter how new it happens to be. But it isn't possible for us to say much specifically about how badly they were damaged without a lot more information. The more plate which is exposed, the shorter time is required to do damage and the more attempts to charge and discharge the batteries in that conditions, the worse it is as well. The only accurate way to access battery conditions is by use of a hydrometer, but even then you need some information to compare those readings to.

 

Since you do not know the age of the batteries, there are several steps which I would take first. The Fiesta is not a high end RV so I'd suspect that you probably do not have an inverter, but that too is part of the equation. Most inverters are better battery chargers than are the standard converter found in a typical RV. Since you bought used, we don't really know if yours is the OEM converter but assuming that it is your best means of charging your batteries is by driving the RV. If you have an automotive battery charger that will do a far better job than your RV converter and it will do so in much less time.

 

If this were mine I would first make sure that the electrolyte is at the proper level, as indicated by the level tube inside of each cell. Next I would give it the very best charge that I could, using a 3 stage automotive battery charger and leaving it on the batteries for 24 to 48 hours. Once that is done I would take those batteries to a reputable battery seller and ask to have them load tested, which should cost you noting and will give you much more idea of the battery condition. If you would like to see some charts which show battery charge conditions based upon both voltage readings and specific gravity(from a hydrometer) I have a series of these charts posted on our website for you.

 

Batteries need to be checked at least monthly at least until you get some idea of how often you will need to add water to them. Always use distilled water and not tap or even the demineralized water found in stores. Read the label as distilled usually sells for the same price.

I'm not quite sure just what you are telling us here. Are you speaking of a 12V outlet of the round type like in an automobile or one of the typical 120V-ac plugs for an appliance? If for 120V then I really don't see what the connection to your batteries may be unless you have an inverter and that outlet is only supplied from the inverter.

Thank you for youe considered reply. The consensus seems to be that the batteries are dead so I already ordered their replacement this afternoon which should arrive tomorrow and hopefully I'll be able to install them. And yes, I'll be checking the electrolyte levels :-)

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I would agree that your batteries are toast and need to be replaced. You will need to check them monthly as Kirk stated until you know what the cycle is to top them off. As far as your converter goes it's possibly the original equipment which is not multi stage. You can buy upgraded multi stage converters that will slide right into the existing location. Wiring it in is quite simple.

 

Are you work camping in YNP and where are you, or are you on vacation. We'll be camp hosting in Grant this summer.

 

Yes, we're working for Delaware North at the Lake General Store.....a few miles away from where you'll be. Drop by and see us.

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Sounds like there may be a bigger problem somewhere in the system. If you are tripping breakers that indicates a possible short in a line or some kind of high current drain over a longer period. If the short is in the 110v system and you are on shore power that should not affect your batteries and may be an unrelated problem but should be checked out if it keeps happening.

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Same suggestions as some above. Look at the charger, probably a single stage 13.6 volt system. That will undercharge/overcharge reliably. Look at a 3-4 stage system, especially now that you have new batteries. See if your charger can be upgraded with a charge wizard, if not, then go for a new converter with the multiple charge capability.

Good luck, happy camping.

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Can I dare jump in and add another question to this conversation. When replacing batteries for a 5th wheel, should one consider “OPTIMA” RV deep cycle batteries? I just upgraded my camper with a 2015 Cougar (not quite ready to full time), and I’m not very reliable at checking battery levels. I thought OPTIMA might be a good fit for me. Any pro’s or con’s?

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Can I dare jump in and add another question to this conversation. When replacing batteries for a 5th wheel, should one consider “OPTIMA” RV deep cycle batteries? I just upgraded my camper with a 2015 Cougar (not quite ready to full time), and I’m not very reliable at checking battery levels. I thought OPTIMA might be a good fit for me. Any pro’s or con’s?

 

Optima batteries are hybrid type batteries meant for starting loads and house loads. They are not the best option for an RV. The best option is a true deep cycle battery. True deep cycle batteries will stand up to deeper discharges than a hybrid battery and will have more storage or AmpHour capacity than a hybrid battery. Optima batteries are good for what they are intended for, but there are better options for true deep cycle RV use.

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I thought OPTIMA might be a good fit for me. Any pro’s or con’s?

 

They very well might be. Like Chad said, they are not a true deep cycle battery and will have limitied capacity and not "ideally" suited for RV use. That being said, If all you need is something to keep you going on the road in between hook-ups then it might be your best option for a no maintanence battery. Adding additional batteries would increase your capacity.

 

True deep cycle battery really are ideal and will give you the most bang for your buck, but they do have to be maintained. In the deep cycle realm, to move up to a maintanence free battery, you would be looking at AGM's which can run 3-4 times the price of a box store deep cycle.

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Can I dare jump in and add another question to this conversation. When replacing batteries for a 5th wheel, should one consider “OPTIMA” RV deep cycle batteries? I just upgraded my camper with a 2015 Cougar (not quite ready to full time), and I’m not very reliable at checking battery levels. I thought OPTIMA might be a good fit for me. Any pro’s or con’s?

 

I have used Yahoo's free calendar https://calendar.yahoo.com/ for almost 10 years. Google has one and I am sure there are others on the web also.

 

When we got our current RV I set up monthly/annually as needed reminders for my RV maintenance, it gives you two reminder options for every event from 5 minutes to 14 days. For items that need supplies I set one for 14 days to give me time to get the supplies (ie oil change, wash and wax) and or shop around and the other the day before. I also have reminders for the anniversary of tire and battery purchases. The reason I went to Yahoo was that my calendar program I use to use on my computer crashed and I lost everything. With Yahoo it is always accessible. For really important events I have a back up with Google Calendar.

 

 

It is also helpful for birthdays and anniversarys once you put them on Yahoo you never have to worry about remembering again especially if you want to make points with your significant other. ;)

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