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costco golf cart batteries vs trogans for solar system


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I need to replace my four Costco golf cart batteries. I have 1600 watts of solar and a 5600k generator. They are 4 years old in June,. I do not boon dock that much but will on my 5 month next trip we will a lot. My rig sits 4 or 5 months a year on the xantrex 3 level inverter charger. Are Trojans worth the extra 30 dollars each? I try real hard to water my batteries monthly but not much after that. I have been advised they will not last any longer than Costco but will perform better. Any truth to that?

 

All input is sincerely appreciated.

 

regards

JB

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Trojans are a bit better in my opinion but probably not enough better to be worth the premium in most cases.

 

You may be having a battery issue if the old ones only lasted 4 years, if you do the extra cost would surely be wasted. I'm not able to do much to help tonight as I'm pretty groggy from some meds but hopefully others will have some suggestions or I may improve a bit by morning.

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John, great question, its an age old subject, are X brand of batteries better then Y brand blah blah blah lol

" I have been advised they will not last any longer than Costco but will perform better" DO YOU CONSDIER THAT ADVICE AS RIGHT OR NOT???????

 

 

Its my "OPINION" you will get several different "OPINIONS" on such a question, "much" of which is antecdotal, "little" of which I doubt is based on hard core in depth scientific studies and research and accurate data. Its just like asking which brand of oil is best to use YOU WILL GET PLENTY OF PERSONAL "OPINIONS"

 

That being said (engineers and attorneys love disclaimers lol) ITS MY PERSONAL OPINION BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE AND OBSERVATION TROJAN ARE BETTER QUALITY THEN "MANY" OTHER BRANDS and that's worth just the same as other pure "opinions" you will get on a Forum NOTHING On a Forum you may read where Billy Bob says brand X is best while his brother in law Jimmy Joe says Y is better WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE LOL

 

One thing I like about Trojan is that in any decent sized town all over America you can walk in and get replacement or repair or warranty of the same identical battery and size and type versus some other brand where there are farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr fewer dealers and supply and inventory. IE if you have trouble with say one battery, if its a Trojan its sooooooooooooooo much easier to find an identical replacement TROJAN ARE JUST SO STANDARD AND READILY AVAILABLE AS COMPARED TO MANY OTHER BRANDS

 

Sure we hear and read about Excide and Johnson Controls manufacturing many labeled battery brands and we have discussed Sams Club and Costco and Wally World on an on and which are best, but you don't hear about too many problems or complaints with Trojan.

 

NOTE you did NOT ask about AGM or Lithium or other technology SO I ONLY ANSWERED YOUR QUESTION and didn't open a can of worms about any of that.

 

Its my "OPINION" Trajan would be the best way to go and understand others have different "opinions" but its your money and your choice NOT ours so if you can find any in depth hard core accurate scientific studies and research and data that proves X or Y brand is superior, id go that route SUBJECT TO the fact that Trojan are so readily available on soooooooooooo many different cities in case you would need replacement or repair.

 

SOOOOOOOOOOOO as you "have been advised they will not last any longer than Costco but will perform better" you need to weight that opinion and advice against all other opinions and advice THEN MAKE YOUR CHOICE WHO TO BELIEVE LOL.

 

John T FWIW "Nothing" if I had to replace my current Sams Club lead acid flooded batteries (work fine) with the same technology, Id go Trojan the next time

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I replaced my 2 OEM T-105's at 7 years 11 months old. They were still working but I thought it was time to replace them.

The replacements T-105 had a problem with one of them at 7 years 3 months old. Replaced both.

The present T-105's are 2 years 8 months old still going strong.

 

I do not boon dock any. But as a Full Timer they are several power outages in the winter at my Florida location. And I don't start the generator until the batteries are getting low.

After running a 46" TV, DirecTV receiver, PC and some lights.

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My original batteries were Interstate and I got 4 years out of them. I replaced them with (6) Duracell's from Sam's Club. Going on 3 seasons and they are doing fine. If I remember correctly the 6 Duracell's were around $700.00. .I boon dock 3-4 months every winter and I did not see any difference between the 2 brands.

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OK, back a bit less groggy but still not typing well.

 

First, why do you think the batteries need replaced?

 

What surprised me when I was getting started was how poorly the batteries worked on my first few days of boondocking each spring. I'd see them dropping in voltage under even light loads but recovering after a short rest. After two or three days the batteries seemed to provide a lot more initial power without the initial voltage drop and things worked a lot better. After some research I came across some stuff on the plates being charged to the point that there were few crystal sites left to fuel the discharge reaction. The suggestion was to come off float a couple days before leaving power and give the batteries a chance to discharge and build up the amount of crystals. Trying that ended my worries and the batteries were fine for several more years, still going strong when we sold the rig.

 

 

 

Next I'm concerned about your current setup and the short lifetime you got and needing to add water monthly.

 

Having to add water so often to a battery that isn't in heavy use, daily deep discharge and recharge is a sign that you may have the charge or float voltages or battery bank size settings a bit high. For a battery bank mostly floating (when on shore power) I'd expect minimal water use, maybe add a bit every 3 months and plates still well covered at 6 months. If in heavy use when boondocking monthly checking and adding a bit every couple months is more normal.

 

Overcharging can make the crystal issue worse too.

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Stanley, I enjoyed your last technical post above and I seemed to experience different battery performance at different times. I have NOT experienced any what Id consider excess water usage and my 4 stage so called "smart" charger floats my batteries once charged at 13.2 volts. If my coach sits for a few months, and I have the charger ON, after my battery voltage settles in and floats at 13.2 (following the higher Bulk and Absorption voltage cycles) I will go down and turn the charger off after which my voltage remains at 12.6 to 12.7 volts. I have my master disconnect switch OFF and don't recall them dropping to 12.5 after say 3 or so weeks due to self discharge. HOWEVER its been my practice to every 14 or so days I will go down and turn my charger on for one to three days and it usually cycles 13.6 Absorption then 13.2 float but seldom goes into its 14.4 Bulk unless its sat for a longer period.

 

I GUESS MY QUESTION FOR YOU does that sound like a good plan to let them set for a period disconnected and occasionally charge them ORRRRRRRRRR is it better to just leave my charger on at the 13.2 Float all the time????????????????????? Maybe letting them sit at 12.6 (even though that's a full charge) then recharge uses part of a "life cycle" which may not occur if its kept at 13.2 float level?????????????

 

John T NOT to hijack the OP but this seems to fit the topic

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At 13.2 float you'll usually not see much water use, even at .4 or .6 you shouldn't see much as once the battery is topped off from the last discharge you will see minimal charge current or electrolysis (water broken down to hydrogen and oxygen) which is a main source of water loss at reasonable charge rates.

 

At high charge rates you will see high losses from electrolysis and additional high losses from evaporation. The evaporation in a cell is usually near zero as there is minimal air flow out of a cell that is not low on water, mostly due to temp and barometric changes, but once you are venting gas the gas will tend to carry water vapor along with it out of the cell, add in a lot of fast / hard bubbling (not boiling but looks like it) and you will also vent some liquid water, and worse tiny drops of acid that will corrode whatever it touches.

 

My goal was a reasonably fast charge (current limited) that was within the manufacturer's specifications, that gave some bubbling, just enough to stir up the electrolyte but minimizing water vapor loss and not having any liquid lost.

 

Most good flooded batteries give maximum safe charge rates, usually given as a fraction of the battery capacity (like c10 or c4) that are based more on preventing physical damage to the plates than to preserving water or maximizing battery life. I've found dialing the amps back from the maximum a bit makes the water use a lot less while not making a big change in bulk charge time. I don't have any hard numbers for this, I just tried the maximum rated charge into an 80% full battery and watched the cells bubble madly, dialed the charge current back a step at a time to a "simmer" level of bubbles.

 

 

So I'd not recommend less than 13.2 for long term floating as you need more than the resting voltage (12.6X) to drive the charging chemical reaction. The 13.2 is plenty too, more won't really accomplish anything in storage. Now for day-to-day floating while in use going to .4 or .6 will do better at keeping the battery near full capacity with minimal impact on water use.

 

 

Our first pre-fulltiming fiver had a poor charger so we left it off when stored, well off after it ruined a pair of batteries one summer. Instead I used a trickle charger on a timer that ran an hour a day. Something I still recommend to folks with dumb chargers.

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OK, back a bit less groggy but still not typing well.

 

First, why do you think the batteries need replaced?

 

What surprised me when I was getting started was how poorly the batteries worked on my first few days of boondocking each spring. I'd see them dropping in voltage under even light loads but recovering after a short rest. After two or three days the batteries seemed to provide a lot more initial power without the initial voltage drop and things worked a lot better. After some research I came across some stuff on the plates being charged to the point that there were few crystal sites left to fuel the discharge reaction. The suggestion was to come off float a couple days before leaving power and give the batteries a chance to discharge and build up the amount of crystals. Trying that ended my worries and the batteries were fine for several more years, still going strong when we sold the rig.

 

 

 

Next I'm concerned about your current setup and the short lifetime you got and needing to add water monthly.

 

Having to add water so often to a battery that isn't in heavy use, daily deep discharge and recharge is a sign that you may have the charge or float voltages or battery bank size settings a bit high. For a battery bank mostly floating (when on shore power) I'd expect minimal water use, maybe add a bit every 3 months and plates still well covered at 6 months. If in heavy use when boondocking monthly checking and adding a bit every couple months is more normal.

 

Overcharging can make the crystal issue worse too.

 

Stan, Thanks for your sage advice. My batteries stay at float at 13.5 when hooked up to shore power. I got into a problem w/my batteries when my inverter went out I had it rebuilt. They were over charging or not charging at all and of course all this was an intermittent problem so it went on fora couple of seasons. . On the way back from the rally last year the COE park we stayed in lost an underground transformer at the end of the season and they did not choose to fix it until later. there was a group of us and we stayed, for free of course and I found my batteries just would not keep even on a light load. I have switched to a residential fridge and thus I will need my bank more. As for adding water once a month, I usually just do a small top off. They are never that low I just top them off.

 

My charge rate is set for lead acid 6 volt batteries via my xantrex controller. I do not know how I would change the charge rate.

 

Am I missing something?

 

Thanks for you help.

 

JB

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JB, The settings vary depending on which controller you have, some have a lot and some are pretty basic. Thinking back to mine i had a bank-size that set the max amps and the voltage levels were settable in tenths of a volt. Your manual should have a how-to on the settings for your model.

 

Your 13.5 float is about right if you are using the batteries daily but you may want to look for the current limit and make sure it matches your bank size or is a bit less.

 

 

If the batteries were treated badly they might be weak but still salvageable, if you check the specific gravity of the cells and find some weak you can run equalize cycles to see if you can get them even. I disconnect the RV loads before equalizing as the high voltage is not good for them. If the batteries still are weak after equalization then new ones may be the answer.

 

Whatever you get, treat them well and 7 to 10 years of useful life isn't an unreasonable expectation.

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Stanely, I appreciate and agree with your DIFFERENT float voltage discussion for LONG TERM VERSUS DAILY USE, that's not so commonly discussed when you review some chargers specs and algorithms, they may simply cite a certain fixed voltage (perhaps somewhat temperature compensated???) for FLOAT and that's it. Since a full charged lead acid battery stabilizes around 12.6 volts, I agree 13.2 should suffice as its high enough in theory to create sufficient charging current flow and resultant electrochemical reaction, yet as you say NOT result in excess loss of electrolyte. Actually, if I had my "druthers" and had to choose only one FLOAT charge level with NO ROOM FOR ADJUSTING, Id opt for 13.2 versus maybe 13.5 or more as I've seen advertised. My current charger Bulk charges around 14.4 volts then Absorbs around 13.6 volts then Floats at 13.2 (with an occasional Equalize cycle) which in my opinion is a good reasonable cost compromise. I take it if you have a more expensive charger with more bells and whistles, temperature compensation, and adjustable algorithms that could be improved upon, but in simple generic terms I think much over 13.2 volts is MORE then should be used FOR LONG TERM FLOAT. After reading your informative discussion above I think I will stick with my current practice of letting my batteries set idle (NOT connected to charger) for maybe a week or two (provided master switch off and voltage remains 12.6) and then occasionally connecting my smart charger which typically brings them up to 13.6 volts for a period then back to the 13.2 Float level, if they set too long it may start at 14.4 before going to 13.6.

 

NOTE I forgot to mention my RV is parked under a pole barn outside wall lean to with a metal roof maybe only 2 feet above the RV height, but there are 400 watts of Solar on the RV roof which I leave connected and maybe on a bright sunny day even under roof it may still register around one charging amp or less into 460 Battery Amp Hours IM THINKING THATS WHY MY VOLTAGE STAYS CLOSE TO 12.6 EVEN AFTER MAYBE ALMOST TWO WEEKS OR SO but if not for the solar they may self discharge to 12.5 by that time????? It also helps to leave my master disconnect switch off which must prevent a few small phantom loads.

 

Thanks Stanely, good info you provided

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I have been advised they will not last any longer than Costco but will perform better. Any truth to that?

 

I hear that all that time.. however.. it's not entirely true. Properly maintained, regularly "exercised" and using equipment capable of utilizing their full potential Trojan's will last longer, perform better, and see less capacity degradation over the life of the battery. Premature failure is generally not the batteries fault. ;)

 

That being said, for most folks, costco/sam's class batteries are more than sufficient and economical for their intended use. Quite often you hear of 3-5 years of usage as not atypical. Well kept, exercised, and decent support equipment.. 5-7 years is more the norm. Trojans "can" fail just as quickly if you don't keep them "happy", but where you would expect to see 5-7 years out of a big box store deep cycle battery.. under the same conditions 9-10 years is more typical with a trojan and 11-13 years is not all that unheard of.

 

Kind of like cars, though.. if you have a 2 door commuter sedan and a ferrari.. but you only ever drive either at 55mph.. how would you ever measure the difference in travel from point A to point B? :P:lol:

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Kind of like cars, though.. if you have a 2 door commuter sedan and a ferrari.. but you only ever drive either at 55mph.. how would you ever measure the difference in travel from point A to point B? :P:lol:

That is really the point. If you intend to routinely "fully utilize" the capability of the bank then the Trojan will likely be a better choice. IF, however, you are like most RVers and will only occasionally utilize the battery bank for boondocking then the Sam's would be my choice. I have gotten 6-8 years out of Sams batteries.

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Just my experience with the Costco GC2s. Nothing more.

 

We are on our 6th year of using 4 GC2s. Pretty much without electric hookups. 400 watts solar with a MPPT controller that maintain the batteries during the winter when we do not travel. Water levels are checked monthly and have never been very low and the plates have never been exposed.

 

We camp about 60 days per year. Never draw down below 75% and use an inverter for the microwave, hair dryer, curling iron and percolator daily. Not to forget the furnace blower and fantastic vent fan.

 

We seem to be down about 5% capacity this year compared to past years. Will evaluate next year to see if we need to replace the batteries.

 

Chose the Costco over Trojan solely on cost and potential longevity ratios.

 

Will replace with Costco brand again (currently manufactured by Interstate in these parts).

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I'd have to agree with Yarome and Jack.

 

One of the things to look at is the weight, weight equals Lead and Lead equals battery life and performance.

 

As for charge I'm with Handy Bob and higher voltages. I run my bulk at 14.8 and absorption and 13.7, maybe 13.8

 

I water my batteries religiously, weekly when I'm living in the rig.

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Jim, "We replaced our 4 house batteries with Interstate GC-2's from Costco in 2012 for $391.00. Batteries still working great"

 

Similar story here, I went instead with four of the EGC2's from Sams Club a few years back, around $400, also "still working great", but since we boondock a lot, I think next timed Id go with Trojans instead if I went lead acid or now possibly FullRiver if AGM, looks like several of the good gents here agree with that too.

 

John T

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