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RVing message boards => Boondocking => Topic started by: Ahmetd on October 26, 2016, 10:07:11 PM

Title: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Ahmetd on October 26, 2016, 10:07:11 PM
Hey guys I'm new to the whole RV world but I'm full time living in mine and have been in here for 2 months now, I'm located in Colorado and obviously it gets cold.
When I bought the RV the battery was not holding a great barge so I ventured to camping world and was sold on 2 exide stowaway 24mdcst batteries 80 amp/h each. After some more research I'm finding out that these aren't true deep cycle batteries but a hybrid and I'm seeing them not hold much of a charge after one time getting them low on charge. 
What I'm trying to ask is what y'all would recommend for a guy who is living full time in the RV who wants optimal battery usage in cold weather, I also have 1 100 watt solar panel and am looking to add more so a battery that does well with charging off the grid.

I'm looking to spend somewhere in the range of 300. Hope you guys can help me out with this one! Thanks I really appreciate all the knowledge I see here!
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: 8Muddypaws on October 26, 2016, 10:25:28 PM
Hard to beat two 6volt golf cart batteries from Costco (>$200 total) and a little bit of wiring to get them in a series so they deliver 12v.

I've had 4 of them for nearly 5 years.  When we used to buy 12v batteries two years was about it.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Kevin Means on October 27, 2016, 12:20:39 AM
I'm a big fan of our AGMs. They're 105 AH each, they charge quickly, they're less susceptible to sulfation - a process that ultimately causes most lead/acid batteries to no longer be able to hold a charge, and they're truly maintenance free. The problem is, they're pricey... 2 to 3 times the cost of many other batteries. But properly cared for they'll also outlive many other batteries.

Kev
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: wstuart on October 27, 2016, 01:44:22 AM
For many the Trojan T105 were the fav's.
My new rig has 4 Interstate 6 volts, so we will see.
Cheers
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Russ+Chris on October 27, 2016, 05:25:52 AM
For many the Trojan T105 were the fav's.
My new rig has 4 Interstate 6 volts, so we will see.
Cheers
My MH had 4 of the Trojan T105's. Had to replace them last summer. Tried to get them, but they was on national back-ordered at that time. One of the employees at the distributor told me that the 6V NAPA battery is the same.  So I got got 4 of the 6V NAPA batteries. Can't tell them apart from the Trojan batteries. Markings in the case are the same. The only difference is the color of the case.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on October 27, 2016, 06:58:48 AM
May I suggest an article I wrote on this RV battery choices. It's in the RVForum Library at http://www.rvforum.net/miscfiles/Choosing_right_battery.pdf
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: John From Detroit on October 27, 2016, 07:19:07 AM
First, I have often heard disparging things about Excide.. and I do not like Group 24s at all or Marine/Deep cycle if I can avoid.

GC-2 Golf car batteries are six volt. so they have to be hooked up differently.. They are a bit taller than your Group 24s but they shoudl fit in the same tray.. Get them at Sam's Club, Costco, Interstate, Deka (Mine are from Deka)

Wired like this

-{6v}+===-{6v}+===12 volts. 

The equlas signs are wires.

You basically get one BIG (220 amp hour +/- 10) battery that is a True Deep cycle.. And to answer all your "6V v/s 12V" questions

Think of hte pair as a SINGLE 12 volt (Size 4D) battery..
Can I replace just one?  (Can you replace one half of a 12 volt battery?, same answer)
Do they need to be the same (make, brand, age, size)  Again, can you get a half & half 12 volt?
How do I charge them .. You charge IT (the 12 volt battery they form Just as you do your current 12 volt batteries.

See how questions go POOF when you think of them as a single 12 volt battery.


Oh, and thanks to the fact that golf courses coast to coast buy 'em by the pallet load.. They cost less per unit, so you pay about what you paid for those Group 24s.. but you get not 150 amp hours, or 160, but 220-230  Nice. nearly 50% more power for the same price.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: SargeW on October 27, 2016, 07:29:23 AM
I am also a fan of 6 volt wet batteries. I like being able to check the cells for water and maintain them myself. I feel that they are the most bang for my buck at a reasonable price. I currently am running 6 Interstate 6 volt wet batteries. My rig has a residential refer, and I never turn the Inverter off, so they get exercised every time I move campgrounds. 

I had a 12 volt deep cycle sealed battery explode on me in a different rig, so I am kind of partial to removable caps. And of course, a quality 3 stage charger is paramount in keeping whatever you buy healthy and happy for the long run.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: OBX on October 27, 2016, 07:33:44 AM
Gary, that's an excellent article.  I was wondering about marine batteries because they seem more common at auto stores, Wal-Mart, etc.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: joelmyer on October 27, 2016, 08:16:33 AM
I bought 4 Interstate 6 volt batteries in December 2010.  I want to replace them with the Sams Club 6 volt AGMs but they won't die.

We live off grid for 3 months every winter.  The secret (I think) is the equalization charge (see US Battery recommendations).  I do this a couple of times in the fall before heading south.  They come up to at least 1260 so I use them another year.

Solar is great.  Your can get your batteries to 85% with the generator and then solar tops them off.

http://usbattery.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/usb-charging-recommendations.pdf

Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Gizmo on October 27, 2016, 09:13:58 AM
I agree with SargeW where bang for the buck is concerned.  I currently have Trojan 105 6v wet batteries that have served me well.  Having said that, I also agree with Kevin Means with regard to AGM batteries and when my current wet cell go south or we get our 5th wheel, I will be switching over to AGM batteries.  He is correct, they are quite expensive but not having to maintain wet cells is a plus for me.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Ahmetd on October 27, 2016, 09:41:00 AM
Hey guys thanks so much for all the info I feel quite a bit better educated on the subject now. And especially after reading that article that Gary wrote. Now for everyone using flooded golf cart batteries, how often are you checking your water levels?  In a lot of cold weather situations would you prefer to use the AGM or flooded cells? I'm going to be chasing winter around for skiing, so lots of cold weather.

I also am pretty agitated the salesman sold me on what sounds like one of the worst batteries for my type of situation but now I know a little more and I believe I can return the batteries to camping world anyway.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: joelmyer on October 27, 2016, 09:52:02 AM
I check water level as part of my pre-trip preparation.

Dry camping for 3 months, I check water level and specific gravity after 6 weeks.

Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Ahmetd on October 27, 2016, 09:53:09 AM
Also when you guys are talking about connecting 4 of the 6v golf cart batteries I'm guessing your connect two and two in a series and those pair of series together in a parallel so it doesn't exceed 12V?  And where the heck do you keep 4 batteries with proper ventilation?
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: SargeW on October 27, 2016, 10:42:43 AM
On larger rigs battery space is provided for.  On my MH there is a battery pull out drawer that holds six 6 volt batteries.  Here is a few pics of how they are connected together.  This pic is older when I first got the rig. I took the pics of the original batteries to show how the dealer had neglected the batteries while the rig was still new on their lot.  They had to replace all 6 as they had managed to damage them all.  But it does show how the 6 batteries are wired together. 
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: 8Muddypaws on October 27, 2016, 11:12:43 AM
Also when you guys are talking about connecting 4 of the 6v golf cart batteries I'm guessing your connect two and two in a series and those pair of series together in a parallel so it doesn't exceed 12V?  And where the heck do you keep 4 batteries with proper ventilation?

That is exactly correct. 

Being in California I have never seen a battery freeze.  The sulfuric acid lowers the freeze point down to something like -60F for a fully charged battery -(University of Google answer).
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Gizmo on October 27, 2016, 11:37:16 AM
I check the water level before each trip or in hot Phoenix summers no more than a month since last check.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Kevin Means on October 27, 2016, 12:36:08 PM
Also when you guys are talking about connecting 4 of the 6v golf cart batteries I'm guessing your connect two and two in a series and those pair of series together in a parallel so it doesn't exceed 12V?  And where the heck do you keep 4 batteries with proper ventilation?
That's another benefit of AGMs... they don't need to be in a ventilated compartment. They also don't have to be installed upright (with terminals on top) You can mount them in any position you'd like.

Kev
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: wstuart on October 27, 2016, 01:09:00 PM
Hey SargeW I have the same batteries, first time for me, so glad you have had good results.

One question about inverters.  When going on the walk through of our new RV, the tech said to never have the inverter turned on when connected to shore power, as in NEVER! Reading the manual it says it is ok to leave inverter on.

Any comments?   Maybe because I had a couple of solar panels installed to charge the batteries?
What are your thoughts?

Cheers
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: SargeW on October 27, 2016, 01:30:59 PM
Unless the tech knows something about that particular Inverter that I don't, I don't know why either. I have had my coach for 3+ years, and the Inverter has never been turned off.  I have a Magnum 2012 Inverter/Charger,  and it works wonderfully. 

I unplug by turning off the breaker at the pedestal, and the Inverter automatically takes over and runs the whole coach. I  would tend to believe what your manual says.   
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Gizmo on October 27, 2016, 02:44:21 PM
Unless the tech knows something about that particular Inverter that I don't, I don't know why either. I have had my coach for 3+ years, and the Inverter has never been turned off.  I have a Magnum 2012 Inverter/Charger,  and it works wonderfully. 

I unplug by turning off the breaker at the pedestal, and the Inverter automatically takes over and runs the whole coach. I  would tend to believe what your manual says.

If I recall correctly, the Magnum inverter/charger you have (very nice unit), has circuitry included that will understand when the rig is plugged into shore or generator power vs unplugged and operate accordingly.  The tech the OP worked with, I suspect  was likely referring to the more basic and perhaps older models which were inverters only and in order to remain on when plugged into shore power, would require a relay to be wired between the inverter and the rigs power or for the converter to be switched off to prevent a conflict.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: wstuart on October 27, 2016, 03:53:20 PM
This is my first rig with this type of gear.  Never had solar, or an inverter before, and still have not used any of it (except in driveway).
37 days till launch!

This is what the rig has.
Xantrex PRO Inverter XM1800
WFCO ULTRA III Deckmount Converter WF-9800 Series
Furrion F50-ATS 50 amp Automatic Transfer Switch
GO POWER Solar Power Kit with GP-PWM-30 Solar Charge Controller
Two 160 watt Solar Panels
Max power voltage(Vmp) 18.42V
Max power current (Imp) 8.84A
Open Circuit voltage (Voc)  22.77V
Short circuit current (Isc)   9.24A
And without a lie most of it is greek to me.

Any insite would be greatly appreciated.
Solar is after market and hooked up to just charge batteries
4 Interstate 6 volt deep cycle batteries.

Cheers
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on October 27, 2016, 05:19:01 PM
Quote
Now for everyone using flooded golf cart batteries, how often are you checking your water levels?

There can be no pat answer to that. It depends heavily on the charging system and the way the batteries are used. Basically you need to check often (at least monthly) for several months to establish your own pattern of water loss, then adjust so that you check often enough to catch any serious depletion (tops of plates are exposed). With a decent 3-stage charge system, a water check every 3-6 months may be sufficient, but older single stage chargers have been know to "boil" off the battery water in as little as a week or two.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Russ+Chris on October 27, 2016, 08:47:33 PM
My 4, 6V batteries are in a compartment in the rear of the MH. Next to the engine. I check my batteries about once a month in hot weather and month and half in colder weather. 

The reason I had to replace my 6V Trojan batteries is because they froze and cracked the cases.  >:( What happened? Well....I dropped the MH off at General RV in Akron Oh. to be winterized, and some work to be done to it. Dropped it off after Thanksgiving. Was to pick it up before Christmas. They called and said to pick it up. Told them what day we are coming to get it. The day before we was to pick it up. They wrecked it getting it out of storage.  >:( Said that it slid on the ice in the lot. They ripped off the right side mirror.  >:( So I got the MH back in late Jan. after they fixed everything.  >:( So basically the MH sat from Thanksgiving to end of Jan. Unplugged, batteries died and froze.  >:( Around that time. The temps was close to zero during the nights. General RV wouldn't cut me any deals for new batteries  either.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: SargeW on October 28, 2016, 06:56:28 AM
Wow Russ, I think I would have been screaming like a stuck pig! That whole scenario seems to be their fault, they should have given you new batteries on their dime!
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: kdbgoat on October 28, 2016, 07:06:02 AM
Or at least a pro-rated discount. >:(
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Russ+Chris on October 28, 2016, 08:45:25 PM
I'll never do business with them again. Unless it's something I can't get somewhere else. As they are the closest Fleetwood dealer to me.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Tebpac on October 30, 2016, 03:48:11 PM
Getting a great education here!  We're on the search for our first TT and I was reading about batteries.  I read somewhere else about wiring batteries in parallel series and was like  :o. Now after seeing SargeW's set up and reading the battery PDF's in the library, I have a better understanding.  Thanks to all.  BTW, has anyone used the Odyssey Battery for their RV/TT?  I use one in my motorcycle and wondered if it has an applicable use in the TT?

Todd
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: SargeW on October 30, 2016, 05:14:33 PM
Good deal Todd. That's what the forum is for!  And I find that pics usually help with understanding a situation.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Abendage on October 31, 2016, 03:11:33 PM
I have a pair of 6V GC2's from Batteries+ and 200 watts of Renogy solar on the roof. I don't use my rig as extensively as some here but we got in 32 nights of camping this year, and the lowest I drained the batteries was 65% (have a Victron monitor installed) on Labor Day running 2 Traeger Grills overnight for 15 hours on an inverter (awesome briskets!), the furnace, radio, lights and other normal 12v loads. I put the batteries and solar system in in January and checked the water levels once a month. Finally in August, I decided to top them off for good measure, not cause they needed it.  I also just checked them when I winterized it 2 weeks ago and they are fine. So, next year I think I'll check them once in the spring and once in late summer and not worry about it otherwise. I have noticed, using solar exclusively to charge has greatly reduced water consumption.  Your mileage may vary, but I'm tickled pink with the GC2's and Renogy setups, especially not having to worry about the batteries in storage all winter. They'll get warmed up and charged everyday the sun is out, which here in CO is almost everyday.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: AStravelers on November 17, 2016, 01:25:37 PM
One thing I didn't see in Gary's article and I didn't see mentioned in other replies, is how far to discharge the batteries.

--  For longest battery life, don't discharge more than 25% (i.e 75% full)

--  Never discharge more than 50%.  Discharging more than 50% significantly reduces the life of the battery.

This means if you have a pair of golf cart batteries, you start with about 220AH's of battery.  So don't use more than 100AH and for best life don't don't used more than 50AH before charging.

Additionally, if you don't charge the battery to 100% full frequently, that would be every 7-10 days, (every 3-5 days would be better) the batteries will sulfate and you won't get as much capacity from them. 

This 100% charging issue is one big reason trying to charge batteries with a generator while boondocking or dry camping doesn't work well. 

Charging the batteries to 100% takes a long time, many hours.  The charge rate is very high at the beginning, but quickly tapers off to 10 amp, then 5, and lastly 3-0 amps over the last several hours. 

A well designed solar system, used for extensive boondocking or dry camping, will, on a sunny day, bring your batteries to 90% or better in just 2-3 hours and then the next 2-6 hours of sun will top them off to the at or very near the 100% mark. 

You might wonder just how do you know how many AH's you have used.  You buy and install a battery monitor like a Trimetric.  https://www.solar-electric.com/bogart-engineering-tm-2030-rv-battery-monitor.html (https://www.solar-electric.com/bogart-engineering-tm-2030-rv-battery-monitor.html)  The battery monitor tracks and displays how many AH's that have been used and the % of battery life left. 

Without a battery monitor you are just shooting in the dark hoping you have not used to much of your capacity and not knowing just how much you have put back into the battery. 
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: JayGlo on November 26, 2016, 10:44:49 AM
We wanted to go with two 6V batteries and they wouldn't fit in the box.  After measuring, I was able to go from a size 24 to a size 31 @ 12V.  The cost difference was little and there is a lot more lead.  Next summer I hope to build a metal battery rack.  If you look around on YouTube you'll find a vid where a guy set up 6 Trojan batteries.  Wow a lot of power, but 450# and a thousand bucks worth!
Good luck.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: Ale_Brewer on January 17, 2017, 07:30:01 PM
If I recall correctly, the Magnum inverter/charger you have (very nice unit), has circuitry included that will understand when the rig is plugged into shore or generator power vs unplugged and operate accordingly.  The tech the OP worked with, I suspect  was likely referring to the more basic and perhaps older models which were inverters only and in order to remain on when plugged into shore power, would require a relay to be wired between the inverter and the rigs power or for the converter to be switched off to prevent a conflict.

Gizmo is correct. That model inverter (very nice, indeed!) has a built-in transfer switch. An automatic transfer switch to be more specific, or ATS. This detects shore power and switches over to battery when no shore power is present. Shore power is the default selection. Your inverter must be on for the ATS to function. They used to say not to turn the inverter on when connected to shore power on the older stuff because it would "back feed" into the shore connection but you don't have to worry about that with your setup.

The battery that I would recommend the highest is the Fullriver 6V AGM. They are very nicely priced at just above $1/Ah and have a 7yr warranty.
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: blowout100 on April 13, 2017, 01:46:55 PM
General RV is a mess. We have had nothing but issues there as well. Had to schedule an appointment to pick up unit. The day we went to pick up our unit they did not have the unit prepped, the battery was DOA, and things they were supposed to have fixed were not.

Its nothing but a sales factory there. They goal is to turn and burn as many units as they can, without any level of customer service after you sign the paper work.

Avoid at all cost!
Title: Re: Battery- bang for your buck
Post by: John From Detroit on April 13, 2017, 07:03:59 PM
Which General RV was that (They have several stores)  My experience has been a bit mixed.  They screwed me at the time of sales it appears.. But that's another matter.

Only service complaints are the drip line on the Dometic Fridge.. But that one is almost funny.
And the Brake system install.. They messed up a piece of unneeded under dash trim, jamed the brake pedal arm and cost me a brake job WITH rotors... I tore the panel out and trashed it, As I said, not needed.
(It is supposed to be extended out via one of the vent holes in the outer fridge cover.. They did not do that.... Twice... And the 2nd time the technician assured me he ALWAYS did that (not).. Wixom store.

Some of their stores are diffidently better than others.