Battery care in winter

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Denny, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. Denny

    Denny Read Only Funster

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    Hi, I'm fairly new to motorhoming having bought a 2004 Dethleffs Globetrotter Advantage last February. We had no trouble with either battery throughout the summer, even when hooked up for a week at a time. The trouble started during the very cold weather when the motorhome was standing on our drive for weeks on end. I had given it a 10 mile run every few weeks, it had started up with very little trouble, until one day the battery was flat ! When I opened the cab door the 'COBRA' alarm, we had fitted by a local company, went off and would not stop for about half an hour. I went out and bought a 'RAC' heavy duty battery charger and trickle charged the battery over 48 hours having first disconnected the negative terminal only. The MH. started without any trouble and I took it to our local Halfords where they very kindly checked the battery and gave me a printout showing that it was in good condition and the alternator was working fine.
    However, since then, the starter battery goes completely flat within 3-4 days, when not in use. My worry is that this may cause long term damage.
    My question is, should I keep the charger connected and on trickle all the time, or just charge it up every 3 weeks to give it a run ? Also, will this problem go away when the warmer weather comes back ?
    Any advise would be appreciated, Denny.
     
  2. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    Hi Denny,
    As im sure you are no doubt now aware. Cold can kill a battery in no time at all.
    If the van is at home and you have the option to do so then I would personaly just use a trickle charger on it. Alarms do drain batteries, although prior to having mine fitted last week some people (not the actual fitter) claimed that there would never be a problem with battery following the fitting of an alarm.
    Once the cold weather goes, the problem won't be as evident as long as the van is getting plenty of use.
    Im off to the alps in two weeks and have a self contained jump starter that I brought for £49. Yet to use it on the MH but have on the car :Blush: But nethertheless a very handy bit of kit to have in your tool box if you get worried or get it wrong.
     
  3. Denny

    Denny Read Only Funster

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    Re battery problem.

    Thanks for your speedy response Haganap. My charger also has a jump starter but I'm not sure if it is safe to use it on the MH. in case it damages the electrics. :RollEyes:
     
  4. pudseykeith

    pudseykeith Read Only Funster

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    Hi Denny.
    Re the alarm you have just fitted. I am given to beleave that any alarm and that includes vehicle alarms should only sound the alarm for a short period of time and then reset itself. If your alarm ran on for such a long period of time, maybe it should be checked to see if it is malfunctioning. Just a thought. If you have charged the battery to full charge and it go's flat in a couple of days, the chances are the battery is duff. But before you condemb it, make sure that the battery turminals are clean and tight. Once clean fit the clamps using petrolium jelly.
    A normal starter battery should take a jump start from your charger.
    Also an alarm left set for 2 or 3 weeks will soften or flatten you battery. :thumb:

    Pudseykeith [PK]
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  5. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Hi Denny,as already said the alarm will flatten the battery.
    If you have an Aldi nearby and if they have any left :Rofl1: buy one of there Auto chargers for £12.50 these are 3 stage chargers and you can leave them plugged in with no damage to the battery (may even do it good )Ctek also do one almost the same but they are £40 ish :Rofl1:
    terry:thumb:
     
  6. Denny

    Denny Read Only Funster

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    Winter battery care

    Thanks ( PK ) and Terry for your replies. Denny.:thumb:
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  7. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Two things to consider.
    Firstly, a 10 mile run will not re-charge a discharged battery. Remember that the alternator has to charge both the vehicle and leisure batteries (assuming the leisure has lost some charge too).
    Secondly, most motorhomes made by the Hymer Group (and that includes Dethleffs) use a Schaudt Electroblock charger. This is a clever piece of kit that charges the leisure batteries on hook-up at up to 18 amps, then float charges the vehicle battery at 2 amps. Check if your Globetrotter has this facility. I note on the Dethleffs website that the current Globetrotter does have it. Since your van is one year younger than my Hymer, I suspect it has one too.

    So my recommendation would be to leave your van hooked up to mains when it is stored on the drive. The charger is intelligent and will cut back the charging current once batteries are 'full', thus preventing over-charging. Meanwhile, it is unusual for the vehicle battery to lose all charge, so I would suspect some current drain somewhere even when the ignition is off. Have you got other accessories like reversing camera, radio etc., wired to the vehicle battery and permanently on or in standby mode?
     
  8. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    Does you van have a water tank heater to prevent water freezing, if so that could be the root cause of your problem if connected to main rather than leisure batteries other wise somethink is being left switched on, you could always disconect the battery in the winter and take it indoors.
     
  9. Denny

    Denny Read Only Funster

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    Thanks WILDMAN, My MH does not have a watertank heater, but thanks for your comments.
    Thanks for your comments too JeanLuc, How do I check if my MH has a Schaudt Electroblock charger, and does it charge the leisure battery first, then top up the starter battery ?
    Incidentally, I removed the radio front but it is connected to the battery and not the ignition.
    Disconnecting the battery is by no means simple as the positive side has a large plate connected to it and is very difficult to access.
     
  10. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Firstly, look in the manual. That should contain a section about the charger and indicate its location.
    If you don't have a manual (I should contact Dethleffs and get one - they can often be downloaded in pdf form) then you will have to find the charger. If it is a Schaudt, it will be a blue box about 275 mm wide by 130 mm high with a white front panel. This has lots of connectors, fuses and a main switch on it. On a 2004 van I would expect it to be a model EBL99 or EBL100. Typically, they are located under the driver's seat (LHD) or in one of the overhead lockers. Here is a link to the Schaudt website showing a model EBL220 with an EBL100 pictured below it:
    Schaudt GmbH: Batterieladesysteme

    Regarding order of charging, I don't know the answer. I suspect that both Leisure and Starter Batteries are charged at the same time. Be aware though that the Starter Battery is only float charged, whilst the Leisure Battery is fully charged. The EBL will keep the Starter Battery topped up but will not restore it to full health if it has been completely discharged. For that you need to take the Starter Battery out of the circuit and use (ideally) an intelligent multi-stage charger to get it back to pristine condition. Trickle chargers will not do this as I understand it. For some really useful advice on batteries and chargers - look at the Roadpro website. However, once you have things sorted out, I would be inclined to rely on the Schaudt system (if you have it) to keep everything topped up. Mine is pretty much a 'plug in and forget' system.
     
  11. derekfaeberwick

    derekfaeberwick Read Only Funster

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    Great info JeanLuc. Just what is needed on the site.Many thanks.
     
  12. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    You aren't the bloke who lives just down the road from me are you? :RollEyes:

    That's not moved an inch for the past seven months......i thought it had become an exhibition piece.
     
  13. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    good idea roger but.....youre forgetting it has a very expensive 'cobra' alarm system fitted which likes to have a battery connected to it..:Rofl1::Rofl1:

    i dont think the built-in backup battery will last all that long.:Sad:
     
  14. TonyIsh UK

    TonyIsh UK Read Only Funster

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    I use as couple Halfrauds maintenance chargers. About £20 each in the sale run on a time switch. (about 500ma charge when voltage is reached)

    This way I am not using the M/home 12volt unit which generally does not supply a high enough voltage to keep the batteries in good shape. (Lot of amps, but not the 13 plus volts needed to maintain the battery above a level that prevents sulphating up).

    Has worked fine for a couple of years.

    Rgds
     
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