Leisure Battery Types

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by ChocNessie, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. ChocNessie

    ChocNessie Read Only Funster

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    There are lots of TYPES of leisure batteries out there but what type is best at what.
    Gel, Lead Acid, Carbon Fibre, Deep Cycle, etc etc ......

    I recently upgraded my motorhome and as the existing batteries were not holding charge they were replaced. Unfortunately I bought from Alan Kerr (that's another story) who promptly used the cheapest most useless batteries they could find.

    So only one year later I am looking to replace them again, but with what. I believe in quality so would rather pay a little extra for something that works well and can do the job.

    My MH has the topical 12v lighting system, so arriving on site you hook up the mains, for everything else telly for kids, hair dryer and microwave for the wife etc and although the batteries are fully charged the charger starts trickling. This seems silly as the lights draw like 4 to 6 amps from two batteries with 230 amp hours in total.

    This to me is odd as I thought batteries work best being discharged and then charged, rather than continuously not being allowed to discharge. This is the same when driving as I have a split charger sending uptown 50 amps to the vehicle battery and 70 amps to the leisure batteries.

    When I get to a site would the system benefit from turning the charger off and allowing the batteries to discharge a lot before charging. My charger has gone faulty in the last couple of days and when it is replaced I am considering having the charger switch moved somewhere more accessible. Currently it is under one of the seats (where my kids sit to travel) so does not encourage you to use it to improve battery life - if doing this now and again would indeed help?

    Also recently we have been running the Thetford fridge off my inverter whilst travelling as it really doesn't do fridgey things like keep the food cool on 12 volts. This works brilliantly by the way.

    So to the big discussion ........

    Are there any boffins out there that can tell me what is the best type of battery to buy :
    That provides high current draw short term when stationary and not hooked up, as the inverter could draw uptown 150 amps,
    That allows continuous 50 amp discharge and charge for whilst driving and running fridge and A/C from inverter.
    That can be topped up quickly from say 10% on arrival at a site and hooking up the mains charger.
    That can stand being continuously topped up at 99% when on site and hooked up.

    Well there is the question - can anyone help

    Many thanks

    Richard and Nessie .
     
  2. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    A good article here that will answer most of your questions and dispel some battery myths.

    http://www.sterling-power.com/support-faq-2.htm

    The 'best' for your requirements would be Deep Cycle lead acid Traction batteries as used by golf carts, floor scrubbers, aerial work platforms etc .. These are excellent, but pricey

    http://www.trojanbattery.com/

    If your budget is limited then buy cheap FLAs (flooded lead acid) .. which will do the job admirably .
     
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  3. aba

    aba

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    as said the fork lift / industrial floor scrubber type of battery are much better and if you source them properly they are not really that much more expensive for what you get.

    if you find in the yellow pages or even google for fork lift supply / hire centres locally they will be able to get you a good price on the industrial traction batteries.

    although i was surprised at how much heavier than a so-called leisure battery they are.
    i got 2 of these http://www.usbattery.com/usb_us12vxc.html for either £260 or £280 + vat cant really remember which. ( as i didn't get a receipt and paid cash :Wink: )
     
  4. Silkcut1105

    Silkcut1105 Funster Life Member

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    hi if you pm me i will give you an address for good varta 110amp leisure batterys .ive had 3 in my van now for 2 half years no probs at all.and they are an excellent price too.:thumb:
     
  5. bungle.bear

    bungle.bear Read Only Funster

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    As I see it, there is no point in buying traction batteries and deep cycle batteries if you are not using the capacity by always having a electric hook up. It would not matter if you had a 65Ahr cheap battery or 800Ahr of Trojan AGM's. the end result is that the charger is suppling the power when on hook up or the spilt charge is suppling the power when you are driving.

    Batteries work better if they are discharged(depending on type a max of 50%) and then recharged. One thing to note is that in most motorhomes the battery charger supplied is the cheapest one available, single stage and is not designed to be left on permantly as this will boil the batteries.

    My advice would be to upgrade the battery charger to a Ctek, victron, mastervolt or Stirling multi stage unit, before you waste your money on expensive batteries that your oridgnal charger is not designed to charge.

    You may also want to think about adding a proper battery charge monitor, like a victron BMV600 or a NASA BMV. these will allow you to see the capacity of the batteries as a percentage, rather than just a voltage. so you can see if the batteries are fully charged rather than just a surface voltage. These will also allow you to read current in and out of the batteries, so you can see discharge and charging.

    Regards Anthony
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  6. haganap

    haganap Funster Life Member

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    A lot of good advice given so far.

    I would be surprised and amazed if you are getting 50amps of charge whilst driving or on hook up unless you have made changes.

    Anthony is correct to recommend a multi stage charging system. I have just fitted a Sterling Battery to Battery charger on my van giving in excess of 50 amps with the van on tick over. Ideal for topping up the batteries or running the inverter to dry hair and microwave a quick tax free Pasty.

    As already mentioned Traction batteries are better batteries because generally they can be discharged to 25% giving more longevity for being away. But, as Anthony says they are going to be useless for you if your spending most of your time on hook up?

    We never have hook up, (or very rarely) have a child with a hungry gaming laptop constantly needing charging, a wife with long hair that constantly needs charging and of course a TV etc etc.

    My set up now consists of two 110 amp batteries, 1 80w solar panel a Nasa battery monitor BM1 (super bit of kit) and a 50 amp Sterling power battery to battery charger. Being a Brit van I have also fitted a switch to allow me to run the engine without dropping all the 12v power so essentially I can keep the lights tv etc on whilst running the engine like in my previous Euro van. On top of this I have a 1500w Proper inverter that allows for pulling power for hair dryers etc.

    This has cured all of my power problems, allowing super fast recharge of discharged batteries when wild camping. I do still have my little Honda 10i genny just in case. I have been studying it for months and months because the sterling isn't cheap. But I am now over the moon having tried it and used the Nasa BM1 to show everything that is happening.
    My next quest is for those Traction Batteries but as my current ones are 6 months old I need to wait for them to die before I replace them
    I will be updating my blog in a few days to show how it was all fitted :thumb:
     
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  7. Terry

    Terry Funster

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    Hi Richard and Nessie I think from reading your post you are a little confused or I am :BigGrin:Firstly go for the cheapest option and get your fridge cold on hook up at home or on gas for a couple of hours.Turn it to 12v with engine running (it should only work on 12v while the engine is running):Wink:That way you do not need the inverter.Read Jims link on battery's and it will basically tell you cheapest FLA batts work fine but do check fluid levels every 3/4 mths so not to dry them out.Leaving your charger on will not harm them at all and I assume you have a charger built in your van.You will not gain nothing by turning the charger off and letting the battery discharge except to take longer for the charger to charge it back up :BigGrin: Just leave it turned on and forget it :thumb:
    If your split relay is sending 70 amps to your L/Bs then they must be flat :Doh: The split charger usually splits running/charging L/B and fridge but the fridge will only maintain it's coldness rather than cool it while on 12v :thumb: hence getting it cold on HU or using gas :Smile:
    If your charger has gone kaput then look at one of the above recommendations or do a search for 20/40 amp 3 way/4 way chargers you will find some for around £160 ish last time I looked :Wink::BigGrin:
    terry
     
  8. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Most onboard battery chargers are dual purpose items.

    a battery charger when needed and a power supply when not charging.

    its normal on hookup to have the charger supply the 12v up to its max output then the batteries supply the excess current over and above the chargers ability.
    stay within the charger/power supplies output and the batteries are effectively redundant, receiving a minimal maintenance charge to keep them topped up and ready for 'off grid' use.

    lead acid batteries will last for many years if left on a minimal maintenance charge but the more times they are charged and discharged the shorter their life will become.
     
  9. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    I have the 25amp version of this charger (may be discontinued as i can only find the 18amp version) hardwired as an emergency backup charger/power supply in the RV, just in case the onboard 45amp converter fails.


    http://www.amperorassociates.co.uk/c-battery_chargers/BatteryC-3_18A.html

    the 45amp jobby supplies all 12v power in the RV and will also charge the batteries at 45amps if totally flat (10.5v) reducing to a float charge as the batteries become fully charged (12.7v) and maintain them at that voltage indefinitely.

    http://www.progressivedyn.com/prod_details/rv_conv/rv_converter_pd9245c_2.html
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
  10. Gunner29

    Gunner29 Read Only Funster

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    Elecsol

    I needed a new leisure bty and a friend who knows these things, recommended the Elecsol 110amp carbon fibre one from Van Bitz but I am now wondering if I have done the correct thing having read other posts However my friend wild camps and has had good service from his. Do I have reason to worry?????:Eeek:
     
  11. ChocNessie

    ChocNessie Read Only Funster

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    Thanks fo all the advice - in summary.....

    The existing charger that failed is a multi-stage charger an I will be replacing with a similar but more powerful one.

    The Thetford fridge we have in this one is useless on 12v plus we leave it on the inverter when we stop during a journey lay-bys etc with no hook up. Another reason for wanting good batteries.

    We don't always have hook up, we do wild camp as well, but when it is there we always use it - why not, no point charging up and then unplugging.

    The van may have been altered slightly. It has a 150 amp alternator and is split 50 to vehicle battery and 70 to leisure, this was to accommodate the additional battery I think

    Also had a NASA monitor fitted myself, hence I know what the batteries that are fitted are doing.

    Thanks again to all that replied.

    I will certainly research the fork lift batteries. I think my problem is I need a good all-rounder as we do a bit of everything. At least now I won't waste money on gel or AGM batteries.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  12. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Just checked the voltage on my battery bank, 4 x 110ah lead acid, which havnt been on hookup since middle of may and its showing 14.3v on my multimeter (may need a new 9v battery as the engine battery shows the same with no charge source :Doh:) with just 1 x 170watt panel providing charge.

    no sun when checked and i'll check again after dark.

    just shows if you don't need much power a solar panel is more than adequate
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  13. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    Shoot me down if I am wrong BUT...

    Lead batteries do not benefit from discharge/charge cycles this actually reduces their lifespan.

    The deeper the discharge or the more frequent the discharge the shorter the lifespan of any lead battery.

    The discharge/charge cycle only benefits the old nickel cadmium batteries which had a memory and would eventually hold very little if any charge if not discharged fully every few cycles.

    The newer nickel metal hydride didn't suffer from this as much if at all and the even newer Lithium Ion not at all....

    So keeping a lead acid battery on maintenance charge all the time is good for them.

    Take aim and shoot me down now if I am wrong...:Eeek:
     
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  14. scotjimland

    scotjimland Funster Life Member

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    Spot on .. :thumb:
     
  15. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    as Jim said 'spot on'

    they also benefit from a high voltage charge from time to time to 'stir' up the electolyte.

    My RV charger kicks ass every 21hrs for 15mins when in maintenance mode (12.7v).

    it ups the voltage to around 15v to make the battery gas a little and de-stratify (re-mix) the electrolyte
     
  16. Organplayer

    Organplayer Funster

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    organplayer

    On a non technical note, I remember a survey/test/exanination done by a contributer to the MMM magazine a while ago, and published in that magazine,where several l/batteries were cut open with a saw and the insides compared one against the other. I remember the make which came out top was Banner, for thicknes of the plates etc and construction qualities.Maybe worth a consideration. On a previous note on this thread, mention was made of the Sterling battery to battery charger. This is a super bit of kit and was installed for us by VanBitz, who really do know their business. Safe travels to us all.
     
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