leisure battery

May 19, 2015
191
105
Surrey
Funster No
36,453
MH
Rapido 741f
Exp
Newbie
For various reasons we have not been away in our van since the summer. We have taken it out for the day to keep the battery topped up but have not had anywhere to plug in to electrics. I had assumed the leisure battery got topped up when we drove it. My husband took the van out today but says that a light has come on for the 2nd battery. It was new 2 years ago. Does this mean we are not driving it far enough? Or does it just need plugged in more often? Excuse our ignorance! Can anyone explain what we need to know about keeping our batteries health!
 

magicsurfbus

Free Member
Oct 11, 2010
4,685
10,158
NW England
Funster No
14,057
MH
Bessacarr Coachbuilt
Exp
Since 1997
My MH has a battery level monitor that I can view remotely with a phone or PC, and there's a solar panel on the roof. The battery was fitted brand new when we bought the vehicle in March. It's in outdoor storage a few miles from home.

Since the end of November I've been having to bring the MH home and hook it up to the mains for at least 24 hours every 2-3 weeks to stop the battery's resting voltage from getting too low, ie below 12.2v. I use the standard hook up cable with a 3 pin adapter on one end plugged into a house socket. A healthy resting voltage is 12.7v, so it doesn't take much of a drop to put it at risk.

It's a combination of cold weather, frost on the solar panel and low sunlight levels that causes the voltage to drop this way. By March the sun will be high enough in the sky for the solar panel to do its stuff again. It was the same with our previous camper, and the leisure battery lasted 8 years.

Another factor might be the type of battery you have - some are more resilient to discharge than others. If you've got a solar panel, having the correct charge controller for the battery type is also important.
 
Feb 9, 2008
7,450
13,145
Corby, Northants
Funster No
1,455
MH
Coach Built
Exp
Since 2007
You dont say how long the vehicle is off 'hook up' between drives and how long the drives are. I'll keep this as short as possible as other members will be along shortly to add their recommendations.
Relying on driving alone to keep your leisure battery topped up is not the best way to maintain your batteries. Your best option would be to have it on hook up and leave it to the charger to maintain the batteries assuming it's a modern charger in your motorhome. Alternatively, your next best option would be to fit solar panels, the more the merrier, you can never have too much solar power. Lastly fit a B2B charger if your only option is to charge your batteries whilst driving.

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OP
Lizi
May 19, 2015
191
105
Surrey
Funster No
36,453
MH
Rapido 741f
Exp
Newbie
Thank you. We cannot bring it home as there is no space//drive. Last year we stayed away in it at least once a month so I guess that is why it didn't happen. I think I will book us in somewhere for at least a night to top up fully!
 
Feb 9, 2008
7,450
13,145
Corby, Northants
Funster No
1,455
MH
Coach Built
Exp
Since 2007
Thank you. We cannot bring it home as there is no space//drive. Last year we stayed away in it at least once a month so I guess that is why it didn't happen. I think I will book us in somewhere for at least a night to top up fully!
That is not the smart way of dealing with your problem as your going to be continually throwing money at it with the same result. If you keep allowing your batteries to discharge they will soon become useless. Also, it may take more than 24 hours to fully charge your batteries dependant on how many batteries you have, the type and size. The most economical option for you is to fit solar panels. The initial outlay may be several hundreds of pounds (cheaper if you can do it yourself) otherwise there will be no end to flat batteries and money spent putting it on a campsite for 24 hrs. Do you have a friend who has a secure location with lecce that you could use?
 
OP
Lizi
May 19, 2015
191
105
Surrey
Funster No
36,453
MH
Rapido 741f
Exp
Newbie
We have solar panels fitted already. In the normal course of events, we would use the motorhome more than this year and last year the problem did not occur. We will be away 3 weeks in it from mid-March and then it will be used every few weeks at least. So, do you think it will need 2 nights away in it to bring it up to full. I don't want to render the battery useless all for want of a night or two. Sadly, we don't have anywhere it could be plugged in unless on a site - no friends with drive etc.

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Feb 9, 2008
7,450
13,145
Corby, Northants
Funster No
1,455
MH
Coach Built
Exp
Since 2007
We have solar panels fitted already.
LOL! Have you checked what your battery levels are ? How many panels do you have fitted and at what size? You may not have a problem at all ? what was the light that came on for the second battery? Have you read and understood the operating manuals that came with the motorhome?
 
Dec 12, 2010
4,032
12,949
Cumbria
Funster No
14,651
MH
C Class
Exp
since 2011
We were unable to use our van from July to December this year, our 150 watt solar panel has kept two 110 ah hab batteries and the vehicle battery charged. What setup have you got fitted ?
 
OP
Lizi
May 19, 2015
191
105
Surrey
Funster No
36,453
MH
Rapido 741f
Exp
Newbie
I will check and re-read anything we have when I get home - I hope my husband knows more than me! It is not a new van (2002) and solar panels were not fitted by us. We are relatively new to motorhoming and very much learning as we go and as problems crop up. Perhaps not the best way to be ...

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Feb 9, 2008
7,450
13,145
Corby, Northants
Funster No
1,455
MH
Coach Built
Exp
Since 2007
I will check and re-read anything we have when I get home - I hope my husband knows more than me! It is not a new van (2002) and solar panels were not fitted by us. We are relatively new to motorhoming and very much learning as we go and as problems crop up. Perhaps not the best way to be ...
A great way to be. It's an adventure. I'm sure everything is fine, just make sure your solar panels also charge your cab battery. Safe travels.
 
May 7, 2016
4,320
5,920
Poole, Dorset
Funster No
42,951
MH
Carthago Compactline
Exp
Since 2003
I have rarely found driving a very effective way of topping up the leisure battery. In my older motorhomes I suspect voltage drop along undersized cables was part of the problem. My latest one has a smart alternator as part of the Euro 6 set up and apparently this automatically reduces the voltage as soon as the engine battery is charged, so there is little hope of much charge getting through to the leisure battery. I have bought, but not yet fitted, a Votronics 1212-45 battery to battery charger to overcome the problem. I chose this model because it is designed to work with an existing Schaudt EBL.
I too have no hook up at my storage location and sometimes want to boost the leisure battery before the first night.
 

maxi77

Free Member
Mar 20, 2013
892
560
Kingdom of Fife
Funster No
25,172
MH
coacbuilt
Exp
newbie
In general driving is not an effective way of recharging severely discharged starter or leisure batteries. The alternator control system is designed to cope with the starting load and the power needs of lights etc. This is why many fit battery to battery chargers which convince the alternator regulator to produce more power. Solar is a good way of coping with battery self discharge if ehu is not available.

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Aug 18, 2011
10,578
14,454
derbys
Funster No
17,808
MH
AUTOSLEEPER SYMBOL
Exp
since 2007.Tugger before since 1970
Thank you. We cannot bring it home as there is no space//drive. Last year we stayed away in it at least once a month so I guess that is why it didn't happen. I think I will book us in somewhere for at least a night to top up fully!

Bring the battery home and put it on a trickle charge,,BUSBY.
 

Dare_Devil_Dennis

Free Member
Apr 22, 2017
296
205
Derby
Funster No
48,269
MH
Coachbuilt
Exp
Newbie
Get one of these, Charge your leisure battery and use this switch to disconnect it so it won't drain.

s-l500.jpg


https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CARAVAN-...371892318420?_trksid=p2385738.m4383.l4275.c10
 

Dare_Devil_Dennis

Free Member
Apr 22, 2017
296
205
Derby
Funster No
48,269
MH
Coachbuilt
Exp
Newbie
You are correct.

However (you saw a "however" coming, right?) the switch will eliminate all the loads that you may have forgotten about, like that TV antenna amplifier that is hidden in that cupboard.

Also, self discharge is affected by all sorts of factors such as battery type and temperature. In this, Calcium batteries perform best. they will reputedly retain up to 80% of their charge after 12 months in storage when fully charged. Calcium batteries are common now for leisure batteries. "Normal" lead acid types reputedly lose 4-6% per month through self discharge.

At lower temperatures, like over the winter when our M/Hs are in storage, the effect is less.

It is not likely that your leisure battery(ies) will be flat or over discharged when recovering your pride and joy from storage if you isolated it first. Part of your prep for going away will surely be to connect to an EHU to get the fridge cold and test that everything works while loading up. (After remembering to reconnect the batteries by closing the switch). This will quickly return you to 100% charge.

For a tenner for a switch, you get great peace of mind.
 

maxi77

Free Member
Mar 20, 2013
892
560
Kingdom of Fife
Funster No
25,172
MH
coacbuilt
Exp
newbie

I would not dispute that modern battery chemistry and construction has far better life and performance than the batteries of my youth. Also at the end of the report it does state that this was shelf life and by implication of new batteries not batteries that had been used, shake rattled and rolled and so on. I do not have a switch such as yours on my motorhome partly because it is always on EHU at home and also because the 12v master switch does disconnent all circuits other than the main ceiling light which is handy when the van is covered. The critical point for the OP is that even an hours run is unlikely to bring a 'flat' battery up to a decent charge level and really it needs 24 to 48 hours on a decent charger before being returned to use and in future some form of trickle charge during storage will be beneficial
 
Aug 18, 2011
10,578
14,454
derbys
Funster No
17,808
MH
AUTOSLEEPER SYMBOL
Exp
since 2007.Tugger before since 1970
Just found out my leisure battery is knackered,,,only had it 18 months but can't find receipt anywhere,,,,Still under warranty but bought it on line and can't remember where from,,BUSBY:(:(
 

DBK

LIFE MEMBER
Jan 9, 2013
16,355
38,371
Plympton, Devon
Funster No
24,219
MH
PVC, Murvi Morocco
Exp
2013
I will check and re-read anything we have when I get home - I hope my husband knows more than me! It is not a new van (2002) and solar panels were not fitted by us. We are relatively new to motorhoming and very much learning as we go and as problems crop up. Perhaps not the best way to be ...
I wouldn't worry about the size of the solar panel(s). Almost anything bigger than a postage stamp will keep the leisure batteries topped up. We can speculate all day but I think you need to know what voltage they are showing first. If you don't have a meter built in (I wouldn't be without ours) then a £10 job from Screwfix or somewhere like that will let you check the battery voltage. If the solar is working then on a sunny day, even in winter, you should see something around 13.6 to 13.8 volts, more or less. At the other end of the scale, anything less than 12 is bad and anything less than say about 11 is potentially terminal. My guess is the batteries are time expired but I wouldn't rush to replace them until you have done a bit of fault finding first. Even if they are failing they shouldn't being going flat if you have a solar panel - if it is working of course. :)

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pappajohn

LIFE MEMBER
Aug 26, 2007
40,366
38,123
Dark side of the moon
Funster No
172
Exp
Since 2005
Not used or charged since summer.......
Forget trying to charge it, you're waiting time and electric trying, you NEVER will.
Your two year old battery is deceased, dead, kaput, knackered and no amount of charging will get a pulse.
 

filopastry

Free Member
Nov 11, 2013
1,018
1,735
london
Funster No
28,978
MH
littleun
Exp
newbie and learning every day
@busby if you paid by cheque check your bank account, paypal see their website same with credit cards .... cash ... you are up the spout.:cry::cry:
 
Aug 18, 2011
10,578
14,454
derbys
Funster No
17,808
MH
AUTOSLEEPER SYMBOL
Exp
since 2007.Tugger before since 1970
@busby if you paid by cheque check your bank account, paypal see their website same with credit cards .... cash ... you are up the spout.:cry::cry:

Got to go to the bank to get the statement,,,Cant believe i have got statements up until two weeks after i bought it,,Will find out monday,,Thanks,,BUSBY,,

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maxi77

Free Member
Mar 20, 2013
892
560
Kingdom of Fife
Funster No
25,172
MH
coacbuilt
Exp
newbie
Just found out my leisure battery is knackered,,,only had it 18 months but can't find receipt anywhere,,,,Still under warranty but bought it on line and can't remember where from,,BUSBY:(:(

Which is why I keep purchase confirmation emails for several years. Also if you bought it on Ebay you should be able to look further back than that in your account
 
OP
Lizi
May 19, 2015
191
105
Surrey
Funster No
36,453
MH
Rapido 741f
Exp
Newbie
thank you for all the help. We have booked a campsite for next weekend so it will be on charge for 48 hours and will look into one of the switch things.
 
Feb 5, 2009
660
778
South Essex
Funster No
5,558
MH
A Class
Exp
15 in MH, 15 in Caravan
...and will look into one of the switch things.
Might be worth checking you don't have a tracker fitted first, and if so, how it's powered. Don't want to be turning that off, I don't suppose !!!!

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