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Old 11-02-2014, 12:42 PM   #1
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Battery basic questions

Hi Folks,

Can you help me with my infantile battery questions or point me to a relevant post?

Why do forum folk recommend that batteries be removed for winter storage? Does proper storage really make a difference for battery life?

Also, I never have any idea how much juice my batteries hold so I guess I should buy something to measure with. Is a digital voltmeter what I need? If so, the prices are all over the map. I think I just need a basic one. Any recommendations on voltmeter.

My Escape is stored outside in Western Washington state. If temps matter for battery storage. We rarely have extended temps under 30 degrees F but you never know.

Also, while inspecting and cleaning up this fall i noticed a nickle sized abrasion/dent/hole in the fiberglass on her underside. Should I have this repaired?

thanks in advance for any information.

- Jane
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Old 11-02-2014, 01:00 PM   #2
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Same weather here in BC.
My battery remains on the back bumper where it is installed. I plug the trailer in to AC. Just remember to check the water levels in the battery from time to time.
I have a $12.95 voltmeter that plugs into one of the DC outlets. Does the job. See post #9 in JRV Tank Monitor problems

That "hole" is likely a drain.
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Old 11-02-2014, 01:33 PM   #3
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If you keep the battery/s fully charged and the fluid level up, you do not need to worry about freezing.
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Old 11-02-2014, 02:03 PM   #4
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Our trailer has a number of small holes in the underside that are drains. I taped small pieces of metal screen door mesh over the holes. Once in another camper we had 20,000 honey bees build a hive inside.
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Old 11-02-2014, 02:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angler24 View Post
Does proper storage really make a difference for battery life?
Yes, but left in the trailer is proper, as long as they are kept adequately charged.

Quote:
Originally Posted by angler24 View Post
Also, I never have any idea how much juice my batteries hold so I guess I should buy something to measure with. Is a digital voltmeter what I need?
For monitoring in storage, a voltmeter is fine. No fancy features are required.
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Old 11-02-2014, 03:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angler24 View Post
Hi Folks,

I think I just need a basic one. Any recommendations on voltmeter.

Also, while inspecting and cleaning up this fall i noticed a nickle sized abrasion/dent/hole in the fiberglass on her underside. Should I have this repaired?

- Jane
Voltmeter: don't pay much more than $10. It will do everything you need to do.

Hole: post a photo if you can. What matters is how much abrasion there is. If the glass strands are exposed then they should be sealed otherwise they can wick up moisture.

Ron
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:29 PM   #7
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A Battery Tender will keep your battery topped up, you don't need to keep it on all the time, but you should periodically charge your batteries with it, battery plus sells them and they are not expensive. They have LEDs to indicate the state of the battery.image.jpg

Here in Florida the heat and humidity seems to be much worse for battery life than winters up North ever were.

I installed a cheap automotive 2 inch voltmeter in a cabinet on my large trailer and I will be doing the same on the Escape when I get it.
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Old 11-02-2014, 06:38 PM   #8
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I have a couple of these ( the junior model) and they seem to work great. I carry an auxiliary battery in the bed of my pickup and use the battery tender to top it up when I have 110 volt service.
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Old 11-02-2014, 08:35 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your informative replies! Of the many things to love about an Escape trailer, the forum is awesome.

Gbags, thanks I will leave my batteries in place and plug er in to AC.

Ron, I will post a photo. The 'abrasion' is right next to a drain hole. I will post something (whatever photo I can muster from the ground underneath a covered trailer )

Thanks all for battery advice and monitoring. I can rest assured that I am taking good care of it. Easier than I thought!

best to all,

- Jane
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Old 11-02-2014, 11:53 PM   #10
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Once in another camper we had 20,000 honey bees build a hive inside.
Was the honey good?
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Old 11-03-2014, 12:14 PM   #11
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We did get taste of it and it was good but the bee keeper we hired took the bulk of it as part payment. He took the bees too.
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Old 11-04-2014, 06:01 PM   #12
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You can get a digital volt-ohm meter for less than $10 at Harbor Freight. As a matter of fact, they have one free right now with any other purchase. You can use it for a variety of analysis useful in travel trailers.

Keeping the water level up and keeping the battery charged during storage are the main concerns. As long as the battery is charged it won't freeze.

Use a volt meter to check the charge monthly and charge as necessary. Check the water level while you're at it. Fill only with distilled water.

Never let your battery remain uncharged for any length of time as the sulfation that occurs as a normal part of the discharge can become more or less permanent lowering the capacity of the battery and shortening it's life.

Check out the 12 Volt Side of Life here: The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

On the first page here there is a handy color voltage chart you can download and print for future reference
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:20 PM   #13
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Just catching up on this subject...

Quote:
Originally Posted by padlin View Post
If you keep the battery/s fully charged and the fluid level up...
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Minimalist View Post
Keeping the water level up...
When adding that water...
Don't add until fully charged, except as necessary to just cover exposed lead plates (you don't want too much water).
Don't top it all the way up - there is supposed to be an air space at the top (you need to allow for expansion).

References (all saying the same things, just a little differently):(Remember when reading this type of guide that the type of battery supplied with an Escape is a flooded deep-cycle battery - not "AGM", or "gel", or "sealed", or "SLA", or "VRLA", or "maintenance free")

Battery electrolyte is much like transmission fluid, brake fluid, or engine coolant in your car as far as maintenance is concerned: adding inappropriately can be as bad as ignoring a low level.
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Old 12-20-2014, 05:43 PM   #14
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So I let my batteries go dead. I have the dual deep cycle 6v set up. I have read the 12 volt guy articles. I have never checked the battery fluids. Batteries are charged now, looking at a battery tender. My questions are: do I need to check fluids now? I assume yes, how do I do that? Which battery tender should I get and how do I instal it? I did switch the battery cut off switch to "off". I will eventually have the ability to plug trailer in at home, but that is not gonna happen for a while yet. Thanks in advance!
Kris
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Old 12-20-2014, 06:39 PM   #15
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I have never checked the battery fluids. Batteries are charged now, looking at a battery tender. My questions are: do I need to check fluids now? I assume yes, how do I do that?
Yes, now is the time. I suggest the references in my previous post - that probably makes more sense then trying to recreate a good description... but the fundamental points:
  • the plates need to be covered, but the space is not supposed to be full - there should be some sort of level marker in the battery
  • only add distilled water

Quote:
Originally Posted by FishBioGirl View Post
Which battery tender should I get and how do I instal it?
  1. One that is "automatic" or "intelligent"... some basic maintainers just stay on regardless of the battery's condition, and that's not good.
  2. One which the manufacturer recommends for a battery of at least the capacity you have (230 amp-hours).
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Old 12-21-2014, 06:49 PM   #16
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I know nothing about the duel 6 volt battery system, so I have to ask. When you charge them, is it done separately or together? If separately, do you use the 6 volt setting on a charger?

And what is the benefit of two 6 volt batteries over two 12 volt batteries?
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Old 12-21-2014, 06:52 PM   #17
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And what is the benefit of two 6 volt batteries over two 12 volt batteries?
Does ETI even build a trailer with two 12 volt batteries?
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:01 PM   #18
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I know nothing about the duel 6 volt battery system, so I have to ask. When you charge them, is it done separately or together? If separately, do you use the 6 volt setting on a charger?
Normally it is done together, so as far as charging is concerned it is just one big 12V battery. It can be done separately, in which case you would need to be careful to charge them to the same state (degree of charge), and you would use the 6V setting... preferably on two chargers (one per battery) at the same time. In practice, in an RV I think just about everybody (including anyone with the factory optional dual battery setup) just charges them together as one 12V set (so the charger is on the 12V setting).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slickheadhunter View Post
And what is the benefit of two 6 volt batteries over two 12 volt batteries?
The basic reason for two batteries is just to get lots of capacity without having a battery so heavy that you can't lift it. That can be done equally well with with two 12V batteries or with two 6V batteries.

There are two advantages to 6V over 12V if you are going with two batteries:
  1. in the setup with 6V batteries they are in series, so the same current flows though both batteries and there is little issue with keeping them balanced (each doing their share and aging in a matched fashion)
  2. 6V batteries of a size suitable for RVs and a type suitable for RV use are readily available and reasonably priced, in part because they are also used for some golf carts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Does ETI even build a trailer with two 12 volt batteries?
No, that configuration is not offered. It could easily be set up - using the same boxes as used for two 6V batteries - if someone wanted to go that way.
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:08 PM   #19
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Normally it is done together, so as far as charging is concerned it is just one big 12V battery. It can be done separately, in which case you would need to be careful to charge them to the same state (degree of charge), and you would use the 6V setting... preferably on two chargers (one per battery) at the same time. In practice, in an RV I think just about everybody (including anyone with the factory optional dual battery setup) just charges them together as one 12V set (so the charger is on the 12V setting).


The basic reason for two batteries is just to get lots of capacity without having a battery so heavy that you can't lift it. That can be done equally well with with two 12V batteries or with two 6V batteries.

There are two advantages to 6V over 12V if you are going with two batteries:
  1. in the setup with 6V batteries they are in series, so the same current flows though both batteries and there is little issue with keeping them balanced (each doing their share and aging in a matched fashion)
  2. 6V batteries of a size suitable for RVs and a type suitable for RV use are readily available and reasonably priced, in part because they are also used for some golf carts


No, that configuration is not offered. It could easily be set up - using the same boxes as used for two 6V batteries - if someone wanted to go that way.

Thanks Brian!
My last trailer had two 12 volt batteries and in my limited experience with trailers I've never run into a twin 6 volt set up.
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Old 12-21-2014, 07:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Does ETI even build a trailer with two 12 volt batteries?
No, my build is the closest they come. I told them I was going to a two bank system so they didn't weld on angle iron supports. They still had to sell me a trailer with an operable electrical system so they only bolted them on which saved me from having to cut them off.

Brian, you missed stating the advantage of two 12 V batteries. With two 12 V batteries and a multi-position battery switch you never have all your eggs in one basket. My battery switch is never in the "both" position. In the event of a negative electrical event only one battery will be drained leaving the second normally fully charged battery ready to use.

Ron
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