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Old 05-13-2013, 11:03 PM   #1
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Battery Life

We are heading into our fourth season with our Escape, and still have our original dual 6V batteries, with factory solar. I take the batteries out each winter and store them in a heated garage, but do not charge them (I know I should). On the weekend I hooked them up, and expected them to rebound to 100 percent, as they always do. After two days they are only at 50 percent. I have never added water (I know I should), but I have checked the levels, and the plates have always been covered. I have now topped them up with distilled water. Tonight I plugged the trailer in to give them a boost, but I'm wondering if my batteries may just need replacing. How long can you expect the batteries to last?
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:07 AM   #2
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One of the biggest things that wears on lead acid batteries is to let the voltage drop low and stay there. There is no problem with them being in freezing temps if the charge is maintained (most vehicles use them). You could have them load tested by a good shop, and they could let you know their state. Sometimes a good equalize charge will help, as it charges at a higher voltage for a short bit, and helps those individual cells that have dropped off really bad.

My batteries lasted 4 years and were in fairly good shape still last fall, but I did a boneheaded thing. I plugged my trailer a few times over the winter while in storage, and this right after using in at Thanksgiving (the Canadian one) for 3 nights so the charge would be down, and never thought to check that it was in fact charging. Well, the breaker had been turned off and I never realized it. Soooooo.... the fairly discharged batteries were left out over winter and never got any charging on them. I ended up buying a couple Trojan T-102's on sale, that still cost me $300.
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:14 AM   #3
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I think you have everything right, or wrong depending on your point of view. You did more than I do with taking them out for winter storage. I do not trickle charge in the winter. Our batteries are close to the same age and I have not noticed any degradation. One option before following Jim's advice would be to put them on a seperate charger from the onboard Escape controller.

The problem with dual 6 volt is if one goes bad they both have to be replaced. I have heard that six + years of use is possible.
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:40 AM   #4
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The charge controllers in our Escape's work much better than most of the battery chargers we have in our garages. A good charge controller charges in 3 stages, (1)constant current, (2)topping and (3)float, depending on the state of discharge. The first stage is a faster charge for really low batteries, the second is for topping up after use, and the latter is for maintaining the voltage that is lost from just sitting around. Most of the chargers we buy from an automotive store only do the first type of charging, and should only be used to bring a battery up to its desired voltage, and not for a maintenance charge.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:16 AM   #5
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Jim , you are correct about the battery chargers, I have used a regular charger on the "75 amp boost" mode while monitoring the voltage and with the caps off the batteries to get them nicely bubbling in a equalization charge for about a hr . I did this on my old batteries and was able to get another year out of them. I had to get use the boost mode to get the voltage up over 15 volts.
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Old 05-14-2013, 08:32 AM   #6
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:11 AM   #7
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One complaint I have read about regarding the chargers/controllers provided by Escape is they are very slow. Now this is coming from someone who does not own a charger so I have nothing to compare. That model of charger is widespread in RV's and some other forums had some critical comments regarding time.

The Escape provided charger does the three levels that Jim describes, but you cannot select which one, it is all dependent on the charge in your battery and current draw. Does a seperate or independent charger allow you to select how to charge the battery?
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
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I bought a charger last summer that does all four charges but is automatic and the different charges can not be selected.
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave macrae View Post
I bought a charger last summer that does all four charges but is automatic and the different charges can not be selected.
Is the fourth an equalize charge? This is something that our trailers don't have, but would be nice to be able to do once in a while.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:02 PM   #10
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Thats what i believe, I actually found that even my 4 stage charger didn't do a very good job of the equalization charge, I had the best luck doing it manually with my old charger. It seemd to bring back my old batteries quite well.
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:53 PM   #11
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I ordered the digital 400 to try out
OPTIMA® Digital 1200 Charger 12V Performance Charger :: OPTIMA® Batteries
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Old 05-14-2013, 01:38 PM   #12
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That looks like a decent charger.
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Old 05-14-2013, 01:56 PM   #13
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The one I bought was a Pro-logix
Part No. PL2216 . I got it from greggs distributors.
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Old 05-14-2013, 02:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave macrae
I bought a charger last summer that does all four charges but is automatic and the different charges can not be selected.
Is the fourth an equalize charge? This is something that our trailers don't have, but would be nice to be able to do once in a while.
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I think it is called a "sulfating" mode, where it boils the sulfites off the plate with high volts.
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:29 PM   #15
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Is that not also called the "equalization" charge ?
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:36 PM   #16
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Yes, another name for equalization. Then you have bulk, absorption,float are the others.
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Old 05-14-2013, 04:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
One complaint I have read about regarding the chargers/controllers provided by Escape is they are very slow. Now this is coming from someone who does not own a charger so I have nothing to compare. That model of charger is widespread in RV's and some other forums had some critical comments regarding time.

The Escape provided charger does the three levels that Jim describes, but you cannot select which one, it is all dependent on the charge in your battery and current draw. Does a separate or independent charger allow you to select how to charge the battery?
I replaced the controller that came with my Escape with a 4 stage controller made by PowerMax that takes the bulk charge voltage up to 14.6 volts (close enough) which is about where it should be for the 6 volts batteries we have. I get a quicker, more complete battery charge now. I also upgraged my solar charge system with a Morningstar Tristar charge controller that I can adjust and program. It bulk charges to 14.8 volts where it should for these big wet cell batteries.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:17 PM   #18
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I think the best charger for a battery is solar, solar systems are gentler that a/c converters, I have been told.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:59 PM   #19
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I think the best charger for a battery is solar, solar systems are gentler that a/c converters, I have been told.
Jim, you are right! I've read that solar controllers manage charging better because they have to. The amount of charge voltage and power from the panels varies depending on the sun but batteries cannot be over-charged (too much voltage for too long) or they will be damaged. They also need to charge efficiently when the sun is available. The latest solar controllers are really high tech. My Tristar controller is used in many commercial applications that are remote and not monitored on a daily basis. It has to be very efficient and very reliable.

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Old 05-14-2013, 07:21 PM   #20
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Folks that have the Escape trailer solar option have an additional separate charger, user configurable for flooded cell, AGM, or Gel type batteries. This controller includes a equalizing algorithm that applies equalization to flooded cell types for 2 hours every 28 days and whenever the voltage has dropped below 12.1 volts. As long as the trailer is being stored with direct daylight available to the solar cell the battery(s) shouldn't be removed/disconnected for storage.
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