How Low A Battery Level Is Too Low? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 01-10-2017, 08:21 PM   #1
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How Low A Battery Level Is Too Low?

So just call me a noob. That's ok, I have not problem with that. When it comes to anything electrical (ok, you got me...when it comes to ANYTHING) I'm not too bright.

Here's the back story: We have the solar option and 2 6V batteries. We also are keeping our trailer in our driveway, and so far this year the temperatures have been all over the place. I opted to keep the batteries in the trailer with the an extension cord handy to plug in should the solar not keep the batteries charged. I also have the the battery toggle switch in the trailer turned off.

So due to snow covering the solar panel, and due to the fact that I just haven't checked up on the trailer in about a month (where is the devotion?!!), when I took a peek at it just now, the solar panel indicator shows an 88% charge. I intend on plugging in it to charge it up, but before I do, I'd like to get an understanding.

Does anyone know what the lowest percentage, according to the solar panel monitor, is the lowest you should go before you run the risk of ruining your battery? I have seen the voltage chart many times, both on this forum and others, but I kinda like the percentage view, as its an easy way of understanding things. At least for me.

Also, the user manual for the GoPower (I think?) makes it seem as though each battery is connected separately to A and B on the panel, but on ours, it looks like there is nothing on B, so this confuses me even more than I am accustomed to (Kinda like when I have to tie my shoes instead of wearing slip ons). Is this a customary thing, to have both batteries attached to A?

None of these things have been problematic so far, but its winter and I have nothing else to contemplate. Thank you everyone in advance for your help!
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:24 PM   #2
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The way the batteries are wired, think of them as one high capacity 12 volt battery. As for the amount of discharge before damaging something, they are deep cycle batteries, which are designed for a good amount of discharge before recharging. Having said that, a good rule of thumb is to not allow them to discharge below 50% repeatedly. That will shorten their life span.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:30 PM   #3
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The way the batteries are wired, think of them as one high capacity 12 volt battery. As for the amount of discharge before damaging something, they are deep cycle batteries, which are designed for a good amount of discharge before recharging. Having said that, a good rule of thumb is to not allow them to discharge below 50% repeatedly. That will shorten their life span.
Thanks Robert! How does that work though? They say a 12V batteriy shouldn't go below 11.53V, yet that's not actually 50% of the 12V...told you I wasn't bright!!
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:55 PM   #4
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Putting voltage output aside, more important is amp hours and the c-rate. That's the rate at which a battery discharges, in relation to its maximum amp hour capacity. The dual 6V batteries on an escape are rated at a maximum capacity of 232 amp hours. So, 50% discharged would mean you have only 116 amp hours remaining. There are tons of complicated formulas for calculating discharge rate, etc, but to keep it simple, if your panel says you have 88% of your capacity remaining, it's relatively close to that. Some have installed a better battery monitor, like a Trimetric, which is more accurate than the GoPower.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:57 PM   #5
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Putting voltage output aside, let's look at amp hours and the c-rate. That's the rate at which a battery discharges, in relation to its maximum amp hour capacity. The dual 6V batteries on an escape are rated at a maximum capacity of 232 amp hours. So, 50% discharged would mean you have only 116 amp hours remaining. There are tons of complicated formulas for calculating discharge rate, etc, but to keep it simple, if your panel says you have 88% of your capacity remaining, it's relatively close.
Thanks again! Good to know, and I'll make sure it stays over 50%.
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Old 01-10-2017, 08:59 PM   #6
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By the way, when my trailer is in storage it often goes below 75% on the monitor if it's been sitting there under cover for an extended period. The batteries recover nicely to 100% within a few hours of the panel being exposed to sunlight. Often they recover within the time it takes to tow the trailer from the storage yard to my house.
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Old 01-10-2017, 10:09 PM   #7
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Thanks Robert! How does that work though? They say a 12V batteriy shouldn't go below 11.53V, yet that's not actually 50% of the 12V...told you I wasn't bright!!
The care and feeding of batteries can be very complicated or very simple, and it depends on your need and desire to know all the gory details.

If you want the simple answer, to avoid ulcers and tearing of hair (if you are lucky enough to have hair), then pick your favorite number - say, 75%, and plug in and charge if it drops below that. Or as an alternative, pick a voltage, say 12.4v and charge if it drops below.

With the main toggle switch in the off position (which is easy to verify by attempting to turn on one of the trailer lights) the main discharge will be from internal losses in the batteries - and there is nothing you can do about that. But as others have pointed out, that lost charge is easy to replace.

Do confirm that on a sunny day that the charge % goes up significantly. This to confirm that the solar system is working.

To be honest I haven't looked at my charge % since September.

Now, if you are on the other end of the "need to know" spectrum then read up about using a hydrometer to measure charge. And read sales materials on battery amp-hour monitors. You can develop a new hobby revolving around batteries...

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Old 01-10-2017, 10:31 PM   #8
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You can develop a new hobby revolving around batteries...

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You got that right Alan. The furthest I'll probably go is a better charger and a better monitor.
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Old 01-10-2017, 10:45 PM   #9
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You got that right Alan. The furthest I'll probably go is a better charger and a better monitor.
I can quit anytime...
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:13 PM   #10
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I can quit anytime...
Wish I could. I built a computer controlled battery charger that uses "ideal diodes" and a "lossless regulator". It could monitor each of my 12v batteries and isolate the weakest one for a fast (bulk) charge or put them in parallel when discharging. But I scrapped the whole thing after learning that my AGM batteries had virtually no self-discharge or circulating losses when connected in parallel. And I also realized that the 15% extra charge from using a lossless regulator wasn't worth the effort.


I need professional help...
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