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Old 02-20-2019, 09:38 PM   #1
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Failed Battery Replacement Dilemma

In over 30 years and 14 campers I've never had a battery fail like this. I guess we were due.

Our Crown AGM batteries purchased new last October are failing. Iíve contacted both our supplier and Crown. We have to fill out a report and then they will replace the batteries, but weíre in Organ Pipe Cactus National Park where we can see Mexico, not Vinton, Iowa where we purchased the batteries. They will ship them to friends in Mesa, AZ, but that will take 7-14 days. The next 14 days of our trip will be in non-electric sites and Arizona is booked if you want electric sites where we want to camp.

In Organ Pipe (0 sites with electrical hookups) they let me charge the batteries using the electrical outlet at one of the campground entrance booths. I had to take the batteries out every morning and use a 20 amp AGM charger that took about 8-10 hours to charge the batteries up from the <10.5 amps we had in the morning. Those batteries are heavy, hard to remove and take out of the camper, put in the pickup, and then do the reverse at 6:30 in the evening. Besides how long can the batteries last if we draw them down to <10.5 amps every evening. Arizona is cold this winter and we need the heater.

Before anyone jumps on Crown, Iíve talked to two people who have or have had friends with Lifeline, and one with Trojan, that had the same dilemma. Wouldnít it be nice if they only failed when you were next to your supplier. I also talked to another that found a Lifeline dealer away from where they live exchange for new. Iíve yet to talk to a dealer who will exchange them because they were not purchased there and they were already overloaded with work (imagine that RV parts dealers in Arizona might be overloaded in the winter!

So, do we purchase two Trojan flooded 105ís at $115 x 2 ($230 plus tax), two cheap Costco golf cart batteries, or one series 31 Interstate battery to use until we get home in April and can go to Vinton to get our replacements.

Or do we purchase a down blanket and not use the heater. I donít think Terry will go for that choice!

Fire away folks!

Perry
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Old 02-20-2019, 09:40 PM   #2
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Victron BMV-710 Battery Monitor

On Friday or Monday we will be getting a Victron Battery Monitor (BMV-710) to better watch our batteries. Do we really need it? Time will tell. I was a tech person for 35 years and now I wish to keep with the KISS philosophy, but Iíll give in on this one. Weíre hoping the batteries will last until I can install the battery monitor, but I doubt it. What if we have a parasitic draw?

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 02-20-2019, 09:48 PM   #3
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Shipping batteries is not cheap. If it were me I would buy two 6V lead acid batteries and roll on with your vacation and be done with it until you return home. Shipping things buy trucks in they winter can run into delays. Then sell the 2-3 MO lead acid batteries on CL when you get home.
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Old 02-20-2019, 10:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
In over 30 years and 14 campers I've never had a battery fail like this. I guess we were due.

Our Crown AGM batteries purchased new last October are failing. I’ve contacted both our supplier and Crown. We have to fill out a report and then they will replace the batteries, but we’re in Organ Pipe Cactus National Park where we can see Mexico, not Vinton, Iowa where we purchased the batteries. They will ship them to friends in Mesa, AZ, but that will take 7-14 days. The next 14 days of our trip will be in non-electric sites and Arizona is booked if you want electric sites where we want to camp.

In Organ Pipe (0 sites with electrical hookups) they let me charge the batteries using the electrical outlet at one of the campground entrance booths. I had to take the batteries out every morning and use a 20 amp AGM charger that took about 8-10 hours to charge the batteries up from the <10.5 amps we had in the morning. Those batteries are heavy, hard to remove and take out of the camper, put in the pickup, and then do the reverse at 6:30 in the evening. Besides how long can the batteries last if we draw them down to <10.5 amps every evening. Arizona is cold this winter and we need the heater.

Before anyone jumps on Crown, I’ve talked to two people who have or have had friends with Lifeline, and one with Trojan, that had the same dilemma. Wouldn’t it be nice if they only failed when you were next to your supplier. I also talked to another that found a Lifeline dealer away from where they live exchange for new. I’ve yet to talk to a dealer who will exchange them because they were not purchased there and they were already overloaded with work (imagine that RV parts dealers in Arizona might be overloaded in the winter!

So, do we purchase two Trojan flooded 105’s at $115 x 2 ($230 plus tax), two cheap Costco golf cart batteries, or one series 31 Interstate battery to use until we get home in April and can go to Vinton to get our replacements.

Or do we purchase a down blanket and not use the heater. I don’t think Terry will go for that choice!

Fire away folks!

Perry
Yeah- get the "cheap" Costco golf cart batteries in Tucson. They're Interstates and should last five years. At less than $200 out the door they are the best value by far.
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Old 02-20-2019, 11:55 PM   #5
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Perry, would you mind sharing more about how the Crowns are failing? Iíd be especially interested in how you ruled out other factors, eg charging system failure. Failures are always a learning opportunity, and the lessons are easier when they are learned vicariously.
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:19 AM   #6
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I would also be very interested into as why they failed. My thoughts have been that when my OEM batteries fail (still good almost 2 years)to go with AGM. You have friends that also had early failures, any details? May want to rethink my upgrade. 🤔
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Old 02-21-2019, 06:52 AM   #7
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Think I'd call Napa in Ajo and see if they have any deep cycles, Tucson is a long way off unless you are headed that way.
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Old 02-21-2019, 07:15 AM   #8
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I've lived off grid on boats using a variety of battery chemistry's, monitors, chargers, generators and solar panels.

I think the flooded cell golf cart batteries are the best investment, as long as you charge them with a smart charger, keep them topped up with water and can equalize them once a year they will last 6 to 8 years. They like to be kept on a trickle charger off season, so solar is ideal for that. They don't need to be charged to 100% every day or so like AGM's like. In my experience AGM's don't have a long life if they are not charged to 100% daily, if left for longer periods with less than a full charge they will fail prematurely. AGM's have a low self discharge so don't need to be kept on a trickle charger if stored 100% charged and don't have any parasitic loads (CO monitor etc.). AGM's don't gas when charged so are ideal if stored in a locker with other electronics or if it would be difficult to monitor the water levels.

The Victron battery monitor is a nice unit and very useful. I've owned them and used them. It takes some knowledge to set it up. You need to know the Peukert Factor for the battery (try to find out what that value is from the battery manufacturer) as well as the actual current (no pun intended) storage capacity (Ahr's) at this time. These factors do change over time so the Victron gauge will need to be reprogrammed as the bank is used and ages. A new bank with a rated 220 Ahr capacity new will not have that in 6 months or a year, it will depend on how it was used. So its difficult to estimate. It can be measured if you haul them to battery specialist for analysis, it it takes a day or two to do the measurements. Not withstanding those issues the Victron is very useful and can provide a lot of useful information on the battery bank, but its good to know of its limitations.

The Balmar battery monitor is an excellent battery monitor. No shunt, no programming is required. It monitors the battery voltage and then calculates the real actual capacity of the battery bank. It displays the % state of charge as the battery is charged and discharged. No programming or adjusting is needed. My understanding is that it was developed for the US military. Smartgauge Battery Monitor | Balmar

Ask a sailor about why a battery died, he will tell you a "battery does not die, its murdered by it's owner..."

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Old 02-21-2019, 07:51 AM   #9
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All batteries can fail! My friend has a motto:

"I plan to live forever.
So far, so good."

The reality is last fall we had two instances:
  1. accidentally hit 12V on our fridge and the batteries went down to around 10.4. Wish one could disable that button. Spent one night in an electric site and then the next 11 days in non-electric sites, so I don't think that did any irreparable harm.
  2. woke up one night hearing the water pump on continuously and the batteries were down to 11.4. I turned the water pressure way down on the pump. 11.4v should not have done any harm.
The batteries worked perfectly for the rest of the trip and the beginning of this trip. If something else happened we didn't catch it. I doubt it though.

Sometimes batteries just fail for various reasons out of our control.

We're driving to Apache Junction today to camp at Lost Dutchman State Park (non-electric of course) and have called at least ten parks in the area for an electric site, but no luck.

I've also been calling all over the Phoenix area for service, but everyone is a minimum of seven days out. The one guy said, "Everyone seems to have a poorly installed solar system." It does appear that ETI has installed our system correctly. I had a low-voltage electrican's license in Minnesota until retirement (that of course makes me dangerous to myself) and can see nothing wrong with ETI's installation of the simple GoPower solar.

However, I will be installing a Victron Battery Monitor (BMV-712 Smart). If I find a parasitic draw I'll inform this group.

Still haven't decided on what batteries I'll replace our Crowns with. Am leaning toward two Trojan 6v flooded 105's, but the Costco's (Interstate) are tempting.

Enjoy,

Perry
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Old 02-21-2019, 08:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perryb67 View Post
In over 30 years and 14 campers I've never had a battery fail like this. I guess we were due.

Our Crown AGM batteries purchased new last October are failing. Iíve contacted both our supplier and Crown. We have to fill out a report and then they will replace the batteries, but weíre in Organ Pipe Cactus National Park where we can see Mexico, not Vinton, Iowa where we purchased the batteries. They will ship them to friends in Mesa, AZ, but that will take 7-14 days. The next 14 days of our trip will be in non-electric sites and Arizona is booked if you want electric sites where we want to camp.

In Organ Pipe (0 sites with electrical hookups) they let me charge the batteries using the electrical outlet at one of the campground entrance booths. I had to take the batteries out every morning and use a 20 amp AGM charger that took about 8-10 hours to charge the batteries up from the <10.5 amps we had in the morning. Those batteries are heavy, hard to remove and take out of the camper, put in the pickup, and then do the reverse at 6:30 in the evening. Besides how long can the batteries last if we draw them down to <10.5 amps every evening. Arizona is cold this winter and we need the heater.

Before anyone jumps on Crown, Iíve talked to two people who have or have had friends with Lifeline, and one with Trojan, that had the same dilemma. Wouldnít it be nice if they only failed when you were next to your supplier. I also talked to another that found a Lifeline dealer away from where they live exchange for new. Iíve yet to talk to a dealer who will exchange them because they were not purchased there and they were already overloaded with work (imagine that RV parts dealers in Arizona might be overloaded in the winter!

So, do we purchase two Trojan flooded 105ís at $115 x 2 ($230 plus tax), two cheap Costco golf cart batteries, or one series 31 Interstate battery to use until we get home in April and can go to Vinton to get our replacements.

Or do we purchase a down blanket and not use the heater. I donít think Terry will go for that choice!

Fire away folks!

Perry
If you are going to get the replacement batteries from the manufacturer in a little while and are looking for a stop gap measure....I would just buy one middle of the road 12v deep cell battery and hook that up...if you are careful that should be enough to get you through and not spend too much money. You will need to temporarily eliminate the extra wires but that should not be a big deal and a lot cheaper than buying two 6v.
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