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Old 12-24-2017, 08:25 PM   #1
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Group 29 Battery problem?

Just returned from Big Bend. I am disappointed in the performance of my group 29 battery (110 amp hrs). We used no more than three lights at any one time and just from 5:30 to 10pm. The frig on gas and did not use the furnace at all. I have a 12v TV, but did not use it. Used the campground showers and only used the water pump for dishes, washing hands and toilet. My kids did charge their phones (4) every night and used a 150 watt inverter just one night to charge a laptop. Every evening at 5:30pm the battery voltage would read 12.7 to 12.8 volts 30 minutes after disconnecting my 120 watt solar panel at 5pm after using it all day. And by 8am the voltage was down to 12.2. I feel as though this is minimal usage and it should have done better.
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Old 12-24-2017, 08:27 PM   #2
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Oh, and got 11.8 mpg towing my 21 with a F250 6.2L gas motor.
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Old 12-24-2017, 08:44 PM   #3
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We started same as you and after one year realized it wasn't cutting it and replaced with dual 6V, which ETI now requires when ordering solar. Read the thread Understanding Charging Systems; really tells how proper maintenance is a bit of artwork. This time of year especially it would not be a surprise to learn you aren't really charging as much as just slowing down the discharge rate.
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Old 12-24-2017, 09:02 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by James Gang View Post
Just returned from Big Bend. I am disappointed in the performance of my group 29 battery (110 amp hrs).
...
Well, trying to diagnose the exact problem is like trying to identify an elephant while blindfolded, but we have to start somewhere.

That will be more questions to ask first: You discribe your solar panel as 120 watts. This makes me think that it is a portable unit, not the roof mounted unit from Escape. If so, were you able to deploy it facing directly into the sun without the least bit of shading from trees for at least 8 hours? If so, then it just might be able to produce 50 amp-hours per day which would just be enough to replace what you used in the evening. Anything less than optimum sun and you might not be able to replace 100% of the used battery power.

Next: Does this panel have its own regulator or are you using the unit that Escape provides. (And if you don't have Escape solar then perhaps you don't have the companion Escape controller (regulator).

One option: If starting in the morning with 12.2 volts, in mid-winter, you might consider bypassing the controller (either one) and hooking the 120 watt solar panel directly to the battery. A couple of times per day you might need to look at the battery voltage to ensure is has not gone over about 14.4 for any length of time (say more than an hour). The direct connection will give you about 15% more power to the battery which might be just enough for a full charge by 5 PM. Note that this is not recommended in the later seasons with more sun, nor is it recommended if your panel is the usual Escape 150/160 or bigger.

Next (and there are a lot of "nexts"): Have you checked the liquid level in the battery? Possibly a low cell?

Next: Can you be sure that everything you think is "off" is really off? Leaving the cell phone chargers on all the time will not help. Same with the inverter even if it is not connected to a laptop charger. And remember, things like the 'fridge, even when running on propane, is still drawing a quarter of an amp or so to run its electronics. A multi-meter would be your best friend here. Put it in series with the battery leads when you think everything is off (and not charging) and note what the drain is. It should be under half an amp (the previously mentioned fridge, the propane detector, perhaps the sensors, etc, may be pulling a bit).

Finally, there is your overall camping style to consider. If Big Bend in winter is typical for you then you might consider upgrades. More solar, a bigger group 31 battery, dual batteries, etc.

Finally, (for now) consider that 12.2 volts in the morning indicates you have used about 50% of the battery capacity. This isn't all that unreasonable. You don't want to go much lower on a regular basis but once in a while is nothing to worry about.

Hope that gives you a good starting point.
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Old 12-24-2017, 09:34 PM   #5
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Well, trying to diagnose the exact problem is like trying to identify an elephant while blindfolded, but we have to start somewhere.

That will be more questions to ask first: You discribe your solar panel as 120 watts. This makes me think that it is a portable unit, not the roof mounted unit from Escape. If so, were you able to deploy it facing directly into the sun without the least bit of shading from trees for at least 8 hours? If so, then it just might be able to produce 50 amp-hours per day which would just be enough to replace what you used in the evening. Anything less than optimum sun and you might not be able to replace 100% of the used battery power.

Next: Does this panel have its own regulator or are you using the unit that Escape provides. (And if you don't have Escape solar then perhaps you don't have the companion Escape controller (regulator).

One option: If starting in the morning with 12.2 volts, in mid-winter, you might consider bypassing the controller (either one) and hooking the 120 watt solar panel directly to the battery. A couple of times per day you might need to look at the battery voltage to ensure is has not gone over about 14.4 for any length of time (say more than an hour). The direct connection will give you about 15% more power to the battery which might be just enough for a full charge by 5 PM. Note that this is not recommended in the later seasons with more sun, nor is it recommended if your panel is the usual Escape 150/160 or bigger.

Next (and there are a lot of "nexts"): Have you checked the liquid level in the battery? Possibly a low cell?

Next: Can you be sure that everything you think is "off" is really off? Leaving the cell phone chargers on all the time will not help. Same with the inverter even if it is not connected to a laptop charger. And remember, things like the 'fridge, even when running on propane, is still drawing a quarter of an amp or so to run its electronics. A multi-meter would be your best friend here. Put it in series with the battery leads when you think everything is off (and not charging) and note what the drain is. It should be under half an amp (the previously mentioned fridge, the propane detector, perhaps the sensors, etc, may be pulling a bit).

Finally, there is your overall camping style to consider. If Big Bend in winter is typical for you then you might consider upgrades. More solar, a bigger group 31 battery, dual batteries, etc.

Finally, (for now) consider that 12.2 volts in the morning indicates you have used about 50% of the battery capacity. This isn't all that unreasonable. You don't want to go much lower on a regular basis but once in a while is nothing to worry about.

Hope that gives you a good starting point.
--
Alan
Yes it is portable and I was able to keep it pointed at the sun (I moved it 2 or three times a day and no shade). Several times a day I checked the panel reading and it was just under 14V and 6 amps and the phones were only two at a time and no more than 2 hours. The small inverter was run about two hours also and just one day.
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:19 PM   #6
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Are you using a water heater on electric?

You could benefit from two six-volts, I would expect. You might consider that for later.
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Old 12-24-2017, 10:24 PM   #7
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Are you using a water heater on electric?

You could benefit from two six-volts, I would expect. You might consider that for later.

No electric heating element on water heater
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Old 12-24-2017, 11:33 PM   #8
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Yes it is portable and I was able to keep it pointed at the sun (I moved it 2 or three times a day and no shade). Several times a day I checked the panel reading and it was just under 14V and 6 amps ...
Just a hunch: If your battery was actually full, your last afternoon reading - while still getting full sun on the panel - should be more like 14.4 volts and 1 amp. This would indicate that the battery is actually full and can't accept more juice. If the afternoon reading is 13.9V and 6A then the battery is still sucking up everything it can - and may only be around 70-80% full.

See if you can borrow someone's panel for a day and add it to yours. Then note the morning reading. You may be right on the edge and need an additional 50-100 watts of solar - at least in the winter. Remember that in summer your solar will give you more than double the winter time output.

Or try my trick of bypassing any controllers (and the diode if you can reach it). That will squeeze an additional 10-15% more power into your battery at no extra cost except the occasional glance at the voltage meter.

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Old 12-25-2017, 06:12 AM   #9
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Something doesn't add up. 12.7/8 = 100%, 12.2 = 60%, roughly 40-45 Ah use a day for a 110 Ah battery. Using 2 lights for 5 hours, the fridge on propane, and the pump as needed, doesn't add up to anywhere near 40-45 Ah.

If you really are using that much juice then a single 120W panel isn't enough. You have about 8 hours from sun up to sun down right now, a couple hours on either end the sun is too low to produce much. So maybe 4 hours of full sun at your 6 Ah = 24 Ah.

Where are you seeing the 6A and voltage readings? if it's on a panel mounted controller, what length and gauge of cable are you using?
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Old 12-25-2017, 07:41 AM   #10
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Check the water level in the battery, my original group 29 was a little low, may impact your capacity. BTW, after one year I switched from #29 to dual 6ers, made a big difference in my 21!
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Old 12-25-2017, 08:31 AM   #11
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Another thing to check is if all the battery cells are good. I had one cell go bad and that really affected my battery capacity. I took it as an opportunity and replaced the battery with 2 sixes.
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Old 12-25-2017, 05:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by James Gang View Post
Just returned from Big Bend. I am disappointed in the performance of my group 29 battery (110 amp hrs). We used no more than three lights at any one time and just from 5:30 to 10pm. The frig on gas and did not use the furnace at all. I have a 12v TV, but did not use it. Used the campground showers and only used the water pump for dishes, washing hands and toilet. My kids did charge their phones (4) every night and used a 150 watt inverter just one night to charge a laptop. Every evening at 5:30pm the battery voltage would read 12.7 to 12.8 volts 30 minutes after disconnecting my 120 watt solar panel at 5pm after using it all day. And by 8am the voltage was down to 12.2. I feel as though this is minimal usage and it should have done better.
There are general draws on battery capacity. The fridge uses 12 volts even when on gas, the propane detector also draws continuously.
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Old 12-26-2017, 02:21 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by James Gang View Post
Just returned from Big Bend. I am disappointed in the performance of my group 29 battery (110 amp hrs). We used no more than three lights at any one time and just from 5:30 to 10pm. The frig on gas and did not use the furnace at all. I have a 12v TV, but did not use it. Used the campground showers and only used the water pump for dishes, washing hands and toilet. My kids did charge their phones (4) every night and used a 150 watt inverter just one night to charge a laptop. Every evening at 5:30pm the battery voltage would read 12.7 to 12.8 volts 30 minutes after disconnecting my 120 watt solar panel at 5pm after using it all day. And by 8am the voltage was down to 12.2. I feel as though this is minimal usage and it should have done better.
The problem with your Group 29 battery is that it is a group 29 battery. You need more capacity and solar.
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Old 12-28-2017, 09:10 PM   #14
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I have the same set up-stock Group 29 battery and 120 watt Go Power solar panel which I used extensively this summer in Alaska. No problems, although I did not have quite as much demand as u might have, but close. I did on rare occasion use my Honda generator to add some juice to my battery when it had been raining for a few days, but all in all happy with this set up. I’d just make sure your entire system is working as it should be.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:17 PM   #15
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Ha Ha- Alaska in the summer? Isn't that solar panel Nirvana?
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:39 AM   #16
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I have the same set up-stock Group 29 battery and 120 watt Go Power solar panel ...............
It is, perhaps, time to verify what is current, at ETI, with regards to battery installation, so I just looked at their website:

Group 27 is the standard battery, at about 90 Ah.

the only option listed is dual 6V batteries. 116 x 2 = 232 Ah.
------------------------------------------------------------------
At least up to late 2015, there was an additional option: Group 29 - 12V - 126 Ah larger battery option (that we got). For an Escape 17, that meant a larger bracket on the opposite side of the rear bumper and a larger battery case (that will also accommodate the twin 6V's).
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:06 PM   #17
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...

and did not use the furnace at all.
...
And by 8am the voltage was down to 12.2.
...
Was thinking about this the other day. The OP was in Big Bend in late December and not using the furnace. If the inside of the battery compartment was close to the outdoor temperature by morning then this could "part" of the problem.

The following quote from Battery University:
"A battery that provides 100 percent capacity at 27C (80F) will typically deliver only 50 percent at 18C (0F)."

Cold is not a battery's friend.

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Old 12-29-2017, 04:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
Was thinking about this the other day. The OP was in Big Bend in late December and not using the furnace. If the inside of the battery compartment was close to the outdoor temperature by morning then this could "part" of the problem.

The following quote from Battery University:
"A battery that provides 100 percent capacity at 27C (80F) will typically deliver only 50 percent at 18C (0F)."

Cold is not a battery's friend.

--
Alan
That is an interesting fact. I only hope not to be near 0 F with the trailer!
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Old 12-29-2017, 04:50 PM   #19
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That is an interesting fact. I only hope not to be near 0 F with the trailer!
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Old 12-30-2017, 05:44 PM   #20
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Newsflash: it rains in Alaska. Sometimes for several days in a row....
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