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Old 04-23-2014, 03:32 PM   #1
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Solar and battery question

As mentioned in another thread, we just took our first weekend trip in our new to us 2012 Escape Plan. We have the ETI solar and dual 6volt batteries. We also have the LED package. I'd like to understand if the following are normal: I noticed that the battery levels dropped from 95% or so to about 75% or so using one LED light in the evenings. The only other drain on the batteries was the water pump - and when the water pump ran, the LEDs flickered terribly. Also, the readout on the battery display dropped to 0 when running the furnace for roughly 5 minutes (it rebounded to about 72%). Since we were able to go for a week in our Casita with all LED's and a smaller solar panel which we only used sparingly, I am left to wonder if the previous owner was hard on the batteries and perhaps they need replacing. Does anyone have experience and/or advice? Thanks!

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Old 04-23-2014, 03:48 PM   #2
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I haven't monitored the battery while in use, but my LEDs don't flicker when we run the water pump. Have you checked the water level in the batteries?

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Old 04-23-2014, 03:54 PM   #3
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We have dual 6V batteries, and two solar panels on our 5.0, We also have LED lights. We have never noticed any flickering, and have never had the battery level drop below 90%, even watching a movie on the laptop. It always recovers by about 10 AM to 100%

Have your checked the fluid levels in the batteries?

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Old 04-23-2014, 04:44 PM   #4
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Another consideration: While you are checking the fluid level, take a few minutes to inspect the main cables that attach to the batteries. Disconnect each terminal and inspect for clean & shiny metal-to-metal contact. Also look closely where the copper wire sticks out from under the insulation. Excessive corrosion can lead to exactly the symptoms you are having - while under load.

But that said, the big hint was the rebound to only 72%. Even high corrosion would not prevent a fast rebound to 100% if there is no load. So, your suspicion that "previous owner was hard on the batteries" could be quite true. Hard on a battery could be: Many repeated discharges to below 50%, a long period without a recharge, continuous overcharge, or a combination of all three. Yes, its easy to abuse a battery.
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Old 04-23-2014, 05:50 PM   #5
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Refrigerator running on 12v rather than propane? (Just a thought). In full sun when the battery is not 100% does the solar charger show 3-5 amps of charging current? If not check those connections, too. Good luck.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:41 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone! I'll check on the water levels and connections tomorrow or Friday (it's not at our home) and report back. I hope it's that simple! Does anyone have the manual for these batteries?
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:07 AM   #7
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Our rig is older, and had two different batteries, one from Les Schwab Tires and one Interstate when we bought it.

I felt as you do that the voltage wasn't coming up under solar charge (90 w portable), and dropping too much under load.

The water levels were full.

At peak while charging the batteries should get above 13.5 volts, and even to maybe 14 v. At rest the battery should sit around 12.5 or so, not under charge, nothing on.

(please correct me if I got the numbers off).

The two 6v golf cart batteries should be able to easily run every LED light in the rig all night long if needed. And the pump or furnace will draw them down, but not to zero volts, and the draw is temporary. The voltage will come back up when the load is removed, maybe not all the way back up as you are using the stored power.

We also run a 22" TV and DISH receiver, mostly in the evening through the inverter.

I have only gone over one night between charges, but I suspect the batteries could last 2 even 3 nights depending on what you are running.

I have one of these plug in volt meters. I lke it better than the panel lights. INNOVA 3721 Battery and Charging System Monitor: Automotive

In the end, I went to Costco and paid $84.00 each for two brand new 6v golf cart batteries (exchange price) and now there is no question. Peace of mind.
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Old 05-07-2014, 10:24 AM   #8
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Jane- I had the same problem with my batteries, and long story short I topped up with distilled water and charged for two days with extension cord. Seems the WFCO takes a while. Have been out on two extended trips since then with no issues. Our batteries are original from 2010.
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Old 05-07-2014, 11:52 AM   #9
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There have been a number of discussions of batteries and solar charging. Also a discussion of what poor chargers the WFCO Converters are. Here is a link to one, there are others referenced in this link.

Interstate Battery Charging

I like that monitor that Dan references, used it on my 19 for a number of years. It sure beats the built in monitor.
Paul and Janet Braun
2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 now 2012 Toyota Sequoia V8
Escape 19' 2010 now 2014 Escape 21'
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Old 05-07-2014, 09:43 PM   #10
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Thanks, everyone!
I bought a hydrometer and checked each cell of the battery - all is well, but the water levels varied. I've cleaned the battery connections and tightened them. Our next trip is in a few weeks and we'll see if it was a connector issue or water level problem - if not new batteries it is.

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