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Old 11-30-2023, 01:56 PM   #1
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6V battery issue

Hi hoping someone could shed a light on a battery issue we are having…

Pete and I travelled cross-country in our 2017 Escape 21 to Oakland CA to visit our kids & grandkids for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. We are renting a flat driveway( no hook ups) a few miles from them.

We’ve done this several times before at this time of year, staying without hook ups relying on just the 160 solar and our 2 6V batteries.

On our trips to visit them, we always were able to run the fridge on propane, and have enough power to keep lights on whenever we needed to, turn the water pump on and off, and charge our two iPhones, Apple watches, and an iPad or two without our batteries ever going down below 52% . On a sunny day, we would even have enough to run the heat for an hour or two if needed. (Or run the max fan for a few hours if was hot)

When we attended the Fiberglass rally in Quartzite in February, we had noticed that our batteries were not holding onto their charge as well as they had used to
so we replaced our original batteries with
Trojan T105 6V -225 AH deep ones

Our new batteries are NOT only not holding on to their charge, but are getting down to readings in the 40% -50% range with very little use by us.

We’ve been maintaining their water levels every month and just refilled it. We cleaned off the solar panels on the roof.
We checked for light switches, etc that could be unknowingly drawing something.

It’s been happening this past week, (the batteries getting charged up to 90% -but not holding it ) Here’s the stats from yesterday:

8 AM. woke up Wed NOV 29 45%
9:30 AM 47%
Nothing charging-nothing on
Noon. Sun is out and battery got up to 85%
We left trailer for afternoon out yesterday with nothing turned on inside or charging.
We came back to trailer at 3:00 pm and since we were playing games with friends, put on the ceiling light by dinette.
At 7:00 PM we checked our battery and it was down to 42%. We turned off the light finishing the game using a solar light and didn’t plug in our phones or watches overnight.

We woke up at 7AM today and it was 44%
It’s 10:32 AM right now and our readings show 76% 12.5v. 3.4 amps

What do you suggest?
Pete and I unfortunately are not real techy and have very little electrical and battery expertise and would appreciate any advice on how to solve this.
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Old 11-30-2023, 02:03 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nrgtic4 View Post
Hi hoping someone could shed a light on a battery issue we are having…

What do you suggest?
Pete and I unfortunately are not real techy and have very little electrical and battery expertise and would appreciate any advice on how to solve this.
Check that emergency brake on the trailer tongue has not been activated. It could draw down batteries very quickly.
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Old 11-30-2023, 02:07 PM   #3
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What are you using to monitor the battery charge state? you really need a shunt monitor that tracks voltage AND current to get accurate readings, a simple volt indicator such as those you plug into a cigar outlet is just guessing.

this time of year, peak sunshine is far less than it is in the summer, especially for a flat mounted rooftop panel... My 360W panel can make 2400 watt*hours a day in the summer at latitudes around 37N (central California), but makes no more than 450WH this time of year. a 50% discharged 225AH dual golf cart battery will need about 1600 watt*hours to fully charge.
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Old 11-30-2023, 03:32 PM   #4
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I recall one time where it turned out that somebody had filled their batteries to the top of the case instead of the required level just above the plates; apparently it diluted the electrolyte leading to poor performance. Hopefully that is not the case here.

I have checked and topped up the factory-supplied 6 volts in our 2017 trailer once a year every spring and they seem to be holding up okay.

However, I've also gotten into the habit of getting spaces with shore power. We haven't camped where the batteries were dependent on solar for several days since May of 2022. At that time, they did fine in sunny to cloudy conditions over a three-night stay.

As you imply, the furnace and the ventilation fan are among the more significant loads. The other loads you describe sound relatively nominal.

An auto parts store can test the batteries and tell you what condition they are in.

Monitoring the actual load and charge currents would take more instrumentation as John notes above.
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Old 11-30-2023, 03:41 PM   #5
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...
An auto parts store can test the batteries and tell you what condition they are in.
Just hope they use a proper 'carbon pile' load tester that pulls 50A or so from the battery for a minute or two, and not one of the digital quick testers that measures AC resistance

good load tester:
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 11-30-2023, 03:41 PM   #6
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digital battery guesser:
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Old 11-30-2023, 03:47 PM   #7
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Just hope they use a proper 'carbon pile' load tester that pulls 50A or so from the battery for a minute or two, and not one of the digital quick testers that measures AC resistance

good load tester:
Yep, that's the very thing.

I got kind of irritated once decades back when an "okay" car battery basically failed after that testing. But in retrospect I realized that it was doomed to fail soon, regardless.

We used to run giant load banks to test new generator installations. I guess the moral is no stress, no real test...
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Old 11-30-2023, 03:56 PM   #8
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to be fair, those carbon pile testers are really meant for starting batteries, with 100A or even 1000A test loads. true deep cycle batteries aren't designed for that sort of super heavy current, 100A might be OK but 1000A (larger carbon pile testers used for diesel truck batts and such) definitely isn't.
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Old 11-30-2023, 04:18 PM   #9
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Those T105s are fine for the way you are using them. Same question though...How do you know? What kind of meter are you using? If you can watch amps going in with the panels in the sun, and amps going out when you turn various loads on, maybe you can determine the problem. Which is either its NOT charging the way you think it is, or there is something ON that you are unaware of that is draining the battery. This time of year the, with the sun so low our charging time really shrinks. Up here in Northern Ohio I'd be hard pressed to charge the batteries most days, even chasing the sun by moving the panels. They are spending the winter in the garage on the Battery Tender, again.

Its not the time to go in to all the details about the charging system, especially if you had a system that was working. Something changed. Just gotta find out what! Let us know.
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Old 11-30-2023, 04:36 PM   #10
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I think I would find a place where you could plug in for a day or so and see if the on board battery charger can charge them up. Have a good look at the battery connection also.
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Old 11-30-2023, 06:20 PM   #11
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Thanks for the suggestions…
We will try tightening connections and whatnot.

I know it’s bad to go below 50%
How much will this hurt our batteries ?
How low can we go ?
Before this trip and over the last 6 years, we have never gone below 50%

Is there anywhere in the Bay Area that someone can recommend for us to go to help us determine if it’s a bad battery ( they are under warranty until the first of February) or something else in case we can’t find the issue.
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Old 11-30-2023, 06:37 PM   #12
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good deep cycle batteries like Trojan T-105 can be discharged to 25% or even lower without serious damage.
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Old 11-30-2023, 06:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nrgtic4 View Post
...
I know it’s bad to go below 50%
How much will this hurt our batteries ?
How low can we go ?
...
Before you panic: This note from Battery University.

https://batteryuniversity.com/articl...d-battery-work
100% dead - over 100 cycles. (A big important But: Absolutely recharge ASAP to minimize damage.) A second "But". This information applies to heavy duty deep cycle batteries - which you do have.
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Old 11-30-2023, 08:06 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nrgtic4 View Post
When we attended the Fiberglass rally in Quartzite in February, we had noticed that our batteries were not holding onto their charge as well as they had used to
so we replaced our original batteries with
Trojan T105 6V -225 AH deep ones

Our new batteries are NOT only not holding on to their charge, but are getting down to readings in the 40% -50% range with very little use by us.

We’ve been maintaining their water levels every month and just refilled it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nrgtic4 View Post
Thanks for the suggestions…
We will try tightening connections and whatnot.

Before this trip and over the last 6 years, we have never gone below 50%

Is there anywhere in the Bay Area that someone can recommend for us to go to help us determine if it’s a bad battery ( they are under warranty until the first of February) or something else in case we can’t find the issue.
As you note, your original batteries lasted for several years, which is what you should be able to expect.

It's good to start troubleshooting with the basics. Checking for any switched-on loads was a good start.

Troubleshooting sometimes reveals that a problem relates to something which has been recently changed. Checking for loose cables is another good basic step as they were recently disconnected and reconnected when the replacement batteries were installed in February.

I remain concerned about the mention of maintaining the water levels every month as that seems excessive, although it can be appropriate for heavy service conditions such as golf carts and/or very hot weather conditions. But, in general, I don't know that they should require topping up that often. Have they actually needed additional water this often?

I've pasted an excerpt from a Trojan manual indicating the proper level.

Click image for larger version

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Finally, most any auto parts store should be able to test the batteries. It looks like the closest Trojan dealer to Oakland is in Walnut Creek. There's another one in Livermore if that's actually closer to you.

https://www.trojanbattery.com/where-to-buy

VIP Golf Cart Service Inc.
1271 Boulevard Way, Walnut Creek, CA 94595, US
(925) 478-6525

Unless you find a loose cable or some other obvious issue like excess water fill levels, figuring out what has gone wrong is a probably a more complicated process as you would need to diagnose the energy flow in and out of the battery.

However one outside-the-box idea would be to check if you are powering a 12VDC to 120VAC inverter in the trailer.

Other than that, it's probably best to start with the basics and see where that takes you for now.

By the way, do you have an adaptor such that you can plug the trailer into the residence? A 15 or 20-amp household circuit should be fine for what you are doing. You really only need the 30-amp to run the air conditioner and perhaps the water heater.

If you don't have an adaptor, it might be time to add one to your collection.

Click image for larger version

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Old 11-30-2023, 11:36 PM   #15
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Never had a problem with my Costco Interstate 6V. Bought first set one year in when it was apparent the single Group29 Interstate from Escape wasn't up to the task. Replaced them early while in Oregon two years ago. At $100 or less each they are no doubt the best value IMO when using stock OEM appliances and no special needs like CPAP. YMMV as they say.
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Old 12-01-2023, 10:16 AM   #16
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Thanks so much for these suggestions.
We will try to implement a bunch of them today and perhaps hitch up and take a drive over to Walnut Creek
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Old 12-01-2023, 10:30 AM   #17
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Pete and I want to thank everyone for all their help and advice.

We are not sure what we should do regarding our visit here in case we can’t get this resolved. We left the trailer at 1:00 PM yesterday at 12:19 PM and the battery got up to 80% . We left NOTHING on in the trailer ( just fridge running on propane ) We came back from our kid’s house at 9 PM and did not turn ANYTHING on. Not a light, (even for a second) not a water pump, nothing plugged into charge.

We woke up this morning and battery shows 37%
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Old 12-01-2023, 10:35 AM   #18
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Pete doesn’t think he overfilled the water ( said he refilled it to level he always have- and only filled it since he didn’t fill it since July) but it is possible that it is a fraction over …. Is there something we could do if that’s the case?

He is looking at things now and sees a “max boost button” should he push it ?
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Old 12-01-2023, 11:45 AM   #19
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I can’t find any references to the button.

I would not try removing any water. It is an acid solution. Being close to the correct level should be fine. The issue I have seen was when someone had filled the water up to the very top of the case; that was a problem.

Once the cables have been checked it would probably be time to call the local dealer in Walnut Creek. Hopefully they will be willing to help you out. If not I would see if the manufacturer or another dealer could help.

Final choice could be to consider a mobile RV tech or a willing electrician.

I’m sorry that you are having trouble. It’s stressful to be dealing with this when you’re traveling.
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Old 12-01-2023, 01:30 PM   #20
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some power centers, notably the PD46xx series, have a button to put them in a fast charge mode. it automtaically resets after some time.
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