Battery recommendations

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by Grandpa Don, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    I'm thinking about replacing my battery in the next few weeks. It seems to be working okay, but it is almost 3 years old now. I don't want to take any chances of it failing out in the boon docks. The camper has very little power needs. It just has two LED lights and a furnace, which I rarely if at all use. I also have Solar to keep the battery charged. I only have room for one 12 volt battery. What do you guys recommend, and where do you get the best price?
     
  2. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    I forgot to mention that I do have an Electric winch. Would an ordinary car battery be okay to use? I have one of those Red Top batteries that I removed from my old car when I sold it. It's still very strong. Would there be any problems using that in the camper?
     
  3. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    If you've been maintaining your battery properly, I don't think that it being three years old needs to be replaced. The electric winch is the main concern to me. My group 24 battery always makes me wonder if it has enough juice to raise the roof more than once. I carry a genny unless I am sure to have shore power, so I don't worry about my battery losing charge. Your solar should also keep you safe as long as you don't run into a long string of cloudy days.

    When I replace my battery, I will also replace the battery box to hold a Group 27 battery. IMHO, more amp hours the battery has the better. I don't think the brand is as important to amp hours. Get the battery with the largest amp hours and make sure it is a deep cell. I usually get my deep cell batteries from my Marine store because I also use deep cell in my boat. I have had better luck with my batteries when I get them there rather than places like Batteries Plus and Fleet Farm.
     
  4. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    Rural King if you have one for price, followed by Walmart.

    I have had my boat 23 years. I have only replaced the battery 3 times. All have been from Walmart.
     
  5. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    I have owned this camper for just over one year. The PO said that the battery was two years old when I got it from him. I have no idea how he maintain the battery. When I'm not using the camper I always have it on Shore power in my driveway. So the charger is always on. The converter has a Trickle charge feature for storage. Even though I have an electric Winch I also carry a cordless power drill with two batteries for it. I can easily raise the top twice with the drill. Access to the manual winch lift feature is very easy. So if the battery does fail me, I can still raise and lower the top. Maybe I'll hold off buy a new battery for another year. We'll see.
     
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  6. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    Take it and have it load tested
     
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  7. Dan Wilson

    Dan Wilson Active Member

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    Don't use a car battery. Many make the mistake of confusing CCA with amperage capacity. Car batteries are designed to deliver a maximum amount of power in short bursts, not to hold amps for continued usage without charging.
     
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  8. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    Good idea! Never thought of that.
     
  9. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    So I took your advice and took the battery down to the local AutoZone to have them test it. You saved me a lot of money! The battery tested fully charged and no dead cells. I do check the water level often. This was the first time I had actually had a good look at the battery out of the box. Guess what? It is an AutoZone Duralast Gold, which I believe is a car battery. It has been working just fine all this time. I was going to replace it just because it was 3 years old. Not now!

    There is an old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". I believe in that saying in my line of work. However, when I first got this camper I didn't want anything to go wrong. So I elected to replace a lot of stuff that was still working just to be on the safe side. I replace the Goshen lift cable, and ordered a spare one to carry in the camper. I also replaced all three tires. One of the other things I replaced just for the Hell-of-it was the Electric winch up/down switch. Again, there was noting wrong with it. Well, now there is! The new switch didn't last a year. While I was taking the camper down this afternoon, I used the switch to lower the top. I discovered that the Stem (toggle?) on it was very loose and was sticking in both the up and down position. I should have stuck with the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"! I'll be ordering a new one tonight.
     
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  10. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I had a Duralast Gold in a truck that lasted a whopping 18 years.
     
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  11. Kerry L. Calkins

    Kerry L. Calkins New Member

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    I concur on "Don't fix unless it is broke". When I got my used PUP the battery was ok. When the first cold weather came it died. I went with a deep cycle marine & boat battery. In my experience while they cost a little more if maintained properly they perform and last longer.
     
  12. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    Awesome! Sounds like you have done everything right and are on top of things! That battery will most likely last a lot longer if you keep up with the great maintenance. The only thing that I would do (if it is not a "maintenance free" battery) in addition to what you already have done is check the acid levels and add distilled water in each cell if they are low.
     
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  13. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    Yep, I have a gallon jug of Distilled water ready to go.
     
  14. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

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    I use a battery maintainer. A battery maintainer is a good investment. I typically can get 5 years out of a battery. There is no need for distilled water. Tap water is all that's needed. Even large, expensive industrial batteries use tap water today.
     
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  15. BikeNFish

    BikeNFish Well-Known Member

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    I highly and respectfully disagree. Minerals in tap water will cause issues with batteries. Tap water also throws off the chemical balance between the batteries acid and water.

    By the way, I typically get seven years out of a battery. I have NEVER put tap water into a battery.

    Link to "Battery 101" HERE.
     
  16. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    I just counted batteries at my house. There are 13 in use. I must be battery lucky. I get 7+ years out most batteries. Sometimes it is a lot more. I always use tap water.
     
  17. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    It all depends where you live. Well water can vary a lot. A gallon of distilled water is what $2.00 I have an Motorcraft battery in a 69 Mustang that is almost 20 years old, always in the car summer and winter just on a battery tender and still will crank that big engine over like a dream.
     
  18. davido

    davido Active Member

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    What to get: The largest deep cycle battery that will fit your brackets: That may be a Group 24, or possibly a Group 27 or Group 29. The capacities of those battery sizes are typically around 80-85AH, 90-100AH, and 100-105AH. Since you can safely use half the battery's capacity before prematurely degrading the battery's performance, that gives you 40-42.5AH, 45-50AH, and 50-52.5AH usable capacity, depending on what fits. So a typical G27 is 12-15% higher capacity than a typical G24. And a typical G29 is about 15-20% higher capacity than a G24. You may only be able to fit a group 24, and that's ok. But an extra 12-20% comes in useful sometimes, and will be easier to throw a few amps of charge into with a generator or solar panel. Deep cycle batteries are designed to sustain many discharge/recharge cycles.

    What not to get: A car battery. These aren't designed for repeated deep discharges, and will suffer degraded performance relatively quickly if treated like a deep cycle battery. Car batteries deliver more cold cranking amps, but less deep cycling longevity. They're the wrong battery for this application.

    Brand: Maybe it matters, but if you get 5 years out of one, and 5.25 out of another, did it really matter which brand was best? And who is to say which brand actually will perform better on average at that 5-year point? Any suggestions of "XYX has always worked well for me." are anecdotal evidence, not based on a large enough sample size to establish statistical significance.

    Your power needs may be light, but it's easy to forget about some of them:

    • 12v adapters for cell phone charging? A phone or two can add up to a couple amps per hour while charging.
    • LED lights: Two or three lights will add up to 1A/hr.
    • Furnace 2.5-3.5 amps per hour of runtime.
    • Water pump? 5 amps while it runs, but typically a very short runtime.
    • Water heater? 0.5A while it's engaged, heating (the gas solenoid).
    • Vent fan? 2 amps.
    • Stereo system? 2A-5A.
    • Roof lift winch: 15A, but only a 5 minutes total use: 1.25 AH total.
    Let's pick just cell charging, furnace, and lights:

    Lights run 4 hours at 1A: 4AH total.
    Furnace runs 33% of the time for six hours: 6AH total.
    Cell phones charge for 2 hours each, two of them. Let's say they're 1A each. 2x2 = 4AH

    So your energy budget for one day is 14AH. That's assuming the conservative estimate of the furnace having a total runtime of 2 hours.

    A Group 24 battery with 42.5 AH of usable capacity would get you just under three days of camping. A group 27 would get you a little over 3 days. And a Group 29 would get you closer to 4 days.

    I found a way to squeeze two group 24 batteries on my trailer. That gets me closer to 4-5 days of camping with a slightly higher energy budget than you have.
     
  19. xxxapache

    xxxapache Well-Known Member

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    When I bought my used TT it had new batteries. After I got it home, I discovered it had a pair of car batteries. I don't know why the previous owner bought them because they were about 50% more expensive than the proper deep cycle batteries. I didn't expect them to last long. They did, though. They were about 5 years old and still running the trailer when I replaced them this spring.
     
  20. Grandpa Don

    Grandpa Don Active Member

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    Wow, there's a lot of information here. I was prepared to purchase a new Deep Cycle battery for my Viking. But when I had it tested, it tested good. So why replace it? I won't. I did find out that it was a car battery. A damn good one at that, but still a car battery. That surprised me a bit. It has functioned perfectly for over three years now. I do have very little power requirements. I have two LED overhead lights, and a small on-demand water pump. I don't use the furnace, but instead I have a Mr. Buddy heater that does not use electricity. I rarely even use that. And I don't have a water heater. I charge my cell phone in the truck. The main power draw is the Electric winch. Once up and once down per trip. The TV will have the battery topped off as I am driving. I use a 100 Watt solar panel when boondocking. I am old school and will still use Distilled water. I don't know enough about batteries to know the pros and cons of distilled verses tap water. And I don't want to get into an argument about it. LOL
     
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