Ok, Let's Talk Battery Replacement Again... - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 07-21-2015, 02:41 PM   #1
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Ok, Let's Talk Battery Replacement Again...

After 2 years of ownership & decent service... I'm pretty sure my single 12v battery that came with the rig has finally died. And since I've got to replace it... I'm wondering if I should simply replace what I have, or if now is a good time to do something better.

Yes, I know... the subject has been discussed before, and there are probably already good threads here about replacing & upgrading them. I did a cursory search, and found a few... but to be honest, some of the info was over my head.

I'm mechanically inclined... not electrically. I don't mind turning a wrench, and I'm pretty good at fixing anything with a mechanical component in it. But I freely admit to being dumb as a box of rocks when it comes to electrical issues. I know hot wire - cold wire... and after than, just enough to be dangerous. VERY dangerous...

Why the interest now?

Well, getting the rig ready to head out next week, I went out to load my bike in the garage this morning. To do this, I had to hitch up and pull the rig forward so I'd have room to drop the ramp and ride in. The rig is plugged into 50amp service in front of my garage so no issues noted in raising my hydraulic landing gear to hitch up, and then retracting the gear. I unplugged from shore power, pulled forward, loaded the bike, then backed back into the usual parking spot in front of my workshop. All normal so far...

Then I went to lower the hydraulic landing gear, and I couldn't even get the auto-level system to power on. After a few checks with other 12v components, it finally dawned on me that the battery must be completely dead. Mind you now that it's been plugged into 50amp service for the past month... so it's certainly not an issue of them not having the opportunity to be charged. While plugged in to shore power, everything worked perfectly. Unplugged, I got nada.

So... before I go buy a single new battery... how would you guys recommend that I proceed?

I've seen previous threads for just replacing the one 12v battery.. or two 6v batteries in series (whatever that does). I saw one 4-battery pack for long term boondocking... and complete solar systems.

I don't want to get into solar components... and since I don't 'boondock' all that much, I don't really need anything elaborate. But I'd like a good dependable system that's gonna last me for a bit. And since I'd like to get this done before I depart the area for a long trip in 2 weeks... I'd like to be able to use pretty common, locally available components.

So... your thoughts? Thanks...
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Old 07-21-2015, 03:29 PM   #2
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The first course of remedy would be to take the OEM battery (Interstate) probably to AutoZone or someplace similar and have it load tested. The load test will show if the battery has a dead cell or a cell that breaks down under load.


If the battery is OK then the next step would be to check the output of the converter's charge output. The rig has been connected to mains so the converter, if working properly, should have maintained a charge on a good battery.
If the battery tests bad or weak then simply replace it with a 'real' deep cycle battery. A true deep cycle will not have a CCA or MCCA sticker affixed to it. Deep cycles aren't rated in CCAs but in amp hour capacity. More capacity equates to more and heavier plates and an overall heavier battery.
You can go with multiple deep cycle batteries to increase capacity or just one battery with a fixed capacity.
We can go into series and parallel battery connections and battery interconnect cables for multiple batteries or KISS it and just suggest a quality true deep cycle battery.
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Old 07-21-2015, 03:48 PM   #3
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The easiest and cheapest way would be to just buy another deep cycle group 27 battery. But if you are like me your looking to upgrade. Here is what I'm going to buy once my OEM battery gives up.
http://www.amazon.com/Vmaxtanks-Vmax...ds=agm+battery
I've done the 2 6v golf cart batteries in the past. They work good but battery life & adding water is my concern.
The AGM batteries are what we used on our emergency generators when I worked for a city down here in the desert. They were at our fire, police, & city hall to start our backup power. 8-10 year life is what I like + little to no maintenance makes up for there cost.
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Old 07-21-2015, 04:22 PM   #4
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If you very rarely boondock it would probably cheapest and best for you to just purchase another 12v single "deep cycle" battery. I boondock alot and run 4 6v batteries. No need for the cost if you almost always have shore power. Just my opinion.
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:01 PM   #5
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Oh yeah... another question:

A friend of mine told me a few months back that I should get an OPTIMA battery... said they are better than others.

Any truth to that... or just a marketing thing?

Thanks for the feedback so far...
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Old 07-21-2015, 05:42 PM   #6
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Tom,
Not trying to be a smart Alec here, but was your master battery switch on while on shore power? If it was off, wouldn't that stop your battery from charging?
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:03 PM   #7
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Since you were plugged in, the converter should have been keeping your battery charged. Since it is a modern camper, it should have a smart charger that drops charging voltage and amps to float so it doesn't boil the water out of the battery. Thom has a good point; if you leave your battery disconnect on while plugged in, you may have never been charging the battery. So first troubleshooting step is to get a multimeter out and measure the voltage across the battery terminals when you are plugged in. The voltage at the battery posts should be at least 13.6V. If your converter actually goes into boost, then the voltage would read 14.4V. If the voltage is in the twelves or lower, then the converter isn't charging the batteries and you'll have to figure out why. It sounds like your converter works because it provides the 12V DC for operating the landing gears.

As far as replacement, I concur with others and just recommend replacing the 12V with another 12V deep cycle battery. If you don't boondock, you won't have any need for more battery capacity than this. I've heard that Optima batteries are nice starting batteries, but since you have no need for a starting battery the Optima investment will not make much sense. You want a deep cycle battery.
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:15 PM   #8
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I've had to buy a new battery for my 1994 Bayliner every other year for the last two decades... it doesn't matter if I buy the cheapest house battery or top of the line, I cannot get a battery to last more than two seasons. (Yes, I take them out in the winter and store on wood in the garage)

Based on my experience with the boat, and when I boon-dock I just need a battery to start the genny... I replaced my stock battery with a Walmart special.
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Old 07-21-2015, 06:30 PM   #9
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I don't think anyone on here has mentioned checking the acid level? The batteries on mine have 2 cap's, each covering 3 holes. Pop the caps and top off each one with distilled water. I check mine every 6 months or so. If you have not check yours in 2 years then that certainly could be contributing to your lack of battery life.
On a side note I ran Optima deep cycles on my VW van for years. Good batteries and worked well. If you do mostly boondocking they may be worth it?
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Old 07-21-2015, 07:06 PM   #10
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AGM Batteries are the way to go. I can hardly wait for my 4 Six Volt golf cart batteries to take a dump. Amazon.com: Vmaxtanks Vmaxslr125 AGM Deep Cycle 12v 125ah SLA rechargeable Battery for Use with Pv Solar Panels,Smart chargers wind Turbine and Inverters: Electronics

And this post just reminded me. Today is the day to go out and check my water levels, again.
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Old 07-22-2015, 03:08 AM   #11
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Wow....lots of interest in this post! I too had one 12V battery from the dealer. It wouldn't last more than a weekend without plugging into shore power. We do quite a bit off grid so I replaced with 4-6V Lifeline batteries. They're expensive but the 4 I had in my last coach lasted 12 years.

I would agree with others here that say you really don't need anything but a GOOD group 27 deep cycle for what you've explained. It should give you years of service as long as you check the fluid levels. If you leave it plugged in when not in use the stock converter in the coach will boil out the fluid within a couple of months....so keep an eye on it. The manufacturers are still trying to save a buck and don't put smart chargers in these coaches.
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Old 07-22-2015, 12:53 PM   #12
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Well, lots of egg on my face on this one...

I've been so used to no-maintenance batteries in my vehicles so long that checking the water level in one didn't even cross my mind.

Went out this morning, and opened the bay up... popped the caps, and that sucker must've been bone dry. It took 7 one-pint bottles of water to fill that it up.

So I figure before I go do anything else, I'll allow it the opportunity to recharge all day. Not sure if it's too far gone already, but figure a day isn't gonna cost me anything. Then I'll go out tomorrow, remove the shore power, and see if any of my 12v stuff is able to power up.
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Old 07-22-2015, 02:17 PM   #13
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Ha! that's the way I learned most things - the hard way that ends up costing me more $$
Hope it charges back up for you but I suspect they will hold some charge but not like they are suppose to anymore.
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Old 07-22-2015, 10:45 PM   #14
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ATC with the batt going bone dry, you will most likely be using what you learned in this thread....

Good Luck!
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Old 07-23-2015, 06:38 AM   #15
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I seldom dry camp for very long. Plugged in 24/7 when at home. When it comes time to replacing my battery, this is what I'll buy: https://www.batteriesplus.com/Batter...p-27M/SLI27MDC
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Old 07-23-2015, 02:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartyG View Post
I seldom dry camp for very long. Plugged in 24/7 when at home. When it comes time to replacing my battery, this is what I'll buy: https://www.batteriesplus.com/Batter...p-27M/SLI27MDC
Only 90 amp hours most group 27 deep cycle batteries I've seen are 105AH.
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Old 07-23-2015, 03:23 PM   #17
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It's a dual purpose battery with CCA capacity. Should work fine for OP's needs, although a true deep cycle 12V would give a few more Ah as you mention.
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Old 07-23-2015, 08:27 PM   #18
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Deep cycle batteries are designed to be discharged down as much as 80% time after time, and have much thicker plates. The major difference between a true deep cycle battery and others is that the plates are SOLID Lead plates - not sponge. This gives less surface area, thus less "instant" power like starting batteries need. Although these can be cycled down to 20% charge, the best lifespan vs cost method is to keep the average cycle at about 50% discharge. Unfortunately, it is often impossible to tell what you are really buying in some of the discount stores or places that specialize in automotive batteries. The golf car battery is quite popular for small systems and RV's. The problem is that "golf car" refers to a size of battery case (commonly called GC-2, or T-105), not the type or construction - so the quality and construction of a golf car battery can vary considerably - ranging from the cheap off brand with thin plates up to true deep cycle brands, such as Crown, Deka, Trojan, etc. In general, you get what you pay for.


I've used Crowns and Trojans and some other forgotten, by me, true deep cycle batteries over the years. The replacement cycle was generally five years and usually after that time a battery would need to be replaced. The rule of thumb is not to add a new battery to a bank of batteries if the existing battery has been in service over one year.
A dual use battery is not a deep cycle because of plate configuration.
For expert advice on true deep cycle batteries I offer the following link, Deep Cycle Battery FAQ, Marine, and Deep-Cycle Batteries.
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Old 07-24-2015, 11:57 PM   #19
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Follow-up...

After I filled the battery with water, I got sitting around here thinking about it... and knowing how I am, I decided that even it it worked ok now, I just know I would never trust it. So I went ahead and ordered that monster that Mike recommended.

It arrived today, and I swapped the the old one out. (that puppy was heavy!) So now one less thing to worry about for a few years.
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:08 AM   #20
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Well, before I took delivery of my 2014 Voltage Epic 3800 I had the dealer replace the single battery with four 6 Volt batteries. Two sets of two in series and the two pairs in parallel.

I seem to recall I got the tip to do that on this forum.

Both pairs in one large black plastic box. They were discharged this Spring and I found the water low, so topped off, plugged into shore power and all is good.

The batteries are Interstate, all copper cables, and I've been asked, but don't have a clue who makes the black plastic box.

Plenty of power for the slides and awnings and everything 12V works great.

Just thoughts,

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