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Leisure Battery- Top Up Or Not?


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I've just had a look at the inside of my battery by unscrewing the tops of each cell. I can see that the metal is exposed and not covered in de ionised water.

 

Should it be topped up? The battery claims to be maintenance free. :unsure:

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The level should be 1/4 inch over the plates, so yes I would recommend topping it up. Although it states maintenance free it may be that you have lost a bit of electrolyte if the battery has been used hard and charged hard. If its quite an old battery nothing to worry about if needs topping up, if its quite new, there may be a reason that you need to investigate to see why your levels are dropping

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I found the same thing with ours - the plates being exposed. I topped it up but put far too much water in it (it was very difficult to judge) and completely ruined the battery. It wouldn't hold a charge and the charger said it was kaput ! I had to buy a new one !!!!

 

Just a word of caution. ..... ;)

2007 Bailey Series 5 Senator Arizona (4 berth, rear bathroom, side dinette) towed by a 57 Kia Sorento XS Auto with Kumho KL17 tyres, Reich Mover, Kampa Rally 390, Caravan Tyres : GT Radial Maxmiler CX 185/80 R14 102R.

 

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If the level is too low then the best thing to do is add EDTA (ebay) and put on charge for around four days (none smart charger) then empty the battery completely and refill with fresh acid (Available on e-bay), of course this depends on the age of the battery.

If a battery is left on charge too long or worked hard or left on a desulphator for a long time then the battery will naturally gas and loose fluid.

If the levels are too low and have been low for a long time then it is likely the battery is damaged as the plates will 'oxidize'.

If you add too much De-ionised water then the Acid will become too diluted and damaged (Stratification), the best thing to do if you have to refill with a fair quantity of De-ionised water is to then put the battery onto the caravan power supply constantly for around four days to make sure the acid gets mixed properly from what I have read.

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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I'd just top it up with deionized water,

Paul B

. .......Mondeo Estate & Elddis Avanté 505 (Tobago)

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Charge the battery then top up as levels rise as it is charged. Distilled water if you can get it. I don't trust de-ionised in theory should be better but in practice that was found not to be the case. Batteries used as stand-by may be maintenance free that is they sit on float all their life as with say an intruder alarm. But same battery cycled will likely lose water specially if using a three stage charger. Yes I know regulations do not allow the used of three stage chargers but they are still fitted as standard to some caravans.

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Distilled water if you can get it. I don't trust de-ionised in theory should be better but in practice that was found not to be the case.

It would depend on if you want to keep your battery warranty - Every site on battery maintenance states to use De-ionised water as it doesn't have the levels of dissolved solids in it.

I think a lot depends on where you live in the country, some areas have very soft water which is not as bad.

 

http://www. tayna. co. uk/tutorials/caring-for-your-battery. php

Edited by dreadly

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.

Mahatma Gandhi

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Yes I know regulations do not allow the used of three stage chargers but they are still fitted as standard to some caravans.

 

I didn't know that, wjat regs are they?

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In theory we have distilled water then one better is de-ionised water. However there are some deionisers sold which to be frank are little more than filters with a pair of electrodes which measure how well the water will conduct electricity but quality of water out depends on quality of water going in. I used one of these devices on the Falklands and batteries were failing after 6 months so in desperation I built my own distillation plant and from that point onwards the batteries started to last longer and longer. Clearly something in the peat laden water was causing a problem likely chemicals added to clear the water which were not working because the water was too cold. These included aluminium salts which was likely what was the route cause.

 

Because of the pour labelling and to be frank some shady practices I would prefer to buy water off the supermarket shelf for steam irons then from auto-electrical outlets I know one in Wrexham went under because of supplying tap water as being distilled water and when the local milk firm lost batteries on their milk floats they had the water analysed and a court case caused the demise of the firm. To be honest it was just one man in the firm who had been told tap water in the area was OK for batteries but it would seem he was miss informed this was over 25 years ago.

 

When working with forklifts I would go through two carboys a week of distilled water topping up 10 forklifts this is far more than we will normally put in our leisure batteries and likely with such a small amount tap water would not cause huge problems but we never know what has been added to tap water to clear bugs etc. If you just happen to use it on the wrong day you could kill a battery just luck as what is in the water on that day.

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I didn't know that, wjat regs are they?

 

A721. 55. 4. 1 Generators and transformer/rectifier unit

If a supply is obtained from a generator or from a low voltage supply via a transformer/rectifier unit, the extra-low.

voltage at the output terminals of the supply unit should be maintained between 11 V minimum and 14 V maximum with applied loads varying from 0. 5 A minimum up to the maximum rated load of the supply unit. Over the same load range, alternating voltage ripple should not exceed 1. 2 V peak to peak.

Since the maximum voltage is 14 volt you can't use a three stage charger as depending on type of battery set for these have either a 14. 4 volt or 14. 8 volt maximum voltage. In theory the 1. 2 volt ripple also means many of the solar panel controllers are also non compliant with the regulations.

 

Items supplied for use in a caravan must be able to run with a voltage between 11 and 14 volt if any item for example a TV was to fail and the voltage was outside the limits then warranty could be void. However how anyone could show it failed due to a 0. 4 volt over voltage I do not know? However I suppose if a TV failed and you found the caravan was fitted with a three stage charger by the manufacturer you could claim against the manufacturer for the replacement! As to if they would cough up is another question.

 

Personally with narrow boats I see the advantage of using a three stage charger but with caravans I can't we in the main stay on sites with power for long enough for a standard float charger to re-charge the battery without the need for a three stage charger. However the solar panel pulse charger is another thing and yes I do think there should be a warning about possible EMC problems but there is really no option but to use this type of charger.

 

Again personally I think the British Standards Institute and IET should only be worried about low voltage supplies in a caravan and should not get involved with the extra low voltage supplies. I have used a caravan with a 6AH battery just enough to smooth the supply and run the water pump in an emergency I used it for 4 years why should I now be told I must have at least a 40AH battery? I think they have over stepped the mark. However although a member of the IET I have no control over what goes into BS7671.

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Since the maximum voltage is 14 volt you can't use a three stage charger as depending on type of battery set for these have either a 14. 4 volt or 14. 8 volt maximum voltage. In theory the 1. 2 volt ripple also means many of the solar panel controllers are also non compliant with the regulations.

 

Items supplied for use in a caravan must be able to run with a voltage between 11 and 14 volt if any item for example a TV was to fail and the voltage was outside the limits then warranty could be void. However how anyone could show it failed due to a 0. 4 volt over voltage I do not know? However I suppose if a TV failed and you found the caravan was fitted with a three stage charger by the manufacturer you could claim against the manufacturer for the replacement! As to if they would cough up is another question.

 

Personally with narrow boats I see the advantage of using a three stage charger but with caravans I can't we in the main stay on sites with power for long enough for a standard float charger to re-charge the battery without the need for a three stage charger. However the solar panel pulse charger is another thing and yes I do think there should be a warning about possible EMC problems but there is really no option but to use this type of charger.

 

Again personally I think the British Standards Institute and IET should only be worried about low voltage supplies in a caravan and should not get involved with the extra low voltage supplies. I have used a caravan with a 6AH battery just enough to smooth the supply and run the water pump in an emergency I used it for 4 years why should I now be told I must have at least a 40AH battery? I think they have over stepped the mark. However although a member of the IET I have no control over what goes into BS7671.

 

Hi Eric,

 

Thanks for that, I have a 3 stage charger in my caravan but it also has a float mode, I generally run it in float mode and it's fine. I haven't seen any ripple on it's output at all in either mode. The solar panel and controller does an excellent job and keeping the battery full most of the time.

 

Regards - John

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I think if I needed to replace my caravan battery charger it would also be a three stage charger. To me biggest EMC problem is the switch mode florescent lights and the pulses from a solar inverter are minor in comparison. Changing to LED is only any good if neighbours also use LED so simply I do not play radio in the caravan at night.

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It would depend on if you want to keep your battery warranty - Every site on battery maintenance states to use De-ionised water as it doesn't have the levels of dissolved solids in it.

I think a lot depends on where you live in the country, some areas have very soft water which is not as bad.

 

http://www. tayna. co. uk/tutorials/caring-for-your-battery. php

Very true, around here ( Rochdale ) the water is very soft and I have never used anything other than boiled tap water in my batteries. My spare leisure battery in the garage is more than 10 years old and still going strong.

Bill

 

Growing old is compulsory, growing up is not.

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ericmark, on 05 Jan 2014 - 12:19 AM, said:

Yes I know regulations do not allow the used of three stage chargers but they are still fitted as standard to some caravans.

 

BS 7671 regs are only a set of guidelines they aren't law!

knarf

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But same battery cycled will likely lose water specially if using a three stage charger.

 

 

A three stage / smart charger modifies its operation when gassing starts in order to prevent further gassing.

 

As it is gassing that causes loss of water why will using a 3 stage charger cause water loss?

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I've just had a look at the inside of my battery by unscrewing the tops of each cell. I can see that the metal is exposed and not covered in de ionised water.

 

Should it be topped up? The battery claims to be maintenance free. :unsure:

Maintenace free batteries are usually "sealed", so don't have screw caps.

 

The plates should be covered, I would also use de ionised water as mentioned, its cheap to buy, we used it to cool our Thyristor stacks, much purer than distilled water.

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A three stage / smart charger modifies its operation when gassing starts in order to prevent further gassing.

 

As it is gassing that causes loss of water why will using a 3 stage charger cause water loss?

A caravan power supply that limits it's output to the float voltage e. g. 13. 8V means that there is very little, if any gassing. A multi-stage charger minimises gassing during it's operation but will, by their very operation, increase the output voltage above the float voltage e. g. 14. 4V. I don't know by how much but a 3-stage charger would increase gassing relative to a standard caravan charger, which is what ericmark was, I believe, getting at.

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When I was in the garage we bought distilled in 5 gallon containers for the car batteries, radiators & windscreen washers, we checked the maintenance free batteries too ;)

Paul B

. .......Mondeo Estate & Elddis Avanté 505 (Tobago)

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Charge the battery then top up as levels rise as it is charged. Distilled water if you can get it. I don't trust de-ionised in theory should be better but in practice that was found not to be the case. Batteries used as stand-by may be maintenance free that is they sit on float all their life as with say an intruder alarm. But same battery cycled will likely lose water specially if using a three stage charger. Yes I know regulations do not allow the used of three stage chargers but they are still fitted as standard to some caravans.

 

I would have thought charging with the plates showing would damage the plates so the water should be added prior to charging, surely adding water whilst it is "rising" will be dangerous as gasses will be emitted. I would never remove a plug and top up during charging, or leave the plugs out as bubbling "acid" water is also dangerous.

 

IMHO this is bad advice and should be avoided.

2013(13) Sorento KX2 2. 2 Diesel Manual, (With smelling clutch) Glittering Metal (Metallic Grey) dragging a 2020 Coachman VIP 520 with a Powrtouch Evolution Motor Mover (Towing @ 80. 0%) :)

 

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IMHO this is bad advice and should be avoided.

I think this is a misunderstanding due to punctuation. What ericmark was trying to say was, "Charge the battery first then top up because levels rise during the charging process." I don't think he was suggesting topping up during the charging cycle.

 

Does anyone know why the electrolyte levels rise during charging? I would have thought the same volume of water is converted to sulphuric acid as with the lead sulphate to lead/oxide.

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Mazda advise their dealers to remove the battery caps while charging the stop start batteries off the car.

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The electrolyte expands due to the heat produced during the charging process.

knarf

Ahhh, in the same way the liquid in a thermometer expands as the temperature increases. Got it. Thanks.

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I would add water to just cover the plates before charging, theres plenty of room for the acid to expand and I'd have took the caps off and rested them over the holes.

 

Once the battery is charged and cooled check the electrolyte again and top up if necessary

Paul B

. .......Mondeo Estate & Elddis Avanté 505 (Tobago)

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