Jump to content

Battery Maintenance Advice Please


Recommended Posts

Bailey Senator. With motor mover fitted.

 

We have our caravan on site using EHU.

 

The Fuller 110ah fitted is shot due to poor maintenance by previous owner and by me I suppose! I am looking for advice on the correct procedures to maintain a new battery.

 

Although the caravan is at the moment on site with EHU, we are intending this year to do a few touring trips with the plan of next year maybe touring quite a bit, so will not be sure if EHU available at all times. With our plan in mind I have a few questions concerning batteries and their correct maintenance.

 

Firstly, when you buy a battery does it need a top up charge before installing in caravan as a matter of course? Or is it a case of some do and some don't . ...just check with meter first?

 

Secondly, I have read that people think that the battery charger in their caravan keeps the battery charge 'topped up' when on EHU and therefore do not require topping up by a more advanced charger (if that is the right terminology!) Is that true or should the voltage on the battery be monitored (using a multimeter) and if it gets to say around 12. 2 volts then remove and charge with correct mains charger? If the battery should be monitored using meter then how often? Once a week, once a month?

 

Thirdly, After using van without EHU obviously the battery will need charging. I have read about the type of battery charger required but there are so many out there at vastly varying costs. Can any members please recommend a few so I can get an idea what is considered a good, reliable charger.

 

Apologies for so many questions in one post. I have read so many articles, reviews and other posts. One article seems to contradict the other, leaving us as confused as we were when we first started researching batteries and there maintenance.

 

Thanks

Paul.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My batteries last a long time, i bought two in 1992, replaced one of them in 2001, sent the other with the van when I traded it in 2003 and the new one came with a gel battery. I am still using the 2001 battery but replaced the gel one in 2011.

I have one battery that lives in the garage and gets charged before wr go away or every 3 months if it has not been away. The other lives in the can and gets charged by the van charger when on hook up, if it has not been away in 3 months I plug the van in and charge it at home. The charger in the garage is a Halfords battery charger nothing special.

When away using the battery I either bench charge then alternately every 5 days, or use them alternately and charge the other one in the car boot using a lead that uses the fridge circuit through a two core cable with an S plug on one end and quick releases on the other. The battery is connected to the q uivk releases, then the cable plugged into the S socket and the boot lid closed on the battery, it works.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Somebody with more knowledge of the Bailey Senator (year?) will be able to comment on whether your van charger is "advanced", or smart, or intelligent. If it is then the charger will look after your battery properly whenever it's connected to EHU.

 

If not it would be worth investing in a CTEK MXS 5. 0, or similar, but it will cost about £65.

 

New batteries should come fully charged but to be sure check with a multimeter that it is at least 12. 8 volts.

 

If your van doesn't have a built in voltmeter which you can observe every time you use the van, then check with a multimeter once a month, or before you go away in the van. The alternative is to plug a cheap Chinese voltmeter into the cigarette lighter socket if you have one in the van LIKE THIS but could be cheaper on eBay.

 

Never let the battery go below 12. 2 volts, but best to put on charge if it drops below 12. 5 volts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With my last caravan I used the mover to get the caravan out, position it onsite

and the reverse for going home. Onsite charging from the caravan charger, then

the c-tek once it had reached full charge. Same procedure at home

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sounds a lot of faff to me, I has a 110ah bought around 8 years ago, on my Ace Award Tristar (2004). Used a mover to take off site and put on, a few weekends away with no EHU, most of the other time it was permanently EHU on our year round pitch or on pitch with EHU. Never looked at it, never charged it (other than by the caravan and car), DON't even own a charger. Caravan serviced every 2 years, they never mentioned it.

Only recently it needed to be replaced but after 7 or 8 years can't complain. It was a sealed battery so didn't need to worry about levels. I think even if it had been in intensive care I could not expected it to last any longer.

Don't worry about it unless you are off power for lengthy periods and then switch everything off or disconnect it, you'll be fine.

Perhaps go for a good make with a 3 or 4 year warranty and make sure it is sealed. No experience with gel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I too think some of the advice is a bit over the top. I have just replaced (unnecessarily I think) , a 5 year old battery because it went flat whilst off hook up at a dealers probably due to the tracker. Normally I leave the van on hookup in my drive, use it for the mover and hook up again on sites and never had any more problems. If Bill Lord has a similar Hymer to the one I had it is very easy to get at the battery under a seat inside the van unlike the shoehorn fit of getting as big as possible battery into the battery compartment on most vans. If you buy a battery try Tanya I ordered one late afternoon and it arrived next morning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like your Hymer size in my van is unimportant there is lots of room. I replaced the gel battery when it stopped performing with a large and heavy lead acid battery, the only problem of access with either that one or the gel one is lifting the weight of and having to stoop to get at it. All my batteries have come from Lowdhams and I go at the beginning of the season when they have just got a large stock of fresh batteries and choose the best they usually of an un named variety. My first message was trying to say that just a little care and a cheap battery charger does just as good a job as buying fancy expensive battery chargers and taking great care of them.

Edited by Bill Lord
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ive just purchased a battery from Tayna, maintenance free I asked. Yes but do not let the voltage drop much below 12. 3v Always use a stage charger with a voltage monitor to swith off when fully charged. The biggest problem is in using an old charger unsupervised the electrolyte boils off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like your Hymer size in my van is unimportant there is lots of room. I replaced the gel battery when it stopped performing with a large and heavy lead acid battery, the only problem of access with either that one or the gel one is lifting the weight of and having to stoop to get at it. All my batteries have come from Lowdhams and I go at the beginning of the season when they have just got a large stock of fresh batteries and choose the best they usually of an un named variety. My first message was trying to say that just a little care and a cheap battery charger does just as good a job as buying fancy expensive battery chargers and taking great care of them.

Hi Bill

I bought a Hymer from Lowdam with the gel battery fitted and did nothing to it and it was still working ok when I parted with the van after 7 years, my point was that doing anything very much to a battery in a UK vans "cupboard" is very difficult due to access and I dont know how much of it is necessary.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Bill

I bought a Hymer from Lowdam with the gel battery fitted and did nothing to it and it was still working ok when I parted with the van after 7 years, my point was that doing anything very much to a battery in a UK vans "cupboard" is very difficult due to access and I dont know how much of it is necessary.

As you say much of it is not necessary. I used to use a lot of CLs that were battery only, and taking the battery out to charge it in the hymer was an illegitimate child of a job. Even though they frequently are tight on space most batteries are easier to take out of a battery box and so easier to deal with in those circumstances.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We bought a shallow 110ah battery a few months ago which makes access so much easier. We have a mover which we always use to hitch, pitch and park up whenever we go away and return. The battery never seems to lose much. We plug it into charge most of the time when away or at home and use portable solar panels when not on Ehu (in summer). But I guess the proof of the pudding is in the eating ! :)

Edited by Shirl250
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some of us like to take care of our stuff, and others don't - each to his own.

And that gains you what?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some of us like to take care of our stuff, and others don't - each to his own.

Some of us take care of stuff to ensure they do a job and have a long life but do not go overboard doing it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was a professional engineer all my working life and when something was described as maintenance free that's how it was treated we did not have the time to overmaintain. This seems to be turning into another judgmental debate where the usual expression "each to his own" is attached to remarks to actually mean I am right and you don't know what you are doing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And that gains you what?

 

Peace of mind that my mover will work when I want it to.

 

I was a professional engineer all my working life and when something was described as maintenance free that's how it was treated we did not have the time to overmaintain. This seems to be turning into another judgmental debate where the usual expression "each to his own" is attached to remarks to actually mean I am right and you don't know what you are doing.

 

We'll have to agree to disagree about how much care we would like to take of our batteries :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peace of mind that my mover will work when I want it to.

 

 

 

We'll have to agree to disagree about how much care we would like to take of our batteries :)

I will guarantee that my batteries will be in a fit state for my mover to work when I want them to using the regime that I outlined earlier. I have only had one leisure battery in 22 years that has needed changing in less than 10 years, how does that record match in with your record of battery ownership? A battery is a storage device, once full there is no point in trying to put more in until some has been removed, not allowing the battery to cycle itself reduces the battery life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This has a good amount of good advice and sound information

 

http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Lead%E2%80%93acid_battery

Ford C-Max and Coachman Festival 380/2 SE 2006    Motto  Carpe Diem

Still trying to find the perfect pitch. ..110 amp Battery+ 65 watt roof mounted Solar and 25 watt Wind Turbine. LED lighting. Status Aerial 315. Loose chattels marked with UV,. Safefill Gas Fitted.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will guarantee that my batteries will be in a fit state for my mover to work when I want them to using the regime that I outlined earlier. I have only had one leisure battery in 22 years that has needed changing in less than 10 years, how does that record match in with your record of battery ownership? A battery is a storage device, once full there is no point in trying to put more in until some has been removed, not allowing the battery to cycle itself reduces the battery life.

 

To be perfectly honest I can't be bothered adopting your regime - too much faffing around swapping batteries over.

I'll continue in my own sweet way if that's OK with you. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

www. batteryfaq. org is a mine of useful information.

 

Depending on your specific caravan, date of manufacture, and charger type it has, it may be advantageous to get a CTEK-type intelligent charger to 'condition' the battery. .. but I've not needed to do that sort of thing since the 2003 MY caravan I purchased new. .. the ca. 1995 model caravan it replaced had the worst on-board charger you could imagine and killed at least one battery for me.

 

An occasional (monthly, or 6 weeks) charge when laid up is all that is needed, although if alarms and trackers are fitted then the frequency of those occasions will be higher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To be perfectly honest I can't be bothered adopting your regime - too much faffing around swapping batteries over.

I'll continue in my own sweet way if that's OK with you. :P

What swapping over? My caravan battery stays in situ 12 months of the year and is charged at least every three months by the charger in the van. My second battery, which is only used when not on hook up, sits on my garage bench and is charged every three months sitting on the bench unless it has bern used for its purpose. When away it sits in the boot of my car and is connected to the caravan when and if needed, it is generally charged from the S socket, but if some kind soul finds me a plug Then and only then will I lift it out and bench charge it.

Batteries like this sort of usage they last a long long time under the regime. How long do your batteries last under the continually on charge routine?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A battery is a storage device, once full there is no point in trying to put more in until some has been removed, not allowing the battery to cycle itself reduces the battery life.

 

Have to disagree with this. If a battery were kept fully charged and never used, it would last forever (within reason). The deeper the discharge, the older it gets. Fundamentally, cycling a LA battery ages it.

 

The best way to maintain a leisure battery is:

  1. Buy a leisure battery. Some cheaper batteries are just starter batteries, these do not perform well under deep discharge (it's best to think of this as anything that isn't 600A for 2 seconds). Heavier is generally better i. e. more lead.
  2. Don't overcharge. I may have lost two batteries to over-charging. Keep the charging current to Capacity / 10 (e. g. 110 / 10 = 11A) maximum. I have no theory to support this, just my own experience.
  3. Consider discharge. The more you discharge, the more you age the battery. For perspective, discharging only to 30% means your battery will be good for 500 cycles, discharge to 80% and that is reduced to 150 cycles.
  4. Don't leave discharged. Sulphation reduces the amount of active material available for the lead-acid chemical reaction and, whilst some sulphation is inevitable, leaving the battery in a discharged state will reduce its life. Additionally, leaving a discharged battery out in the cold may lead to physical damage because the water (through stratification) in the electrolyte may freeze. Re-charge immediately or asap after use.
  5. Levels / maintenance free. The plates should always be covered in electrolyte. Even if you have a maintenance free battery, over-charging could result in the valve operating resulting in the loss of electrolyte
  6. Storage. Refresh the charge every 6 weeks or so. LA batteries do self-discharge.

You should consider fitting solar panel to ensure the battery never stays fully discharged for long.

 

Never discharge below 50% (or 12. 1V).

 

A float charger (like most caravan chargers) will fully charge your battery but it will take significantly longer that a stage charger to do so (don't buy a stage/smart charger if you're always on EHU).

 

Some chargers (e. g. CTEK) purport to reduce sulphation by pulsing current through the battery. I don't have any personal experience of these. Also, some chemical additives may help e. g. bataid.

 

Gel and AGM batteries require specific stage transition voltages - if you buy this type, ensure your charger is compatible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a difference between leaving a battery discharged and leaving it charged. My experience of all sorts if batteries is that keeping them connected to a charger permanently does them no good at all. The Schaudt charger in my caravan is as good if not better than the ctek ones that people recommend, but I would not under any circumstances leave it permanently connected. Bench charging a battery on a regular basis is from my experience a better solution than leaving a leisure battery permanently on charge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks all for lots of helpful advice.

tictag thanks, I have read posts you have made to the forum in the past and questions you answer are always well explained .

 

Thanks again everyone. The info you gave is much appreciated.


The caravan is a Bailey Senator 2007 so I am assuming the charger should be half decent on EHU.

 

Thanks again all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...