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Unicorn Barcelona - Thinking Of Relocating Battery


AngryofMayfair
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We have a Mk1 Barcelona and I'm considering relocating the battery to be under the fridge, right over the axle. ..

The existing location is way back under the double bed, close to the rear of the van (just in front of the bathroom/shower) and I think it would add to the towing stability by moving this 25kg weight to the centre of the twin axle area, as Bailey are now doing with the current Unicorn designs.

It should fit comfortably in the storage compartment under the fridge, on the floor where I can strap it in with the existing plastic tray and strap/fittings.

The twin flex from the battery can be easily pulled back to that area and re-terminated or even the extra length coiled up and stored behind the battery tray.

I would finish the installation by cutting a vent in the thin plywood surface behind the bottom of the fridge, this leads directly to the existing external lower vent for the fridge so any gas build up would vent directly outside, better than the existing sealed battery box with no vent. ..

 

Any comments welcome. ..

VW Touareg 2011, V6 TDI, Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

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Sounds like a good idea but are you still going to keep the battery in it's sealed box and then vent the box outside OR rely on the new vent to extract the possible fumes from an un-boxed battery.

 

I ask this because there have been several other posts I've seen recently about re-locating batteries and I believe that it is a requirement for a "wet" battery (most caravan batteries are this type) to be sealed from the habitation area because of possible (flammable?) fumes when charging. There is also the consideration that whilst the fridge is running on Gas there is a fire hazard as well if the battery isn't sealed.

 

On your point of coiling up the "spare" cable, I would suggest the better way would be to shorten and re-terminate the cables. This will improve the efficiency of your 12volt system (lower the resistance from the battery to the charger and connection to the car) and remove any chance of a coil of cable getting hot under load.

 

One positive consideration (sorry don't know the way your 'van is kitted and wired up) is the wiring for any motor mover. You only mention the normal 12v feed cables so I can only assume you haven't a mover fitted as there would also be the mover's heavy duty 12volt feed cables and isolation switch to move as well, however when/if one is fitted, the battery position nearer the axles will make the feeds shorter and therefore reduce the voltage drop and improve the performance of the mover. If you have a mover fitted and have just omitted to mention it, remember when you shorten them as well to keep the feed cables from the mover motors to the battery the same length as each other so that they operate at the same speed ( yes it does make a difference :) )

 

Jim

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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You would definitely need to put your battery in its own concealed box as the gases emanating from it are explosive.

You may also have to consider the air-flow around fridge and ventilation holes in floor to help un-used gases from the fridge escape (these vents are probably there already so don't block them. If this is achievable then it sounds like a good plan.

Question why wasn't it done in manufacture?, as by the sounds of it, it would save on materials and achieve a little more storage space.

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Bailey fit the battery rearwards on the Mk1 to reduce the nose weight.

 

I'm not sure with the twin axle how much difference you would see, but later Valencia Mk1's had the battery moved right back for this reason, mine is closer to the axle.

 

Personally I would be reluctant to move a normal battery anywhere near a combustible flame, I'm thinking fridge on gas.

And I'm sure that normally batteries inside caravans are usually the gel type? And possibly have a different charger. ?

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Batteries can generate hydrogen gas which is far more explosive than butane or propane and as it's lighter than air is more likely to rise into the fridge area.

My advice would be to leave it where it is.

2018 S-Max Titanium 2. 0 Tdci (177. 54bhp,180ps,132kw) Powershift + 2015 Unicorn III Cadz, Ventura Marlin porch awning

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Thanks for the comments so far.

I'm confused as to the viability of this project, hence my posting here. ..

The existing situation is the battery is sitting in a plastic spill tray inside a totally enclosed plastic housing that does not appear to have any ventilation to the outside or inside of the van.

If explosive gasses are being generated then how come it is a sealed box and not ventilated to the outside?

(PreviouslyI have actually considered drilling holes in the top of this sealed box (under the bed) to let the gasses disperse through the caravan - I would think the amount of gas would be small compared to the air volume of the van and the fact that it has permanent ventilation to the outside - surely that would be better than gasses building up in a totally sealed box? any thoughts on this?)

My plan would be to just relocate the battery in it's spill tray, any gasses would raise vertically, hit the panel the fridge sits on and then flow out of the new vent that will be at the same level as this but open to the outside fridge vent.

I have attached a pic of what is behind this lower fridge vent. It shows the electrics of the back of the fridge.

If this vent was not open to the outside air it would be very foolish to vent battery gasses into this area but surely the gasses will be dispersed into the outside through the vent and not cause a problem???

post-59142-0-46451900-1410075713_thumb.jpg

Edited by AngryofMayfair

VW Touareg 2011, V6 TDI, Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

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I moved the battery on my last Coachman using a bought a battery box which was a bit like a plastic breadbox and fitted it in that. The battery had a plastic vent tube that took the gases away. I did not shorten any cables so when I traded it in it was an easy job to put everything back to the original spec.

 

Leisure batteries used to come with a vent tube but my last one didn't so maybe thats a feature that is no longer available.

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If a battery is sealed how would it emit fumes? Even in a vented locker, hydrogen which is a a very light gas will accumulate in the top of the sealed locker with nowhere to escape as the vent holes are at the bottom. Probably like the OP I am confused about this venting of gas off a sealed battery and where it vents to as our current battery box has no vents on the top?

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Generally the battery shouldn't gas as the charger voltage is set to below that which causes gassing. However there are plenty of reports of chargers failing and boiling the battery causing significant gassing and in some cases exploding the battery.

 

Locating it under a fridge which has a gas burner and electrical circuits with relays/thermotats which may cause sparking (has your fridge got a spark igniter) just sounds like a recipe for a disaster. You won't know if there's been a gas build up until the side of the van disappears.

 

I'm not sure what the insurance company would say if there was an explosion and you had moved the battery to such a vulnerable location.

 

Very few batteries are totally sealed, all have vents which will low the escape of gas in the event of a fault or overcharging to avoid the case splitting or exploding.

So called sealed batteries are usually just maintenance free wet batteries and usually have a small vent to allow the escape of gas. More expensive types like gel filled or valve regulated recombination batteries will always have a safety-valve, just in case.

Batteries explode when the hydrogen gas gets ignited either by an external spark or flame or a breakdown inside one of the cells causing an internal spark.

 

In the end it's up to you but I hope I'm not parked next to you if there's a fault.

Edited by matelodave

2018 S-Max Titanium 2. 0 Tdci (177. 54bhp,180ps,132kw) Powershift + 2015 Unicorn III Cadz, Ventura Marlin porch awning

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I bought a battery that did not come with a vent tube, I rang the company and they sent one in the post FOC, they said it should have come with one. (Banner)

Land Rover Discovery and Conquerer 630

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Generally the battery shouldn't gas as the charger voltage is set to below that which causes gassing. However there are plenty of reports of chargers failing and boiling the battery causing significant gassing and in some cases exploding the battery.

 

Locating it under a fridge which has a gas burner and electrical circuits with relays/thermotats which may cause sparking (has your fridge got a spark igniter) just sounds like a recipe for a disaster. You won't know if there's been a gas build up until the side of the van disappears.

 

I'm not sure what the insurance company would say if there was an explosion and you had moved the battery to such a vulnerable location.

 

Very few batteries are totally sealed, all have vents which will low the escape of gas in the event of a fault or overcharging to avoid the case splitting or exploding.

So called sealed batteries are usually just maintenance free wet batteries and usually have a small vent to allow the escape of gas. More expensive types like gel filled or valve regulated recombination batteries will always have a safety-valve, just in case.

Batteries explode when the hydrogen gas gets ignited either by an external spark or flame or a breakdown inside one of the cells causing an internal spark.

 

In the end it's up to you but I hope I'm not parked next to you if there's a fault.

I agree with these comments. The potential risk however small will be worse.

Chris in Warwickshire, Elddis Odyssey 482 (2008), Mitsubishi Outlander diesel, 2017

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but are you forgetting there is a hole in the bottom of the door where the cable passes thorough for mains hook up which could also act as a vents

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Hi Matelodave, re:AngryofMayfairs post, SPOT ON could have written it myself,ANGRY don't park near me or I will be changing my name to ANGRY KOLEOS of KENT :o Good idea BUT not under or near Fridge

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If explosive gasses are being generated then how come it is a sealed box and not ventilated to the outside?

(PreviouslyI have actually considered drilling holes in the top of this sealed box (under the bed) to let the gasses disperse through the caravan - I would think the amount of gas would be small compared to the air volume of the van and the fact that it has permanent ventilation to the outside - surely that would be better than gasses building up in a totally sealed box? any thoughts on this?)

 

Be under no illusions, hydrogen gas is given off during charging and discharging, as you increase the current flow the gas production increases. If you overcharge the battery by either charger fault or poor charger design a greater volume of gas will be produced. Hydrogen is extremely explosive and you should tread very carefully with this. I see nothing wrong in moving the battery if that's what you want to do but it MUST be in a sealed box that has a vent to the outside to safely get rid of the Hydrogen.

As others have said, you need to keep an eye on the nose weight too.

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but are you forgetting there is a hole in the bottom of the door where the cable passes thorough for mains hook up which could also act as a vents

But that hole is filled with mains cable when th battery is being charged. ..

Also it's at the bottom of the sealed box which will not allow the lighter-than-air explosive gasses to escape. ..

I'm beginning to suspect that this 'airtight' cubicle is not actually airtight to the interior of the van - the exterior looks airtight as it has a rubber (waterproof) seal but perhaps it's not quite as airtight inside and it would allow hydrogen to escape through the caravan interior? Suerly Bailey would not allow for explosive gasses to build up in this battery enclosure???

it MUST be in a sealed box that has a vent to the outside to safely get rid of the Hydrogen.

As others have said, you need to keep an eye on the nose weight too.

Well it's not in a vented box as it is now delivered from Bailey Australia, it appears to be a sealed box with no vents at the top. ..

I don't think the nose weight would increase dramatically with the battery sitting directly over the twin axles, but it would reduce sway inertia where the 25kg battery in it's present position could become 10x that weight if the van starts swaying. ..

The Aussie version is stamped for 150kg ball (nose) weight, the chassis is strengthened during construction.

We have also removed the two large 9kg gas bottles (total 36kg) and fitted 2 x 5kg to reduce nose-weight.

Edited by AngryofMayfair

VW Touareg 2011, V6 TDI, Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

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Angry does make a valid point about the present battery box, I have never seen any ventilation, someone did mention the cable entry as ventilation but on my battery box the compartment is separated and sealed via a sponge strip.

 

However I see zero advantages to moving the battery over the axle?

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Again, thanks for the replies so far - it's looking like the best thing would be to not do this relocation without at least using a sealed box with vent pipe - that would make it safer than it is as delivered by Bailey Australia. ..

The other option would be to relocate it to the bottom of the chest of drawers immediately next to the fridge (just before the door) - this has a section where the GPS tracker used to be (doesn't work in Aus hence it is now removed) and is away from danger of ignition from gas build up - any gas would just disperse into the van, the van has in-built permanent ventilation to the outside via vents in the floor and roof panels. ...

VW Touareg 2011, V6 TDI, Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

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Angry does make a valid point about the present battery box, I have never seen any ventilation, someone did mention the cable entry as ventilation but on my battery box the compartment is separated and sealed via a sponge strip.

 

However I see zero advantages to moving the battery over the axle?

Another Bailey design fault?

 

I wouldn't want a battery venting to the interior for sure.

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Another Bailey design fault?

 

I wouldn't want a battery venting to the interior for sure.

I really don't see an issue with that - it would be a very small amount or percentage compared to the volume of air (that is being refreshed anyway) in the van interior.

Less than a fart in a cart-load? :)

This is not cyanide gas we are dealing with here. ...

Not sure there is any design problem - more a paranoia and things getting blown (!) out of proportion???

FWIW, I have seen other caravan designs here that have two or more batteries just sitting in an open box under the bed - no sealed compartment whatsoever. ..

 

 

However I see zero advantages to moving the battery over the axle?

Well Bailey do or at least they are making quite a deal of the fact that they are now fitting the battery directly over the axle in the new Unicorns. ..

I do see that in it's present position the weight of the battery would be magnified substantially if a sway developed.

I have not had (as yet) any 'nasties' whilst towing the van but I just thought it might be a good idea to minimise the weight at the rear end

Edited by AngryofMayfair

VW Touareg 2011, V6 TDI, Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

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I really don't see an issue with that - it would be a very small amount or percentage compared to the volume of air (that is being refreshed anyway) in the van interior.

Less than a fart in a cart-load? :)

This is not cyanide gas we are dealing with here. ...

Not sure there is any design problem - more a paranoia and things getting blown (!) out of proportion???

FWIW, I have seen other caravan designs here that have two or more batteries just sitting in an open box under the bed - no sealed compartment whatsoever. ..

 

 

Angry,

You asked for advice, you've been given good advice, if you don't want to take that advice that's absolutely fine but please don't try to argue the advice is wrong or justify not following the sensible advice given. I have witnessed a battery going up in a well ventilated place, the lost the sight in one eye and received acid burns to his face. The spark that set it off was the brushes in an electric motor, the battery was a small motorcycle sized one, it was horrific, just prior to the explosion there was no smell, no sign of anything nasty.

 

I hope all goes well for you, whatever you decide.

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Angry,

You asked for advice, you've been given good advice, if you don't want to take that advice that's absolutely fine but please don't try to argue the advice is wrong or justify not following the sensible advice given. I have witnessed a battery going up in a well ventilated place, the lost the sight in one eye and received acid burns to his face. The spark that set it off was the brushes in an electric motor, the battery was a small motorcycle sized one, it was horrific, just prior to the explosion there was no smell, no sign of anything nasty.

 

I hope all goes well for you, whatever you decide.

Relax, thanks for the advice - as I mentioned in previous replies, thanks to the thoughts I see here I will probably not relocate the battery or if I do it will be in an enclosed box with a vent pipe.

My main reason for continuing the thread is I am questioning the experts around here as to why the current battery box has no vents and what happens to any possible excess hydrogen. ..

FWIW I have worked with accumulator installations over many years - quit e a few of them consisted of banks of 12v accumulators wired in series to supply 120V master clock systems in factories. These large installations were constantly trickle charged and I'm sure a lot of gas was produced, funnily enough (this was long before Health & Safety took over our lives) the rooms were never adequately ventilated for this large amount of gassing and we never had any explosions even though we were fairly lax with our awareness of the dangers - one of the maintenance guys always had a cigarette in his mouth as he worked on topping up the batteries :)

Edited by AngryofMayfair

VW Touareg 2011, V6 TDI, Bailey Unicorn Barcelona

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Normally very little if any gas is given off, problems only arise in the worst case scenario.

 

Bailey have relocated the battery location on the U3 and as you say claim stability as the reason.

I'm not saying their wrong but on the other hand its impractical to have all the weight over the axle.

 

I remember having an end kitchen layout which only had an ex works nose weight of 35kg, if you didn't drop a rear leg and stepped inside the caravan would and did tip up!

 

When I tow my single axle van I always carry two empty 40L water hogs and waste container in the end shower room, and the stability is fine, if I put them nearer the axle then the NW becomes excessive, the UK chassis has only a 100kg limit, ex works its 88kg.

Edited by xtrailman
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Relax, thanks for the advice - as I mentioned in previous replies, thanks to the thoughts I see here I will probably not relocate the battery or if I do it will be in an enclosed box with a vent pipe.

My main reason for continuing the thread is I am questioning the experts around here as to why the current battery box has no vents and what happens to any possible excess hydrogen. ..

FWIW I have worked with accumulator installations over many years - quit e a few of them consisted of banks of 12v accumulators wired in series to supply 120V master clock systems in factories. These large installations were constantly trickle charged and I'm sure a lot of gas was produced, funnily enough (this was long before Health & Safety took over our lives) the rooms were never adequately ventilated for this large amount of gassing and we never had any explosions even though we were fairly lax with our awareness of the dangers - one of the maintenance guys always had a cigarette in his mouth as he worked on topping up the batteries :)

Clearly truth in the saying better to be born lucky than rich.

 

Good luck

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but are you forgetting there is a hole in the bottom of the door where the cable passes thorough for mains hook up which could also act as a vents

Not much good if the gas is lighter than air?

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but are you forgetting there is a hole in the bottom of the door where the cable passes thorough for mains hook up which could also act as a vents

You seem to be forgetting that hydrogen gas is lighter than air. It rises so would not be vented through holes in the bottom of the locker door.

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