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Author Topic: Equalizing Deep Cycle Batteries  (Read 2479 times)
letsrun100
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« on: April 11, 2010, 07:06:33 AM »

I have four Interstate 6V deep cycle batteries, U2200. Interstate recommends equalizing them every 4 to 8 weeks:
http://www.batteries-faq.com/activekb/questions.php?questionid=1

I bought mine last August, over eight months ago and just equalized them yesterday for the first time. I really should have done it sooner.

I had my Trojan T-105s for seven years and didn't equalize them until last year (didn't know I was supposed to). The charge didn't seem to last as long as I thought it should, so after much reading and research, I decided to equalize them. That didn't help a lot, so I bought the new Interstates. I've also made some design changes with our new Cameo install hoping to get as much as I can out of them; shorter wire runs and heavier gauge wire.

Do you equalize your deep cycle batteries? How often? How much voltage, how long?

Thanks,
Jim
(Just returned from our 4 month winter trip, getting ready for our 5 month summer trip. Anyone want to buy a house?)
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2rinKayaker
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 07:35:59 AM »

Here's another that never heard of it.  What's 'equalization' and how is it done?  The article doesn't explain.  Thanks.
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letsrun100
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2010, 10:07:34 AM »

2rinKayaker:
For your reading pleasure. All kinds of information available, but conflicting info on how often. Am I the only one who does this?

http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm
Flooded battery life can be extended if an equalizing charge is applied every 10 to 40 days. This is a charge that is about 10% higher than normal full charge voltage, and is applied for about 2 to 16 hours. This makes sure that all the cells are equally charged, and the gas bubbles mix the electrolyte. If the liquid in standard wet cells is not mixed, the electrolyte becomes "stratified". You can have very strong solution at the bottom, and very weak at the top of the cell. With stratification, you can test a battery with a hydrometer and get readings that are quite a ways off. If you cannot equalize for some reason, you should let the battery sit for at least 24 hours and then use the hydrometer. AGM and gelled should be equalized 2-4 times a year at most - check the manufacturers recommendations, especially on gelled.

http://www.ehow.com/how_5030431_equalize-deep-cycle-batteries.html
Deep cycle batteries need to be equalized periodically. Equalizing is an extended, low current charge performed after the normal charge cycle. This extra charge helps keep all cells in balance. Actively used batteries should be equalized once per week. Manually timed charges should have the charge time extended approximately 3 hours. Automatically controlled chargers should be unplugged and reconnected after completing a charge.

http://www.oasismontana.com/batteries.html
All deep cycle batteries (excepting gel cells or certain glass mat technologies) should be equalized on a regular basis.  This is a "controlled overcharging" which removes sulfates off of the plates and mixes it back with the electrolyte.   It helps keep individual cells in balance.  A battery bank should be equalized at least every three months; certain electronic regulators automatically equalize your batteries every two to four weeks.  Some manufacturers feel that heavily used batteries should be equalized once a week to once a month.  Equalizing produces gassing--which consumes water; add distilled water as needed after equalizing.

http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/257/DocServe.aspx
Equalizing or conditioning batteries refers to a method of charging deep cycle wet- cell batteries
and is intended to restore battery capacity, revive battery efficiency, and extend battery life. The
process involves periodic application of a controlled overcharge cycle to batteries. This type of
charge cycle requires that certain procedures and precautions be followed.

http://www.trojanbattery.com/Tech-Support/FAQ/Charging.aspx
When do I need to perform an equalization charge?
Equalizing should be performed when a battery is first purchased (called a freshening charge) and on a regular basis as needed. How often this might occur with your battery will vary depending on your application. You will need to monitor your battery voltage and specific gravity to determine when equalization is needed. For example, it is time to equalize if the measured specific gravity values are below manufacturer's recommended values after charging (recommended value for Trojan Deep Cycle batteries is 1.277 +/- .007 at 80o F). Equalizing is also required if the specific gravity value of any individual cell varies 30 points or more. Reduced performance can also be an indicator that equalizing is necessary. Equalization should also be performed when individual battery voltages in a battery pack range greater than 0.15 volts for 6 volt batteries or 0.30 volts for 12 volt batteries.
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Lucky Lil
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2010, 08:30:22 AM »

Jim,

This is the first time I have ever heard of this.  Could you please tell us how you do yours.  We also have 4 -6 volt batteries.  Two are Trojan (a few years older) and I am not sure right now what the other 2 are as I am not near our 5er but they are a year old now. Thanks for your comments.

Lil
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P&KCameo
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2010, 10:48:50 AM »

You got good use out of your Trojans.  They say they should only last about 4-5 years.  I have had four of them in my 30ft cruiser for 6 years now.  I just equalized them but only once prior to that.   The equalizing brought the final charge voltage up to 12.6 from 12.5 so there was some improvement.  I think mine are starting to get weak and will need replacing though.  I have an inverter/charger combo with a Link monitor.  It as an equilizing mode.  What it does is super or over charge the batteries at 14.7 or 14.8 volts for a period of time which actually starts boiling the water in the cells.  This cleans the plates off of sulfides (I think or some chemical) so the plates can accept a higher charge and retain it longer.  That is my understanding.  My inverter/charger does it automatically and it takes about 6-8 hours to do.

My Cameo has a three stage charger which automatically senses what charge is needed and gives the batteries what they need whether it is a full 14.7 volts or a trickle charge.  I installed a digital volt meter in my trailer and can watch what the charger is doing at any given time.  It has charged my Trojan T-106's at the 14.7 and also maintained them at 13.5 volts for a period of time.  The charger is a good one but it does not equalize that I know of.  I think if you keep the batteries charged up you should get good life out of them.  My two cents.
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Pat
2010 Cameo 32FWS
2004 Ford SD250 Crew cab 4x4
letsrun100
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 11:55:27 AM »

P&KCameo explained it pretty well. Here's one of several step-by-step articles about equalizing batteries:
http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/257/DocServe.aspx The process I use is described in my charger manual, but the process is basically the same no matter which charger you use.

True, deep cycle batteries need to be equalized periodically to remove sulfates from the plates. This involves applying a "controlled overcharge" voltage of 14.5-15.5 volts (or higher) and higher current, 10-20 amps for 2-6 hours (or more).

The 12 volt batteries that came with your coach are probably NOT deep cycle batteries. If it has a CCA rating, it's not deep cycle, it's a "starting or marine battery" (see below). Typically the battery charger in your coach will have the capability to equalize your batteries if they are deep cycle batteries.  Since most coaches don't have deep cycle batteries, the charger will not have an equalize function. If you don't have deep cycle batteries, you don't need to worry about it. If you do, you ought to read up on this to get the most out of your batteries.

http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm
Types of Batteries
    *  Starting (sometimes called SLI, for starting, lighting, ignition) batteries are commonly used to start and run engines. Engine starters need a very large starting current for a very short time. Starting batteries have a large number of thin plates for maximum surface area. The plates are composed of a Lead "sponge", similar in appearance to a very fine foam sponge. This gives a very large surface area, but if deep cycled, this sponge will quickly be consumed and fall to the bottom of the cells. Automotive batteries will generally fail after 30-150 deep cycles if deep cycled, while they may last for thousands of cycles in normal starting use (2-5% discharge).
    * 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 an 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 (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 the true deep cycle brands, such as Crown, Deka, Trojan, etc. In general, you get what you pay for.
    * Marine batteries are usually a "hybrid", and fall between the starting and deep-cycle batteries, though a few (Rolls-Surrette and Concorde, for example) are true deep cycle. In the hybrid, the plates may be composed of Lead sponge, but it is coarser and heavier than that used in starting batteries. It is often hard to tell what you are getting in a "marine" battery, but most are a hybrid. Starting batteries are usually rated at "CCA", or cold cranking amps, or "MCA", Marine cranking amps - the same as "CA". Any battery with the capacity shown in CA or MCA may or may not be a true deep-cycle battery. It is sometimes hard to tell, as the term deep cycle is often overused. CA and MCA ratings are at 32 degrees F, while CCA is at zero degree F. Unfortunately, the only positive way to tell with some batteries is to buy one and cut it open - not much of an option.

I hope this helps.

Jim
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moo2613
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2010, 02:46:32 PM »

Typically the battery charger in your coach will have the capability to equalize your batteries if they are deep cycle batteries.  Since most coaches don't have deep cycle batteries, the charger will not have an equalize function.

Thank you for the very nice write up, I just learned more about batteries than I have my whole life.  You said that the battery charger in the coach will have the capability to equalize.  Is there a way to turn this function on?  I don't have my coach yet, so I do not know what converter / charger it comes with (I would love to know), I am just wondering.

Thanks
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Brad & Danielle Darrow
Southwest Arkansas
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letsrun100
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2010, 04:18:55 PM »

Oops, I meant to say, ". . . will NOT have the capability . . . " However, I stand corrected. After some checking, my 2010 35SB3 came with a a 12 volt Interstate Deep Cycle/Cranking SRM-27, a marine/RV "hybrid" battery and a pretty good charger, a Progressive Dynamics 9260C INTELI-POWER Charger/Converter.  So, even though the stock battery isn't a true deep cycle battery it did come with a smart charger, the 9260C. And, it looks like a very good charger, I wouldn't hesitate using it.

See: http://www.progressivedyn.com/prod_details/rv_conv/rv_converter_pd9260c_2.html

and

http://www.progressivedyn.com/PD9200_Manual.pdf

It has four modes of charge:

NORMAL MODE: Output voltage set at 13.6 volts DC. This voltage provides good charging rates and low water
usage.

BOOST MODE: If the converter senses that the battery voltage has dropped below a preset level the output voltage
is increased to 14.4 volts DC to rapidly recharge the batteries.

STORAGE MODE: When the converter senses that there has been no significant battery usage for approximately
30 hours the output voltage is reduced to 13.2 volts DC for minimal water usage.

EQUALIZATION MODE: When in storage mode the microprocessor automatically increases the output voltage
to 14.4 volts for 15 minutes every 21 hours. This will help to reduce the buildup of sulfation on the battery plates.

The equalization mode does equalize, but using a slightly different method and only when in storage. I don't know if this method is as effective as the traditional methods I've read about. Probably better than not equalizing at all.

You might want to make sure you specifically discuss the battery and charger issue with the factory or the dealer.

Jim
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