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leiisure batteries and charger


boxer1

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I own a 1998 autotrail. I have two 110amp batteries. Over the years during winter I would charge the batteries leaving it charging for several days. I had no problems with this until this year when the carb alarm went off. When I entered the van there was a strong smell of acid. One of the batteries is sealed and the other serviceable. The serviceable battery was dry so I put water in it and tried to charge it but it would not hold the charge. The second battery is taking the charge but very poor output.

I think my charger is a Zigg, Model CTAMP/12a.

What I wanted to know does the charger cut out when the batteries are charged or could there be a problem with the charger.

I was thinking of changing the charger to a c-tek. Are they difficult to fit Do I have to wire it up to my control panel or could I use the wires from the zigg.

I was also going to purchase two banner 110amp gel batteries

Boxer

 

 

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When the batteries are getting fully charged the voltage from the charger will drop from 14.4v down to 13.8v. If it doesn't it shouldn't be left on.

The ctek chargers are ok but the Lidl ones are only £13.99 and just as good quality. I use my Lidl charger just for the engine battery, I've wired it into the charger supply via a fused spur. It charges at something like 4 amps at first so should be fine for most vans. They can also be left on continuously.

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You don't say how old the batteries are but it sounds as if they may be dis-similar and that one or both might be knackered.

 

The only real way to find out is to fully charge them with a mutistage charger like a Ctek or similar and then check their residual voltages off charge and off load for a few days to see how they stand up.

 

You can use the Ctek in the van. Just disconnect both batteries from the van wiring and from each other, plug it into a 3 pin socket and clamp on the leads, one battery at a time, not forgetting to switch of your Zig charger and insulate the loose battery terminal connections to prevent any risk of shorting.

 

The jury is still out on the best kind of batteries to use but your 25 year old Zig unit may not be able to provide the correct charging regime for gel batteries, however it is not something I know about so I could be wrong, and I really have no idea whether the engine alternator charging will be OK for gel either - sorry?

 

Engine alternators charge at 14.4 volts but I seem to recall , and again I could be wrong, the Zig and similar on board chargers might only charge at 13.8 volts to reduce the risk of gassing - and the quality and capacity of charge level suffers as a result.

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StuartO - 2015-04-07 7:56 AM

 

Charles - 2015-04-06 7:03 PM

 

...The ctek chargers are ok but the Lidl ones are only £13.99 and just as good quality...

 

That's a bold opinion - got any experience/evidence to back it up?

 

Yes . I have both. The Zig was purchased when I Had the BMW (bike) and used to maintain the battery during winter layup, it now does same service on the car when we are abroad.

 

The Lidle (Actually from Aldi). is a recent purchase to maintain a "Spare" caravan battery when not on the "Van". It appears to do the same job as efficiently and so far without any Issues.

 

Pete

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PeteH - 2015-04-07 8:12 AM

 

StuartO - 2015-04-07 7:56 AM

 

Charles - 2015-04-06 7:03 PM

 

...The ctek chargers are ok but the Lidl ones are only £13.99 and just as good quality...

 

That's a bold opinion - got any experience/evidence to back it up?

 

Yes . I have both. The Zig was purchased when I Had the BMW (bike) and used to maintain the battery during winter layup, it now does same service on the car when we are abroad.

 

The Lidle (Actually from Aldi). is a recent purchase to maintain a "Spare" caravan battery when not on the "Van". It appears to do the same job as efficiently and so far without any Issues.

 

Pete

 

Well unfortunately I've got totally the opposite experience! I bought an Aldi charger and it boiled every single battery I connected it to. So much so that every battery ended up sat in a puddle of acid! It went in the bin and I bought a Ctek and have never regretted it.

 

Keith.

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One of my reasons for selling my autotrail was the poor quality of the charging unit. In the end I used a pair of independent battery keepers used by motorbikers. I never trusted the auto trail charger after it allowed power to drain from the main starter battery leading to us having to call out a german breakdown service to get going again.however its always best to have leisure batterys of the same age and type.michael
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terry1956 - 2015-04-07 9:53 AM

I never trusted the auto trail charger after it allowed power to drain from the main starter battery leading to us having to call out a german breakdown service to get going again.

 

After suffering similar flat battery issues many years ago we carry a set of good quality jump leads for just such an event and although we have been lucky enough not to need them (yet!) for over 10 years, others we have met abroad have been glad to borrow them to get going!

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Thanks for the replies. The batteries and charger would be approx 8yrs old. It would appear that they are dead. They have done me well for that time. As far as I know the zig charger has charged them well over that time. Stupid question whats the difference in a wet battery and a gel battery. Are the gel batteries more difficult to charge. Are there certain batteries that the zig would not be able to charge. How do I know what two batteries my charger would charge properly

 

Boxer

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Gel batteries are fully sealed except for an emergency pressure valve, the electrolyte is in the form of a gel rather than liquid, they can be mounted any way up.

Gel take roughly twice as long to charge, but have a DOD of 80% ordinary wet cells have a DOD of 50%.

DOD is depth of discharge that you shouldn't take a battery below if you want it to last, e.g. a 100 A/H wet cell you should not use more than 50 A/H before recharging with a gel it would be 80 A/H, so a 80 A/H gel battery can replace a much larger wet cell with no performance loss.

 

If you charge a gel on a charger set up for wet cell it will never get a full charge, if you charge a wet cell on a charger set up for Gel, it will fry it.

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Keithl - 2015-04-07 9:36 AM

 

PeteH - 2015-04-07 8:12 AM

 

StuartO - 2015-04-07 7:56 AM

 

Charles - 2015-04-06 7:03 PM

 

...The ctek chargers are ok but the Lidl ones are only £13.99 and just as good quality...

 

That's a bold opinion - got any experience/evidence to back it up?

 

Yes . I have both. The Zig was purchased when I Had the BMW (bike) and used to maintain the battery during winter layup, it now does same service on the car when we are abroad.

 

The Lidle (Actually from Aldi). is a recent purchase to maintain a "Spare" caravan battery when not on the "Van". It appears to do the same job as efficiently and so far without any Issues.

 

Pete

 

Well unfortunately I've got totally the opposite experience! I bought an Aldi charger and it boiled every single battery I connected it to. So much so that every battery ended up sat in a puddle of acid! It went in the bin and I bought a Ctek and have never regretted it.

 

Keith.

 

I suspect that Aldi and Lidl have both stocked batches of battery chargers of different sorts at different times. There is always the chance that they will buy a batch of really good multi-stage chargers, capable of optimal charging of gel as well as liquid batteries, equivalent in all respects to a CTEK. But there is perhaps more chance that at only £13 or so theirs will be a basic model which just applies a steady voltage of about 14.5- 15 volts to the battery and will therefore be capable of boiling it dry if left on charge too long.

 

Next time I see some charegers in there I'll have a closer look.

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For me batteries are far too expensive and important to beggar about with iffy chargers, so a couple of years ago I bought one of the established best at the time and I bought once only knowing that it will do, and does do, exactly what it says on the label!

 

However technology moves on and in time what was the best is no longer the best solution and I am happy to update the charger when it is established to be a worthwhile exercise.

 

Similarly with multi meters a cheapy is quite good enough to take away in case of problems but I prefer a decent meter at home against which I can check the cheapies in case of doubt.

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I have a CTEK from quite a few years ago and a newer one, because I mistakenly ordered two when I bought my son one as a present last year. There is supposed to be a difference but I think it's mostly cosmetic - more fancy lights to illustrate the stage of charge rather than anything fundamental about the staged charging process and the different end charge for a gel-type battery. Not enough difference the discard the older one anyway.

 

But good batteries are expensive, so choosing those carefully and looking after them properly is important. If I had an old British MH with less than robust charging arrangements, as many seem to have, I think I would be updating them too.

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The Ctamp/12a is one of the power supplies we repair but it is not one of the best. However it is tough.

Like most Motorhome/Caravan chargers it is actually a Power Supply that charges batteries, not a straight charger like a Car Battery Charger.

Please don't use a Car battery based charger unit like the CTEK as they are not designed to for use as a Habitation charger, there is a BIG difference.

The usual rule for choosing a Charger is to get one that will fully charge the bank of Batteries you have by dividing the battery bank by 10 to obtain the minimum charger output. So 2 x 110Ah = 220Ah / 10 = 22amps charger output.

Or, more normally, choose your battery bank based on the chargers capability. If the charger is 12amp then the battery bank size is limited at 10 times that = 120Ah. This is known as the 10 times rule and is universal around the World.

 

Most sophisticated Motorhome 'Chargers' are actually power supplies that charge batteries, if there is no battery connected they will still sit there waiting for a power demand and supply it as required, usually at around 12.4v. When the demand for power is removed they go into a sleep mode waiting for the next request for volts, like a light being turned on, etc.

When they detect a battery the voltage goes up to 14.2v to provide battery charging, usually with multi staging. If the battery is removed they revert back to 12.4v and 'sleep'. This is a really neat trick that takes a lot of electronic wizardry that a car charger does not have. In a Motorhome most people want lights if they need them regardless of how hard it is to deliver that electricity. They don't want to sit there in the Dark without a Water pump just because the going gets tough. As a result a Motorhome Habitation charge/power/supply has no safety shutdown mechanism, it just does it's best until failure. It is up to the user to ensure the battery doesn't get so bad it causes failure.

 

A car battery charger, single or multi stage, is designed to bring a battery up to a charge that will make that battery serviceable for use to start a Car engine, that does not mean it will be fully charged.

If the battery is large 100Ah+ and the charger only 7A it is unlikely to bring the battery up to a 'fully charged' state, but this does not matter for a Car Battery (or Motorhome Starter or Motor Bike battery) because these will usually start an engine when only 60% charged. Hence the manufacturers claiming that it will cope with a bigger battery than the usual 10 times the charger output rule.

They will not bring a big battery up to full charge in the way it needs to be for Motorhome use. If it finds the battery hard going or there is no battery there to charge it goes into shutdown

 

Secondly most Car battery chargers do not have reverse flow circuitry when the 220v supply is removed. If you put a car battery on charge and then turn off the 240v supply at the wall, the power you have just put into the battery will then leach back through the charger, running the battery flat. How long depends on the charger, some days some weeks. That is why when you charge up a Car battery if you remove 220v you must take off the battery Croc Clips.

Car battery charger characteristics are clearly undesirably in a habitation Battery unit.

 

I am pretty certain that your Ctamp/12A has been unable to keep your 2 x 110Ah batteries up to full charge (probably less than 75%). As a result they have most likely sulphated, failed prematurely and taken out the charger as they went. Very common scenario.

 

If you fit a 3amp CTEK as suggested you can imagine how long your new 220Ah battery bank will last when the universal rule for a Habitation charger requires you to have 22amps?.

Yes I know the blurb says it is very clever for its size and punches above it's weight, but Ronnie Biggs said he was Innocent.

I take these things apart for a living, and if it was my money I would not be buying a CTEK charger, especially not a 22amp one at mega money.

May I suggest you go on Amazon, search for Amperor Charger and buy either the 18amp or 23amp unit at about £85. It is a proper Motorhome/Caravan Power supply/charger, both single and multi stage switchable.

 

It is not as sophisticated as the German/Italian Power Supply/Chargers which have automatic switching between Power Supply mode and Charger mode, that is an option you select at installation.

Suggest you opt for 3 stage mode. Connect straight to the Battery with a 25a fuse.

It is good, however don't expect it to tolerate a battery bank bigger than 2 x 100Ah or poor batteries.

 

Replace your batteries with Wet acid ones and you should notice a massive difference on the amount of Ah you now have available versus before.

Please don't buy the Banner Gel (you probably mean AGM?) you write of as they take twice as long to charge and are not suited to any Motorhome Chargers we have yet seen. For example your Ctamp/12A with its fixed 13.8v output would have destroyed them in months as they like a 14.8v initial charge. The Banner batteries own web site now says that AGM batteries should not be retro fitted into a Motorhome in which they were not originally fitted unless an 'expert' has deemed the charging environment suitable.

 

If the batteries are inside the Motorhome without venting then choose Varta Silver Dynamic 100Ah as these are guaranteed not to vent any gas for 5 years and only cost £87, see : http://www.aandncaravanservices.co.uk/battery-technology.php

 

 

 

 

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aandncaravan - 2015-04-12 9:37 PM

 

.........

If the batteries are inside the Motorhome without venting then choose Varta Silver Dynamic 100Ah as these are guaranteed not to vent any gas for 5 years and only cost £87, see : http://www.aandncaravanservices.co.uk/battery-technology.php

 

I am afraid I am going to have to comment on this as it affects safety.

There is no guarantee the silver dynamic batteries will not vent any gas for 5 years. It is dependant on the service condition of the battery. You will also vent gases if charged at high ambient temperatures and as many of us travel to very warm climates in our Motorhomes then gassing is very likely. There are also the risks of operating the battery with say a faulty charger, solar regulator, or alternator and it gets charged at too high a voltage resulting in gassing.

Please fit a vent tube if installed inside the van or enclosed locker for safety. The Varta SIlver dynamic battery can vent gasses and will vent gases during its lifetime.

 

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Quote from the Bosch literature.... "The double labyrinth-type cover ensures that evaporated fluid cannot escape from the battery. This makes it 100 % maintenance-free, as well as leak and spill-proof. Suitable for installation in passenger compartment thanks to central gas vent."

 

I suspect some people are misunderstanding this and assuming because it says it is 100% maintemance free it loses no water and therefor does not gas. Wrong! It has enough reserves of Electrolyte to last 5 years under normal servive conditions.

 

Suitable for use in passenger compartment thanks to central gas vent is being read as safe in passenger compartment. True as long as you fit a vent tube to the central gas vent port.

Hope this clarifies it for those misreading the sales literature or website.

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Sir, you have my respect as you clearly have real indepth knowledge.

 

However, I disagree with you in this instance.

As you point out, the Bosch/Varta literature states, "cover ensures that evaporated fluid cannot escape from the battery".

Evaporated fluid is Gas isn't it? This is not about spilt liquid this, is specifically any evaporated fluid.

I.e. Gas of any type which it states quite clearly CANNOT ESCAPE?

It states "EVAPORATED fluid cannot escape from the battery".

That is guaranteed for 5 years

Surely as gas tight as you can get?

 

You are correct in thinking that a normal wet acid battery will tend to gas at higher temperatures.

However, because of the high silver content and Powerframe technology the Bosch S5 is actually more stable charging at high temperatures than even a Gel and AGM which will still gas more under all of the the same extreme charging circumstances you highlight.

AGM and GEL batteries are only gas tight during normal use, they will still vent Gas under the adverse situations you document making the Bosch S5 no less safe

 

In this respect the Bosch S5 is actually safer than its Gel and AGM equivalents which will Gas MORE at higher temperatures.

 

Further, AGM and Gel both have an intolerance to anything other than a very tight charge profile. There is actually a GREATER risk of AGM and GEL batteries reacting more severely to a charger fault and gassing to destruction. An S5 is far more tolerant. In the very worst case it will take much longer to destruct, giving time for detection to take place and action taken. Under the same extremes of fault a Gel and AGM will destruct far more quickly, and by personal experience more violently.

 

I say the situations you highlight are exceptional ones, but ones in which the S5 will still react less dangerously than either Gel or AGM. Yet we have seen both AGM and Gel gassed and damaged in basically NORMAL situations (i.e. not a battery fault nor a charger fault) but ones where the charger program switch was set inappropriately. This is actually a more common occurrence than either the abnormal Battery or charger failure examples you use. Yet the S5 would shrug off this type of issue, that would destroy and Gas AGM and Gel, again tipping the safety margin in favour of the S5.

 

Sorry, but we think the Bosch S5 is actually a safer battery than it's equivalents, by some margin.

 

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aandncaravan - 2015-04-13 3:56 AM

 

Evaporated fluid is Gas isn't it? This is not about spilt liquid this, is specifically any evaporated fluid.

I.e. Gas of any type which it states quite clearly CANNOT ESCAPE?

It states "EVAPORATED fluid cannot escape from the battery".

That is guaranteed for 5 years

Surely as gas tight as you can get?

 

 

Evapororated fluid is different from gas and is better termed a vapour.

The gas consists of Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Evaporated fluid consists of water and sulphuric acid and condenses in the labyinth of the top cover and drips back into the cells along with any water from recombination catalysts if added to the top cover.

 

You make some very good points re safety under fault conditions in comparison with a Gel or AGM but the bottom line is an AGM and especially a GEL will give a far greater cycle life. You can also discharge an AGM and especially a GEL far deeper with lower sulphation and deterioration of the battery. Swings and roundabouts. The only reason it has better high temperature tolerance is because it can gas compared to an AGM or Gel without deteriorating the battery.

 

I do not deny it is a safer battery than its equivalents but its equivalents are starter batteries not true leisure batteries of a semi traction type, AGM, or Gel. You still need a vent tube fitted for safety and I know many fit gels and AGM thinking they are sealed and safe for use in habitation area. They are only safe when used under correct operating conditions and I agree with you this is a far safer battery, but only if fitted with a vent tube, but a semi traction fitted with a vent tube is just as safe.

 

I think we need to agree to differ on some points as otherwise we will be debating this for ever.

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Sorry but a Fluid is defined as a " liquid or Gas, in which the component particles (generally molecules) can move past one another. Fluids flow easily.....".

 

Bosch state very clearly that is GAS and liquid tight. No FLUID loss at all.

 

You are also wrong about the Varta Silver Dynamic/ Bosch S5 tolerating high temperatures only because it gasses. That is true on an ordinary Battery, but not the S5. The S5 will not gas at high temperatures until well after a Gel or AGM has already begun gassing, thanks to the higher Silver content

 

We use a tired Varta Silver battery that has been damaged by the load of an Inverter to test the AGM chargers that we repair for Boats, as it places quite a big load on the AGM charger giving them a work out.

The Battery charges without venting ANY gas, even at an AGM's 14.8v.

As an experiment we charged it at 16v and even though you could hear the occasional bubbling through the acid, no Gas was vented at all.

We have done a lot of research on these Bosch S5/Varta Silver batteries. Cut one open and compare it to any other Leisure or Starter battery in the up to £150 price bracket and tell me it isn't better THAN BOTH types by a long way.

 

You also write, " the bottom line is an AGM and especially a GEL will give a far greater cycle life".

This is a correct statement IF the AGM battery is charged and maintained in accordance with the Battery manufacturer Instructions. However, not one Motorhome we know of made before 2014 has an AGM charger.

When charged on a compromise setting, like Gel, they don't get fully charged and degrade very quickly. AGM do work well on Boats where an AGM charger AND appropriate Alternator is often available.

 

So yes an AGM battery can be a great asset, but not when used in the average Motorhome, it just doesn't get properly charged. When they go, usually in less than 2 years, they destroy the Charger, around 40% also take out the Alternator.

 

On the Ctamp/12a charger at the start of this thread with it's 13.8v fixed output, an AGM battery would not have lasted a year of real use.

 

Presumably that is why Banner now say on their website that AGM batteries should never be retro fitted to a Motorhome that did not have them as original equipment?.

 

 

 

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Hi

 

Whilst I have No axe to grind here either way. I have to report, that I DO use a c-tec for long periods, (Due to being abroad a lot) and my Experience is that the batteries are not visibly affected. According to Monitored readings on my Digital Meter (calibrated) It performs as the maker suggests it should.

 

Also. Whilst the technicality of Gassing or not can be debated. I personally would NEVER place a wet, Or indeed ANY type battery in any compartment without the use of EXTERNAL Ventilation, as accidental venting CAN (and does Take Place) Not because I don't trust the "Science" but I don't trust the makers!.

 

There are too many "recalls" across the automotive industry to be complacent about it!!!.

 

Circa 1972. we had a battery explode in the emergency lighting bank of a Ship. Fortunately no one was injured, but the subsequent fire destroyed the entire equipment and had to fought using SCBA, due to the presence of fumes and acid residue. The actual cause was never discovered but was listed in the Survey/accident report as "probably due to overcharging".?

 

Pete

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  • 3 years later...

Got this email this afternoon which is an effective update on this thread where we recommended the fitment of Bosch S5 Starter batteries at £85 versus the very inferior Starter based budgets for pretty much the same cost -

 

"Allan, on the advice in 2014 from your website I fitted 2 x Bosch S5 batteries to my Motorhome (ebl99).

I am very impressed with them, We have always tried to keep them above 12.4 and then they get topped up by the solar panel. In winter again we are careful with them!

I had to check back through my emails to see how old they were as I wasn’t sure.

They have been fitted over 4 years and had 90% use away from hook up!

How will I know when I need to replace them? Not noticed any issues yet 4 years on!!!

Thanks Stacey"

 

Only had poor feedback about one set of Bosch S5 Starter batteries and that was on a big Inverter which just overloaded them.

 

 

A little while after this thread Derek and Brambles both pointed out that the Varta LFD90 was also Powerframe technology and more acceptable than 'A Starter battery' so we championed those instead.

The rest is history.

 

Not only have the Varta LFD90's been proven not to lose fluid, but the new Banner and Yuasa Leisure battery ranges are now also listing, when it comes to fluid loss, as ZERO. With particular emphasis on this 'Zero', as opposed to 'low' which is again a feature of the Technology the batteries are using.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stacey has now posted on Motorhome Fun pretty much what was sent in the email to me, except for one additional comment which was -

 

"In 2012 I bought two AGM batteries, they failed early 2014!"

 

That is less than 24 months life from the AGM's. Unlikely that the shortened life was because of poor usage or loading because the S5 "Starter " batteries have lasted 4 years.

More evidence that AGM batteries just don't work well in motorhomes.

 

See post here :

https://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/ncc-verified-battery-scheme-latest.178056/page-4

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