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Batteries again.........


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Morning All


Once again I'd like to pick the brains of the forumites who have far more wit and wisdom than I..................


Van went for its habitation check last week. Its habitation battery (which I check/top up regularly with de-ionised water & is connected to a roof-mounted solar panel fitted by the motorhome dealer) is a Banner Energy Bull 95751 type.


Now in my ignorance I don't think this particular Banner battery is an AGM battery (I think the Running Bull batteries are) but I'm more than happy to be corrected............as part of the habitation check the technician (not at the supplying dealership) performed a battery test - the resulting "score" sheet lists the battery as an AGM type and that the battery needs replacing (that's not something I feel I need to rush into atm given how I use the van/the van stored on my driveway when not in use - I also recognise that maybe 2 years is the expected life of these particular batteries & the van is just beyond 2 years old now).


My question is: does it matter that the battery tester has selected AGM as the battery type rather than something else or would the test results be the same regardless? And of course that's all predicated on the basis that I'm wrong to think that the Banner fitted to my van is not an AGM battery...................


Many thanks in advance to those who respond


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Energy bull is a wet acid type not AGM and it won't make any difference to the test (whatever that may be) if someone wrote down AGM or anything else.


The question is really what the test(s) performed were and what the results are (beyond recommendation to change). At 2 years old it's not a big surprise if it was heavily used but still relatively early if not.

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My experience is not current, but when we had similar issues with leisure battery the solar panel input was disguising the battery's capacity by always inputing a charge even on a cloudy day. Only when prolonged use when camping did the shortcomings of the battery become apparent. In the end it turned out, so I was told, to be a faulty solar charge regulator which was allowing too much charge in on a sunny day and 'cooking' the battery. Disconnecting the solar charge input to the regulator proved that to be so.


A replacement solar regulator and a decent (Bosch) battery cured the problems. I am no expert but I have never favoured so called 'leisure' batteries, prefering instead a decent starter type battery which have always served me better than so called leisure batteries over the years.


I no longer have a van so my knowledge is maybe out of date - but my suspicion and dislike of the leisure battery trade's claims remains.

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Banner has used different ‘label names’ for its battery ranges - for example, although “Running Bull” is used in the UK for Banner AGM batteries, I once bought in France a Banner AGM battery that was labelled “Power Bull”.


However (as Spirou has said) there’s no doubt that a Banner “Energy Bull” 957 51 is a wet-acid ‘maintainable’ battery and the description on its Technical Data Sheet ("Long-term discharge battery”) indicates that it is intended for deep-cycle (ie. ‘leisure’) applications and definitely not for starting vehicle motors.


Car battery testing instructions are provided on this Varta webpage




and it’s questionable how an Energy Bull 957 51 battery connected to a solar-panel system could be successfully tested in situ. Received wisdom is that Energy Bull batteries can require their electrolyte-level to be topped up quite frequently (so owners do need to check the level regularly to avoid the battery becoming ‘dry') but Zafira has said she is careful to do this.


I’ve just replaced my 2015 Rapido’s Energy Bull 957 51 battery with a Varta LFD90. I never bothered to test the Banner battery’s ‘health’ and there were no symptoms to suggest it might be on the way out, but I’ve learnt the hard way about 12V batteries dying when they are most needed and 5 years of light use seemed enough for the Banner battery to be put out to pasture. (Historically, a Banner Energy Bull 957 51 has been the standard leisure-battery factory-fitted by Rapido and my motorhome’s User Manual advises that “A well-maintained battery has a lifetime of about 3 years”.)


Like Spirou, I’d want to know exactly what testing method was used and I’d certainly want a lot of convincing that the advice to replace a 2-year old 957 51 battery had any credibility, particularly given Zafira’s statement about how her motorhome is used.

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In any case, if you replace your battery, do not get an AGM. They need a different charging tension. All other batteries get charged at 14.4V, AGM needs 14.7.


As said above, Varta LFD 90 are excellent traditional flood batteries. You can get more life and usable capacity out of gel batteries but at considerable cost and they re not all that great if you have an inverter, but while they charge at 14.4, they require a longer charge cycle because they cannot be charged fast.


The real solution is lithium :-D

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Zafira is a grandmother living on her own.


In April 2017 (with no technical motorcaravanning experience) she bought a brand-new Hobby A55GS motorhome and - after all sorts of complex electrical difficulties with it - she replaced the Hobby with a Wildax Constellation in May 2018.


In August 2018 Zafira sought advice on this forum regarding maintenance of the Wildax’s Banner “Energy Bull” battery as the importance of checking that battery’s electrolyte-level was emphasised in the motorhome’s and Banner’s documentation.




Given Zafira’s use of her motorhome and the fact that she regularly checks its battery’s electrolyte-level, it would be odd for the Banner battery to require replacement at this point. It’s certainly the case that replacing the Banner ‘wet-acid’ battery with an AGM one would be unwise (Zafira’s Hobby had an AGM battery as standard, which didn’t help when there were electical problems with the vehicle) but the critical factor here is the validity of the battery ‘testing' that was carried out during the habitation check.


In the link above Allan Evans (aandncaravan) said of Banner “Energy Bull” batteries


Our assessment of the battery is based on real experience removing them and cutting them open. We believe a two year estimate on life before they are 'exhausted' is more than they deserve.

When the effect of Solar permanently charging the Energy Bull becomes more apparent, I think that 2 years is going to be a max life, not typical.


but that assessment seemed to be based on vehicles being fitted with a solar-panel system (commonplace on European vehicles), a ‘continuous charging’ regimen being used (commonplace in the UK) and on motorhome owners’ ignorance.


In the above link I suggested to Zafira


Ask Wildax why they choose to fit the Banner battery and (equally important) if it transpires that Wildax have been fitting “Energy Bull” batteries as standard for a significant number of years, whether they can say what the failure rate and typical lifespan of those batteries have been.


and this might still be worth doing.


Of course Zafira’s Banner battery MAY need replacing and whatever testing was done MAY have been sufficiently sophisticated to identify that this is the case. But the AGM reference is confusing and it would be sensible for Zafira to follow the matter up with the technician who performed the battery test. It would also be worth knowing which make/type of battery the technician would recommend as a replacement.


I notice that testing the AH capacity of a leisure battery was discussed here in 2017




so - if suitable testing equipment is used correctly - it should be practicable to detect a reduced ‘performance’ capability.

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I will post again. If the tester was of a type where you enter the type of battery, then it will show a flooded battery as being in worse condition than it actually is, if tested as an AGM.

As for Banner AGM vs Varta LFD, for me the jury's still out, my last battery was a Banner AGM and this lasted 8 years before significant degradation was evident, the replacement Varta LFD's so far seem to have a very slightly higher self discharge.

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Banner advertises their “Running Bull” and “Energy Bull” ranges as “Batteries for Mobile Homes”




but it’s clear from Banner’s data that the former (AGM) range is aimed primarily at start/stop vehicles with energy recuperation, whereas the latter (wet-acid) range targets leisure-vehicle deep-cycle applications.


There are potential advantages to AGM batteries (eg. they can tolerate a 90° installation angle, need no ‘maintenace’ or vent-tube) but - as Stephane has said - benefit from a specific AGM charging regimen. They also cost more


Varta LFD90 - under £100


Banner Running Bull 592 01 - around £190

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Thanks to everyone who has read my post/taken the time to respond.


I've emailed the firm who performed the habitation check last week and asked for information on how they carried out the test and what the results mean - will post the response if/when it arrives.................


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The test tesults would be applicable to a Running Bull AGM 592 01 battery that Banner quotes as having a cold discharge test current EN(A) of 850




For an Energy Bull 957 51 battery Banner does not provide a cold discharge test current datum because the battery is specifically intended for ‘deep cycling’ not for engine starting.




Energy Bull batteries are ‘pure’ leisure-batteries, not even dual starter/leisure batteries like (say) Varta’s LFD range.


Although the Banner Energy Bull battery appears to have been tested “out of the vehicle” (though I’m not sure what that really means) it is definitely not an AGM FLAT PLATE type and it does not have an 850 EN(A) rating. So the test and results must be considered invalid, and the advice that Zafira’s battery needs replacing must be questionable as a result.


(It might be worth Zafira providing the firm with a link to this forum thread just in case there’s a credible answer to explain the advice she was given.)


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Alanb - 2020-08-24 4:31 PM


There is also the question as to what damage may have been suffered by the battery, when subjected to an incorrect high current discharge test. It is quite possible that the cycle life may have been reduced.




Modern testers don't do a heavy discharge.

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A Banner Energy Bull 957 51 battery weighs around 24kg. This is a significant weight and (in my opinion) it’s unrealistic to suggest that Zafira should be considering removing the Banner battery from her motorhome and taking it to Halfords for free-of-charge testing using Yuasa kit, even if there happened to be a Halfords branch anywhere near where she lives.


There’s also little point contacting Banner or a vendor of Banner batteries about this, as the crux of the matter is the advice she was given after her motorhome’s habitation-check that her 2-year-old Banner leisure-battery needed replacement, when the evidence points to the battery-test procedure being inappropriate for the Banner battery.


In fact - based on the attachment to Zafira’s posting of 24 August 2020 11:47 AM - it’s quite likely that the habitation-check technician used a Yuasa device to carry out the battery-test. This link refers to Yuasa Conductance Analysers




and the lower section of the image below (taken from the link) matches Zafira’s posting’s attachment


Instructions for use of Yuasa MDX-617 equipment are here




and Pages 10 and 11 indicate that - before commencing a test - the tester must ‘input’ a battery’s technical specification that should include






As has been emphasised above, a Banner Energy Bull 957 51 battery is a REGULAR FLOODED TYPE (not an AGM FLAT PLATE type) and - as it is not a starter battery - Banner does not provide a RATING.


I don’t what the result would be if REGULAR FLOODED TYPE (the correct type for a 957 51) had been selected by the tester and how the lack of a RATING value would be accommodated, but the printout Zafira was given definitely cannot be trusted.


(I’m also wary of the 13.35V VOLTS datum on Zafira’s printout, as this might indicate that the Banner leisure-battery was receiving charge from her motorhome’s solar-panel when the test was being performed.)


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Thanks as ever to Derek for rooting around on the internet to find details relevant to the battery test likely to have been conducted (the only other info the test result slip I posted yesterday was the name of the dealership cf the brand of the testing equipment).


I've yet to hear back from the dealership but at the risk of being accused of pedantry there are x3 things which cause my confidence to wobble wrt "competency" of the tester - or at the very least their attention to detail:-


- the time of the test states 1009hrs - I know for a fact that the van was still sitting untouched in the parking area at this time, the hab check wasn't carried out until the afternoon

- the AGM citation is plainly wrong - I recognised that from the off once I got home to check the paperwork but such is my lack of technical know-how I have no idea if this would make a difference to the test results hence my question on this forum - I know someone will have the answer!

- out of vehicle is wrong I'm sure - as Derek points out the weight of the battery is not inconsiderable - I checked the battery fluid levels yesterday and to my admittedly untrained eye it certainly didn't look as if anything had been disturbed as one may have expected had the battery been hefted out of its resting place


I will chase the dealership again in a couple of days for a response but I'm not holding my breath.......... I find myself in a better position to argue the toss with garages et al when it looks as if I have half an understanding of when a response I'm getting is load of old bull (to put it impolitely!) & can keep on drilling down through their responses to get at the truth.


If needs be I'll pay a more local, one-man band chap who is part of the NCC "membership" to run a credible (fingers crossed) hab battery test.


As an aside I "chopped" the Hobby as I had had concerns ever since buying it with the design/build quality of the roof line - the Siesta had/has an over-cab bed but IMHO the angle of dangle where the flat part of the roof starts its sweep upwards over the cab was a weak point - I'd returned to the dealer to have it looked at (they infilled the seam at the roof/sides with more "gunk") but I could always hear it flexing etc with the change in ambient temperature; the beast from the east put paid to the join/seam, water/snow got in & I presumed froze widening a weak point to then permit not a mere damp point but frank water ingress. I'd never been totally relaxed driving the van given its width & the water leak (not just damp!) was the final straw on top of a dire few months nursing my ill mother. I couldn't be happier with the Wildax, with both its layout and ease of driving :-D

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Like Derek I'm also suspicious as to the voltage, which would indicate the battery was tested with the solar still connected. It would however be possible to 'bench test' the battery without removing it from vehicle, to do this they would need to remove one of the terminal clamps, from what you have posted it I suspect the person doing the test did it in the yard with the solar still connected, or removed one clamp and tested it without waiting for it to settle.
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Zafira - 2020-08-25 9:08 AM


...(the only other info the test result slip I posted yesterday was the name of the dealership cf the brand of the testing equipment)...



It might be useful if you could say what that information is, please.


I notice that Banner markets its own-brand battery testing equipment




but all of the devices seem to be aimed at batteries that have a known ‘cold start current’ value, which none of the Energy Bull batteries have.


Banner’s website has a Support/FAQ list




and the following Question & Answer are relevant in Zafira’s case




How can I check the cold crank current in an Energy Bull battery?




The Energy Bull is designed as a deep-cycle battery for cyclical applications and is therefore not a starter battery. For this reason you will not find any information regarding the cold checking current.


A capacity check (RC, K5 or K20) is recommended for the functional examination of such batteries. However, do not forget that prior to the check the battery must be correctly charged for 24 hours with 16V.


In general, quick testing devices that attempt to calculate a cold start value have very limited validity. However, these devices are entirely unsuitable for deep-cycle batteries or long-term discharge batteries.


It is possible to carry out a capacity test on a deep-cycle battery like an Energy Bull by placing a defined load on it over a measured time-period, but this type of exercise will hardly be practicable as part of an ordinary habitation check even if a technician knows how to do it.

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The other info on the van battery test ticket aside from the dealership details:-




MDX - 645




CONFIG 192-110271A




My electrical engineer father (gawd bless his soul) foisted several multimeters upon me but sadly his "flight checked out" prior to my embarking upon motorhome ownership so I haven't got the skills/competence to be doing anything with the hab battery other than reading the relevant screen of the van's the display panel & ensuring the fluid levels are ok.


So what should a battery test look like? Still no word from the dealership......

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Zafira - 2020-08-25 4:16 PM

I haven't got the skills/competence to be doing anything with the hab battery other than reading the relevant screen of the van's the display panel & ensuring the fluid levels are ok.



If it helps, post a picture of what the multimeter front looks like and someone will tell you how to measure the voltage of a 12 volt battery.

This does not require specialist skills and any motor mechanic or auto electrician or experienced car or boat diy'er should be able to show you how to do it safely.

Something like this.

Set the dial on the meter to DC Volts, probably in the range of 0 - 20 volts DC or similar as meters vary.

Plug in the meter leads - red lead to red socket and black to black, it does not matter if they touch each other at this point.

Disconnect everything from the battery terminals which should be marked (+) for positive, probably red, and (-) for negative, probably black.

This is the only complicated bit as you will need to ensure that the solar regulator will come to no harm when disconnected from the battery whilst it is stillt connected to the solar panels and again any auto electrician should be able to do this. If you have instructions for the regulator that would help.

Allow the battery to 'rest' disconnected for several hours or overnight then touch the meter leads onto the matching battery terminal, making sure that they do not touch bare metal to bare metal, and read the voltage.

I don't know about any batteries other than 'ordinary' lead acid flooded but I think that you are hoping for a voltage of around 12.6 to 12.8 volts if the battery is fit for service.

If your camping is mainly on site with EHU your battery condition is less important than off site camping with no EHU, as the EHU, like the solar charge, will disguise the battery condition by way of always charging it and unless it is completely knackered it will probably suffice for a while yet.

Does that help?

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An instruction manual for the Midtronics MDX-645P device can be found here




and it will be noted that Page 1 defines its usage “For 6 & 12-volt automotive starting batteries.”


(This is a relatively old device and used to be marketed with a Yuasa-brand label.)


It’s functionality is near enough the same as I described in my posting of 25 August 2020 8:42 AM above and (as Banner has stated in its FAQ) the device would be unsuitable for testing the ‘health' of an Energy Bull battery.


Tracker has described how to check a battery’s voltage and there’s YouTube advice here




However, this procedure just confirms a battery’s charge-state at the time of the test and it won’t provide a quick diagnosis of how a battery is likely to perform in the future


The late-Allan Evans’s website carries a wealth of battery information including this webpage




that includes a table indicating that - for a conventional wet-acid battery like a Banner Energy Bull - a resting' voltage reading of 12.6V shows that the battery is 100% charged, 12.4V = 75% charged, 12.1V = 50% charged, 11.9V = 25% charged and 11.8V or less = 0% charged. The voltage check has value, but it is not predictive.


What the MDX-type devices are supposed to do (for an in-use battery) is check the battery’s present engine-starting ‘capability' compared with that capabilty when the battery was new. On the printout you were given the new-battery starting capability was given as 850 EN(A) and the measured figure was 504 EN(A) which resulted in the “REPLACE BATTERY” advice. But, for the test to be valid, the tester must select the appropriate battery and the new-battery engine-starting capability value (which an Energy Bull battery doesn’t have. (Garbage in: Garbage out.)


Guidance on DIY testing the ‘capacity’ of a deep cycle battery is described here




and it should be apparent that it’s not a simple quick task.

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As ever many thanks to Derek & Tracker......


I think I will ignore that battery test from last Friday & carry on regardless! Derek - thanks for the reminder of Alan's web pages on batteries etc, I'll revisit them.


As Tracker has hinted at I spend most of my time on sites with EHU, though it has been very useful to have the solar back up when the sites I've been on have experienced long electrical outrages (more than 36hrs in one instance) plus the odd night on a CL without EHU.


I'll go & have a chat with the local one-man band NCC chappie and get a feel for how he goes about his business - I'll particularly ask him about what, if any, battery health checks he does ;-)


This forum is a fab resource and I'm very grateful for those who've responded to my queries!

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