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Old 05-07-2019, 07:20 AM   #1
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Battery tender advice?

My bus currently will not start because the juice in the battery has gotten too low from sitting too long. I am solidly in the auto-mechanically clueless category, so I'm not sure exactly how to deal with this. According to stuff I've read, I need to buy a battery tender and hook it up and let it charge for 24 hours and then try to start it again.
  • What is a good battery tender to buy for this on Amazon?
  • How do you connect it to the bus batteries?
  • Can this setup be left unattended for a day (i.e. will it automatically charge the batteries full and then shut off)?

My bus is in a self-storage lot that is half an hour from where I live, so I would need to set this up in such a way that I can leave it. The bus has been broken into twice already, so I would need to have the battery tender inside the bus (power cord through a window and then the battery connectors out another window to the battery tray). I'm concerned that a power cord leading to my bus will be an invitation to a third break-in but it is what it is.

Any additional information or tips on using a battery tender with a bus would be much appreciated.
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:27 AM   #2
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A battery tender is not intended to bring a discharged battery up to full charge. They are VERY low amperage. They are intended to maintain the charge on a good battery. That being said I use the brand "Battery Tender" and have had good luck with them.

All vehicles tend to have parasitic drains on the battery system. The more electronic stuff, especially the added kind, the bigger the drain. Mine is huge, all of those LED indicator lights that tell when a system is active account for much of mine. But, my bus is parked at home and I can deal with it.

In your situation, if the batteries are GOOD, I would either install a master cut off switch, or simply unhook the cables when I parked it. A good battery will maintain it's charge for months even in very cold weather if there is no drain.
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Old 05-07-2019, 01:35 PM   #3
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I PURCHASED A 25 WATT SOLAR PANEL AND CHARGE CONTROLLER WHICH I PUT ON THE DASH AND PLUGGED IN THE ALWAYS ON CIGARETTE LIGHTER PORT. IT KEEPS MY DRIVE BATTERIES AT 100% JUST SITTING THERE PARKED. I THINK I SPENT $50 ON THE SET UP AT HARBOR FREIGHT WITH A COUPON.

https://www.harborfreight.com/25-wat...nel-63940.html

https://www.harborfreight.com/7-amp-...tor-96728.html
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CMORGANSKOOL View Post
I PURCHASED A 25 WATT SOLAR PANEL AND CHARGE CONTROLLER WHICH I PUT ON THE DASH AND PLUGGED IN THE ALWAYS ON CIGARETTE LIGHTER PORT. IT KEEPS MY DRIVE BATTERIES AT 100% JUST SITTING THERE PARKED. I THINK I SPENT $50 ON THE SET UP AT HARBOR FREIGHT WITH A COUPON.

https://www.harborfreight.com/25-wat...nel-63940.html

https://www.harborfreight.com/7-amp-...tor-96728.html
Assuming you can use the alligator clips directly to batteries as well? I have two starter batteries.
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Old 11-18-2019, 10:44 AM   #5
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Assuming you can use the alligator clips directly to batteries as well? I have two starter batteries.
My 12v port inside the bus is always on so I just plug into that and it trickle charges the start batteries. If you donít have such a feature you would have to run leads to the start battery terminals.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:01 AM   #6
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Like somewhereinusa said, they're not meant to recharge batteries from a significant state of discharge. In many cases if the voltage is too low they won't recharge at all. Get your batteries back up to a good charge with a 'normal' charger & then use a trickle charger to maintain the batteries. Trickle chargers can even reverse some of the effects of sulfation, but you need to get the batteries close to full first.

Not only can you leave it unattended... you should. That's kind of the whole raison-de-etre of trickle chargers. They automatically keep your batteries topped off, and shut-off as needed when proper voltage is achieved. We have one on our bus that's plugged in 24/7/365. Same for bikes or other vehicles used on an irregular basis.

The Delrin 'Battery Tender' is the OG, and a great brand. I've used the Black & Decker model as well and it does the job. I'm sure there are plenty others that do the same, but I have no personal experience w/ anything else. One thing I will say: At least with the 'Battery Tender' brand, there are models that are designed to trickle-charge multiple vehicles. If you foresee yourself needing this functionality now, or in the future, it's a good investment. And most likely you will.


Two links: First is single-battery 'plus' model, 2nd is multiple (various configs)


https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00068XCQU...dDbGljaz10cnVl

https://www.amazon.com/Battery-Tende...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:02 AM   #7
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You need a trickle charger. I charged mine this week with this one. It works great
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
In your situation, if the batteries are GOOD, I would either install a master cut off switch, or simply unhook the cables when I parked it. A good battery will maintain it's charge for months even in very cold weather if there is no drain.
The 'even in cold weather' would be more accurately expressed as 'especially in cold weather'. Self-discharge, a chemical reaction, is temperature dependent, & increases with temperature.

What you can get away with in cold climates you cannot get away with where we live. If we were to leave our batteries to sit over the course of a spring/summer here w/o charging, they'd suffer from non-reversible capacity loss.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
My bus is in a self-storage lot that is half an hour from where I live, so I would need to set this up in such a way that I can leave it. The bus has been broken into twice already, so I would need to have the battery tender inside the bus (power cord through a window and then the battery connectors out another window to the battery tray). I'm concerned that a power cord leading to my bus will be an invitation to a third break-in but it is what it is.

Any additional information or tips on using a battery tender with a bus would be much appreciated.

Both brands I've used (Delrin Battery Tender and Black & Decker) come with both alligator clips & more-permanent ring terminals, both of which connect to the charger itself by way of a two-prong plug. On bikes I use the ring terminals for a permanent attach to the battery and just stick the plug in an accessible location under the bodywork. Just unplug it from the charger, ride, come back, and plug it back in. You could do exactly the same w/ your bus, which would also eliminate the chances of a tug on a wire pulling the alligator clips from the terminals.



Also, at least w/ our bus, there's enough room for the charger itself in the battery compartment. That's the way I have it at the moment, as it keeps it out of the weather. Just have an extension cord running into the battery compartment.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
The 'even in cold weather' would be more accurately expressed as 'especially in cold weather'. Self-discharge, a chemical reaction, is temperature dependent, & increases with temperature.

What you can get away with in cold climates you cannot get away with where we live. If we were to leave our batteries to sit over the course of a spring/summer here w/o charging, they'd suffer from non-reversible capacity loss.
In six years living in Bullhead I replaced my bus batteries twice. When I moved it was about ready for it's third set of 3x group 31's.

It seemed like I was constantly putting batteries in something.



I read on another board (steel soldiers?) That the Delrin Battery Tender is what the US Army uses on many of their vehicles.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:34 AM   #11
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In six years living in Bullhead I replaced my bus batteries twice. When I moved it was about ready for it's third set of 3x group 31's.

It seemed like I was constantly putting batteries in something.

I read on another board (steel soldiers?) That the Delrin Battery Tender is what the US Army uses on many of their vehicles.

Exactly. The heat destroys batteries.
A trickle charger pays for itself with the first battery you don't kill prematurely. Not that the heat doesn't still have an impact. But it helps tremendously.
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Old 11-18-2019, 11:35 AM   #12
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Beware that "trickle charge" means different things to different people. Some will hold the battery at a steady voltage that will ultimately kill the battery (they hold the voltage too high).

I've really liked my Battery Doctorģ 2/4/8 Amp 12 Volt Smart Charger/Maintainer, but unfortunately it has been discontinued. It looks like Desktop Smart Battery Charger and Maintainer 12 Volt might be a comparable replacement, though it tops out at 4 amps. That's more than adequate for maintaining a battery, but it'll take longer to recover a battery from a very deep discharge.
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:29 PM   #13
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I don’t have a charger recommendation, but if your batteries are flat and you’re worried about thievery, pull them and take them with you either to a battery charger at home or an auto parts store that will charge them for free. Autozone and OReily do this.

If it’s the case something is drawing your batteries down, you could disconnect the negative terminal to extend the time between use, though it will still lose charge so the best course would be to kept it topped up.
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Old 11-18-2019, 12:33 PM   #14
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Just have an extension cord running into the battery compartment.
My bus is parked where there is no electricity (I work off a generator) so the solar-powered approach seems pretty good to me.
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Old 11-18-2019, 02:08 PM   #15
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This may not be pertinent to your situation, but might help some. I recently killed my bus batteries like a dummy by accident from leaving the key on "ACC" position for like a week. I designed my system with an isolater switch to connect my house batteries with my chassis batteries for extra charging when driving.

I decided to use the same switch to connect my batteries and let the solar system charge all the batteries and it worked........

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Old 11-18-2019, 02:29 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by CMORGANSKOOL View Post
My 12v port inside the bus is always on so I just plug into that and it trickle charges the start batteries. If you donít have such a feature you would have to run leads to the start battery terminals.
Would that set up work on the two batteries together or would they need to be maintained separately?
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