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Old 03-13-2008, 12:03 PM   #11
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Re: Skoolie newbie: batteries

Quiet simply I do not keep them warm during the winter. MY bus sits the majority of the winter. A such I want my batteries to have a full charge and be as cold as possible. The cold greatly slows down the chemical reaction making self discharge ALMOST a non-issue. A fully charged battery with the standard 33% sulfuric acid mixture will not freeze until about -92 to -93 degrees. Fully discharged the water separates out and it will freeze just below 32 degrees. Therefore cold is a good thing, especially for long term storage.

The cold can be an issue in terms of capacity. At 32 degrees you're looking at a 20% loss in amp hour capacity. At around -20 it's down to 50% capacity. This could be an issue, but in my circumstances I have not found it to be. On the road the combination of alternator charging and inverter discharging does warm up the battery core temperature and really the batteries are only there to deal with current spikes from devices turning on anyway. I will gladly take the sacrifice in capacity in exchange for a self discharge rate around 1% per month as opposed to 5% or higher in warmer climates. Remember, sitting discharged is the enemy to batteries so I will do whatever possible to fight that over storage.

Now for a fulltimer the reduced capacity might be an issue. However, given that you are in California I really don't think cold is going to be an issue like it is for us in the northern climates. A 20% loss in capacity isn't that horrible, especially when you start looking at the increased overall life of the battery bank thanks to staying cold. A battery is going to gain a lot of output capacity in hot climates, but it comes at the expense of overall life.

Power venting seems like a reasonable option, but I propose this question. Keeping it warm will increase the capacity of it, no doubt, but how much capacity are you then using to run the power venting fan? Just some food for thought.
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:11 PM   #12
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Re: Skoolie newbie: batteries

i think you guys worry too much!

I've had lead acid batteries inside each of my first two buses. I used them this way for years over tens of thousands of miles and never had a problem. Not saying it's the correct way to do things, but people get a little overly dramatic sometimes. Perhaps if your bus was sealed tighter than a drum and you had a perfect storm of events occur you could start something on fire. I think that having a pair of batteries as described by the original poster is probably much safer than having propane appliances inside your bus. How much unburned propane leaks out every time you go to light your stove? Granted propane has a very narrow flammable range compared to hydrogen, but he already has the batteries in a vented container near a hole vented to the outside.

putting your batteries outside in a separate compartment is the best idea, but having them inside isn't the same as standing on the smoking deck of the Hindenburg and asking for a light.
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:36 PM   #13
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Re: Skoolie newbie: batteries

I'm with Jason on this one. There are lots of cars out there where the battery is underneath the back seat instead of in the engine compartment. I haven't heard of them killing anybody. I'm talking Oldsmobile's, Buick's, Lexus etc.

As for your generator, just buy the EU2000i. It's not much more expensive, and you get twice the power. Get a hitch welded onto your bus if there isn't one already. You can buy those platforms that plug right in to a 2x2 receiver hitch. They will hold something like 500 pounds. You could attach the generator to that by its feet. You could even build an anti-theft box around it. Or, just move the generator inside when you're not using it. The EU2000i is 48 pounds dry. Even my wife can pick one up. You could run it while you're going down the road too!
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Old 03-13-2008, 01:40 PM   #14
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Re: Skoolie newbie: batteries

I have some batteries inside my bus in a container that is vented to the outside with PVC pipe.
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Old 03-13-2008, 09:43 PM   #15
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Re: Skoolie newbie: batteries

Originally Posted by the_experience03
However, given that you are in California I really don't think cold is going to be an issue like it is for us in the northern climates.
I'm not sure about the original poster, but we're currently located in Vermont and plan to spend the winter between Vermont and Iowa.
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Old 03-16-2008, 08:25 AM   #16
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Re: Skoolie newbie: batteries

Thanks for all the replies. I've been checking in here but didn't want to reply until I had a clearer picture of what I wanted to do.

- Re: Exterior box. I love this idea. Get them out of the bus, use cheaper wet batteries, have more storage for more batteries or other stuff. But, since I have a short-bus, there really isn't that much room between the existing battery box and the rear tires. I'd also have to cut a big chunk of the box from that side. Bed frames have been hard to find around here lately, too. Additionally, I don't really need extra storage (don't flinch... I rarely use my skoolie for extended trips). I have a big aluminum rack on top and that slurps up almost all my extra storage needs. You could haul almost everything you need for a car trip up there. It's bigger than a minivan top, for sure.

So, I decided to stay "indoors" which means AGM as soon as I can afford it. Perhaps the "Hindenberg" comments were a little over-the-top, but since I'm going entirely on other people's experience here (other than basic auto maintenance, until getting this bus I had no experience with these larger batteries), I'm going to error on the side of caution. I'm going to estimate that AGM will cost me about three times as much as wet, but allow four times peace of mind.

- Matt, I really like the paint job on your bus. I had to go white top for heat issues, but my bus looks very redneck next to that thing.

- I don't use my bus like most of you do. I bought it to be more of a "home office" I can use wherever... at the beach windsurfing during breaks from work... working while the kids play at the park... pit-central for my son and I at RC car races on Saturday night... the hangout during a morning of disc golf... camping once-in-awhile... basically a variety of around-town uses. I just got to say, though, that this bus is so freaking cool. Not cool in the sense that random teenagers point and say "that's cool" (my two teens have quite the opposite opinion, in fact), but cool in the sense that it allows for a lot of freedom. With an air card and laptop I can work anywhere. Since it's nearly always in some sort of state of improvement or repair, I consider it to be the Millenium Falcon of busses. It doesn't do light speed + .5, but has greatly improved my life. So thanks to everyone who is converting; collectively you are helping improve my life and I thank you.

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