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Old 06-02-2012, 06:43 PM   #1
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Battery Tenders

Battery tenders... who uses them, and what kind do you have?

I've drained my dual crank batteries through lack of use and probably some phantom charge . I have one on a battery charger now (set to 10 Amp / 12 Volt) and can only hope to have it topped off by tomorrow, when I'll switch it out for the other battery. Hopefully, by tomorrow evening I can start the beast up and take it for a drive.

But I don't want to have to worry about how long it has been since starting the bus. There's just going to be periods of weeks when I'm just not going to have the time to get out and work on it. Is anyone using the solar trickle chargers on the market for RVs? Or is there another method for keeping the dual crank batteries topped off?

Looking for any real life experience with these things.
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:35 PM   #2
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Re: Battery Tenders

TC, don't let the batteries go flat--it is really hard on them and will shorten their life a lot. It will also lower their ability to give the crank power you need. Yes, do ad a solar charger to keep the batteries charged.

You should also add a shut off switch to the batteries. They are cheap and easy (for a person with your tallent) to instal.
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Old 06-03-2012, 01:26 AM   #3
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Re: Battery Tenders

ya battery cuttoff is a must!
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Old 06-03-2012, 04:50 PM   #4
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Re: Battery Tenders

One of the first things I bought for my bus was a Progressive Dynamics 4-stage converter/charger units. It allows me to charge fast at up to 70 amps, top up with a proper float charge, maintain with proper storage charge, and also equalizes every 21 hours or so in storage mode. It's been great. I just keep the bus plugged in when not using it and know that my batteries will always be ready to go. It has kept my pair of old mostly worn out 12v marine batteries alive through a couple seasons now, I thought I would have had to replace them a year ago, but they just keep on working. Next up is golf cart batteries. Start with 2, then eventually 4 or 6, depending on how much dry camping we do.

As for keeping the chassis battery good. I have neglected to do anything with mine, and it has frozen, bulged, and barely works. I am getting a new starter battery for it before our next trip. During the summer I drive enough to keep it up with the alternator, and we don't camp for so long that I need to worry about it. During the winter, I am planning on putting a small trickle charger on it so I don't have to replace it again!
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Old 06-04-2012, 07:07 PM   #5
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Re: Battery Tenders

I ended up exchanging the batteries for two new ones. No big deal. But before installing them again, I have a couple more questions:
Energizer® Battery Chargers & Maintainers

Is this enough to maintain the crank batteries?
If not, could you be more specific about the model of maintainer you use? There were 5 different charger things on the Progressive Dynamic page.
And when I went looking at the auto parts stores, they had different ones that ranged from 7mA to 4 AMP... what version would work best for two large batteries?
I'm thinking for a maintainer, more doesn't necessarily mean better... but I also know that I know absolutely nothing, so...

And... once I get the appropriate maintainer, what's the proper way to hook it up? Would I hook it up with the positive to one battery, and the negative to the second (like it's installed in the bus)? Or would I have to buy one maintainer per battery?

So many questions
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:41 PM   #6
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Re: Battery Tenders

http://www.solar-electric.com/rvmakitwi280.html This is a system that works well. the store is very reputable and the equipment is excellent.

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Old 06-05-2012, 11:15 PM   #7
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Re: Battery Tenders

Thanks Chuck! That's a great link. Little rich for me right this minute, but something to invest in after the trip.

I did some reading while at work today (shhhh, don't tell the boss) and found some great reviews on the Northern Tool site for their battery maintainers. I finally decided to try this one:

BatteryMINDer Charger/Maintainer/Desulfator — 1.3 Amp, 12 Volt, Model# 12117

It is supposed to be rated for up to 5 batteries in parallel, so it should work fine on the bus. If not, I'll be sure to report it to the group.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:17 PM   #8
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Re: Battery Tenders

David uses this on the bus starter battery about every two weeks (when he remembers). The starter battery is used in the food cart to power the 12vDC stuff (lights, fan, water pump) 5 days of the week. We couldn't see letting the battery just sit and do nothing. Plus it saves us from having to buy another battery.

FOR US IN OUR SITUATION......
Because we stay plugged in to a power post most of the time, we will simply install a Inteli-power PD4045 and two (deep cycle marine) house batteries (will add more later if needed). We will wire the house batteries to crank the bus as well. We would only be on battery power overnight at most for now. Only 12vDC stuff will be lights, water pump and the desktop computer/printer will be on an inverter to provide clean power. I have a laptop as well so I don't need the desktop on while off power. We may put the TV/DVD player on an inverter as well (lay in bed and watch a movie while we eat a pizza while parked in Sam's Club parking lot). We can always jump the bus off with the Jeep. We would have a generator to charge the house batteries as needed. Bus alternator will charge the house batteries while traveling.

Only way I see us being without hookups for more than overnights would be if we were stuck due to weather in a parking lot, in which case we have the generator, or if we win the lottery and hit the road, in which case I would need to buy a lottery ticket first.

Like I said, this is what would work for us as we live full-time, 24/7/365 (366 in leap years) in our bus which is mostly in campgrounds. One size does not fit all... one solution does not fit all.
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:32 PM   #9
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Re: Battery Tenders

It's all good information, Lorna, and I appreciate the advice. The more info, the better, as far as I'm concerned. I've bookmarked the Inteli-power for later. <-- well, it's coming up sooner than I think, actually, so this is really timely!
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Old 06-06-2012, 09:55 PM   #10
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Re: Battery Tenders

To pick up on Lorna's comment, I have also decided on an Intella power 9245C. Like Iraq and Iran--I'm sure I can't tell the difference between what Lorna chose and what I have but I KNOW that Lorna has reserched the stuffing out of this and her suggestion is bound to be best! I still contend however, that a simple solar float charger is enough to keep a lazy start battery up to snuff. We've been using them on backup Company cars for years and they do the job for FREE!
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