Auxiliary Battery Type

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 11:14
ThreadID: 104141 Views:2255 Replies:7 FollowUps:19
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G'day!

I've bought a second hand Waeco fridge in preparation for an outback trip and the auto electrician has wired up an auxiliary battery in the ute tray. Trouble is, this old battery is cactus: not enough grunt to run the fridge or charge it's batteries.

I currently have my motorbike battery doing the job, 8AH. I guess it would do to facilitate charging the fridge batteries and run a couple of LED lights.

But we'll be well out and may camp a few days without starting the vehicle, and I'd like to keep the fridge running to optimum performance.

So I need to buy a new battery.

I don't understand the issues. Is there value in getting a deep cycle battery or should I just get a battery that's meant for a small car?

I'm hoping I can get a suitable car battery for around a hundred bucks. It's not like we go outback all the time.

I may be able to get a couple of one year old, discarded UPS batteries to add to my motorbike battery, about the same size, and fit them into the battery box. Is that a workable idea?

I'd sure appreciate the benefit of experience.

Thanks,
Laurie.

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 11:31

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 11:31
You may need a new battery to run the fridge but if you intend to stay put for several days as you suggest - you will require some means of charging the battery (maybe solar) The battery will only run the fridge for a couple of days without a charge.

Alan
AnswerID: 517454

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:17

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:17
Thanks Alan!

I have one of those little, fold up solar panels. If I plug it in from sunrise to sunset, I guess it will put something back into the batteries.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 11:43

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 11:43
I know this may seem cotravercial, but I do not believe running fridges of relativly small batteries is a deep cycle application.....

The idea of deep cycle is very much misunderstood.

If you expect your fridge to run for a couple of days you will need at least an N70 (100 ish AH) battery...even then 2 days may be pushing the issue forlong term battery life.

Best bang for bucks is a sealed wet cell marine cranking battery, they have pretty fair deep cycle performance and will cop a heavy charge day after day.

My personal preference is the Supercharge Seamaster Gold, but there are other brands about.

One particular brand sells the exact same battery as a "4wd battery" and as a "marine battery", just different colour and lable.......interesting side by side at my local auto discounter the 4wd battery is more expensive.

You should get an N70 size sealed wet cell for around $200.

Pissy little batteries just aint going to cut it.

OH...if you are near a catapillar dealer, their "earth moving" batteries have a good following and can be had for a good price......they are just a marine type battery with "earth moving" printed on them.

cheers

AnswerID: 517456

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:09

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:09
I like the Marine batteries too. I'm using a Century N70 marine (100Ah) - cost $138 from my local battery discounter:
http://www.batterydiscounters.com.au/pages/Marine.html
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:28

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:28
Thanks Bantam! I hear what you say, mate.
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:31

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:31
Thanks Phil!

Whether it's $138 or $200, looks like I'll have to my hand into my back pocket.

No good counting on my one rabbit trap for fresh meet, huh!
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:23

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:23
I've gone across to running sealed wet cell marine batteries in every application where one will fit.

I have found that they are THE best value for money in lead acid batteries.

They take advantage of all the improvements that make AGM and deep cycle possible, but use those improvements in moderation rather than taking them to the extreem.

So you get a battery that goes very well and has a good service life without costing huge bucks.

you can buy 2 good sealed marine batteries for the price of an AGM and they don't cost too much more than a cheaper battery of the same size that does not perform anywhere near as well.

You can get non sealed marine batteries ( screw tops) but its worth spending the extra bucks for the sealed item.

As for price.....yeh well that depends on how well you shop.....I often don't post what things actually cost me because "Bantam very rarely pays retail".

one thing I do like about the supercharge sealed marine......it may be sealed..but the vent valves can be screwed out like a screw top battery once its out of warranty if they need topping up.
Y peel off the top sticker and there they are.

Bega mate put ya hand deep in ya back pocket..you wont regret it.

While you are at it shout the truck one too.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 16:36

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 16:36
Ah, you crack me up, Bantam! Send me down the street to buy two batteries! I'd be sleeping with the dog!

How does this sound?

The battery in the ute is about three years, maybe four years old.

I'll make it the auxilliary battery and buy a new one for the ute.

The current battery is an Exide 4x4 Commercial.

N70ZZLMF 730CCA 160RC

Looks like it's a sealed battery. Got no screw caps on top.

Thanks,
Laurie.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 18:18

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 18:18
Not my best recommendation but a big step forward from where you are. :)

cheers
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Reply By: olcoolone - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:10

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:10
I would seek advice from you auto elec ..... what did he say, did he offer any advice.

If you don't feel comfortable with your auto elec ask another one.

I'm not even going to try and give you facts and figures that you will not understand and it will probably confuse you more..... there are enough white coats on here for that.

It seems like you want to cut corners and use second hand or cheap stuff thats not really suited for your application.

Ever heard the say " do it right the first time"

A NEW deep cycle battery around a couple of $$$ is a good starting point.

AnswerID: 517458

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:36

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:36
Thanks olcoolone!

Between you all, you've got me convinced.

It's down to the tyre store in the morning. Might slip into Auto Cheap on the way.

I did mention to the Missus that I could take the battery out of her car, but I could feel it in my bones that the idea was not a good one. ;)
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Reply By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:57

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 12:57
Laurie,

Unless I am mistaken, Waeco fridges don't have their own inbuilt batteries. All the power has to come from your 7A/hr battery, or more wisely, a 100A/hr battery.

My old Engel uses about 5A and if it runs half the time, so a little grey 7A/hr battery will last around two hours. Your Waeco might use less power, but you get the idea, I hope, that the 7A/hr batteries are useless for any long term fridge power.

They are however, excellent for LED lighting, especially if you have removeable lights. I use them in my tent which can then be any distance from the vehicle. On a recent trip with a large group including some 80yo plus, I left a LED going all night marking out the toilet tent using one of those 7A/hr UPS batteries.

Likewise, using the battery out of your wife's car might be 'okay', but don't expect it to keep the fridge running for days. And don't expect it to function reliably for as long when you come back, having flattened it several times over the course of your holiday. Having your wife's car broken down with a flat battery at night, when it's raining, you're at the pub and can't collect her .... plenty of room for ongoing punishment there......

IMHO, people underestimate the amount of battery power they need, and having milk go off, beer go warm, or lights go out just as your cooking dinner is a risk just not worth taking.

Tim
AnswerID: 517463

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:05

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:05
Thanks Tim!

I just now spoke to the good lady about buying a battery in the morning. Although I didn't get much of an answer, I reckon it'll be OK.
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Follow Up By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:27

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:27
I know that response!

Inside her head will be things like:

- Thin end of the wedge,
- Waste of money when the bathroom really needs an upgrade.
- Spends money on his toys, when was the last time he bought ME a new battery?
Then combined with:
- It is nice seeing him happy, I shouldn't be so demanding
- I am really worried about this camping stuff, how will I cook the food?
- How will I go with no proper toilet or shower?

Or worst case scenario,
- I've got to spend how long with this goose out in the hot, dusty bush away from the coffee shops? I wish he'd go back to work and give me some peace from his half baked crazy ideas.

Have a nice trip. :-)

Tim
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 16:10

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 16:10
You're right, Tim! She's experienced it all before.

Last year at the Little Desert in western Victoria, we put the caravan in the camping area and went for a drive. 2wd ute.

Well, the Missus said I should obey the sign, but I walked it and reckoned it'd be OK.

Second sand dune was a bit looser. I dug and tried to move for five hours.

The wind came up quite strong and it started to rain lightly, but cold.

The good lady got the tent up, set up our beds and got a feed of pancakes on the gas, while I reloaded the stuff to keep it dry.

Every now and then I mention that part of the trip, trying to remind her that it was the best part of the whole adventure. That memory just doesn't seem to be there for her.
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Follow Up By: Tim HJ61 (WA) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 16:32

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 16:32
"That memory just doesn't seem to be there for her."

Oh dear. Some of us get the message first time. Some need a hand up to the face saying STOP NOW. Some of us need to be hit by a freight train.

I am thinking she might be wondering what the timetable is for the Indian Pacific, as she packs with trepidation for this next little outing with her man.

Tim
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Reply By: Best Off Road - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:25

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 13:25
Get one of these, not cheap but you'll get ten years out of it.
http://www.batteriesdirect.com.au/shop/product/4386/rm12-100dc.html
AnswerID: 517466

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 14:26

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 14:26
I had exactly that Remco battery in the canopy of my Landcruiser - nice, cool location. Kept it fully charged, never cycled it below 12.2V.
It lost capacity and became unusable after 2 years.
They must have the initial current limited to no more than 25 amps otherwise they will die.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 17:00

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 17:00
Laurie,

Sorry to rain on your parade, but ..... The above responses have all had to rely on a few basic assumptions - particularly, that your fridge is a standard compressor one of less than about 60 litres. It probably is, but it could be a peltier type, or a monster, and while much of the above may apply, you could also be in for an expensive disappointment. Likewise, we don't know how big your solar panel is, but unless it is rated at 80W or more it may not be a lot of help.

Please tell us how big the fridge is, confirm it's a compressor type, and the rated output (or an estimate of the area) of your panels. Also, how many days would you want to run the fridge without being able to charge the battery from the vehicle or mains.

You might find Electricity for Camping a useful read.

Cheers

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 19:15

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 19:15
Thanks John!

I'll have a look at the link presently.

The solar panel is tiny. Only about 13W from memory. That's why I said it may add a little.

The fridge is a Waeco 32 litre. One compartment. Either fridge or freezer.

I guess we could stop three nights on some occasions, so that's two full days and a night plus some extra hours between travelling.

Fridge is a compressor type. Has it's own small batteries.

It would be fair to say that I do find some of the general 4x4 community a bit over the top. Not specifically the people who've helped me here.

You see, I'm used to going off on the quadbike for a week or a bit more. No power, no fridge. Take enough fuel in the trailer for over 400km which is a long way on station tracks and cross country.

Bread in the camp oven, rice, tinned salmon, spuds and pumpkin, dried peas, shake pancakes.

Ya know, I can wash my face and clean my teeth in half a cup of water and drink what's left.

So this fridge is a bit of a luxury and a bit of a whole new camping world. I certainly appreciate the benefit of experience.
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:15

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:15
Hi Laurie,

I'm not aware of a Waeco with its own batteries. Fact is though, to run any 32 litre compressor fridge you'll probably need about 20-30 amphours per day, depending on ambient temperature and internal temperature.

Batteries have much longer service life if not fully discharged, so it's best to avoid using more than 2/3 of their capacity before fully recharging. To get 2 or 3 days from the battery/s you will need 100 amphours of capacity. I doubt that any internal batteries will make a significant contribution. For 2 or 3 days you will require a full size battery - the sort of physical size you find under the bonnet of a big 4WD. As others have said, a conventional sealed vehicle battery may be an economically attractive way to go, especially if it could be useful as an emergency spare for your vehicle. My choice would be an AGM deep cycle type, as this will be better suited to the job. If you have the contacts, you may be able to pick up some used ones that have been retired from a UPS installation - They are usually replaced long before end of life and if you have the opportunity to get a few and discard the worst they are a very cheap (free!) option.

Know what you mean about traveling light, and we did it for years. BUT..... now there is a fridge in the family.............! It's very true that some people go over the top with this gear, but a fridge does require a lot of power and simply becomes expensive ballast if you can't keep the power up to it.

The solar panel - far too small to be useful, suggest save the space and leave it at home. (At best it might provide a few percent of the fridge's requirements. ) Recommend that you make provision for charging from the vehicle (at least switching plus heavy cable to connect the auxilliary battery to the cranking battery when charging voltage is available.)

Recommend check out the link I gave above.

Cheers

John
J and V
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:19

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:19
OK John, I've read the article, and quite an article it is! Thanks.

After about the halfway point it got a bit heavy for my understanding, but one thing I learned: I may as well leave my little solar panel home and save just a little space. A rabbit trap is likely more value!

I still don't really know if I'd be doing the right thing by buying a new battery for the ute and moving the current one to the auxiliary spot.

Thanks!
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:03

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:03
There is a lot of different ideas out there in regard to Batteries and fridges, I took the simple way as they are normally the best. When i got my current Patrol new some 10 years ago, I added a battery and then wired them in parallel. So that gives me a big 12V battery. My thirsty 90 litre fridge has a voltage cut out on it so the Patrol has enough power to start the engine. Because we have a roof tent and if we stay a few days in one place, we simply idle the engine every afternoon to charge the batteries and we run the on board shower at the same time. The engine idling for 30 minutes is sufficient to charge the batteries for even the hottest next day for the fridge to run without dropping the fridge out in the under voltage set point on the fridge. So no battery solenoid and a huge cranking battery. This has worked well for me over two Patrols and 14 years. Why complicate things with solar panels extra wiring and solenoids! There is enough to go wrong without add more complexities to your vehicle. My thoughts only! regards Michael
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003

Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

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AnswerID: 517479

Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:06

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:06
I meant to add that idling the engine for 30 minutes a day didn't seem to increase fuel consumption that was at all noticeable, A diesel engine. Michael
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:08

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:08
I always run two Exide Extreme N70 Batteries! Michael
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Retired 2016 and now Out and About!

There's time to rest when you're dead,
Get out and do something instead!

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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:38

Sunday, Sep 01, 2013 at 20:38
Thanks Michael!

Although I have the auxiliary battery in the ute tray, that's all helpful info.

The auto electrician wired it in so it's done right.
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