Illegal batteries

Hi all

Was talking to an auto electrician yesterday about batteries in camper trailers and was advised it is illegal to fit anything other than an AGM type when it is located in an inhabitable area (in my case it is under the end of the bed and is an Amp tech DZ07 wet cell).

Wanting to know if this is true because if I change battery type will probably also need to purchase a DC to DC charger as he advised the AGM's generally don't like full alternator output which can lead to run away charging.

At the present time there appears to be little in the way of dedicated external ventilation under the trailer which I planned to rectify if I continued to use wet cells.

I was advised if I used an AGM I probably wouldn't need to put a vent in provided I use a proper charger.

What should I do?

Are conventional sealed/maintenance free batteries even an option if If I put some venting in given his comments?

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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 11:47

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 11:47
Don't know about illegal.....but it is far from clever to fit anything other than a sealed battery in such an enclosed space.

The fact is....and so many people don't want to hear it....ALL batteries....and that means ALL....batteries will vent explosive gass and corrosive mist under certain situations....There is no such thing as a completely sealed battery, all sealed batteries have vent valves to stop them exploding under high in case pressure situations.

AND that means that ALL batteries should be installed with adequate ventilation.

While the amount of gass that comes from the sealed batteries is way way less than the screw top wet cell batteries, under certain circumstances they will ALL vent explosive gas and corrosive mist.

While there are plenty of salesmen and one or two battery sellers who will harp on and over state the safety of sealed batteries, ALL the major manufacturers in some document somewhere council against fitting batteries of any type in enclosed spaces.


While it is unusual to see disasters and...um..er..moderate risk to fit sealed batteries in enclosed spaces.....fitting screw top batteries in enclosed spaces is an invitation to disaster.

There are a couple of good pic's posted on this forum of a van with the whole front blown out..almost certainly a hydrogen expolsion.

I continue to be gob smacked at caravan & camper manufacturers installing batteries in enclosedplaces with no consideration for management of battery failure...venting of the explosive gasses and dealing with acid spill and vapour.

As for the amount of ventilation required..people mostly under estimate this too.

Remember hydrogen rises..so ventilation must be provided from the very top of the space...preferably top and bottom to allow free air flow....remember the words..free air flow.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 12:48

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 12:48
Thanks Bantam

The only practical way to vent is out the side of the trailer.

What I am thinking of doing is installing 2" flanged PVC tank fittings top and bottom of the side and then securing disposable dust masks over the thread ends inside the trailer which should hopefully keep dust and ants out.

Do you think this would work or are there any better suggestions out there?
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:08

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:08
Out the side is fine.
There are a number of engine room vents available from marine outlets that can be pressed into service...check the bias or whitworths catalogue.

If you want filtration...remember that will restrict air flow..so bigger filter and bigger hole...the engine room vents look better and better.

Then you can fit car air cleaners over the vent apitures on the inside.

Some it may be as simple as a threaded rod and a wing nut, others it may require a flat disk and a couple of bolts.

If you are fixing to a pipe for an outlet. look at pod filters.



Remember "Bantam's fart test"....if you dropped a realy stinky fart in the space in question...how long would it take to disipate?

Replace the idea of a fart with explosive gas..& think about it.

In some situations, forced ventilation may be required....standard computer type fans work well and while are not intrinsicly safe rated are brushless and no sparking.......running a 24V fan off 12 volts, keeps em quiet and the current drain low.

Computer fans bolt down well onto plumbing flanges of the appropiate size....to keep the noise down use standard poly tap washers as vibration mounts.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:22

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:22
Peter,

To support some of Bantam's post, we had a UHF repeater supplied and fitted by a supplier, using a wet cell battery in an aluminium box, together with the 2 radios and switching gear.

Initially they set up an intricate venting system for the battery, using small garden fittings and plastic hose, which wasn't successful. After a couple of years, scrapped the wet cell, and fitted a large Panasonic AGM which was still working at least 10 years later.

What wasn't first obvious was the acid damage from the wet cell. The lower interior of the aluminium box was covered in acid "burns", which would have eventually eaten through the case.

Check out the Whitworths website. They have 3" tubing, 3" exhaust fans and any number of vents, to make a neat job of exhausting any vapours. I'm also looking at a similar set up for my camper, to vent hot air from around fridges and batteries. Also Jaycar have a variety of 12v fans. I'm thinking of using a Honda lawnmower filter, to stop any dust ingress in our planned ducting system.

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:24

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:24
Looks like we were typing together, Bantam.

Just that I had to stop for a few minutes, to hang the washing out :-)

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:54

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:54
The other issue with screw top wet cell batteries is maintenence.

They must be regularly topped up. and the terminal corrosion treated.

If screw top batteries are allowed to get too low in their fluids that can become potentially explosive......absence of fluid allows space in the top of the cells for gasses to accumulate and as the plates dry out they can deform and become a source of ignition.

One poster on another forum posted pictures of a generator shed, where the above occured in combination with inadequate ventilation.....the generator was cranked with the batteries in this condition and it near flattened the shed and made quite a mess.

One thing that is obvious since I have taken all my vehicles across to sealed maintenence free batteries is the absence of corrosion on the battery terminals and arround the battery tray.

Remember though..sealed batteries are a wonderfull thing...but they do fail from time to time..those failures must be considered.

I have cleaned up a number of situations where sealed batteries have failed spilling acid.

cheers

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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:57

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:57
Bantam ten out of ten.
My brother was once changing spark plugs in his old landy with a socket and the flexy lever from the socket came in contact with the positive pole.
Karboom bits of battery everywhere, he was covered in acid and the pole from the battery whistled past his ear and straight through the alloy bonnet above him.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 15:52

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 15:52
Pinko,
Slightly off-topic, but highlighting the dangers of working around batteries with uninsulated tools ...

I was doing up the terminal on the live side on my isolator in my Prado which was in my garage. The spanner slipped and just touched the side of the fuel filter. Instantly blew a hole the size of a match head and fuel leaked everywhere. Lucky it was diesel, eh?

I have thought about this so often and realised just how fortunate I was that it wasn't a petrol motor. I would have no car, no house and I would be looking uglier than I look now.

Believe me, there has been a change of workshop practice since that little event. Batteries get disconnected any time I'm working near those "hot" parts.

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 16:53

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 16:53
So many people just dont grasp how much potential harm there is in a car battery.

Handled with due respect they are no problem at all.....and the mothods of managing the risks are well known and fairly simple....get slap happy around them and there are a string of ways they can bite you....a couple of those ways can turn you from good looking to butt uggly in seconds.

Just a sobering thaught.....go to your shed and look at your welder.
Mostly small weders max about at arround the 120-140 amps.

Even with that sort of current you can blow fairly big holes in prety heavy metal with very little difficulty.

Then look at the cold cranking rating of your battery.

A good N70 can deliver over 500 amps when fully charged.....that can blow big holes in things of it is allowed to.

Remember that battery is a plastic box full of arround 20Kg of lead and 2 litres of acid, that can deliver over 500 amps.....our best hop is that all that stays inside the flimsy plastic case.......that deserves respect.


cheers
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 18:07

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 18:07
Agreed Bantam,

I have been directly involved in two lead-acid battery explosions. Yes, I was right there when it happened. And it was pretty dramatic.
I have also seen the results of several other events and a lot of energy can be released very quickly indeed.

Cheers
Allan

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Reply By: Member - Billmoore1 - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 12:28

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 12:28
That is a lot of useful information. Thanks for sharing that with us Bantam

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 12:52

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 12:52
Hi Peter,

I agree wholeheartedly with The Bantam on this, particularly about the dangers of lead-acid batteries of ALL TYPES in confined non-ventilated enclosures.

We do now have an alternative in the form of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries (LiFePO4 for short). They have many advantages..... they are smaller and lighter, they have a much better discharge curve and they do not vent hydrogen gas under any circumstances.
Their only disadvantage is cost, they are damned expensive although their typical lifespan is 20 years so they can be cost-effective. You may however need to provide an appropriate dc-dc charger and in any case that would have benefits in regard to wiring considerations for charging from the vehicle alternator.

Most insightful articles about them can be rather complex but this one provides good understandable information specific to camper trailers and caravans.

They could be worthy of consideration.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:17

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:17
I have good hopes for the lithium technologies..but they remain too expensive for most of us in these applications.

Hopefully in the next couple of years the suitable lithium technolgies will come down in price like LiPo has.

In the mean time lead acid is easy enough to manage and the rules for a safe installation are long standing and well known.....at least to those who want to face facts.

cheers
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:17

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:17
Hi Alan, not sure if they are the same Lipo batteries that they use in model aircraft but apparently they can and do self combust when charging if all the charging parametres are not met.
The guys in the model aircraft would carry theirs in metal boxes as a result of this.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:24

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:24
Apparantly the lithium iron phosphate batteries are more stable than LiPo.

A mate of mine had a LiPo blow up in his face....and it was not even on charge at the time.

cheers
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:56

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:56
Ah ok so that are not the same which is good, thanks for clearing that up
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:16

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:16
Alby, the link I provided makes the distinction between the older lithium ion batteries (lithium cobalt oxide) and the newer, safer Lithium Iron Phosphate battery (LiFePO4). You can read all about it here.
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: OBJ - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 13:17

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 13:17
Hi Alan.
Good info here. Are they available here in Oz yet? I googled and only got eBay listings, which indicates China being a major player ,and I don't want to go down that path.
Thanks for the info.
OBJ
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 13:40

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 13:40
Yes OBJ, thanks to information provided by Alastair in Thread 107093 they are available in Perth
from EV Works. They have an excellent site full of information.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 16:21

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 16:21
Basically Natural
They are also available from a company in Qld called Basically Natural if you are on the east coast. It is a small co. run by Trevor and Marcy and are very good to deal with. No affiliation, just a very satisfied customer.
Just as an aside, the cost of say a 200ah LiFePO4 is very reasonable when you accept that you have around 180 useable ah from it. There are some other costs if you dont have the electrics to charge it but most good AGM charging regimes will do it. To get the same useable ah you need around 360 ah of AGM. Weight saving is another advantage. My 200ah in a container weighs 42kg all up. Cheers, Bob
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 18:26

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 18:26
They may be good to deal with........ if you can find your way through their website....... it's like a maze , full of dead ends and false links.
I gave up!
Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Toyocrusa (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 at 09:20

Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 at 09:20
Hmm, all those battery explosions have got to you, me thinks. Click Solar, batteries, winston and all is revealed. lol, Bob
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 at 09:36

Tuesday, Apr 08, 2014 at 09:36
Yes Bob, I had actually blundered my way to that destination only to find "revealed" were a few crumbs and nothing at all appropriate to vehicle auxiliary batteries, and certainly no pricing guides. As I said, their site is crummy for any purposes and I have no desire to contact them for help or information. I can easily get that and so much more from EV Works.
Your needs must be so much simpler than mine! FDL
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Allan

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Reply By: Bushranger1 - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:05

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:05
Hi Peter,
I recently did some 12v electrical work on my mates Avan & was pleased to see that whoever fitted the deep cycle battery had placed it in a sealed box under the bed.
The box had a flange attached & had about a 50mm diameter poly pipe which ran to the side wall.
This vented to the exterior & had a grid on the outside to prevent critters getting in.
Should be pretty easy for you to knock up something similar with bits from a plumbing supplies.
I recently bought a new battery for my onsite van & the guy at the battery store warned me about suitably venting it to outside. Nice to see a business that knows what they are talking about.

Cheers
Stu
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:20

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 13:20
Good to hear that at least someone is making an effort.

But making sure that there is enough ventilation area and the vent is free flowing..is important.

an inlet at the bottom and an outlet at the top is best....and the route of that pipe..so that it is always an upward path from the very top of the enclosure is important.

cheers
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Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:27

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:27
Yep good advice Bantam.
I forgot to mention in my post as you said upward path is important as the gases are lighter than air.
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:14

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:14
Hi Peter,

I strongly endorse Bantam's comments. Certainly I'd fit an AGM in place of the wet cell battery, and provide an "up" ventilation path to the outside world.

In relation to "will probably also need to purchase a DC to DC charger as he advised the AGM's generally don't like full alternator output which can lead to run away charging." --

Hmmm....Highly unlikely that your alternator can deliver excessive current to an AGM battery in the trailer. Why? Firstly an alternator capable of that would blast the cranking battery into orbit! Secondly, there are always voltage losses in wiring, especially in a long length such as from engine bay to trailer, that will limit the voltage and current delivered to the remote battery. It's far more likely that you will find a dc-dc charger useful to INCREASE the charging voltage/current available to the AGM! (I wouldn't go up that track until you need to, but, along with heavier cabling to reduce losses, it is something to consider if your battery isn't being adequately charged.)

Cheers

John
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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:27

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 14:27
Something that can be overlooked when constructing a battery enclosure is to NOT place fuses, circuit breakers, relays or any other devices such as isolators or dc-dc chargers inside the box. They can produce electrical arcs or sparks in even normal operation.

Even though you may consider the box construction will eliminate explosive gases, this is not necessarily so and even with venting, gases may be present in sufficient concentration to ignite.

Furthermore, if an electrical fan is used for forced ventilation, arrange it to push fresh air INTO the enclosure. If the fan was arranged to draw (suck) out of the enclosure, it will be in the potential explosive atmosphere.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: abqaiq - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 15:37

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 15:37
I just did a safety talk on batteries to the LP engineers. Items of note are NEVER charge a so called maintenance free battery if the "eye" is clear or yellow as they can "run away" and explode. All batteries need periodic service, connections tight, clean, electrolyte OK, mounted properly, etc. The only way to tell if a MF battery has lost water, which they do, is to weigh them. They typically only last ~24 months here in Saudi.

Abqaiq
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 16:20

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 16:20
"Something that can be overlooked when constructing a battery enclosure is to NOT place fuses, circuit breakers, relays or any other devices such as isolators or dc-dc chargers inside the box. They can produce electrical arcs or sparks in even normal operation."

Funny you should mention that, Allan.

The Avan I had (2006 Cruiseliner) was fitted with a battery box under the bed. The battery was restrained in the box by a webbing strap and the whole lot was fastened to the floor with two wood screws! The box itself wasn't vented directly, but vented into the under-bed space and that was vented to outside. I presume all that was done at the factory.

But the dealer, when he fitted electrical options, ran five wires to the positive (and neg) posts and had five fuses lying on top of the battery - one of which melted due to a poor connection. An example of the potential risk.

It was pretty ugly. I re-wired to a neg junction block and a pos fused junction block both outside the battery enclosure, with a single cable to pos and neg battery posts.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 18:10

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 18:10
It is interesting that some people don't make the connection between various hazards.

Fuses most definitley are a source of ignition.....in fact when heavily over loaded they can explode in their own right.

But plenty of accessory fitters don't even understand about the current limitations and poor reliability of certain fuse holders....maybe they just don't care.

They just use cheap fuse holders and make an octopuss of the battery terminals.

Just a thaught about certain battery boxes.....there are lots of battery boxes arround that have switches and fuses mounted in the lid..with no seperation from the battery it self.

If ya planning oin making a battery box with switches & stuff......build the switchboard in one of those nice IP rated plastic boxes.... and mount that on top of the battery box..and seal the cables that lead to battery terminals.

OH an those webbing straps....they might be all fine and beaut for holding the lid on or even holding the battery down in a boat......but road vehicles produce lots more G forces than boats.

Even in a boat I would not be depending on those cheap webbing straps, their plastic buckles and pissy little screws to hold down 20Kg of battery..

sorry but its one issue after another...and far from uncommon.

cheers
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Reply By: Member - Andrew W14 - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 16:01

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 16:01
Peter,
No offence but first thing you should do is get another auto electrician - preferably one that knows what he is talking about unlike the one you have received false advice and bull bleep from already.
Second thing is as you have done, post your enquiry on here and similar, and whilst a lot of the answers you will receive will also be misleading, incorrect or downright lies from so-called experts you should be able to work out who knows what they are talking about.

And you have read many examples of the latter in the post already.
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 23:55

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 23:55
Hi Andrew
It’s a bit hard to decipher your waffle – be a bit more specific.
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Follow Up By: Member - Andrew W14 - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 20:24

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 20:24
Dennis,

If you find it hard to follow my 'waffle' then I guess you are one of the ones i referred to in the second paragraph of my post..
However for your benefit i was referring to:

'he advised the AGM's generally don't like full alternator output which can lead to run away charging'.

And yet more:

'illegal to fit anything other than an AGM type'
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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 21:07

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 21:07
Thanks for that – us old fellas are a bit slow on the uptake
I understand what you were objecting to now
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Reply By: Tony H15 - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 18:04

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 18:04
I have an Aliner with the battery option. The battery is housed in one of those $15 black plastic boxes which has a large vent attached to the lower half. Interestingly the vent on the side of the box is below the level of the lip on the lid, these type boxes also have two holes on the top of the lid, making the vent ‘nice to look at’ only. Most AGMs have little rubber valves at each end hidden under the removable top plates, these valves pop out if the pressure gets to high and allow the gas to exit. In a previous camper, I cut a piece of PVC pipe in half lengthwise, stoppered the ends, glued it to the top of the battery (covering the vents) and attached a length of hose which was then vented to the outside. The rubber stoppers pop out with very little pressure and the hose I fitted is larger than the batteries venting holes so the chances of it blowing the PVC off are pretty slim. The terminals are external to the PVC venting area so there’s not much chance of it igniting either.
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 09:56

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 09:56
Batteries of that type are also known a Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) batteries. From this website because they describe it better than I can:

"A VRLA battery utilizes a one-way, pressure-relief valve system to achieve a “recombinant” technology. This means that the oxygen normally produced on the positive plate is absorbed by the negative plate. This suppresses the production of hydrogen at the negative plate. Water (H2O) is produced instead, retaining the moisture within the battery."

The battery normally operates under slight pressure. Excess pressure and the release of gas is the result of overcharging, is not normal and is to be avoided. Whenever those valves release gas there is an unrecoverable loss of electrolyte and thus an unrecoverable and needless degradation of the battery.

They won't vent if they are charged correctly. That means correct settings on any solar regulator, dc-dc charger and mains charger. And NO EQUALISATION, which is an overcharge. The equalisation function on any of those chargets, if present, must be de-activated.
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 10:03

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 10:03
The link didn't work. The URL is
http://www.dekabatteries.com/assets/base/1927.pdf
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 15:48

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 15:48
ALL sealed lead acid batteries are VRLA batteries, AGM is a special case group of VRLA batteries....and this group also includes sealed maintenance free batteries...they all have pressure redulating vent valves.

The sealing of batteries has been achieved by changes in plate composition ( mostly adding calcium), changes in acid formulation and preasurising the case.
This allows reduction in the gasses produced AND the gasses produced during charging to recombine into water and be returned to the electrolite.

NOW
Some claim that under "normal" operation, sealed batteries should not vent and should not experience loss of electrolite.

The realiy is....sealed batteries ALL sealed batteries do vent and do lose electrolite and "normal" is a hell of a lot narrower range of circumstance than many would like to believe.

Looking at temperature alone will put many batteries outside the "normal" range as defined by the battery specifications.

Combine temperature and charge voltage and a hell of a lot of sealed batteries will operate outside what the manufacturer specifies as "normal". They may lose electrolite and continue to function just fine.....some may not.

In the lower part of the range and on the margins of "normal", sealed batteries of ALL TYPES, may vent small amounts of gass and over the life of the battery experience no ill effects.

This is a matter that very few will accept, very few manufacturers (almost none) will address in either specs or application notes and many people simply don't want to talk about.

The fact is and the batteries themselves testify to the fact, sealed batteries very commonly can be found with reduced levels of electrolite...therefore they must be venting.


now further to this specific matter.
Only one manufacturer I know of allows for a solution...the "supercharge Seamaster Gold" batteries are a flodded, wet cell, VRLA sealed maintenance free battery......ahh but once out of waranty, the top sticker can be removed to reveal the vent valves that can be screwed out and the battery topped up....care must be taken.

Among the battery scrounging & recycling brigade.....the desulphators.
It is common and proven practice to drill the tops of sealed maintenence free batteries so that they can be topped up and some people add chemical desulphators before resealing with plugs of their own invention.

Hope this helps clarify a few things.
cheers
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Reply By: Dennis Ellery - Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 23:49

Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 at 23:49
Hi Peter T9
You were advised correctly – you won’t need to vent an AGM in your camper.
Wet flooded cells in unventilated enclosures can be an issue but AGMs are not a problem - thousands of caravans are manufactured and sold each year with AGMs in unventilated enclosures.
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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 15:59

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 15:59
It frankly horifies me that thousands of all sorts of stuff are manufactured in ignorance of manufacturer specificaltions.

If I have to I can post link after link form battery manufacturer (companies that own factories and design batteries) web sites that clearly and catagoricly state that batteries should not be installed in sealed or enclosed spaces...and that includes AGM.

There are also thousands of caravans out there with generators contining petrol, fuel containers and gass bottles are installed or carried in enclosed spaces, where common, well known, normal and sensible safety practice says they should not be.

Truth is caravan fires are pretty common....and they burn well.

cheers

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Follow Up By: Nigel Migraine - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 19:53

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 19:53
Personally, I think it's astonishing that any of us have managed to remain alive!

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Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 20:52

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 20:52
Bantam - you are going to worry yourself to death.
It’s all about how the level of risk.
You have more chance of getting struck by lightning than being blown up by an AGM.
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FollowupID: 812797

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:16

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:16
Batteries including AGM do fail.

I have seen sealed lead acids fail, I have been there reparied the equipment and cleaned up the mess.

I have a couple of them on my dead battery pile at the moment.
One of them is blown up like a baloon, I have seen plenty leak, splits along the top plate join are not uncommon, leaks around the teminal seal are not uncommon...I have had near new batteries leak at the terminal seal.

ALL batteries given time and lack of attention WILL FAIL.

You have no way of knowing how that AGM will fail.

It is not just the minor low levels of gasses that will come out of sealed batteries in normal or close to normal use that are the real problem.

It is what occurs when they fail.....acid, liquid, fumes and mist, the explosive gasses, the various lead compound particles and paste and the posibility of fire.

You have absolutely no basis for your assertion of probabilty.....as for being struck by lightning.....put yourself in the wrong situation and being struck by lighting is a very very high risk factor.

BTW.I have been out on quite a number of lightning strike service calls.

I am not worrying myself to death.

The proper and reasonable safety measures are pretty straight forward and easy to impliment.
I just dont understand why manufacturers just bung batteries under beds..it is nothing more than wreckless stupidity.

It is very simple..house a battery in a place where a battery failure is not likely to cause damage to other things, and ventilate to outside air.


A couple of pretty simplesensible measures and you can reduce the risk of damage or injury from a battery to near zero..in real terms

As far as I can see the best place to mount a battery on a caravan is in the drawbar external to the main body of the caravan and balance that weight elsewhere.
If not that a purpose made compartment accessed and ventilated to the exteriour of the body.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812806

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:21

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:21
Remember it is the battery manufacturers themselves that warn against fitting batteeies in enclosed spaces.

I think they would know a little about the risks.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812807

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:47

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:47
Just to drive the issue home here are some images I pulled of the internet with no effort at all, showing that sealed batteries DO fail.

this one may not be AGM but it is a VRLA sealed maintenance free battery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ExplodedBattery.jpeg

This thread has a high res picture of an optima battery that failed....scroll down a little to see.....optima are considered by many to be top shelf sealed batteries.

http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=10&f=17&t=661841

I have not linked screw top battery pictures..there are plenty of those and there are a few choice AGM battery pics that I cant access at the moment.


Oh and remember this thread.
Almsot certainly a battery gass explosion.

http://www.exploroz.com/Forum/Topic/95168/Exploding_caravan.aspx


SO are you feeling lucky...well are you.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812809

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 10:32

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 10:32
Bantam – you wouldn’t want to be a lawyer.
Your evidence is full of holes – I looked at your link to the exploded caravan and it stated – “No batteries exploded”
If we had a history of exploding caravans – the authorities would make the venting of batteries mandatory.
By the way I don’t recall the spate of exploding VW Beatles – There were millions of them produced with batteries under the back seat – unvented.
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FollowupID: 812831

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 11:59

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 11:59
As with many things the authorities give little attention to or concern about caravans.....they remain pretty well unregulated in most counts.

likewise DC power supply applications in cars and boats are pretty well unregulated.

Its only with the proliferation of grid connect solar, that the DC section of the Australian Electrical Standards applying to buildings has grown to a significant size.

Fact is caravan fires are fairly common.

As for VW beetles....yeh well they burn pretty easily too, and in the day fairly commonly ...remember the beetle was mostly manufactured before we had Australian Design Rules, the early models had neither seat belts nor indicators.....by current safety standards the VW Beetle would fail on a string of counts

AND, in restoration, one of the most common parts for beetles is a replacement floor section where the battery is stored..corroded due to acid damage..

If you want to look at places where battereies ARE specifically regulated.. aviation, off shore yachting, shipping required to be surveyed (that includes small commercial craft) and various institutional battery users, those regulations have rather a lot to say about how batteries are housed.

Where the batteries are housed.
How the batteries are to be housed.
What type of battery is permitted
Ventilation
Location of switch gear outside of battery comprtments

ALL issues discussed in this thread.


Recreational boating is very similar to Caravans, very similar methods are used, the issues and the disregard are pretty well the same.

It is very common to see batteries housed in the cabin under the bed in recreational boats.....this would not be permitted in a boat for commercial use required to be surveyed.

If the very reasonable electrical requirements that apply to boats for commercial use where applied to recreational boats the vast majority would fail...on multiple counts .....most of them would fail on on battery location and housing alone.

Every summer we see news reports of recreational boats large and small burning to the water line..." for no apparant reason"...for anybody with eyes to see and ears to hear the reasons are dogs balls obvious.
Poor electrical standards and unwise storage of flamabes.

The very same issues I post about concerning cars and caravans.

As for the exploded caravan picture.

follow the discussion....the batteries themselves may not have exploded....but the most likely source of the type of explosion would be hydrogen from the batteries.

If the explosion would have been either petrol or LPG gas, fire would have most likely have followed..and it did not.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812835

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:09

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:09
I’ll take the investigators verdict rather than your guess work based on photo.
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FollowupID: 812836

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:11

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:11
Again google is your friend..took me no time at all to find this.

http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/warning-over-caravan-fires/story-e6frfku9-1226795639230

To save time here is the headline.

CAMPERS are being urged to take more care this summer after emergency services were called to more than 130 fires in caravans and mobile homes last year.


and the tag line at the end

In the past decade, firefighters attended nearly 1000 incidents in caravans, campervans and mobile homes in which eight people died and 60 were injured.

AND this is only in NSW.


Show me the reports of 130 people struck by lighting in NSW in a 12 month period.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812837

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:19

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:19
Dennis Ellery posted:
I’ll take the investigators verdict rather than your guess work based on photo

Insurance investigator is mystified as are the owners

Hardly a verdict.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812838

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:40

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 12:40
Bantam
Did you bother to even read the story before you added the link about caravan fires?
Not one mention of a battery initiated fire.
Can’t you see that promoting this as evidence is silly?
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FollowupID: 812839

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 13:10

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 13:10
Did you bother to read the whole thread and notice that I have a quite lengthy post to that thread.
ANd I was not the only one that concluded that it was most likley a hydrogen explosion...and the reasons where given and discussed.

Or are you " just a bit slow on the uptake"

cheers
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FollowupID: 812840

Follow Up By: Dennis Ellery - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 14:24

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 14:24
Your link to where experienced investigators couldn’t determine the fault of the caravan explosion – I read real slow.
If I was fast on the uptake I would have seen the obvious from the photo - it was caused by a battery – with your speed on the uptake maybe you should work as an investigator.
That article you promoted on caravan fires - I read real slow too – not a mention of a battery.
With me lacking your insight – maybe you could indicate where I missed the batteries in this one too.
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FollowupID: 812845

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 17:50

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 17:50
This "experienced investigator"...that would be an insurance assessor, a person with no particular qualifications..perhaps a mechanic or pannel beater, perhaps just an office worker ....mostly engaged in making sure the insurance company does not get ripped off by pannel beaters.

I think you are starting to get the idea...you lack insight.

If I was to work as an insurance assessor I would probably get paid half what I do now.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812870

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 17:55

Monday, Apr 07, 2014 at 17:55
I know a bloke who was a loss adjuster..that is a big step up the food chain from an assessor......he investigated claims with a view to only paying what was necessary or outright refusing....he was fairly well paid...an accountant.

cheers
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FollowupID: 812872

Reply By: Peter T9 - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 08:33

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 08:33
Thanks for all the replies.

I think if I could afford the Lithium technology I would go that way however for now I think I will have a bet each way and install an AGM with some ventilation.

Peter
AnswerID: 529919

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 21:07

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 21:07
For starters AGM batteries are not sealed batteries. They are VRLA batteries (valve regulated leas acid.) The valves are there to allow for the release of gases when the batteries are maltreated. They are just as subject to runaway conditions as any other type of lead acid battery. GEL batteries are very similar to AGM batteries, they probably not offered as the bloke you were talking to knows little about batteries.

Flooded lead acid batteries are only a danger in living spaces if you are charging them whilst you are occupying the living space. You did not mention charging the battery apart from by doing so from your tug. If you don't have a mains operated battery charger that operates whilst you are living in the camper then I would not worry about changing batteries.
PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

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AnswerID: 529972

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:29

Sunday, Apr 06, 2014 at 23:29
VRLA batteries are generally refered to as sealed batteries..in fact before the Acronym was shortened, they where refered to as VRSLA batteries...Valve Regulated Sealed Lead Acid batteries

Occupation of the living space has not a thing to do with the probabilty of explosion or other hazards.
A battery is just as likley to vent gasses while charging and for a time afterward..regardless of you sitting on the bed it is mounted under or on the beach.

Very few people will be pulling the battery out of where it is mounted to charge it.
Only a few less will be opening the doors and opening the compartment to charge the battery so the gasses can escape.

I supose its better if the van explodes while you are not in it.

cheers
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