Which battery, what's new?

Submitted: Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 22:45
ThreadID: 130506 Views:2446 Replies:12 FollowUps:18
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Hi everyone. In the last 9 years I've gone through 3 lead/acid deep cycle auxiliary batteries at around $250 - $300 each and use these batteries for only 6 to 8 weeks a year. The rest of the year, the battery is simply being toured around town. My wife has pointed out to me that this equates to $50 cost per trip. A sobering thought, so maybe these batteries are a necessary evil if you want to camp. Anyway the third battery died this week at only 2 yrs and 9mths of age and ruined a camping trip.
My first question is :- does anyone have a solution to this problem or am I just going to have to 'suck it up'? (I know some people who own machinery and can pinch the battery out of their truck say, use it for the trip and then put it back in said truck - I don't have this luxury.)
Secondly :- Seeing as I need to replace this battery, what types are now available on the market and what would be recommended, starting from the cheapest and working upwards?
We have a silenced Honda generator but only want to use it as a back-up.
The dual charging system is a Ctek 250(?) and the loads are an Engel fridge and Waeco freezer with a 150mm blower fan all running simultaneously.
I don't know the amp/hour rating of the battery but it's the biggest one I could get for a Nissan Patrol.
Thanks in advance, Deejay.
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 23:31

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 23:31
Well if the newer Lithium batteries are like the tool type, they are lighter, higher performance, and lose just a fraction of % of power over a period on months sitting waiting for use.
Of course the cost is very high, but they will come down as they get more popular.
I'm sure someone on here has them, and will post up their experiences.

Do you do any pro active maintaining of your batteries in the downtime ?
Just about all batteries need to be put on a good smart charger every so often to both top off, and keep in good condition.
You could also hook em up to a small solar panel on the carport (or whatever) roof connected to your Ctek to keep them charged and conditioned.
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Follow Up By: Frank P (NSW) - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 18:19

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 18:19
I have had great success with lithium iron phosphate (LiFePo4, commonly called LiFe) batteries in my Karavan. See my blog here. When camped I run a 130 litre compressor fridge and a 55 litre car fridge as a -10 deg freezer and can do that for at least 5 days with average to poor sun.

I have 360Ah of lithium which is equivalent to about 720Ah of lead acid.

You won't have the luxury of those amp-hours, but if you could get a lithium battery of about the same Ah capacity as you already have to fit your battery space you would have about double the useable battery capacity. ie, if you currently have 105 Ah of AGM or whatever, if you could get 105Ah of lithium in the same space you would have the equivalent of about 210Ah of AGMs in useable capacity. To put it simply, on an amp-hour for amp-hour basis, you get about 1.5 times the useable capacity from LiFe, even double if you want to push it.

If I were in your position and given your pretty high loads, I would investigate as to whether LiFe batteries can tolerate the high temperatures found in the rear of an engine bay. Sorry, I don't know that info off hand, my Karavan batteries are in a benign environment. BUT, my supplier has a small LiFe battery as a direct replacement for his car battery in his Falcon and it has been going for years, so that may be an indication.

Though the initial outlay is expensive, cost of ownership of LiFe batteries may be cheaper than lead-acid because they typically outlast 3 sets of lead acid batteries.

If you're interested, just check how they go in a hot under-bonnet environment.

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Reply By: Member - graeme W (WA) - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 23:39

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 23:39
Hi Deejay. My agm batteries are 8 years old and still going.
Cheers Graeme.
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Reply By: Ross M - Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 23:57

Sunday, Oct 04, 2015 at 23:57
Deejay.
If the batteries are charged regularly they should last well. Mine are over 5 years old.
You mentioned " the biggest one to fit the Patrol".
From that statement I deduce you are using it under the bonnet of the Patrol?

Most AGM batteries DO NOT LIKE hot areas and their life WILL be reduced. So to me it seems the batteries life and performance is being shortened by being HOT.
Either insulate the area, AND ensure a plentiful supply of cool air at all times so the battery isn't being cooked.
OR
Position the AUX battery somewhere else.

If you are the cause of the battery demise, then change the situation.
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Reply By: Member - Tony F8 - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 07:26

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 07:26
I run a Fullriver 100 amp deep cycle under the bonnet of my 80 series(factory battery holder), previous battery was a Trojan agm, my start battery is a Century Overlander. I have only replaced the batteries once in 16 years, so equates to 8 years battery life. When not in use he truck plugs into a simple 4 stage charger, the current batteries have done 8 trips to the Cape, plus many trips through the Gulf, so the don't have an easy life, my opinion is that if they are kept charged to around 12.7 volts you should not have any problems, you didn't mention whose batteries you are running, so could it be the quality of the batteries you are using.
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Reply By: Battery Value - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 07:51

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 07:51
Deejay, this has nothing to do with "which battery, what's new" as all batteries will die early if mistreated.

Sorry to say, going by your figures it looks very much like a case of battery mismanagement.

Your fridge and freezer (and other stuff?) easily can draw 75Ah per day.
From memory the ctek 250 is rated 20A, requiring you to drive for a minimum of 4 hours every day just to prevent the battery from slowly going flat.

If that's not happening, your only options are to buy a beefy mains powered charger (25A recommended for a 100Ah battery) and run the gennie for 3~4 hours every day - AND/OR solar.

Another easily overlooked requirement is to fully charge the battery before you put it back into storage.

Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 08:06

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 08:06
Hi Deejay


I am looking around at the moment and one battery seems to get very good reviews. Depending were you get them, they will range from $250 to just over $300 depending on whick model you go for.

From reports here in past forum post, it seems that many people are getting between 8 to 10 years out of their batteries.

With a three year guarantee, it looks like the Optima battery seems to be very good value for money. If you check out their web site, they offer 3 types of batteries, Red Top for starting batteries, Yellow Top for general deep cycle applications and the Blue Top Marine battery.

Someone may come up with a better option, but the Optima battery seems like a good investment.



Cheers



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Follow Up By: gbc - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 09:51

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 09:51
I've never had less then 10 years service from an optima which makes them the cheapest battery I have bought when compared with all the middle of the road stuff I played with for years. The biggest optima is 'only' 75 ah but thats not the whole story. Internal resistance is very low so they recharge much quicker and accept charge off solar panels more easily than others. They are by no means cutting edge, just well manufactured with quality componentry which is half the battle. Definitely my number one choice of deep cycle battery. Mine runs off a ctec 250 as well, but in the ute well. The ctec 250 is temperature compensated and has a history of not liking being under bonnets - I'd confirm this isn't an issue?
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 23:32

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 23:32
gbc, what are you driving off your battery? The OP is running both a fridge and a freezer of his battery. I suggest he would require a battery for each to have sufficient capacity.


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Follow Up By: gbc - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 08:45

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 08:45
I run a 60 evakool 24/7. It doesn't get turned off.
The op would need a couple at least. The issue I've always found with running two fridges is that they eventually sync and the computers will trip them as the startup current is quite high, meaning you end up with hot beer and enough current to run the fridges which is a heartbreaking and unacceptable situation. I'd go three batteries .... ;)
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Reply By: Sigmund - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 10:29

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 10:29
Have a look at a calcium marine/deep cycle battery, eg. from AC Delco. Cheaper than AGM and can take some abuse.

If your fridge and freezer are running around town I'd say your existing battery is not getting enough charge.
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Reply By: HKB Electronics - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 10:35

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 10:35
As already written, if your running two fridge freezers on a single battery charged only by a Ctek250 your going to be pushing your luck, the battery may keep the fridges running over night but certainly will suffer if your stopped for a couple of days.

Assuming a 100Ah battery or there abouts, if you wereto stop for a couple of days I would suspect your draining your battery pretty close to 0% SOC, that is not good for the battery and it will take the charger around 6 to 7 hours of continuos driving to put the charge back in.

I would have suggested two auxillaries, one for each fridge and a simple VSR to put as much back in to them in the shortest time once the motor was running.

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Follow Up By: Deejay - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 22:21

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 22:21
Thanks HKB. The current battery is a Turbo brand battery and is rated 105Ah. My car is a 2006 Nissan Patrol TD42ti and I'm using a CTec 250 battery manager that is mounted under the passenger's seat. There is also a digital voltmeter. The Engel is a 60L and run as a fridge. The Waeco is 20L and run as a freezer and there is a 150mm cooling fan running. Typically we go away 3 to 4 times a year camping, Sometimes we'll stay in the same place for a few days whereby we run the fridges on the generator. Other times, we're on the move every day so the battery powers the 2 devices from about 3 pm till 8 am. For all the other weeks of the year (about 40 of them) the battery just sits under the bonnet and has no discharge imposed upon it.
The problem arises when we decide to stay at a campsite a second night. We've already run the fridges off the battery on the first night so it is depleted. During the second day we use the generator but then we have to switch it off when we go to bed and that's when we run into trouble. I have been using the generator to charge the battery while it is also powering the fridges during the day. I'm not sure if this is a smart thing to do or not. Thanks for your interest and advice. Deejay.
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Follow Up By: HKB Electronics - Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 10:43

Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 10:43
You appear to have tow issues, not enough battery capacity and insufficient charge from your generator. I would suggest that you need to connect at least a 25A charger to your generator, this would allow you to recharge your battery from around a 50% SOC in around 3 to 4 hours.

Ulimatley more battery power and solar to suplement wood be good but that would depend on wether you think the investment is worth it for the amopunt of camping you do.

Charging off the generators battery charge terminals is going to take much longer.

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 13:01

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 13:01
Deejay has not indicated that his auxiliary battery was failing to keep up with his load demand so we could presume both the battery and the charging system were adequate. If he was regularly discharging deeply then his fridges would not be serving his needs.
At "$250-300 each" it would seem that he is buying quality batteries.

So maybe the problem is temperature of the battery environment....... a problem that I have faced and solved.

So tell us Deejay, what is your vehicle model and where is your auxiliary battery located?
If it is in the engine bay it very likely needs heat shielding.... an arrangement that solved my persistent battery failure problem. I can show you how I arranged it.

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Follow Up By: Deejay - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 23:15

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 23:15
Thanks Allan. The current battery is a Turbo brand battery and is rated 105Ah. My car is a 2006 Nissan Patrol TD42ti and I'm using a CTec 250 battery manager that is mounted under the passenger's seat. The Engel is a 60L and run as a fridge. The Waeco is 20L and run as a freezer and there is a 150mm cooling fan running. Typically we go away 3 to 4 times a year camping, Sometimes we'll stay in the same place for a few days whereby we run the fridges on the generator. Other times, we're on the move every day so the battery powers the 2 devices from about 3 pm till 8 am. For all the other weeks of the year (about 40 of them) the battery just sits under the bonnet and has no discharge imposed upon it.
The problem arises when we decide to stay at a campsite a second night. We've already run the fridges off the battery on the first night so it is depleted. During the second day we use the generator but then we have to switch it off when we go to bed and that's when we run into trouble. I have been using the generator to charge the battery while it is also powering the fridges during the day. I'm not sure if this is a smart thing to do or not. Thanks for your interest and advice. Deejay.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 23:39

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 23:39
Deejay, from what you said there it indicates to me that you have insufficient battery capacity. I was getting 2 to 3 days use out of a 110 Ah battery driving one Waeco fridge. I was also using lights and a car radio in the van. The batteries were not charged during that time.


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Follow Up By: Battery Value - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 10:40

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 10:40
Hi Deejay,

looking at your travelling/charging pattern, no clear conclusions can be drawn about battery charging status.

Easiest thing to do is buy a $10 voltmeter and mount it in a highly visible spot.
When connected to the auxiliary battery it'll give you a good indication of state of charge.
Not accurate SOC but good enough anyway.

During regular use of your aux battery i.e. when touring/camping the voltmeter should read 14.4V for a consecutive 3 hours or longer, at least twice a week, or better every time after the voltage has dropped to below 12V.
Excursion below 11.8V are to be avoided if at all possible.
If you frequently see low voltage it could be one or a combination of the following:

battery on its way out
battery chronically under-charged
not enough installed battery capacity
hot ambient

Is this battery of yours a flooded type?
If yes, I'd replace it with an AGM or gel which will last at least twice as long in your application provided it gets charged thoroughly.
If at all possible, mount the battery away from the heat.
And do not leave it under the bonnet for the rest of the year when not travelling since heat will affect its life even when sitting idle.

Cheers
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 11:35

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 11:35
Deejay, summarising what you have said:
Battery: 'Turbo' 105ah (presumably AGM deep-cycle)
Load: 60 ltr fridge and 20 ltr freezer
Charge: Ctek 250s (= 25 amp maximum)

So from that can be assessed that you have 50ah of available battery capacity as you should only draw down no more than 50% of rated. Your fridge load will be at least 5ah per hour so will consume about 60ah overnight and that is more than the allowed drawdown. Recharging from your car alternator via the Ctek would require at least 4 hours driving. These figures do not allow for higher ambient temperatures or a less-than-new battery so it is probably much worse. So it can be seen that your installed system is not up to the task even when the battery is new.

The demands on your battery are contributing to its short life and it is probable that high engine bay temperatures are also damaging it. The main contributors to short battery life are over-discharging, high temperatures and severe vibration. The location of your battery in the engine bay exposes it to high temperature and as it is close to being directly over the front axle it will also receive maximum vibration shock from road conditions. Relocating the battery to inside the cabin would ease both of these conditions.

For the fridge demand of 60ah overnight you really need more battery capacity. A second battery is advisable. Even then, the existing Ctek 250 may not replace the consumed energy within the driving time and a second charger may be needed.

A couple of useful links are "Electricity for Camping" and "Auxiliary Battery Systems Wiring".

If you wish to reduce battery heat, a photo of my arrangement is below and two forum threads on this are Thread 91116 and Thread 106611.


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Allan

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 17:16

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 17:16
Deejay,
There are good people on this thread offering you good expertise. You need to provide extra information if you want a good answer:
#1 What type of deep cycle battery? AGM or wet cell? If you don't know then brand name might help.
#2 Location - if under the bonnet of the Nissan Patrol it will be in a hot location as they are set back in the engine bay
#3 Location of CTek D250S - Under the bonnet or in the cab?
#4 Location of the Ctek temperature probe?

I agree with the others that it is a big ask to run two fridges off one battery - golden rule is one fridge per battery unless you supplement with solar.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 17:18

Monday, Oct 05, 2015 at 17:18
PS, Your wife is a wise woman - thinks the same as my wife.....unfortunately :-)
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Reply By: Ross M - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 13:47

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 13:47
Deejay
You said you use a generator when required. what part of the generator is being used to charge the battery?????

If you aren't using the 240v to run a suitably sized charger for your batteries and JUST relying on the 8amp output of the generator's VERY basic 12v charging system (which will hardly charge a battery anyway) you will be using close to ALL the generator 12v output just to maintain the batteries to some degree. They will end up not being anywhere near fully charged and won't have stored sufficient capacity to last over night.

Best to use the Generator with a large enough multi stage charger to fully charge the batteries.
Mother will be pleased.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 16:53

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 16:53
Further to what Ross said Read this article.


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Follow Up By: Deejay - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 22:18

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 22:18
Thanks Ross. It's a 1kva Honda with the built-in battery charger.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 23:58

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 23:58
What id the output current of that "built-in battery charger?" Is it just the standard low power 12 V OP from those generators. If it is then read the article I gave the link to @ Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 16:53 above.

Those 12 V outputs are just for powering 12 V appliances and incidental battery charging. They are useless when it comes to charging deep cycle batteries.


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Reply By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 18:10

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 18:10
Hi Deejay

Look your setup up simply isn't robust enough and you need to make some basic changes.

Forget the cute stuff , like Lithium, orbital batteries and your ctek charger.

Its not that these things don't or can't work but rather that in practice they are mostly not worth the effort - unless you design and play with systems like I do and find all the stuffing around fun.

For your Patrol , you will find that it can take a N70 size with little effort (N50 being standard in most).

So I suggest you get 2 only of Exide 90AH 760cca N70ZZLMF (Calcium) (about $175) and just run them straight off the cars alternator.
(in your post you don't describe a trailer or anything else, otherwize I might change this note )



5 things you need to also do ->

1/ Know when your batteries are getting low (another poster suggested voltmeter - a must have, Jaycar $19 cig lighter is a product I have lab tested as ok )


2/ Ensure your fridge has low volts dropout set correctly and works.
I note you have engel & waeco - are both protected ?

Note - properly setup fridge system can require only avg 1 to 1.5 amphour each.
I'd work on this and suspect your drawing a lot more.
Half the battle is like filling a kitchen sink,
to fill it up you can either turn the tap on harder or alternativly put in the plug.


3/ Run car engine to recharge batteries as required - usually 1/2 hr a day , more on bad days.

4/ Have a means of charging battery if it goes flat - for me an always connected 20w solar panel glued to roof is enough , but you may need more or use your gennie.

5/ Throw out 1 battery every 3 years.


Above is brief and could be optimized but you probably get the idea !





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Follow Up By: Deejay - Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 22:30

Tuesday, Oct 06, 2015 at 22:30
Thanks Robin for your reply.
1. I've not heard of calcium batteries - are they more durable/better than wet cell or AGM?
2. Am I understanding your comment correctly that they are $175 each?
3. And lastly, you suggest charging the auxiliary battery straight off the alternator yet other people have told me that an alternator only puts 70 to 80% charge into a battery. What do you think?
The current battery is a Turbo brand wet cell, deep cycle battery and is rated at 105Ah. My car is a 2006 Nissan Patrol TD42ti and I'm using a CTec 250 battery manager that is mounted under the passenger's seat. The Engel is a 60L and run as a fridge. The Waeco is 20L and run as a freezer and there is a 150mm cooling fan running. Typically we go away 3 to 4 times a year camping, Sometimes we'll stay in the same place for a few days whereby we run the fridges on the generator. Other times, we're on the move every day so the battery powers the 2 devices from about 3 pm till 8 am. For all the other weeks of the year (about 40 of them) the battery just sits under the bonnet and has no discharge imposed upon it.
The problem arises when we decide to stay at a campsite a second night. We've already run the fridges off the battery on the first night so it is depleted. During the second day we use the generator but then we have to switch it off when we go to bed and that's when we run into trouble. I have been using the generator to charge the battery while it is also powering the fridges during the day. I'm not sure if this is a smart thing to do or not. Thanks for your interest and advice. Deejay.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 00:18

Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 00:18
Deejay, you are not listening. The majority of replies are advising that you need 2 batteries at least. As Robin Miller advised, you are using the wrong charging method. I am a believer in using DC-DC charging. However you need the appropriate equipment, a 20 A charger is not sufficient for your use. When you get your second battery you will need at least a 50 A DC-DC charger, it's no good using a boy to do a man's job.

You are doing the same with the Honda generator. The 12 V output is useless when it comes to charging deep cycling batteries. Did you not read the link I presented to you in a folllowup in the previous reply. You are not using heavy enough equipment to charge your batteries, that's why you are killing them. If you are going to use a generator you should be using it to drive a 50 A battery charger to charge your batteries (and you will probably find that your generator will not drive that large size charger.)

The battery and charging regime is barely sufficient to run only one fridge/freezer.


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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 12:01

Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 12:01
Hi Deejay

As above I don't disagree with most of this threads comments , I am just coming at your problem from a different angle.

I agree with your friends comments about standard alternator not always fully charging battery and also agree with Peters comment that, if done right a DC-DC charger can do better.

The GU patrol as sold in many areas has provision for 2 battereis and sufficent power to charge at over 100 amps (for a few minutes till regulator reduces volts when hot).
So for most of the year your car will automatically take care of those batts.

You don't need to do anything to make it all work except run car for a few minutes at a time .
Mines a petrol gu so its very quiet and on worst of days it might need 1/2 hour total.

But its important to know when it needs a charge so as batteries are not frequently run down to far,
and to use stratergies that minimze power needed from batts.

As for actual batteries slight variations in models and specs are occurring constantly so I checked at local Bayswater place when getting my morning coffee today.

The current equivalent to my 18 month old Exide N70zzlmf is called the Endurance and retail today was $187. It is a sealed Maintenance free Calcium/Calcium type capable of many discharges , but not as many as a full deep cycle. I prefer this version as I change them regularly even though they ok still.

It also comes in straight lead acid (cheaper) and a higher spec extreme AGM version $235 with over 800cca.

Note the attached reference list about a dozen variations of N70's

http://www.exidebatteries.com.au/Downloads/Brochure/N2046F%20Exide%20Product%20Category%20Brochure%20SUV-4WD-LC.pdf

P.S. My CF25 Waeco fits between the patrols front seats with some slight mods, and hence never suffers from extremes.

P.S.2 I think I said that N70 will fit the Patrols N50 cradles with some slight trimmings





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Follow Up By: Deejay - Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 22:31

Wednesday, Oct 07, 2015 at 22:31
Well thank you very much Geriatric Navara - your care and understanding is duly noted. It's not a case of me not listening, idiot, but rather struggling to understand a field in which I have very little knowledge and being bombarded with information which sometimes appears to be contradictory. I thought the whole purpose of this forum was to help other people, not berate them with sarcastic admonishments. Just as well you took up engineering for a career - coz you'd make one lousy teacher! Deejay.
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