Fluoro lights

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 12:24
ThreadID: 3326 Views:2969 Replies:8 FollowUps:17
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I am running 2 of the (Piranha) 12v fluoro lights (11W) off a deep cycle battery in my trailer. When the battery is fully charged, they work fantastic but if the voltage on the battery drops below about 11.5, they flicker and wont start. Any ideas on this? Will a cranking power pack be any better, if so why? Is it a problem with the battery or a typical issue with fluor starters?
By the way I dont want to replace the lights, they are great.
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Reply By: Raymond Charlton - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 12:38

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 12:38
Hi Drew
I have had the same problem, if the voltage drops to 11.5 they have problems starting, I have found starting the truck for a moment will get them started and then they are happy to run for the night
Ray
AnswerID: 12879

Follow Up By: Drew - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 12:40

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 12:40
These are mounted in the trailer so not always connected but not beyond possibility. As the power in the battery drains, does it come to a point where they wont work or is just starting that is the issue?
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Follow Up By: Raymond Charlton - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:21

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:21
Hi Drew
I find that once they started they will work till the voltage drops to about 10.5. It is better for the batteries not to fall to much, if you only use the battery for lighting and not for the fridge even a small solar panel would help keep the battery up. With the fridge I use a 32watt Unisolar panel which gives us 2- 3 days, with the HF radio will probable add another 32 watt. http://65.114.77.230/corp_web/pages/cons_products_marine.html
Ray
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Follow Up By: Drew - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:26

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:26
Thanks Raymond

I have a very small trickle charging solar panel that works OK but only adds a small amount each day. I will check out the solar panels.
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Reply By: Member - Nigel - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:14

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:14
That's because at 11.5 volts your battery is as flat as it can get without drastically shortening the life of the battery.
AnswerID: 12884

Follow Up By: Drew - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:22

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:22
I must admit that I am not that conversant with battery technology. If I can get the light started by hooking up to the car, then disconnecting. Do I risk damage to the battery by running it down further. I did some tests on the battery with my Chescold on 12V this week and ran it to 3.5 v and am recharging it now. I am interested because I want to use my lights without recharging for up to a week. As long as I can start them that should be OK. Do I risk damage in doing this. AM I better off with cranking battery pack? What is the difference between the 2.
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Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:35

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:35
Voltage isn't a true indication of charge level, but it's the easiest thing to measure.

Starter batteries are designed to start an engine then be immediately recharged. Another other use will reduce their life, so for your lights you need a deep cycle.

If you want to run 2 lights (approx 1 amp each) for 4 hours a night for 7 nights, then you need 2 x 4 x 7 = 56 Ah of usable battery capacity.

If a deep cycle battery will last for say 1000 cycles when cycled to 50%, it will only last for say 400 cycles if cycled to 75%. So for maximum battery life you don't want to use more than 50% capacity. If you get a 90Ah battery and use 56 Ah that's 62% so you could expect to get 700-800 cycles from the theretical battery.

I suspect your battery isn't fully charged to start with. You will rarely get a deep cycle fully charged from an alternator (only way you will get close is if you have a direct very heavy gauge wire from the alternator and drive for 30-40 hours). The best bet is to get a mains charger (preferably one with a auto cutout). I personally use a LEAB Champ 8 amp charger that has a full 3 stage program, but I can justify the cost as I own 3 deep cyles and premature failure from undercharging would cost me much more.
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FollowupID: 7514

Follow Up By: Drew - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:43

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:43
I am currently charging the battery on an 8amp charger that I just bought from Repco. It has a trickle charge setting and a deep charge setting. It seems to get it to about 13+ v and as you say the lights take about 2 ah between them. What is the difference between a trickle charge and a full charge?
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Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:54

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 13:54
Is the repco charger 8 amp DC or 8 amp RMS? If it's RMS then it's really only 4.5 amp DC. The battery should get to around 14.2-14.4 and stay at that voltage for quite a while before it could be fully charged.

The way to tell if it's fully recharged is to let the battery sit for at least 24 hours after you take it off the charger, then measure the voltage. If it's below 12.6 then it's not fully charged. If it falls below 12.6 before 24 hours then it's very undercharged.

If your charging a battery fully then you should need to top up the water every 2-3 months (depending on climate).
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Follow Up By: Member - Nobby - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 19:57

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 19:57
Nigel.. I am looking at Deep Cycle in Bris., and have found the best value to be Apollo 105amp for $155.00. I haven't heard of AGM batteries( but that doesn't mean to much) From listening to all on the forum all Batteries seem to be the same. As someone said ealier, Marine are half way between Cranking and Deep Cycle( so our local Battery expert says).
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Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 10:00

Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 10:00
Nobby, that does sound like good value.

AGM are a different type of battery contruction. "Absorbed Glass Mat" - they cannot spill and can be cycled deeper than a standard deep cycle with less effect, and also charge at a faster rate (so quicker) than a standard deep cycle. They also don't die as quickly as a normal battery would if undercharged. They can be used in places where the acid or gas from a standard battery would be a hazard.

Because they are fairly new to the consumer market they are a bit dearer (some brands are a blatant ripoff) but as the price comes down I think they will be a good option.
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FollowupID: 7621

Reply By: ralph - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 15:26

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 15:26
When modern betteries go below 11.6 volts they are flat or close to it. Late model 4x4s need from 13.2-14.4 volts to make all the gizmos work correctly and alternators have been built to keep batteries to that level. 12 volt is no more. Therefore modern batteries are built to handle these higher voltages. Your fluoros need a bit more to start than run. Soooo, if you continue to run your lights once your battery reaches 11.5v, then your battery will have a short life. Get the charge up and stop using the battery at 11.6v
AnswerID: 12899

Reply By: David - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 15:37

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 15:37
NI Cad batteries like to be flattened.
LEAD Acid batteries don't. If you take a lead acid battery down below say 30 or 40% capacity you are seriously reducing it's life. 11.5 volts -if measured some hours after discharging- means your battery is basically flat(empty). Flatten it completely and some would advise you to chuck it- I wouldn't quite say that but it is not too far off the mark- atleast for a starting battery.
The "deep cycle" batteries you buy which look like a car battery are NOT really a true deep cycle battery at all, rather only a modified "starting battery"- they do tolerate deep discharge better than a starting battery but you should still avoid taking them too far down if you want them to last long. The true deep cycle batteries are very heavy and very expensive- ie:totally impracticle for your 4WD or caravan.
If you never flatten an automotive style "deep cycle" battery to more than say 40% capacity, and then recharge ASAP, it will last you a long time. (usually many, many years)
If you regularly flatten it completely, then look forward to replacing it in a very short time, and most companies will NOT honour a warranty claim if this is the case.
Summary- keep your lead acid battery as full as possible all of the time.
AnswerID: 12901

Reply By: Member - NOBBY - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 17:45

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 17:45
On the subject of Batteries.. What is the difference between a Deep Cycle Battery and a Marine Battery?
AnswerID: 12908

Follow Up By: Diamond - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 18:15

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 18:15
good question nobby i asked our delcor supplier for a goos quality deep cycle battery and he gave me a marine one and said this is the go i didnt ask him any more about it as i find hes usually right
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Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 00:34

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 00:34
A "marine" battery is usually somewhere between a starting battery and a deep cycle. IE it has more CCA than a deep cycle and more Amphours than a starting battery.
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FollowupID: 7572

Reply By: Member - NOBBY - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 19:30

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 19:30
Diamond.. How do you find the Delcor Batteries. Evakool recommend them as does Christie Eng. I have to buy two Batteries before my next trip to go onto a Campomatic Trailer to run a 60l Evakool f/f and lights. I was leaning towards Odysee ( not sure of the spelling) until I saw the prices. I will end up with them later when I turn into a Grey Gypsy but for now I reckon two 100amp should do the trick. I have one of the Christie "Gen" sets, so between it and the car I should be ok. I imagine the cost of Marine Batt. and Deep Cycle Batt. are just about the same. Sorry to Drew for getting off the subject of lights but they all relate to the same subject ie. Power on a camping Trip.
AnswerID: 12914

Follow Up By: Member - Nigel - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 00:38

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 00:38
Nobby, I am looking seriously at the AGM batteries from Powercel for my Campomatic (and I also have an EvaKool fridge).

I got my campomatic built with a battery box for 2 x N70 batteries on the drawbar. The powercel N70 size is 98 Ah (at the 20 hour rate which most batteries are rated at), but is marketed at it's 10 hour rate of 90 Ah. I haven't tried these batteries yet, but they were recommended to me. Check them out at http://www.powerdive.com/products/Accessories/Batteries
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Follow Up By: Diamond - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 14:11

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 14:11
havnt had it long enough to tell had been dischared about half a dozen times but time will tell
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Follow Up By: Diamond - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 14:11

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 14:11
havnt had it long enough to tell had been dischared about half a dozen times but time will tell
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FollowupID: 7595

Reply By: Smithy - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 20:08

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 20:08
Getting back to your lights, fluros draw a larger amount of current when starting as they have to ionise?? the gas in the fluro tube. Once the gas is ionised it'll last, depending on the battery, for hrs.
AnswerID: 12916

Follow Up By: Drew - Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 20:39

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2003 at 20:39
Thanks Smithy, that sounds like a good tech explanation. I am goibng to check my battery after recharge as per Nigels reponse and then maybe get a bigger bugger as per Nobbys response if that does not work. I think I will also work on a solar panel as per Raymond Charltons response. You only live once, heck the expense and get better gear.
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FollowupID: 7550

Reply By: sean - Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 20:51

Wednesday, Feb 12, 2003 at 20:51
Drew

I too have two lights like yours. One the same brand and one a Versalite which appears to be the same light to me.

My experience is very different to yours. I first read your post yesterday and have since gone out and tested my lights with a multimeter on 3 batteries.

I have never had problems getting the lights to start if there is reasonable power in the battery. The lights just become too dull and then I start using the next battery.

I use sealed lead acid batteries for the lights. Most are 17A/h and one is 34 A/h. These are the most robust of any battery I have ever used, and I have about 10 of them.

I just tested the light on 3 batteries.

Battery No 1 - 12.5 volts after sitting for 5 months idle. Light started after a few flickers.

Battery No 2 - 11.5 volts. Light startes as for battery No 1.

Battery No 3 - 8.5 volts. Light started after few attempts and after removing scum from terminals. Only one half of tube was lit.Bright at the base then no light up near the bend of the tube. Voltage went down to 5.5 volts in 30 seconds. Removed light and put it back and same as before. It started but very dull. Removed light and voltage slowly started to climb back up.

For running fluro lights - I highly recommend these batteries.

Sean
AnswerID: 12990

Follow Up By: Drew - Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 08:42

Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 08:42
Thanks Sean

I have just finished charging the battery last night after 36 hours on deep charge and another 36 hours on trickly charge. It got to 13.4 last night but has dropped to 12.4 overnight. I think it may be stuffed if it cannot hold the charge. What brand of light are you talking about. It appears that I have to get a new one anyway.
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FollowupID: 7618

Follow Up By: Sean - Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 11:12

Thursday, Feb 13, 2003 at 11:12
Drew

batteries are different brands. One is a GCB, one a century. Best are the 34 A/h made in Japan as these are used in electric wheelchairs. Great for running lights but no good for anything else.

Sean
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FollowupID: 7625

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