Battery failure

The deep cycle battery that was supplied with our caravan to power all of our 12 V lights and appliances was found to be totally dry with one of the fuses blown and melted, after checking it to see why we weren't getting any power.

We have had the van for 12 months and admittedly never checked the fluid level in that time although it was serviced by the dealer twice (thought they would do the check? I know, I know .....)

I have had deep cycle batteries in the 4wd for years and never had such an experience - with about the same level of neglect!

When the cells were re-filled with water, a lot of bubbling activity occured and it seemed as though all was ok - but after a short time of use, it was found that probably one of the cells is damaged as the voltage output was just 10.8 amps.

Any idea what would cause the battery to go dry like that and then melt the fuse?

Thanks
pprass
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Reply By: MEMBER - Darian (SA) - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 12:32

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 12:32
You want a dealer who sells replacement van batteries to check battery fluid levels :-o)........ BTW.....one of the contributors here has a signature that goes something like "if I kicked the person responsible for most of my problems I'd never be able to sit down".
AnswerID: 346725

Reply By: Lucko - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 13:12

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 13:12
pprass - Methinks that perhaps you need to look at the quality of charger being used to charge your DC batteries, apart from your maintenance routine.
If you replace the battery(s) and use an unsuitable /faulty charger I reckon you will end up with the same result!
A pearl of wisdom given to me - "No point doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result"
Mark
AnswerID: 346731

Follow Up By: pprass - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:14

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:14
Lucko - I got the usual repsonse from the dealer re the charger ie used it for years and never had a problem

I think the problem occured as follows (but I am no expert):

Something was left on in the van while not in use and it flattened the battery (we noticed the radio was still on when we checked the van after a few weeks)

We then tried to charge up the battery using the inbuilt Wailki charger and on top of that an external battery charger.

This double charger method may have boiled the water in the battery and dried it out.

Speaking to someone just now about bringing a dead battery back to life, you need to give it an initial massive jolt using jumper leads from a vehicle while the engine is running for at least 20 minutes and then get the charger onto it.
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Follow Up By: Lucko - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:31

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:31
I'm guilty of the same sin - cooked a flat battery, luckily for me not a deep cycle one, by what turned out to be overcharging using a so called 'smart charger'. I have great respect for them but sometimes they can get 'confused' by dodgy batteries.
I've not heard about doing a Lazarus on a cooked battery. From my understanding, once the plates are exposed they are quickly sulphated and become irretrievable.
That's my understanding, doesn't mean its Gospel.
Lead acid batteries are a bit like ballerinas and loco drivers - very temperamental when not treated nicely.
Mark
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FollowupID: 614767

Follow Up By: redeye141 - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 19:21

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 19:21
pprass

Think it is a self inflicted injury. If you left the radio on the voltage would have gone well below the recovery voltage and destroyed the battery.

Sorry to be the hearer of bad news
Redeye
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FollowupID: 614810

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 13:08

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 13:08
Your battery will not loose water during the discharge cycle. I also doubt whether one charging incident would have boiled it dry. This would have been caused by an unsuitable charger and/or lack of battery maintenance.

What is this "Wailki charger" you keep referring to? Is there a name and address of the charger manufacturer? Or do you have a web address? Is it a multi stage type or just a taper type? If you have further details we may be able to comment on the suitability of the charger.

If a flooded deep cycle battery is not loosing water then it is not being charged fully. You should have to add a little water every 3 months or so if it is being maintained properly. If you have a flooded battery (the type that has removable caps on the top) and you have not checked it for a while then do so this weekend.

PeterD
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Follow Up By: pprass - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 16:02

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 16:02
Nomadic Navara,

The charger is a Wiallki Electriconics CC-1223 Switchmode battery charger

http://www.wialkielectronics.com.au/products.html

I just took the battery to a battery dealer who also pointed to the charger as a possible cause. I left the battery with him and he is putting it onto his super charger to see if it recovers, however he noticed that the sides of the battery had bulged out - not a good sign.
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FollowupID: 614989

Follow Up By: pprass - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 16:05

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 16:05
Redeye - it is a deep cycle battery which I understood was designed to be fully discharged and recharged. Even the battery dealer said that it shouldn't have gone dry.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 17:10

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 17:10
pprass

I would not have called your device a battery charger. I would only have referred to it as a power supply. Another retailer attempted to pass a similar one to yours off to me and I sent it back for a full refund. Have a look at the brochure and the user manual. Reading the pages from those two pages you will see that the device has a fixed output. This OP is normally set at 13.8 V but is adjustable over the range 12 - 15 V. I would not have thought the device would have boiled your battery dry, so measure the output voltage to see if someone has set it higher.

What you need is a proper 3 or 4 stage charger with its output voltages tailored for your new batteries absorption and float voltages.

One way you can do this is to purchase a RanOx battery booster and run it from the output of the "Wailki charger." Set the absorption and float voltages according to the specifications of your battery (which the retailer should be able to supply) and the OP current to 15 - 18 A maximum. (If you set it higher it will overload the Walki and its voltage will drop.) The advantage of using this is that you can also connect a heavy cable from your tugs alternator to the RanOx and charge the battery whilst you are towing. There is no need to switch the input to the RanOx if you are careful not to apply the 240 V to your van before you disconnect the tug (if you don't you will feed power to your tug from the Walki.)

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Follow Up By: pprass - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 13:22

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 13:22
"....so measure the output voltage to see if someone has set it higher. "

We did measure the output voltage while charging the battery and it was fine - 13v from memory.

The RanOx battery booster is an option, but then I have to find a spot to locate it. Might be cheaper though than having to rip everything out and starting again!

Also I thought that Wiallki charger was being powered by the tow vehicle when driving?

Peter
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Reply By: Member - DOZER- Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 13:19

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 13:19
do u have solar on it? how do u charge it??
b4 you bag me out, walk a mile in my shoes, then your a mile away and have my shoes :)

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AnswerID: 346732

Follow Up By: pprass - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:16

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:16
No solar. Just charges via a Wailki charger either when connected to 240 volts or when the vehicle is attached and running.
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FollowupID: 614762

Reply By: Gronk - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 13:27

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 13:27
Have used AGM's for the last 4yrs and a decent 3 stage charger and I haven't seen let alone checked the batts !!!

They are dearer, but when used in a van / CT they are really a set and forget type of thing.......as long as you don't let them run down too much.....worth the extra money for peace of mind ..
AnswerID: 346733

Follow Up By: pprass - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:17

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 15:17
Gronk - is that a sealed AGM battery?
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FollowupID: 614763

Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 11:14

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 11:14
Yep.....AGM's are sealed....no odours.....no explosive gasses ( but they still need some ventilation )..

I have 6 AGM's and they are housed under my bed in the CT ( straight under my pillow actually ) and have never bothered to ever look at them ( but I know they are coloured black !! )

I use an Xantrex charger ( but there are several other good brands ) and try to never let the voltage drop below 12V..

Expect them to last 10+ years.......best way to achieve this is to recharge them as soon as you can after use ..
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FollowupID: 614907

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 13:12

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 13:12
AGM batteries are not sealed batteries despite what some retailers call them. They are "Valve Regulated Batteries." Each cell has a valve on the top to allow gas to escape when they are overcharged. That is why they can not be mounted upside down - the valves would get blocked and the battery explode under those conditions,

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Follow Up By: Ianw - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 21:57

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 21:57
Check the spec sheets - most AGMs can be mounted in "any orientation" including upside down

Ian
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FollowupID: 615067

Reply By: dave the brickie - Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 20:40

Friday, Jan 30, 2009 at 20:40
I lost an ac delco(only 8 months old) when not using the van(8 weeks).Self inflicted.I didn't have it hooked up to 240v as I thought nothing was on.Turned out the winegard powered antenna was still on.tricky little switch .drained the battery to the point of no return.Not a big fan of the big grey Smart chargers,the fan comes on as the charger connects,usually as you're just going to sleep.Using a Ctek 7000 and solars now.
AnswerID: 346789

Follow Up By: Gronk - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 11:16

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 11:16
Best idea for vans especially, is an isolator for when it gets stored for any length of time ..
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FollowupID: 614908

Reply By: Von Helga - Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 21:37

Saturday, Jan 31, 2009 at 21:37
Having had a look at the products website. I would say that the charger is a 23 amp charger/power supply charging at that rate all the time regardless ( i.e no smarts), I'll assume that your battery is a 100 amp or so, possibly even smaller and this is too many amps to be on all the time for batteries that size. I will further assume that the power supply element of the unit would come into its own when running your van from AC power where the 23 amps get chewed up running the van appliances and what is left excites your battery and if you don't chew them up then a lot is left for the battery (maybe too much)
I have no idea of your technical skills but I would suggest that you learn how to use a hydrometer and multimeter if you intend to use this charger continually. I get the feeling the original design was along the lines of set and forget however, I would probably have used their 16 amp product instead.
In your position I would continue to use the original one (with maintenance and monitoring) till it breaks and then reassess what units are availible on the current market that would be better suited.
AnswerID: 346956

Follow Up By: pprass - Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 13:15

Sunday, Feb 01, 2009 at 13:15
Thanks Von Helga,

The battery from memory is 120 amps - it's at a battery dealer at the moment so can't check it.

I think I will get an AGM battery as a replacement and as you say monitor it regularly rather than ripping everything out and starting again - although that did cross my mind for a while.

Peter
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FollowupID: 615165

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