By Mike Sokol
REMINDER: I’m presenting a YouTube Livestream event with Dennis Wieske from Progressive Dynamics this Tuesday evening, February 2, at 8 p.m. EST covering charging systems for Lithium batteries. If you’re interested, please go to my YouTube page and set a reminder. And yes, I’ll do a future Livestream interview on other battery technologies as well. To sign up on YouTube just click HERE.
For those of you who think I’m fixated on Lithium batteries, let me assure you that I’m an equal opportunity instructor. I now have representative samples of Lithium, AGM and Lead-Acid Flooded Cell batteries in my shop. In fact, thanks to my friends at Tri-State Battery, I now have a pair of U.S. Battery 6-volt deep cycle batteries in my possession for testing.
Why did I ask for old-school flooded-cell batteries? While Lithium batteries are great, there are many RV owners who either don’t want or need, or can’t afford to upgrade to the newest battery technology.
Do I need to spend big bucks on RV batteries?
In fact, for casual RVing families who might only take their camper out a few times a year, spending big dollars on a Lithium battery that can do 3,000 to 5,000 charge/discharge cycles doesn’t make economic sense. A pair of 6-volt lead/acid batteries should have a life in excess of 1,000 charge/discharge cycles, as long as you properly maintain their electrolyte levels and don’t discharge them below 50% SOC (State of Charge). Take a look at this chart from U.S. Battery that tells the story.
Why do good RV batteries die young?
I firmly believe the primary reason many flooded cell batteries die an early death is a lack of water. That’s right, you really should be checking your RV battery electrolyte level every month. However, some RV manufacturers locate the house batteries under the steps or in a hidden compartment, which makes checking the water/electrolyte level in your batteries difficult, if not impossible, without removing them first. In their defense, flooded cell batteries can’t be located in your living quarters without some sort of venting system, due to their outgassing during charging.
Cool concept alert!
When I saw this cool battery watering system from Flow-Rite, I contacted their marketing group and was quickly put in contact with Flow-Rite proper.
Of course they offered to send me a sample product to review, but I thought it would be a better idea to test the concept on a pair of 6-volt deep cycle batteries, which I didn’t have in my lab yet.
So I asked if they could find me a pair of batteries for the review, and voila, yesterday a pair of 6-volt, deep cycle batteries arrived, courtesy of U.S. Battery and Tri-State Battery. Thanks very much, guys. You know how much I love to test stuff!
Coming soon to a media player near you…
In the next few weeks I’ll do a formal review of the Flow-Rite battery watering system, which looks like it would solve a lot of battery low-water issues for RVers.
In addition to discussing electrolyte level in flooded cell batteries, this now gives me the opportunity to directly compare Lithium, AGM and Flooded-Cell batteries for things like charging speed, solar panels, DC-to-DC chargers, air conditioner operation from batteries, 3-stage converter/chargers, hybrid inverters, etc.
Stay tuned to this bat channel…
Let’s play and stay safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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