Deep cycle batteries
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  1. #1
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    Default Deep cycle batteries

    It's that time of year again!

    I have a 4WD, and it needs a new battery. I want to get a decent one, especially as I can foresee a camping fridge in our future , and don't want to be stranded a long way from town (unfortunately this 4WD does not have a crank handle, unlike my father's early Land Rovers).

    Is a deep cycle battery what I need? How does it differ from ordinary batteries?

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    Cheers

    Alec

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    Quote Originally Posted by Armidillo View Post
    It's that time of year again!

    I have a 4WD, and it needs a new battery. I want to get a decent one, especially as I can foresee a camping fridge in our future , and don't want to be stranded a long way from town (unfortunately this 4WD does not have a crank handle, unlike my father's early Land Rovers).

    Is a deep cycle battery what I need? How does it differ from ordinary batteries?

    Cheers

    Alec
    If you want to run a fridge etc, you should really install a second battery and a dual battery manager.

    The manager will automatically charge the second battery while driving but isolate the main battery (so you can start the engine) when the car is switched off, ensuring the fridge runs of the second battery.

    Here is a link to one on Ebay, but I'm sure ARB or similar would have them.

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/DUAL-BATT...item43b10356bf

    Mate has one on his Patrol and he swears by it. He has a fridge and when camping often has side lights going. When the monitor detects the second battery drops below a certain voltage it beeps for 30 seconds and then cuts cuts the power.

    When it beeps, he just runs the car for 10 minutes and charges the battery again.

  3. #3
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    Actually the 2nd battery and isolator are already fitted. Don't know if mine warns me - haven't tried deliberately flattening the 2nd battery to see what happens. It does have a switch to override the isolator - this allows me to start when main battery is weak but the other one is still good.

    Had so much trouble getting started this morning I may be up for 2 batteries! All the more important that I get the right one(s).

    Cheers

    Alec

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    JBN
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    Get 3 new batteries. Two for the vehicle and one for the satellite phone in case plan A and plan B fail.

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by Armidillo View Post
    It's that time of year again!

    I have a 4WD, and it needs a new battery. I want to get a decent one, especially as I can foresee a camping fridge in our future , and don't want to be stranded a long way from town (unfortunately this 4WD does not have a crank handle, unlike my father's early Land Rovers).

    Is a deep cycle battery what I need? How does it differ from ordinary batteries?

    Cheers

    Alec
    A deep cycle battery is generally not intended to be a starting battery, instead of a powerful surge of amps for starting it is able to produce a reasonable amperage for extended periods, like for using a fridge or lighting.
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Car batteries are designed for starting current at low temperatures. They have large electrode areas and minimal electrolyte. Deep cycle batteries are intented to produce a lower current with the voltage maintained until almost flat. They have less plate area limited to that needed for the ampere hour capacity and a well underneath to carry more electrolyte.
    Horses for courses, one starts the car and the other provides the 'domestic' energy. You cannot rely on a dcbattery to start the car and it wil not love you for it.
    Think Global - Ride on Spheres

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    Check the wiring for your fridge is not undersized. Apparently, automotive wiring is often rated by it's total diameter, including insulation, not the conductor, which is the important bit.

    Also, you need to realise that the more you discharge the battery, the more you reduce it's life. Repeated deep discharges will shorten the life of the battery alarmingly. There's plenty of info about this feature of lead-acid batteries out there, but look up Peukert's law.

    The website that has this page is worthwhile:
    http://www.caravanandmotorhomebooks....ukerts_law.htm

    The chart here is helpful:
    http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/a...attery_runtime

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerry freed View Post
    Car batteries are designed for starting current at low temperatures. They have large electrode areas and minimal electrolyte. Deep cycle batteries are intented to produce a lower current with the voltage maintained until almost flat. They have less plate area limited to that needed for the ampere hour capacity and a well underneath to carry more electrolyte.
    Horses for courses, one starts the car and the other provides the 'domestic' energy. You cannot rely on a dcbattery to start the car and it wil not love you for it.
    Thanks for that explanation Gerry.

    Both batteries are (to me) unfamiliar brands - Amaron & Supercharge. The first is apparently Indian. Anyway, from checking models, both are "starting" batteries. One is weak & doesn't like cold mornings, the other is (I hope) OK.

    I thought this morning that both were letting me down - the beast still wouldn't crank after I flicked the switch to include the second battery. However, after waiting a minute or two it started OK. Presumably the extended leads to the 2nd battery don't carry enough current to start the diesel donk, but can "recharge" the starting battery.

    So next question - if I have a starting battery and a deep cycle battery (with an isolator) and I flatten the starting battery, will the deep cycle battery be able to start the engine (either directly, or by recharging the starting battery). Or is JBN on the money - use the sat phone to call for help?

    Cheers

    Alec

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    I think the questions are, is your starting battery shagged, is your starter knackered, is your ignition system rooted, is your fuel delivery system on the blink? Any or all of these could be causing your problem and you need to work your way through the lot to establish what the problem is. On the other hand, comfortingly, it could be a combination of the lot!
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Definitely battery - the instrument panel lights were dim, and the motor wouldn't turn over. Hardly surprising - the battery had already warned me previously that it had little in reserve, hadn't been started for a week, and we just had 3 mornings of big frosts, -9C, -9C & -5C

    Flicking the switch to de-isolate 2nd battery immediately brightened up the lights, but it needed a minute or so before it could turn the big lump over. Once started and warmed up there were no more problems - primary battery was able to handle starting duties.

    At 10 years old, and having only covered 150,000 km, this vehicle is far too young to have all those problems you're worrying about Kim

    I haven't removed the plugs from the battery and got someone else to turn the key while I watch for the tell-tale fizzing of a dead cell, but there's no need this time. I don't have as much experience as you Kim, but I know a dying battery when I see one .

    Cheers

    Alec

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    Alec,
    If you are interested I supply Optima Yellow Top (Dual Purpose) and Red Top (Starting) batteries to members of local 4WD clubs and through Australia care of AULRO members.
    Have a look at www.optimabatteries.com.au for the technical specs, but basically a D34 Yellow Top costs about $260 delivered.
    From what you have described, you will probably be up for two batteries ... but you can start with just the 1 to cover starting (D34 will do that) and move it to deep cycle application, or add another, when the fridge comes along etc.
    Michael T
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    Thanks Michael - will certainly have a browse.

    In the meantime I have found a competitor that also claims to be dual purpose:
    http://www.supercharge.com.au/produc...allrounder.php

    Is there such a thing? Given discussion so far, can a single battery really be both a "starting" and a "deep cycle" battery? I notice that Supercharge are not very generous with warranty (1 year) on the "All rounder" - might be a clue - although Optima is more generous...

    Also Michael, do the AGM batteries have any special charging requirements - for example I have read that calcium batteries benefit from a higher charging voltage than that required for a standard lead/antimony battery.

    Cheers
    Alec
    Last edited by Armidillo; 27th June 2012 at 01:24 PM.

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    If you have an older style wet battery with removable breather caps, you may get a short term (6mths) renewal by adding Inox battery conditioner to each cell (after checking the SG of each). This product will de-sulphate your plates for a good while. If you can't get Inox battery conditioner I'm reliably informed that a teaspoon of Epsom salts in each cell will give your battery a similar rejuvenation.
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Poor battery condition could be a result of poor charging in the vehicle. Apart from the usual issues of belt, alternater and regulator faults their is an extra trap for those palying wwith dual battzery installations. It is common to use a diode splitter to simultaneously charge both batteries. If the alternator/regulator is not calibrated to recognise the voltage drop across the diodes, full charging will be slow or never achieved.
    The best wazy of overcoming this is to use a regulator with a separate sensing input which is connected directly to the main battery. On my van I have a alternator originally for a Peugeot motor home that overcomes that.
    There are expensive, quality batteries that are dual purpose but being lazy, I do not like them. You have to think when using them for the domestic chores to be sure that the remaining charge does not drop below that needed to start the vehicle. In an H van that is less of a problem as it has a starting handle.
    Personally my choice would be two separate batteries chosen for purpose, with the correct splitting and charging arrangement and with the electrics and mechanics of the motor set up so it fires first compression every time.
    I also have in van an automatic trickle charger that can be bolted in the engine compartment and keeps the battery topped up any time there is a mains socket outlet nearby.
    Think Global - Ride on Spheres

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    I have a tip for people living in very cold areas! When I had my 6V R4's living in the Melbourne hills it was necessary to put the little fellow to bed every night with a burlap sack covering the engine and battery. It would start in any weather. The trick was to remember to remove the sack before starting and driving off. My mother did forget once and had to call the fire brigade!
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    If you have an older style wet battery with removable breather caps, you may get a short term (6mths) renewal by adding Inox battery conditioner to each cell (after checking the SG of each). This product will de-sulphate your plates for a good while. If you can't get Inox battery conditioner I'm reliably informed that a teaspoon of Epsom salts in each cell will give your battery a similar rejuvenation.
    +1 for Inox as I've just replaced the 7 year old no-name battery in my daily EF Fowlcan wagon. It was starting to get sluggish as I leave home at 05:40 I pretty damn sure SWMBO ain't going to be impressed when asking for a jump start!
    No special treatment and the poor bugger gets no respect; many years of short journey's, traffic crawl and sitting in the car at lunchtime with stereo blaring
    A once of year treatment is $8 and a new battery every 3-4 years is $130-140.....an extra $30-40 to double the life is a fair price.
    New battery is a sealed unit, not happy but Dufus here ran out of time to source a new battery....late Sunday avro is not the time for choice! and
    Brendan

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Luck View Post
    If you have an older style wet battery with removable breather caps,
    ...
    Unless it's a gel type battery, many of the sealed / no maintenance type are really 'wet' batteries with a sticker over the filling ports/vents.

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    I've had experience with marine gel type batteries. Very, very expensive and seem to lose about 10% efficiency every year whether you like it or not. They require a special charger to bring them up again if they get fully discharged, your old charger just won't work! Waste of time compared with "sealed" AGM types in my humble and ever so genteel opinion!
    Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone............

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    Thanks Kim - I have used Inox before, but had forgotten about it. The Beast started without a problem today, so battery is hopefully a good candidate for Inox.

    And yes David, I am aware of the old "hide the caps" trick - in fact I have an Exide battery in my Xantia that came with one cap missing, but it was initially hard to tell because of the sticker .

    Good point Gerry - the dual battery system was installed by previous owner, so I am not sure exactly what has been done. There is an isolator fitted, but I have no idea whether the alternator is coping with charging both batteries. Since both batteries are out of warranty, and there was no problem in warmer weather, I'd say that the charging is probably OK, but I'll get my local sparky to check it out.

    As to firing quickly - it does, but only if I warm the glow plugs twice at least (clearly some of them are on the way out). Obviously glow plugs are another reason the battery has to be in good condition...

    Cheers

    Alec

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    The most common isolator consists of two silicon diodes on a small heat sink. These diodes being a silicon junction have a voltage drop of .7 volt across them. This means that the regulator if on the alternator output and built in ones always are, sees .7 volt more than is actually on the battery terminal. Result, it terminates the charge early. Obvious solution is to have the regulator sense the voltage at a battery terminal. Batteries that don't get a full charge are more liable to sulphating ifleft unused in cold conditions.
    Think Global - Ride on Spheres

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    First Q - what sort of isolator do you have? Given one of your previous comments, is it a manual switch, or does it work automatically and just have a manual over-ride switch? Voltage-sensing relays are a common & useful solution. Old-style solenoids can be problematic - if ignition-operated, they can run down both batteries if the ignition is left on but car not running. The Pirahna / TJM et al units are good, really just solid-state electronic VSR units. ABR Sidewinder & Redarc both make very good units for not much money.

    Your alternator capacity will also play a part, in how fast it can recharge the batteries. Older Lancruisers, etc, with 35-55amp alternators can be a problem when trying to charge two batteries. Something with ~70amps+ should be fine.

    Supercharge are a Korean-made battery, and actually not too bad. Sold in major retailers around the country, they make a range of batteries.

    You starting battery is easy - Usually a wet-cell battery is most suitable, but some newer AGM starting batteries or - very expensive - Lithium batteries are appearing on the market.

    The Auxilliary - or 'house' battery is an area for much discussion amongst 4WDrivers. Currently, most people seem to go for and AGM - Absorbed Glass Mat - Deep Cycle battery. Wet Cell deep cycle batteries are also favoured by many.

    Deep cycle batteries - as Gerry has mentioned - produce a more even voltage for longer, and will survive deeper discharge rates for longer. BUT - a good one is very expensive, they usually have minimal - if any - starting capability, and ultimately, they will only survive deep cycling a little better than other units - they are not a magic wand for frequent deep discharges. There are some dual-purpose starting / deep cycle AGM batteries starting to hit the market, and they are quite good, but expensive.

    AGM batteries should really only be discharged to around 50% capacity, for long battery life. They usually do not like heat, and many makers will not warrant their products for under-bonnet useage. Also, for longest life, they like being charged to full capacity - ~14.2-14.4 volts - This is true of any battery, but AGM's are particularly sensitive to it. The average alternator will not do this, so you either need to charge them regularly at home with a mains charger, or accept a shorter life span. Alternatively, the new range of DC-DC chargers on the market that are designed to both isolate & charge an Aux battery can be used. Full River AGM batteries from China have a good following, and are readily available. A mate has had one for 7 years now, still going strong. He's anal about battery maintenance, though, and regularly trickle-charges it from a mains charger.

    The Optima batteries are excellent in a starting role, but I have my reservations as a 'House' battery, only due to their low Amp-Hr rating for a given size. This is due to the spiral construction. If trying to maximise your AH capacity with limited storage space, these may not be for you, although they are an excellent quality battery.

    SuperStart Batteries appear to be good - but they only seem to have penetrated the market in NSW & QLD. They have a full range, but their Calcium marine batteries seem to have very good specs. I couldn't find a dealer in Melbourne, although a few are being sold on Ebay. Price is pretty good, if they meet their claims. If you look them up, take a look at the Lithium starting batteries as well - super$$$, but very high cranking amps.

    I have just gone down the DC-DC charger path, with a CTEK DC250S Dual charger/isolator..... It also has a built-in MPPT solar input, as well. This isolates the starting battery if it falls below 12.8v, and commences charging at 13.1v. It's output voltage is 14.4v @ 20amps.

    I've elected to fit a Century 'marine Pro' wet-cell dual-purpose starting/deep cycle battery. Marine batteries have heavy plates designed to cope with vibration, and are also designed to cycle for lighting, communication gear, etc. The one I've picked is a 12" case, with 720cc amps & 100 Amp-Hrs capacity - the same as most AGM's of the same size. It was also cheap - $165 for an Aussie-made battery, although they usually sell for much more in Auto-Barn, etc. Price was a factor in my choice, but also the ability to jump-start off the Aux battery in an emergency. Plus, it's a quality battery that should last a long time, especially as it's getting a proper charge from the CTEK.

    Cable size is also an issue - I've run 3B&S cable from the Aux battery to the rear of my ute, to a 175am Anderson plug (about a 6.5m run), then tapped out of the plug a short 1m length of 6B&S cable to power my fridge & a few other things - this gives minimal voltage drop & good accessory operation. People who are charging camper trailer/caravan batteries use even larger cable...

    If you can identify the isolator, or have any specific Q's, let me know.... I've fitted quite a few different isolated battery set-ups on both cars & boats....
    Last edited by wombat200; 29th June 2012 at 01:17 PM.

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    Default A bit more info...

    Hi Wombat200 - thanks for detailed response. Thanks also to others who helped get me thinking!

    I can now answer some of the questions/suggestions raised, as I have purchased a cheap multi-meter, and had a chat to local auto-sparky. I believe I have an answer as to why the battery went flat - see last paragraph.

    I put the offending battery on charge for a couple of days - disconnected 2 days ago. The "magic eye" was still showing green this morning after a pretty vicious frost (oh and it starts fine too) - so battery is not dead (yet). However it is not holding full charge. Battery voltages (with engine switched off) are:
    Main battery: 12.55 V
    Backup battery: 12.7 V

    Alternator is (according to sparky) 110 amps (this is a 100 series 'Cruiser, about 10 yr old). Voltage at battery with engine running (ie alternator charging) is 14.08 on both batteries. So a little less than the ideal 14.2 - 14.4, but clearly not down a full .7 volts as could be expected from "the most common isolator".

    The isolator works automatically AFAIK, with a manual override switch. It is a "Sure Power Industries" Model 1314, rated at 100A continuous. Presumably this amp rating explains why the vehicle wouldn't start immediately when the starting battery was flat and I flicked the override switch - the isolator limits the current flow to 100 A, so I had to wait for the starting battery to be recharged from the backup battery.

    The retaining bracket of the backup battery had a heavy coating of white powder. Presumably if the main battery is weak, and is being constantly recharged, the second battery gets charged unneccessarily, causing acid fumes to escape and attack the bracket?

    I bought Inox, but have not been able to use it:
    - the starting battery (SuperCharge) is advertised as "maintenance free", and sure enough when I peeled back the sticker there were no filler caps. The large cover (covers half of top of battery, where filler plugs would usually be) is not removable, so I can't add the Inox without risking damaging the top of the battery. Presumably the "magic eye" (which can be unscrewed), only gives access to one cell?
    - the second battery (Amaron) has filler caps, but had been overfilled! No wonder there was evidence of corrosion around it!!! No room for Inox...

    Auto-sparky suggested that one or more of the accessories could be drawing current even when key is off, so I checked. From the secondary battery there is a constant 5 milliamp current - not too serious - but from the starting battery there is a fluctuating current, between 60 & 68 milliamps, being drawn constantly. By my calculations this amounts to ~1 Watt - not huge, but enough to ensure that the vehicle WILL get a flat battery if left unused for long enough (especially in cold weather, and especially if battery is a bit weak to start with ).

    Cheers

    Alec

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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Does the alternator voltage ever drop to indicate that the batteries are fully charged?
    The 100 amp rating doesn't mean that it limits thecurrent to 100 amps. It means that the thermal dissapation of the diode and its heat sink can only handle 100 amps continuous ie 70 watts. It will pass more current for short periods but a dead short will probably burn it out.
    Does the alternator regulator really work?
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    Default Battery Isolators

    Quote Originally Posted by gerry freed View Post
    The most common isolator consists of two silicon diodes on a small heat sink. These diodes being a silicon junction have a voltage drop of .7 volt across them. This means that the regulator if on the alternator output and built in ones always are, sees .7 volt more than is actually on the battery terminal. Result, it terminates the charge early. Obvious solution is to have the regulator sense the voltage at a battery terminal. Batteries that don't get a full charge are more liable to sulphating ifleft unused in cold conditions.
    I had one of these twin diode isolators in my Hilux for a while.
    Problem with it was that the auxiliary battery would only be charged when the alternator/regulator sensed that the starting battery needed charging.
    If the auxilliary battery charge was depleted but the starting battery was charged, very little charging of the auxilliary battery occured.
    Changed over to a simple relay system. The relay bridged both batteries together and activation of the relay was via alternator output. System worked well.
    Following the advice of an auto electrician I ran a wire directly from the regulator to the positive battery terminal (starting battery). This removed the voltage drop through the origional circuitry.

    Paul

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    Yes, that is the correct way to go but not always possible as some alternators have internal regulators with no acess to the sensing input.
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