One hidden problem that can turn out to be annoying, perhaps when buying a used camper or, in general, dangerous in the experience with your four-wheeled “travel companion” is that of a service battery in bad condition.
A service battery for a Motorhome may need to be replaced due to its age. Unfortunately, more often than one might believe, even new camper batteries can be in bad condition due to errors that can be avoided with a few small precautions.
Let’s start from the beginning: what is a service battery? The term service battery refers to all those energy accumulators that regulate, for example, the ceiling lights of the vehicle, the heating fans, the water pump and, in general, everything that does not only control the starting of the car.
Pegaso Battery Solution by Nicola Palangio has collected some of the main errors regarding the maintenance of service batteries for Campervans.
One of the most frequent mistakes, often made even by seasoned motorhome owners, is forgetting to recharge your service batteries. The risk is the same as when the car is left idle for a very long time: the starter battery deteriorates and, in many cases, can even stop working. In campers, this process takes place in even shorter periods compared to a car or a motorbike.
The worst consequences can also be encountered during the trip, causing you to risk not only giving up on the much-desired holiday but, in some instances, also putting yourself in dangerous situations during your trip, ruining one of the moments of greatest freedom for the majority of campers—calendar year.
Service batteries can be of 2 types: slow charge AGM or Gel.
What you need to know is that even a week (seven days in total) can be enough to irrecoverably ruin your RV batteries, forcing you to throw them away to buy new ones (and if you are a particularly adventurous person, know that in particularly isolated places it is not always so simple to find a service battery store for campers).
One of the tips we can give you to avoid unnecessary expenses or, worse, dangerous situations during your travels is to remind you to recharge the battery for 24 hours every 15 days.
If you are not a regular Camper user and don’t use it for long periods in the open and uncovered, a handy tip is to install camping solar panels.
If it is impossible to purchase a solar panel, a tip for all budgets is to keep the battery charged. However, paying close attention to checking it from time to time because the automatism that allows you to disconnect and connect the recharge of the motorhome without your intervention could not always work well, leading to consequences such as the release of acids in the motorhome, followed by the possibility of a fire.
In the least tragic of cases, however, there could be problems with faulty battery chargers that lead to charging at too high a voltage, risking the breakage of your battery.
A small solution to this problem could be to regulate ourselves with a timer attached to the plug to which the Camper is attached, starting with 1 hour per recharge and checking the battery level immediately afterwards, noting the parameters and the charge level after a now, after a few days of monitoring we will be able to apply them all the following times, without worrying about having to check them too often.
The AMG RV battery of a Camper can also be recharged while travelling. Still, too short a journey will not be enough to reach 100% of the charge, which usually takes 24 hours, not to mention that while travelling, we may usually need to keep the refrigerator, car radio or air conditioners, going to consume the energy of the battery. In contrast, we recharge it on the way.
Furthermore, it is advisable to check the state of the charge at least half an hour after switching off the engine as, due to the ignition of the latter, the indicator could distort the charge data due to the voltage given by the running machine.
None of these is challenging, but small tricks like these could lengthen the life of your Camper service batteries, resulting in incomparable travel comfort and peace of mind.
How to choose the most suitable battery according to the use
Text by Nicola Palangio, published in “La Farfalla” N. 112 JULY 2012 monthly of Assocampi. Battery manufacturers offer a wide choice of products according to the exact type of use and need. So there is a constructive answer for every application need. Below I will illustrate the types of batteries with their most evident characteristics.
Beyond the choice that each of us can make, we must pay absolute and maximum attention to safety. It is essential to know that a battery when carrying out its function, produces gasifications which can be harmful, which will be greater if the battery is undersized compared to the operating requirement or if it is used for services when instead it was designed and built to start.
It is strictly forbidden to install a battery in the passenger compartment called a “living cell” that is not AGM hermetic, GEL hermetic or gas recombination hermetic. Given their specific design, these batteries guarantee absolute safety without emissions of harmful gases into the environment, which can lead to dizziness while driving or severe poisoning while sleeping.
There are also sealed batteries, which as a term, can make one think of something hermetically sealed. In reality, they are semi-traditional batteries with the particularity that they cannot be opened as the manufacturer seems to have placed a seal for the ramp opening or inspection caps. Still, it does not exclude the escape of fumes in the presence of gasification. So a sealed battery is not airtight.
The service battery must be a careful and considered choice for the electrical capacity it will have to manage and, above all, for safety. Let’s reflect for a moment on the service a battery must perform to start the engine, i.e. creating. This battery finished its work in the first two seconds.
While the battery for the services is in continuous enslavement to the users, constantly producing gasifications and hence the need to be hermetic or positioned outside the living cell. Below is an overview of the various families of batteries that can help us make the safest and most practical choice for our Camper.
The starter battery is undoubtedly the most common. It is used to start the internal combustion engine, gives the moped the necessary force, and supports all the other utilities of the car. In this case, the alternator will compensate for the energy required. The battery does not undergo a significant discharge for engine start, usually within 1 “-3”. The range of choices is enormous. When replacing, it is advisable to use a type equivalent to the original, except for the specific needs of users, such as in the case of extreme climates or remarkably compressed engines. There are, in fact, batteries with overall dimensions equivalent to the original, which guarantee more than 30% higher performance. If once it was possible to start a vehicle, by push, even without a starter battery, today, even a partially discharged battery prevents the correct functioning of the car. To complicate things, several energy-hungry devices are now standard on all vehicles. Today’s classic starter batteries are jewels of technology requiring constant use and high reliability in increasingly electronic cars.
It is used in lighting systems, heaters, refrigerators and everything that requires a continuous energy supply. Unlike the starter, it is a battery that undergoes constant charge and discharge cycles, even deep ones; its particular design makes it particularly suitable for specific uses.
The traction battery is indicated in the case of particularly demanding performances. It is subjected to maximum effort to produce valuable energy for movement. Among the possible applications, we point out the use of electric scooters, vehicles for the disabled, electric motor for boats and classic forklifts for unloading-loading goods. To obtain the desired voltage and amperage, they exist in the hermetic AGM, GEL, and Traditional versions, mainly 2 Volt monoblocs.
The AGM-sealed battery is gaining more and more acclaim for its ability to manage a charge from the alternator from the mains or the solar panel. The attention paid to this type of battery and the recharging must be at most the voltage of 14.4. Free of acid fumes, it is ideally in line with the regulations in force (housing units, campers, boats, etc.). AGM batteries are produced for both services and starters. They are the ideal choice for use in uninterruptible power supplies, also called UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), precisely because of their ability to tolerate current peaks, the absence of gasification and the consequent spillage of acid. Also particularly suitable for photovoltaic and wind power plants and in advanced technological applications.
AGM batteries are:
- Truly maintenance-free;
- Immune from the risk of accidental spillage of liquid acid;
- Resistant to thermal stress and intense vibrations;
- Resistant to temporary current peaks;
- Ideal in the presence of low charge-discharge cycles;
- Suitable for installations near people and electronic devices.
The sealed GEL battery has the cells immersed in a gelled electrolyte. The only fundamental rule for this specific product is to keep the recharging systems under control so as not to exceed 14.4 Volts to avoid drying of the gel and consequently the failure to passions from the positive plate to the one negative to produce electricity; using this shrewdness in control, it remains a product with more than optimal performance. Use controlled voltage recharging systems, max 14.4 volts.