Battery / Solar Question

I'm currently living full time in my truck camper which has (2) 180 watt solar panels and (2) Interstate GC-2 6 volt golf cart batteries (new 02/2018). About a month ago I began to have issues with the battery charge life. I thought there might be a battery connection issue but when I looked in the battery compartment I saw that one of the batteries was not strapped down, and the cap was not secure, therefore liquid was everywhere. I took it to Interstate Batteries and that battery was dead so they charged it for 3 days. Less than 48 hours later dead again. I took it to another place yesterday and they said both batteries should have been checked and charged, which they did. Interstate Batteries charged me $20 plus I had to go buy distilled water to fill it since they don't supply that. The other place was free. Interstate Batteries freaked out when I asked to borrow a footstool to help me access the batteries, and immediately said don't ask to borrow tools. Due to the holiday weekend (closed for 4 days) I spent an entire week with these guys. I think they are incompetent and rude, and I want my $20 back. Should they have known to check and charge both batteries since they are connected to make 12 volts ? Anyhow that's what I'm told but I'm totally ignorant on the subject. Thanks.....
 

krick3tt

Adventurer
The $20 is what you paid for a lesson to teach you to go to another battery distributor, at least one that actually wants your business and treats you accordingly.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
Interstate doesn't even manufacture any batteries, they just relabel, mark up and distribute/retail them.

OK for Starters maybe, but 99% are made by JCI, who doesn't even make any true deep cycling batteries.
 
I was surprised when I picked the camper up in February and it had the Interstate batteries in it. It's not what I ordered but the salesman said they'd had great luck with them so there they were. I didn't make an issue of it then as I probably should have. Life is full of lessons.
 

dwh

Tail-End Charlie
If the electrolyte splashed out of a loose cap, you didn't just lose water, you lost sulphuric acid as well. Just topping off the water won't fix it. It will still work as long as there is still some acid, but it will be weak.

And yes, anyone competent would have immediately realized that a camper would not be running on 6v and asked where the other battery was. They would have asked because they would have known that the batteries have to be treated as a matched set.

Batteries which are wired together full-time into a "bank", MUST be as close to identical as possible. Brand, model, age, etc. Pros building large battery banks will also try to get them from the same manufacturing batch if they can.

If they don't match exactly, one will do more work than the other which will weaken it and also shorten its life. Then the other will be stronger and do more work. This will ping-pong back and forth until all the batteries in the bank have reached a premature end of life.

So don't replace just one.

(This only applies to batteries wired together into a full-time bank. Batteries tied during charging then disconnected from each other don't have that problem.)
 
dwh.....that's exactly what I was looking for (and honestly I had hoped for your opinion). Thank you. What you are saying is exactly what the other place told me. One battery did loose liquid. Yesterday both batteries were charged evenly and when I left last night at 10 PM they were both fully charged. This morning it's sunny and the gauge shows them to be 3/4 charged and the solar is charging. Last night I ran the propane heater (fan), propane fridge and the camper lights. Hopefully the lose of acid wasnt enough to be an issue. I'm calling them Monday.....I want my $20 back only cause they were incredibly rude people.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
You need to read actual voltages. Check the voltages of the bank as a whole, and each 6V battery. Report back here. Also measure the voltage your solar panels are charging the batteries to during absorb.

Sams club and batteries plus sell duracell GC2s for around 220$ a pair. These are good quality true deep cycle batteries.
 
When the batteries were fully charged they were 6.3 volts each. They seem to be fine now. I may go back Monday and recheck them.

Are these really not deep cell batteries ? I was told they were when I picked the camper up.
 

IdaSHO

IDACAMPER
I just replaced the abused, tired, and aging 6V interstates in my camper.

They were the GC2-ECL-UTL units.

Extremely solid batteries. Early on I was stupid and allowed them to not only run very low on water twice (inch below the top of the plates), but freeze.
I also ran them down to 25% regularly, prior to getting solar.

Even with all that, I was able to get 6+ years out of them, running to beyond 50% regularly.

On the last trip I nabbed two of the 230AH "duracell" label Deka's
Cheaper than the Interstates, that's for sure. Hopefully just as good.
 

VerMonsterRV

Gotta Be Nuts
You pretty much buy batteries by weight. So to compare different brands check out the weight of the battery. The heavier the better as deep cycle batteries have thicker plates and this is what you want for longer life. Another thing I have seen, we live full time on a sailboat and have 6 6v T105's for our house bank. We cycle these daily and have just over 500 watts solar. We average just over 2 years of use for the bank. After 2 years we notice the capacity drop off and end up replacing them (sailing on our boat actually uses a lot of power with the autopilot being the largest draw). Check out the rated cycles and that can pretty much give you an idea as the the lifespan on how you use them.
 

FlipperFla

Active member
I am not impressed with interstate batteries. When I started a new job years ago they were an Interstate dealer so I got them at cost. Bought one for my car, one for my truck and 3 group 27s for my boat. With in a year and a half they all went south even when they were well maintained.
 

john61ct

Adventurer
Cheaper than the Interstates, that's for sure. Hopefully just as good.
Much much better.

Interstate is a fine company, no hate here, but their GCs do not last long enough compared to Trojan, Deka, Crown, Superior, Rolls/Surrette

They might contract with one of those to make some models, in some regions, but that contract could change anytime, and we would not know.

Only those 5 companies make true deep cycling FLA in the NA market. They all publish detailed spec sheets and have decent technical support available for tough questions.

Deka is right up there, JCI does not make the grade. Optima is another example, when owned by Enersys great product, not anymore. Diehard same thing.

Those Duracell Deka are also sold at Lowe I believe.

https://marinehowto.com/what-is-a-deep-cycle-battery/
 

Pacific Northwest yetti

Expedition Medic
If the electrolyte splashed out of a loose cap, you didn't just lose water, you lost sulphuric acid as well. Just topping off the water won't fix it. It will still work as long as there is still some acid, but it will be weak.

And yes, anyone competent would have immediately realized that a camper would not be running on 6v and asked where the other battery was. They would have asked because they would have known that the batteries have to be treated as a matched set.

Batteries which are wired together full-time into a "bank", MUST be as close to identical as possible. Brand, model, age, etc. Pros building large battery banks will also try to get them from the same manufacturing batch if they can.

If they don't match exactly, one will do more work than the other which will weaken it and also shorten its life. Then the other will be stronger and do more work. This will ping-pong back and forth until all the batteries in the bank have reached a premature end of life.

So don't replace just one.

(This only applies to batteries wired together into a full-time bank. Batteries tied during charging then disconnected from each other don't have that problem.)
Is it worth, adding sulphuric acid back into them? Providing one can even get any?
 
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