Batteries

Submitted: Monday, Jul 16, 2007 at 21:59
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Anyone know which are the best batteries to replace the BT ones with, Iam stuck in Broome with 2 dead batteries, Bushtracker will not send batteries to Broome . so Iam on my own and have to source 3 new one here. Donmar
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Reply By: Bob & Chris - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 02:49

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 02:49
Hi Donmar,
Like you my batteries failed after 15 months at Katherine The auto electrican supplied 3x wet deep cycle batteries at $190 each to get me going.(freight alone from BT was going to be about $500 ) These batteries have been going strong for nearly two years.I am not saying that these are the best by any means but they are in my opinion a good battery, providing you buy a well known brand.Bob
AnswerID: 572460

Reply By: Motley - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 03:11

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 03:11
Donmar,

My BT came with 3 x AC Delco Voyager M27MF batteries. They lasted 3 years. I have replaced with the same batteries, which are now a year old and going fine.

I was going to replace with the new technology AGM batteries, but a closer inspection showed that they would not fit in the existing battery compartment and rebuilding that compartment was going to be a major pain for little gain.

So you might also want to check the dimensions of any batteries you are considering to make sure they fit.

Also, if you go to a different type, a call to Bushtracker might be worth it to ensure that the Solar Regulator is on the right setting for the new batteries.

And lastly, if you are upgrading batteries, and if you have an Omegalec Charger, a call to Keith at Omegalec (02) 4229 6077 to ensure that your charger can support a different style of battery.

Hope this helps.
Motley

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Reply By: adams44 - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 03:39

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 03:39
Is there a Batteryworld in Broome if so get 'Lifeline 110amp' you will not regret it why BT dont use the best to start with beats me, other than that go down to the marina there and aske who supplies them tere as they are also a marine battyery have used them with Zantrex chargers for years and have no trouble at all.
Regards
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Reply By: TroopyTracker - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 04:10

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 04:10
Donmar,

Probably your only choice is to do the rounds of the local battery suppliers and see whats available. Just make sure you get something that fits!

The BT batteries are excellent value-but not when you have to pay a zillion $ in freight! I don't think there is a better value battery out there actually (though I don't know how much they are selling them for these days? They do good prices for BT owners) Para10 as far as getting it right the first time.....easy now, did you not yourself purchase a Phoenix and now own a BT ;-)))

I'd be game to give something like the new Super Charge "all rounder" a go. 130 amp/hr capacity in a standard landcruiser size case, I think they have a warranty also-2 years but probably not applicable to deep cycle use (which they'd have a hard time proving ;-) Probably around $200 including Broome tax. Again check size. We fitted slightly bigger batteries by simply fiddling with the layout of the batteries as per Peters instructions, just had to turn one the other way and they fit (BT batteries).

Good luck,

Matt

AnswerID: 572463

Follow Up By: TroopyTracker - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 04:19

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 04:19
Following up my own reply....

I'm actually thinking my next set will be plain old wet lead acid Trojan deep cylcles(or perhaps the new Super Charge "all rounders". Sure they need some care but I don't mind. Sure I'll loose some great features of the agms we have now BUT......... What I can seem to get afew experts to agree on is they WILL last much longer(perhaps 2x) than sealed agms IF, big IF, they are looked after. This I think I can do after living with solar/12 volt for afew years.

Matt
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Follow Up By: adams44 - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 05:14

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 05:14
Hi TroopyTracker,
Still got the Phoenix would not part with it for Quids, yes we have been looking for a BT because they are a lot cheaper than buying a new Phoenix and as i need two vans one here in Australia and one in NZ and have now seen quite a lot of second hand vans and they have not inspired me at all. so we have decided to order another Phoenix for the next NZ season the same as the one we now have. In regard to batteries we have had the 2 in our CT since 2004 and as far as i can tell are as good as new "Lifeline AGM" we have 4 in he van since 2005 and are as new and just put 2 into the new GMC, why not give them a go next time what have you got to lose a few hundred dollars for piece of mind.
Regards
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Reply By: CD & JW - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 07:41

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 07:41
Please be mindful that wet lead acid batteries require more ventilation than dry batteries do.
AnswerID: 572464

Follow Up By:- Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 14:59

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 14:59
Also AGMs are MUCH more efficient in converting solar energy into stored electrical energy. AGMs require more TLC but are safer. There have been unwanted explosions with flooded batteries. I witnessed a battery explosion which covered the victim with acid and the battery was in the open. No permanent damage except to the destroyed battery.

I remember the hydrogen explosion experiment at high school many years ago which has never left me.

Ern
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Reply By: Bob & Chris - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 18:07

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 18:07
Hi everyone,just me again.
Its great being a BT member.There are a lot of good thinkers out there to share there experiences and knowledge.Batteries certainly cause some comments.It must be hard on new comers to read some of the comments and then have faith in a particular battery.Here is another comment on batteries.Replacement sealed battery installed by a major road service company,lasted ONE week,top of battery seperated from the sides,acid every where.Battery no. 2,Lasted ONE week acid everywhere.Agreed to repair damage providing not to talk to public.Found that these batteries were made in China and the caps and bottoms were pressed on.Lesson buy from a well known company with Brands that have stood the test of time.Hopefully you may get a battery that lasts a couple of years Bob
AnswerID: 572465

Reply By: Donmar - Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 20:27

Tuesday, Jul 17, 2007 at 20:27
Thankyou all for your comments , I have purchased 3 new Gel Tec batteries from batteryworld in Broome, and will be matching these to a new CTEC battery charger,these are made in Seweden and are top quailty chargers. The Bushtracker batteries and van is only 6 months old but Bushtracker would not honour there warranty. I agree with you Bob, bushtracker make a good van but there fittings are junk, and for this reason would not buy another bushrtacker. Therefore I have for sale 1 bushtracker battery and 1 bushtracker battery charger, Donmar
AnswerID: 572466

Follow Up By: adams44 - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 05:19

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 05:19
Yuo have bought a good battery & charger, did batteryworld give you a decent deal, hope all is well now.
Regards
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Follow Up By: Fred & Marj - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 19:40

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 19:40
Hi Donmar

I have Gel Tec batteries and you do need a different charger - I had mine modified by Omelac to suit. You also need to change your solar regulator to Gel setting.

Good Batteries Good Luck

Wayne
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Reply By: Bob & Chris - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 01:06

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 01:06
Hi Donmar
Guess what my battery charger failed to at Kununurra just after we left The Gibb River RD.Just out of warranty again.Rang BT ,they said it would have to be sent to them as no one else would be able to service it.What am I suposed to do with my frozen meat etc. while waiting.Solution ,try and fix it yourself.Pulled it apart and found that the centre bolt holding the transformer had worked loose allowing it to move back and forward breaking one of the primary wires.Found a great auto electrician who replaced the wires and lnline fuse.Up and running in 6 hrs.Thanks members for the advice on alternate batteries and charges Bob
AnswerID: 572467

Follow Up By: adams44 - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 05:40

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 05:40
Bob
I read a post on the site the other day reagarding a new or new to be new owner saying that he could purchase some electrcial goods for his new BT from sources other than that from BT, members of the site reminded him that yes buying these things from BT was dearer but then the after sales sevice was the best, and that he should not forget, and the fact that the extra cost was not that much in he scheme of things.
I really think that the Lifeline battery, Zantrex charger, and the Zantrex solar management systime is up there with the best and why not just specify that when getting a BT built, are BT's not built to order.
I cant remember right now how much they are but a quick call to Batteryworld would give you that answer and there would be nothing worse that to lose power on or around the Gibb, a couple of hundred dollars is a small cost in the oerall scheme of things when you are on the road.
Regards
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Reply By: Tellem Bugrem - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 02:01

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 02:01
DONMAR et al,

Here's my battery story that may be of interest to Boggers.

DECEMBER 05 EMAIL TO STG @ BUSHTRACKER.............

Good morning Steve,

Before I put anything on the BOG Posting in response to your report on the new battery chargers, I thought I’d email you directly with this news. Your report included the following report on the new batteries:-

“Also, we start a new year, the second year on our new AGM x Hybrid German A-200 Gel Batteries, without a single fault or failure!! That is very impressive, even with some occasions of accidental abuse reported, with over 600 running in Bushtrackers with our charger, we have not had a single failure. The new batteries are performing fantastically.”

Perhaps there has been some “accidental abuse’’ on my part, and if so, I am on a mission to find out what this was, and how it should NOT have occurred, and, to ensure that it won’t happen again. Here is the story.

On 21 April,2005 I had three of the new batteries sent to me at the caravan park in Nuriootpa, SA, after Peter and I derived that the 2yr 10month old Delco batteries were on their last legs. We were at the beginning of a 3 month Red Centre – Top End trip so I considered it a wise move. We sent the Charger to Omegalec to have it recalibrated, and by 2nd May we were on our way north with the new batteries installed, without losing a day in our itinerary. Excellent Service BTI and thanks again.

We had a trouble free trip which included some pretty rough going on roads like the Pedirka Track into Dalhousie, the Merini Loop road, the Old south road between Chambers Pillar and the Alice, and the Camooweal to Lawn Hill road. We went to Copeton 05 and then to BTI for new stove, door repairs and fridge cabinet re-seal. Other than that, the van is kept in its garage.

Last week we were at Windamere Dam near Rylstone and on the third morning we noticed the fridge compressor was struggling. The Pro-star was reading 12.8 volts and the charger was not working. The van had been out of it’s garage for 5 sunny days. In addition, the inverter was not working and it had the bottom red LED light on indicating “undervolt”. So, I unscrewed the battery box lid and found the mess shown in the photo under Pictures (Tellem Bugrem…Battery Problem) on the BOG site.

Both stainless steel terminal bolts on the centre battery had corroded and the leads were disconnected. The –ve terminal bolt of the right battery had also corroded its head off.
(I am sure all bolts were tight after installation as I always double check) The left battery was okay and tested at 13.5v. The other 2 had not lost charge for some reason….they tested at 13.2 and 13.3v.

We switched the fridge to run off the 240 through our retro-fitted Waeco Mobitronic MPS 50 rectifier. I then took the two affected batteries out, cleaned off the blob of green gel, corrosion debris and residual acid and then extracted the remains of the terminal bolts. They can be seen alongside an unaffected bolt, in the other photo on the BOG site. All three bolts were the same distance into the female thread, indicating that the bolts had probably not become loose. I noticed bubbles of acid coming out of the joints of the central “lid” on the tops of both the affected batteries.

The female threads were not damaged and I had some spare SS bolts to fit, even though they were countersink Philips-head. So, with SS washers, I reinstalled the batteries.

There was still no charge coming from the charger. Checked the fuse and it was blown. The Inverter was still not working so I took it out, disconnected all leads and reconnected them. Still no change. Liz went into Rylstone and found a replacement fuse for the charger and when installed, it appeared to be working okay. The inverter though, had changed its indicator LED to green flashing rapidly, on “Standby”.

When we arrived home, (350km with 60km gravel), I checked the batteries again and the same two batteries were leaking at several points around the central “lid” joint, and at the terminals. In fact, you can hear a slight hissing coming from them. The inverter is providing 240v at the power points, with the green standby LED flashing at about pulse rate.

Do I have a couple of “Dud” batteries or has there been some accidental misuse?

When in storage we occasionally run the fridge for a few days with the charger switched off, until the batteries are lowered to about 12v. Then the charger goes back on and they charge back up to 13.8v.

The only other possibility I can think of is some damage occurring whilst I had some welding done, raising the position of the stabilizer legs that were installed by Vehicle Components, and, making the steps removable by welding on a couple of “ball bearing gate hinges” and pull down latches (lockable)…see my photos on the BOG site.

Kind regards………………..Rob Caldwell
11 December, 2005

HERE IS THE FOLLOW-UP WITH STEVE'S COMMENTS IN INVERTED COMMAS............

Steve,

"Hello Rob,"



You will recall the saga of the leaking batteries that culminated in Uri Scharf bringing 3 new batteries to me when he picked up his van last February. Subsequently, when we visited the factory in late May where you apparently found that the Pro Star had been set to "flooded" and that this, you explained, had "cooked" the batteries. You or John changed the setting to "sealed" and we set off on our trip to Cape York.

"Yes I remember…"



We were on the road for two months. "OK"



Last week I was carrying out our 6 monthly check and found that two of the new batteries were leaking again, but this time the terminals were not damaged. The leaking is around the "sealed" cap and there is a hissing sound emitting. "Rob, these batteries have proven to be extremely robust in every facet of service over the past two years. They are designed to “vent” on the high end of the voltage range, and this is normal. If they did not vent, and something went wrong with the regulator or charger, the internal pressure would build up until they actually blew up…"



Any ideas as to what is causing this repeat problem.?? "It is not really a problem. This is the same situation, but in a normal range. About half of them will normally vent a tiny bit of electrolyte for a while. They ALL WILL VENT some little bit of gas in the top end of the charging state. Just keep an eye on them."



I certainly haven't cooked them because I had the wrong setting on the Pro Star this time and, besides, I did find it hard to believe that the solar panels could provide the current to COOK the batteries, especially as the van was stored in a shed for 5 of the 9 months I had the batteries. "Look, I would not worry about it, clean it up with a little bit of sodium bicarb, and carry on. They will only vent excessively when being OVERCHARGED… You should not see the voltage on them exceed about 14.4 volts, maybe 14.5."



Since installing the batteries 9 months ago, the van has been in the Garage except for the two month trip to Cape York and one month on an "Unsuitable for Caravans" excursion in NSW.. "I do not think you have a problem, this is normal, it is only when you just about boil the electrolyte at higher voltages that it pools out on top and corrodes the terminals that you have a problem…"



The charger was sent back to Omegalec for recalibration at the time the previous batteries were installed. Two of those batteries leaked and the terminals corroded. Is there any way of checking the charger so that I know if Omegalec recalibrated correctly?? "No, I think everything is just fine, watch your voltages, and don’t worry about it. Get back to me if you ever see the voltages over about 14.4 volts…"



"Here is an article I wrote, TIP # 78 on the BOG about a year ago………



TIP # 78 Maintenance Required for “Maintenance Free” Batteries…



Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Bushtracker Owners, lend me your ears. Out of about 600 so far of our new batteries, we have had no failures so far, even though a few people have reported “accidental abuse” to the point that other batteries would have failed, we have had zero failures so far.. However, we have had four batteries out of over 600, that leaked a little gel out the venting, possibly overfilled a little. This subsided in time.



Now, one fellow Bogger has corrosion discovered on his terminals and has put pictures on the BOG. While it is statistically possible that he has two of those, but I think it more likely they were slightly compressed in shipping as we have no control of what they stack on top. I have sent him the following Email as I think we can all benefit and learn from it: “ We have had four batteries that leaked a little around the fill ports, out of hundreds and hundreds, and that subsided in time as they were slightly overfilled. I would suggest that yours are possibly in that company, but unlikely. It is most probably a case of the battery cases themselves slightly depressed on shipment with something heavy on top, and so you have a little gel coming out instead of the normal minor gassing on the high end over 14 volts. All batteries have this happen, just in gas form… They are called Sealed, but on the high end of the charging cycle they will still slightly gas off... Yours are a bit overfull due to this compression of the case, maybe a tad overfilled from new even. This will subside in time, and I am afraid the logical point is to just inspect them and give them a top wipe down clean once a month until it stops.. The batteries are just tanks of electrolyte, and in your case due to one cause or another they are slightly overfull. If in fact you could hear a slight gassing noise, then the electrolyte is probably down enough now that it will not happen much in the future anyway…



My guess is there is nothing wrong with their function, just a little messy. For that you have my apology, but it is just the luck of the draw, and my suspicion is they came down with something heavy on top in transit to maybe just slightly deform the case down a mm or two… They are doing what they are designed to do on the high end of the charging cycle and vent just a little, that is why we still put so called “sealed” batteries in a sealed vented battery box.. Nothing that will matter in the long run… Sorry for the inconvenience but there is no way we could have prevented shipping from putting heavy things on top, this is just the luck of the draw…” (end of email)



Now, for all of us, this is a lesson to be learned in all of this, and so my TIP # 78 that you should all inspect them a few times a year. Minor corrosion is unlikely for the 98%, but look anyway. there could be other faults you may find like a loose terminal, bolts coming loose, even breakage as the corrugation takes its toll and this is probably about 100 times more likely than discovering any corrosion. An inspection is called for, maybe to be safe every couple of months when new, and at least once or twice a year when you are settled in…



I think two of the words in modern Battery Terminology are over rated… One is “Sealed” – None of them are truly sealed, they gas off slightly on the high end of the charging cycle. If they were totally sealed, they would blow up, especially if they were overcharged by some regulator failure. Second terminology that is over rated is “Maintenance Free”. That does not mean you should not look at them occasionally, what it means is you are not having to add water every two weeks with them bubbling away corrosive gas.. There can still be the small chance of corrosion, but it is hugely reduced, and is probably not going to show up in the 95% or 98%, however the real science of the matter should be viewed as “98% maintenance free in practice, greatly corrosion reduced, and not needing bi-weekly attendance to water levels…” OK?



Kind Regards from the Ranger….


THE BATTERIES ARE NOW WORKING FINE, MAINTAINING 13.8v, AND RISING TO 14.3 IN FULL SUN.

BY THE WAY, THE GGM'S DIDN'T FIT IN THE BOX BUILT FOR DELCOS AND I HAD TO MODIFY IT WITH THE ELECTRIC CHAINSAW - NO HASSLES!!

REGARDS TO ALL..............ROB






AnswerID: 572468

Follow Up By: Motherhen & Rooster - Thursday, Jul 19, 2007 at 08:42

Thursday, Jul 19, 2007 at 08:42
Hi Rob - We got leaky ones too. BT replaced the one which leaked so much it dissolved the box and no-one would transport it past Broome. Took us quite some weeks before anyone would bring them further than Broome. The others needed wiping daily for quite some time, but it did not affect their performance in any way. The replacement did not leak. After our disaster story, Steve vowed never to send 'em to WA again.

Setting the ProStar for the AGMs was so easy, and the battery charger (not an original from BT and about to be replaced by us anyway) just needing checking so as not to exceed a certain voltage (i forgot exact voltage so won't quote from my bad memory).

So far we are happy with the AGMs from BT, but if out in the sticks would replace them with what ever we could get - we could always use standard batteries in vehicles and equipment when we get home.
Motherhen

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Reply By: Noosa Fox - Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 21:25

Wednesday, Jul 18, 2007 at 21:25
Don,

There is a Battery World In Broome, it is on the way to the port. I bought some solar panels off them last year and they were good to deal with.

I am surprised the Bushtracker is refusing to help. As far as I know the warranty does NOT mention anything about having to return to the factory for warranty work on such things.

Just because batteries are now classed as dangerous goods and cannot be carried by Bus Freight does not prevent Bushtracker from sending batteries anywhere in the country by couriers who have a dangerous goods licence. People here at Boulia rally have been discussing batteries and the concensus is that the batteries that BTi first started to import from China were quite good but the ageant in China must have changed suppliers and it appears that numerous BT owners are now having battery problems. The members here also believe that legally BTi have to cover them under warranty and a call to consumer affairs should confirm that.

Good luck.

In the meantime if you get batteries from Battery World, at least they have ageants all over Australia and you can get service anywhere. Their national number is 13 17 60.

Brian
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