More battery woes!

This trip lumbers from bad to worse!

The voltage needle had been fluctuating slightly as I used the computer so I decided to investigate. Checked all the wiring and stuff, went to check the batteries and…they’re bone dry! I can only assume that the slightly higher charge voltage on the battery to battery charger gave them too much juice on the way over here and boiled it all off.
As luck would have it I had about 5 litres of de-ionised water so I topped them all up, did a charge, then ran an equalisation routine. Sadly even after all that they’re not delivering as they should. I should get about 225 amps out of them but over the next couple of days it seems I’m getting about 200 or less.

I bought these specifically because they are a solid workhorse of a battery, 60 kilos of pure lead so cross your fingers that they improve.

Half work – half play.

Today was my first day back at work since last Friday so I was nervous as to how the MiFi would perform. It has seemed ok so far albeit slightly slow, but the work interface uses sockets so needs a very reliable connection. I had lots of problem sin the morning, with the interface lagging like mad and game info not opening. However later on I took the SIM card out of the MiFi and put it into and old dongle I had which is a PAYG one. Connection was MUCH better! Work that one out lol

I noticed that the voltmeter on the wall panel was jittery the last couple of days so I set out to check the batteries and connections. Amazed to find that all six cells in each battery were dry 🙁 Big sigh cos you would think I’d know better given all the problems I’ve had with batteries. However as luck would have it I had 2 large unused bottles of de-ionised water and along with some boiled water it was enough to restore water levels back to where they should be. I believe the only reason the batteries aren’t broken completely is the fact they are huge Trojan’s.


Trojan batteries update

Last August I got my new Trojan batteries, you might have read about it here. It’s coming toward the end of April now so I thought I’d give an update on them.

Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery
Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery

When first installed I was told it may take as many as 100 cycles for them to achieve max capacity. A cycle is where the battery is discharged then charged fully again. It’s possible that I am nowhere near my 100 cycles yet. I’ve had them about 9 months, that’s less than 40 weeks, and they will be recharged perhaps 3 times every 2 weeks. So very roughly they may have experienced 60 cycles so far.

At any rate what I can say is that all the other batteries I’ve had have started to deteriorate within weeks of being used. The Trojans don’t seem to have deteriorated at all in 9 months.

I did borrow a Smartgauge off a friend. This little device measures the voltage and current of the batteries and tries to gauge accurately how much ‘life’ is left in them. Life as measured in amp hours (ahrs). I found that the Smartgauge has not even a clue when the battery is fully charged, and inaccurately reports when it is discharged. So it’s now been disconnected. I’m glad I had the chance to borrow one as they cost about £160 new. The only truly reliable method of testing a battery’s state is to use a specific gravity or SG meter, or hydrometer as they’re also known as, about £3 from auto parts stores. I dream of owning an electronic one but they’re about £3,000!!

Anyway, in use, and regular checks with a hydrometer show that these batteries are performing flawlessly. Finally I’ve solved my battery problems and I am a very happy bunny indeed. 🙂

Power to the people

For those who’ve followed my blog from the start, you’ll know that I’ve had a bank of Elecsol batteries, a bank of unbranded lead acid batteries, a bank of Numax batteries and I have successfully killed them all! The Numax faired the worst, they starting deteriorating within 6 weeks of installation, and the setup was darned good. The Elecsols, although I would never touch one again with a bargepole for several reasons, have probably faired the best til now. But compared with their stated abilities, they faired very poorly.

Over the last few years I’ve learned quite a lot about batteries, their applications, appropriate usage, care and maintenance. What I have learned is quite simple:

You can kill any battery no matter what it is if you don’t care for it.
Even average batteries can last you years if you care for them properly.

Now, although I know how to care for mine, the life they lead with me is slightly unforgiving at best, and very demanding at worst. As I said once before I don’t blame Numax for making bad batteries, I blame Adverc for incorrectly recommending the use of Numax’s. So I have spent time recently in Llandulas in North Wales, enjoying Wales and thinking about what to do.

Here’s a recent sunset I observed from where I’m parked.

Llandulas sunset
Llandulas sunset

So, after a lot of thought and research I have chosen my next batteries, and as luck would have it Tayna are only about 2 miles away and can supply them in 2 days. They are going to be…dun dun dunnnn…

I present to you, Trojan, J185 H-AC 12v, true deep cycle, monoblock, open lead acid battery.

Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery
Trojan J185 H-AC monoblock 12v deep cycle battery

Check this baby out. At the 20 hour rate it delivers 225 ahrs. It weighs in at a colossal 58 kilos and is about a third of a metre high.

Now, as we know batteries shouldn’t really be discharged below 50% of their capacity. However as this is just a solid hunk of well built lead, you can discharge these down to 20% of their capacity. Of course it will shorten it’s lifespan, but even doing this it will still last longer than most batteries on the market. I do intend to use them as frequently as possible to the 50% DOD state though.

I got what I think is a great price: £225 each, so I bought two. This price is about equivalent to the six Numax’s I had and also to the combined cost of the 5 Elecsols. The most difficult thing has been in getting rid of other  stuff so that I can carry the batteries’ weight. I’ve emailed Trojan’s tech support many times already getting information from them that I needed and they have been superb. I’m looking forward to good things so watch this space!

I submit

I’ve been thinking very long and very hard about this whole battery situation.

If you can’t be bothered to read all the posts, here’s the nub of it:

February last year I bought 6 batteries from Adverc after we discussed my needs and they recommended them.

They began failing within months and after testing it was clear they were not up to the job and I’d been badly advised by Adverc. Manbat did the testing but did not want anything else to do with it and began to ignore my phone calls and emails. Adverc said it was nothing to do with them as they had only supplied the batteries.

Finally between them they offered me 2 new batteries worth less than half the value of what I’d spent, and refused to give me more. Also they asked me to drop 3 of the old ones in for testing to the Sunderland branch, and despite many phone calls it was never arranged for me to get them back.

So, I spent just under £500 for batteries that they said would do the job but wouldn’t, was offered less than half that as recompense, and ignored when I refused it.

So, what have I been thinking very long and hard about? Well, I was going to take Adverc to civil court as they were the sellers therefore they should offer me a refund as the batteries were not fit for purpose.
I was also going to take civil action against Manbat as they have refused to return the other 3 batteries to me.

I paid for some legal advice and they said given the emails I had to show what had been said by whom and when, I was 85% likely to win. However, there was no mechanism to force either Manbat or Adverc to refund me and pay my costs.
Therefore, I needed to consider whether I could bear the loss if I won, but the flatly refused to pay up.

I did think for months about it, and I finally decided that on the strength of the attitude and actions from both Manbat and Adverc, it was highly unlikely that either of them would pay up. So not only would I have lost my initial £500, but I would probably lose a couple more in winning a case that would serve me no good whatsoever.
On balance, why waste money when a win in civil court could not benefit me and indeed would cost me more in money, and in ire.

So, the only thing I can do is ensure that every single opportunity I can possibly get, I let people know what Manbat and Adverc are like. I hope for your sake if you’re reading this and thinking about batteries, that you consider my experiences.

Adverc and Manbat are companies that I will avoid from now on.

I am incensed.

I went to Adverc’s unit to find a chap there who wanted to look at how my system was wired up, what charger I had etc and decide if my system was appropriate for what I was doing. He found that I was doing things by the book and that I had state of the art charging units form Sterling Power, that in fact can handle almost unlimited sized battery banks, rather than being the simple, less than affective chargers it had been suggested I had by Manbat.

Instead of using thin cable, I had spent a lot of money on 35 mm sq cable and bought a blowtorch to solder lugs onto the cable to ensure that the whole system was well built. I also had taken into account the length of all cables and other ideas for a ‘best practice’ system. So, on the strength of that they decide to fit my 2 new batteries. Only 2? Yes because the 6 Numax’s were 86 ahrs each, but these monoblocs were 242 ahrs each. So i had 516 ahrs total capacity with the Numax’s, and 484 ahrs with the Monoblocs, which is near enough for me.

However, as they went to put them in the van for me I asked them to check the voltage. Hmm. They WERE 6 volts, which means I need 2 of them to achieve 242 ahrs. Plus, their cost is about £120 each, therefore less than half what I had spent on the Numax’s. I’m losing out badly here!
I made it very plain that I was not accepting only 2, as they could later say I had agreed on that and I would not get another pair. Andy got on the phone to someone at Manbat and told me they replied that they would not give me 2 more batteries.

I left then, feeling extremely angry, I was going to take legal action. Companies can’t just rip people off like this!

I think it’s all over…

Manbat have decided that betwen them and Adverc, they are going to fit me some replacement batteries,  US125 monobloc’s which ought to be much more robust than the Numax’s. I can’t find the 12v versions online, only 6v, but they look quite well built and they are badged as true deep cycle. But then again…so were the Numax’s…

Adverc are dragging their heels. Andy the boss clearly wants nothing to do with this. I asked him outright if he felt that as the seller her no no obligation to me and he said no, that duty fell to Manbat. I’m fairly sure he knows that that is not the truth.

In the meanwhile, I’ve dropped off 3 of the batteries at Manbat’s Sunderland branch as they want to test them too. I’m not sure what all this testing is going to prove. My belief is that Brian at Adverc way back at the end of 2010 showed that he in fact had no real grasp of how batteries worked and advised me badly. The Numax’s are probably fine batteries if they’re not used much. But I specifically laid out how often I would use my batteries and what for, and I have all that info in emails.
Nevertheless, I expected that as Andy is deliberately trying to avoid a resolution to this, Manbat might take the matter off him and deal with him as a reseller.

Lets wait and see what happens when I go to have these new batteries fitted.

Formal complaint to Manbat

I’ve had enough. They’re blatantly ignoring me so I’ve sent a formal  complaint into Manbat’s head office. Here’s the email:

Dear Sir

In January of this year I made contact with a chap called Bryan from
Adverc. We discussed my battery needs after me giving him detailed
information as to my usage in a motorhome, and we finally decided that
the Numax XV24MF would suit my needs best.
I ordered them and they were delivered in February from Manbat’s
Bristol depot, I had not known Brian was a reseller but that’s a minor

The charging regime I had been told to use by the Bristol branch was a
cycle for Sealed Lead Acid batteries, as they are.
By May they were significantly reduced in performance. I ended up at the
Chesterfield branch where Steve Davies took the batteries in to test.
After one week the test revealed that all batteries were down in
capacity by at least 25%, however one was as low as 64% efficiency,
clearly there was a problem.
Mr Davies after having seen my robust and careful planned setup,
(wiring, charger etc) deduced that the problem with the batteries was
probably to do with the incorrect charging regime that Bristol had given
me, however he felt that they may ‘recover’ over time.
Mr Davies pointed out that they should be charged as Open Lead Acid
batteries, even though they aren’t.
Tayna who also sell the same battery insisted that they were charged as
SLA’s, rather than OLA’s however as Mr Davies is branch manager at
Chesterfield I changed the charging regime to suit his recommendation.

There was no appreciable difference in the batteries’ performance,
however they continued degrading until I finally contacted Mr Davies
again to point out that although the maximum draw per day was about 45
amps (9 hours at 5 amps), 3 of the 86 ahr batteries in parallel were
only lasting 9 hours (45 amps in total). I should have very easily
expected 120 ahrs from that setup.
I am now using a different laptop and my hourly draw is about 3 to 3.5
amps max, yet 3 x 86ahr of the batteries in parallel still only last a
cumulative 12 hours.

Mr Davies has been very helpful and patient, but when I contacted him to
let him know that the batteries were getting worse, he replied that he
did not now know what else could be done. My reply was that clearly they
need to be replaced or me refunded. I didn’t hear back again from him
for over a month, so I emailed again and was told now that he would
contact Brian from Adverc, and ask Brian for all of the details of me
that are on file. I’m not certain what that means, but that was over 2
weeks ago now and my emails and telephone calls remain unanswered.

This is obviously costing me a lot of money in having to run the
generator to charge the batteries every night, rather than once a week,
and is unsustainable, I simply do not have this amount of money to spend.

I certainly have no specific complaint about Mr Davies or Adverc, but
the time delay now is several months and nothing seems to be happening,
and I really need a resolution to this problem.
I am happy to supply extra information regarding my setup as and if you
may require it.

I look forward to your reply.


Gary Finnigan

Manbat where are you!?!

I can’t believe they’ve actually taken to ignoring me! No answer to phone calls, no response to emails. They’re hoping I’m just going to go away.

I find I difficult to believe that a Nationwide company can act this way. Or I did find it difficult to believe until I found out today that Numax are apparently Manbat’s own brand. You don’t say…

Manbat are having a larfff

I emailed Steve Davies as weeks are going by and nothing is happening. I got the most amazing email from him which states that I have lost about 1/3 of total capacity of the battery bank, and he’s blaming that on the charging regime being wrong when I first got them.

As I see it if he is correct, that’s Manbat’s responsibility as they were the ones who told me what the charging voltages were. In fact when Steve first told me the voltages I wa using were incorrect, I emailed the Bristol branch again and asked them for the charging voltages, and yet again they told me the wrong ones!

Anyway, I’ve lost 1/3 of my power and Steve’s last line in his email was that he didn’t know what to do, and I should keep him posted! My gast was bloody well flabbered I can tell you!


Battery woes

I had to take the batteries into the Cheshire branch last week. The front seats had to come out so I could disconnect them and take them all out. Manbat  loaned me a couple of batteries whilst they charged mine on their charger for a  couple of days to see if they could make any sense of what’s going on. One of them tested at 67% capacity and they’re only 4 months old lol Something seriously wrong here. I’ve emailed head office and will try to get some movement on this!

Battery woes

Ahhh just a few months into my Wales trip and the batteries are losing capacity. What’s going on! I’ve had many phone calls to Adverc, Brian is hardly ever there and it seems they just don’t want to deal with me.

When first installed I was using the laptop 40 hours a week for work, the lights, water pump etc, and of course watching the odd DVD as well, and they were lasting  a full week before needing charged. Now I can squeeze 4 days out of them. I don’t know if I’ve got these charging voltages incorrect, but on day of delivery I rang Bristol to check them out. I’ve now spoken to the manager of the Cheshire branch, Steve Davies, who says that those voltages are incorrect! Grrr. Lets hope I can recover them then by using the correct voltages.


Power to the people!

After several discussions with Brian at Adverc about what kind of batteries I ought to have, I have had delivered today 6 brand new batteries from Manbat Bristol, they are Numax CXV XV24MF sealed lead acid batteries, and Brian reckons they’re just what I need. They’re 85 ahrs capacity so that’s a total of 510 ahrs. Lets hope my power problems are over 🙂

Almost £500 in total so lets hope this solves my power problems once and for all!

I was staying with friend sin Wiltshire so they came from the Bristol branch of Manbat. I had to ring them to find out the charging regime, as there was no notes with the batteries but hey ho, I hold out great hopes for them now 🙂

Battered by batteries!

Last night I was sitting working on the laptop when I smelled a most peculiar smell. I had the gennie running, and as the smell was coming from under where I sat, where the 2 charging units and the 5 batteries are fitted I thought I’d better move pretty sharpish like so I jumped up and switched off the gennie, then came back with the fire extinguisher and lifted the cushions. . . Yes … my toast was done.

Kidding 🙂

No actually nothing had burned, but the mains charging unit was so hot I could not touch it. I suspect it was the thin plastic film that protects the fascia from scratches that was smelling, as it was curled and sad looking. That got binned. testament to the robust build of the Sterling charger, it appears to have suffered no ill effects.

So tonight I set about finding out why that had happened.

First thing I did was check all connections, then I disconnected all batteries bar one, and set the generator away. Small drop in speed as it chugged away so that was fine, I connected the second one, another small drop but that was fine, and I connected them all one by one until I came to the last one, the brand spanking shiny sealed Elecsol that they sent me as replacement for the one that blew up. Nah I thought, as I realised that the magic eye was red. Oops. It shouldn’t be. So I connected that one up, started the gennie and … the gennie struggled to cope. It was as if it was under massive load. So I disconnected it straight away, as last night when I smelled the smell, the charger was actually on float stage and had been for an hour, so theoretically all batteries should have been totally charged.

Very weirdly, the charger is so hot to touch tonight too, even though that new battery is disconnected. I really can’t say I’ve ever noticed it running hot before.

Anyway, out of 7 Elecsols I’ve owned 2 have failed so that’s about 28% failure rate which is enough for me to say, enough. I don’t even want this one replaced. I think I’ll just go with standard wet lead acid batteries from now on as I’ve never had any problems with them in the past. (If you’ve never seen a battery that’s exploded, check the photo out. Remember this was full of sulphuric acid too. The mud is from where it was thrown very quickly out of the door of the van.)
I’m not deliberately dissing Elecsol here, I have no axe to grind at all. Just reporting back the experiences I have. I will ring Sterling tomorrow though to find out if that charger should run that hot, as the B to B charger runs that hot too.

Elecsol anyone?

I’ve decided on my batteries. I have only 1 battery which is a 100 ahr that I got when I bought the van 2 years ago. But to run the satellite rig and a laptop from the van, through an inverter, I’m going to have to do better. I went to a local caravan shop today and they had 4 Elecsols left, at £100 each but he did me a deal. 🙂

Image of a carbon fibre battery
Elecsol 110 amp battery

The Elecsol have carbon fibre inside which is lighter than some matting materials, and very strong. They’re much smaller and lighter than most 100 ahr batteries so that’s a  good thing. Apparently they can be discharged lower and left discharged for longer than any other batteries on the market. I’ve no way of knowing if their claims are true of course.

They come recommended by the Caravan Club too so I’ve bitten the bullet and shelled out for these. I don’t really know what I’m doing but I have to start somewhere right?

I don’t have the power!

I’ve got to get some more batteries if I’m to have the power to run the Datastorm satellite system and a laptop, 40 hours a week.

Hadn’t thought about it before but, if the satellite dish takes 4 amps and the laptop 5 that’s 9 amps which is 1 x 100 ahr battery per day.

At the moment I have 1 x 100 ahr battery lol I think I have a lot to learn about this malarkey and I foresee turbulent waters ahead.

Silly me.