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Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries

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Ron Dittmer

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Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« on: April 29, 2015, 02:08:36 pm »
One of our two 12 volt batteries failed, same as with our first set.  When one goes bad, acid boils over and makes a mess, and of coarse a serious loss of battery reserves.  Good practice says to replace both batteries.

With all the discussion on the benefits of 6 volt batteries, I wanted to give them a try.  I shopped around and found Sam's club to be a good supplier of 6 volt lead acid and AGM batteries by Duracell.  The AGM is twice the cost that of lead acid at $180 per battery, but given my newly created limited access situation, I got the AGM batteries HERE.


Given all 6 volt batteries are much taller, I had to replace my slide out battery tray with a flat sheet of metal to gain height inside the battery compartment.  I found a nice piece of black painted metal being thrown away at work which had a couple of bends that benefited me.  I bolted "L" bracket material from a home improvement store to cradle the batteries.


I mounted the brackets to the tray, then the tray to the battery compartment.  I then removed the front bracket to slide in the two 6 volt batteries, connected them up nicely, then replaced the front bracket.


Without being able to slide out the batteries, it was difficult to make the connections with a ratcheting box wrench.  I used both original short battery cables in between the two batteries for a robust electrical interconnect.  As I had originally, the red/+ terminal is on the right side, the black/- terminal on the left side.  I used the screw terminals on the batteries to keep the large terminals free to use my secondary battery charger as I like to do at times for quick charging with the generator.  Because of the limited access, checking water level is not practical which is why I selected the maintenance free AGM batteries.  The next time I disconnect them is when they get replaced.


With the door closed, you can see the front most "L" bracket which is why I painted it black as not to stand out.


I am hopeful that two 6 volt batteries hooked up in series will perform better and last longer than two 12 volt batteries hooked up in parallel.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2015, 02:17:14 pm by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2015, 04:20:26 pm »
Ron, I think I read somewhere that agm batteries take a little higher charging voltage.?.?  My onboard charger charges at about 13.8v per my inverter display and my alternator puts out about 13.7/13.8v per my scangauge.  If you haven't already done so, you may want to verify you are giving your new set the voltage they need for long life.  Mark
Mark

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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2015, 04:34:53 pm »
Hi Mark,

I charge the new AGMs with my stand-alone charger using the AGM setting.  I also set the dip switches on my Tripp-Lite inverter for AGMs so I am all set with the change from lead acid to AGM.

On another forum, I was told that the Ford V10 alternator handles AGMs well.  I will take note of your comment and will observe my Scan Gauge as well and see what my alternator is providing.  Maybe the output varies pending usage like for example having the headlights on, the climate control working hard, things like that which can bring down the charging voltage.

One thing certain, I wouldn't want lead acid batteries because checking the fluid level would be quite inconvenient without a slide out battery tray.  Batteries are awfully heavy, and then there is the matter of disconnecting and reconnecting.

I will monitor voltage readings.  Hopefully all is well.

Thanks for giving me the "Head's Up".
« Last Edit: October 21, 2015, 10:42:20 am by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2015, 06:17:05 am »
In preparation for my upcoming trip I find I have a weeping battery. Both batteries are just under a year  old. But will replace them with sealed maintenance free Interstate batteries.  We will be boo ndocking at Assategue Nat'l park so I need good batteries.  I would think about going 6 volt but that would mean rebuilding the battery tray.
I will be interested in how they work for you Ron. 

Bill g
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2015, 07:32:00 am »
Bill,

I will report back after our planned 4 week voyage, but that will be later in the season.

I did talk with Kermit on how they accommodate the taller 6V batteries.  His installs a taller frame/box which hangs lower so he can install the slide out tray.  I did not want to invest in and fuss with  to have my tray hanging lower so I went with the AGMs.

I really hope the AGM batteries I installed will work because they are the right choice otherwise.  It would be very challenging for me to wrestle heavy, dirty, wet acid coated batteries on a regular basis.

BTW:  Both times now with our old 12V batteries.  Both sets, the boil-overs were caused by one battery not holding a charge.  The charger does not know when to stop charging then so the boil-over happens.  With that consideration, I went with the two 6Vs in hopes that the load is better distributed much like "D" cell batteries in a flashlight.  Flashlight batteries all die at the same rate.  Maybe the two 6V batteries will fail together at the same time.

I hate replacing two 12V batteries knowing one is still good.  I hope to get more years and better performance from the pair of 6V AGMs.  I just hope to overcome that 13.8 versus 14.4 charging thing.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2015, 07:39:52 am by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2015, 06:38:13 am »
I have this same topic posted in rv.net HERE of which a few people there are telling me that if I had bought two 12V AGM batteries,  I would have technically benefitted the same, and not have needed to change the battery tray.  They say when changing from 12V wet acid to 6V wet acid, that is where there is much to gain with battery performance.  But switching from 12V wet acid to 12V AGM will benefit the same, technically speaking.

It could be these two sources of information are "opinions" or they could be dead right.  I really don't know because this subject matter of floating and soaking voltages under hot and cold conditions is a bit confusing to me.  I just wanted to share this with you to be as thorough as possible.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 06:41:04 am by ron.dittmer »
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TomHanlon

Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2015, 08:18:48 am »
Ron, what part does your truck's alternator play in charging the batteries while driving? Does it require a different alternator for the AGM battery or the golf cart battery?

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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2015, 09:48:20 am »
You ask a good question Tom.

A few people are commenting that the Ford-V10 engine alternator is questionable because the AGMs require 14.4 volts for charging, but the alternator fluctuates between 13.5 & 14.5 volts.  I find it hard to believe that AGM batteries, whether 6V in series, or 12v in parallel, can't work.  If that is the case, then I would think AGM batteries would not work in most other vehicles either.

But Continue Reading.

HERE is a Ford document that supports their claim over the lack of energy.  I think the standard alternator back then was 115 amps, the document mentions a more powerful 135 amp alternator.  Given the document identifies the 2004-2006 model years, I wonder which alternator I have in my 2007 and wonder about newer model years as well.

I just called the 877 number on the Ford document and left a recorded question regarding which alternator I have.  I included my chassis VIN per their instruction.  I am supposed to hear back in two days.  Hopefully I will actually get to talk with someone so I can ask the question if the more powerful 135 amp alternator became a standard in the RV chassis made after 2006.  Maybe AGM batteries work properly only with the more powerful 135 amp alternator which is why everyone has conflicting experiences with AGM batteries.

It appears that if I have the lesser alternator and want to upgrade to the 135 amp alternator, there is some special ECM programming required as defined HERE.  It may be a dealer installed operation, more than simply swapping alternators.  I hope I already have the 135 amp alternator.

I will report back when I hear back from Ford.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 10:12:06 am by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2015, 02:48:26 pm »
6 volt batteries have thicker plates than most/all 12 volts so not understanding the claim for equivalency.  You should get better deep cycle performance irrespective of AGM or flooded cell.

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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2015, 10:00:36 am »
My friend the Ford mechanic/technician stated the following to me.

"The data available to me does not state amperage, only that it left the factory with heavy duty alt #6C2Z-10346-BA. that changes to a re-manufactured part still available thru ford. 6C2Z-10V346-BBRM1 @ $133.00 + 75 CORE. 2 YR WARRANTY."

I hoped to get the amperage from him, oh well.  So I called my local Ford dealer parts department about that alternator part number.  He asked me for my VIN number, then told me my chassis is equipped with a heavy duty 115 AMP alternator..

I am just going to let go of my alternator concerns, monitor my Scan Gauge for voltage output, and learn what I can from it.  I am more comfortable with my decision to go with a pair of 6V AGM batteries.

And Randall, Thanks for that bit of information.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 09:32:45 am by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2015, 12:43:29 pm »
Well.....

We just returned from a 26 day trip where we never plugged into a 110v power source.  Battery charging occurred only from either the V10 engine alternator while driving, or running the generator with our Black & Decker battery charger.  It is difficult to conclude the new pair of AGM 6v batteries performed so much better than conventional 12v but I can say all went extremely well.  It appeared the V10 alternator provides adequate charging so I am putting that concern to rest.

We did change some electricals and also some habits which I am sure helped.  I had converted all lighting from florescent to LED, and ran the generator instead of the inverter to brew coffee.  I also recharged the batteries via the generator with B&D charger, the morning after watching a movie on the TV.  We basically recharged after knowingly stressing the batteries.  I also appreciated never needing to check battery fluid levels again, and never dealing with an acid boil-over.

Even with this positive experience, I plan to install a battery voltage meter or something to monitor battery health better because the green/yellow/red meter on my 2007 model year control panel isn't saying enough for me.  In years past when that meter went from green to yellow, the batteries were already discharged to the point of concern.

Can anyone recommend a decent battery monitor?
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 12:46:13 pm by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2015, 11:47:32 am »
Ron and others, thought I would share with everyone my boondocking and battery charging management setup on our PC 2350.  

First of all, we seldom ever go where there are hookups. The exception being on the way to or from somewhere, but we usually stay in National Forest, BLM and Corp of Engineers campgrounds.  Now, a few of them have some services but not most.   In the western NFs, you are generally welcome to "drip your gray".   This entire area is obviously suffering a long term drought and it just makes sense to return to the earth the gray water, at least to the campers that love the western forests and the rangers that run them.  

We only run the genset to power the AC or the microconvection oven.

So, for boondocking and power management, here is our stuff.

For battery management we have two little DROK digital voltmeters.  They are cheap and work fine for me.  I have checked them against a really good test meter and they are accurate.  

Several pages of these in different sizes, colors of display and some are weather resistant to use outside.  I have one mounted on a panel I constructed attached to the front of the battery compartment pull out.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_pg_1?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Adigital+dc+volt+meters+drok&keywords=digital+dc+volt+meters+drok&ie=UTF8&qid=1442506939&spIA=B00NWGZ3A6,B00NWGZ4XC,B00KHP6EIK,B00NW62L88

We recharge our batteries with a couple of these which I mounted to our roof using 3M high capacity exterior double sided tape.  

http://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watts-Volts-Lightweight-Monocrystalline/dp/B00IK19VF6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1442507021&sr=8-2&keywords=renogy+flexible+solar+panel

Next, we haul water from the campground spigot or hand pump with one of these.  We store it, by the way, when traveling in a plastic garbage sack and put it in the shower.  The sack protects the floor and walls of the shower.

http://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Products-Hydroller-Wheeled-Container/dp/B001QC78GK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442507096&sr=8-1&keywords=reliance+hydroller+wheeled+water+container+8+gallon+9600-03
 

Over the decades of rving, I have rigged several ways to pump water up into an rv tank from a container.  This is the best rig I have found.  Just buy a few feet of clear plastic tubing at HD or Lowes, stick it on the end of the pump and put the other end into the fill on the PC.  Drop the pump into the hydroroller, hook up to the batteries in the pull out compartment and pump 8 gallons in a couple of minutes.

 
http://www.amazon.com/Docooler-Diesel-Transfer-Submersible-Stainless/dp/B00F2LANF4/ref=sr_1_23?ie=UTF8&qid=1442507205&sr=8-23&keywords=12volt+pump&refinements=p_72%3A2661618011

Our 2350 is absolutely perfect for our boondocking.  We can get into places any unit much larger simply would find difficult.  We spent a month in the Sangre de Christi mountains of Northern New Mexico this summer in national forest campgrounds and never missed hookups.  The 2350 has an extraordinary large black tank for a small unit and two people can easily spend  about two weeks on one black tank.  We dumped only once in that four weeks, and of course at the end of the time period before we started home.  

Paul


« Last Edit: September 17, 2015, 11:50:06 am by Doneworking »

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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2015, 03:29:11 pm »
Interesting!

After some discussion and ideas given me on another forum, I decided to buy one of these volt meters with plans to install it in the stove hood control panel to be along side our other monitors.  It cost just $6.15 with a green display.  I only need to figure out how to remove the black front panel from the hood for the installation.  It appears to snap off but I didn't want to force anything.  I may end up calling Kermit for I don't recall having any paperwork on the hood.  I will look through everything a second time.

I am told the general rule is not to let the batteries discharge below 12.1 to 12.2 volts.  That is easy enough for me to understand.

This Small Volt Meter, is about 1-3/8" diameter.  I will hook it up to a hot & ground wire behind the panel which should be easy enough.




Our 2007 Model 2350 Control Panel Is Over The Stove (Under The Microwave) As Shown Here.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2015, 03:39:01 pm by ron.dittmer »
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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2015, 04:57:18 pm »
Here is the chart I follow.  It has been around a long time and I find it useful:

Voltage and State of Charge percentages
12.6+ volts
100%
12.5 volts
90%
12.42 volts
80%
12.32 volts
70%
12.20 volts
60%
12.06 volts
50%
11.9 volts
40%
11.75 volts
30%
11.58 volts
20%
11.31 volts
10%
10.5 volts
0%

This comes from this website  http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm and I think that website has some really good information.  It has been around for a long time, but so have volts and amps  ;)

Paul

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Re: Converting From Two 12V Batteries To Two 6V Batteries
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2015, 08:02:39 am »
My research continues....

Last night I looked deeper into what it will take to install a volt meter on my monitor panel.  I found something interesting that has me thinking to seek a rectangular meter instead of a round one to mount in the blank space to the right.

Here is my panel-in-stove-hood.


Here is the back side where I plan to mount the meter. Removing the panel has a specific process described on a sticker located on the underside of the hood.  If you have this hood and want to remove the front panel, "FOLLOW" that process or you will break the front panel.  Apparently the hood was designed to monitor more things, or possibly offer a clock and cooking timer.  I researched the supplier but did not find any information on additional features.  I had hoped to find a snap-in volt meter, but came up empty.


I am thinking of installing THIS 3-function unit that displays the voltage, the time, and the temperature (wherever the probe is located away from the stove area).  I will need to install a couple of different style buttons that are easily mounted into the panel, maybe snap into those rectangular holes.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 08:17:47 am by ron.dittmer »
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