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Old 07-05-2009, 10:37 PM   #1
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Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

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I was pleasantly surprised to find a 2006 Lifeline battery under the couch of my recently purchased used SMB. Hopefully it has a few more years on it.

The battery is in a proper box, mounted to the floor, with a hole out the bottom of the van and a vent hole from the box through the side of the van. The hole on the bottom doesn't have a cover and is big enough for a large rat (or small possum... ). The battery box was (of course) just thrown on top of the lower half, making no seal whatsoever. Lots of dirt/dust had migrated up into the hole

First, the Lifeline batteries rock. You can mount them on their side and submerse them. That would have come in handy on my last sailing trip.

The Lifeline website is pretty clear about needing to vent the battery when charging.

I wonder how much venting we need here? I have placed an old scotchbrite pad (very thin and worn) over the bottom hole and covered it with a piece of 1/8 grid galvanized shop cloth. That will keep the dust and critters out but I don't know if I am limiting the airflow too much.

Also, the top of the battery box in no way forms a proper seal around the bottom. The wires are too thick for the designed slot for them. Making a truly air-tight box is going to take some work.

I may zip tie the box together and then cover it with a large trash bag, with a bungy cord around the bottom (there I go again, where's the duct tape....) Seems like any hydrogen gas from charging would rise up to the side vent and draw air either from the vent hole on the bottom or from the poorly sealed cabin air. The top of the box and the outside air vent are a clear shot, no obstructions. My only concern is that, when driving, the vent would push air back into the cabin.

Isn't there a rule about that? When a pipe is perpendicular to a surface with flow across it, doesn't it create negative pressure in the pipe? Any fluid dynamics experts out there? I guess I could always perform smoke tests when driving.....to see if the hydrogen is filling the cabin....hmmm....

I've never seen an under van battery mount. Are they involved? I've got a lot of space where my spare tire used to be.

Here is an older thread on a similar topic. Any thoughts appreciated.

Regards,

Tom

viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1628&hilit=battery+venting
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Old 07-05-2009, 11:11 PM   #2
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Re: Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

I just don't like it. Maybe it's OK but IMO keep them out. Jage (and others) have had one in their living quarters. I believe they had no problems. I could be all wet but I had a charger fail which heated the battery (an AGM) enough to off gas on a boat. Worth it???? YVMV.
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:05 AM   #3
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Re: Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

I agree with daveb. It'll be a bit of a hassle, but I'd hang the thing underneath. You can probably buy all the brackets from SMB. It'll also give you more storage inside the rig, and you can't have too much of that.
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:42 AM   #4
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Re: Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

I had three 8D AGM batteries in the engine compartment of my boat. (Pretty hard to cut a hole in the bottom and put Scotchbrite and hardware cloth over it!) They were in purpose-built fiberglas boxes, bit no effort was made to seal the boxes. Any venting was right into the engine compartment. Before the AGMs we Had 4 X 8D wet cells, same layout. Nothing ever blew up, but now I wonder why. Lots of boats have the same set-up, (not that that makes it right). My current boat has three Optimas in a non-vented space under the cockpit sole, and when you access the compartment, there is never any kind of odor.

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Old 07-06-2009, 11:23 AM   #5
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Re: Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

Mine is in the living quarters, but the battery box is sealed all around- there are at least two tubes of black silicone filling every crack and hole in the battery box and no hole underneath AFIK (I certainly hope not since I'm planning to move the battery outside someday).
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Old 07-06-2009, 05:30 PM   #6
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Re: Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

Skywagon-On boats, the last one I operated was an inboard/outboard with a sealed compartment as well. They made a big deal about the importance of running the blowers before starting the engine. I suspect that the compartment is self ventilating when the motor is on. FWIW-it's not that tough to cut a hole in the bottom......

Jage-I don't know if you have ever removed your house batteries. The hole in mine was underneath the battery.
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Old 07-07-2009, 08:13 AM   #7
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Re: Sealed Battery Compartment (was Battery Inside safe)

Bluedog-
Cutting the hole is, as you say, no big deal, however pumping the Pacific Ocean back out again gets tiresome!
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