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Old 11-24-2008, 06:28 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: santa barbara, ca
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Battery replacement

My '05 SMB, which I just got, has a 4d Lifeline AGM but doesn't seem to hold a charge well. The SMB was liquidated from an estate so it may have sat around unused for months. A few hours of driving will give me a reading of 11.7 V but drops within an hour of non-use to 11.1V. The 2000W inverter won't work unless I just finished a long charge (either by driving or by AC). When the battery is low, I can't invert even with the engine running, even tho the volt meter reads 13.5V (is that normal?). So looks like a new battery is coming my way so I am asking for advice.

How do I confirm the diagnosis that it is the battery and not the charging system?

Does everyone stick with Lifeline batteries, or are other brands OK too? Seems like the original batteries are not all that great since me and my only SMB-owning friend have both had bad Lifeline batteries with vehicles under 5 yrs old. I'm not sure I want to wait to special order a Lifeline battery.

Do I get this replaced at a RV store? Marine shop? I'm in Santa Barbara and I've seen there's a couple people from this area on this forum. Any advice which shop to go to?

From reading this forum, I see lots of us have solar panels to keep the battery charged. How much are these panels including installation? Looks like the panels alone are $1000+.

I don't use a lot of electricity. My truck camper had a $75 marine battery that was more than enough for me, worked for days, tho the frig was propane. I really need that inverter to power my blender though when my friends come over to my rig for margaritas. SMB was disappointing on my first camp out last weekend.

Again, thanks for the help.

'05 EB Diesel, e-PH, SMB 4x4
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:22 AM   #2
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You're not getting any love here. I went with a good old fashioned battery (non-sealed, non-gel, non-gas mat) for something like $100 and change (maybe $150). Go to your local farm store. Common batt in tractors. Not sure how long it will last as compared to Lifetime batts, etc., but approx half the price.

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Old 12-18-2008, 07:48 AM   #3
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Location: Kirkland (Seattle), WA
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My understanding is that even when driving, the van alternator puts out less charge than the 2k inverter consumes so if your battery is dead(or moribund) the alternator alone will not be able to charge the inverter.

While I would guess that your battery is dead, I would try to "recondition" it before throwing it away. On my Tripplite inverter, there is a 3 position switch on the back; On (regular), Off, Direct pass through to the battery.

Try leaving it in Direct pass through for a couple days and see if it holds a charge any better. If not, it's toast.

My 2008 installed battery from SMB West is
from East Penn / Dekka Manufacturing Co., Inc.

The part required is a Dekka 8A4D-T975 because it has slightly different terminals than a normal battery. It was a special order for the Regional East Penn depot and mine (in Washington) came out of Arizona.

I believe the retail price was $330 w/o install.

My lesson has been to use the inverter sparingly because it seems to eat the battery even without any devices being attached/used. The 12V is much more energy efficient as are smaller inverters for items like charging cell phones, computers, etc.

Good luck.

2008 EB-52, Quadvan 4x4, 6.0 PSD SOLD
2017 Ford Transit 148WB mid-roof
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Old 12-18-2008, 08:03 AM   #4
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From the desk of John K:
If you have to buy a new battery, there are some other choices that are about half the cost of the Lifeline. and are a couple to check. MK is a division of EastPenn-Deka.
I'm still limping along with my Lifelines, but it sounds like yours are toast.
and then
everything changed
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Old 12-18-2008, 09:37 AM   #5
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Location: santa barbara
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Any time a vehicle is left sitting with a dead battery this has a severe effect on the life of the battery. My SMB is plugged in alsmost all the time it's parked and the batteries are constantly being monitored and kept properly charged. Even the best batteries in the industry could not make 5 years if not properly cared for. Also bear in mind that it takes many hours of driving around to charge a fairly discharged battery. A 20 minute trip across town won't make much difference. To check if your isolator is working properly just put a meter on your house battery while the van is running. The voltage should be 13 to 14 volts. IF it stays at 11.7 then I'd say the isolator is not working.
Seth Hatfield
'05 EB350 6.0 4x4
Homebuilt Interior
Santa Barbara Ca
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Old 12-18-2008, 10:16 AM   #6
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Also if your battery is too low, the Invertor won't charge it. I've had to run the van to get the charge healthy enough to take shore power.

and then
everything changed
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