Second battery


Capt. Mike

Moderator
You're proposing a $50 solution to a 50¢ problem.

Do the math; Calculating loads & capacity topic this forum. The fridge on battery is necessary while you're driving but should be switched over immediately after stopping for the night. It will hardly every go dead, so it's basically always available for a jump. You can even install a battery condition gauge (picture of mine on the Tech Drawings link or install a cigarette lighter socket and get a cheap plug in). Thus you'd know if your aux. was weak before using the main for extended periods.

Jumping from the auxiliary is easy, one-wire since you don't have to have a ground jump. Make one jumper cable long enough to reach from the aux. to the main. In all my camping, I've only run the main down enough to prevent starting maybe twice. (I'm more likely to leave the lights on in my garage.) In either case, I can jump myself. You'd have about $5 invested in some heavy wire and a couple of clamps. Actually less because I salvaged mine from a broken battery charger or something. The one small jumper lays in a closet cubby with flashlight, spare oil, et c.

End result, I can self-jump but don't give up any of the versatility of the auxiliary battery for fridge use and no exotic wiring project.
 
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icarus

Moderator
The LED gauge on the stove works really well. If you are running on the starting battery only and the lights go into the Red, (Under load) it is time to turn off the loads. Many people sell a simple plug in the lighter volt meter to double check. Remember that the voltage is only accurate after the loads have been off for ~1 hour. Assuming your car starts reliably if the battery is ~12.2 volts it should be fine. On the other hand you shouldn't routinely run the battery down that far. (See care and feeding of batteries on this site).

On another note, I only ran 1 battery in my syncro. With reading lights, i-pod radio, and propex furnace going for several hours a night, I never got the lights on the fridge out of the green (no load) If you drive the car most every day on a trip, there is no real reason for a second battery. On the other hand if you stay in one place for days and weeks then a second battery and perhaps a solar panel system makes sense.

Icarus
 

qbini

New member
Thanks Guys. I think i will go ahead and add a 2nd battery and the battery condition gauge for peace of mind. I really like the simple jumper idea too.

So, if i understand right... the aux battery will be used to keep the fridge cool while driving but will be getting charged at the same time(since the engine is running) and so should always be a near full charge. Switch the fridge over to propane at campsite, then the only drain on the aux battery will be the sink pump and so the aux will be in good shape for a jump if i need one.

The main should be fine for a day or two, but keep an eye on the leds - hit the red one, turn off all the loads.

I have already changed out my old incandescent kitchen light for a nice marine fluorescent one, so it should lower demand.

thanks again for your advice.
 

icarus

Moderator
The reality is that the fridge will run off the alternator when the engine is running. It will do that whether you have an aux battery or not.

As I have said often, it is my opinion that 2nd batteries are not worth the trouble and expense. Up front cost, weight penalty etc.

Another thing about adding a new battery in with an old, (primary) is that the old will tend to hasten the aging of the new one.

The best source for deep cycle batteries that I have found is: http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm#Lifespan%20of%20Batteries

Good luck,

Icarus
 

icarus

Moderator
Mixing any different battery types (flooded, gel or agm) in one battery string (which this is) is a bad idea from the get go. I agree with what Californio says regarding buying an inexpensive wet cell. The problem with gel cells is the float voltage for gel cells is just enough different from a flooded cell, that one or the other will never get fully charged, to it's detriment! I suggest that anyone read the battery info link above, or here is perhaps an even better one: http://www.batteryfaq.org/

This is VERY informative, and well put together site that is updated often.

Icarus.

PS In one portion of my other life, I design and build off grid solar sites. Both of these links have taught me more in a couple of months, than years of trial, error and urban legend. Did ya hear the one about batteries going dead on a concrete floor????

T
 

kidnerd

New member
second battery in engine compartment?

Hi,

i have an air-cooled '81 and was thinking of adding a secondary batt and placing it in the side bay well in the engine compartment (the area where intake air comes in). it looks like a good place for a bettery but will this interfere with the cooling system...?

the primary sits under the passenger seat.

thanks,
toan
 

mkollerjr

New member
1991 Aux. Battery

I've recently purchased a 1991 Vanagon GL Westfalia Camper and it appears as though it is pre-wired for a second battery under the driver's seat. I was wondering if this is correct, and what can be operated off of the second battery while camping.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
kidnerd: What are you trying to accomplish that can't be done easier and better with the 2nd battery under the driver's seat as per VW's design?

mkollerjr: This has been answered extensively above, including the first post in the topic. References to the Bentley diagrams, auxilliary wiring schematic, photos of installation and even part numbers are provided.
 

jerepowers

New member
I read a lot of posts here about the second battery not seeming to get a full charge. Mine didn't either. And despite numerous posts from Capt. Mike to upgrade the wiring, I didn't. IT IS CRUCIAL; ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL to upgrade this wiring if you want the second battery to be regularly charged! It is particularly important to make sure that the wire from the relay to the battery is adequate.

I had purchased and installed the GoWesty second battery kit. And whereas GoWesty is still my numero uno online supplier, this kit is not adequate for most needs – especially those of us who want to run the fridge for a bit off the second battery. The wire they supply from the relay to the battery is 14-gauge wire at best. I replaced just that part - 12 inches of 10-gauge wire - all of a sudden my second battery is better charged.

Think of it as a pipe. The wire for the fridge is essentially 14-gauge wire. So you bring a 14-gauge wire to the battery from the relay and a 14-gauge wire going out to the fridge. There is no extra capacity on the incoming wire for charging the battery.

I have yet to upgrade the 12-gauge wire from the main battery to the relay, which is the main "pipe," but even the small and quick upgrade from the relay to the battery made a big difference.
 

merlynbc

New member
Rookie Question

I have a 1994 Eurovan with a full Westfalia conversion and the 5 cyl 2.4 lt non turbo indirect injection diesel engine. From reading the manuals that came with it, there is apparently an auxilliary battery, but I don't know where to find it. Most of what I can find indicates under a seat, but my seats are swivel Captain's chairs, with no room for a battery. The charger is apparently under the fridge ( battery or mains powered only, no propane). The battery needs to be replaced, as it will not hold a charge for more than a couple of hours, even after an overnight charge for three nights running. If it is under the fridge with the charger, how do you remove the access panels?

Thanks
 

comancheflyer

New member
Getting access to the aux battery bay

You know what is much easier than removing the drivers seat to gain full access to aux battery bay is to remove the steering wheel (very easy) which allows you to swivel the seat 180 degrees. Before removing the steering wheel, I get a sharpie pen to 'clock' the steering wheel when I'm done. I carry the socket for the nut in my tool kit in case I need to get access on the road.
 
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jack1985ww

New member
Kirkland Signature Battery #12873

I have a 1985 1.9L full camper (with a/c) and I just got a Kirkland Signature Battery #12873 for my auxiliary battery. It fits behind the drivers seat without removing the lid or putting it on its side.

It is not a deep cycle, just a regular lead acid. It was only $50 and it has a 36 month full refund and with the graduated refund scale even after 100 months you can still get a 5% refund.

It is less than a quarter inch taller than the metal top of the battery terminal box, so the terminals would come in contact with the metal top, but that can be remedied quite easily. What I did for my "mickey mouse" job was cut out the plastic from a cd case and then taped it to the underside of the metal cover with some electrical tape. I put some more layers of electrical tape on top of that. I also have battery terminal guards so I am doubled up (or triple? terminal guard+layers of thick electrical tape+plastic cut from cd case). I feel it is adequate.

Even with the battery being a tiny bit taller and the layers of plastic from the cd case, the tape, and the terminal guard the top still closes. All I need to do to open the battery cover is pull the seat forward. I did have to pull the swivel seat out to put the battery in but that was easy (four bolts - not welded) and a one time thing. I am stoked! Gonna go up by Tahoe this weekend to play with it!

[Moderator note: Kirklands are Costco store brand batteries made by Johnson Controls. See TIPS forum, "Care & Feeding of Batteries" topic for further branding info. You could have got a Kirkland 72-41N that would have fit WITHOUT any fitment problem or the risk of jury rigging.]
 
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rascalif

New member
Aux battery exploded--too much load?

The auxilliary battery under the driver seat of my 2000 Eurovan MV blew up and leaked black fluid everywhere. As I understand it the aux battery is just for the cooler underneath the rear seat, as well as the two 12v outlets below the 3rd row seat. I've had a DVD player and a couple of monitors tapped to that circuit and last summer added an amp/subwoofer to the same. Could all these electronics have overloaded the circuit? Although I've never heard of a battery actually exploding due to too much load.
 

Rosalita

New member
Hi

I am new to the site so please excuse if the question of finding the battery on a Eurowesty has been answered. I have looked under the drivers seat and there is no battery there although the manual claims that this is the location. I have a 1992 Eurovan Westfalia.

Thanks in advance.

Rosalita
 

kmckee

New member
Dual Alternators / Dual Batteries

Installing a second alternator.. because I'm installing a 1200watt inverter to provide power to the wall outlets. The standard alternator won't provide the juice to a) keep the battery from drainging in a matter of an hour and b) prevent it from burning up from running at max load for an extended period.

My question is this: what the hell am I getting myself into?! Has anyone done this before? I figure I'll replace the useless a/c compressor with another alternator and wire the two in parallel. That's the plan.... Any comments or reminders of what I haven't thought about yet would be appreciated.

Cheers,
Ken
 
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tourmaline

New member
Sorry I can't be more technical in my response, but I just purchased my first Westy yesterday and it has 2 batteries, one under each of the front seat platforms and it is annoying me big-time....primarily because I don't know anything at all about electricity, mechanics, or technical/mechanical stuff. I was so excited to be getting a used Westy and the seller was like 'Yeah, it's got these two batteries so the batteries never run out of juice: when one of them gets low it just starts charging off the other one." It made sense to me and I thought it sounded great. But when I started my ignition today the red battery/electricity light stays on, which means there is a problem i.e. a low battery most likely. :-(

I'm really a complete Westy novice as you can probably tell. From my limited experience thus far, I'm really disappointed and I wish I did not have a Westy with two batteries. I suppose it would be find if you know a lot about electricity and technical info about how Westys work. I wish I did. I'll just keep studying my manuals and try to figure this all out.
 

kmckee

New member
You'll come to love your second battery. Trust me on that one. I had mine installed after I bought the Westy. The reason for the second battery is that when you're out camping for a few days or a week, running lights and the music system, the water pump in the faucet... all those drain the second battery. It never touches the main battery .. which you use to START your car after that week of camping. In my case, it's absolutely necessary to run the inverter I'm installing. All he big RV's have a second battery. In your case, it may just be the alternator is bad. Better resign yourself to the fact that you'll be learning about a lot more than just electricity now that you're a Vanagon owner. These are 20+ year old project vehicles, not simply transportation you can sleep in.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
tourmaline: Wiring for the 2nd battery is in the Bentley (required to use site). The 2nd battery, when wired per factory, is ONLY intended for short runs of the DC part of the fridge or while the vehicle motor is running. Nothing else is hooked to it. It recharges while the motor is running. The right battery is the main for ALL starting, engine & lights. Some have tried to move other circuits to the 2nd battery with mixed results. Correct wiring for the 2nd battery is also posted in the site Technical Drawings.
 

Rubytuesday

New member
Hi there, Im a newbie on this site, as well as a new owner!! We love our girl and our getting excited to let her take us out for longer snowboarding trips! New Nokians, Rainfly, one day a new propane tank, and hopefully soon: An Auxillary Battery!. Ive been reading a lot here and on other sites about installing the 2nd battery, and there are a few things that Im confused about. We want to use the battery to run a small electric heater and lights, electric stove and thats pretty much it. I know that my westie has the factory relay, so Ill need a new one of those plus a gel battery for under the driver's seat, some heavier duty wire and.... here's where I cant figure out if I need an inverter. Thats not a whole lot of juice, and I would like to keep this on the cheap as those other new things, well spendy. I hope that Im posting on the correct topic and that someone can gimme a word on this. Thanks!!
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
READ the first posts in this topic! (Guideline #4.) Post #3 tells you how to do the math. Your expectations appear unrealistic from an auxilliary battery. Also so the "Care & Feeding of Batteries" topic in the TIPS forum about the mixing battery types & gell cells.
 

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