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Old 07-21-2016, 05:17 PM   #1
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Exploding Battery

Disclosure: This problem occurred with my boat, not my Jayco. However it seems like a problem which could potentially affect an RV also. I recently took my boat to an area lake. Got it in the water and it wouldn't start. Seemed like a classic dead battery. There are two batteries which are selectable with a switch and neither one would start the motor. The batteries are original with the boat which is a 2012. When I got home, I checked on one of the batteries and found that it had exploded (see picture). This has never happened to me before. The second battery was dead, but still intact. I'm wondering if the problem was the battery, or the on board charger. I had charged the batteries the night before. The charger is a Cabela's brand automatic charger. According to the manual it is fully automatic and will switch from charging to conditioning, to maintenance. I'm going to replace the batteries (obviously) and a concerned that if the charger malfunctioned I will merely have the same experience again with new batteries. Any ideas? Is this more likely to be a defective battery rather than charger? I'm sort of at a loss.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:28 PM   #2
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Wow, sounds like a defective charger all right. I blew up my garden tractor battery by keeping it on a regular charger cuz I didn't know any better. Sounds like the charger didn't go into conditioning mode.
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Old 07-21-2016, 05:40 PM   #3
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I had the exact same issue February of this year with my '08 Jayco Seneca and two 12V batteries in parallel using a Progressive Dynamics PD9280 charger.
I contacted PD about the battery and they had no answers. I asked each battery shop I visited looking for answers and they had none either.
I replaced the battery and haven't had any problems since, but I still have concerns about leaving the charger always connected, and the still in place "older" original second battery, in parallel with the new battery.
I've had the Progressive Dynamics chargers in two other motorhomes over the span of 12 years and never an exploded battery problem.
I have also connected a Trik-L-Start from the coach to the chassis batteries (2) and have been monitoring them closely as well.
Eventually I plan to replace both coach batteries with two fresh 6Vs in series.
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:19 PM   #4
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When was the last time you actually looked at the battery itself? Right before your trip when you plugged the charger in, or when the boat would not start? Is this trip the 1st trip of the season using the boat?? Did you check the water levels in the battery on a regular basis=? Is it possible the battery froze over the winter??
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Old 07-21-2016, 06:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtdawg View Post
Disclosure: This problem occurred with my boat, not my Jayco. However it seems like a problem which could potentially affect an RV also.....

There are two batteries which are selectable with a switch and neither one would start the motor. The batteries are original with the boat which is a 2012. When I got home, I checked on one of the batteries and found that it had exploded (see picture). ......

I'm wondering if the problem was the battery, or the on board charger. I had charged the batteries the night before. The charger is a Cabela's brand automatic charger. According to the manual it is fully automatic and will switch from charging to conditioning, to maintenance. I'm going to replace the batteries (obviously) and a concerned that if the charger malfunctioned I will merely have the same experience again with new batteries. Any ideas? Is this more likely to be a defective battery rather than charger? I'm sort of at a loss.
I am not sure if you discharged both batteries together, wired in parallel or if you used them individually.

Here is the issue with those selector switches (or manually installed or pulled batteries) that allow each battery to be discharged INDIVIDUALLY and then switched to connect them in parallel to be charged together.

Both batteries will be at a different level after using them individually. One battery may be at 11.5VDC the other may be at 12.4VDC. When they are connected together (for charging) they will average out somewhere between the 2 voltages. Now the 12.4 VDV battery will not require as much charge as the 11.5 VDC battery. The battery charge controller (dumb or smart type) see it as the average. In theory it could reach a point where the battery with low capacity (resistance) gets too much current and overheats.... thermal runaway. Many things can take place if this happens.. cable insulation melting, yes even an exploding battery, but thank goodness that seldom happens.

When two identical batteries (mfr/Model/Ah/Mfr Date) are connected in parallel or series as required, and as batteries age and lose capacity as they normally do, the difference is slight, there is no issue. The RV smart battery controller (current models) will charge them properly, unless you use them individually and then charge them together.

If you use them individually they need to be charged individually.

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Old 07-21-2016, 06:57 PM   #6
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You would have had an even larger mess if it was not sitting in a battery box.

I saw one that blew up when I was a teenager under the hood of a car and it ruined all the wiring from acid etching.
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Old 07-21-2016, 09:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimp View Post
When was the last time you actually looked at the battery itself? Right before your trip when you plugged the charger in, or when the boat would not start? Is this trip the 1st trip of the season using the boat?? Did you check the water levels in the battery on a regular basis=? Is it possible the battery froze over the winter??
I have to plead guilty to being a poor battery steward. The way they have these batteries stuffed into their compartments, removing them to check water levels becomes a 2 hour project. In retrospect, it would have been worth the hassle. The battery certainly could have frozen during the winter, at least once during the past 5 years. Nothing like putting out a few hundred dollars to make one become a little more responsible. I can accept my negligence, I just don't want to blow up the new batteries if the problem is with the charger.
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Old 07-21-2016, 10:43 PM   #8
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Guy parked next to us at the Marina in Hood River, OR was having some issues starting his car. He asked if I had jumper cables. I got out of the drivers side of the truck to get in my box. As I looked over he set a lit cigarette down on his battery and it blew. There was acid all over him, in his eyes and face. Me and a buddy drug him down to the Columbia and helped him get water. Happened to be a EMT there as well to assist. Not sure what eventually happened but I'm guessing the guy lost his eyesight. We got acid all over us trying to help him. I'm not scared of batteries but I always wear safety glasses when working with them and keep a pair in both the RV and the Truck to this day. Something I will never forget.
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Old 07-21-2016, 10:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtdawg View Post
I have to plead guilty to being a poor battery steward. The way they have these batteries stuffed into their compartments, removing them to check water levels becomes a 2 hour project. In retrospect, it would have been worth the hassle. The battery certainly could have frozen during the winter, at least once during the past 5 years. Nothing like putting out a few hundred dollars to make one become a little more responsible. I can accept my negligence, I just don't want to blow up the new batteries if the problem is with the charger.
You should be able to look up the specs of your converter and see what the charging voltages should be in relation to the charge on the battery. Put a voltmeter on it and monitor the charge voltage and verify if it's operating as it should. It's not going to immediatly do damage and you could expect to see it go into a maintenance state fairly quickly with new charged batteries.
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