1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

Daul Battery Question

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by thomasjkt, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. thomasjkt

    thomasjkt Member
    Messages: 32

    I am considering a second battery for my truck and am wondering if there is anything special I need to do to install it. I am going to place it in my bed tool box and run the wiring along the frame rail to the original battery. I am running the old style Monarch pump system with a Meyer plow and it is mounted on a 85 Dodge truck. The reason for the second battery is I drain the first battery to the point that the plow won't lift but 2 or 3 inches off the ground but after recharging the battery the plow is ok for a little while. I replaced the lift cylinder and have installed a new alternator so I know the cylinder is ok and the output on the alternator is about 14.5 volts.
  2. 04superduty

    04superduty PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,354

    You might want to check into a high amp alternator. Yours might not be putting out enough juice to keep up with demands of your plow. You might want to check out how much the plow pump motor is pulling. One of the trucks at work had its motor go bad and was pulling around 350 amps and would almost kill the truck every time you used the plow. :D :D
  3. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    I run duel batteries in my plow truck. One tip i can give you is you might want to look in too a second battery tray. I went to my dealer and asked them for a bettery tray for the same truck but with a diesel motor.
  4. snooker

    snooker Member
    from Zone 7
    Messages: 77

    Since your existing battery is a starting battery, it probably is not a deep cycle. Unless it is a deep cycle you may have already damaged it by running it down too low too many times. I’ve been told it only takes a couple of total discharges to ruin a starting battery. But there is the delima for running a snow plow because you need to start the truck, then you need the deep cycle type battery for operating the plow.

    I agree with getting another under the hood tray for your additional battery. It’s less of a hassle in the long run for several reasons. In either case, if you connect a new battery (in parallel) with the existing and probably damaged battery, the old weak one will be constantly draining the new strong one down. Additionally, I think this is the reason they don't suggest using a starting battery with a deep cycle battery.

    Some guys add an isolator to the system that keeps the batteries disconnected when the engine is not running. Some sort of solenoid I think. Otherwise when using two batteries you should buy two identical new ones at the same time. Either of those solutions should avoid premature failure of the stronger battery. A good set up for plowing is two yellow-top Ultima batteries.

    It is also a wise suggestion to get a larger capacity alternator for snow plowing. I wouldn’t bother with changing from a 100 amp to a 135 amp. For not much more money, you can go to 150-200 amps if you’re going to trouble with it. But that may require beefing up the alternator leads as well. Lots of those on eBay.
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  5. JunkFood331

    JunkFood331 Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    I agree with have to new batteries of the same type and kind, instead of one new and one used. On my truck I took it one step further and put another alternator on it, the original alternator runs the truck and the starting battery. The second alternator charges the deep cycle yellow top Ultima battery witch the plow power cable are connected to. So the plow draws off of the deep cycle and doesn't drain the trucks electrical system. I think this is the cat's a*s but it'll be a lot of work. I made my brackets using thick flat stock and tig welded them together and used a different water pump pulley that was laying around.

    Did you check all of the electrical connections?? Any corrosion will make it draw more amps. A rule of thumb is you shouldn't have more than a one tenth voltage drop between any connection. This will help you find if you have a bad battery cable (corrosion under the plastic insulation)

    Hope this helps
  6. streetsurfin'

    streetsurfin' Senior Member
    Messages: 770

    Some engines, as in my Dodge, use a connecter in the charging wire from the alt. to the battery. I was told it was to aid in engine removal:rolleyes: . During the heavy drain and recharge this or any other weak connection can get hot enough to melt the plastic which flows between the metals contacts. Look for a voltage drop in that wire as junkfood suggested. If you can swing it, the Optima is a great battery( eight years out of red top).
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2004
  7. Optical345

    Optical345 Junior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 9

    There are some really good ideas posted here. It's true, it only takes two, or sometimes even one, complete discharge of the battery to loose it's capacity. Then if the battery is left idle for a short time, it will self discharge enough to eliminate any chance of starting the vehicle!

    One of the first things I would do, is to replace the battery that is in there now. If at all possible, I would add a second battery (deep cycle) and alternator, and isolate it from the existing electrical system (common ground, seperate positive cables), and use it only for the plow pump. This would also eliminate any/all 'dimming' when the plow is operated.
  8. JunkFood331

    JunkFood331 Junior Member
    Messages: 26

    Sorry guy's I just noticed that I made a spelling error. I ment to say Optima battery and not Ultima. But I'm sure you guys knew what I meant. :D

    Also just as a personal preference I don't like the isolator set up. I wouldn't recomend it to anybody.

    Let us know what you find out or how your new system works. :bluebounc
  9. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    This is a problem addressed many times here and many times in the future I am sure.
    1. Automotive electrical shops can most time upgrade your alternator to a high output for about a $1 an amp, you install / remove. Or the auto parts place may have a listing for a bigger output one for your truck.
    2. Use an isolator setup, autozone , NAPA etc have them, buy heavy duty setup, batteries will "battle" each other because one is always stronger then the other even if bought at same time and the same battery. Don't let people tell you otherwise, I do ambulance systems we see it all the time it's a trait of batteries.
    3. Check ALL connections and condition of wires, ALL grounds to frame and engine,pump ground should have own cable, put diaelectric grease on them ALL to keep out water and crud. Crud causes resistance which causes longer amp flow to get job done.
    4. Buy the best batteries you can afford they last longer.
    5. Install a voltage meter ( if you don't have )12.5 is battery voltage not running, 13.5 --> 14.5 charging / running. Watch it while plowing, getting close to 12.5 you are not charging well.
    6. Plow with the least amount of amp flow you can, if it's lighted just plow with amber light on ,no heater on high etc.
  10. Crash935

    Crash935 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    Does the monarch have a ground strap? Most of those were installed with the idea that the mounting plste will ground throught the chassis. A heavy amp draw is a good sign of a poor ground.
  11. elite1

    elite1 Senior Member
    Messages: 187

    since we are on this, give me any input.

    I have 2 red tops (didn't know that yellow was better at the time 1 yr ago) in parallel- stock by dodge diesel.

    the alternator is original- 96' 135 amp ??

    I started my truck, pulled it out side, shut it off. I had a slight draw on the battery-nothing major-doesn't matter

    Could not start it 1 hr later. Had to jump it. I put the cables on and it started up with out letting it charge at all. The voltage flocculated between 8 - and 13 volts for about 7 min. Could not even power the wipers. I plowed all night, with no problems, toward the end of the route 13 hrs later it had a little problem raising, but still went up.

    Bat? alt.? should I do both- should I add an isolator even that dodge didn't
    maybe a 200 Amp alt. and 2 yellow tops? I don't think that 2 alts that have separate batts would do any good because the truck needs 2 batts for starting.

    8 foot westen, uni mount+snow ex vee pro(30 amps) and alot of aux. lights/rotators
  12. snooker

    snooker Member
    from Zone 7
    Messages: 77

    Ooops, looks like I started it. It is Optima, not Ultima.

    I’m just repeating what I’ve been told, but as good as the red-top Optima batteries are, they’re still just a starting battery. They’re designed kind of like a racing engine, go as hard as it can for 10-15 seconds tops. But never discharge below a certain level.

    Snow plowing demands more energy than many stock alternators provide, especially at night with all the lights, heater, engine, spreader (probably 30 amps to start, but about 10 to run), etc. Anyway, when you ask for more power than the alternator can give, the electrical system draws power from the savings in the energy bank (batteries). To top it off, when the accessories aren’t being used, the batteries are wanting recharged! But the alternator is probably getting hot and recharging the batteries at a slower rate than they’re being drained. Especially if they’re damaged, from being used as a deep-cycle battery and draining them too low. Over a full night of plowing, it’s not hard to drain and ruin a starting battery or two.

    As best as I can understand it, the yellow-top Optima’s are still a deep-cycle battery, they’re just so strong they can dump over 800 cold cranking amps in 10 seconds of running the starter (as much as most other premium starting batteries). Though not as much as the red-top Optima’s 1,100 cca. Yellow top Optima’s are for: “Applications with modified/upgraded electrical accessories that regularly exceed the alternators capability to meet the demand of the system.” If two yellow-tops (over 1,600 cca) won’t start an engine, there are more significant problems than electricity.

    Another factor is that a stock alternator may be rated at 135 amps, but that’s only when it’s cool and running at high rpms. Once it warms up, it may only produce 100 amps. At engine idle speed, a stock alternator might be producing 30 amps. An alternator rated at 200 amps will only produce 175 amps when its warm and about 70 amps at idle speed. So DC power costs real dollars at the gas pump.

    There’s an eBay dealer that sells high amp alternators, though I haven’t tried them. There’s also a company that makes under-the-hood welding systems, that produces some strong but VERY pricey alternators. With a 190 amp alternator, it may be necessary to beef up the voltage regulator as well as the leads off of the alternator. Now I’m in over my head so I’ll shut up.
  13. Optical345

    Optical345 Junior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 9

    It would be great if capacitors were cheaper. They would take care of the battery/alternator 'burnout.' The capacitance needed for this amplitude of current draw would be very expensive. However, it would eliminate the high current draw from the battery AND alternator, as the current going to the pump would come from the capacitors, then the caps would charge again, drawing little current, and will be ready for the next pump operation. All happening within a fraction of a second. Plus the plow would operate very fast because the voltage at the pump would remain around 14V. Physical size would be comparable to a large automotive style battery. The only other component needed would be a diode to prevent the capacitors from helping other devices (heater, lights, etc.) in the truck.

    I use very similar types of capacitors at work, which handle 1000+ amps of dc current, and they are still working strong after 5+ years of being hammered.

    Maybe I should design a setup that is reasonably priced, that would work for this type of application! Would anyone buy it?
  14. ksland

    ksland Senior Member
    from ma
    Messages: 419

    I have an 87 F250, I had draining problems when using the plow. Upgraded to a single wire 100 amp alt and have no problems now with my 1000ca single battery. I run elec/hydraulic fisher, 2 reverse lights running off a relay, and a 2 light rotator beacon and have had zero problems
  15. thomasjkt

    thomasjkt Member
    Messages: 32

    Wow ! That's a lot of input :D I have been doing some more checking and I am finding that my battery isn't really drawn down. I think what happens is that when I put the truck on the charger it lets something cool down because last night I had the lift problem so I just shut down and left the truck set for an hour while I went for supper and when I got back to working the plow it was fine for about an hour then it started to not lift the whole way and each time I lifted the plow it went up less and less but everything else was fine. It angled with no problem even when I put a restriction against it, lights were bright , heater running, rotating beacon on and radio playing, it only showed a hard draw when lifting plow. The manufacture ( Monarch ) says to use ATF tranny fluid in the pump but I'm wondereing if with this unit mounted under the hood of my truck, if it might be getting to warm and thinning the fluid to much causing pressure loss ? I have contacted them to see if they would recomend a different HYD fluid. Thanks for all your input and I am going to install a 2nd Batt. Will let you know what Monarch says.
  16. Eyesell

    Eyesell 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,107

    do a search on this, you will find a 100 more threads on this very subject.... duel batteries vs. high amp alternators

    good luck my friend !!
  17. Robhollar

    Robhollar Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    Maybe you should find out if you actually have an undervolt prob or not. If i was you I might install a volt meter and see what it actually doing...Rob
  18. handenterprises

    handenterprises Junior Member
    Messages: 7

    i used to have a meyer plow. the first year it worked fine. the next year i started having the same problems as you when it got realy cold. we had to short chain it to get it to the dealer.when i got there he pointed a reddy heater at it and it started to work again. he changed the fluid and it worked fine until it was stolen. i guess moisture gets in the system and freezes.
  19. JunkFood331

    JunkFood331 Junior Member
    Messages: 26



  20. elite1

    elite1 Senior Member
    Messages: 187

    Capacitors- I have often wondered if a cap would help. If I understand it properly, If you made a graph of your amperage draw, it would normally peak very high every time you raised the plow. With the cap, it would smooth out the graph, so there were no high peaks- the cap would draw a little, to recharge. The result would be a steady amperage draw at lower levels.

    I would buy it.