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When do you change batteries?

Discussion in 'Truck & Equipment Repair' started by KJ Cramer, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. KJ Cramer

    KJ Cramer Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    I have a dual battery diesel, run an LED light bar, 4 corner LED strobes, 2 55-watt work lights, V Plow, head lights when dark, heat, radio, window up down up down up down up down.... GPS occasionally all while plowing. How often do you guys replace batteries? every year, every couple, every few or do you all wait til there is a problem, and what might this problem look like at first - before I have no power? I have not had any problems, but the truck is approaching 2 years old and I was just wondering if I should replace at the end of this or beginning of next season. This is the first year this truck has plowed, I always operated other's equipment before.
  2. NCat496

    NCat496 Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    This is just my expierence with the MVP and running all of thoes lights. I am running the same amount of lights with an MVP and it has dual action cylinders and seems to draw alot more power than a plow without them. After about 4 hours of plowing my plow would get slower, lights would almost shut off. So I replaced my battery with a yellow top deep cycle Optima. Now I dont have any issues. Thats just my expierence, dont know if it helps you or not.
  3. hitachiman 200

    hitachiman 200 Senior Member
    Messages: 262

    I replace all reg. batteries after 4 years,sometimes at 3 yrs. A little maintenance goes a long way. Before each season check the bat. for fluid level and clean and FF your terminals. Dirty connections act just like a power drain in your system requiring more output from the bat. to accomplish the same work.

    Low battery power can be caused by

    1) low engine idle, if you are as little as 50 rpm lower than recommended it can effect the alternator output.If the volt gauge drops significantly at idle.(from 14.5 V down to 13 V try bringing the rpm up 50-100 while watching the voltage. If it rises then have your idle speed checked and adjusted if necessary.

    2) Alternator is to small, plow pumps + accessories can draw more than the alternator can produce. The shortfall is made up by the batteries. The Alternator needs to be able to recharge the bat. between power surges, if it can't then the bat. will eventually run dry resulting in lower voltage which in turn requires more watts to accomplish the same job further worsening the problem.

    3)Batteries are to small. the bat must be capable of providing enough surge power as required, strong enough to supply the cranking amps + stamina in amp hours. Any good deepcycle will provide this.

    High price does not always mean better, unless space is a concern and you don't run your plow rig in the 1/4 mile on weekends a regular lead acid will do the job as well or better than a gel pack. Just stick to a name brand as all bat. are not built the same. Industrial bat. are built much stronger internally to resist vibration than cheap ones.

    Hope this helps.

  4. hydro_37

    hydro_37 PlowSite Veteran
    from iowa
    Messages: 3,790

    Load test the batteries a few times a year will help you tell if it is going bad.
  5. pelt35

    pelt35 Senior Member
    Messages: 131

    It doesn't hurt to throw the charger on them once in a while too.
  6. BigLou80

    BigLou80 Senior Member
    Messages: 558

    I change mine when they tell me they need changing. You know your truck better then any of us and it will tell you when the batteries are getting low. Look for excess volt drops when moving the plow, also pay attention to how fast it cranks when its really cold, if its cranking slower then normal it might be time to change the batteries.
    I used to have to change my single battery every 2 years, I have only had my current dual batteries for 2 months so I have no idea when they will need changing.
  7. hedhunter9

    hedhunter9 Senior Member
    Messages: 212

    We found that the OEM Ford batteries last on average 6-8 years.
    sometimes as long as 10 years.

    I just replaced my OEM 2000 F150 Battery last week. 10 years !

    And it was still working when plowing, the problem was, if the truck
    sat for a week, the battery would be dead.. Jump start it and go plow.
    Worked fine.

    A battery is a storage device.
    Your alternator should supply all the juice you need while running.
    and keep your battery charged.
    if not, you need a larger alternator.
  8. KJ Cramer

    KJ Cramer Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    How would you go about testing/figuring out the load on the electrical system while plowing? I don't have a problem now, but I want to know how many more widgets I can add before I have a problem. I have the "extra heavy duty alternator" which is 200 amps, I can't imagine with what I'm running now that I am even close to that, but I don't know, how do I find out?
  9. msu1510

    msu1510 Senior Member
    from MI
    Messages: 128

    we get about 2-3 years out of our optima yellow tops. running working lights, amber lights, front blade and back blade. if you are running two batts. you should be able to add anything you want and be fine. Heck i even had a microwave in my truck one year. and i only have one batt.
  10. KJ Cramer

    KJ Cramer Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    Microwave????Hmmm, might not be a bad idea, always got some hot food then.
  11. msu1510

    msu1510 Senior Member
    from MI
    Messages: 128

    yeah that was the theory. but tryed to cook while plowing and food kept falling off the rotating plate. so then had to stay parked while cooking. then realized my micro cooking sucked so went back to packing sandwiches and drive thru at mcd's.
  12. hitachiman 200

    hitachiman 200 Senior Member
    Messages: 262

    A healthy system runs at 14.5 volts. Anything below 13 means your gettin close. Below 12 and now you are using battery power to supplement the alternator.
  13. KJ Cramer

    KJ Cramer Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    Yeah, I understand all that, but how do you test the current draw so you can tell how much more you can add, because I wanted to add a mini fridge and now I'm thinking bout a microwave. I don't have a volt gauge on the truck. I would like to know how to see how much draw there is during normal plowing, i.e. where do I hook up the voltmeter, am I testing volts, amps, etc.? Am I below the output of my alternator basically?
  14. Banksy

    Banksy PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,113

    I just changed my batteries. I got 6 solid years out of my stock batteries and that was enough for me. They were still fine, but that's long enough and I didn't think they owed me anything anymore. The stock ones were 750 cca and I replaced them with Interstate MPT-65 850 cca's.
  15. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    Cooking,refrigerating,cell phones,Ipods,laptops while plowing? You guys don't know how to plow at all.Before I put Magic salt in my 1.5 Salty Dogg,I fill er up with hot water,suds,and 2 Brazilian bikini babes.The vibrator works real cool:laughing: for this purpose in more ways that you can imagine.You just have to be careful when operating the joystick---------------------------------on the plow.:D

    Seriously---Drop B+B a PM for a correct answer here.I'm positive he will know.
  16. KJ Cramer

    KJ Cramer Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    iPod and cell phone yes they operate while plowing, the fridge would be nice to keep the sodas and what not cool and with in reach. The cooking and laptops and BS is for my regular job not plowing, lol that would be a feat to cook while plowing. I like the lap of luxury while plowing, what can I say, I think I have earned it.
  17. hitachiman 200

    hitachiman 200 Senior Member
    Messages: 262

    You most likely would not have every single thing turned on at maximum at the same time. At 200 amps your alternator will power just about anything within reason. For example my big welder cranked to max uses 250 amps at 24 v and thats some seriuos power. Either an amp gauge or volt gauge will tell you when you are exceeding your alternators output and for short periods thats fine. Most gauges come with detailed instructions on how to install. You will also need an invertor to power 110V goodies, probably in the 1500 W range. There are industrial invertors for external mounting or recreational that need to be mounted inside out of the elements. Both involve a good knowledge of wiring to be safe. Fellow down the block burnt his pusher motor home to the ground because he used 30' of undersized cable to mount the invertor up front.

    Depending on what info you want determines what circuit to wire the gauge into.
  18. KJ Cramer

    KJ Cramer Senior Member
    Messages: 481

    thank you, I'm glad to hear my alternator will handle alot.