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Author Topic: Battery Bank Storage compartment suggestions from experienced bus converters  (Read 2838 times)
Gary LaBombard
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« on: January 10, 2007, 06:26:10 AM »

So many great issues are being surfaced on the bulletin boards lately that I hope will be fully addressed and I hope this particular thread will run itís coarse so that all serious suggestions can be documented and resubmitted to everyone on this board after all information is processed.

Devin brought up his situation concerning the exploding of his batteries in his bus and again thank God he did not lose his sight or be seriously burned from the chemicals of the battery explosion.† I am volunteering (as If I need another job) to take this serious situation and others also such as towing hitches and mounting and inspecting them before every trip and many other subjects of safety that could save our lives or perhaps others on the road we meet.† I can only consume concentration on one subject at a time though so this particular thread will be for the safe set up of a battery compartment for a bus conversion for those just starting a bus conversion to consider and those wanting to re-modify their present sets ups after reading all our suggestions.

I must also inform you as I was taking photos of our buses at the Bussin 2007 Bus rally at Arcadia, Fl just recently that I did personally see some battery storages in bus bays with situations I felt were very disturbing.† I saw battery connections made I thought to be with undersized cables, lawn chairs laying on top of battery banks, waste tank dumping hoses on top of batteries, cooking grills set on top of batteries and materials like blankets laid over the batteries to keep them from having any arcing of battery connections I believe!!† I did not see everyoneísí of coarse but did observe some of the above on different rigs.† No, I did not photograph them, some people get upset as it is with my camera and me and I did not want to alienate anyone any further than what I probably already do.†

I will address this situation as I see it now and wait on all serious suggestions in this thread having to do only with Battery Compartment Safety & Set UP.† Please, do not submit comments pertaining to other things on this particular thread so that everything can be considered and a guide made up for submitting for everyone to consider in their conversions.† This would surely be appreciated.† One more request, letís keep all comments simple and not so high tech that they cannot be understood by the average bus converter and they would be discouraged in trying to understand.† Simplicity will surely be appreciated by me in particular.

My Suggestions as I see it now for this thread at this time but will be rearranged after submitting from all other experienced bus converters.† There is much to be learned from others mistakes and accidents and there is no better tool than this internet to assist in reaching absolutely everyone possible in the entire world.† Hopefully we can all help each other as is my big desire.

(1)   The Battery Compartment Set UP, The battery compartment should be isolated for the storage of batteries only.† These suggestions are intended for all battery banks, (house and starting battery banks).†
 
(2)   The battery compartment should be fully enclosed to keep any of our personal belongings from being near the batteries at any time, while bus is in storage or being used on a trip.

(3)   The battery compartment should be lined inside on all surfaces including the overhead of the battery storage compartment with a not-metallic material to prevent the possibility of arcing with a wrench or any tool being used to assemble or disassemble a battery bank at any time.† Plywood is suggested by me at this time and can be disputed by others with their suggestions but should not be of material that will be decayed by drifting battery fumes or vapors if there is any.
 
(4)   The battery compartment design should also consider venting in and out of the compartment to prevent build up of fumes and vapors caused from any kind of battery that may have a failure or natural exhaust of fumes from overcharging etc.† There are many reasons for a battery failure no matter what kind of battery is used but again this is my personal opinion. The use of (AGM) batteries is respected by many bus converters to be sufficient as it is believed they would never fail or have a fume / vapor leakage problem at any time.† I come from the old school, this is your personal choice of coarse but I love overkill in safety to eliminate the chance of anything ever happening especially if I have that opportunity to do at my design stage of making modifications especially.

(5)   Design your Battery storage compartment to be raised somewhat to be able to be wash down with a water hose after any explosion if it happens and be washed to the outside of the bus and also allow the use of baking soda in large amounts to help neutralize the caustic chemicals used in batteries.† †NOTE:† Keep large amounts of baking soda in storage just in case it is ever needed when you are on the road.

(6)   The battery bank should have a manual disconnect mounted on the outside of the battery bank storage compartment and should be labeled as such for anyone assisting in disconnecting the current flow of the batteries in an emergency. The battery bank disconnect should always be in the off position at all times when the battery compartment access door is opened for any reason.† The battery access door should also be lockable in a way that it cannot be opened or accidentally opened by a grandchild or anyone for any reason without use of a mechanical lock being used. The design of this disconnect will have to be considered in the safety protection of your inverter also and so feed back will have to be discussed by more experienced converters in this thread how to connect the disconnect switch to protect the expensive internal parts of the inverters we use.

(7)   The inverter should be mounted within about (5 FT.) of the battery bank I am told for best performance but also that the inverters can be feed to a separate power panel before connection to a battery bank for added protection of the inverter.† †Again this is information that should be considered for security of the inverter after suggestions are made on this thread from experienced electrical converters.

(Cool   Connecting cables from and to the battery bank should always be of the largest size recommended for safety of full battery power flow.

(9)   Use of plastic battery pole protection hoods on both the Plus & Minus battery poles but particularly on the plus pole of your battery that is normally used on automobile batteries should be considered to be used if found at auto stores and adaptable to your battery banks to also be a safety item considered for added safety in your battery storage compartment.
 
(10)   Use of safety glasses with side shields should always be worn, and also a plastic full face shield normally used for grinding worn also when servicing your batteries for water or just inspecting them for adjustment of battery connections etc.

(11)   Wear full protection coverage of arms with heavy clothing, leather welding jacket or any old thick jacket will work for skin protection from severe battery acid burns should something happen like did to Devin.† Wearing a hat is also a must for head protection. There is no reaction time to a battery explosion for you to react safely, NONE!!† BOOM, Itís Done, just ask DEVIN!!.

This is only a beginning of the safety items we should consider for the designing and building of our Battery Storage Compartments and this information is intended for both the House Battery & Engine Starting battery bank.† Please submit suggestions for safety and proper design of our battery banks. After this is exhausted to suit us all we might help many make battery compartment decisions we can take another subject of importance and document all we can to make improvements and suggestions to present owners to consider for bus longevity.

Perhaps a simple, understandable schematic can be drawn by cad by someone that can be used for consideration as a guide only for us newbieís wanting to make our battery banks safe and controllable for intake and output of power of them.
Thanks ahead of time,
Gary† †
« Last Edit: January 10, 2007, 06:28:12 AM by Gary LaBombard » Logged

Gary
Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2007, 06:32:48 AM »

Thanks Gary,

We will have to have Richard move this to our help section after a while....

Nick-
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Gary LaBombard
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2007, 06:36:08 AM »

That sounds good Nick, if we can run it a day or so just to get input and then move it accordingly will be fine and I will try my best to make all this information in one post where you move it to.† Let me know where it is moved so I can track for a few days.
Thanks again,
Gary
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Gary
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2007, 06:58:32 AM »

The feed(s) from the battery bank to the inverter should be fused with the fuse as close as practicable to the batteries.  I've heard arguments for fusing both (+) and (-) sides -- at the moment I can't remember what the logic is for fusing both sides but one side or the other needs to be fused.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2007, 10:26:21 AM »

I know I'll get some flack for this but...

Most anyone installing a house bank of batteries more than likely will also have an Inverter. ALL new and MOST used Inverters come with an installation manual that happens to have the BEST installation procedure for that particular unit which includes the batteries and exactly how, where, what fuse, length of cables, size of cables etc.. For an example of professional here say, I've been told by professional converters that the inverter NEEDS to be installed vertical like on a bulkhead. NOT true with ALL units as it states in MY manual that it needs to be installed Horizontal for whatever reason, a certain distance from the bank, using a certain size cable, fused by a certain size fuse, a certain distance from the bank as well.

If procedures are followed PER the manual, I think it would be pretty safe!

The battery box on the other hand is more of what this thread is about and I am with the others in that if you follow what the boat builders have done to be safe than you can't go wrong. Accidents can and will always happen. That's just nature!

Someone mentioned using plywood and I agree that will work but if you want to be creative, you can make your battery box from plastic sheet like some have done their tanks. With plywood, it would mean painting. With plastic, no paint, and very easily washed out as long as you have your vent in the bottom that act as a drain. Plastic would look a little neater too than plywood if it were done right! A good plastic to use is delrin though not cheap. Easy to work with but not sure about welding it like the material for tanks but it can be drilled, tapped and screwed if needed!

Ace



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Ace Rossi
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2007, 12:24:21 PM »

 We have all worked with a car battery right under our elbow when we check the oil, so we should have some concept of battery safety. Most of us have learned how to replace the battery when necessary and some are old enough to remember when there was no little plastic cover over the post. Dealing with two batteries is not much more complicated than one. My solution is to put the starting batteries in the engine compartment where there is lots of natural ventilation and forced ventilation when the engine is running and gassing is apt to occur.  More importantly, you eliminate the long cables and multiple connections that contribute to early starter death.

When you remove the holding tank and/or the A/C compressor there is lots of room for a battery rack beisde the engine and if you are afraid of dropping a wrench on top of the batteries, then certainly put an insulating cover over them.

 Most house battery banks are inside a baggage bay. A battery box mounted on a heavy duty roll-out imakes it easy to service. Lying in a bay while trying to replace batteries in a tight box is a hernia waiting to happen.  Putting a partition in the bay so that the house batteries are all exposed when you open the door is another alternative to the roll-out: easy to service, easy to replace and isolated from the rest of the bay.  It is critical that you have good lighting when working on the batteries and natural daylight has no risk like  broken light bulbs.

Battery systems are expensive and their only value is the current that you get out of them. For that you need good quality cable and terminations that properly fit the bolt or post that it is used on.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2007, 01:13:29 PM »

Adding to what Ace said about using plastic... I'm considiering using 3/4" plywood for my boxes.† I have a bit of rubber melt-down roofing commonly used for flat roofs that seems really durable.† This can be permanently adhered to the box by heating with a propane torch.† This seems like it might be a bit more durable than just plain wood.† Of course, a drain would need to be installed, but this could possibly be part of the venting system for the box.† Another option I've considered is fiberglass over the plywood, but this is probably more work than I want to put into it.

David
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2007, 05:08:31 PM »

I will try to keep this low tech so Gary can understand it. Grin  Batterys outgas hydrogen, remember the Hindenburg? Hydrogen  is lighter than air, so vents are needed at the top, to stop gas from accumilating.  Switches need to be high quality, with high amperage ratings. I'm cheap, but this is no place to use Harbor Freight stuff. Marine supply stores are a good source. The battery switch out of an MCI is good switch to use. I do not know about other bus types.
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Gary LaBombard
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2007, 08:19:18 PM »

Nick,
I finally used the "Help" section for the first time on this board and I agree that moving this post information to the hep section is best when enough information to put together for a good plan for a battery bank compartment for converters to consider designing or using different inspection or servicing methods of your batteries.† Nick, you have some great information concerning batteries in that Help section so this will work good with that section also when completed.

The more information we can gather and post in the "Help" section of this bd the more informed a newbie will be using this section as a guide to make decisions based on fact, suggestions from other converters that work, and places to find products that we did not know existed before we started using these board tools.

Thanks to everyone in your planning of these "Help" areas being made possible with all our experiences good or bad that may assist others and there is so much more that I need to know in the near future that will also make my continued conversion plan a success.† I too will use this area much more which means more surfing time at MAK!!† Oh My!!
Gary†
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2007, 08:26:35 PM »

My batteries are located on a stainless steel tray next to the engine. †My Dina has a huge vented door there so ventilation is not an issue. †The space used to be for some bathroom stuff and the A/C compressor was mounted there too. †I use some huge 4/0 welding cable to run forward to the inverter and other 12/24 volt stuff in a luggage bay.

I have a huge 225 amp breaker/switch that came out of UPS that controls the battery power to the inverter and everything else.

Brian Elfert
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2007, 11:52:12 PM »

We will probably move the link to Arcadia 07 Bus Photos to the help section as soon as it quits getting hits here on this board. Now at 150+ I believe.
Richard

Nick,
I finally used the "Help" section for the first time on this board and I agree that moving this post information to the hep section is best when enough information to put together for a good plan for a battery bank compartment for converters to consider designing or using different inspection or servicing methods of your batteries.† Nick, you have some great information concerning batteries in that Help section so this will work good with that section also when completed.

The more information we can gather and post in the "Help" section of this bd the more informed a newbie will be using this section as a guide to make decisions based on fact, suggestions from other converters that work, and places to find products that we did not know existed before we started using these board tools.

Thanks to everyone in your planning of these "Help" areas being made possible with all our experiences good or bad that may assist others and there is so much more that I need to know in the near future that will also make my continued conversion plan a success.† I too will use this area much more which means more surfing time at MAK!!† Oh My!!
Gary†
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2007, 09:09:09 AM »

There are some good ideas here. I build a slide out rack for my batteries, but it has not worked as well as I had hoped, and I'll be relocating them next spring to allow the generator to be located where they are currently installed. I'll modify my cabinet design some, based on my experience, and will line it with plywood. The reason to use plywood on the floor instead of metal, plastic or rubber, is that in the event of a spill or boil over, the plywood will absorb the acid before it reaches your aluminum floor. Yes, the acid will eventually eat the wood, but when it deteriorates, it can easily be replaced.  Also, using plywood on the walls of the enclosure to help prevent the chance of arcing terminals against the metal enclosure is a good idea. My enclosure has limited space, and it's always a concern when disconnecting the battery cables. I'll rectify that in the new box, also.


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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2007, 09:26:21 AM »

With using a transit, everything under the floor is open to the road.  I created a large storage compartment behind the front axle and the generator is enclosed, but everything else is exposed to the road (not good for cold weather, but in Calif, not concerned, nor am I a snow person).  With that, propane tank, batteries, tanks, are all well ventilated.  When I get my next bus (in about 10yrs) I'll use exclusively AGM batteries since they don't gas and can be mounted in any position.  Course, in ten years, we may see some unbelievable batteries coming out.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2007, 06:06:59 PM »

Tried to post this before but had digital dificulty.   I'll try again

With the the help of this board I have decided to take the direction of putiing the house battries in the evap bay where most people have a genny. I have a propane genny there now that needs to come out.  I will build racks to swing or roll out for easy / safe maint and water addition along with the fancy caps.
I will keep insulated battery tools and safrty equipment here too.

I want a diesel that i will put in a bay since it is already enclosed, then sound insulate, ventilate,  etc.   maybe remote radiater.


Of course, All this is dependent on locating and aquiring the infamous "round tuit" Grin
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2007, 06:45:03 AM »

The A/C condensor is mounted on an expanded metal door in the side of the bus behind the  driver side front wheel.  The A/C evaporator is mounted in a compartment in the front center of the front bay. There is no ventilation to the evaporator bay and not easy to do. Which area have you planned for batteries, or does evap bay mean something different to you?
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