Gel Battery: Trailers  -- Trucks/Trailers Discussion Forum and Review Gel Battery: Trailers -- Trucks/Trailers Discussion Forum

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 12-29-2007, 15:35 Post: 149719
auerbach



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 Gel Battery

My trailer (I think made in China, imported by a US firm, bought new at a farm-equipment auction in Canada -- so there was no documentation with it) has brakes on one of the axels. The brakes, which work fine, are apparently activated by the trailer battery (when I brake the tow-vehicle). It's a 12v gel type.

I've been told the gel battery charges when I pull the trailer. I've been told it doesn't.

I've been told I need a "gel charger" because regular ones have too much voltage or something. I've been told a 2-amp charger will bring it up just fine.

I've been told to charge it yearly. I've been told to charge it monthly in the winter.

I've been told running down won't hurt it. I've been told to never let it run down.

OK, it's just a simple little trailer battery but I'm unfamiliar with gels. Can somebody tell me how they should be cared for? Thanks.






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 12-29-2007, 16:13 Post: 149721
candoarms



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 Gel Battery

Auerbach,

Gel batteries are a pain in the butt.......period.

The ONLY advantage to them is that when involved in an accident, there is no possibility of spilling any acid. Other than that, everything else about them is negative.

You must charge them at a slower rate than a normal car battery. You must not overcharge them, or the battery will be destroyed.

Your trailer braking battery probably does charge as you drive, but only because it is attached to your vehicle's electrical system. Even so, there is likely a regulator or some other device installed in the charging system, limiting the voltage and current going to the battery.

Your gel battery is worthless for anything other than environmental concerns. You can replace it with a new AGM type battery, and you should.

AGM batteries have all the advantages of Gel batteries, in that there is no acid to leak out in the event of an accident, or collision. These AGM batteries cannot be overcharged -- they won't freeze -- and they NEVER need water. For a trailer (which sits outside in the cold and is used only a few times a year) there is nothing better.......but they aren't cheap.

See the link below.

Joel






Link:   Deep Cycle Battery FAQ 

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 12-29-2007, 16:59 Post: 149722
earthwrks

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auer: You may have what is called a sealed lead acid battery. These are also found on security and safety lighting systems as backup power. They are basically garbage like Joel pointed out. If you ask me they're there only to appease a DOT inspector or a knowledgeable cop.

Your battery will be charged one of two ways IF your trailer hitch connector on the vehicle side has a dedicated circuit there in the connector--positive 12v "always on" (my dump trailer uses a wet lead acid battery to power the hdyraulics AND the break away brake switch).

OR like my equipment trailer has, the battery is wired into the brake system and is charged whenever I apply the brakes from the vehicle. (well it would be if I had a battery---shhhhh!)






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 12-29-2007, 17:55 Post: 149723
candoarms



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Earthwrks,

You hit on a very important topic.

Most home-owned trailers don't have batteries installed in them, because the batteries are always dead. They freeze up during the winter.....or they go dead and can't be charged any longer......or the battery connections are always corroded.....you name it.

For many reasons, a large number of trailers don't have an emergency stopping battery installed.

Get yourself one of the new AGM batteries. They can go several months, entirely dead, and still be recharged to 95% of new condition. They don't freeze up, crack, or lose their charges. The terminals don't corrode like they do on other batteries, and they can be attached to a booster charger, or a pair of jumper cables without harming them in the least.

AGM batteries are now used in most golf carts, aircraft, wheel chairs, boats, etc. They pose no harm to the environment when involved in an accident, as no acid leaks out. They won't leak when a plane does a roll in the air. And....... they won't explode when attached to a charger, or a pair of jumper cables, as lead-acid batteries often do. (no free hydrogen emitted)

These AGM batteries can be installed in your trailer braking system and then be all but forgotten about. You don't have to remove it during the winter. You don't have to fill it with water. You won't have to clean the terminals as often....etc. Check it as often as you do the air pressure in your trailer's tires.

At 50-60 bucks, they are about twice the price of a standard motorcycle battery, but well worth the additional expense......as they'll last for years, even without regular maintenance.

Joel






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 12-31-2007, 10:05 Post: 149749
Murf



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 Gel Battery

I doubt the battery on the trailer activates the brakes, it is there only, as EW sort of mentioned, as part of a safety system.

The power for the electric brakes comes from the truck under normal circumstances, but when the little tether cord on the trailer tongue pulls the pin out of the switch also mounted on the trailer tongue if the trailer and tow vehicle part company while going down the road, the little battery on the trailer puts the trailer brakes into a full locked position to stop it before it becomes an (un)guided missile.

If your trailer and the plug on the tow vehicle are both wired correctly the tow vehicles alternator will keep the battery charged as you drive around. There should be no need for any additional charging unless the trailer sits parked for very long periods.

Best of luck.






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 12-31-2007, 17:10 Post: 149757
auerbach



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Thanks guys. There's a lot of experience and smarts in this group.

Earth: it says "gel" on it.






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 12-31-2007, 18:09 Post: 149759
earthwrks

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Auer: I'm sure it does Smile

I should have said that it also known as a sealed (gel) lead acid battery. Years ago in my offroading days a "gel cell battery" was actually a battery made like a capacitor-- several spirally wound cells encapsulated in a sealed container; no lead, no acid per se.

When doing the finish cleanup work on some ponds I was doing, the walls were so vertical that the acid in the wet cell battery was draining out. So I put a "gel cell" on my CUT. Optima is one maker. They're sold on eBay and at local autosupplys.

EDIT: Guess what guys I'm wrong. The Optima is NOT a gell (gel) cell, and it DOES have lead only it's in thin sheets in the spiral. The electrolyte is a paste. As was mentioned before these are called AGM batteries (absorbed glass mat)






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 08-10-2008, 22:03 Post: 155986
brokenarrow



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 Gel Battery

Anyway to tell if your emergency safety brake (as talked about) is working (or will work if disconected from trailer?
Tom






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 08-10-2008, 22:37 Post: 155988
earthwrks

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Tommy--you should check it hitched to the truck. Be sure the trailer wire harness is NOT connected.

All you do is remove the break away cable from the switch. Then try to drive away for about 5 feet with the trailer in tow. If it is working the tires should skid or stop the truck. (This test assumes the brakes are adjusted properly and the trailer brakes are cold, and the brakes are in good working order, as are the wiring and battery)

And be sure to remove the PTO this time---I'm jis' sayin'






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