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Old 05-17-2023, 08:44 PM   #1
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Default Batteries and Propane

We just purchased a 1993 TowLite 18TL. Iím slightly nervous about how close the batteries are to the propane tanks. The batteries died and my husband had to jumpstart the battery to lower the camper. Iím always nervous about things (especially if things can go BOOM.) The tanks were off of course, but my question is is this a safe set up? Were the batteries originally somewhere else? Do we need battery covers and if so, do they need to be vented? What other safety precautions should I be taking? Thanks!

I think I attached a picture.
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Old 05-17-2023, 11:13 PM   #2
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I think the prior owner must have moved the batteries to their present position, probably so he/she could mount two of them in parallel for added capacity. My batteries sit in the same compartment as the hytraulic pump and reservoir and there is just enough room there for two Group 24 batteries. Yours might be larger, Group 27? If so, they would NOT fit inside my battery compartment.

I agree, having the batteries so close to the propane tanks DOES look "iffy", but I suspect there is no cause for worry about "booms". They, and the tanks are in the wide open air and there's really no way you should get sufficient concentration of propane, mixed with the right amount of oxygen, in the vicinity of a spark from one of the batteries.

But the batteries are exposed to the "elements" and that is not really optimum. And, I'm a bit concerned how they are secured. They each weigh 70+ pounds and they need to be kept from falling off the tongue when you are traveling. They'd cause a lot of damage if that happened, at least to your trailer's running gear and certainly to any vehicle following you.

If the batteries are covered, they should be "vented" (not in an air tight compartment) since they are lead-acid. The tongue box was fine for this purpose.

Oh, and sorry! Welcome to our happy little group!

- Jack
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Old 05-18-2023, 09:06 AM   #3
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Hi Jack, thanks for the reply! The batteries are group 24. I went out and checked and they are anchored really well, so I donít think they are going to fall off during travel. It also appears they is some protective tubing around the wires. Forgive me, I really donít know anything about batteries or propane, haha. Iím just a paranoid person and want to make sure everything is safe for my family. We have two little boys and would hate to put them in any situation that could be dangerous. Would the batteries be safer in a battery box? I donít think moving them is possible at this point because the metal tray they are on is welded down. Also, would the batteries need to be vented? Iíve read mixed responses on that topic. If the propane tanks are off is there much risk of anything happening? Here is a close up picture. Thanks for your input!
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Old 05-18-2023, 10:39 AM   #4
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Hello again Emily. I see a metal rod hold-down on that last picture of the battery that you just posted. If there is another one over the other battery and it too is anchored to the battery tray that you say is welded to the tongue, then I think the batteries are secure.

Note: I just looked carefully at an expanded view of the batteries in the first picture, and I see the second hold down rod on the far battery. They look secure to me.

The plastic covering you see on the battery cables is really only protection against sunlight. It's usually used to "bundle" multiple wires together and make things neat. It doesn't do a lot in your case and it does not hurt anything.

In their current configuration, if they are secure, I don't think you really HAVE to cover them. A cover would only protect them from an accidental drop of say, a wrench that would simultaneously contact the positive and negative terminals of one of the batteries. This would give you a "dead short circuit" which would be a HUGE spark at the contact points and would possibly melt the wrench or cause a battery to overheat and explode. I'm not trying to scare you with this, but that is really the purpose of a battery box or cover - to protect the battery terminals from accidental contact with metal things.

You can buy, at automotive stores, plastic covers that protect the terminals from that kind of contact. They come in red and black, red for the positive terminals and black for the negative ones. They are very inexpensive. But, you would have to disconnect each cable from the battery to slip the covers over them because that's how they are held in place. If you are not comfortable doing that, your garage mechanic would probably do it for a nominal fee. If you look in your car, you'll probably see covers like I'm describing on its battery terminals.

It might be possible to put a plastic box over the batteries, if you can figure out how to hold it in place and you can find one that would cover both batteries. It does not have to fit "snugly", but it does need to be secure. As long as it is not air tight and it covers the terminals, it would provide the same protection. Really, anything you can fit over the terminals that is NOT electrically conductive would do the trick. You just want to prevent any accidental metal to metal contact between the positive and negative battery terminals.

The term "vented", just means a container that is NOT air-tight. Batteries give off a small amount of hydrogen gas, and this needs a way to escape to the atmosphere.

- Jack
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Old 05-19-2023, 03:29 PM   #5
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Thanks again for your help Jack! I will have my husband pick up some battery boxes. I’m too scared to fiddle with batteries, but he should be fine.
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Old 05-19-2023, 04:15 PM   #6
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Emily, I found this one on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Camco-55375-B...03&sr=8-2&th=1 It's designed for two group 24 batteries sitting like yours are. I think I would drill holes in the bottom to allow the metal battery hold-downs to come up inside the box and secure the batteries. Then, the straps would hold the boxes and their tops in place.

He might have to do a little surgery on the metal tray you have to put the box on it, but I think it would work. Or, he could cut the floor of the plastic box off and just use the sides and top as a "cover".

- Jack
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