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Old 03-13-2017, 12:20 AM   #1
OldWest
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Default Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

1. Size--Group 31

Thanks to posters early on like Ernie and Tim who figured out the correct replacement battery size is Group 31 for our coach batteries.

2. Originals--Gel Batteries

The original batteries are Exide Sonneschein gels made in Germany. They are 85 amp-hrs each.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...62&postcount=2

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=12540

3. Westfalia Battery Charger--10 Amps

Westfalia contracted for a Westfalia-labelled battery charger. This battery charger is 10 amps and is a single stage charger. The low 10 amp charge rate is designed to recharge gel batteries.

AGM batteries can take a much higher charging current and often want a much higher charging current for best life.

4. Central Computer Console Number of Bars

The central computer console has certain switches in the back to match different batteries.

The central computer console shows both voltage and a ten bar graph.

The ten bar graph of coach battery charge status at the bottom of the display is probably based on some algorthm based on voltage and time.

The original gel batteries have a higher fully charged resting voltage. Iin contrast, some replacement AGM batteries have a lower fully charged voltage, and the central computer console will only show 8 versus 10 bars.

The general rule of thumb is to not use more than 50% of the battery capacity before recharging. That would be 5 bars or 12.4 volts for the original gel batteries.

For some replacement AGM batteries, 50% capacity may be 12.2 volts.

Last edited by OldWest; 03-13-2017 at 01:15 AM. Reason: Add link.
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Old 03-13-2017, 12:58 AM   #2
OldWest
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

5. Matching Replacement Batteries to Equipment

The original batteries were gel.

The original battery charger (albeit only single stage) has a relatively low charging current of 10 amps and a relatively low maximum charging voltage of 13.8 or 13.9, as adjusted for temperature.

The central computer console display matches the gel batteries charge status.

The Westfalia Owners Manual specifically specifies replacement batteries should be gel.

Each battery model has its own ideal charging regimen. The original Exide Sonneschein batteries from Europe were NOT available in the USA, and the sometimes American available Exide gel did NOT have the same ideal charging regimen according to some reports (confirm?).

Some owners have been able to find gel replacements (whether Exide or other manufacturer), even if the charging requirements were not exactly identical to the original gel batteries.

Some gel batteries may have more discharge-charge cycles than a typical AGM battery.

Other owners have chosen AGM batteries as AGM batteries are effectively as sealed as gel batteries (important as the batteries are stores in an interior compartment), can have greater amp-hr capacity than the original gels, can recharge more quickly with less needed charge, are more vibration-resistant, are more readily available, etc.

Of course, this is a generalization of AGM batteries and the characteristics of the specific gel or AGM battery may differ from the group characterization.

For the best battery performance, the charging equipment (charger and alternator, maybe solar) should match the battery.

6. Sears Platinum/Odyssey Batteries

Ernie and others found the Sears Platinum AGM batteries in Group 31 size, which have greater amp-hr capacity than the original gels.

From postings on the Jeep and other forums, it was discerned that these Sears Platinum batteries were Odyssey batteries with Sears labels and $100 or so cheaper per battery.

Odyssey batteries generally get excellent reviews so the Sears Platinum relabelled ones were a good value.

The major downside of these Sears Platinum AGM batteries is that they like significantly higher charging amperage and higher charging voltage than provided by the Westfalia charger and they like significantly higher chargint voltage than provided by the engine alternator.. Also, when fully charged, the central computer console only showed 8 bars.

7. Lifeline (Concorde made) Batteries

Lifeline AGM batteries are made by Concorde. In Group 31 size, there is the regular and extra capacity size.

These Lifeline batteries have an ideal charging voltage closer to that provided by the Westfalia battery charger and Sprinter engine alternator.

Lifeline batteries are highly regarded but expensive.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...light=Lifeline

8. Crown AGM--New Available Option

HandyBobSolar likes Crown batteries.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/

A really good price is $235 at Wholesale Solar, and $300 elsewhere.

https://www.wholesalesolar.com/99601...ah-12v-battery

Have no info as to Wholesale Solar. Also, have no detailed info as to the preferred charging regimen for these Crown batteries. The Wholesale Solar brochures indicate a lower charging current than the Sears Platinum Odyseey (more like Lifelines) but a higher bulk charging voltage of 14.64 (more like the Sears Platinum/Odyssey).
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Old 03-13-2017, 01:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

9. Lithium Replacements

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=35409

No known info re Westy owners using lithium batteries as replacement. Big advantages include lighter weight, greater discharge capacity, more cycles, etc.

Think the new James Cook may have lithiums as originals or replacement (James Cook Friends forum founder/administrator who toured and visited with US owners).

http://djc5.de/about.html

10. Gel Replacements

Check Yahoo Sprinter Westfalia group for Washington State owners who found gel replacements.

11. Battery Warehouse Private Label AGM Batteries

Tim purchased AGM replacements from Battery Warehouse.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=12540

[Please add other batteries.]

Last edited by OldWest; 03-13-2017 at 01:30 AM. Reason: Add links.
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Old 03-13-2017, 01:23 AM   #4
OldWest
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

12. Deka Gels and Deka AGMs; Trojan AGM

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...93&postcount=3

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...9&postcount=12

13. Batteries Plus

Discus mentioned that Batteries Plus has AGM batteries with 5 year warranties.

Last edited by OldWest; 03-13-2017 at 01:28 AM. Reason: Add link.
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Old 03-15-2017, 08:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

14. Update: Sears Platinum Discontinued; No Group 31 AGMs

Apparently, Sears has discontinued the Sears Platinum line. Also, it appears that Sears no longer carries any Group 31 AGM batteries. Sears does carry non-AGM Group 31 batteries.

The Sears website does have online shopping to other battery brands.

NOTE: Our engine/starting battery is Group 49. Sears is currently having a sale of its Diehard Gold AGM Group 49 battery for $145 (25% off). It has a three year full replacement warranty. The price is pretty good for an AGM battery. Be sure you get the AGM one as Sears also sells non-AGM ones under the Gold brand.

Key advantages to the engine/starting battery being AGM:

Frequent use of the Espar hydronic heater to heat the space (if the Espar Airtonic heater is on the blink) or lots of radio/electronic gadget CB/GPS/etc., off the engine/starting battery--AGM battery would handle this usage better.

4x4 off-roading or dirt roads--AGM batteries handle vibrations better.

Vehicle sitting unused for long periods of time--AGM batteries have less self-discharge.
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Old 03-15-2017, 08:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

The NAPA BAT 9833 is a good and readily-available Group 31 AGM. I have four of them. Any NAPA store can get one in a few days.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

15. NAPA AGM

Thanks Avanti. Here's a link to that battery for $265.

https://www.napaonline.com/p/NBP9833

Here's a link to NAPA with different number for a different Group 31 AGM for $250.

https://www.napaonline.com/p/NBE9835

Slightly different specs.
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:11 PM   #8
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

BTW: I am pretty sure that those NAPA batteries are manufactured by Deka.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:41 AM   #9
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

9. I saw a Westy with Lithium batteries at Westyfest. Might have been tneuer's.
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:06 AM   #10
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Default Re: Replacement Coach Batteries Group 31

It was mine.
I've got 2-Stark Power 12v 125ah batteries in my Westy. They have built in BMS(battery management system) which is critical for proper lithium battery charge/discharge/high voltage cutout/ low voltage cut out. We don't want to have our Van doing a hover board flame out.

https://starkpower.com

They are pricey but we've never run out of power. You can get a couple of thousand cycles out of these batteries as opposed to a few hundred. Another big advantage is you can cycle them down 80-90%. If you tried that with a lead acid, AGM or Gel cell It would shorten the life span and possibly damage the batteries.

We run our 12v, 4cu. ft. refrigerator, all lights which have been converted to LED, and microwave, without having to constantly monitor battery voltage. I got rid of the generator when I bought the van, added a Xantrex 2000 Freedom HFS Inverter/Charger, removed the Westy battery charger and put a solar charge controller in it's place. The alternator still gharges the house batteries while it is running. I've got 2-120w King Solar panels on the roof. When buying those, I went with the highest voltage 12v panels I could find to compensate for them being mounted on a flat surface. That higher voltage gives you a better charge rate without having to aim the panels directly at the sun.
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