07/05/2020 -- Beating the Battery Burden
Once in a blue moon you stumble upon an affordable solution to a vexing problem that has plagued you for years; we're talking about an invention so elegant but also so simple that you cannot help but lament, "Why didn't we think of that?"
Maintenance of Flooded House Batteries Made EZ
That's exactly what happened to us on our recent trip to New Mexico, where we happened to set up camp next to Mr. Lloyd Scott, who hails from the Albuquerque area. It turns out that Lloyd is the affable inventor of an amazing gizmo dubbed the EzBatteryCheck. What at first glance looks like a cross between a flux capacitor and a spark plug is actually a sight gauge that replaces the caps on a deep cycle flooded 6V battery. It installs using the standard-sized quarter turn, just like your stock 6V battery caps. Not only does it display the level of the liquid in a battery cell, the EzBatteryCheck also provides a simple method for topping each cell up with distilled water without removing the cap.
Do you know where your levels are?
You will when you transform your house battery bay from something that looks like this...
TheEzBatteryCheck provides an instant picture of exactly what the fluid level is inside each and every battery cell; that's 18 cells in our case.
Our all-electric NewAire has six Interstate GC2 flooded 6V house batteries we love to hate. Each is dated July 2017 and in very good condition. Regardless, replacing the whole lot with maintenance-free AGM batteries was definitely on our expense radar for 2020. In fact, we planned on spending around $1,800 for that upgrade - worth every penny.
But not any more.
After seeing Lloyd's invention at work in his own RV coach battery bay, the genius of his creation really struck home:
no more loosening battery cables for enough clearance to remove gang vent caps
no more adjusting your bifocals to squint down into each dark cell, trying to determine if additional distilled water needs to be added
no more using a suction bulb or pour cup to top up any low cells, trying not to spill or overfill
no more having to replace all the gang vent caps and re-tighten all those loosened cables
no more surprise holes in your clothing
And heaven forbid you should miss a low cell. Ugh!
We ordered Lloyd's EzBatterCheck system on the spot, and the total cost was just $85 - with free shipping; that's less than 5% of what we had planned to spend on AGM replacement batteries.
Installation and Calibration is EZ
First, pick one cell on any deep cycle battery, remove the old cap, and make sure the fluid in that cell is at the correct height. As you can see (sort of) in the photo below, the fluid level is LOW. It is supposed to rise just to the bottom of the plastic filler sleeve.
Top that one cell up with distilled water to the level shown below.
Next, install your first EzBatteryCheck replacement cap in the battery cell you just topped up. Note that the red-capped fluid level indicator will float up, providing you with a fluid level landmark for a correctly filled battery cell.
Now slide the black o-ring up or down the clear column so it aligns with the FULL position of the red-capped fluid level indicator. That is your official this-battery-cell-is-full-mark for each and every cell in all your flooded deep cycle batteries (same battery make/model is assumed).
To finish the installation, adjust the o-rings on the remainder or your EzBatteryCheck caps to that same position, and then install the remainder of the lot.
EZ Fluid Level Maintenance
When it comes to topping up a low battery cell -- and you will probably have some low cells -- Lloyd came up with another simple solution: a sturdy gallon container for distilled water that includes a pump and long filler tube.
When you see a cell that's low on water, simply remove the black filler cap (be careful where you put it, the caps have a tendency to disappear atop a black battery), attach the filler tube, and slowly pump distilled water into the cell until the red-capped indicator rises above the o-ring mark.
And don't forget to replace the black filler cap!
If you don't have room for a gallon jug, Lloyd also offers a smaller hand-held squeeze bottle with a correct-sized filler spout. He also sells an EzBatteryCheck system for deep cycle 12V batteries, if that's where your burden lies.
That's our introduction to Mr. Scott's simple, smart and sensible way to beat the battery burden, born of necessity mixed with a bit of imagination.
What's even better about the EzBatteryCheck system we purchased? We can get at 3-4 more low-maintenance years out of our flooded GC2 batteries. (We'll keep you posted on that goal.) Any way you look at it, that's an amazing return on such a modest investment.
If you install the EzBatteryCheck system, be sure to keep your obsolete battery caps; you'll need those when it comes time to trade in your old deep cycle battery cores.
Lloyd shared this battery life tip: if you see a flooded cell that consistently loses liquid while those around it do not, that's a sign of a potential failing battery cell. Fill it, charge it, and do a specific gravity test.