Updated 3/08/2018.
Note this page can alter daily as things unfold.  


"Just wanted to say thanks for your great service and advice with repairing my Charger.  It really is fantastic that there is someone independent to support these units.
Dan T"


The NCC Verified Battery Scheme promised such a lot when it launched a couple of years ago, but all it has delivered so far is confusion and inaccurate information. 
We have been asking the NCC to publish the tests that prove the batteries perform as stated, because we have evidence many do not.
But the NCC have refused, they don't seem to want to achieve the schemes stated aim to  -
" bring transparency to the leisure battery marketplace and help consumers select a product that’s right for them"?

But don't take our word for that.
James Brown from the Motorhome Fun forum, just about the biggest forum there is, wrote to the NCC with -

"Hello, We have heard through a web source that your Verified Battery Scheme is not what it seems.

You state that "Battery verification comes via a comprehensive, industry-leading, testing process conducted by suitably certified and audited test houses”. 
Could you please confirm what test houses you use so we might verify your testing claims. If this is not possible might you supply some of the test results so we can put our member's minds at rest that recommendations from the council are based on sound, independent testing as promised?

Kind regards

James Brown BEM


A very reasonable email, asking for details of the test houses the NCC used or copies of the test results so that, "we can put our member's minds at rest that recommendations from the council are based on sound, independent testing as promised".


When the NCC replied, it didn't reveal the Test Houses it uses, or offer any Test results. It replied with a lot of woolly political style phrases that avoided the questions entirely. Not one question was addressed.


See the questions posed to the NCC by James and the full response of the NCC on the Motorhome Fun Forum here :  https://www.motorhomefun.co.uk/forum/threads/ncc-verified-battery-scheme-latest.178056/page-3  


Therefore we will be exposing the weaknesses with the scheme until change occurs.

The NCC is funded by the industry, for the industry. The NCC is a company that in 2017 had a £244 million revenue and £18 million profit. They are not the independent company that many think.


We would question the merit of the Camping Club and CAMC selecting the NCC for a scheme like this.  


Challenging the NCC is only one part of our drive for improvement through the whole Leisure battery industry, right down to battery labelling.


LATEST :  A Major step forward
I went into my local battery shop today (26/07/2018) to be told that this week the shops wholesaler (biggest in the UK) has revised the entire range of batteries the shop buys in, and down graded EVERY budget Leisure batteries 'label' capacity. 
They are exactly the same battery as before, but now the label is more honest. All the batteries have had their label 'corrected' by between 5Ah and 10Ah less
I saw the old 85Ah and new 75Ah batteries side by side. Exactly the same battery, but the new one shows just 75Ah on the label. 

Anyone following our threads will be aware that in the past we have applied 'pressure' to the battery wholesaler Manbat/Eurobat by putting their batteries through testing.  
Massive progress for the consumer and very well done to Manbat/Eurobat for honest labelling.
They said they wanted to change, improve and become the best battery wholesaler and that is a great and brave beginning. Please don't stop there.


In a short time we have put batteries through tests and proved they have been overrated by the NCC.

We have 'worked with a wholesaler' and their batteries have received down rated labels.

We are also working with a retailer to provide ground breaking, ethical service, see below.


I would argue that is a better result for the consumer in 11 months than the NCC have achieved in years. 


We now intend to target the wholesaler Platinum Batteries by putting some of their budget 'own labels' through further tests as we have evidence that many of these also carry labels with exaggerated figures. 
We are in the process of collecting formal evidence (batteries already on test)  that will stand up in Court so we can supply them to the Trading Standards 'special battery' unit. 
Watch this space.


  


More great news!! - 03/08/2018

Alpha Batteries have agreed to work with us to become the retailer the consumers want. They are already one of the most competitive, selling the Varta LFD 90 within 90 pence of the Battery Megastore and Tayna's price, but want to be the best. The battery advice they give will be based on exactly that, not targets or profit driven as most other retailers seem to be.  They have already retrained the staff on the phone desk.

They have further agreed to change their website to include more information, including battery cycle life, ideal charging voltages, etc and lay it out in a Traffic Light style format, rather like the Food Labelling standard. 

This will hopefully lead to more information being available, but in an easy to understand format. 

It is based on our new National Battery Labelling proposal, so could be a good guide to how our idea will shape up. 



The Alpha Batteries email to us on 03/08/2018 stated - 
"Hello Allan, The more information the customer gets at the point of sale and enquiry the better. We need to apply what's happening on the phones now to the website. (This refers to the recent retraining of the phone desk staff to increase their technical knowledge and so give better advice). 
We do have more information than most at this stage, but it can and will be much better. 
I have emailed our web company with an outline of making key specs readable in traffic light format. They will get back to me with the options we can implement and the timescales. 
So, do you think these key points should be under the traffic light system :- 
Voltage 
Capacity 
Cycles 
CCA - EN DUAL PURPOSE 
Watt Hours 
Charge Voltage 
Weight 
Fluid consumption 
Venting required? 

I'm really committed to the plans and hope you don't feel this is marketing or lip service. 
Watch this space... 

I can't do it overnight but good plans are in place. 
John G, MD - Alpha Batteries" 



I genuinely believe this company mean to be the best by adopting an ethics based policy of working. 
I for one am going to give them a chance to show us what they can do. 

 

If you mention us when buying a Varta LFD90 from Alpha Batteries, you may be offered a small discount. The discount is discretionary.






NCC VERIFIED SCHEME BATTERY UPDATE. 
We have been sent a document that lists the full Technical details of the NCC 'Verified' battery scheme where the NCC clearly condone manufacturers misleading consumers.

Section 6.1.7 in the document states that ONLY 6 CYCLES OF CAPACITY TESTING are necessary to confirm a manufacturers claims of battery capability.
The manufacture just needs to submit a 6 cycle capacity test and that is enough to back up whatever the manufacturer claims about the battery spec. 
The durability of a Leisure battery, the most important thing to most buyers, is treated secondary and not tested adequately.

Click on the link below to see the document in full, where it states :
 
"6.1.7 The testing shall then be repeated until a sequence of 6 cycles has been completed".

Then they just make a guess.




This really is the NCC's idea of a 'Verified' test, click on the link above to see the full details on page 5, section 6.1.7


So, even where a test is performed it is wholly inadequate and in direct contravention of the spirit of the scheme.
No wonder they won't publish any of the tests, they either don't have any or they are laughable.

 
How does the quality Exide EP800, weighing a chunky 26.5kg,  only receive a verified 360 cycles from the NCC scheme, yet the very ordinary Leoch Xtreme XR1750 manages 600 cycles with only 21.2kg of Lead?
The Leoch is a very ordinary battery, it is almost 25% lighter. With the technology it uses, it would be chemically impossible to even match the Exides 360 cycles let alone reach 600. Battery experts we have spoken to think it would struggle to reach 200 cycles.  
You can understand why some people are thinking money has changed hands for the XR1750 to be given such a rating by the NCC Verified scheme. 


The Platinum LB6110L AGM (a battery recently 'promoted' by an MMM article) has a lower durability lighter weight construction than the EXIDE EP800 (well you wouldn't expect it to be better than the legendary Exide would you?). Yet the NCC 'verify' it at the same 360 cycle life. Unbelievable.

Have a look closely at the NCC verified table and check out just how many high reputation big name batteries are being 'outverified' by clearly inferior 'clone' batteries from Asia where the testing criteria seems to inferior to the UK's.


Why aren't the Camping Club and CAMC, who are the originators of the scheme, insisting on the scheme being more open to show it is 'above board'?


If you want more evidence the scheme is a fraud, read on. 



The following document shows how deceitful the NCC are being, especially in light of the reply to the Motorhome Fun forum.
This letter below is from the Korean battery company and shows no independent testing of the battery took place :



It was sent to David Reid of the NCC 'confirming' why the  DCxx battery in question merits a high cycle rating when the Atlasbx Sales brochure showed the batteries have a cyclic capability of LESS THAN 80 CYLES.
The Graph used in supporting evidence in the letter above 'suggests' that the battery reaches a 'claimed' 220 charge/discharge cycles.

However, you will also see that the graph shows how badly the capacity of the battery drops as the Charge/Discharge test progresses. 
Batteries lose capacity as they are used, a battery becomes 'smaller' with each use. A healthy 100Ah battery can be down to 90Ah maximum capacity at a year old. The industry regard a battery as expired when it's capacity drops to 80Ah in the case of a 100Ah battery. 

If you apply the rules of BS EN 50342, the graph shows the battery struggles to achieve 170 cycles, never mind 220. 

So while the letter actually contains a graph that proves the battery should be rated at a maximum 170 cycles, the NCC have listed it as 220 cycles, following the text written by the battery manufacturer. 

 

You may ask why, if the NCC have all the test data, did the NCC need a letter in the first place?

If you look at the last few paragraphs you will find the answer. The letter is being written in response to questions on the technical content of the AtlasBx Sales Catalogue, it states -

"The graph you referred to with Numax DCxx is old information before the battery was redesigned and should not have been in our catalogue"


You may also ask why was the NCC looking at the 'Sales Catalogue' in the first place and using it to query a batteries Tech. Spec. if it had all the laboratory test data? 

But then again, you have probably worked out the answer already?


The battery has been listed in the NCC 'verified' scheme as having 220 cycles, so clearly this letter has been used to 'verify' the battery.


The battery we tested didn't reach 80 cycles, a huge variance from the NCC 'Verified' 220 cycle rating. 

The Graph below from the Battery manufacturers catalogue shows the DC range ONLY achieves around 80 cycles at 50% Depth of Discharge (DOD)


 


Strangely enough our test of less than 80 cycles isn't far off the cyclic figure shown on the battery manufacturers catalogue Graph. So is it a coincidence they match or is 80 cycles the real figure?


That is clear evidence that the NCC portray the scheme very differently to the way it actually operates. The skills of the operators of the scheme, from it's setting up, description, aims, verification, etc all show a serious lack of battery knowledge and dedication to honesty. 


More worrying is that the Asian Battery manufacturers are testing to a completely different standard to that of the UK.



 
There is lots more wrong with the NCC verified scheme, it doesn't even seem to know what it is actually for. 

Most Caravan and Motorhome owners want to buy a battery with durability. Yet the NCC web site highlights 'Capacity' as their primary concern, the web page states :

"Batteries will be verified and labelled accordingly, into three categories: A, B and C, depending on their capacity and intended purpose".

It goes on to say,
"Category A is for batteries with a higher storage capacity for people who frequently use their touring caravan or motorhome away from an electrical hook-up".


Yet, traditionally anyone wanting more capacity, has always added a second battery, not changed to a different manufacturer and that is a good accepted practice that works well within the existing constraints of the battery locker/space. In many cases it is not physically possible to fit a different sized battery with more capacity anyway. 
So it seems an odd aim that is already adequately addressed, but it also confuses by having low capacity batteries in the 'high capacity' Category A and high capacity batteries in the 'lowest capacity' C category.

For example in the highest 'Capacity' category A, the Exide EP800 is listed as having a capacity of 95Ah. 
Yet in the lowest category can be found the Exide ER650 with a mega high 142Ah capacity. 
Category C is described as listing,  "batteries for users that require a lower capacity battery". 



If the aim of the scheme was somehow mis-described by someone who didn't understand about Batteries, Caravans and Motorhomes and the NCC meant that the batteries are being categorised according to their durability, not capacity, then why has the legendary Exide ES900 (as was the old Exide G80 and probably proven to be the most durable deep cycling Gel battery in Motorhome history) been placed in the bottom category? 
Gel batteries have issues with being used in modern motorhomes, but surely it has proven beyond doubt that when it comes to durability it deserves a place in Category A?
So again the scheme doesn't inspire confidence that the administrators have even the slightest clue?

Note : Since we wrote the above, the ES900 has been deleted from Category C, hopefully to appear some where else. Other changes have also occurred, so someone is reading this web page so can't say they are not aware of our concerns.



There are also other anomalies with other batteries having higher cyclic figures than we would expect.

We have cut open so many failed batteries that we have a pretty good idea of the durability of a battery, from what we have seen inside the case. Having seen inside so many of these batteries, some of the NCC figures truly puzzle us. 
It is as though some figures have been deliberately distorted. 


Do you want to know how a Platinum 31Gel weighing 31 kilos manages a verified 1,000 cycles when the much heavier, 38.7 kilo, more technically able, highly respected Exide ES1200 Gel can only manage 600 cycles? Battery experts rate the very poor Platinum 31Gel  at more like 400 cycles.
  

Did I tell you the story about the DBS Energy GPT 12 with a mega 2,000  'verified' cycles?
No? Well suggest you ask the NCC for copies of the test data that proves the batteries do what they claim.



Yuasa now prints on the battery casing the number of cycles a battery will achieve. We think every manufacture should follow this lead, so there can be no excuse or 'mixup' when the battery is independently tested by Trading Standards. 


As of the 15 June 2018, when we took our 5th snapshot, the NCC Verified Battery Scheme website stated -
"Battery verification comes via a comprehensive, industry leading, testing process conducted by suitably certified and audited test houses". 
Clearly this statement is intended to lead consumers into believing that audited test houses have carried out a testing process for the NCC to Verify those test results. We know that is not the case.


   

We are putting a battery through a full, real BS EN 50342 test to see how it compares to the NCC's own figures. 
It will take a while to get the battery test results, but we expect a cycle rate much less than the NCC 'verified' figure. 

We have more batteries scheduled for testing. Watch this space. 



In the mean time all of the testing we have done suggests that you should be safe buying big name battery manufacturers products, like Yuasa, Varta, Bosch, Exide and Victron Energy.
In our experience these companies make quality long life batteries that perform to specification.

However, we suggest you avoid - Platinum, Haze, Enduroline, Powerline, Hankook, etc. It seems that the 'technical' author that writes the specifications for these companies is related to Hans Christian Andersen. 

   

Yuasa have already shown us full and complete BS EN test data for some of their batteries, hopefully other manufacturers will come forward with their test data to prove a full test has been carried out. 
One of the tests we have seen is for the latest high technology Yuasa L36-EFB and it has become our "Best Mid Range Buy". 
A target price of just on £119, buys 100AH of the very latest Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB) technology. 

It achieved over 230 cyles at 50% DOD in the test, but Yuasa are claiming only 200 cyles on the battery label. It is 100Ah @ C20, 850 CCA, 1050 SAE cranking amps. Expect it to punch above it's specification. Performing in real World use better than batteries that allegedly have a higher 'paper' specification. 



All the figures are higher than our £98 "Best Budget Buy" Varta LFD90 which is still a battery we rate highly.  


Note we do not sell batteries, we suggest you try Alpha Batteries - 01706 356356
 




But Worse Than False Figures.

All the above questions what the scheme is trying to be and the integrity of the data, but the third, most serious issue in my book, is that the NCC scheme is actively promoting AGM batteries that are unsuitable for the application the scheme claims they are 'Verified' for. 

Alpha Batteries are the first retailer we have seen that now posts a prominent warning on their web pages about AGM batteries :-

"Please ensure your charging method can accommodate AGM batteries as charging at non AGM charge settings can adversely affect the life of the battery". 

Well done Alpha Batteries. 

A champion retailer - that is putting the consumer before profit. 


All big battery manufacturers state that their AGM battery must be charged with 14.8v charging systems. Some also specify lower than the usual Leisure vehicle 13.8v Float charge rate.


Banner Batteries have an FAQ on their website with a question on charging AGM :  batterieshttps://www.bannerbatterien.com/en-gb/Support/FAQ.

Not only does it stipulate a higher 14.8v 'Boost' charge rate, but the Float rate should be an ultra low 13.5v, which is exceptionally rare on ANY Caravan/Motorhome multi stage charger, let alone an AGM specific version. 

The FAQ states :-

"What values should I use when setting an external charger for AGM batteries in the caravan? How high should the charging and float charge voltage be?"

"Please employ the AGM setting, which means that the charge voltage should be set at max. 14.8V and the float charge voltage at 13.5V. Best of all, use an IUoU characteristic with temperature compensation".


Note that it additionally suggests temperature compensation on the charger. We would estimate less than 1% of Caravans/Motorhomes would have one of these.  

A Motorhome/Caravan with 14.8v/13.5v mains charger and temperature compensation has NEVER been fitted to a mainstream Leisure vehicle. 


The Caravan and Motorhome experts that work for the magazines have been fully aware for years that AGM chargers are hardly ever fitted to  Motorhomes and almost zero Caravans. 

The battery manufacturers say that failure to charge an AGM exactly as the manufacturers spec, results in premature failure, often less than 2 years, typically 18 months. 

Something Hymer and Banner found out when they started rolling out AGM's in all new Hymers around 2014. Some of the posts on the forums said they didn't even get 9 months life out of the battery.  

There were so many failures recorded, that Hymer rushed through, at great cost, new chargers with an AGM specific charger profile. 


The August 2018 copy of MMM magazine contains a 'Power Packed' battery article promoting two AGM batteries, both of which we have severe concerns about.

The Haze AGM 'Electric vehicle' battery at £239, is promoted by the MMM, yet the Haze web site states these are totally unsuitable for use in a Motorhome. They not only need an AGM specific charger, but a special version that is vital to decent battery life. The Haze website states - 

To obtain the optimum cycle life performance from the Haze EV range it is vital that the correct charging profile is utilised. Haze specifies a charging profile with an equilizing/desulphation phase as detailed in the Haze document “Charging - Cyclic Applications” 

Clearly the installation of such a battery into the average motorhome or Caravan is going to lead to tears. 

I can imagine that installing one in a motorhome with a Sargent EC500 is likely to result in the already poor Haze 12 month warranty being void. Yes I did double check the Haze warranty, the website quotes a measly 12 months guarantee. Even a Platinum budget gets 2 years warranty.


How can the 'experts' at MMM promote such an unsuitable battery at such a high, £239 cost when even the most stupid person is going to see from the Haze website information that it isn't going to have anything but the shortest life? 

A pessimist might think there has been some financial incentive in MMM's favour to publicise the battery. 



Typically when an AGM battery fails, it takes the mains charger with it and sometimes the Alternator. 

Burstner's bill for a replacement Reich e-Box Controller/Charger is over a £1,000. (note that even the latest replacement e-Box doesn't have an AGM charge profile). Fiats bill for a replacement Bosch Alternator can be £600 - £800. 

We are talking serious, expensive damage just because a battery has been 'verified' by the NCC as 'fit for purpose' in a Motorhome or Caravan.

 



Another example of why AGM batteries are not suitable in Motorhomes, is the Sargent EC325 chargers fitted in Autotrails, etc, which can operate at an AGM destroying 18v. They have a warning in the manual that states it is a 'Fast Charging' unit with up to 18v, the manual states :

"The Sargent EC325PSU incorporates an intelligent ‘offline’ battery charger that disconnects the leisure equipment from the battery while it is being charged.  This process allows the charger to use higher charging voltages and to accurately control the charging current. DANGER : Higher voltages may be present at the battery (18v).  Do not connect ANY equipment to the battery while the charger is operating". 

A quality wet acid battery will tolerate up to 18v for short periods with only minor life degradation, but if you contact Exide and ask them if it is ok to charge their AGM and Gel batteries at 18v they will question your sanity. The charger is designed specifically for flooded/Wet battery technology only.


There are so many chargers in Motorhomes and Caravans that will decimate an AGM's lifetime and so very few that are optimised for AGM.

See here for information on AGM batteries. and why they are not suitable for Motorhomes and Caravans.




AUDI/VW MOVE AWAY FROM AGM BATTERIES.

Did you know that Audi/Volkswagen have stopped using AGM batteries in their vehicles? The whole group has either already switched back to wet Acid/flooded technology, or is in the process of doing so, including Skoda and Seat.

Allegedly BMW are doing the same. For sometime the best BMW Dealers have been replacing prematurely failed AGM batteries with Wet acid Enhanced Flooded Batteries (EFB) to good effect. 

Landrover are also binning AGM's



Did you know that Banner, the maker of the first AGM's used in a motorhome on a large scale, have revised their battery range. Go on the website and see how full it is of new EFB technology Leisure batteries, AGM has been sidelined the big new trend is a reversion to wet Acid technology based EFB. 

EFB batteries work well on almost any charger or Alternator.


Clearly the claims made for AGM's a few years ago have not been achieved in the field. Failing in motorhomes and now in Cars. The battery industry is now aware that 'Double the cost AGM's' won't meet the expected lifetime of even a good Wet Acid battery. 


So does it make you wonder if their promotion by the NCC is a deliberate ploy to fatten the bank accounts of the companies who make payments to the NCC?

The sale of double the cost batteries with half the life of a budget battery delivers a big enough financial incentive to not be honest.


We were highlighting premature AGM Motorhome battery failures in 2014, some that didn't last 18 months. See here for more info on the limitations of AGM batteries.


The Battery Industries perception that Caravans and Motorhomes contain sophisticated chargers is wrong, they are often crude Power Supply/Chargers. 

For anyone who mistrusts our claim that 99% of British motorhomes don't have AGM optimised chargers, then read the "A bit of History on the Leisure battery chargers installed in Caravan and Motorhomes" section towards the bottom of the AGM Battery web page.









Thank you to everyone who has offered help and support, really appreciated.

We need to point out again that we do not have any evidence that any of the big name battery manufacturers have done anything wrong. The support we have had from the big Battery manufacturers has been exceptional.
Some have already supplied BS EN test data to prove the batteries stated performance, despite the NCC saying the data can't be released. 



If anyone from 'Which' magazine or the Trading Standards is reading this, we could do with some help here!!




                                   Campaign for Better Battery Labelling


We want to work with the industry towards clearer battery labelling. Through this campaign to drive change with the NCC scheme, we have now gained links to the big battery manufacturers and a voice. 

Trading Standards want battery labelling to change for the simple reason it is hard to prosecute a rogue selling a Starter battery as a Leisure battery if the labelling is so confusing. 

Mandated labelling might happen if we can create a good standard 



We have talked before about a 'Traffic Lights' label on the battery. Is this what's required?
We love the Yuasa new labelling scheme, it is clearly aimed at helping the consumer by delivering more information in a friendly, easy to understand way. But can it be enhanced further with more colour?


If you look at the image below you will see all key symbols, both circles for presumably Leisure specifications and 'squares' for Starter battery, like cranking amps, etc. grouped together at the bottom left. 
See at the bottom right, symbols of a Motorhome, Caravan and Boat, obviously a proper Leisure. How beautifully clear is that?





Hopefully, you will also note how clear the other labelling graphics are and see, for the very first time on a mainstream battery, that it publishes it's cyclic ability on the casing. We have seen Test data for this battery and it actually achieved nearer 240 cycles, but they did not want to overstate the specification so print 200 cycles. This is one battery that will outperform it's paper specification by a big margin.

To have the real Cyclic Life printed on the battery case is a first.

Note also the new graphic showing Watt hours, a much better guide to real capacity than just the Ah rating. 

This is a major step forward, well done Yuasa. People have asked for this clarity for years and finally Yuasa have delivered. 

I think we have found a manufacturer who really wants to drive change in the Leisure battery market place to help the consumer make a really informed choice on their purchase. Lets hope all the big players want to join in to create an informal European standard.

This battery is truly a leader amongst batteries in so many ways that are good for the Leisure community.


So can we improve it with colour and will Yuasa work with us?


For example :
Battery Cycles could have a Red/Orange/Yellow/Green/Light Green Circle with the actual number of cycles printed in the middle of the circle? Red would indicate an ultra low cyclic light duty battery, say below 5 cycles. Orange a low duty between 7 and 70, etc.


The resting Battery Voltage could also have a colour code that somehow reflects a VRLA's nearer 13v compared to conventional 12.6v?


Special Charging voltage requirements also as Orange/Yellow/Green Circle with the number of 'Charging volts' printed in the middle of the circle? Where a battery needs a high 14.8v the circle might be Orange to indicate it has special charging needs, or Green if it will tolerates a Caravans 13.8v Power Supply/Charger, etc


Tolerance to being left on long term permanent charge from Electric Hook Up/Solar could also be a Red/Yellow/Green Circle with the ideal Float voltage in the centre. Red for very intolerant and maybe a low 13.2v, Yellow for quite tolerant and 13.4v, etc


The background colour behind the new graphics on the label, not necessarily the whole label, might be Pale Orange to indicate Wet Acid, Pale Green for Gel, Pale Yellow for AGM, and Pale Blue for Lithium. or whatever, etc.


Maybe we should have a 'Price band' traffic light so I can see in a table those batteries which are low cost and those that need a mortgage?


This same colour coding could also be used to very good effect in a Table of 'Approved' battery characteristics. 
Anyone looking for a medium cyclic Gel battery would just look at the rows in pale Green and at the columns in Yellow.