Adding Battery to 1997 Dutchmen Duck Camper

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by Will Shepherd, Jun 1, 2020.

  1. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    Really appreciate the info rabird / Matt. What are your thoughts on this model as a possible option?
     
  2. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    acceptable, note each of MC4 wires are supposed to be 20' so the controller can be 20' from the panel the MC4 connects to the panel and the bare end to the controller, there are 2 x 8' tray cables to connect the controller (bare wire) to the battery (ring terminals). A piece of colored tap on the + wires would help identify them and prevent reverse hookup.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  3. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Well-Known Member

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    @Matt Benoit is dead on. A 10 watt panel is only going to maintain a fully charged battery. Per the specs you posted, it puts out a max of .72 amps at 13.8 volts. That's float stage only. You need to get at least 14.4 volts out of the panel. The reviewer who said it charged a dead marine battery in 48 hours is either lying, doesn't know what a "charged" battery is, or is reviewing a different product.
    That 100 watt Renogy system you linked to will work much better. I have a folding 100 watt Renogy system, and it keeps me in power forever. If you go this route, mount the charge controller near the battery, and put the panel on a 25-30 foot extension so you can move it to follow the sun. I have 10 ft of pigtail mounted to the trailer, and carry 2 25 foot cables, so I can always catch the sun.

    The larger question that has gone unanswered is why you need to have the inverter. You are taking DC power from the battery/solar panel, inverting it to AC power at your outlets, then converting it back to DC power to charge your devices. Extremely inefficient, complicated, and costly with the inverter itself.
    You can simply add charging ports to your DC system, remove the inverter and its inefficiencies, and have more power to boot.
    This one has a volt meter as well.
    Or you could add cigarette ligher ports

    I've added both USB charge ports and cigarette lighter ports to my Niagara. I have 4 USB charge ports and 2 cigarette ports.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
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  4. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Well-Known Member

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    I noticed something else...it looks like you are mounting the (unsealed) lead acid battery inside the camper...under the bench seat. That is a no no for lead acid batteries. If you leave it inside, you need to get a battery box that is sealed and vented to the outside.
     
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  5. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    Thanks to everyone chiming in! So the reason for the inverter is the previous owner removed the switch to activate the battery on the converter. My outlets will only work when I plug into my garage / power source. Given that it's just two people, an inverter will give us the ability to charge devices in our camper with the two plugs / 3 USB outlets. I want to have a sustainable energy source without having to rely on my truck. It is my understanding that the 10watt goal zero will not meet my needs, so I am looking at this model as an upgrade. Thanks for the battery tip, I do have a battery box but I might have to relocate as it is not ventilated to the outside.
     
  6. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you're on the right track with the larger panel and relocating the battery. But you still haven't explained why you're trying to charge your devices on AC power. As Mcflyfi and i have said, it's terribly inefficient. By all means, keep the inverter for emergency situations, but get some dc chargers for your phone/tablets.. You will save so much more capacity of your battery.
     
  7. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Well-Known Member

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    Add a usb outlet like this. It will wire directly to the battery, and your devices will plug right into it and charge. Screenshot_20200604-150915.jpg
     
  8. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Please do not be mistaken about the conv/off/batt missing switch. None of us have 120v power when not plugged in via a converter cuz the converter only makes 12vDC from utility power.
     
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  9. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    Well, I do not want to be inefficient. I can still take back the inverter. If I were to upgrade my panel and relocate my battery what you suggest replacing the inverter with?
     
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  10. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Well-Known Member

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    Ask yourself if you really need the inverter.. It might might be good to have it as a backup or for emergency purposes... Although you could easily get by with a much smaller version. If you wire in a couple USB outlets like i picture above, that should handle most of your regular charging needs. Keep a small inverter (disconnected because there is standby loss) for the odd AC power need.
     
  11. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    Gotcha, I would want to be able to plug my computer in...so I don't think just the USB outlets will work. Do they make combos with the ability to plug in a 3 prong?
     
  12. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Well-Known Member

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    You never mentioned your computer before. That requires AC power. A small inverter would be ideal. 1000w is a bit overkill. I bet you could return it and get a smaller one and save some money. The key is to only power the inverter (to create AC power) when you need it. Disconnect it when not in use. If you're referring to a laptop, most are also capable of being charged directly with dc power given the correct cable.
     
  13. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    Gotcha, my bad for not mentioning computer use. So if I upgrade my panel and get a smaller inverter. Keep the inverter disconnected when not in use, and the new solar panel will efficiently keep my battery charged?
     
  14. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Well-Known Member

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    Of course solar power is dependent on the amount of sunlight you have available.. But with the usage you've mentioned that larger panel should be able to keep you topped off. The charge controller for the panel should display the battery voltage. If not, a very cheap volt meter would be very handy in making sure you don't run the voltage below 12v.
     
  15. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    Solid, you guys have been a great resource. The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. Thanks for the guidance!
     
  16. Matt Benoit

    Matt Benoit Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome. As i said before, I'm definitely not a solar/electronics wiz, but glad we could point you in the right direction.

    I will add that you should be able to add an additional panel in the future if you find yourself running low on power, or if you can't replenish your daily usage.

    Good luck!
     
  17. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Well-Known Member

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    Are you taking a tower computer or a laptop?
    If laptop, you can get a DC adapter for most (if not all) laptops, for a lot less than an inverter. I have one for my 10 year old Dell laptop that I sometimes take with me, and charge from the battery/solar through the cigarette lighter style outlet I referenced above.
     
  18. Will Shepherd

    Will Shepherd New Member

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    laptop...thanks for the info!
     

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