CPAP off grid. Battery rig question.

Discussion in 'Camping for the Medically/Physically Challenged' started by dbhost, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    So I thought I had this sorted, but suffered a failure that I would rather not repeat.

    My "system" was an Everstart jump pack and a Harbor Freight Tailgator 2 stroke 700 running watts generator.

    I live in Costal Texas.

    Assuming you aren't living under a rock, you know we got hit with a massive ice storm, and public utilities companies that failed massively to prepare for winter weather, knocking power out, for nearly 4 days.

    And to top it off, the HF generator did NOT want to start below the freezing point. Why I do not know.

    My jump box which normally lasts me 2 nights, didn't even get me 1 hour this time. Apparently my wife wanted her phone charged and forgot I used the thing for my CPAP.

    So I ran to Oreilly Auto Parts, and grabbed a deep cycle battery, a 12V power port, and some alligator clips to make the battery connection.

    It worked, and powered my CPAP, a little travel unit with a 12v cord, for the remaining 2 nights. I went to top it off with my smart charger on wall power and it basically showed nearly no need for any charge, and I have no idea how much charge the battery actually had after sitting on the store shelf for a couple of months.

    This leads me to my questions.

    I want to build an electrical center for the battery since I don't have one.

    I need to know basically how to set up the circuits.

    I want to be able to top the battery off with a trickle charger / battery tender off of shore power or generator, OR off of solar.

    I am not under any illusions that solar can reliably power AC or heat, but my long term goal for electrical is to be able to...

    Due to the non starting issue of the HF generator, combined with a need for more power, AND fuel efficiency (The HF generator drinks gas relative to 2KW 4 stroke models), I am planning on upgrading to an AiPower 2000 peak watt inverter generator which in theory should run my AC and charger.

    Any help you could offer sorting this out would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Corect me if I am wrong here on this, it is highly possible, if not likely, and please indulge my thought process...

    Charging side, Post clamps to the main posts on the batteries with a ring terminal stud and wing nut. Ring terminals for + and - on the outputs of the battery tender and solar charge controller, their inputs, well tender goes out to shore power when available, solar obviously to the solar panel outputs.

    I am thinking about a panel for the DC power out, like the Linkstyle 4 in 1 https://amzn.to/3pA1rVJ which includes a 2 port USB outlet, 12V power oulet, on / off switch, and a DV Voltmeter plus the wiring connectors and screws to connect it up. I am assuming according to the references for a 15amp DC circuit I would need to wire this with 14ga wire.

    AC output is a bigger question, I know I will want a pure sine wave inverter as I will want to power / charge up things like my laptop etc... that can be power quality sensitive. The wiring to make the battery connection is typically sold with the inverters I thought, or at least appropriate selections depending on capacity etc...

    I currently have a very old, very abused modified sine wave 500w inverter, and aside from there is no way this would handle AC, of course the one deep cycle battery wouldn't anyway, this handles everything i need it to. To be able to make my 110V AC connections either I would need to extend via jumpers to the outside of a box to get my outlets outside, or mount the inverter outside any box made to hold this. probably a good idea anyway for heat dissipation.

    Here is where I am having a question. Do I use some sort of fuse block, or just use inline fuse hodlers for the DC + lines coming out of the battery to the inverter and the 12V output sockets?

    I assume the connections back to the battery will of course be ring terminals screwed down with the ring nuts to the threaded posts on the battery.
     
  3. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    There are lots of pretty good descriptions of DIY power box builds on Expedition Portal, some with pretty credible circuit diagrams. You might want to downsize their overkill components but can follow the assembly instructions pretty closely.

    If you're counting on recharging from a genny you need to use more than a trickle charger, you will need to dump the output of at least a 15 t0 25 amp charger into the battery to reduce generator run times and fuel usage.
     
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  4. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    15 to 25 amp charger? Seems like an awfully high load requiring an awfully large, HEAVY and expensive generator... Seems to be a bit overkill by me. Why go so big? I'm talking about topping off, not deep charging from a big discharge.
     
  5. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    25 amps at 14.8 volts is only 370 watts. Easily handled by my 1k watt generator running on eco setting, which I have done.
     
  6. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the power plate on my current B&D charger Max input wattage of 490 watts. WELL within the upper limits of the Tailgator, and certainly comfortably within the eco mode limits of the 2KW generator.

    I was honestly hoping for a smaller dimensions charger that could more easily be integrated.

    I guess I should look into the 15/25 amp chargers.

    Expedition portal has the electrical convos? Haven't been there in a long time... Have to check that out.
     
  7. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Just for the cold , is it possable the oil in the generator got too cold, so that made it not want to start? So a new generator might have the same problems. Does it start now? After you warmed up a bit?
     
  8. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    The Harbor Freight Tailgator is a 2 stroke generator. No crankcase oil at all to freeze up. And yes it starts easily with the second pull at 37 degrees F.

    Doing a lot of looking around, it looks like these 2 stroke engines don't like sub freezing temps...
     
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  9. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    Are you using ethanol free gas? It may take a premium fuel, also.
     
  10. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Per the manual that came with the generator, no greater than 10% Ethanol, 87 octane gas. To be blunt, I am using what I can get when power goes out...

    Reportedly the Bucc-ees in Texas City has ethanol free fuel, I will be getting gas there soon, but chances of another below freezing temp day with power outages here are low. Not zero, but low...

    I know I need to burn off what is in the tank now. The fuel is not stabilized as I was planning on running through it within 4 hours or so...Not having the thing fail to start until after it was useful...
     
  11. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Just a tip, no help now, i know. I usally put the stable and some carb cleaner in the fuel cans now when filling them. That way i dont have to remember to do ot later or think about it. Costs a little bit more $$$ but the peice of mind is so worth it. Nothing like not remembering to put stable in the snow blower, leaf blower, generator, mower. Etc.
     
  12. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Hadn't considered the carb cleaner. I need to grab some. I typically mix in the stabilizer but was in a hurry to get power going and didn't figure it would be around long enough to be an issue...

    Like I said, I just need to burn this tank off now... Probably keep a can of starting fluid to help get it going in freezing weather.
     
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  13. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    It should be noted. Below freezing weather this time of year isn't unusual. It usually lasts a week. What was out of the ordinary was the ice / precipitation and power outages.

    My neighbors that had motorhomes, brought them out of storage and ran their generators. I don't know if they stayed in the RV, or used the RV as just a means to get the generator to the house...

    I was able to get my way through with Coleman Catalytic heaters, a Coleman stove, and candles. I am not in a hurry to repeat last week.
     

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