More batteries or solar? Hold my hand, please!

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by MaeKay, Mar 26, 2018.

  1. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, everyone who has responded. Just writing it out helped me focus. And then of course all the info you’ve given me has refined my focus even better. This forum is amazing.
     
  2. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    863C4378-0C16-4CB8-BBD5-36954B0EB6C6.jpeg
    This is the fridge we have. The Dometic 2193.
     
  3. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Active Member

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    That on lights manually, no control board = no juice used when on propane.
     
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  4. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

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    Really, the only thing that you have that will be much of a draw is the furnace fan. Other than that, your draws are small. I have used a group 27 deep cycle and I can go 8-10 days with no charging when we are camping, but this is not using the furnace. We have all the other lights and plug ins for dodads (phones and such) like you. I just got a new group 31 so looking forward to that on the next trips. To be honest, what I have done is the past is I bring along a battery charger and if I am out for a long time, I find power somewhere and remove the battery from the camper and plug it in somewhere to charge (during the day). In 6 hours, I can get it essentially fully charged doing this and I only need to do this once on a very long trip.
     
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  5. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    This is the space on my tongue. This could get interesting finding a place for the 2 6V Batteries. One of which I already cracked. ‍♀️ I opened the back door of the car and it fell out on my leg. That felt great, both the getting hit by a 65 pound battery AND possibly wasting a $100 (with core charge) battery. Called Costco and they can’t accept damaged batteries. Yay.
     

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  6. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    I hesitate to mention this but I got this soft folding panel to charge the truck battery when running a 12 volt compressor fridge in the back of the truck. I park the truck facing south, lay it on the windshield and tie it down with bungee cord. A few weeks ago in Big Bend it kept the truck battery fully charged while running a 12 volt fridge for a week. I can't say anything about longevity yet but so far the panel has done what it's supposed to do.

    I don't think much of the included controller, in fact mine blew smoke the first time I hooked it up and I don't use it, but other people give it pretty good reviews.

    The reason I bring this up is because the years we used my full sized panel as a portable it was such a pita to transport and store. This panel is currently stored on the dinette bench in the camper. The one I bought is no longer available but there is an 80 watt and a 200 watt available.
     
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  7. Fbird

    Fbird Active Member

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    I camp in northern Michigan in the winter and use 2 group 31 batteries and a 100 watt solar panel. the only reason I use 2 batteries is I can't count on good sunlight, its not uncommon to have 1 out of 3 or 4 days of sunlight so the second battery is good insurance. definantly skip the agm, theyre expensive and don't last as long.
     
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  8. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    Well the great news is that we got the voltmeter/USB/12 V charger hooked up and working! The sort of good news is that my husband learned the correct way to hook up a battery by only blowing one 25 amp fuse and nothing else was damaged (he had his colors switched...I need to label those wires, I wouldn’t have known at all which way to do it.)

    The bad news is I broke one of the two 6 volt batteries I bought but before I buy a replacement we have to build a platform to hold them. Projects tend to take a while in our household so I’m hoping this gets done before our trip.
     
  9. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

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    If you did not loose all of the battery acid you use 5 minute epoxy to seal it back up & add some distilled water if has caps for filling. Ask me how I know.
     
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  10. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    My husband might be interested to hear this. It only splashed maybe a tablespoon of water out. It’s actually the terminal that got bent out of place. Which could be a bigger deal than just cracked plastic.
     

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  11. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

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    A bent terminal can still work. God luck with it Hopefully you will not have to replace it.
     
  12. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    We’ll give it a try! Thanks for giving us hope. I mean, we have nothing to lose in trying to seal it, refill it if need be (yes, it has removable caps for refill), and give it a go!
     
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  13. jnc

    jnc Welcome from New Hampshire

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    You can check to see of it still works before buying the epoxy. Than again I like to have some on hand anyways. you would be surprised at what you can patch up with that stuff.
     
  14. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    I’m pretty sure we already have some on hand. But yeah, that stuff is super handy, we should just have some in our house in case.
     
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  15. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    Oh, and I forgot to mention...when our handy neighbor came over we discovered someone had already wired up a 12 V charger! It was on the side of the tip out galley that faces the couch and back bunk. I’m embarrassed we didn’t ever see it. It was done very poorly (held in with duct tape and the wires were even switched) but the wires WERE already there and tapped in. And we liked the location so we removed the poorly done 12 volt charger, wideneded that hole and added 3 more. It’s the perfect location! It’s also a huge weight off my mind now that I can watch my battery usage. If we can get the dual 6 volt set up before I leave for our trip I might do backyard camping for a few nights to see how long the battery lasts with the furnace on.
     
  16. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    I use a pair of Group 27 Deep-cycle marine 12v batteries in parallel on mine. With running the furnace and recharging a phone I can get a good 5 nights out of them without having to recharge. I don't run any solar or generators, just plug into the house when I get home and keep a tender on them over the winter. If you add a battery shut-off switch somewhere in line, you can shut it off while you're out for the day to keep the parasite items like the LP detector from drawing unnecessary power.

    As for installation, I drilled out the screws that held in the existing battery tray, bought 2 new plastic battery boxes from Camping World which I then screwed onto a board I bought at Home Depot. The board I painted with a good primer, then black outdoor paint, then I bolted that onto the frame where the old battery tray was. Only took a couple hours from start to finish.

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    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
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  17. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    That looks REALLY nice! How did you “drill out” the screw holes? And how did you attach the wooden board to the thick metal? Looks like you’re dealing with the same issue we have with the tongue jack being right in the way so we have limited space on the one side.
     
  18. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    The old screws were rusted and the heads stripped, so backing them out wasn't an option. I used a good drill bit for metal that was about the size of the screw and just went to town from the top until it disintegrated. It was mostly rust anyway, so didn't take much effort. You can see in the second picture on the right side the hole where the previous tray was held. After this picture was taken I filled it in with some caulk and hit it with a dab of rust-oleum to keep the rust at bay.

    I think I got the bolts and screws backwards in my previous description. The board is screwed to the frame, the boxes are bolted to the board.

    After measuring, cutting, and painting the board, I first drilled a pilot hole through the board and into the frame, then used a routing bit to open the top of the board a bit so the screw's head would sink in level. Then I used a screwdriver bit on my power drill to run the self-tapping sheet-metal screws into the camper's frame.

    Finally, I bolted the battery box to the board using some small bolts, washers, and nuts. The whole setup is slightly off-center to leave room for the tongue jack to swivel (which drives my OCD nuts!!). The majority of the weight is still on the frame so it works well.

    If I had to do it all over again I'd probably bring the batteries forward about an inch or two towards the hitch. The reason being is they're backed fairly tight against the propane tanks which makes changing LP tanks a bit of a hassle. I have an auto-switchover, so I don't have to change the LP while camping, but even folded down at home takes some maneuvering to get those tanks out. Bringing the batteries forward would've required moving the emergency brakes breakaway pin, and I was under a time crunch at the time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
  19. MaeKay

    MaeKay Well-Known Member

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    That is so enormously helpful. Thank you so much.
     
  20. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    you're welcome, glad my info helped!
     

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