I use twin T-105s and I know where they are at all times because I use a Link10 ammeter. I use a 40 amp charger because that is the maximum recharge rate recommended by Trojan. It takes very close to four hours (sometimes a little more) to recharge these batts.
This is to follow up regarding my notion of the maximum recommended charge rate of the T105s. It seems I overstated it a bit.
I thought they were now using the Smart Charger/Isolator (I forgot the brand.) Perhaps that is only on the Apexes (Apexi?)
Well, my information comes from 'Silversand' and my understanding was that he got the "Smart Charger/Isolator" option and he was very happy with its performance but when I looked up the Sure Power model number, it turned out to be a clunky solenoid type. It will get the job done and I'm not criticizing the decisions that Outfitter made regarding its basic camper configurations but when you start adding sophisticated generators, isolators, and batteries to the mix, I don't think the CS Centurion 3000 nor a solenoid isolator cuts the mustard. If I'm going to pay all that money for those options then I'm going to go the extra few inches and put them together with electronics that are going to get the maximum performance out of those components. For me, getting that expensive battery option charged to 100% is important so I'd really like to go with a better isolator and converter/charger.
In the case of the Hellroaring component, it is far superior to any solenoid isolator. The Outfitter isolator option is $250+ and I think the Hellroaring isolator costs about the same. The Hellroaring is actually _easier_ to install so I'm thinking it can't cost that much more for Outfitter to put in a Hellroaring if I specify that (we'll see what they want for it).
I haven't looked into it recently (and have since forgotten the model details,) but I recall reading only favorable comments. I was even thinking of replacing the unit in my Phoenix with one.
All the same, thanks for the food for thought. This goes into my "things to consider at a later date" file.
I think the basic equipment is _fine_. But when you start upgrading I would say don't go half way. It doesn't make sense to put a rocket pack on a mule.
I knew about some of these (better) products a couple of months ago but it was only a couple of weeks ago that I started having even a hazy picture of what Outfitter was using component-wise. It has only been the last few days that I started analyzing the information, so, if I had known better two weeks ago, [shrug] I would have said something, then. That said, upgrading these components (a big _if_ needed, and, in your own good time) is not going to cost an arm and a leg.
For those of us that are still in the buying process, I would seriously think about the electrical components in their totality -- does it make sense to buy one electrical option from Outfitter with a view towards improving performance but then ignoring all the other parts of the system -- I don't think so.
We'd like to go out to Colorado (from Maryland), pick up our camper, and use it for the better part of a month (out west). For that reason, I'd prefer that our camper be a finished product out of the starting gate. If we lived closer to Outfitter, I would be quite happy to take an unfinished camper (subtracting the electrical components I don't want) and customize it myself. It's not rocket surgery. Fortunately, it seems that Outfitter is used to doing things 'our way' so I'm thinking they are going to listen to what I have to say and they are going to quote me a reasonable price and that's going to be more convenient for me. (We'll see!)
Testudo & Princesse Caribou
2012 FORD F-250 6.2L 4x4 EC SB SRW
2006 FORD F-250 5.4L manual trans (Sniff! Gone but not forgotten!)
2006 OUTFITTER SUPER-Caribou 6.5
Centurion 3000? This unit has not been manufactured for some time now.
The Centurion is long dead and off the market. Outfitter uses the American Enterprises 30-A unit...the up-graded replacement for the Centurion (albeit still a bi-plane technology!).
The AE is a straight-out heavy charging unit, with no 3-rd stage charger (monitor carefully so you do not boil!). Some people like to fly the old Sopwith F.1 Camel (like we) rather than a Beechcraft Bonanza G36 and practice a (relatively benign) testing regime that gets the job done (i.e. 100% charge every time with the old bi-plane technology).
There are of course much more sophisticated 3-stage 40~60Amp charging/inverter technologies, propane generators, etc. out there for charging/maintaining 2~4 battery systems (or with a 2 solar panel array a la Steve in 29, on the roof with high-quality solar controllers, and microprocessor-controlled battery isolators for truck-to-camper charging management) to regulate heavy-use storage supplies for components like compressor fridges, airconditioners(yikes !), microwaves and such...BUT(!) you're talking about $2000 ~ $6000 extra for said, along with + DC electronic breaker systems...
We use the camper electrical system to run 2-lights, a laptop, and a 6-inch DC TV! What we have is exceptional overkill for our watt-hour needs. We'll buy a small solar panel to run our planned weather station and to charge the odd lithium....just for fun.
IE: a good quality 1200watt + Tripplite 3-stage converter/inverter + intellipower + electronic breaker panel + electronic battery isolator + a retrofitted 6 or 8 AWG wiring harness from truck engine compartment to camper connector = a few thousand $
Remember: the litte ol' wire from your engine compartment harness through to your camper (DC in) is so inadequate as to make any smart-charging technology nearly useless...unless you drive and charge for 10~14 hours! You must upgrade your truck charge wire AND return wire if you want efficient truck aux. charging performance at your camper battery side....
Centurion 3000? This unit has not been manufactured for some time now.
The reason I picked up on the 'Centurion 3000' is that this is what is referenced in Outfitter's web based version of their user manual (which I will allow, it probably says the same thing in the printed manual [grin!]).
Remember: the little ol' wire from your engine compartment harness through to your camper (DC in) is so inadequate as to make any smart-charging technology nearly useless...unless you drive and charge for 10~14 hours! You must upgrade your truck charge wire AND return wire if you want efficient truck aux. charging performance at your camper battery side....
This is why we want efficient charging when we are on hookup or generator. Especially on generator, if the charging isn't efficient, the generator usage is wasted. Note that I'm less worried about running the generator for hours on end than I am not being able to run the generator at all due to noise abatement pressures.
We aren't going to try and pull a lot of power out of the alternator,
the main reason for using the Hellroaring unit is that the connecting and disconnecting is cleaner than with a solenoid. The vehicle alternator will just serve as our 'solar trickle charger'. We'll take it if it is there and 'go fish' if it's not. Kludgy disconnects can cause sparking and fry stuff. Even SURE POWER denigrates its solenoid disconnects on their website and, in as much, urges people to use their diode products. The Hellroaring unit wouldn't be described as a 'smart charging unit' rather it just isolates the vehicle and house batteries in a clean manner. Note that the Hellroaring unit retails for a lot less than I remembered -- about $150. I also think that Outfitter is not unfamiliar with it since I think it might have been used on a vehicle they modded for their camper and that was later reviewed. Since we have no use for a second starting battery, we'll install the Hellroaring unit in the electronics bay (note that the Hellroaring unit doesn't have to be close to the vehicle alternator). Considering the competitive price of the Hellroaring unit, I can't for the life of me figure out why Outfitter wouldn't be using it -- maybe there is another reason [shrug].
The 'smart' three-stage charging is a feature of the _converter_ unit. I think, for all practical purposes, PROGRESSIVE DYNAMICS is including their 'Smart Charge Wizard' with every converter purchase, now. The 'Wizard' plugs into the converter and manages the charge. I'll note again that different kinds of batteries have different charging characteristics so the 'Wizard' is essentially pre-programmed to deal with the kind of battery you are going to be using. It increases the likelihood, dramatically, that you are going to get a 100% charge in a reasonable amount of time without boiling off or otherwise damaging your batteries. The peace of mind alone is worth the price of admission. Even if you want to manually manage your charging on occasion, you can still do that -- just unplug the $25 'Wizard'.
I'm pretty sure that 'Netboy' used one of these PD9100 series converters on his upgrade so maybe he will drop in here and comment on the 'science' and tell us about his experience with the unit, so far. I'd be really interested to see what kind of charging times he has been getting. I'm not interested in getting the fastest possible charge time -- just the fastest-safest times. There are other 'smart charging converter' units available, I'm just picking on PROGRESSIVE DYNAMICS since they seem to get the most 'press'.
Could you confirm, 'Silversand' that the SURE POWER (battery isolator) unit you described to me a couple of weeks ago is the item that Outfitter is selling as an _option_??? Or is the solenoid unit something they are using as a 'standard' item and the optional 'smart charging isolator' (or whatever they call it) is something _else_??? I had the impression that you got the $250 (whatever the price) optional isolator that Outfitter lists.
Also, I kind of doubt any converter can actually put out its rated supply. If it says '30 amps', I would be inclined to expect 22-24 amps at most. I'm not saying that as gospel but that is what I would expect. I would also tend to think that converter units are going to heat up dramatically as they approach their full output, so, in an application environment where ambient air temperatures can get pretty high, you are likely to see an overtaxed converter cut-out.
I wouldn't mind having the opportunity to cross control a Sopwith Camel (or even a Nieuport 17!!!) but I want a charging system that I can pretty much set and forget. Taking hydrometer readings every half hour is not my idea of a good time [grin!]. I'd rather buy an Apex and be cleaning bathrooms [laughing!].
[quote=Beddows]If you take digital pictures, can you email them to me? Low resolution ones are best.[/quote]
We are going the first week of December, 'Beddows'. I would be happy to lower the resolution of any photos you would be interested in (you want 640 x ???). The originals will be hi-res for sure. That is, if we should get any photos (weather, permission, etc.). Just remind me if I forget (I have a lot on my plate).
I have seen some of your 'shop' photos and I've enjoyed them. Note that there are some shop photos to be found on two or three Outfitter camper reviews that you could theoretically snatch.
[quote=btggraphix]Uh oh.... special rule #857-263 may come into play here. [/quote]
Hey 'Beddows' -- you wouldn't be trying to 'entrap' me into 'un-american activities' here, would you??? [grin!]
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Have a look at the Sure power unit we have in-camper (it in fact is the $250 optional smart-charger/separator):
Our experience has been very good with the Sure Power unit. We never seem to run the Trojan down below about 63% (tested at the battery terms) when boondocking. Our truck aux. battery/power system and separate in-cab charge connectors are used to charge all our liths/L"Ions.
The procedure we practice is: keep batteries well charged, but not overcharged while dry camping; use my digital VOM to test Trojan while on the road after a break and whilst boondocking (like checking the oil, it takes me just seconds to do this); if we get down to near 60% while in the outback, it is usually when we are preparing to change camps/travel, we: disconnect Trojan with battery slide-disconnect, plug in the charge cable to truck-side, start truck, slide battery disconnect to close circuit to battery, and drive. When we change camps it usually is a BIG change (i.e. we usually drive 4~6 hours, plenty of time to top-up/charge battery). When we stop for a lunch break, we prep food and eat in camper with the PolarAir vent going drawing from battery. After lunch, I stretch, quick-disconnect battery, and test (just a several second procedure). If the battery is near topped-up, I will not reconnect truck to camper plug, I'll just leave battery disconnected; then after arrival slide/close battery circuit only when we need in-camper power-- typically only at night/supper. We don't use the camper battery at all in the morning nor do we use it during the day while boondocking; after breakfast, we're out and about till just befor supper. The perishable food, wine, beer is in our extremely efficient cooler, in truck cab.
Again, the above procedures takes about 2.5-minutes out of our daily routine(s).
The above is an intimate slice of our daily life on the road; I feel a bit like perhaps Ozzy O. does when cameras follow the 'family's' daily doings...
Hi guys, a couple of folks asked for my opinion on 12v systems for campers -- so here it is (remember it is just my opinion):
1. Use the biggest 12v or 6v true deep cycle batteries you can fit in. If you have room for two tall batteries, a pair of Trojan T105 or T125 6v golf car batteries wired in series can't be beat for performance. There is rarely any "free lunch" on good quality deep cycle batteries -- if you find one at an unbelievable low price, it will most likely be junk compared to Trojan or other high quality batteries. I would stay with traditional flooded lead-acid cell batteries, and stay away from maintenance free types, and other types like Optima unless special needs dictate (Optima's have less capacity for their weight, and are expensive).
2. Use a heavy gauge "battery charge wire" from your truck to camper -- #6 or #8 stranded wire would be my choice.
3. Use a battery isolator or battery combiner to isolate your truck battery from your camper battery. I would avoid the diode based isolators (the ones usually housed in a blue aluminum heat sink) as they are inefficent (hence the need for the big heat sink). A good battery isolation solenoid switch is hard to beat for the price (about $20) and has no significant losses. High end isolators like Hellroaring makes are excellent but spendy. Another highly desirable choice is a "battery combiner" such as the 150 amp unit marketed by West Marine (www.westmarine.com). List is about $180, but you can get them new on eBay for $60 to $75. They are a voltage sensing relay that combine your chassis (truck) battery and house (camper) battery whenever there is a charging voltage present (either from your truck alternator, or from your camper converter). Whenever there is no charging voltage present the two batteries are isolated. These devices can be located either under your hood or in your camper with equal ease. And you can add a remote switch to switch from automatic mode to manual combine, or manual isolate.
4. Get a modern switching power-supply based converter with three stage charger such as the PD9100 series with "Charge Wizard" option. A good place to buy is www.bestconverter.com. For a camper with only one battery I would stick with smaller sized converters like 35 or 45 amps. For two or more batteries you could/should go larger (larger means faster battery charging and more capability for running 12v stuff). These converters can be left plugged in to shorepower 24/7 without hurting your batteries. They do not need to have a battery in the system to power your camper 12v equipment (unlike many older units). They can put out their full rated power to your batteries for charging unlike many older units (ie, very fast charging compared to many older units). Their output is "filtered" and thus suitable for running electronics and other sensitive equipment (unlike many older units).
NUT-SHELL SUMMARY: One or two big 12v, or two 6v, high quality deep cycle batteries, #6 or #8 battery charge wire, solenoid isolator switch or battery combiner, modern switching power supply type converter with microprocessor controlled 3-stage charging ability.
[ON EDIT: Fixed typos]
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Thanks, NetBoy, for the refresher on converter/inverter/solenoid vs. diode/truck-to-camper/true deep-cycle proven technologies!
If you combine your research~set-up with Steve in 29's very well-proven solar set-up, and post to the List's permanent bulletins (List Admin Brad?), this would give everyone a front-end link to work with (i.e. no searching and culling through thousands of posts to assemble the electrical set-up info).
I am taking delivery of an '06 F-250 PS 4x4 this week and I'm flying up to Denver this weekend to visit the Outfitter factory and if they check out, place my order for an Apex 8.
I would assume you ordered the short bed model F-250 as the Apex 8 is made for the short bed.
Make sure you visit Diesel Stop.Com for all that is going on (good and bad) with your new 6.0L PS. The 6.0L PS are a hit or miss breed. I personally have had several problems but, all fixed now. They do leave our Chevy friends in the dust.
Congrats on what sounds like the dream setup !
2005 Outfitter Apex 9.5 2003 F350 FX4 Lariat SRW/LB/SC 6.0 Auto
3" Edge Lift,X Springs, BFG A/T 285/75/16 E-Rated, (2front)Bilstein 5100, (2rear)Rancho R9000, AirLift Load Controller I,Edge Juice w/Attitude, tons more goodies.