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 > Getting ready to go boondocking

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mena661

Southern California

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Posted: 06/02/11 11:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Over the past year I've been getting the 5er ready to do some boondocking. I started with replacing all my lights with LED's. In my case, this reduced draw from lights from 350W to 87W. Of course, that's if I turn them all on at once. Battery charger was a difficult one. I had decided on a converter at first, then an inverter/charger, then back to a converter. I got a separate inverter. I had originally wanted a solar setup but after a ton research, questions, advice, and discussions (BFL13, KendallP, Pianotuna, MrWiz, Mexbungalows), a large battery bank made sense as it's the heart of the RV and boondocking can't be done without batteries. The battery bank was sized for 3-4 days of camping with a draw around 100-150 amp hours per day without a recharge needed until returning home. I have no generator and would only consider one for long trips in shaded areas (like Yosemite). Solar is still in the works but tentatively delayed until next year. Now for the parts list.

1. Four Trojan L16E-AC 6V batteries at 740Ah total.
2. Go Power 300W PSW Inverter
3. Parallax Paramode 55 Amp Converter with temperature compensation - for floating and charging at home.
4. All interior lights converted to LED's - Great thread for these is KendallP's My LEDs.
5. Blue Sea 6006 Battery Switch
6. Two Blue Sea 2104B 600 Amp Bus Bars
7. Victron BMV 600 Battery Monitor - got it because you can set the Peukert exponent. It will come in handy in the future when LiFePo4 batteries get out of the stratosphere.
8. Blue Sea 5165 and 5124 ANL fuses for the inverter and converter/charger.
9. Assorted wiring from Genuinedealz.com. 1 ft each of 4/0 for the battery interconnects. 5 ft of 4/0 from the batteries to a pair of bus bars. 2ft of #6 for both the inverter and standalone converter to the bus bars. Used a leftover #2 wire from my old batteries and the existing chassis ground wire on the battery switch. Used #8 for the chassis ground wires for the inverter and converter. The Victron's shunt has a 4/0 cable directly from the batteries and another leftover #2 cable that goes to the negative bus bar. The #2 needs to be upgraded to 4/0.

Batteries in the truck bed

Batteries in the 5er Front Tray

Bus Bars and Wiring, Fuses, Standalone Converter, Inverter and Battery Switch


Victron Battery Monitor and Inverter Remote On/Off Switch


Now for the fun part! Initial SG readings from the batteries was 1.260 in all except one which was at 1.280. Temp was 78 degrees. I have a Black and Decker VEC1093DBD portable charger and since BFL was able to use the equalize function on his new 6V's successfully, I decided to give it a shot on the lower SG pair. SG on the lower pair went up to 1.270 at 73 degrees. I don't know how long the VEC was running but it ran the equalize till it shut off (I turned it on early in the morning ~6am ish). I had the DW check on the batts once an hour to make sure they weren't hot or boiling over. No issues reported.

That evening I put the high SG pair on equalize for 3 hours. It was too dark to check the SG. Hooked the VEC to the low SG pair on the 40A charge overnight and let the other pair sit. In the morning the low SG pair was at 1.275 and the high SG pair was at 1.285. Temp was 48 degrees. Ran another equalize on the low SG pair. It ran until the VEC stopped (reads "full"). Had the DW text me when it stopped but the time is on my phone which is turned off right now. I checked the SG on both pairs and the low pair was still at 1.275 and the high was still at 1.285. Temp was 68 degrees.

I hooked all four batteries together and ran the VEC on the 40A setting. It read full after 2 mins. Did the 20, 10 and 4A settings. The 4A ran for 5 mins then displayed full. Tried an equalize session on all four and it stopped and read full after 3 mins. The batts are currently sitting on the VEC. It's supposed to be able to float. I will remove the VEC in the morning and let them sit until I get home from work and take another, last SG reading (for now).

I still have to mount the inverter, converter, and monitor. Still need to order some more wiring for the fuses and shunt. Got some free #6 for the battery switch. Will post more as I complete the install. I have a couple more pics of the batteries if anyone's interested. Thanks everyone for the lessons and advice.

* This post was last edited 07/03/12 10:21am by mena661 *   View edit history


2009 Newmar Canyon Star 3205, Ford F53 V10
Trojan L16 6V's 740 Amp-hours


Golden_HVAC

Fulltime, CA, USA

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Posted: 06/02/11 11:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

4 - 100# batteries!

You must really want to boondock a long time!

I have 4 - 67 pound Trojan T-105 with a total capacity of about 440 AH, while I might consider T-125 or T-145, I have not heard of campers with L16 batteries, they are just to heavy for most of us. I thought that my 280 pound battery bank was a bit heavy.

I have a 415 watt solar system, and I guess when I was camping in Yosemite, I did need to run the generator a little bit, but because I could not get satellite to work, I did not watch much TV.

I guess the solar system is lighter than the batteries by a long shot.

You will find that the basic needs of the RV by watching your e-meter, that it will draw 1.6- 1.9 amps at night, with everything shut off. This adds up to about 35 AH per day to run the carbon monoxide, propane leak detectors, and the refrigerator. That is about what one of my 120 watt solar panels can put out. I started with a pair of 45 watt in a Class C without CO and propane detectors. Installed the 75W panel a few months later, to watch more TV. Later installed the pair of 120 watt panels in this RV when I got the DSS system, and can watch 6-8 hours a day!

Yes I really like to watch TV.

I hope that you re-enforced the area under the batteries well. Hit a pot hole, and they double in weight for a couple of seconds.

THere was one guy who did not want to do without in his RV either. He installed 6 batteries in his truck, a 2,000 watt inverter, and 6 more batteries in his trailer. When he arrived at a campsite, he turned on the inverter, ran everything all weekend, like he was at home, and shut it all off at the end of the weekend, and drove home, recharging there. So I guess he had about 12 KW to use up over the weekend, and did not care what amount was used.

You will have over 8 KW, and can safely use 5 KW without worry about a shortened battery life. I guess you already know that going below a certain votlage and you will risk a shorter battery life? And to recharge as soon as possible all the way.

My friend had problems when he went boondocking, and I suggested upgrading the wire size from his Dodge truck to his trailer, and install a 50 amp relay to control the power, along with a 50 amp automatic re-set circuit breaker. With a battery bank your size, it will be possible to gain a lot of amp hours if you are towing more than a couple of hours. So lets say that you use up 225 AH in one location, tow for 3 hours to another place, and have a 50 amp charge circuit. You might gain 75 - 100 AH during that drive. No you will not get peak amps, but it is possible to gain that much in 3 hours.

With my motorhome, the wires from the alternator to the engine battery and to the coach batteries are all #0 or larger. All good for more than 100 amps. So when I went places like Death Valley, then drive to Jawbone Canyon, I can do most the recharging in route. Yet the standard wiring through the RV trailer plug is only #12 or perhaps #10 wire, and sometimes has a 20 amp fuse. You might find #14 wire and a 20 amp fuse? That will really limit the amps transferred while driving.

Fred.

Keith M

Cle Elum

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Posted: 06/03/11 08:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

400 pounds of battery isnt too much if you are going to be watching much TV or using a laptop-internet over four days. I have seen more than a few boondockers with 6+ golf cart batteries which brings the weight up to 372 pounds. Its hard to beat a generator for adding a bulk charge to the battery. I would probably add a couple of 200 watt solar panels next. Mena lives in Socal where getting a solar charge isnt all that difficult. For boondockers 240 watts of solar and 4 golf cart batteries has almost become standard. It wasnt that way 10 years ago. Windsun out of Flagstaff has been selling 205 watt 12 volt panels for $450 which is a pretty good deal. I paid more than that 10 years ago for a 120 watt panel.

kampinguru

Ontario

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Posted: 06/03/11 07:17am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I boondock for two weeks every summer and I have a pair of Trojan 12V deep cycle AGM batteries. I carry a Honda EU2000 generator and a battery charger. I charge every couple or 3 days. The generator can charge the batteries in about 4-6 hours on the econo throttle setting and I stick the genny back in the woods and run an extension cord. Cant even hear it at our site or any of the neighbors site. If it is raining and I want to watch TV, I plug the trailer into the genny and watch a movie. I would rather deal with a small genny than worrying about keeping a huge bank of batteries properly maintained. I just find it easier that way. The genny weighs about half of the weight of a single L16.


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mena661

Southern California

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Posted: 06/03/11 07:57am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Golden_HVAC wrote:

4 - 100# batteries!

You must really want to boondock a long time!


Golden_HVAC wrote:

I have 4 - 67 pound Trojan T-105 with a total capacity of about 440 AH, while I might consider T-125 or T-145, I have not heard of campers with L16 batteries, they are just to heavy for most of us. I thought that my 280 pound battery bank was a bit heavy.
I think a couple of members here mentioned they either had some or have some. The height seems to be the biggest problem with most people. These are 17" high. Most peoples trailers are heavier than mine so weight shouldn't be an issue unless your battery tray isn't up to the task.

Golden_HVAC wrote:

Later installed the pair of 120 watt panels in this RV when I got the DSS system, and can watch 6-8 hours a day!

Yes I really like to watch TV.
So do we! One of the primary reasons for the bank to be this size. The DW wanted to be able to spend 8 hours a day on an entire trip watching TV if the weather was bad and still have plenty left over for the furnace and other stuff. I'm planning on a new TV for the living room that will give us another ~35Ah a day.

Golden_HVAC wrote:

I hope that you re-enforced the area under the batteries well. Hit a pot hole, and they double in weight for a couple of seconds.
Didn't have to. The battery tray is really thick steel (I have a couple of broken hole saws and drill bits to prove it). I live on a dirt road and the batteries get bounced around pretty good even though I drive slow. Didn't even faze the tray. When I first put the batteries in, I expected some give from the tray and there was none.

Golden_HVAC wrote:

You will have over 8 KW, and can safely use 5 KW without worry about a shortened battery life. I guess you already know that going below a certain votlage and you will risk a shorter battery life? And to recharge as soon as possible all the way.
Yes but thanks for the heads up anyways. Trojans gotten a few emails from me I'll just say.

Golden_HVAC wrote:

My friend had problems when he went boondocking, and I suggested upgrading the wire size from his Dodge truck to his trailer
Thought about this but not sure if the expense will be worth it. That's a REALLY long run for 12V. I'd rather spend that money on solar.

* This post was edited 06/04/11 08:08pm by mena661 *

mena661

Southern California

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Posted: 06/03/11 08:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

kampinguru wrote:

I would rather deal with a small genny than worrying about keeping a huge bank of batteries properly maintained. I just find it easier that way. The genny weighs about half of the weight of a single L16.
There's only four batteries and maintenance was a concern (I originally wanted AGM's) but the only hard part is hydrometer checks. I've done quite a few checks already and it's much easier than I thought. Besides, I'll only need to do that after I return from a trip and maybe once a year other than that. For us, the extra weight gives us freedom from running a generator (no noise at all and no gas cans to carry). We'll probably still get one for battery charging on long trips or boondocking in the desert (need that A/C) but we'll need more than one Honda 2000 for that (looking at the Boliy 3600). IMO, I think we're still WELL under what most people take with them when camping. Even with the L16's my trailer only weighs 8240 lbs (9500 lb GVWR). And we took some stuff out we didn't need since that weighing.

pianotuna

Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 06/03/11 09:40am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi mena,

AGM are nice, except for the price! 740 amp-hours is quite nice too!

Tell us more about the Victron?

Enjoy that boondocking trip. I'll be interested to know the end results.

* This post was edited 06/03/11 10:05am by pianotuna *


Regards, Don
Full Time in a Kustom Koach Class C 28'5", 256 watts Unisolar, 875 amp hours in two battery banks 12 volt batteries, Magnum 3000 watt PSW inverter.

KendallP

Southern Oregon

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Posted: 06/03/11 09:49am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow. What a bunch of parade crappers.

A WHOLE lotta' thought went into mena's setup here. It's WELL researched. He knows what he's doing and he knows what's right for him and his family.

He clearly had more depth in the box than width. Therefore the L-16s were the perfect choice. Hauling them in and out will be a pain, but there should be no reason to do it for another 10 years (knock on wood.)

It's kinda' funny... in the 5-er tray those almost look like little T-105s. L-16s are highly respected batteries, folks, both for capacity AND longevity. They're a mainstay amongst the off-grid, home system crowd.

Awesome setup, mena! You're gonna' love all that new freedom!

Rock on!
.

* This post was edited 06/03/11 03:09pm by KendallP *


Cheers,
Kendall

1986 Winnebago Chieftain 22RC
Our Camper (Don't laugh...
Unlike our credit cards... she's paid for)


BFL13

Victoria, BC

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Posted: 06/03/11 09:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You have earned some camping time after all that research and preparation work! Now just convince DW to wear a headset for a wireless speaker on that television so you can have some peace and quiet. (another job for the inverter) Ha ha good luck with that.

The Equalize mode on the 1093DBD does work with 6s to get the SG up to spec (but not with my 27s which are more stubborn due to low gassing character) However, when the SG seems to stall in rising, you can use the Recondition mode for a couple of "24" (20 actual) hour cycles and then Equalize some more. This seems to get the SG moving again. Alternating Reconditon with Equalize back and forth works best for me as a "recovery" method.


2003 Chev 2500HD Gas, 2003 Komfort 26FS 5er
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smkettner

Southern California

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Posted: 06/03/11 09:29am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Enough preparation, just go already. Those batteries look beautiful BTW
It can still be a bit of work in process during the first trip out.


2001 F150 SuperCrew
2006 Keystone Springdale 249FWBHLS
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