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Old 10-30-2013, 10:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by CA_Tallguy View Post
I understand what you're saying. Very true. I believe that the unit is intelligent about charging and things like the temperature sensor will help charge properly. Also, I do have a decent sized battery bank and my alternator currently is only 90 or 110 amps -- so there is a big limitation to start off with. I think a good chunk goes first to the starting batteries and then the house batteries get some love. The chart seems to show the amperage tapering quickly off from the beginning as well.

The optional control panel and current shunts will let me keep an eye on things fairly precisely.

My goal is to charge quickly when possible and I think at least 50 amps is safe for my bank. Probably more. I feel this unit will charge a lot better and more kindly than the single stage charger currently installed in the trailer.
I learned all of this when I had a GMC motorhome with a 12 volt Norcold refrigerator. It had a battery bank of 2 golf cart batteries, 225 Ah capacity. I had installed a PD 9160 converter/charger, 60 amp capacity. When I would be out dry camping, the refrigerator would take quite a lot of power and when the batteries would drop to about half charge, I would start the onboard generator and run the PD converter/charger. For the first maybe 15 minutes it would charge at the 60 amp limit (I had a meter on it) but then it would fairly quickly drop to 35 amps and then over an hour drop to around 20 amps. I believe that the first 60>35 drop was the bulk charge changing to the Absorption charge rate. The slow taper down to 20 amps was the Absorption charge and the automatic taper that the batteries did. I never ran the generator for more than 2 hours total, but by that time the charge the batteries were taking was in he 15 amp range.

The unit you are going to install looks good, in that it compensates for the voltage drop over the length of wire back to the trailer batteries, and all of the things in between, like the plugs and sockets, fuses and so on. I am assuming with the shunts included, you will be able to meter the charge rate. I think you will find that it will taper something like I mention, and you probably will have no real need to go to a huge alternator. They apparently more or less take the original voltage regulator out of the circuit and substitute maybe even two different VR's for the TV and the house batteries. They have sense voltage information from the remote house battery which seems to indicate that, which is good.

I also believe in big enough wires, but they are costly and I would not go overboard on them. With the voltage compensation of the unit, you can overcome the main problem with long charge runs, that is voltage drop. I would suggest a #4 or #2 line at most. Remember that the negative wire needs to be the same capacity as the + one.

The TV battery usually is fully charged, the discharge from starting is relatively minor and rapidly replaced. Unless you are running at low speeds, with the AC and headlights on you are not taxing the TV alternator very much with the vehicle loads. Those loads are, however, increasing on modern cars and trucks with more and more electric needs. My Toyota Camry hybrid has no drive belts at all, the power comes from the motor linked electric motor/generator. The water pump is electric, as is the power steering, brake booster, and AC compressor as well as all the various fans. Rigs are slowly going more and more electric, but it has not hit the big truck based ones much yet.

I will be interested to hear how it all comes out.
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Old 10-30-2013, 10:52 PM   #16
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I also believe in big enough wires, but they are costly and I would not go overboard on them. With the voltage compensation of the unit, you can overcome the main problem with long charge runs, that is voltage drop. I would suggest a #4 or #2 line at most. Remember that the negative wire needs to be the same capacity as the + one.
I going to run this by the tech support people in the morning and I'm hoping something around this size will work out. As long as the voltage drop compensation isn't too taxing on the unit, I can't see why it would be an issue. They are pretty proud of the units capabilities and I suspect they will say it is fine.

In doing a bit more research on my batteries, I think max charge rate recommended is C/5 or 80 amps in my case. I think it would be unlikely my 110 amp alternator and this setup will hit this. I would think 2 to 4 awg would be sufficient.

My main interest in the smaller wire is just that the big wire can get a bit cumbersome, especially on a flexible TV to trailer link.
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:51 PM   #17
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Spoiler: three years ago I nabbed a 12 to 24V marine quality charger/converter for cheap off ebay since I’m using 24V house batteries and HAVE NOT installed it – but I’m still stuck with the same problems at 24V that exists at 12V, plus the connection being one way only. My unit attaches to the engine battery only, with alternator and battery temperature sensors with 45A maximum draw off batt/alt and 88% efficiency. It has low battery cut-out, will not draw down engine battery, etc.
I believe this unit is made by the same company as mine but it is also sold under the promariner brand. These battery-to-battery chargers are much easier to install since they simply connect to the battery, especially the units that are housed in enclosures where mounting in the engine compartment is easier. I think everyone who tows should have something like this to charge batteries! Xantrex Echocharge, balmer, and CTEK put out interesting units as well... As I talked about in that other thread.

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stock alternators can charge around 15 to 50 amps at idle but are designed for two, three or more times engine idle speed to reach full output, so unless there is an automatic throttle adjustment just letting the engine idle 5 or 10 amp output will not be a huge benefit to a large battery bank.
This is something that I have been concerned about and may have pushed me to the larger rated alternator-to-battery charger category. I figure I'll see what my stock alternator does then look at possibly upgrading. In marketing materials for some of these high output alternators, some boast about how much capacity is available at idle. As you point out, "at idle" is certainly a distinct usage case, like maybe at truck or rest stops. Or, if the batteries need to be topped up while boondocking. I've thought about making extension cables for this purpose so I wouldn't even need to back up the truck as if to hitch. I'd certainly like to make the most of idling time somehow or another.
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:56 PM   #18
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on a new F150 the total truck length can be 21' feet long bumper to bumper, subtract some for battery location but add in crossing side to side distance and following the stock wire harness the circuit length can be as much as 20 or 25 feet of wire run just to reach the hitch. Now let us add wire length to access batteries from entry point of trailer shell (my '73 27’r battery was under bathtub, that'd be a 30' addition) of twenty feet to have a large set of batteries directly above the axles. So we’re up to 40-plus feet, alternator to house battery… Yeah, an alternative of two batteries mounted on hitch A-frame, additional batteries mounted directly behind them inside the shell, would bring the hardwire length to 26 or 30 feet. Okay, a question – how to bridge the jump from bumper to trailer shell?
Learning something new everyday! I thought most/all airstreams, at least 80s and older, had batteries in the front under the gaucho. Well anyway, mine are up front though I worry about that much weight on the younger and would love to move them back someday. Maybe if I upgrade to lifepo4 technology. I'm guessing my cable run to be about 25 feet. Maybe 30 at most.
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:09 PM   #19
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Tech support for the unit confirmed my suspicion that they were saying "bigger cable is always better" and that smaller would be OK when using the voltage drop compensation feature... And a good fuse. They suggested 0 gauge cable.

What I might do is 2/0 to the back bumper and then I think that the Grote connector suggested just has studs on the back, so I can attach to that or reduce down in order to do so.

From there, I will probably look for a good heavy gauge flexible cable compatible with the connector insert end for the last 5 to 8 feet to the batteries. They say 4 gauge is compatible with the connector but I wonder if I could get 2 to work.
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:12 PM   #20
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FYI it looks like several companies make that 2 pole connector and it seems to be marketed for liftgate power and battery charging. May even be a standard type for that purpose.
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:38 PM   #21
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I
First: stock alternators can charge around 15 to 50 amps at idle but are designed for two, three or more times engine idle speed to reach full output, so unless there is an automatic throttle adjustment just letting the engine idle 5 or 10 amp output will not be a huge benefit to a large battery bank. Compensating regulators and idle rpm high-output alternators or even a second alternator dedicated to auxiliary loads may be a solution but leaving things stock means in-transit or high-idle charging as primary to get desired alternator RPMs.
It depends on the alternator.

Ford and Chevy are both using large-frame alternators in vehicles set up for towing. While they have slightly higher maximum output, their real advantage is much higher output at idle speed. The AD244 in my Suburban is rated for 130 amps at idle, and I've measured it doing around 80 amps

Chevy started making the large-frame CS-144 available in 1986, and switched to the AD-244 at some point. Output is roughly similar for these two.

The situation with Ford and Dodge is similar.

For Chevy, trucks made with the smaller alternators (CS-130, etc), the large-frame alternators are a drop-in plug-compatible replacement in most cases (a few require a $40 adapter plug). You usually have to replace the drive belt with the next longer size.
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Old 10-31-2013, 01:49 PM   #22
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* CA_Tallguy mentions Anderson Connectors. I’ve stayed with traditional trucking & agricultural connectors since they are proven, Andersons work great in protected/sheltered areas but weather and grit, grit especially if any contact grease is used, adds in trouble.

I see a Grote 2-pole 200A plug/socket for agriculture that accepts up to 4awg cable, and a Pollak 1-pole 300A unit that accepts up to 2/0 cable.
These connectors are mainly used for intermittent loads -- usually hydraulic power packs for lift gates. I would derate them for continuous duty use, like battery charging.

The Anderson connectors are used for forklift batteries and are a self-wiping design that's relatively trouble free even in weather.

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32 feet
4AWG wire 75A = 10.22 % voltage drop, at 30A = 4.08%
2/0AWG wire 75A = 3.20% voltage drop, at 30A = 1.28%
The only way to charge at these currents is to run up the voltage at the source to compensate for the cable loss. The Sterling and other remote battery charging products do this. As a result, you can size the battery cable for ampacity rather than voltage drop.

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Okay – The cables on the vehicle have got to be an armored flexible welding style cable, keeping the conductors tight together keeps the power loop the cleanest power, and with the chance to do serious damage the cables should be routed in flexible/solid conduit to shrug off road hazard damage that would be unnoticed otherwise.
Duplex boat cable gets the job done and is available in sizes at least up to 6 awg. Like UF only flexible. Much easier to install than something in conduit.

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Can the sections of the tow vehicle warranty be voided if you don’t use the OEM optional second battery kit and follow the exact routing the factory does on the stock trailer harness? Maybe – just let something happen and see if they don’t spike their national dealer VIN database with the trouble source you’ve introduced. Just saying, adding something to the battery terminal versus alternator may have consequences – are we good with that?

Anyhow – The sterling looks great except its meant to be mounted in the engine compartment of a boat, the same limitation that my unit has. “Install the unit in a cool and well-ventilated position close to the alternator. Also, the installation point has to be dry and free from heavy condensation since the unit is not waterproof. Do not fit it in a closed box as this might lead to overheating of the unit and reduced performance.” There is a possibility placing the unit inside the truck engine compartment inside a splash proof but ventilated shell would work, I have no idea where best to place my charger especially since a new vehicle is in the works..
I'm not sure that the engine compartment of a boat is materially better environmentally than the engine compartment of a car.
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Old 10-31-2013, 06:58 PM   #23
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Well the unit arrived and it is pretty darn hefty. That's a good thing considering the amps it is going to handle. But there is no way I am going to fit it under the hood. I still think that under a seat or in the spot under my dash is going to be the only option. More likely under the dash as it will save 4 feet X 4 runs of heavy cable (neg and 3 positives - alt in and trailer + vehicle batteries).

I should have thought about the continuous duty issue on the trailer connectors. Hmmm.
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:27 PM   #24
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Hmm. This cable assembly for the 2 pole liftgate socket says not recommended for pulling power from the tractor (aka tow vehicle)

http://www.easternmarine.com/15-lift...e-assy-23-2626
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:39 PM   #25
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'Duplex boat cable gets the job done and is available in sizes at least up to 6 awg. Like UF only flexible. Much easier to install than something in conduit.'

It actually is available all the way up to 2AWG. I am using a spool in a 900 watt solar installation tomorrow.
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:12 PM   #26
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I actually have some nice marine cable for my solar panels. Will have to explore that avenue a bit more but I may want to get something more rated for flexible, mobile, industrial use and to take a beating. I feel like marine cable is designed for fixed placement, isn't it? My big concern is between the trailer and truck right now.

Still struggling between using an anderson connector and heavy cable between rear bumper and trailer vs a premade coil for liftgate applications like I posted above.

The liftgate cables are nice and compact, but only 4 gauge. I have found one at a decent price -- two conductor with two pole connector in a springy coil. The coiling of some of the dual conductor cables could be handy, though it would add to the length. The only thing is the cables and connectors are rated for only 100 to 200 amps, and that isn't likely a continuous rating. The bulk of my usage will likely be 50 amps and lower, however.

On the other hand, using an anderson connector... I would probably have to go with a sb175, which isn't a little connector. I actually use these in a few other places. Kind of big hanging off the back of the truck, and not very shielded from the elements. They do have a boot, and dust cover available, the sb175 can take up to 1/0 cable. I don't real want to go larger than this connector.

With the anderson, I think my best bet would be "entertainment cable" or type W. It's what the carnies use! I am hopeful of finding it in a dual conductor configuration. Also looking at type SOW and SOOW.

Type W/entertainment cable....

Used in extremely demanding applications including
Diesel electric locomotives
Portable power systems
television
theater
mobile communication vans
Ship to shore power
mobile mining equipment
spotlights & sound systems
Carnival & entertainment industry activities
Other similar applications that would require temporary power

And here is type SC which is even "suitable for continuous immersion in water"

http://www.lexproducts.com/cs/specif..._feeder_cables
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Old 10-31-2013, 11:52 PM   #27
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This site has a good assortment of W and other types of cable that could work well....

Power Cable Type W, Electrical Wire 2, Romex Wire, Welding Cable 4, Tray Cable Sales
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:18 AM   #28
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No shortcuts – this is an occupied structure with people living and sleeping in it. I like conduit. I like heavy copper.

De-rating is what can make connectors last a long long time, whether by 40%, 50%, 75%, 90% - it all depends on duty cycle and environment. Don’t size connectors at 200A when the charger is rated at 200A, even if it’s now a wee sleepy little alternator.

Quote:
The Anderson connectors are used for forklift batteries and are a self-wiping design that's relatively trouble free even in weather.
I’ve seen a different perspective - that Anderson flavor of self-wiping is effective when regularly exercised, example shift-work or routinely swapped from charger to battery power source between uses, been there done that and replaced burned contacts before – and they were in clean shop environments. Road grit is a killer so a motive power battery connection that never sees semi-rig turbulence kicking up sand and endless road-spray driving in weather may not be the best example.

For a really professional installation look at these – there are some NEAT socket receptacles 2/3rds of the way down the PDF that with adding a sturdy and hidden inside-the-shell mounting bracket would be really sexy. One of my Texas Oil Patch welding buddies swears by the 1/3 turn cam locks… They have icing proof, chemical resistant and most any flavor you can think of…

Getting high current jumpers designed for Over-the-road trucking or agriculture (or welding) where they are expected to operate unattended in any weather for weeks at a time would still be my first choice.

Also, stress relief should be mandatory on these jumpers, cable clamps w/ spring or other anchor to snub possible vibrations and reduce pull-apart forces

Quote:
you can size the battery cable for ampacity rather than voltage drop.
Happiness is not a hot cable or overheated connections, even if for a short time period. Five percent or even two percent drop is a good ‘etched in stone’ target even if the power is near free.

12 Volts at 150A is 1800 watts. Example: throw 150 amps down 30 feet of 2awg... can we say 12% voltage drop? That is 216 watts of heat dissipating in six pounds of copper that will rise 26°F in the first minute seeing that current, all snug in its insulation. Now let’s add in a connection, even the best Anderson 275A connections have a 20C temp rise at 150A that then coincides with its supply cables being heated giving nowhere for the connector heat to dissipate to... in the first minute. 1/0 would be 7.5%, 2/0 would be 6%, 4/0 3.75%... Not subscribing to voltage drop design is a horrible idea, always size for voltage drop. Where it gets really expensive is doing the work twice…
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