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Old 07-04-2017, 10:49 AM   #1
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Battery capacity vs. weight

I have a 2006 16' International CCD with a single AGM 80AH battery. I'd love to double the capacity. But my problem is hitch weight. I'm already at the 500# tongue weight limit for my 2016 4runner. So, I'm considering options:

-Just add another battery, 56 pounds. Assume the WD hitch gives me some margin.
-Since the two batteries weight 112 pounds, and the two propane tanks weight 74 pounds together, move batteries to rear and propane tanks forward on the A-frame tongue to get the most leverage for the heavier items. 10' from axle to hitch means that every foot backwards is a 10% tongue weight savings.
-Move AGMs to the inside? There's not much space under the drivers side dinette cushions, but it would be possible to put AGMs under passenger cushions, replacing the pull out storage drawer. I don't like giving up storage on a Bambi, though.
-Lithium Cells? I think you get more capacity/weight, but I'm reluctant to pay the big bucks needed for a Lithium upgrade.
-Other options????

I've measured our usage, and we use 25AH/day, about the same that we can charge back with our 50W solar cell on sunny days. I'm worried about shorter and cloudy days. We're limited to 2 days max if we can't recharge.

Any suggestions?
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Old 07-04-2017, 11:28 AM   #2
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Hi

Lithium's will do better in terms of power per pound. They also are a bit more "inside compatible". Lead acid (flooded or AGM) need to be vented to the outdoors. Cost wise, yup, you spotted that already. Since you can run lithium's essentially to zero and can only run the lead acid's to about 50% capacity, you get away with fewer amp hours of lithium. If you accept the claim that they last twice as long, that also helps a bit on the upfront cost. Even more so if you accept the 3X or 4X claims (yikes !!).

If your daily usage stays at 25 AH, a 100AH lithium stack is probably gross overkill. Better to spend a bit more on solar so you are more likely to get a charge. Portable solar is one thing to consider. 50W solar at 80% gives you about 3.2 amps at 12.5V. That barely gets you to 25.6 AH. Any day you miss out on will never get made up. A 100W portable panel isn't all that expensive ....

Another thing to consider (if you don't have one) is a small inverter generator. They are very quiet and pretty small. A 1KW version will charge your hypothetical 100AH / good for 4 days stack in just over an hour. One hour of run every 4 days isn't *that* much hassle.

Bob
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Old 07-04-2017, 01:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Portable solar is one thing to consider. 50W solar at 80% gives you about 3.2 amps at 12.5V. That barely gets you to 25.6 AH. Any day you miss out on will never get made up. A 100W portable panel isn't all that expensive ....

Another thing to consider (if you don't have one) is a small inverter generator. They are very quiet and pretty small. A 1KW version will charge your hypothetical 100AH / good for 4 days stack in just over an hour. One hour of run every 4 days isn't *that* much hassle.

Bob
Thanks, Bob. Your 25.6AH calculation is almost precisely the best solar charging I've had in a day. So, summer days I'm pretty good. But with winter, with more furnace blower time and fewer hours of daylight, the balance can't be maintained. Yes, I've considered a portable solar unit for exactly that reason- more power and the ability to aim the panels.

I'm very impressed with how much lighter lithium batteries are. I could increase capacity and lessen the weight. I'm not sure where I'd put a Li battery in the Bambi. Outside on the tongue where the AGM is now is an easy solution, but from what I've seen Li batteries don't like being charged at below freezing temperatures, a certainty in Colorado mountains in fall. So, inside where the trailer is heated seems preferred.
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Old 07-04-2017, 01:40 PM   #4
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We installed a 300 amp-hour lithium inside our 2015 23D International Serenity just forward of the street side front tire wheel well. It weighed just 84 pounds which is much less than the two stock lead acid batteries that were in the front battery box. One can safely use 85% to 90% of the capacity of a lithium battery, whereas a lead acid is good for 50% of it's capacity.

We do have five 100 watt solar panels on the roof of our 23D.
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Old 07-04-2017, 03:15 PM   #5
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Hi

If indeed, your 25AH turns into >50AH as the seasons change, a 100AH stack isn't going to be right for you. Furnace blowers pull a lot of power. Mounting the lithiums in the trailer is an option. It may or may not be what you want to do.

Simply accepting that the whole trailer has issues below 32F is another option. If it's still below 32 at noon, keeping the water systems happy gets to be a big hassle. You are not going to be charging the batteries off of solar at midnight. In the sort of conditions that the rest of the trailer is designed for, the batteries will be above freezing when you have solar to charge them.

Lead acid batteries have charging / capacity issues below freezing. If you want to get a good charge on them, you will need a charger that can monitor the battery temperature. That only gets as much into the battery as it will accept. The 20% or so capacity decrease is just something you put up with.

If you are out as winter sets in, managing things gets iffy. The weather man is not always 100% accurate in the 1 week forecast. Freezing the pipes that are buried in the walls ... not much fun. Knowing when 29 degrees and 13 mph winds from dead on to the hitch is a lot worse than 22 degrees and wind broadside (or vice versa) ..... nobody knows that stuff. Airstreams (like most RV's) are tough to run when it's cold for extended periods.

Lots of fun !!

Bob

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Old 07-05-2017, 12:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larry9000 View Post
I have a 2006 16' International CCD with a single AGM 80AH battery. I'd love to double the capacity. But my problem is hitch weight. I'm already at the 500# tongue weight limit for my 2016 4runner. So, I'm considering options:

-Just add another battery, 56 pounds. Assume the WD hitch gives me some margin.
-Since the two batteries weight 112 pounds, and the two propane tanks weight 74 pounds together, move batteries to rear and propane tanks forward on the A-frame tongue to get the most leverage for the heavier items. 10' from axle to hitch means that every foot backwards is a 10% tongue weight savings.
-Move AGMs to the inside? There's not much space under the drivers side dinette cushions, but it would be possible to put AGMs under passenger cushions, replacing the pull out storage drawer. I don't like giving up storage on a Bambi, though.
-Lithium Cells? I think you get more capacity/weight, but I'm reluctant to pay the big bucks needed for a Lithium upgrade.
-Other options????

I've measured our usage, and we use 25AH/day, about the same that we can charge back with our 50W solar cell on sunny days. I'm worried about shorter and cloudy days. We're limited to 2 days max if we can't recharge.

Any suggestions?
I replaced my lead acid with an 100AH LiION battery that weighs 28 pounds. Our sales-rep was Will Olney at Battle Born Batteries, 4818 Longley Ln Reno NV 89502. They also make a 50AH.

Price include FedEx shipping are reasonable and they ship very quickly.

I like the fact that they are manufactured in the USA. So far it has worked quite well for us during our Boon Docking.

It has the battery management system built so our existing multi stage charge unit works with no modifications. I also use a 100W solar panel during boon docking with no power issues.
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Old 07-05-2017, 12:47 PM   #7
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I had a similar issue with our 25' FB (which has two group 24 batteries) and the Tundra. I wanted more battery capacity (especially for cold nights w furnace running while boondocking) but I didn't want the expense of Li ion, the lost space of moving to AGMs and locating them in the trailer or the weight of two 6 volts. My solution was to add a 12 volt quick disconnect fitting to the existing battery bank, buy a third group 24 and a battery box (total cost under $150). When Im going to need the additional battery power I connect the additional battery a day before to top off its charge. It rides wherever I want it (usually inside the trailer near the rear where it actually reduces tongue weight). It connects or disconnects in 10 seconds. It has two 12 volt connectors... the second allows me to hook in my solar suitcase even when all three batteries are in use. Cheap... easy... effective... works for me.
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Old 07-05-2017, 01:43 PM   #8
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Larry,

Do not rule out the AGM batteries. Lifeline AGMs do not need to be vented to the outside and they can be mounted on their sides inside the trailer. You get a lot of capacity per battery and a 7 to 10 year life if you take care of them. They weigh more to get capacity (all lead acid batteries do) and they are more expensive than standard deep cycle batteries, but they are a lot less expensive than lithium (at least upfront cost). Take a look at the Lifeline web site at http://lifelinebatteries.com/products/rv-batteries/. You could put in a 12v system or 6v system. Two GPL 4CT would give you a 110 AHr capacity at 50% discharge at a cost of less than $600 delivered to your house. There are a lot of other alternatives.

Good shopping!
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:07 PM   #9
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Hi

Any lead acid battery, AGM or flooded *can* produce hydrogen gas when over charged. The only question is how much of an overcharge it takes to get there. The "do not require ventilation" statements on AGM's are always followed by a note buried somewhere about "normal operation". Best practice is still to vent them. That way in the case of a problem, you don't create an even bigger problem. RV fires are a really bad thing ....

One of many references on AGM's in enclosed spaces:

http://www.boats.com/how-to/sealed-b.../#.WV1FccaZPMU

Google canl come up with a lot of others.

Bob
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Old 07-05-2017, 03:32 PM   #10
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Hi Bob,

Per Lifeline, you do not want to mount their batteries in a “sealed” container, but they only require minimal venting so hydrogen gas does not build up.

Per your article (link), “The good news here is that hydrogen mixes with air very readily and so not too much ventilation is required.”

Lifeline – “Both AGM and Gel batteries utilize oxygen recombination and pressure relief valves to minimize water loss and allow maintenance-free operation. That is where the similarities end. AGM batteries have the advantage of being mountable in any orientation without capacity loss, have lower internal impedance to support high load currents, and have better capacity at lower temperatures.”

Lifeline - “Do not install Lifeline® AGM batteries in a sealed container or enclosure. During storage, charging, or discharging hydrogen gas can be released and must be ventilated to prevent the possibility of ignition and/or explosion.”

Lifeline – “This notice is to clarify to shippers and transporters that the batteries listed are packaged and marked in accordance to 49 CFR 173.159(d) and are determined to be in compliance with DOT HMR49 Non-Hazardous Materials, the International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Special Provisions S.P.A67 & A48. Therefore, these batteries are not restricted for shipment by air or any other means of transportation and are exempted from the hazardous material category.”

The point is, you can safely install AGMs in a trailer, just do not put them in a sealed area/container. Provide adequate ventilation so the small amount of hydrogen gas does not build up.

Not trying to start an argument, but stating the other point of view. Let each decide for himself/herself.
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:31 PM   #11
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That's a great idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GammaDog View Post
My solution was to add a 12 volt quick disconnect fitting to the existing battery bank, buy a third group 24 and a battery box (total cost under $150). When Im going to need the additional battery power I connect the additional battery a day before to top off its charge. It rides wherever I want it (usually inside the trailer near the rear where it actually reduces tongue weight). It connects or disconnects in 10 seconds. It has two 12 volt connectors... the second allows me to hook in my solar suitcase even when all three batteries are in use. Cheap... easy... effective... works for me.
Gammadog- I asked for other ideas, and you came up with a logistically clever one! I like it. I assume you hook the extra battery up with a set of standard battery clamps. I also like having it ride just in back of the rear axle. I even have room in my rear storage compartment. Once at camp, pull it out and attach. Clever.

Is there any issue during traveling that the hitch battery is being charged by solar, while the interior one is dormant? Or any consequence that the usage between the two batteries won't be completely symmetrical?
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Old 07-05-2017, 10:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveP View Post
Larry,

Do not rule out the AGM batteries. Lifeline AGMs do not need to be vented to the outside and they can be mounted on their sides inside the trailer. You get a lot of capacity per battery and a 7 to 10 year life if you take care of them.
Thanks, Dave. AGM is the still default for me. After all, that's what I have now, and AGMs have nice properties. I just need to figure out how to address the hitch weight issues.
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Old 07-06-2017, 07:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by DaveP View Post
Hi Bob,

Per Lifeline, you do not want to mount their batteries in a “sealed” container, but they only require minimal venting so hydrogen gas does not build up.

Per your article (link), “The good news here is that hydrogen mixes with air very readily and so not too much ventilation is required.”

Lifeline – “Both AGM and Gel batteries utilize oxygen recombination and pressure relief valves to minimize water loss and allow maintenance-free operation. That is where the similarities end. AGM batteries have the advantage of being mountable in any orientation without capacity loss, have lower internal impedance to support high load currents, and have better capacity at lower temperatures.”

Lifeline - “Do not install Lifeline® AGM batteries in a sealed container or enclosure. During storage, charging, or discharging hydrogen gas can be released and must be ventilated to prevent the possibility of ignition and/or explosion.”

Lifeline – “This notice is to clarify to shippers and transporters that the batteries listed are packaged and marked in accordance to 49 CFR 173.159(d) and are determined to be in compliance with DOT HMR49 Non-Hazardous Materials, the International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Special Provisions S.P.A67 & A48. Therefore, these batteries are not restricted for shipment by air or any other means of transportation and are exempted from the hazardous material category.”

The point is, you can safely install AGMs in a trailer, just do not put them in a sealed area/container. Provide adequate ventilation so the small amount of hydrogen gas does not build up.

Not trying to start an argument, but stating the other point of view. Let each decide for himself/herself.
Hi

Trailer in storage with the batteries on charge inside the trailer .... bad idea, even with AGM's.

Bob
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Old 07-06-2017, 08:08 AM   #14
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...or you could get a small 1000 watt generator and top off whenever needed.
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