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Old 04-19-2012, 01:45 PM   #15
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Again, thanks for the additional advice.

Gene, with over 7000 posts, you've probably seen it all. Thanks for the LED info and especially the SoC chart!! I'll see what my choices are regarding new batteries. I've had good luck with Interstates, but I'll check out Lifelines. You have AGM's, others counsel against them. Debate?

Jim Foster, your TV charging comment surprised me. I called Ford (I have a new Expedition) and was told that the Tow Package wiring includes the 7-pin connector with a separate charge wire for the towed vehicle batteries and that a full TV battery would not reduce the charge rate for the trailer batteries. He said that years ago a separate charge wire was often added that was not standard in the vehicle, but the newer vehicles are set up to charge trailer batteries. I hope they're right!

Webspinner - yes the 110v inverter built in to the Expedition would charge camera batteries, laptop, cell phone, etc.

All these comments are extremely helpful!
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Old 04-19-2012, 01:54 PM   #16
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There is a debate about batteries and just about anything else you can imagine. You can read battery threads and will have to decide what makes sense for you.

I have read the trailer cannot discharge the starting battery in the tow vehicle if you leave them attached. I expect this applies to newer vehicles, but how new I don't know. It seems simple to have a relay in the system to disconnect the charge line if the engine isn't running. That the charge line continues to charge the trailer batteries when the engine is running and the truck battery is fully charged is also my understanding (again in "newer" vehicles). But unless you drive very long days, I don't think it will fully charge the trailer batteries if they were run pretty far down.

7,000 posts does not indicate I have seen it all; it does indicate insanity. It is also hard to type in a straight jacket.

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Old 04-19-2012, 03:07 PM   #17
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Winetripper

Overall the advice so far is good.

Let's discuss the matter of the tow vehicle charging the battery however.

Usually the main problem is that the charge line can be disconnected or flaky for various reasons and you will never know for sure what's going on with a stock setup. If you're depending on the tow vehicle to charge the battery you should check the charge amperage with a meter. There are several clamp-on designs or you can wire in an automotive ammeter, or one of the fancy ones from the marine places, or an integrating one from Xantrex or Trimetric.

There are various points you can measure but the important thing is just to see that there is a reasonable amount of charge current flowing under circumstances where there ought to be, that is, engine running and the trailer batteries moderately discharged. If you aren't seeing at least 5 amps under those conditions then there is something wrong somewhere.

The stock wiring in most tow vehicles doesn't deliver enough current to the trailer to charge the battery fast enough help much with boondocking. By measuring you can see how much charge you're actually getting. Best to wait 10-15 minutes for the surface charge to appear in the trailer, that will reduce the current and give you a more realistic assessment.

The main problem is wire size. I have replaced the wiring in my tow vehicle with an 8 gauge duplex cable, that is, with separate 8 gauge wires for hot and ground. Until recently it went straight from the alternator to the 7 way, except for a circuit breaker. I have recently modified it a little because I have a second battery in my tow vehicle designed to provide extended boondocking which it connects to.

Anyway if you upsize the wire like that you should be able to get 20-25 amps into a pair of newish batteries, if they're around 50% discharged. It's still not a lot but for most people it's enough that you won't lose ground on days when you're moving.

To clarify some comments made upthread, the voltage regulator for the alternator will work OK when a number of batteries are connected together. Voltage regulators regulate voltage, not current, and so you'll get typically 13.8 volts at the alternator output terminal. The long total wire run to the trailer batteries limits the current. Batteries won't charge much below 12.8 volts so the current will tend to stabilize at the point where there is a 1 volt drop -- 12.8 to 13.8 -- between the batteries and the alternator. If you look at one of the wire resistance charts and do some math you'll see why it's tough to get above 25 amps or so and also see what stock wiring (typically 12 gauge or smaller) does.

Matters are complicated by the fact that modern cars have temperature compensated voltage regulators and also have the computer guessing at the state of charge for the batteries and doing things like dialing back the voltage a little on long drives to avoid overcharging. Great for the truck battery but no help with the trailer batteries.

In practice if everything is working OK you should be able to make it 2-3 nights with reasonable conservation measures, more than that if you're driving several hours a day.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:39 PM   #18
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Geez, and I thought electricity and electronics were supposed to make our lives easier! That's what Ronnie Reagan told us on GE theater! How about a giant roof-mounted propeller beanie running an electric motor backwards? Isn't that the Prius model? (I know, I know, the energy expended exceeds the energy produced, etc, etc).

So - the Airstream guys in Pismo Beach have revived my batteries and pronounce them healthy. They like the idea of a roof-mounted solar system to keep my batteries charged, but I don't like the idea of the $1200-$1500 it will cost. I'm going to put in a few LED lights and head out with my new Expedition, my new-to-me Airstream and my new Honda EU 2000 and see if I can muddle through. If necessary, I'll sidle up to a 110V hookup and quietly feed the hungry batteries.

However, as my odyssey doesn't commence until June 3, I'm sure I'll be back on the Forums for more good information. Thanks, all. Don
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:30 AM   #19
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I would plan a short trip before you hit the road on the long trip to see how it all works.
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:51 AM   #20
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"I'm going to put in a few LED lights and head out with my new Expedition, my new-to-me Airstream and my new Honda EU 2000 and see if I can muddle through. If necessary, I'll sidle up to a 110V hookup and quietly feed the hungry batteries."

Winetripper,

Your 2000i will fit nicely in this for transport, keeps the smells out of the AS or TV.
Keep a close eye on your batt's until your certain they are up to snuff, no battery likes to sit dead in storage. The LED's will help a lot in the high use fixtures. Soft white works well inside while the bright white is better for the step and porch.

Have fun....

Bob
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:34 AM   #21
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Which size container? 24 gallon?, thanks, jim
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Old 04-20-2012, 06:37 AM   #22
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Which size container? 24 gallon?, thanks, jim

Yep...


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Old 04-20-2012, 09:32 AM   #23
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The box is a good idea Bob, but if fumes escape from the generator and contained in the box, they are much more explosive than liquid gasoline. Maybe a few vent holes would be a good idea. Our Honda never seems to have any fumes escape, but I still would worry.

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Old 04-20-2012, 11:43 AM   #24
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Gene,

Are you related to Sandra?
She didn't even like the generator in the TV or the AS, but it's good now that it's sealed.

Plus it's on LPG now.

Bob
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:01 PM   #25
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Gene,

Are you related to Sandra?
She didn't even like the generator in the TV or the AS, but it's good now that it's sealed.

Plus it's on LPG now.

Bob
Ok, I'm caught. I used to see her in Mulligans (a sleazy bar in Buffalo) and we'd talk about gas fumes. Somehow this didn't impress her. I had found that lots of girls in Buffalo liked to talk about gas fumes, so I was surprised.

LPG does solve the problem of there is none remaining in the generator. Do you carry a separate tank for the generator in the Suburban, or hook up to the Airstream tanks?

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Old 04-20-2012, 12:14 PM   #26
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Ok, I'm caught. I used to see her in Mulligans (a sleazy bar in Buffalo) and we'd talk about gas fumes. Somehow this didn't impress her. I had found that lots of girls in Buffalo liked to talk about gas fumes, so I was surprised.

LPG does solve the problem of there is none remaining in the generator. Do you carry a separate tank for the generator in the Suburban, or hook up to the Airstream tanks?

Gene
The pancake tank is stored in the AS trunk.

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Old 04-20-2012, 01:59 PM   #27
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I had found that lots of girls in Buffalo liked to talk about gas fumes ...
Well, just so long as they didn't HAVE a lot of gas fumes, that's probably ok, isn't it?
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Old 04-20-2012, 02:21 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Winetripper View Post
Again, thanks for the additional advice.


Jim Foster, your TV charging comment surprised me. I called Ford (I have a new Expedition) and was told that the Tow Package wiring includes the 7-pin connector with a separate charge wire for the towed vehicle batteries and that a full TV battery would not reduce the charge rate for the trailer batteries. He said that years ago a separate charge wire was often added that was not standard in the vehicle, but the newer vehicles are set up to charge trailer batteries. I hope they're right!
I hope they are right too. My question to them would be "How is the charge to the TV battery being cut down?"

Interesting.
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