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Old 09-27-2010, 01:49 PM   #1
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Ely , Minnesota
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Questions about inverters, chargers, and generators

Hi...
I am an new owner of a 28' Safari. I am trying to understand how things work regarding the electronics and batteries.

I recently purchased a Honda 2000i and the companion generators. I thought that would be enough to charge my batteries. I have found out that the DC output of 8 amps is not enough to do this. So, it looks like I have to get a charger. Several questions.

What kind of charger should I get?
Do I also need a battery tender?

How do I know if I have an inverter?
How do I know if I have a charger?
If I run my generators, I assume I can run anything I need to (of course not all at once)
I have two 12v deep cylcle batteries hooked up together...when I charge them will they both charge by hooking up to just one battery?

I know these must sound like very stupid questions, but being new, it all seems to overwhelm me.
I know this will generate more questions, so this is enough for a start.
Thanks...
Bert
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Old 09-27-2010, 02:07 PM   #2
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U have a charger built into ur traylah. They all have them. Typically it's called a converter. Use it by plugging in the shore power cord to ur generator. That is all u need.

The batteries are connected in parallel and charge at the same time.

If u have power at your storage location u may find as i do that it is easiest to store the traylah plugged in so that the batteries do not discharge. It does then become necessary to add distilled water from time to time. I don't necessarily believe that the battery tender type products are much of an improvement over what's already built into the traylah.

If u have two 2000 watt generators with parallel kit u can run anything u want.

With 1 such generator u may find that u can't run the air conditioning.

If u have an inverter supplied from the factory then there will be a prominent control panel inside the traylah at eye level with switches and lights and instructions. An inverter added by the previous owner will be harder to identify but IF that was done the previous owner probably would have drawn ur attention to it as they are a costly upgrade that, in THEORY increases the value and price of the traylah.

On this forum there really is no such thing as a stupid QUESTION. Though occasionally we do get opinion and mistaken notions arriving costumed as FACT... but that ordinarily comes from experienced posters... so ur safe for now.

There are many Airstream owners on this board from Minnesota including a couple of others from the Ely area who you could meet up with if you wanted. There's a member search function for that.

Welcome to the forums.
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Old 09-27-2010, 02:08 PM   #3
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hi bert, welcome

it appears u have 2000x2 gensets?

simply PLUG the rv/30amp 3 prong CORD into the gensets...

to get the MOST juice into the stream use a 3 prong/twist lock adapter like this ...

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on the COMPANION model there is a 30 amp outlet that WILL accept this adapter...

the adapter is ~30$ from h' or 'bay or where ever genny supplies are sold.

IF using a 30 amp/20 amp adapter for the "household style" plug on the genny...

u may be limited to ~13-14 amps even while runny boths gensets.
___________

don't use the 12v dc OUT that is on the other generator for charging the RV batteries.

YES your stream came with a charger/converter...

some have inverters but only if ORDERED with that option (or added by d'previous owner)

with 2x2000 u can power EVERYTHING in the stream, just not all at once.

the ac for example will run, but not along with the electric water heater and microwave and fridge...

basically the limit will be something around (less than) 30 amps...

each genset has a PEAK output of 2000w but normally provides ~1600w...

1600x2=3200 watts which is ~26-29 amps.

so at ~26-27 amps the genset might show REDLIGHT (overload) is happening.

output goes DOWN with altitude.

u can work through what EACH electrical gadget inside the stream requires...
________

it would be USEFUL to read the owners manuals, most of this is covered.

both the honda AND the stream owners manuals are ONLINE for use, if a paper copy isn't nearby.
________

very simply, treat the 2x2000 gennys as IF they were a gasoline powered RV HOOKUP...

so just hookup using the 30 amp cord (and plug adapter) and magic happens.

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:37 AM   #4
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Electrical stuff...

Thanks for the replys. Both helpful and clear. I will check my stream to see if I have an inverter. If I am able to plug in appliances to my outlets in the stream, does that mean that I have an inverter? Does that mean that the dc power form the batteries is being changed over to ac?
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Old 09-28-2010, 09:09 AM   #5
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Working Receptacles

The receptacles only work if the trailer power cord is plugged into an ac power source like a receptacle at a campground or home or your Honda generator(s).

Welcome to the group.

Dan
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #6
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Converter might have gone south

What year is your coach? Even though I have a 2006, my converter had to be replaced. I plugged in and my batteries weren't charging. When I plugged in a voltage meter in the 12 volt outlet, it read 11.6 volts. After connecting to shore power it still read 11.6. The converter was toast. The PO had left it plugged in 24/7 for a number of years. The converter toasted the batteries and, I suspect, was damaged in the process.

If your converter is working you should see close to 14 volts at the meter when charging. If you have a 3 stage converter this reading should go down as the batteries near full charge.

The inverter is a different matter. My trailer came with one from the factory and the control panel is clearly visible. Two outlets are marked as inverter power which makes it easy to use.
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Old 09-28-2010, 01:28 PM   #7
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A question regarding the Central Control Panel/Monitor.
I am currently renovating/restoring my '76 Soveriegn and want to replace the bulky O.E.M Central Control Panel with a more svelt monitor. I'm considering the AIRSTREAM #5111788-02 Systems monitor.
My question is since the original monitor is analog, will the new L.E.D. type work with the sensors in the tank? Any other elaborations are surely welcome here.

Thanks everyone!
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Old 09-30-2010, 12:54 PM   #8
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Inverters.

I have a 28' Safari. What size inverter would be the best for my unit?
Where should they be installed? Thanks...
Bert
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Old 09-30-2010, 01:11 PM   #9
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How much power do you need. First figure what appliances and other 120 volt consumers you plan using at the same time. They all shoud have a wattage use on them . Add what you figure at worst scenario and that will tell you the min wattage inverter that you need. You can use a Kill-A-Watt metr to figure the actual power usage of appliances. It is available at campingworld
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Old 09-30-2010, 05:37 PM   #10
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Bertheep

In most cases an inverter is not especially helpful. I have a small one which I have never used but which I keep in case I want to run the TV or the cake beater while in the middle of nowhere.

Here are the basics. I apologize if this is familiar material but I sense that you may be new to this.

Almost everything in the traylah will run on 12 volt battery power. The only things that won't are the microwave, air conditioner, the (usually, it depends) TV, and the outlets.

The most common situation for most people while camping is to use shore power, which means to plug in the trailer cord into an outlet. Any park that allows camping, and the corps of engineers campsites, resorts with RV sites, and commercial campgrounds, all provide this, sometimes for a few dollars extra a night. If u are staying at a friend's place or in your own driveway you can plug into a regular outlet with an adapter instead.

When you're plugged into shore power, the converter charges the batteries and runs the 12V lights and appliances. Also, the outlets in the trailer are powered from the cord, as is the microwave, air conditioner, and TV.

If ur not plugged in you can run usually for a night or two on the trailer battery, more if u have several batteries and conserve, less if u run the furnace a lot.

When u plug into ur generator using the adapter 2air recommends, it's like ur on shore power, the battery charges, and everything runs on the generator. If u have both generators going at once you can run the air conditioner or the microwave, maybe even both at once.

In general it is not practical to run the air conditioner or the microwave off the inverter because the battery capacity isn't sufficient to run them for very long. So, inverters are mostly useful for electronics and gadgety stuff (like the beater I use to bake a cake, or the cordless drill charger) that doesn't require much power.

Heating appliances are best replaced by the stovetop equivalents or used on shore power only. There are stovetop toasters, for example.

You can obtain 12 volt versions of many small items. I have a 12 volt charger for my phone and my computer. There are 12 volt fans, and 12 volt chargers for cordless tools, 12 volt electric blankets, and 12 volt TVs. In most cases these products work better are are lighter, cheaper, and less fiddly than an inverter.

I know it's a lot of stuff.

Keep asking questions.

Spend a night or 2 camping in the driveway.
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Old 10-02-2010, 08:35 PM   #11
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I use two small 400 watt inverters in my Safari (28/s). One is mounted near the TV and I plug it into the 12 volt receptaclel with a short cord. It powers the TV and satellite receiver (sometimes a tower fan for cooling the interior). I think this receptacle is limited to 8 amps. The other inverter is mounted on the floor in the front of the trailer (I took the couch out and use two swivel office chairs) and is wired directely into the coach's system with 10 guage wire. I use this one for charging phones, cameras, and running and charging the computer. These are great when dry camping. This summer we went for 35 days (not consecutive) without power....many time we were able to get the internet with the broadband card...always kept the camera charged.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:10 PM   #12
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George

Do you turn off the main panel box switch so that the trailer power cord is not hot when you connect the inverter output to the trailer receptacles? I am thinking of doing this with a 1,250 watt inverter.

Dan
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:03 PM   #13
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small inverters

Dan,

I'm not sure of your question. When I initially installed the inverter, I made sure the shore power was not connected and I disconnected the battery cables (both positive and negative) and I engaged the battery disconnect switch. Only then was I confident that the panel box terminals were not "hot" and I could safely attach the inverter wires to the positive and negative terminals of the power panel.

I have another inverter for the TV that is connected to the DC only when needed. Its cord is inserted directly into the 12volt (cigarette ligher type) connection that AS installed near the TV amplifier switch. Since the TV and satellite take only about 4 amps I just made up an extension cord (having a male and female end) to run the 2 feet from the inverter to the outlet.

In a previous rig, I had a 1200 watt inverter that I mounted near the batteries in a storage compartment. I used #8 battery terminal wires for this one and kept the wires as short as possible. It had a remote on/off switch that I mounted in the cabin. I kept this inverter wired at all times. With three batteries I could even run the microwave!!! (but not for too long...quite a drain)

Hope this info helps...we use the small inverters alot when dry camping.

george
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:52 AM   #14
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George

I misinterpreted your post. The words "wired directly into the coach's system" threw me. I thought you meant that the inverter's output was wired to the 120v ac panel box. I misinterpreted this because I am adding a second battery and am planning on wiring the output from my 1250 watt intverter directly to the panel box so that all the outlets are hot. I will make sure to turn the main breaker to the panel box off so that the power cord for connecting to shore power is not hot.

Dan
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