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Old 02-11-2015, 06:28 PM   #1
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New Insight concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

Hi All, I purchased a new 34ft SO back in 2001 and have only ever used it about 4 weeks/year. Over the years I have averaged about 2 to 2 1/2 years battery life....plugging the batteries into shore power (1-1/2 to 2 months at a time) three times/year. Not Good!

Now it's time to replace batteries (yet again) and I decided to try to rectify this problem for good (if that's possible)

First Step - Called Randy at Best Converters to get info concerning (positive and negative) features for various converters from IOTA, Progressive Dynamics, Powermax Boondocker, & Parallax. Randy simply said "I sell them all and recommend the Boondocker.....so I ordered a Boondocker.

Received it, looked at it, pondered it and the other mentioned brands, called Randy, and returned it with intentions of purchasing a Progressive Dynamics for three reasons. 1) American Made. 2) Detailed description of changing strategy vs vague picture graph 3) Parts availability & servicability right here in the USA. .....Now the interesting Part !!!!!
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Old 02-11-2015, 07:07 PM   #2
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New Incite concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

Began to look at specifications for Progressive Dynamics and noticed that although Bulk voltage is listed as 14.4V, the converter can only achieve 12.6V at rated current output. If this is the case, you would likely never obtain full converter current into the battery on Bulk charge because the battery is voltage dependent in order to force current. So buying a larger converter may not help recharge time. Hummm

Called Progressive Dynamics and spoke with an Engineer who confirmed that the highest current possible into a 50% discharged battery is approximately 47 amps. (regardless of having larger converter ie(55amps, 60amps, 70amps).
As was explained to me, the only advantage to a larger converter is the ability to support higher DC loads ie(appliances & lighting) my thought....so what

I'm looking for the quickest recovery time to recharge my batteries ..... not looking to run bigger loads and so the saga continues, I turned to IOTA
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Old 02-11-2015, 07:38 PM   #3
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New Incite concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

So I looked at the IOTA specifications and noted that full current output is achieved at 13.4V....now it may be possible to obtain full current output during bulk charge. So converter size really would impact recovery time. And the IQ4 multi stage charge strategy still looks very good.

Then I noticed that the watts input vs output are very different. Almost 2/1...is it possible? Yes, efficiency drops to 51% at full output. Yet the specification says avg efficiency greater than 80% so I called IOTA Engineering and spoke with Sales who confirmed the low efficiency and said they expect a power factor corrected converter next year but that it would cost a lot more money??
Not sure what that means but the Salesman was unable (or unwilling) to explain the discrepancy between the stated avg efficiency and calculated value of output watts / input watts. ......the quest continues.....
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Old 02-11-2015, 07:48 PM   #4
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As I have been saying for years....... If you want to properly charge your batteries and enhance their longevity, a Magnum inverter/charger is what you want.

They are all PFC chargers and have many necessary features that no converter can match:

- full temperature compensation
- fully programmable for type of battery (charge profiles), size of battery bank (absorption charge duration), low battery disconnect and other features.
- built and serviced in USA

Look at it this way.....you are buying a high tech battery charger and are getting a sine wave inverter for free.

Look at the MMS-1012, which is a 50 amp PFC charger and 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter.


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Old 02-11-2015, 08:12 PM   #5
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New Insight concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

One more thought concerning IOTA converter/chargers. Again these converters are made in China as is the PowerMax. However, as the folks at IOTA told me, these converters are built in their own factory according to their own engineering design and specifications. I think these are likely the next best thing to USA built product.

So the more I read the more I began to realize that to achieve excellent charging results (and since most of my long term charging needs are through the winter months), the converter really needs to be temperature compensated. .....I'm on a new hunt!.....

Enter Parallax 5400 series, temperature compensated converter. No multi stage charging? No! Temperature sensing does it all? does it? Maybe but I feel uneasy depending on a continuously variable voltage curve that if off by fractions of a voltage may over or even worse, never fully charge the battery.....particularly when considering that a standard wet cell battery and an AGM battery each require very different charging profiles.
......Now What.....
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Old 02-11-2015, 08:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal2 View Post
One more thought concerning IOTA converter/chargers. Again these converters are made in China as is the PowerMax. However, as the folks at IOTA told me, these converters are built in their own factory according to their own engineering design and specifications. I think these are likely the next best thing to USA built product.

So the more I read the more I began to realize that to achieve excellent charging results (and since most of my long term charging needs are through the winter months), the converter really needs to be temperature compensated. .....I'm on a new hunt!.....

Enter Parallax 5400 series, temperature compensated converter. No multi stage charging? No! Temperature sensing does it all? does it? Maybe but I feel uneasy depending on a continuously variable voltage curve that if off by fractions of a voltage may over or even worse, never fully charge the battery.....particularly when considering that a standard wet cell battery and an AGM battery each require very different charging profiles.
......Now What.....
Uhhhh?

Did you miss post #4.

It includes every feature that you are looking for in a 12VDC battery charger. Made in USA, fully field serviceable, and all of the charging parameters for any type of battery......even the new lithium phosphate batteries..........
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Old 02-11-2015, 08:26 PM   #7
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New Insight concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

Hi Lew,
Thank you for chiming in. You're right! Busy talkin instead of listening. A character flaw I'm still working to overcome.....someday.....maybe....hopefully

However I really haven't considered an Inverter / Charger since it doesn't really apply to the needs of a trailer. As you know everything operates on 12VDC except the Microwave & AC.

Anyway after much searching I decided to contact Lifeline Batteries to see if they could provide any input. Ended up speaking with Dave (perhaps one of, if not the owner) and he says, I could talks for hours on this subject. And so we start our discussion.
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Old 02-11-2015, 09:23 PM   #8
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New Insight concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

.......Discussion with Dave at Lifeline........

So Dave says, what converters are you considering.

Well, I say, I was considering Progressive Dynamics.

Dave: We,ve tested that and it doesn't provide proper charging. battery life will be shortened to about 3yrs.

Dave: What others are you looking at?
Me: How bout PowerMax Boondocker
Dave: We offered to test this unit but they haven't come back to us.
Me: How bout Parallax?
Dave: Nope!
Me: How bout IOTA?
Dave: Of the converters you've mentioned this one is probably the best but still not great.
Me: What would you suggest?
Dave: some people have cut their DC load loose and used a separate charger for the batteries only. Suggest something like a Xantrex Truecharge Multistage Battery Charger.
........End of discussion.......

This is a complicated problem since the old converter and new charger can not be electrically tied to one another and yet they provide power for the same DC loads. This means interlocking relays to isolated the batteries from DC load when connected to shore power and then reconnecting the batteries to DC load when no shore power is present. I can do it but I don't like the added complication of interlocking. ......Not a good solution in my mind......

.....Wonder what the Marine Blogs say about Xantrex......
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Old 02-11-2015, 10:04 PM   #9
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New Insight concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

......Looking at Marine Battery Chargers........
I spent some time reading Marine Blogs to see what they have to say about battery chargers. What I found is that the Xantrex Truecharge Chargers work very well.....when they work...... but in general are not considered high reliability devices.....and therefore of no interest to me.

So I started to search for a Highly Reliable, High Current, Multi Stage, Temperature Compensated, Power Factor Corrected, Marine Charger, that could provide double duty.
1) It would need to be an excellent battery charger.
2) It would need to provide continuous power to operate DC Loads when connected to shore power for long periods such as staying at a camp ground for a month or more.

......A possible solution?.......
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Old 02-11-2015, 11:48 PM   #10
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New Insight concerning Batteries/Chargers/Boondocking

There appears to be several Marine Chargers that could be used in the fashion described above ie(both battery charger and continuous duty DC power supply)
Most high current 50amps and higher chargers are $800 - $1200. Too much money for my budget however I did find one 60amp marine charger that is highly rated in the marine community and a very sophisticated charger for about $450.
The charger is manufactured by Sterling in England, marketed in the United States, Comes with a 5 year manufacturer's warranty. Sterling USA is located in Maine and I called to speak with technical support and was directed to call Charles in Droitwich, England. He confirmed that the charger is suitable as a 60amp, continuous duty, DC power supply. That the output is highly filtered to 50mv rms. Further, the charger provides 11 selectable charge profiles plus one programable custom profile. Will charge at Bulk Rate to within .1V of target voltage then switche to Abortion Charge for a time period based on a Time/Energy Algorithm that varies from 2hrs to 12hrs before switching to Maintenance Voltage Mode. What I've described here is only the tip of the iceberg as concerns its features. It is Temperature Compensated and Active Power Factor Correction. Has a real Efficiency of 88.5%.

Called a "Pro Charge Ultra 60A"

.......I have this charger on order, and should receive it today......
...............A Winner.......or Bust?.......I'm going to find out
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:30 AM   #11
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If you only use the trailer 4 weeks a year, remove the batteries and put them on a trickle charger.
Why spend $800-2000 on a new inverter when what you need is a battery maintainer? I use Battery Tender brand chargers 1 battery $50, 2 $140. 4 $200.
I have a 4 bank and a 2 bank for my lawn mower, snowmobiles, tractor and camper batteries. I have a lawn mower battery that is 7yrs old and the snowmobile batteries are 6yrs old. The tender maintains them perfectly.
Removal of the campers battery takes 10mins at most and lets you store them in climate control. Batteries do have a life span, but 2-2 1/2 years is just bad maintenance.
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Old 02-12-2015, 06:40 AM   #12
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Good detective work Sal, but almost every solar installation that I do includes a Magnum inverter/charger in some form. Many folks only want minimal 120VAC available when off-grid, but they DO want the excellent charging capabilities of the Magnum, and they consider the $1000 or so that they have to spend for the MMS-1012 (1000 watt pure sine wave inverter/50 amp charger) very well spent.

They feel this way not because they think they need the inverter (8 amps is minimal at best), but they are investing in a fully capable charging system that will prolong the life of their expensive new (generally Lifeline) battery bank well out past 5 years.

It's a simple, proven and tested solution that many feel is definitely worth the additional expense.

Will a marine charger work? Sure! Is it the optimal solution that you seek......perhaps.

Just remember that Magnums are made in the USA, are fully field repairable in the unlikely event that something goes wrong, and parts are also easily found from factory authorized service centers (like ME).

Seems to me that the solution is readily available.....but perhaps not within your budget. Nothing of quality comes cheap!

As the old saying goes "ya pays yer money and ya makes yer choice". Hope you make a good one.
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Old 02-12-2015, 07:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dexterpix View Post
If you only use the trailer 4 weeks a year, remove the batteries and put them on a trickle charger.
Why spend $800-2000 on a new inverter when what you need is a battery maintainer? I use Battery Tender brand chargers 1 battery $50, 2 $140. 4 $200.
I have a 4 bank and a 2 bank for my lawn mower, snowmobiles, tractor and camper batteries. I have a lawn mower battery that is 7yrs old and the snowmobile batteries are 6yrs old. The tender maintains them perfectly.
Removal of the campers battery takes 10mins at most and lets you store them in climate control. Batteries do have a life span, but 2-2 1/2 years is just bad maintenance.
If I had unlimited funding no telling what I'd do.......

But I don't, so I won't consider anything that I can't fully rationalize by dividing expense/reward by 20-40 daze per year, electrical result......2 100ah Lifelines, IOTA 55a DLS IQ4 and one Honda 2000i dual fuel genset.

Bob
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Old 02-12-2015, 08:02 AM   #14
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Hi Bob,
I like your approach and in fact is the direction I hope to pursue. Only difference will be (2) Lifeline 31XT and a Sterling Charger. Since the batteries alone cost nearly $700, I don't consider spending $450 for the Charger to be excessive. especially if the charger may easily extend battery life to 7-8 years.
That's what Lifeline expects with the right charger. We'll see if my choice proves good ...... or not. Thanks for your input.

Sal
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