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Old 06-07-2013, 09:24 PM   #1
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Several ?s - Charging batteries

We need some help from the experts. We are new to boondocking and trying to understand the best way to charge our batteries. We have a 2012 19' AS so the batteries are new. We also have a 2000 watt Honda generator with the 30 amp adaptor which I plug directly into the AS using the large power cord which came with the AS.

My questions are the following:
A. If batteries are dead, how long do I need to run the generator to get a full deep charge?
B. Would we be better off buying a car charger and plugging it into the normal 110 plug on the generator and connecting the car charger directly to the battery terminals?
C. We are considering buying portable folding solar panels to give us the trickle charge on sunny days. Does anyone have experience with these? Where do you connect to AS?

Any help from the well traveled experienced ASers would be appreciated!

Wayne
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astw View Post
We need some help from the experts. We are new to boondocking and trying to understand the best way to charge our batteries. We have a 2012 19' AS so the batteries are new. We also have a 2000 watt Honda generator with the 30 amp adaptor which I plug directly into the AS using the large power cord which came with the AS.

My questions are the following:
A. If batteries are dead, how long do I need to run the generator to get a full deep charge?
B. Would we be better off buying a car charger and plugging it into the normal 110 plug on the generator and connecting the car charger directly to the battery terminals?
C. We are considering buying portable folding solar panels to give us the trickle charge on sunny days. Does anyone have experience with these? Where do you connect to AS?

Any help from the well traveled experienced ASers would be appreciated!

Wayne
Your onboard converter/charger is more than likely larger capacity than most battery chargers you would find, so just plug the trailer into the generator.

You do not want to totally discharge the batteries because it's bad for them, and specifically you don't want to go below 50%, which I think is somewhere around 12.2 volts.

Yes, you can use solar to recharge your batteries, but a portable panel will only be a trickle charge and probably will not bring up a discharged battery in a day. Connect the portable folding solar panels to the battery.
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Old 06-08-2013, 05:10 AM   #3
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Well said above, but as for your question about time the only way to be sure is to monitor battery voltage with the charger off, having given the battery a chance to settle out. This technology is more than a century old and nothing speeds it up. It takes a long time to fully charge a battery and you do not want to run your generator that long, but it takes a more reasonable amount of time to charge it to 85-90% which is adequate for your purposes. It will fully charge the next time you plug into shore power overnight.
I have more familiarity with a cruising sailboat and I used to do my engine alternator based battery charge for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. I had a bigger battery bank than your AS so that amount of time would be OK for you I am sure. Because the charge rate tapers off as the battery recharges, you are more efficient with your generator run time if you charge twice a day like that instead of trying one longer run.
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Old 06-08-2013, 05:38 AM   #4
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Thumbs up What they said....most important...

Wayne,

Welcome Aboard

......before we go 'dock'n I make sure the batt's are fully charged.



I upgraded the converter, got rid of the P-Laxx. Using the IOTA 55a DLS IQ4, Honda 2000i, it takes about 45min to an hour every other day to keep the two 100ah Lifelines charged to at least 85%+. We have gone 4 daze with careful usage. I don't let them get below 12.2-12.6v.(I try but have gone to 11.5 several times)

I have used 30w flexible solar panels on the pad at home before getting shore power.

They worked well enough in that application, but for where we go 'dock'n, mostly in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, they were not much use at all. Solar is much more useful when you camp in the sunshine.

Bob
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Old 06-08-2013, 06:17 AM   #5
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To repeat, you do not want to draw down lead acid batteries below 50% or about 12 v at no load. These batteries, as deep cycle batteries, have a rated number of cycles and you severely diminish the life if you cycle below 50%. If you are going to boondock, it seems to me you should be prepared to monitor battery voltage at no load and charge when you need to.
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Old 08-19-2013, 11:58 PM   #6
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Sorry for the delayed follow up. I wanted to thank everyone for their ideas and suggestions. After some research, we decided to make the investment in new glass mat batteries and solar installed on our roof. We had Lew Farber from AM Solar instal two 100 watt panels as that is all we had room for on our 19 foot. He did a great job and we couldn't be happier. Tomorrow, we are leaving for a few days of boondocking. Can't wait.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:22 PM   #7
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Astw,
If the solar doesn't seem to quite keep up, run the generator for a while in the morning to fast charge the batteries while making coffee, using the hair dryer, ect. The solar panels have all day to top off the last "slow" amphrs.
TomJ
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Old 08-22-2013, 03:30 PM   #8
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Astw,
If the solar doesn't seem to quite keep up, run the generator for a while in the morning to fast charge the batteries while making coffee, using the hair dryer, ect. The solar panels have all day to top off the last "slow" amphrs.
TomJ
Generators run best when loaded to about 50%~75% of their rated capacity. The battery charger all by itself doesn't even come close to 50% of the generator's rated load, so you should definitely select your charging times to when you've got a decent load. In my Interstate, I run the air conditioner when I need to charge the house batteries. That's all, just air conditioner and charger. So for me the best time to charge is mid-afternoon, when it's hottest outside and the air conditioner does the most good.

Side note, along the Gulf Coast, mid-afternoon is also usually when it's cloudiest in the summer months, with mid-afternoon rain being a regular occurrence. So the solar panel is less often useful that time of day, AND I'm most likely to be inside staying dry, too. Win/win in my book!
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Old 08-22-2013, 05:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astw View Post
Sorry for the delayed follow up. I wanted to thank everyone for their ideas and suggestions. After some research, we decided to make the investment in new glass mat batteries and solar installed on our roof. We had Lew Farber from AM Solar instal two 100 watt panels as that is all we had room for on our 19 foot. He did a great job and we couldn't be happier. Tomorrow, we are leaving for a few days of boondocking. Can't wait.
We have a similar solar setup on our 25 Safari. When nights are warm and the furnace runs minimally, solar will keep the batteries charged. When we camp in the fall in Colorado, and use the furnace, solar can't carry the load, particularly on cloudy days. We run the generator about an hour and a half when we are cooking dinner and using the microwave. Without solar, our generator run time would be double.
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Old 09-09-2013, 10:18 AM   #10
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Astw,

Check out this blog

There is a lot of good information about battery charging and solar.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Astw View Post
We have a 2012 19' AS so the batteries are new. We also have a 2000 watt Honda generator with the 30 amp adaptor which I plug directly into the AS using the large power cord which came with the AS.
Excellent responses in this thread! Yes, using your AS power cord with a 30A/15A plug adapter is the way to go when running the genset to recharge.

You aren't expecting to use your air conditioner while boondocking but I will belabor the obvious because the consequences can be major. The Honda eu2000i doesn't put out enough amps to run your AC without lugging the compressor at startup and prematurely wearing it out.

I once looked at a nice Overlander for sale. The owner didn't know why his second AC had now failed on him. He was trying to run it that warm day, plugged into a 15A household outlet with 75' of assorted 16/3 extension cords.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:53 AM   #12
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You see some terrific suggestions but they all come back to using your generator smartly. That has always worked just fine for us...we use the generator during peak usage and to top off the batteries...mostly in the morning when we are active. The rest of the day is usually spent away from the AS so usage is nill. Researched solar but could not justify it...since the generator works without issue. Now that you have it...I see that there are numerous owners that love it and more I'm sure that are curious so sharing your experience with us about your new set up would prove useful for others asking the same question. Best of luck...
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:00 PM   #13
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In addition to what others have noted regarding generator usage, when boondocking, we always:

1. run our 2K Honda EVERY day to replace battery capacity used during the previous day/night. this insures batteries don't get discharged to a low level...

2. we have a digital volt meter installed that shows us when our 3-way converter/charger has switched from 'charging' to 'float' mode, indicating the batteries have been fully charged by the generator...IE; the voltage drops from over 14 volts, to 13.6 volts (float)...

3. frequently discharging your batteries till 'dead' (10.5 volts or below) will greatly shorten their ultimate life- in addition, it takes much more time to bring them back up to a full charge...
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