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Old 05-03-2015, 07:28 PM   #71
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Before going further I have to qualify myself as amateur hobbyist, not a battery professional. Some of this I just pulled off the internet.

A typical fully charged "12 volt" lead acid battery will actually supply 12.6 to 12.8 volts. In your case your batteries are supplying 13.3 when fully charged. Maybe this is the case with AGM's.

All batteries have some amount of internal resistance. So to get the battery up to its fully charge state a voltage equal to is full state (12.6 to 12.8 volts) plus an amount to overcome the internal resistance has to be applied to the battery. This is why, when plugged into shore power, you see a higher voltage like 13.6 or higher.

It's normal for battery voltage to drop when other things are also drawing power. Think of a battery like a water pump. When a water pump is running and no valves are open the pressure will be high. If the yard sprinklers are turned on the house water pressure will be somewhat lower until they turn off. Most 12 volt appliances are designed to operate within a range of voltage, typically from around 11 to 14 volts.

I hope this helps.

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Old 05-04-2015, 09:46 AM   #72
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Thank you all for making this easier to understand.

The 2014 trailer has the original equipment and converter.

I am going to keep a notebook of voltages while camped off the grid and what 12 volt users were in use. When at a campground without electrical hookups, it will be interesting for my curiosity, what others are finding. Many trailers do not have volt readings inside the trailer, so have to "guess". Ours is located with the Fresh, Grey and Black water digital readings.... which at times can be rather variable in reliable percentages.

Our original batteries in the 2006 Safari, with a small Airstream installed at the factory solar panel, were purring along 8 years and going strong. It does get one to rethink having a passive solar panel working without getting much credit for the benefits being supplied keeping the batteries charged.

After a week or more Off the Grid, there would be a slow decline in voltage as indicated by the meter in the 2006 Safari. This solar panel might have been 80 watts. I never did find a brochure about it with my trailer manuals. But it worked. I cannot imagine a 160 watt solar panel recharging during the day, with LED lights and the refrigerator fan running on the 2014.

I hope others have benefited through my ignorance of batteries and solar panels.

Human Bean
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Old 05-26-2015, 10:22 AM   #73
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We have been considering both the Honda generator and a portable solar kit, as neither of us have the desire to try to install a permanently mounted system on our 1980. Thank you to everyone who has contributed on this thread, as it gives us a lot of food for thought on both.

We enjoy boon docking and use our A/C or furnace rarely. No microwave or coffee makers, though periodically the TV is nice.

However - our International has only one battery (which we replaced with a marine deep cell last year). Would it be an option to add a second battery and somehow link it to our first? There is space for a second next to the first under the front seating, but we would rather not have to cut into the skin to install a battery door/compartment to do so.

Jenn & Robb & our two furry kids
Maizie ('the Black Dog') & Dex ('the Brown Dog')
1980 International 31
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:51 AM   #74
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I just spent 5 days at Assateque National Park and did not use our generators. We strickly used solar and propane I used the propane for the stove, refrigerator and the hot water heater everything else like the lights, and fans used the batteries. I used the inverters to charge our phone, Iwatch, Ipad and Bose portable speakers. I also sed the inverter plug for my sleep apnea machine. In the morning when I checked we had anywhere fro 60 to 80% left on the reading. Because the sun was shining the reading went back to hundred by 9/10 AM

Now I was also more conscious of the fact that I was not using the generator so I was more conservetive then other times. For instance because of the wind I did not use the fantastic fans 24 7 as they were not needed.
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Old 08-27-2016, 07:43 PM   #75
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SOLAR beats a generator for Boondockers!

Solar or Generator?

After Boondocking for two years and testing the Honda to charge my AGM batteries and depending on the tow vehicle to charge my AGM batteries... I have come to a final conclusion which of these two options best serve my best interests:


I plan to have one or two 100 watt panels installed on my 25 footer as soon as we get to Tucson, Arizona in February 2017 for the Tucson Rock Show. The new Airstream dealer had a better price than our local dealer and I liked how they operated.

The Honda is not passive. It requires fuel, hauling it around, setting it up, have it purr on the tailgate of the pickup... and just is not... convenient.

After watching the five Solar Panels on Forum Member VeeVee's 27 footer and her liberal use of ceiling fans and lights... I would have to be insane not to see that SOLAR is much more convenient and works for you 24 hours a day.

Yeah... 24 hours... in Alaska. Maybe 20 hours, but those glimmers of light for four hours might count.

I can understand why Lewster is so busy.

Solar prices are a better value today and the Honda has been holding its own as far as retail price. With that thought... I feel better and this decision cost me $849.99 plus sales tax. That is a lot of double cheeseburgers, fries and a Cokes with no ice! (NO ice... Ice is profit in the fountain business.)
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Old 08-27-2016, 08:48 PM   #76
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I for one won't camp without a 50amp connection. I need those two ACs on high. Anything less wouldn't be civilized...for me.
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Old 08-28-2016, 08:51 AM   #77
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We were able, after removing the crank up Winegard television antenna and installing their round Rayzar auto tune television antenna, to install five AM Solar 100 watt panels on the roof of our 2015 23D International Serenity that charge a 300 amp hour lithium battery located under the sofa just in front of the wheel well. We take a GenConneX propane conversion 2000 watt Honda generator along and with the Magnum hybrid MSH-3012 inverter can run the air conditioner off grid. Otherwise, the solar system has no issues powering the Vitrifrigo 12Vdc Danfoss freon based compressor to keep the food cold plus any other stuff inside the coach

Our 2014 31' Classic currently has eight AM Solar 100 watt panels on the roof and with the MagnumMS-2812 inverter and 600 amp hour lithium battery can actually run either of the two air conditioners during a rest stop. Since we have the space in the back of the truck, we carry the matched pair of Honda 2000 watt generators (both have the propane conversion) and a 30 pound propane tank. That covers the bases for us.

We are about to convert to a Vitrifrigo refrigerator in the Classic as well along with a Dometic CU-434 stove upgrade next month (October 2016) and replace the Fantastic Fan that has their bulbous cover with a Maxxfan 7000K unit like we installed on the 23D.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:22 PM   #78
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I've been living off of solar power for a year and a couple of months. You'll never convince me to go back. Period. Ever.
Family of 4 living, working & exploring the USA in our Airstream.
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Old 08-31-2016, 06:37 AM   #79
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... tangent, but semi-relevant ...

During college spring break 1991, we convinced a "sheltered" friend of our to come camping in the inner gorge of the Grand Canyon. a full days hike down Tanner, to the campsites at the Colorado river, setup camp, went swimming came back for to prepare dinner. Then our friend pulled a hair dryer out of his pack and asked where he could plug in.

The trip sorta went downhill from there.

Anytime my airstream is plugged into the mains, it aint camping .

Thanks for all the advice in the thread on portable panels. I've been mulling all my options of recent, including a professional roof install. I believe I may now have another viable option.
2011 Airstream International Serenity 28'
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Old 08-31-2016, 12:54 PM   #80
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My take on the matter is this. In Canada we get no rebate or tax relief for going solar. The 2 @ 40 watts solar panels that I tried to run on the Wyoming trip were not up to the task but cost me $150 each plus taxes total outlay of $339. My 3500 watt genny cost me $250 used no tax. It burned 2 gallons of gas in the 10 days we were camping. 500 watts of solar plus 2 AGM batteries would run me about $2500 plus 13% sales tax. I can buy a lot of gasoline for that coin.
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Old 08-31-2016, 04:48 PM   #81
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Gearhart. Minor relief in that there was no pst or gst on the panels I ordered from the US.
Also, the only problem with a generator, is the fact that it takes forever to fully charge ( good battery monitored) your batteries, if at all.
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Old 09-03-2016, 10:18 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Gearheart View Post
My take on the matter is this. In Canada we get no rebate or tax relief for going solar. The 2 @ 40 watts solar panels that I tried to run on the Wyoming trip were not up to the task but cost me $150 each plus taxes total outlay of $339. My 3500 watt genny cost me $250 used no tax. It burned 2 gallons of gas in the 10 days we were camping. 500 watts of solar plus 2 AGM batteries would run me about $2500 plus 13% sales tax. I can buy a lot of gasoline for that coin.
I respectfully submit that if you have a 3500 watt gen-set you paid $250 for (even used) I don't likely want to camp within 100 meters of your generator. I like the fact that with my 3kw Yamaha sitting in the bed of my pickup, if I'm 30 feet away from the truck and there's a 2kw Honda 50 feet away on the ground, all I can hear is the Honda, which is itself relatively quiet.

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He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. Sir Winston Churchill
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Old 09-30-2016, 09:03 AM   #83
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Solar or generator?

Neither 'saves' the environment, but one does use less fossil fuel if that matters to you. That's not my prime motivator, although I do find satisfaction in averaging 17.6 mpg (overall mpg for >24000 miles of towing our FC23FB in all conditions) with my clean emissions Jeep GC Eco Diesel. Comparisons of generator fuel usage with towing fuel usage are pointless. If noise and smell do not matter to you, then you have many more camping options than do I - truck stops, highway rest areas etc. Camping for me is a quiet forest/seashore/desert setting. We use RV parks for hard driving, gotta make miles today kind of trips.

I have both generator and solar, and since installation of solar the generator has remained in our garage at home. This engineer does admire the Yamaha 2400is as a fine machine. However - noise, fumes, hazards of carrying gasoline, and inconvenience drive my choice not to carry the generator. Solar takes care of our energy needs quietly and safely. Now, IF the Airstream had a well-designed permanent generator installation, I would possibly use one. It doesn't.

My sailing yacht is a different matter. Although I have ample space for a huge solar installation, I have not made that investment. Our permanently installed 5.5KW NextGen generator safely draws diesel from the main tanks, and with a sound enclosure and wet muffler the sound is truly minimal. Run it for an hour in the am and have breakfast or go fishing while charging the AGM batteries at 100 amps (3KW Magnum three stage charger/inverter). Run it in the pm for a break from the SW FL heat and mosquitos with air conditioning while again recharging the batteries. Comfort and convenience are the drivers. I use about 25 gal of diesel per month while cruising - varies with wind, sailing vs engine usage, etc.

None of us will save or destroy the environment individually, but cumulative choices do matter. I'll leave the carbon footprint discussions for a larger scale, and just enjoy my camping and sailing as responsibly as practical.

Safe Travels,
Safe Travels,
Joe & Joan Donnaway
Durango, CO
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Old 10-09-2016, 12:54 PM   #84
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I admire your pragmatism Joe. What are the particulars of your solar system? Brand, etc?

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