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Old 07-12-2012, 08:45 PM   #1
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How to charge batteries from generator?

We were dry camping for a few days and plugged the electric plug into our new Yamaha 2000 generator. It charged the batteries but didn't fully charge our batteries. We were wondering if there is anything else we need to do to charge our batteries or if we just need to run the generator longer. We're going to o dry camping again in the near future and wanted to be prepared.
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Old 07-12-2012, 08:53 PM   #2
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Sounds like you need to run longer. What type of converter and how many batteries?
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:03 PM   #3
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We have two batteries, I'm not sure what type of converter we have. I guess thats my question, do we need something between the generator and the trailer? We're new to RVng in case You couldn't tell. LOL
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:11 PM   #4
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Nothing is required between the generator and trailer. If you have one of the Univolt type converters. They are a primitive device and are not as intelligent as the more modern multi stage converters. You can locate the converter by following the battery cables.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:15 PM   #5
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I don't know what type of converter/charger was on your '04 rig, but it could be one of the not too great charging types. Often they put a minimal amount of charge into your batteries over a long time. The newer 3 stage chargers will dump quite a lot of power into the batteries during the "bulk" phase when the batteries are low and can take it. That will bring them to about 80% charge. Then they taper to an "absorption" phase to run them up to the mid 90% range but that takes many hours. The final few % is done on the "float" phase and takes 24 to 48 hours.

So, you really can't fully charge your batteries in any reasonable generator run time, even with the best converter/charger. However you can bring them up to 80% or so fairly quickly which should be good enough. By fairly quickly, I mean 2 to 4 hours, depending on their state of discharge.

Once again, this assumes a good three stage converter/charger, and someone else may chime in to say if the one in your '04 has such a beast. If not, you may wish to change it out. A good one is not too expensive, under $200 probably.
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Old 07-12-2012, 09:21 PM   #6
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IMO the best bet is to buy a good battery charger to charge the batteries and not depend on the converter.
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Old 07-12-2012, 10:37 PM   #7
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IMO the best bet is to buy a good battery charger to charge the batteries and not depend on the converter.
The best solution is to install a proper electronic converter with automatic 3-stage charging (what Airstream should have included in their 'premium' trailers, like the IOTA or PD) so you no longer have to worry about correct battery charging!
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:43 AM   #8
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Thank you everyone. We were charging our batteries for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening and by the next morning we were in the red again. We'll have to upgrade that converter.
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Old 07-13-2012, 06:45 AM   #9
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We have a PowerMax 65 three stage converter with 2 group 27 AGM batteries in our AS. Our experience has been it takes two hours plugged into a Honda 2000i for the converter to bring the batteries to 80% charge from a low 50% charge range.

I used individual 15 amp good quality chargers plugged into the generator with my old SOB. I disconnected the negative cable on the batteries during charging. I may be wrong, but I felt that having the batteries connected in parallel with two chargers in service and a converter would confuse the charger control circuits. The charging results were good, but it took time to setup each day. I have not tried the two individual chargers on the AS yet.
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Old 07-13-2012, 07:04 AM   #10
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I have a portable solar panel (85 watts) which I plug into the trailer. We took a 10 day trip off the grid and the solar panel worked great. Also have an 1100 watt inverter which enables us to charge all the devices like cell phones and camera batteries as well as watch TV and/or a movie.
Of course we can't run the AC. But the solar panel is really quiet. LOL
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Old 07-13-2012, 08:38 AM   #11
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Please, get your own data!! Get a cheap 10 amp meter and measure what charging current you getting, 2 batteries may need as much as 200 hours of charging if you charge with 1 amp. My AS charges with 13.9 volts and batteries nearly never charge over 13 volts. Usually 8 hrs of charging (and it does not matter if you are using the generator or the hook up, it goes through the same converter) makes it about 75 % full, 12.5 volts.
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Old 07-13-2012, 09:55 AM   #12
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Thank you everyone. We were charging our batteries for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening and by the next morning we were in the red again. We'll have to upgrade that converter.
How old are your batteries? When they behave like that, they may have just lost capacity and are at the end of their life. No converter/charger will help in that case. Rapid charge to "good" and rapid discharge to "bad" is an indication that the batteries are shot and have little capacity left.

Just one more thing to consider.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:15 AM   #13
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We bought the batteries in March @ Camping World, probably not the best batteries. Thanks.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:32 AM   #14
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The stock converter that came with your trailer takes around 24 hours to charge the batteries fully from a mostly discharged state. The only way around that is to replace the converter.
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