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Old 06-18-2012, 01:28 PM   #1
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What should be the expected Battery life “stand alone” and Recommendation for sola

Re: What should be the expected Battery life “stand alone” and Recommendation for solar panels and controller.

I need recommendations for solar panels and controllers for a 25’ 2003 Airstream Safari to keep batteries fully charged.
I can only last 1 ½ days on battery power before the gas powered water heater or refrigerator igniter can’t kick on.
I leave the water pump switched on and use halogen lights in the trailer minimally, however all lights are dim as soon as I go to battery only.
Is this what is to be expected while on battery power only.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Is this a new-to-you trailer? It may have an old battery that suffers from diminished capacity, or you might have some issues with a poor connection to the battery if the lights are sharply dimmer even when you first go to a fully-charged battery.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:15 PM   #3
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If you still have the original batteries, they are probably about worn out. AutoZone, Pep Boys, etc. will check your batteries for free. Charge them for a day or two, until you are fairly certain they are as charged as they will get. Then, have the auto parts people "load test" them. This will show how much charge they hold, and indicate if they are defective or have weak/shorted cells.

You may have one battery that has a dead cell (measures about 10.5 volts) which will allow 12 volt devices to work marginally, but will rapidly discharge both batteries (if you have two 12-volt batteries wired in parallel). However, if both are the same age, and one is bad, you may wish to replace both of them. Otherwise, you'll be doing this again in 6-12 months when the other one fails.

Checking the batteries separately with a voltmeter may give you some indication of a weak battery or cell. However, the load test is a much better indicator of battery condition.

Note: A fully charged battery should measure between 12.0 and 13.5 volts. A slightly discharged battery will measure down to 11-11.5 volts. 10.5 and below is probably almost dead or has a defective cell (internal high resistance short, often due to sulfation).
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:23 PM   #4
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The other possibility is that they aren't getting charged fully in the first place - bad converter or something like that. I'd test the batteries first, though, unless they're brand new.
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Old 06-18-2012, 02:24 PM   #5
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Also consider going to LEDs for interior lights. Huge difference in current draw from halogen.
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:48 AM   #6
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Good info on the batteries. I will check them out.
Any recommendations on bright LED's that will actually light up the space vs only a dim spot.

Thanks for your assistance.
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Old 06-19-2012, 11:58 AM   #7
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I got my hockey-puck LED's on eBay for $2 each... there are domestic sources that are more money. I haven't found any on eBay that are polarity adjusted, so if you don't want to have to mess with your wiring, spend more and get the ones that will work even if Airstream has wired your lights backwards (like 1/3 of mine were).

LED's are not very directional at all... mine seem to spread a nice light... but then again there are 20 or so of them if you add them all up...
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwb5f View Post
Good info on the batteries. I will check them out.
Any recommendations on bright LED's that will actually light up the space vs only a dim spot.

Thanks for your assistance.
Check out thses folks: LEDs 4, Recreational Vehicles
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:45 AM   #9
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LEDs are great, but you should investigate the underlying issue first. Assuming you weren't leaving the television on overnight and doing other silly things like that with the battery power, I'm thinking you should be able to go longer than that. Our Airstream ancestors used to camp for days using incandescent bulbs.

Obviously using LEDs will help, but first figure out why the batteries are dying so quickly.
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