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Old 06-10-2016, 01:25 PM   #1
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2005 30' Classic
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Best Way to Improve AS Classic Battery Power

Guys and gals,

First, the details: We have a 2005 Airstream Classic, which has the two little compartments for the batteries at the front of the trailer. We bought it used and the shop put in 2 fairly crappy 12v batteries. We can't be off-grid for long without running into battery power problems, obviously.

We plan to do a LOT of boondocking, so we need a solid battery system in place. I know that Lithium is probably the way to go.

I'm curious what some of you guys have done to "amp up" (pun very much intended) your Airstream's battery life. Where do you put the batteries? What batteries are you using? How many amp hours are you getting with your system?

Like I said, we need as much as we can reasonably get for our intended off-grid living in the very near future.

Thanks!
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Old 06-10-2016, 02:41 PM   #2
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Even with two good deep cycle batteries, you'd be lucky to get more than a couple days' use especially if you're running the furnace (from my experience).

Three options: Spend a Big Wad o' Cash on Lithium batteries, buy a generator to recharge the batteries, or go solar.
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:27 PM   #3
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Steve,

There is a great deal of information in old threads on this site - and numerous opinions on the "best" approach. Spend some time reading up and think about what is best for your situation.

My wife and I do a fair amount of boon docking. I installed two "marine/deep cycle" batteries - at least that is how they were described. Cheap and available everywhere. The more exotic batteries have some advantages - but make sure your charger is set up for them if you go that route.

Perhaps the best thing we did was to change most of the lights to LEDs - I bought most of mine at a marine supply store. LEDs are much more efficient so you can get by with less battery capacity. Also, make sure your refrigerator "anti condensation" switch is OFF - it takes a lot of electricity. I also run my two batteries in separate "banks" - a trick I learned on my uncles sailboat. When I am off the grid I'll run on one bank until my morning voltage check shows 12 volts - then I switch to the other bank and plan my return to civilization. We can typically stay out for a week or a little more if we are careful.

I may go for solar in the future; don't really like generators although the new ones are really quiet- more weight, expense and complication than I like. But, if you are going to run 120 volt equipment probably a necessity.

Read up and try your rig as it is, check the current draw on the various items and see how long your batteries will hold up. With that background you'll make a more informed decision.

Good luck,

Whit Nash
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Old 06-10-2016, 03:31 PM   #4
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Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Thumbs up Kiss....

Nothing exotic....Two Grp27 100ah Lifeline batteries....straps attached to help lift it over the pesky door hinge. IOTA IQ4 DLS 55a converter, one Honda 2000i,LPG/dual use. Hour charge every other day is enough keep everything working.


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Old 06-10-2016, 03:47 PM   #5
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Solar solar solar!
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:19 PM   #6
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I boon-docked for 10 days with 1 Trojan 12V flooded battery and a 100W Renogy solar suitcase. All LED lights and no furnace needed in the summer. I never had to start my Honda generator.
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drboyd View Post
Three options: Spend a Big Wad o' Cash on Lithium batteries, buy a generator to recharge the batteries, or go solar.
We are definitely going to install solar eventually...not sure yet, depends on our budget. But, that is definitely happening!

Quote:
Originally Posted by rwnash View Post
My wife and I do a fair amount of boon docking. I installed two "marine/deep cycle" batteries - at least that is how they were described. Cheap and available everywhere. The more exotic batteries have some advantages - but make sure your charger is set up for them if you go that route.

Perhaps the best thing we did was to change most of the lights to LEDs - I bought most of mine at a marine supply store. LEDs are much more efficient so you can get by with less battery capacity. Also, make sure your refrigerator "anti condensation" switch is OFF - it takes a lot of electricity. I also run my two batteries in separate "banks" - a trick I learned on my uncles sailboat. When I am off the grid I'll run on one bank until my morning voltage check shows 12 volts - then I switch to the other bank and plan my return to civilization. We can typically stay out for a week or a little more if we are careful.

I may go for solar in the future; don't really like generators although the new ones are really quiet- more weight, expense and complication than I like. But, if you are going to run 120 volt equipment probably a necessity.
Thanks! Yup, there is a wealth of information on these forums...will need to read through as much as I can. Thanks for your feedback - deep-cycle indeed, or plunk down some additional dough for lithium.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
Nothing exotic....Two Grp27 100ah Lifeline batteries....straps attached to help lift it over the pesky door hinge. IOTA IQ4 DLS 55a converter, one Honda 2000i,LPG/dual use. Hour charge every other day is enough keep everything working.
Appreciate the feedback, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCA View Post
I boon-docked for 10 days with 1 Trojan 12V flooded battery and a 100W Renogy solar suitcase. All LED lights and no furnace needed in the summer. I never had to start my Honda generator.
Thanks - we have some additional computing equipment that would need additional solar power, but yeah, if we were especially frugal with our electrical needs, our demands on equipment would definitely decrease!
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Old 06-11-2016, 12:25 PM   #8
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As mentioned above, a quick and easy move is to change out your interior lights to led.
The only lights on my trailer that aren't led are the courtesy light in my jack and maybe the license plate light. Roughly 80% power savings with the leds, plus they (theoretically) never burn out.
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Old 06-11-2016, 02:15 PM   #9
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In our experience, a 30 degree night with heat set to 62 degrees inside (we have an 18 year old dog and don't want to find a "Pupsicle" in the morning) is enough to take two Group 24 wet cells to their 50% level and therefore to the lowest they should be discharged to. I didn't want the expense of Lithium Ions, or the weight of 6 volts so I have a three part solution. I added an Anderson power 12 v quick disconnect to the existing battery bank (which is currently two Interstate SRM-24 batteries... same as the trailer came with). I carry two Honda 2000s either of which can charge the batteries easily from 50% to 100% in about 2 hours. I have two Renogy 100w panels set up as a suitcase. Their controller plugs into the Anderson port. I also have an Interstate SRM-27 in a battery box that rides in the truck. It, too has an Anderson coupler for quick connection as a third battery in the bank.

With that combination, I have flexibility that many other solutions don't have. I use the two on board batteries most of the time. When nights will be cold I snap in the third, but I don't have to carry it as tongue weight all the time. If I'm parked in the shade on a sunny day I can put the panels out in the sun without having to move the trailer and they'll charge the bank during daylight hours. If I'm out of other options I can power up a Honda and solve any power issues I've got. Including running the AC if I run both generators with the parallel kit.

For the way we travel, that has proven to be a workable, flexible and affordable solution.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:06 AM   #10
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We went six days on our batteries, using no lights, no water pump, just the fridge panel and igniter. We have installed solar panels, about 100 watts, which recharge at early light surprising fast on our boondock overnight stops. The batteries are some he prior owner put in, and have so far, lasted for us since we bought the rig in Sept 2013 (08 30' Classic)


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Old 06-12-2016, 07:07 AM   #11
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So far, I am disappointed with LED lighting. Dimmer than the incadesent bulbs, and surprisingly short life.


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Old 06-12-2016, 07:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvketchum View Post
So far, I am disappointed with LED lighting. Dimmer than the incadesent bulbs, and surprisingly short life.


Tom
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I found short life on some of the early LED lights I put in my 2007 but not with newer ones. Finding the right color temperature is key to a good light level. I prefer ones that are new the daylight end of the spectrum, but that's just me perhaps.
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Old 06-12-2016, 12:03 PM   #13
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2005 30' Classic S/O
Kamloops , British Columbia
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Having just bought a 2005 Classic I am interested in this thread, especially since we have a slide out to operate which needs power to retract! My thought is to install solar - I think the trailer is pre-wired for this. Although new to Airstream we have for the past 20 years owned a horse trailer with living quarters and installed a solar panel many years ago and this enabled us to live off the grid for days at a time while at horse shows. It has needed no maintenance or repairs, though we have been through a few batteries I think, so I would put the money into solar rather than into more batteries.
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