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Old 06-24-2011, 12:30 PM   #1
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Charging batteries

What is the most efficient way to recharge batteries from generator when boondocking?
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:41 PM   #2
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Moflash, the slowest way is to use the trailer power cord. This only provides about 2 amps to the battery via the converter.

I have the Honda 2000EU generator and directly connect to the batteries via DC charging cords (separate purchase) from the generator DC outlet.

Another option is to plug a battery charger to the AC outlet and select the higher charging rate. When I do this I get about 10 amps to the batteries.

But the best option is to install solar panel charging, and leave the generator home.

I hope you are using a quiet generator. There are some very good discussions on the forum for generator use and etiquette.

Happy boondocking!
John
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:31 PM   #3
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What is the most efficient way to recharge batteries from generator when boondocking?
Moflash

Welcome to the forums.

The most efficient way to recharge the batteries from the generator is to replace your stock converter with a "3-stage" converter. If properly installed, these will recharge the batteries from 50% to 90% in about two hours when the shore power cord is plugged into your generator. Xantrex is probably the best known manufacturer of such converters.

The stock converter already in your trailer will also work OK. The charging current will vary depending on the state of charge of the batteries however with a 50-90% recharge requiring typically 8-10 hours.

Most people don't recommend using the 12 volt output connector on the generator. While it will work, the output is limited to 8-10 amps or so which will be insufficient if the batteries are deeply discharged or if you are using 12 volt lights and appliances at the same time.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:37 PM   #4
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I would think the fastest way is to hook up to your TV...the 100 amp altenator on most trucks should recharge them pronto!
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:23 PM   #5
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So while I'm driving with my 7-pin connector connected, my TV alternator is charging my Safari's batteries?
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:36 PM   #6
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What is the most efficient way to recharge batteries from generator when boondocking?
Usually while boondocking we will use the generator about an hour every day or so, this has been sufficient to keep the batteries charged thru the IOTA converter.
Had a new Zantrex fail while camping several years ago and had to charge directly from the 2000i, took considerably longer, and had to keep a close watch on the state of charge, (2000i has no brain)
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:37 PM   #7
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Yes Goal15, your TV will charge the TT battery(s)
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:39 PM   #8
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I would think the fastest way is to hook up to your TV...the 100 amp altenator on most trucks should recharge them pronto!
Despite using large wire sizes and wiring directly to the alternator I've been unable to get more than around 25a this way, reliably. With stock wiring it's less, usually around 10a.

Like so many battery and tank capacity things the usefulness varies depending on your use pattern. Sometimes I stay in one place for the weekend and then come halfway home, and the driving is enough to recharge the batteries to make it through another night.

There are people who have dual-alternator setups with modified voltage sense circuits who have done better.
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Old 06-24-2011, 02:44 PM   #9
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I boondocked many nights this spring, which allowed us to camp in beautiful national parks in the Southwest and gave us great confidence in ourselves and our Airstream. The weather was generally awful with lows in the 30s and winds in the 40s many of the nights. After running the furnace until we went to bed, I could bring the batteries up to 12.7 plus volts in less than two hours with my Honda 2000eu while we made coffee and cooked breakfast. I know many owners bash the original inverter equipment but ours worked beautifully in conjunction with the generator. So before adding inverters and solar panels, use your camper in some dry camping situations to learn what's possible with the original equipment. I think you'll be very surprised at how capable your Airstream is.
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Old 06-24-2011, 03:14 PM   #10
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RobertCross: I saw your solar panel setup in another post. Realistically, if when we're dry camping, we're only running the lights & water pump very frugally (we're just basic people not used to all the bells and whistles on our AS yet) - a 30W solar panel would do just fine for the occaisonal weekend? I like to camp, but I also like some comfort, and electric hookup isn't always available ... and we do have 2 batteries (one spare always charged) ...
Sunforce 30-Watt Amorphous Folding Solar Kit - 50232 at The Home Depot

This looks like a good kit - any words of wisdom?
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Old 06-24-2011, 03:28 PM   #11
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I have two honda eu2000i generators so it seems the general consensus is to run the optional dc charging cords directly to the batteries???? hooking up running tv is 2nd.And hooking gens via shore power cord to gens 3rd???
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Old 06-24-2011, 03:47 PM   #12
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I have had good success with simply plugging the trailer’s power cord in the generator and allowing the stock converter to recharge. All ideas presented here will work, but there is no definitive answer for all users or situations.
A deeply discharged set of batteries, say from using the furnace all night on battery power only, will take several hours to come to full charge with the stock converter. However, a light daily load from using the water pump and a few lights when you need them will be replenished in an hour or two.
If you are concerned, keep a volt meter (or multi-meter) handy, and check the voltage during use and after charging a few times until you get a feel for what works for you.

Oh yeah, and happy camping!
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Old 06-24-2011, 03:58 PM   #13
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RobertCross: I saw your solar panel setup in another post. Realistically, if when we're dry camping, we're only running the lights & water pump very frugally (we're just basic people not used to all the bells and whistles on our AS yet) - a 30W solar panel would do just fine for the occaisonal weekend? I like to camp, but I also like some comfort, and electric hookup isn't always available ... and we do have 2 batteries (one spare always charged) ...
Sunforce 30-Watt Amorphous Folding Solar Kit - 50232 at The Home Depot

This looks like a good kit - any words of wisdom?
Wendy
Wendy,

The 30w flexible panels are used mostly during storage to keep from having to plug into shore power. If the AGM's are charged they will maintain ok but at 1.8 amps they won't bring a low battery back.
They did come in handy two seasons ago when the new AS converter took a dump, every little bit helped.
We are "in the woods" 'dockers so the 30w@1.8a panels don't really help much in the shade. If we were "in the light" campers, and I was so inclined I might consider a permanent solar array, (at least 150w).

At minimum, just to help extend battery charge, I would consider at least two of those 30w panels. According to the specs 60w @ 4amps.

There are a lot more, (better) options available, and many here have much more knowledge than I about them. (Lewster)

Do the homework and don't rush, we did just fine for 18 Seasons with nutt'n but a 1000w generator and one battery.
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:11 PM   #14
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I have two honda eu2000i generators so it seems the general consensus is to run the optional dc charging cords directly to the batteries???? hooking up running tv is 2nd.And hooking gens via shore power cord to gens 3rd???
I would do that bass ackward......AS converter/charger #1
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