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Old 12-28-2015, 10:35 AM   #15
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As for the charger upgrade, a quick search seems to suggest that the Progressive Dynamics drop-in upgrade is the way to go. Two questions on that: If I'm planning to upgrade to lithium within the next 3-4 months for sure, am I better off picking up the converter/charger that I'd ultimately be using with that setup instead?
The proposed charger is perfect for your current needs. It will not work for the Lithium's but I would not get the "Lithium charger" just yet because the one you get will depend a lot on how much AC (i.e., 110 volt) power you want when you get the lithiums and possibly the size of your lithium bank. Most high quality chargers also come with the inverter built in and you may decide you want a 3,000 watt inverter (approx cost $2,000) or only a 1,000 watt inverter (approx cost $900) so I would defer that purchase until then. The $200 progressive charger should be thought of as "disposable" at the point you make your next upgrade. Going Lithium will likely cost you north of $5,000 "all in" not including the solar component so the $200 should not be an issue.
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Old 12-28-2015, 10:26 PM   #16
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The proposed charger is perfect for your current needs. It will not work for the Lithium's but I would not get the "Lithium charger" just yet because the one you get will depend a lot on how much AC (i.e., 110 volt) power you want when you get the lithiums and possibly the size of your lithium bank. Most high quality chargers also come with the inverter built in and you may decide you want a 3,000 watt inverter (approx cost $2,000) or only a 1,000 watt inverter (approx cost $900) so I would defer that purchase until then. The $200 progressive charger should be thought of as "disposable" at the point you make your next upgrade. Going Lithium will likely cost you north of $5,000 "all in" not including the solar component so the $200 should not be an issue.
Ditto all this. There are cheaper lithium chargers, but really, it's best to get a programmable. There are some really awesome things you can do with the 3000 hybrid like load sharing, and increasing/decreasing the amps you want coming in. A bunch of factors that make it attractive, but it's something I think you want to do all at once. If you're looking at a 2-3 month time frame, why bother with any of this at all?

I know you plan to go full-time but are you full timing it in now? Or will you be full timing in it when you plan to do lithiums?
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Old 12-28-2015, 10:42 PM   #17
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Ditto all this. There are cheaper lithium chargers, but really, it's best to get a programmable. There are some really awesome things you can do with the 3000 hybrid like load sharing, and increasing/decreasing the amps you want coming in. A bunch of factors that make it attractive, but it's something I think you want to do all at once. If you're looking at a 2-3 month time frame, why bother with any of this at all?

I know you plan to go full-time but are you full timing it in now? Or will you be full timing in it when you plan to do lithiums?
No, you're right @BoldAdventure. I think my plan is to get the batteries replaced and stick to the stock charger for now.

I'm already full-timing, I figure I'll know what I want to do long term (re: lithiums) within the next 1-2 months.
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:51 AM   #18
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If you are going to stick with the stock charger with new batteries for awhile then I would at least put the trailer into "store mode" when you are hooked up to shore power and only put it into "use mode" for a few hours to manually charge the batteries when you first reconnect to shore power after having been disconnected for awhile, then put it back into "store mode" until you disconnect from shore power at which time you can put it back into "use mode." When hooked up to shore power and in "store mode" absolutely everything works and since you have the AS factory solar package, the solar system acts as a trickle charger and will keep the batteries charged for when you are not on shore power. If you leave the trailer in "use mode" while hooked up to shore power you will destroy your new batteries in short order. I know it's frustrating and Airstream could have solved this issue by using a $200 piece of hardware instead of a $50 piece but that's the way things are.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:08 AM   #19
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Lithiums are out for me as I live where it get cold and they cannot be charged at low temps.
I agree with Ann Arbor Bob replace your Lifelines, (they are the best agms), then replace your converter. I have a three stage Chinese (Bestconverter.com) It is cheap and it works o.k. but I have flooded cell batts. Agm's will last a long time with pampering so it is worth getting a state of the art converter with an agm power setting.
Unless you have an inverter, group 27's will work o.k. unless you dry camp in very cold weather.
When you get your feet wet, you can upgrade your solar. Meanwhile carry a generator--Hondas or Yamaha work well. I like an EU 2000 as it is easily luggable at 54 pounds.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:10 AM   #20
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Bob, good explanation and advice on use of the original converter/charger. We have been doing this since our Airstream was new, some 1,000 days actual use, and the original AGM batteries are still in good shape.
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:12 AM   #21
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If you are going to stick with the stock charger with new batteries for awhile then I would at least put the trailer into "store mode" when you are hooked up to shore power and only put it into "use mode" for a few hours to manually charge the batteries when you first reconnect to shore power after having been disconnected for awhile, then put it back into "store mode" until you disconnect from shore power at which time you can put it back into "use mode." When hooked up to shore power and in "store mode" absolutely everything works and since you have the AS factory solar package, the solar system acts as a trickle charger and will keep the batteries charged for when you are not on shore power. If you leave the trailer in "use mode" while hooked up to shore power you will destroy your new batteries in short order. I know it's frustrating and Airstream could have solved this issue by using a $200 piece of hardware instead of a $50 piece but that's the way things are.
Yep, that makes sense @AnnArborBob -- thanks.

When I do flip into "use" mode while on shore power and I want to charge up the battery for a bit, should I be watching the volts or the percentage (as reported by the solar charging system monitor)?

In other words, what's my indication that the battery has received a charge and I can flip back to "store" mode?
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Old 12-29-2015, 11:04 AM   #22
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Thanks for the info Bob. I always wondered about the store mode when hooked up to shore power but I assumed wouldn't work with the store mode. Good tip.
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:35 PM   #23
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Yep, that makes sense @AnnArborBob -- thanks.

When I do flip into "use" mode while on shore power and I want to charge up the battery for a bit, should I be watching the volts or the percentage (as reported by the solar charging system monitor)?

In other words, what's my indication that the battery has received a charge and I can flip back to "store" mode?
There is no easy answer to this question as you cannot really judge a battery's state of charge using a voltmeter while the battery is still charging, you need to let it rest a bit with no charge or draw (ideally for an hour or two) then take a reading and see where you stand. Eventually, you will gain a "feel" for how long it takes to get you from 12.3 volts (for example) to 12.6 volts (a "full charge.") A three stage or "smart" charger can do this automatically so, in a sense, this guessing game is the price you pay to avoid paying $300 +/- for a basic three stage charger (of course you can pay more and get more features - probably the best deal going for a high quality programmable inverter/charger is the 1000 watt Magnum MMS1012 inverter charger for about $850.) Remember that even if you use the "store/use" approach outlined previously, the stock Airstream charger is still rough on your batteries no matter how careful you are so, in my humble opinion, not spending a couple hundred dollars on a smart charger to protect an investment of $600 to $1000 (or more) for high quality Lifeline AGMs (the best non-LFP battery solution out there right now) is penny wise and pound foolish. If resources are tight, and/or you really want to hang on to the stock Airstream charger for your own reasons, then I'd really have to suggest sticking with the some lower priced RV batteries and just resign yourself to replacing them on a regular basis. You might come out ahead financially in the short run, but at some cost to the "camping experience."
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:40 PM   #24
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There is no easy answer to this question as you cannot really judge a battery's state of charge using a voltmeter while the battery is still charging, you need to let it rest a bit with no charge or draw (ideally for an hour or two) then take a reading and see where you stand. Eventually, you will gain a "feel" for how long it takes to get you from 12.3 volts (for example) to 12.6 volts (a "full charge.") A three stage or "smart" charger can do this automatically so, in a sense, this guessing game is the price you pay to avoid paying $300 +/- for a basic three stage charger (of course you can pay more and get more features - probably the best deal going for a high quality programmable inverter/charger is the 1000 watt Magnum MMS1012 inverter charger for about $850.) Remember that even if you use the "store/use" approach outlined previously, the stock Airstream charger is still rough on your batteries no matter how careful you are so, in my humble opinion, not spending a couple hundred dollars on a smart charger to protect an investment of $600 to $1000 (or more) for high quality Lifeline AGMs (the best non-LFP battery solution out there right now) is penny wise and pound foolish. If resources are tight, and/or you really want to hang on to the stock Airstream charger for your own reasons, then I'd really have to suggest sticking with the some lower priced RV batteries and just resign yourself to replacing them on a regular basis. You might come out ahead financially in the short run, but at some cost to the "camping experience."
Yep, I hear ya @AnnArborBob -- I was thinking the same thing earlier this evening. I ordered a PowerMax PM4B-60 and it should be here early next week. It was less than $200 shipped and seems like a reasonably simple/smart upgrade to do while I'm depending on the Lifelines.
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Old 12-29-2015, 09:49 PM   #25
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Yep, I hear ya @AnnArborBob -- I was thinking the same thing earlier this evening. I ordered a PowerMax PM4B-60 and it should be here early next week. It was less than $200 shipped and seems like a reasonably simple/smart upgrade to do while I'm depending on the Lifelines.
Smart move, best of luck!
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Old 12-29-2015, 10:36 PM   #26
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Yep, I hear ya @AnnArborBob -- I was thinking the same thing earlier this evening. I ordered a PowerMax PM4B-60 and it should be here early next week. It was less than $200 shipped and seems like a reasonably simple/smart upgrade to do while I'm depending on the Lifelines.
You might want to wait to install it until after you get some resolve with that batteries. I personally wouldn't jeopardize a possible warranty claim and have the new converter be blamed if your batteries are toast.
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:07 AM   #27
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If you are going to stick with the stock charger with new batteries for awhile then I would at least put the trailer into "store mode" when you are hooked up to shore power and only put it into "use mode" for a few hours to manually charge the batteries when you first reconnect to shore power after having been disconnected for awhile, then put it back into "store mode" until you disconnect from shore power at which time you can put it back into "use mode." When hooked up to shore power and in "store mode" absolutely everything works and since you have the AS factory solar package, the solar system acts as a trickle charger and will keep the batteries charged for when you are not on shore power. If you leave the trailer in "use mode" while hooked up to shore power you will destroy your new batteries in short order. I know it's frustrating and Airstream could have solved this issue by using a $200 piece of hardware instead of a $50 piece but that's the way things are.
Agree. I am using the stock converter / charger and I switch between use and store mode as needed to charge the batteries. I monitor the voltage with my solar controller display. I decided to upgrade my solar system by adding more panels and a new controller with a 3 stage charger instead of replacing the stock converter. I use my solar panels and solar controller to charge and monitor voltage on my batteries more than 90% of the time. If you have a solar controller that uses the 3 stages to charge your batteries and enough solar power to charge your batteries in a few hours then you do seldom need to use the converter for charging batteries.
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