Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 09-18-2019, 09:57 PM   #1
3 Rivet Member
 
doughpat's Avatar
 
2019 22' Sport
Bend , Oregon
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 144
Least expensive way to add boondocking capacity

Hi all, I am trying to upgrade my Boondocking electrical capabilities, without spending an arm and a leg. I know that upgrading to lithium, upgraded controllers, monitors, solar everywhere, etc. is awesome and someday I would like to do that, but we are already stretched thin and are disappointed with the performance of the stock group 24 continental lead acid battery and stock charger.

It seems like sticking with lead acid might make sense because then I can use the stock charger/converter/monitor etc.

I know that 6 V batteries are better performers, but they seem quite expensive compared to group 27 12 V batteries. I am thinking that two (even three?) group 27 batteries wired in parallel would give the biggest “bang/buck” ratio of all options.

A closely related option would be the AGM version of the above, as (if I understand correctly) they have a larger effective capacity due to lower allowed discharge levels. Plus no messing with water levels (and maybe a bit more durable?).

I do plan on adding a 40w portable solar panel to compliment my Honda 1000w generator. Eventually I’d like to add additional solar to the roof, but that’s a ways off.

On a side note—why are group 27 batteries the most common lead acid battery I see on these forums? There are larger ones and it seems like the cost effectiveness is, generally speaking, better as the battery gets larger.
__________________

doughpat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2019, 10:35 PM   #2
Half a Rivet Short
 
2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 8,445
Hi

How much of a difference will 20% make to you?
How much difference would doubling your capacity make?
Are you willing to spend half as much for 20% as you would spend to double?

Those are the kinds of things you quickly run into as you go through all this.

AGM's cost more than basic lead acid's. They bump capacity up by 10 to 20%. Big flooded cells also cost and bump up over basic batteries by maybe 10% more than AGM's. A lot depends on *exactly* which batteries you are comparing.

If you go down to Costco and start buying whatever is on sale in the deep cycle / RV category, you can likely get 4 batteries for not much more than AGM's or big flooded cells will cost. Again, it depends a bit on just what's on sale this week.

To put some numbers on it:

Group 24's (flooded) likely will be in the 70 to 80 AH range
Group 27's (flooded) probably are closer to the 80AH point than 70
Group 27 AGM's should come in around 100 AH
Stacked 6V's should get you to about 220 AH (but that's a pair so double all the numbers above to be looking at apples vs apples )

Can you find exceptions to those numbers? Sure you can. Battery specs are often a bit inconsistent between vendors. In some cases the reasons are buried down in the fine print ( = they are not testing quite the same way). In other cases they trade off thin plates ( = more capacity) vs thicker plates ( = longer life / more reliability).

Predicting what will go on sale next week is never easy. Is $90 "high"? Watch for a few weeks (or months) and see what happens.

======

How long will you keep your trailer?
How long will you keep using your trailer? (not the same thing ....)

Step back a bit and think this part through. Will you move up to something bigger? Will you go to something completely different? What drives this is unique to your situation. Some *will* keep heavily using their trailer for 10+ years. A lot of people will either trade it in or simply stop using it after 4 to 6 years.

Lithium's make sense if you will be heavily using the trailer for a lot of years. If it's likely you will "move on" in a few years .... not so much. They also make sense if you want to pack the max power into the minimum volume. (with no cost constraints ...).

Lots of variables, lots of directions you could go.

Bob
__________________

uncle_bob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2019, 10:55 PM   #3
Rivet Master
 
2007 27' International CCD FB
San Diego , California
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,356
Hi doughpat,

Adding more batteries in parallel might seem straightforward, but getting them all installed in a reasonable configuration, while keeping a reasonable tongue weight is trickier than it would appear.

If your tongue box is compatible with the size, the best upgrade you can do is 6V golf cart batts. They are built stronger and better by nature, allowing for AGM levels of discharge depth.

Beyond that, I would highly suggest upgrading to solar. 200-400w is very affordable today especially if you can install it yourself. This extends the batteries such that you use the energy directly during the day and never utilize reserves until sundown.

Another great option is to utilize a portable battery bank in the following manner. No real mods to do and very straightforward:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...um-196422.html
__________________
Boondocking option package:
'07 27FB Ocean Breeze "See Turtle", 3" lift
'09 Lexus LX570, on 33's
Tongue Mount Honda eu2200i - Rear Hitch - Underbelly Storage - Blizzard NXT w/ EasyStart - 3" Lift - 6" Fan Controller
pteck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-18-2019, 11:03 PM   #4
Rivet Master
 
wulfraat's Avatar
 
2017 30' International
Broomfield , Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 2,009
Images: 1
Least expensive way to add boondocking capacity

The least expensive approach is to bring a small generator along. Use it, and evaluate your needs over time. Then decide how much energy storage and generation you really need.
wulfraat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 04:02 AM   #5
Rivet Master
 
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 11,578
Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
The least expensive approach is to bring a small generator along. Use it, and evaluate your needs over time. Then decide how much energy storage and generation you really need.
This is an excellent recommendation IMO. A very practical learning curve, requiring a minimum of investment up-front.

We use a Yamaha 1000 generator, modified to run off propane using the trailer's low-pressure quick-connect port. With an "extension cord" hose, the gen can be located where it does not bother neighbors. It is very quiet, lightweight, can be carried safely inside the tow vehicle, and is also helpful at home as a back-up gen in hurricanes etc. [with a BBQ tank hook-up regulator/hose].

We monitor the AS's battery voltage carefully, and charge if possible when it drops below 12.5 volts [~90%]. This gives a safety margin, as a level of ~12.2 volts is the first "must do" level [~50%], below which we endeavor not to cross. [Thank you, Winston Churchill. ]

Happy trails,

Peter

PS -- doughpat, even if you decide eventually to go "whole hog" with fancier improvements, a 1000 watt gen is a great tool to have in your life IMO.
PS2 -- Your other thread for background on this discussion: http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...0i-200945.html
PS3 -- Great advice from everyone else too.
OTRA15 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 07:48 AM   #6
Rivet Master
 
Lily&Me's Avatar

 
2006 22' Interstate
Normal , Illinois
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15,332
And, when you plan to boondock, include in that plan the minimal use of items needing power.

Boondock when you won’t need air conditioning, and plan meals and activities that don’t require the microwave, television, dvr, etc.

Cook outside or stovetop, play board games, read, enjoy nature around you.

Maggie
__________________
🏡 🚐 Cherish and appreciate those you love. This moment could be your last.🌹🐚
Lily&Me is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 08:06 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
AirMiles's Avatar
 
2018 27' Globetrotter
Apollo Beach , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,028
I just purchased a new 2018 with brand new Interstate batteries. I got to try out the new WFCO converter with the interstate batteries for a week. I was not impressed. I’m used to having 6V golf cart batteries, a pd4655 converter, and 400W of solar - unlimited battery power for my usage. In comparison, the stock equipment was almost useless for me. I killed the stock Interstates down to 11.6V on my first day. The WFCO converter ran and ran to recharge the batteries. I can see why boondocking would be difficult with the stock equipment. Very little battery storage and very SLOW charging capability. From my tests in the past week, it takes 24 hours of charging time to restore a fully depleted battery. The stock Airstream is set up terribly for boondocking. In my opinion, it is designed to be on shore power except for when traveling between electric campsites.

I primarily dry camp at National Park Service campgrounds. So how am I going to fix it? I’m going back to the setup I had with my prior Airstream. I’ve installed 600W of solar, Duracell 6V golf cart batteries, and ordered a PD4655L controller for charging with my 3400W Champion DualFuel generator when needed.

How could you do this in stages? First, get a quiet inverter generator. Then upgrade the WFCO controller to something that will charge quickly at 14.4V. A PD4655L or Boondocker would be my first and second choices. Then when the stock Interstates wear out, buy a set of golf cart batteries or Lithium batteries depending on your budget. Both of these battery types can be deeply discharged without harm. I would not buy AGM or RV/marine batteries that cannot be deeply discharged. Then get at least 200W of solar- this can be portable or permanently attached.

I could write a book on the why’s of all the above. I suggest reading my past comments in the Solar Show and Tell thread.

Ps. Yes you do need to upgrade the 2018 & newer Airstream WFCO controller for boondocking. The “Specifications” say it should work, but how it actually performs is completely inadequate for dry camping. It charges way to slowly to be used with a generator. I was getting 0.1V of battery increase per hour of charging with the new WFCO converter.
__________________
2018 Globetrotter 27Q, 32 nights 4,935 miles, 600W Solar, PD4655L, Duracell EGC2 Batteries, ProPride, 16" Michelin's, Champion 3400W Dual-Fuel, 2019 F250
Sold: 2017 Flying Cloud 25FB, 316 nights 40,150 miles, 400W Solar
Sold: 2013 Casita SD17 89 nights 16,200 miles
AirMiles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 08:16 AM   #8
Rivet Master
 
1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 3,196
Blog Entries: 1
I use the group 27 because that is the largest that will fit in the battery boxes on my trailer. And the largest I can pick up and handle.

Considering the battery you have, just buying 1 decent battery would be a good upgrade. Going to 2 would be more of an upgrade. And it takes the same time to recharge 2 with the gen as it does 1, so you are doubling your usefulness of the gen charge time. I think the next and best cheap thing to do is to just run the generator longer and more often when you camp. I know this summer we ended up running the gen almost every day for a couple of hours. The second year on 2 Walmart lead/acid. I do run a CPAP at night so maybe more draw than some campers.

I do not know if this applies to you or not. Our truck does not add charge to the battery when we are towing. I am going to add a 12 volt to 12 volt converter so that we will get some charge towing. That way when we work our way along using forest service and COE campgrounds for a day or 2 at the time we will get recharged when we move,
Bill M. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 08:20 AM   #9
Rivet Master
 
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 11,578
Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMiles View Post
. . .
. . . First, get a quiet inverter generator.
. . .
.
Bingo!

OTRA15 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 10:17 AM   #10
1 Rivet Member
 
2019 22' Sport
San Jose , CA
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 7
Upgrade batteries inside

It was recommended by my local Airstream dealer to install the upgraded batteries inside if possible. I have a 2019 Sport 22FB and am planning on installing four 120 Ah Lithium PO4 batteries under the bed along with a 3000W inverter/charger. If you are not planning on running the AC, this might be all you need. Charge up before you leave home and good to go. In my case, I am also adding 300 W of solar on the roof so I can charge on the road.

Otherwise get a quiet generator as mentioned above, but get at least a 3000 W version that has a 30 AMP plug so you can just plug into your shore power connector. Propane version is easier since you don't want gasoline leaking all over your trailer or tow vehicle.
Konakcc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 10:24 AM   #11
Married with Airstream
 
drbrick's Avatar

 
2004 25' International CCD
Vancouver Island , British Columbia
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 327
Images: 2
All we do (90% of the time) is Boondock!

Since you have a 1000w gen I would add a 160w portable solar unit with additional 40 ft of cable (helps in finding the sun) - add also Trojan T105s (two 6v 250AH) batteries. This will cost you about $600-700 but you're set for now and future. Will keep you boondocking till the water runs out

We added to the above ourselves a champion 3400 (run on LP) and 200w solar on the roof and we can run everything in the AS if need be ... just saying
__________________
La Dolce Vita Brick & Mona
2004 International 25CCD Registered Name "Blue Streak"
2013 F-150HD SuperCrew FX4 Lariart (MaxTow) "Red Dragon"

Married With Airstream Blog Click Here
Blog Languages: English/French/Spanish
drbrick is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 10:52 AM   #12
Silver Star
 
rucos's Avatar
 
1970 23' Safari
Victoria , British Columbia
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 228
I just finished a week boondocking and by using my honda 2200 every second day for 1-2hrs with 2 top quality 6v batteries and a good converter I always had my batteries above 12.4
Mostly I needed to top up my e-bike battery....LOL.
In our part of the world (Vancouver Island BC) a lot of the provincial/forest service campgrounds are water available at a central location and pit toilets. Solar isn't that useful most of the time as many campgrounds are in the forests and don't have much direct sunshine.
To me a good quiet Generator ...good batteries and converter are the must haves for off the grid.
rucos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 11:24 AM   #13
Rivet Master
 
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 11,578
Quote:
Originally Posted by Konakcc View Post
It was recommended by my local Airstream dealer to install the upgraded batteries inside if possible. I have a 2019 Sport 22FB and am planning on installing four 120 Ah Lithium PO4 batteries under the bed along with a 3000W inverter/charger. If you are not planning on running the AC, this might be all you need. Charge up before you leave home and good to go. In my case, I am also adding 300 W of solar on the roof so I can charge on the road.
. . .
Welcome to the forum!

Are you planning on weighing the AS after this? Your tongue weight might change quite a bit IMO.

Peter
OTRA15 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 12:07 PM   #14
2 Rivet Member
 
ProTech's Avatar
 
2017 23' International
Portland , Oregon
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 36
Images: 5
Why just 40 watts of solar? Adding 100-200 watts would charge your one batter faster and you'd have a fully charged batter every night. Boondocking is the best when it quiet.
ProTech is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 12:14 PM   #15
1 Rivet Member
 
2017 30' Classic
Dixon , California
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 12
Solar generator

Forget all that and get Apex energy generator with solar to charge it. Can also charge from truck or house current. Another solar generator box is called Blugettie or something like that. These boxes will run everything but air conditioner. Eventually get easy start for AC and Honda 2000w propane generator. Happy trails..
AndyT is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 12:34 PM   #16
Rivet Master
 
1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 6,053
It depends on what you need. Figure your average 100 A-hr deep cycle battery is good for half that at best otherwise you reduce lifetime a lot. Yes cost per Whr is better with lithium if you average over 10 yrs but the deep cycle batteries will at least give you something you can use. Figure out how much power you need or can live with and see if some combination of the 100 A-hr batteries is going to do what you need. How many people are going to full time for 10 yrs solid is my point I am trying to make.



Perry
perryg114 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 09:29 PM   #17
2 Rivet Member
 
1978 31' Sovereign
Green Valley Lake , California
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 81
Cheap solar

Renogy 100w panels about $120 everywhere. Amazon, Walmart, etc...
SouthForkAS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-19-2019, 09:39 PM   #18
Cloudland2
 
davidrrand's Avatar
 
2016 25' Flying Cloud
Trenton , Georgia
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 216
Question for AirMiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by AirMiles View Post
I just purchased a new 2018 with brand new Interstate batteries. I got to try out the new WFCO converter with the interstate batteries for a week. I was not impressed. I’m used to having 6V golf cart batteries, a pd4655 converter, and 400W of solar - unlimited battery power for my usage. In comparison, the stock equipment was almost useless for me. I killed the stock Interstates down to 11.6V on my first day. The WFCO converter ran and ran to recharge the batteries. I can see why boondocking would be difficult with the stock equipment. Very little battery storage and very SLOW charging capability. From my tests in the past week, it takes 24 hours of charging time to restore a fully depleted battery. The stock Airstream is set up terribly for boondocking. In my opinion, it is designed to be on shore power except for when traveling between electric campsites.

I primarily dry camp at National Park Service campgrounds. So how am I going to fix it? I’m going back to the setup I had with my prior Airstream. I’ve installed 600W of solar, Duracell 6V golf cart batteries, and ordered a PD4655L controller for charging with my 3400W Champion DualFuel generator when needed.

How could you do this in stages? First, get a quiet inverter generator. Then upgrade the WFCO controller to something that will charge quickly at 14.4V. A PD4655L or Boondocker would be my first and second choices. Then when the stock Interstates wear out, buy a set of golf cart batteries or Lithium batteries depending on your budget. Both of these battery types can be deeply discharged without harm. I would not buy AGM or RV/marine batteries that cannot be deeply discharged. Then get at least 200W of solar- this can be portable or permanently attached.

I could write a book on the why’s of all the above. I suggest reading my past comments in the Solar Show and Tell thread.

Ps. Yes you do need to upgrade the 2018 & newer Airstream WFCO controller for boondocking. The “Specifications” say it should work, but how it actually performs is completely inadequate for dry camping. It charges way to slowly to be used with a generator. I was getting 0.1V of battery increase per hour of charging with the new WFCO converter.
Quick Question Air, I recently up graded to 6v 235ah Duracells and switched the converter last year to the PD4655. Do I need to manually set the converter to 14.4 and for how long to charge these fully when they are showing say 12.3 or 12.4? Left to there own, they just charge at 13.6 like the original converter.

Thanks
Dave
davidrrand is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2019, 12:07 AM   #19
1 Rivet Member
 
2019 22' Sport
San Jose , CA
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
Welcome to the forum!

Are you planning on weighing the AS after this? Your tongue weight might change quite a bit IMO.

Peter
Since the batteries are coming off the tongue and into the cab I was told not an issue, but yes, like everything else, weight must always be taken into consideration.

-Ken
Konakcc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2019, 04:07 AM   #20
Rivet Master
 
AirMiles's Avatar
 
2018 27' Globetrotter
Apollo Beach , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,028
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidrrand View Post
Quick Question Air, I recently up graded to 6v 235ah Duracells and switched the converter last year to the PD4655. Do I need to manually set the converter to 14.4 and for how long to charge these fully when they are showing say 12.3 or 12.4? Left to there own, they just charge at 13.6 like the original converter.

Thanks
Dave
Thankfully, I don't have a lot of experience with generator charging my batteries because my solar keeps them charged 97% of the time. On the five occasions (in 240 days of use) that I needed a generator to charge my pair of Duracell golf cart batteries, I manually set the PD4655 to 14.4V and ran the generator for about four hours (until the PD4655 dropped down to 13.6V). This will charge the batteries to about a 90% state of charge (SOC). Its very inefficient to charge batteries with a generator at 13.6V. At this voltage, charging time can be measured in days, maybe a half-day, but likely more than 12 hours. Charging the batteries at 14.4V for two-to-four hours gets me through a night of dry camping while I wait for the sun to come up the next day. This is why this boondocker and dry-camper replaced a 2018 WFCO controller's 12V charging module with a PD4655L.
__________________

__________________
2018 Globetrotter 27Q, 32 nights 4,935 miles, 600W Solar, PD4655L, Duracell EGC2 Batteries, ProPride, 16" Michelin's, Champion 3400W Dual-Fuel, 2019 F250
Sold: 2017 Flying Cloud 25FB, 316 nights 40,150 miles, 400W Solar
Sold: 2013 Casita SD17 89 nights 16,200 miles
AirMiles is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Least expensive repair thenewkid64 General Repair Forum 5 09-23-2013 09:49 AM
Looking for weight hitch, least expensive that will do job starcraft Hitches, Couplers & Balls 0 04-14-2012 10:29 AM
What is the least expensive insurance ctdair Insurance & Claims 13 09-23-2006 01:34 PM
Where is the "best" (least expensive) place to buy Nuvite? 72Blazerod Cleaning, Stripping & Polishing 4 03-12-2005 07:30 AM
What would the least expensive tow vehicle be? RVNUTTY Tow Vehicles 13 03-10-2004 10:48 PM


Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:20 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.