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Old 12-27-2006, 09:15 PM   #1
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More batteries and new Univolt?

Hi all, I have an 85 25' Sovereign. Really injoy it except for the short battery time and the loud humm from the univolt. We can charge the batteries with our 3200w Robins generator before going in for the evening. Generator must be off at 2200. We start off with good battery life but before by the morning there is little life left in the batteries. We manage the battery life through the night and still wake up with little or no battery life. I don't mind having to recharge the batteries in the morning but I hate to turn on my generator early in the morning (0700) and disturb the other campers unless I just have to. My current batteries are 2 year old Trojan size 24.

What I would like to do is add 2 more batteries under the couch and change the univolt with a new no hum design.

Would this help my problem?

Thanks in advance,

Greg
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Old 12-27-2006, 09:33 PM   #2
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Greg,
I have an '86 Sovereign 25' with the one battery compartment on the front curb side. I currently use a grp. 27 115 amp. hr. battery with 25 watt and 5 watt solar panels. I'm planning on purchasing a 100 watt panel system with combiner box in 4/07 and then add another 100 watt panel 4/08. Likewise I want to increase my battery bank to two batteries. I've looked at the Lifeline sealed batteries and have room underneath the couch to store them but I'm not pleased with the low amp hr rating of the batteries. I've contemplated replacing the current metal storage box between the frame rails IF i'm not able to fit 2 of the 115 amp hr flooded batteries side by side like I have seen in some of the newer Airstreams. I'm still in the planning stage now.

The PO of my trailer installed a 55 amp Intellipower multi-stage converter/charger with the Charge Wizzard. I highly recommend that unit or the 60 amp model. They are very quiet and I have only heard the fan unit come on once or twice in the 2 years I have had the trailer.

With 200 watts of solar, 2 batteries and my Yamaha EF3000iSEB generator, I'm be in good enough shape to boondock wherever I want to go. It's also nice should I catch heck in the house and just want to step out to the Silver Dog House to get away.
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Old 12-27-2006, 09:56 PM   #3
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What I would like to do is add 2 more batteries under the couch and change the univolt with a new no hum design.

Would this help my problem?

Thanks in advance,

Greg[/quote]

Hi, two more batteries [total of four] would give you a lot more battery time, but make sure you buy four new batteries so you don't have two new fighting two old.


Bob
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Old 12-27-2006, 11:46 PM   #4
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85Sovereign,

What demand are you putting on your batteries to have that kind of drop?

I have boondocked for three days and my two 115amp/hr batteries stood up just fine. lights, pump, frig, only. I use a catalytic heater so furnace doesn't pull batteries.

I too intend to install solar this year. Currently researching 130-200watt systems.
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:14 AM   #5
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Arrow More batteries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 85Sovereign
Hi all, I have an 85 25' Sovereign. Really injoy it except for the short battery time and the loud humm from the univolt. We can charge the batteries with our 3200w Robins generator before going in for the evening. Generator must be off at 2200. We start off with good battery life but before by the morning there is little life left in the batteries. We manage the battery life through the night and still wake up with little or no battery life. I don't mind having to recharge the batteries in the morning but I hate to turn on my generator early in the morning (0700) and disturb the other campers unless I just have to. My current batteries are 2 year old Trojan size 24.

What I would like to do is add 2 more batteries under the couch and change the univolt with a new no hum design.

Would this help my problem?

Thanks in advance,

Greg
Hi Greg; Couple of possibilities may exist in your situation. Either you use your batteries more than you need to, or you may have partial short that drains your batteries. This would include your Univolt as possible culprit. In order to ensure that it is not so you will need to shut off all circuits first, then disconnect positive leads to the batteries. Place a Milliampere meter in line of positive cable. Any reading will indicate short. You can check it further each circuit by using Amp meter of about 20 Amp scale hooked in the same manner.
By turning on one circuit at the time you can compare the draw to specified draw stated for each circuit. Any draw out of specification will indicate possible short in that circuit.
The other scenario is that you may have one bad battery that draws down the good one. Use one battery at the time and compare the use time by having same circuits turned on. No two batteries are equal. Battery load test may help you determine the condition of each battery.
I personally prefer marine chargers by Charging International. They make perfect chargers from a single bank to four banks. Their charger charges each battery indecently. Each charging bank has its own set of indicating LED's which tells you the whole story on battery condition. I consider them the ultimate because they treat each battery separately and proportionally.

You last issue with placing batteries inside the living space is venting. You cannot use wet cell batteries inside your living space unless they are gel batteries. Wet cells must sealed from living space and vented to outside. In my experience gel cells can be very expensive and more troublesome, and truthfully you should not need more than two 105 true deep cycle batteries. Stay away from buying multi use batteries. Finally check for any possible corrosion on the terminals and your power distribution block [specifically ground wire in the distribution block. Good luck, "Boatdoc"
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:14 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wingfoot321
85Sovereign,

What demand are you putting on your batteries to have that kind of drop?

I have boondocked for three days and my two 115amp/hr batteries stood up just fine. lights, pump, frig, only. I use a catalytic heater so furnace doesn't pull batteries.

I too intend to install solar this year. Currently researching 130-200watt systems.
Wingfoot,
Check out Welcome to AM Solar - Your RV Solar Specialists since 1987 and Welcome to RV Solar Electric! for some good info.
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:31 AM   #7
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Greg-

Like everyone else, what are you doing at night to drain your battery? We can survive on one deep cell wet battery for five days! Everyone above has listed some great advise and you can get even more if you do a forum search. Gel batteries are getting a lot of hype right now and can be placed inside your AS as long as they are vented to the outside and sealed off from the living quarters. Deep cell wet cells CAN NOT be anywhere inside your AS! A new power management system is always a good idea and not very expensive and can be setup to handle two deep cells. Good luck and let us know how you made out, but I still want to know what is killing your battery overnight. Sounds like there is a deeper problem.
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Old 12-28-2006, 02:02 PM   #8
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Sounds like you batteries are toast, thus not holding a charge. Could be they aren't getting charged fully. Check the voltage coming out of the univolt. If it's below specs change it out with one of the new automatic converter chargers. If you change your batteries you will find 27's or a 31 worth the extra if they fit.
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Old 12-28-2006, 03:19 PM   #9
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Another thing to check is the defroster/humidity control on the refer. Make sure it is OFF when trying to live on batteries alone. It is a 12 volt heating element and EATS power. On Dometic uints, it is a black switch on above the freezer door.
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Old 12-28-2006, 04:40 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the advice. I don't know how Rick and Sandi can make it on one wet cell for five days. Mayby I'm using more power from my batteries than I realize. There are the 4 of us (me, wife and 2 small children). We usually have to run at least 3 of the regular lights in the camper for at least a couple of hours. Plus the girls will watch their tv/vcr/dvd player for mayby an hour or two, plus if anybody uses any water then the pump may come on. But, we try to accomplish any water usage before 2200 hours so we can maximize the use of he generator. Also, we try not to run the heater becuase the fan seems to be a large draw on the batteries. But, it might come on during the night. The wife and I might watch a DVD on the laptop. Does this sound like to much usage from two new Trojans?

I think the Univolt is working correctly because when I plug into shore power here at the house and turn on the univolt, I measure 13.6 volts.

Greg
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Old 12-28-2006, 05:07 PM   #11
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Greg,
I made a mistake this past year which ran my battery down into the FAIR area on my control panel. I arrived at my destination where I was to boondock for the weekend and it was just getting dark. I opened one of my outside compartments to get a spanner wrench to loosen the spring bars on my Hensley hitch. I had to turn on the compartment light to see where the wrench was and left it on by accident. After unhooking, I through the wrench in the bed of the truck, leveled the front of the trailer and went inside to make dinner. I am in the habit of only running one light at a time in the trailer but had two on as well as running my radio. After three hours I checked the battery gauge on the panel and saw that it was in the FAIR area where it has never been since I bought the trailer 2.5 years ago. I think the battery, a 115 amp hr Walmart deepcycle was purchased 6 months before I bought the trailer. I went to the bed of my truck, got the spanner wrench and as I opened the outside compartment saw I had left the light on. I ran my generator for the next hour and that brought the battery back into the GOOD area. I hooked up my 25 watt solar panel the next morning and the battery stayed in the GOOD area for the next day.

Moral of the story, running a number of lights, TV/DVD, radio, refrigerator (uses 12 volt for controls on newer models) can eat up your battery or batteries quickly. This is why I'm looking at a good solar system with a charge monitor capable of letting me know how much battery I really have left and how much the solar panel(s) are helping. Otherwise it is just a guess of what amperage each lightbulb and each appliance is using. If you go to Welcome to RV Solar Electric! they have a chart to let you know about what each item is using in the way of amps. A 105 or 115 amp hr battery can be quickly discharged if you aren't careful.
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Old 12-28-2006, 06:06 PM   #12
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You may want to install a tri-metric meter. Tis allows you to monitor your current use, voltage and amp hrs available. Your univolt could have been over charging your batteries also. This will kill your batteries as much as discharging too much. Sounds like your existing are probably toast by now anyway. Before you replace them get a sophisticated charger and consider a meter so you know when they are charged and when they need charging and you will know if something is left on (like a light bulb).
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Old 12-28-2006, 08:45 PM   #13
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A laptop with charger, a dvd player, and a tv will make short work of your batteries. Try going one weekend without any of those items (tough, I know), and see how the batteries last. A new converter would be a good investment, as the Univolt is not very efficient at charging batteries. In fact, it is so inefficient it may not be fully charging your batteries while hooked up to your generator.
If you want to get more inof about converters, one of our forums members, 68 overlander, sells a variety of them, and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:57 PM   #14
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Tri-metric

Phil, you are definately right about the Tri-metric moniter. I have read enough about them to know that they give you good information on the condition of your battery bank. I would go to that unit if I weren't going to another metering device that comes with the solar system i'm ordering.
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