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Old 06-08-2016, 12:56 PM   #1
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Please don't beat me up

OK, OK. I know I'm supposed to swap out my Parallax converter for a multi-stage converter. But I'm just about to leave on a trip and simply don't have time (or the inclination for that matter). It turns out that the only sites available at Watkins Glen have no hookups so we'll be boondocking. I have Honda EU2000 generators (one the companion) and the dual generator cable setup though I've never used them.
So my question is. I can only use the generator(s) between 9 and 11 in the morning and from 4 to 7 in the evening. The converter is the 55 amp series 5300. I'll be there three nights. I know a few people still have the original Parallax converters. I'm concerned about having enough time each day to recharge the batteries.
I also have an external 2-10-50 amp charger. Would I be better off disconnecting the batteries with the disconnect switch and charging them using the external charger plugged into the generator? Would that be faster. Which setting on the external charger would be best? The 50 amp setting suggests its purpose is to start a car with a dead battery.
Till now I've only gone to places with hookups, so changing out the converter has not been a high priority.
I appreciate any opinions, especially from those seemingly few people who have stayed with the stock converter and not switched it out to a multi-stage one.
Thanks in advance.
Richard
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Old 06-08-2016, 01:22 PM   #2
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I can still get 3 to 4 days camping on my two group 24 batteries before they fall to 50% and no charge.

I think the Parallax is just fine for a charge up, the issue I've heard is that it doesn't throttle down once the batteries are full. This can lead to problems if left for weeks on end. Damage doesn't happen with minutes or hours. Anyway, that's what I've heard but I'm no expert.
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Old 06-08-2016, 01:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by kscherzi View Post
I can still get 3 to 4 days camping on my two group 24 batteries before they fall to 50% and no charge.

I think the Parallax is just fine for a charge up, the issue I've heard is that it doesn't throttle down once the batteries are full. This can lead to problems if left for weeks on end. Damage doesn't happen with minutes or hours. Anyway, that's what I've heard but I'm no expert.
I'm no expert either, but I agree - you will be fine. You have a theoretical (not to be achieved but should come close) of 5 hours x 55 Amps or 275 Amp hours of charging capacity. You would be hard pressed to use that much power in a day, or in several days for that matter, particularly without running the furnace.

Al
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Old 06-08-2016, 01:36 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kscherzi View Post
I can still get 3 to 4 days camping on my two group 24 batteries before they fall to 50% and no charge.

I think the Parallax is just fine for a charge up, the issue I've heard is that it doesn't throttle down once the batteries are full. This can lead to problems if left for weeks on end. Damage doesn't happen with minutes or hours. Anyway, that's what I've heard but I'm no expert.
I spoke with the Airstream people at Jackson Center and Chris Burch said exactly the opposite of what seems to be the common wisdom on this forum. He suggested leaving the Parallax on all the time. When the battery is charged, the amperage drops and the converter is just providing a float charge. I have been looking at my battery water levels and they are holding up. I did have to add just a little water to two of the cells. I don't mind checking the water level frequently.
My question is really how fast the converter will charge the battery if I just plug the generator into the trailer.

I have a tendency to worry myself to death until I've done something once or twice. Reading these forums can be very confusing with conflicting advice.
Anyway, thanks for the reply. I wouldn't really worry about it except for the people saying I'm going to destroy my batteries if I let them discharge

Richard
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Old 06-08-2016, 04:06 PM   #5
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Your question may be better stated as "How much quicker can a multi-stage replacement converter recharge my batteries?" That depends on the features of the device chosen and it does vary. You need to query the specific manufacturer or the dealer.

A fuller explanation about the answer you got from Airstream (re: the Parallax unit) can be found on the manufacturer's site:

FAQ section - Why doesn’t Parallax offer a “smart” charger option?

The issue we have with "smart charger technology" (when used in an RV) lies more with the application of the technology than the technology itself. In a typical RV 12 volt electrical system, the converter/charger and the battery or battery bank is connected in parallel with the rest of the 12 volt distribution system. In "parallel" means where the charging source (converter/charger) positive and negative output is electrically connected to both the battery bank positive and negative, and the 12-volt distribution system positive and negative, at the same time. The voltage output of the converter "smart charger" is based on a "detected" battery voltage. The converter "smart charger" claims to "monitor" and respond to battery condition while connected to the entire 12 volt system. Unless the charging source (converter) has a separate or isolated charging output, we do not agree that a converter or charger can effectively differentiate requirements of the batteries from other 12 volt loads while simultaneously connected to the rest of the 12 volt distribution system in the RV.

Detected use or voltage change on the RV 12-volt load system (i.e. lights, pumps, etc. being turned on) generally keeps these devices at a 13.6 -13.8 "float" voltage. This raises the question whether any real additional benefit is being provided to the battery bank unless the coach remains in a "non-use" storage condition. If a converter "smart charger" is only connected to the battery bank and can therefore monitor only battery voltage or current, and is not also connected "in parallel" with the 12 volt distribution system, we have no problem with the application of "smart charger technology”.

Parallax converter models deliver a nominal "float voltage" output of 13.2 -13.8 volts DC. Leaving the RV connected to 120VAC and the converter output connected to the battery should present no problems as long as this "float voltage" is between 13.2 - 14.1 volts DC and recommended battery maintenance is performed.
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Old 06-08-2016, 04:50 PM   #6
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There is no reason to hook up 2 generators for what you are doing. The charge rate is not a function of how many generators you are using.

You do realize you will not have Air Conditioning because of the limited time of operation.

Put the frig on gas, because it will switch to electric as soon as it sees 110 volts if you are plugged into the trailer, and you shouldn't even need the generator in 3 days.

You are using distilled water right?
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Old 06-08-2016, 04:51 PM   #7
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We only need to run the generator a couple of hours every couple of days. I got the original converter from 1988. We just plug the trailer in and run the gen. Don't overthink this. Also don't run things off an inverter. Go to gas and 12 volts.
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Old 06-08-2016, 08:16 PM   #8
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There is no reason to hook up 2 generators for what you are doing. The charge rate is not a function of how many generators you are using.

You do realize you will not have Air Conditioning because of the limited time of operation.

Put the frig on gas, because it will switch to electric as soon as it sees 110 volts if you are plugged into the trailer, and you shouldn't even need the generator in 3 days.

You are using distilled water right?

Yes, I am using distilled water.

My dear wife feels that even a few hours of AC in the late afternoon will be better than nothing.

I realize that the two gens are no better than one for charging the batteries.

I do have a tendency to overthink things, especially when I've read the dire warnings on these forums (fora?)

I'll feel better about all of this after next week and we have had the actual experience. After all, this is supposed to be fun.

Richard.
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Old 06-08-2016, 08:28 PM   #9
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Hi. Check out the weather channel for Watkins Glen this weekend. Hottest temps are 81 on Saturday - nights down in the 50s. Odds are pretty good you won't need both gennies (you really only need both to run your AC). 4 hours of being able to recharge batteries daily should be great - even if you're running the fantastic fans (on low) during hotter hours.

Good luck and have fun!!!
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:28 PM   #10
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I agree with Stevesuemack. I just came back from my first Boondocking adventure in southern Utah. After running the lights, fans, stereo and charging iPads and phones over night I checked the battery voltage on the panel. It was 12.24. I ran one Honda 2000 on Eco mode for 2 hours in the morning and then let the batteries rest for an hour to get a true voltage. It was 12.6 on the panel. A fully charged battery is 12.74. I won't worry about it again. The next three days I ran both Gens in the afternoon and evening and used the AC. You will find that the Chrome Twinkies heat up rather quickly in the sun! As another poster listed, put the fridge on dual mode so you can save on propane while the Gen is running. I also learned that you only need to heat up the water 15 minutes before you are going to need hot water then turn it off. It will stay hot for a long time. Have fun!
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:38 PM   #11
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I agree with the others... you should be fine... mind your batteries, of course, and use the genny to boost the batteries (one will do this fine) if you need to. The main thing is to relax and have fun! Once you get the hang of dry camping, you'll have more camping options open to you.
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:23 PM   #12
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thanks everyone for the encouraging words. I'll let you know how it turns out but I'm sure it will be wonderful and I'm sure will have a very good time.
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:46 PM   #13
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I agree with Stevesuemack. I just came back from my first Boondocking adventure in southern Utah. After running the lights, fans, stereo and charging iPads and phones over night I checked the battery voltage on the panel. It was 12.24. I ran one Honda 2000 on Eco mode for 2 hours in the morning and then let the batteries rest for an hour to get a true voltage. It was 12.6 on the panel. A fully charged battery is 12.74. I won't worry about it again. The next three days I ran both Gens in the afternoon and evening and used the AC. You will find that the Chrome Twinkies heat up rather quickly in the sun! As another poster listed, put the fridge on dual mode so you can save on propane while the Gen is running. I also learned that you only need to heat up the water 15 minutes before you are going to need hot water then turn it off. It will stay hot for a long time. Have fun!

How did you charge your iPads and phones? Did you use the inverter?
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:10 AM   #14
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There are two USB ports above the dinette next to the DVD player and two on the nightstand next to the bed. They both are powered by the trailer batteries. Phones and iPad devices use 5 Volts DC to charge so the plugs drop the voltage down from 12 volts. You don't need AC power for this. You just unplug the chord from their power cubes that you usually plug into AC plugs and plug it into the USB ports.
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