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Old 04-17-2016, 09:07 AM   #1
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Portable Solar Charging Batteries while in Storage

I have attempted using a 7 Watts Solar Panel Battery Charger and it just is not enough to maintain the batteries while in storage evening with a top post battery master disconnect switch.

We generally store for a month before next trip and the 7 watt charger just is not enough to maintain both batteries.

I need suggestions for what would be a trouble free, sure thing, solar charger for the batteries as my arm gets tired cranking the jack when the batteries are dead.

Once on shore power the batteries charge BUT I beleive they have gone dead too many times and I should probably replace... they are Interstate Deep Cycle and the water level is fine.

Sometime shortly I will be adding solar and a good inverter but not sure who should do the work here in southern Florida... Our AS is prewired for solar.

Thoughts? Smartass comments are also welcome.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:10 AM   #2
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Could you remove them and bring them home? Use a trickle charger?
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:15 AM   #3
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My back would be saying "oh hell no"
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:43 PM   #4
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Install the solar system yourself. If you use the existing pre-wiring the installation isn't that difficult. Lots of info on Airforums on how to attach panels, etc.
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Old 04-19-2016, 12:49 PM   #5
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Plug the seven way into your running Tow Vehicle to raise and lower the jack when battery is dead. I had to do that a couple of times with my old Bambi II.
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:05 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
Plug the seven way into your running Tow Vehicle to raise and lower the jack when battery is dead. I had to do that a couple of times with my old Bambi II.
Been there done that... doesn't work.
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Old 04-20-2016, 04:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beachbouy View Post
I have attempted using a 7 Watts Solar Panel Battery Charger and it just is not enough to maintain the batteries while in storage evening with a top post battery master disconnect switch.

We generally store for a month before next trip and the 7 watt charger just is not enough to maintain both batteries.

I need suggestions for what would be a trouble free, sure thing, solar charger for the batteries as my arm gets tired cranking the jack when the batteries are dead.

Once on shore power the batteries charge BUT I beleive they have gone dead too many times and I should probably replace... they are Interstate Deep Cycle and the water level is fine.

Sometime shortly I will be adding solar and a good inverter but not sure who should do the work here in southern Florida... Our AS is prewired for solar.

Thoughts? Smartass comments are also welcome.
About 6 weeks ago I bought the BatteryMinder Solar with the 15W solar panel. It does seem to keep the two Interstate 24M batteries charged between use. I also installed a PD4655 Converter at the same time. The 15 W solar charger will charge to the point that the green light on the PD 4655 indicates it is in 90% charged range, but it does not seem to go into desulfate mode. FWIW the "Batt" digital gauge on my 2015 AS shows the charge at 12.8 after I remove the solar charger and no load on the batteries other than the usual phantom load (CO sensor). I also installed a switch on the batteries to completely cut off all phantom draw when the AS is not in use. This is a $5 item at auto parts stores. Takes 15 min to install and 15 seconds to turn on and off when needed.

I am still evaluating the benefit of the portable solar charger when the AS is not being used. But the battery disconnect switch is definitely a plus.
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Old 04-21-2016, 08:34 AM   #8
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Two ideas

Agree w/ Westie. 1. Install a switch on battery. 2. Invest in decent portable drill (instead of manual cranking)
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Old 04-21-2016, 07:20 PM   #9
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AGM Battery Experience

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Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
Could you remove them and bring them home? Use a trickle charger?
I did this for several years but each year the batteries got heavier and I got weaker. When my batteries finally crapped out I replaced them with two AGM deep cycle batteries. My rationale for choosing the AGM batteries is their very low self discharge rate which is alleged to be approximately 1% per month compared to the 5% to 15%
self- discharge rate of normal deep cycle batteries. The test commenced in September 2015 when I placed my trailer in storage for the winter, disconnected the batteries, and prayed that the batteries would not discharge too far over the seven month storage period. I was extremely pleased when, in mid-April, I went back to the trailer with my battery tester and found the voltage rates to be 12.95 volts in one battery & 12.94 in the other. I feel the extra costs of the AGM batteries is well worth it in terms of the low self discharge rate and the other claimed advantages of longer battery life and faster charging are simply added bonuses.
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:03 PM   #10
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I thought of using a solar panel to charge, but wound up getting the BatteryMINDer Model 1510: 12Volt 1.5 Amp Maintenance Charger/Desulfator. It seems to be working well to keep my two 12v batteries (in parallel) charged. I do have some questions about battery charging in general. Airstream tells me I have a 3 stage charger in my 16' Bambi Sport. That isn't the case in other models? What happens to the batteries when hooked up (30 amp) at a campsite? Is there no danger of cooking those batteries if hooked up for a long time? I presume my BayteryMINDer keeps the batteries from overcharging?
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:15 PM   #11
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I'm guessing you received incorrect info from your dealer. Typically the converter is a single stage charger and it's not a good idea to use for an extended period. I would double check the make and model of your converter to know for sure.

When connected to shore power, if your batteries are already charged, just keep the Use/Store switch in the Store position. This will disconnect the batteries from the converter and avoid excessive charging.
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Old 05-11-2016, 07:57 AM   #12
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I understand that the 16' Sports have a WFCO 3 stage converter/charher. I emailed Airstream central and that's what they told me. Is that not correct?
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:01 AM   #13
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Can you post the model number you have so we can know for sure?
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Old 05-11-2016, 09:08 AM   #14
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tj, nevermind. I just checked your manual and yes, your Sport includes a three-stage battery charger! Nice to see Airstream finally addressing this issue, at least with the smaller units.

So you're good to go as far as connecting to shore power for long periods. No need to use your BatteryMinder. When you select the "Use" position when connected to shore power, your converter will be charging your batteries.
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