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Old 02-15-2014, 10:05 PM   #1
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Batteries, Converters, and general dry camping help appreciated

I recently began full timing after no prior Airstream experience. I quickly realized I'd like to spend much of my time dry camping, though I don't think I'm quite set up for it yet and could use some advice on the following:

What are the best dry camping batteries?
I'm looking for those that need to recharged least. I've heard good things about 6v golf cart batteries. Are there specific makes and models that I should read up on?

What's the best converter?
I currently have a single stage 7355 parallax. Do I really need to upgrade to a multistage or can I get by with what I have?

Is there a way to test parasitic appliances?
I know the fridge is big power suck, but I also have a TV that I use infrequently that's probably pulling some power as well. I'm curious if there's an easy way to measure how much is being by appliance (TV, fridge, CD player, etc).

What battery monitor is best?
The Airstream monitor doesn't seem accurate. I've read good things about the trimetric but the Xantrex models look a little more readable to me, or are they overkill?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:00 PM   #2
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Best battery: Concorde lifeline AGM. Two 6v connected in series is a little better electrically and gets you a little more energy storage. Trojan wet batteries are good and half the cost but need the water checked every month or two.

You definitely want a modern three stage charger with a capacity at least greater than one tenth the battery bank capacity. Those two golf cart batteries are a 220ah bank, you would want at least a 25 amp charger.

You are going to want an inverter to run 120v AC devices. True sine wave is better and more efficient. Make sure you can turn it off when not using it. They use power even with no 120vac loads.

A kill-a-watt meter will show 120vac loads.

The best (and least expensive) battery meter is a Victron BVM 600. It's a critical piece of gear in managing your battery use.
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Old 02-16-2014, 11:51 PM   #3
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Thanks, that' s exactly the info I was looking for. I'm looking at the trojan t145 and the crown-cr305 as more affordable options with AH around 300.
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Old 02-17-2014, 06:15 AM   #4
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For serious dry camping in addition to the good suggestions above you need a good solar charger with monitor. On sunny days one will replace your power output during the night. The furnace motor is the big energy hog.
A good monitor on the solar charger is necessary to not overcharge your new batteries.
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:55 PM   #5
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!20vac appliences are energy hogs. I recomend you stay away from inverters.
You can get a TV with DVD player that runs off 12vdc. Your cell phone and computer likewise. If your interior lights are not LEDS, change them.
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Old 02-17-2014, 04:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirGal04 View Post
I recently began full timing after no prior Airstream experience. I quickly realized I'd like to spend much of my time dry camping, though I don't think I'm quite set up for it yet and could use some advice on the following:

What are the best dry camping batteries?
I'm looking for those that need to recharged least. I've heard good things about 6v golf cart batteries. Are there specific makes and models that I should read up on?

What's the best converter?
I currently have a single stage 7355 parallax. Do I really need to upgrade to a multistage or can I get by with what I have?

Is there a way to test parasitic appliances?
I know the fridge is big power suck, but I also have a TV that I use infrequently that's probably pulling some power as well. I'm curious if there's an easy way to measure how much is being by appliance (TV, fridge, CD player, etc).

What battery monitor is best?
The Airstream monitor doesn't seem accurate. I've read good things about the trimetric but the Xantrex models look a little more readable to me, or are they overkill?

Thanks for the help!
I replaced my Paralax 7355 with a Progressive Dynamics 4655 and never looked back...I have posted up some info on doing the swap here on the site as well...if you follow the instructions and take your time and double check everything it might take you 2 hrs max to do the swap. I bought mine from Bestconverters.com for $205 and it came in 3 days...it will keep your batteries from boiling over....good to go.
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Old 02-18-2014, 12:10 PM   #7
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Thanks everyone for all the suggestions and advice. I was initially trying to be cost conscious, but realized that if I want to dry camp upgrades were a necessity. Here's what I'm doing:
I'd like to add solar down the line as well as a sine wave converter. I have a 3100 watt champion generator that I'll get by with for now: Amazon.com: Champion Power Equipment No.75531i Inverter Generator, 3100-watt: Patio, Lawn & Garden

Anything obvious I'm missing?
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:53 AM   #8
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AirGal04,
Welcome to the Forum! Your subject is exactly what I have been researching for the last three months. I am completely overhauling my solar, battery, inverter, battery monitoring system, etc. My goal is to have enough power for my heater/furnace, microwave, etc. to cover my through the night, and have the batteries recharge during the following day. I am having the installation done in March by a member of AirForums, Lewster who is a professional installer by trade. I am not sure where you live, but he is in Florida until April and then migrates to Oregon. You might think of contacting him for ideas and planning. There's a thread, under Interstate Motorhomes called "House Battery" that you might find interesting. I hope you find this information helpful. Steve
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Old 02-19-2014, 03:52 PM   #9
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K9 - Thanks! I reached to Lewster to ask a few questions. After looking at the electrical systems in the airstream a little more closely, I could really use someone with more knowledge (and more tools). I bought the airstream used and there was some custom audio components installed that need to be either rewired / updated that are adding to the complexity. Currently looking for someone in the SouthWest (Vegas / Phoenix / West Texas ).
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