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Old 01-01-2020, 05:01 PM   #1
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2020 16' Bambi
Port Hueneme , California
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Add 2nd battery and generator

I'm so new to the world of RVing it's scary what I don't know. Which means I have a bunch of questions.


I bought a 2018 Bambi Sport 16' a few months ago. I'm been out several times and love the trailer but I've only used it on shore power. I want to be able to boondock as well as not be limited to campgrounds with hookups.



So here's my questions. What do I need to know about generators? Will simply connecting to the trailer charge my battery.



A friend suggested the Honda 2200. Any others I should look at?



I also want to add a second battery. What do I need to know about installation and care?



Please, if you use acronyms use the full term for the first usage. Like PGA(Pretty Good Amateur) .


Thanks and Happy Trails
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Old 01-01-2020, 05:40 PM   #2
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The Honda 2200 is a great choice and will run everything except your AC unit. Just start it up and plug in. The only issue with generators in general is transporting gasoline if you drive sometimes other then a pickup. Propane is an option.
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Old 01-01-2020, 05:45 PM   #3
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First, suggest you read posts about generators, batteries, solar and boondocking Just do searches and read all you can as it is best to know yourself what and why.

Boondocking usually means you run off the batteries and only 12 volt so no microwave, tv and such. Best is to add a second battery and believe you need to do another 12 volt in parallel (google it). Two 6 volts golf carts batteries hold more hours of use that two 12s but heavier, taller and may not fit onto the A frame. If you can fit 6s and watch what you use and should be able to run several days before youneed to charge again. 6 volts need to be done in series

Some airstreams have inverters that convert 12 volt to 110 but the 16 does not have one so ignore posts about using the inverter

So, all batteries need to be recharged and easiest and cheapest way is a suitcase solar. Suggest a 100 watt Renogy, about $120 delivered. I used this for my 16 for over a year until I went to 22. Also bought a 2200 Honda propane generator since I did want to carry gas can in my SUV. This will give you 110 and it will charge batteries at the same time. Cost was about $1800. Gas version cheaper but need a pick up to carry gas can. I just pull one of the propane tanks from the AS and use it

Depending on how long you plan on boondocking and what things you need/like to run matter on what you need. When I bought the Sport 22 I installed 2 100 watt Renogy panels on the roof and switched batteries to 2 6 volts and boon docked up to a week with plenty of power. When we need to run 110 fired up generator. I also had the suitcase solar from the 16 so it gave me 300 watts and I could move the suitcase into sun when it moved

For added knowledge about what I was using from the batteries I also installed a battery monitor so I could see what the state of charge (SOC) was on the batteries and it would also so how much was being drawn at any time. The solar panels on the roof needed a solar converter, which I also put on, and it had a blue tooth device so it also showed how much those panels were receiving from the sun and how much charging the batteries

You don’t need the battery monitor or roof panels to start. Get the suitcase one, extra battery and give it a go. I tried just one 12 volt battery and suitcase solar at first but found the battery was low in the morning and I had to get the suitcase panel in the sun or plug trailer into my hitch 7 PIN and start the engine.
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Old 01-01-2020, 06:28 PM   #4
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The Honda is a good generator and will/can be made to, run your AC if needed. Just plugging the trailer into the generator works fine and charges the batteries. A second battery is a useful addition if you have room to mount it and the weight tolerance for it. Pretty cheap way to double your capacity. A better option for a 16’ is probably a lithium battery. But very pricey up front.

Choices of generator and batteries might be affected by what you tow with and your desired usage of electrical appliances.

For me, I prefer to camp with hookups. We do do several weeks Or more a year without hookups and have 2 batteries and a generator along. I have a big truck. When we do boondock I have to run the gen every day to keep up.
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Old 01-01-2020, 06:40 PM   #5
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All good advice so far!

As you'll find in threads on generators, some come with dual-fuel capabilities built in and can run off the Airstream's propane (if a Sport has a low pressure port).

Check out Champion, they have a 2000W that's similar in size to the Honda then larger units with a 30A RV receptacle capable of running an AC unit without installing a soft-start unit.

https://www.championpowerequipment.c...logy=dual-fuel

Happy Camping!
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Old 01-01-2020, 07:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buttnerd View Post
...Will simply connecting to the trailer charge my battery.
...

I also want to add a second battery. What do I need to know about installation and care?

...
There are seemingly countless ways to upgrade your trailer or use additional accessories to provide power to your trailer. They all have good and bad points. Seems everything is a compromise in some way - time, cost, weight, ease of use are all considerations.

Simply connecting your tow vehicle to your trailer will do very little to charge the batteries in your trailer. I've made an upgrade to our truck and trailer to accomplish this task but my solution may not suit your needs. You can find the details of our upgrade HERE.

Adding a second battery is a good idea. We now have four batteries and it helps quite a bit. Batteries must be matched for best operation - same size, same brand, same rating, same age. I don't think it's possible to become a battery expert by simply reading comments made here. To some extent you have to get your hands dirty - that is, read the forums, check your equipment, make some upgrades, see what happens.
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:09 AM   #7
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Look at a Goal Zero 3000.
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:25 AM   #8
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Hi

There are a lot of things that figure into upgrades on any trailer:

1) How much money is in the budget for everything? How much goes to this and how much goes to that?

2) How much time is available to do everything? How many weeks of work go to this and how many months to that?

3) What is the "payload" capacity of the trailer and the tow vehicle? How much weight / volume is available? How much goes to this and how much to that?

Note that absolutely none of this so far is specific to power .... Going for super duper power and having to leave the kids behind likely is not the optimum solution ( or maybe it is )

Some sort of solar makes sense for most of us these days. There's only so much room on the roof so you can't go super crazy. Even a single panel will have an impact. If you store outdoors, solar is very useful ( = it keeps the batteries topped off in storage).

The cheap / quick / easy answer for batteries are lead acid's. The "cool kid" answer is lithium. In a small trailer, the lower weight / higher energy density of lithium might be useful. Swapping you existing lead acid for a lithium roughly doubles your power budget. There are lots of grubby details so best to dig into the details if that seems like a good solution.

Generators are nice, they are heavy, they need fuel, they take up space. Carting one around inside a trailer or a SUV may not be fun with a gas fueled unit. If all you want to do is charge batteries every couple days, a 1,000W unit will do the job. If you want to run a microwave, something in the 2,000W class is called for.

Noise may or may not matter to you. For most of us, a *quiet* generator is the one we want. If you only do off grid out in the middle of nowhere and just charge batteries for a few hours every couple days .... maybe it's not as big a deal. Cost goes down as noise goes up. If you want to operate in a normal campground, quiet is the way to go.

Lots of variables ....

Bob
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Old 01-02-2020, 09:49 AM   #9
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Please, if you get a generator, get a quiet one like the Honda or Yamaha. Less expensive ones like the Champions are pretty noisy. Your neighbors will thank you.
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:19 AM   #10
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Generators are noisy, require fuel and often hours of usage are limited if you are in a park of any kind. While you are working on your system, look into solar panels. While you do need sun, they are quiet and quite effective. We added solar to our Airstream and haven't needed to use our generator at all.
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Old 01-02-2020, 11:21 AM   #11
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Duromax Dual Fuel 2200 from Home Depot. Solid generator, plugs right into your low pressure propane port at the front of the trailer (after removing one of two pressure regulators from the line, super easy). Gives you enough power to run everything in the trailer (even air conditioner if you get a Micro-Air easy start) and fits in the bathroom when traveling. Since you use propane, there is no smell and you donít have to carry a gas can around.

I also agree that a portable solar panel is a great idea. Have fun!
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Old 01-02-2020, 12:02 PM   #12
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If you can manage with out a microwave and AC, you can add two solar panels, a controller and additional battery and boondock for several days. Lithium battery prices have fallen but still significantly higher than lead acid. If budget permits lithium is best long term. You will probably need to upgrade your converter charger as lithium needs a higher voltage to recharge.
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:49 AM   #13
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Lithium batteries are of course super expensive, but they also have different charge requirements. However, if you Google for "Antigravity Batteries", then you will find lithium batteries that are designed to be drop in replacements for lead acid batteries. These batteries have electronic charge controllers inside, that make them behave the same as the old batteries on the outside, thus making an upgrade super easy.

As for solar chargers, you should look on AliExpress.com for low cost solar panels and chargers.
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Old 01-09-2020, 09:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper View Post
Lithium batteries are of course super expensive, but they also have different charge requirements. However, if you Google for "Antigravity Batteries", then you will find lithium batteries that are designed to be drop in replacements for lead acid batteries. These batteries have electronic charge controllers inside, that make them behave the same as the old batteries on the outside, thus making an upgrade super easy.
.......
Hi

Better to get something that is targeted at running an RV than starting a motorcycle .....

There are good reasons you want to use LiFePO4 chemistry batteries ( = they last longer and work better). There are also good reasons to get the cells properly balanced (by applying the 14.x voltages).

Bob
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Old 01-09-2020, 01:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brad1 View Post
--- snip ---- Less expensive ones like the Champions are pretty noisy. --- snip ---
Sound measurement reported on prior posts would indicate this concept is a good marketing ploy and not based in fact. The Champion dual Fuel generator is a cost effective solution. For the price of a Honda, you can get a 3XXX Champion that will run your AC. Caution several generators on the market use Yamaha engines, but are not built by Yamaha.

Given that, the solar suitcase is an excellent recommendation. Quiet, no fuel and movable to get best sun. The down side is storage and handling to setup. Likely not worse than a generator, but different.

The battery - just buy a matched pair. Do the research first. Likely a pair of 6 volt deep cycle golf cart cells from Walmart make the most cost effective package. Read several threads and then ask the questions that develop from that info. Include research on a battery shut off switch. Very important upgrade. Then start researching battery monitors. A nice follow-up upgrade for your new hobby.

Note - we have a Honda propane generator. They are nice to have. They are expensive. We like ours. Buy the Champion.

Good luck with your research. Pat
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:23 PM   #16
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IMHO, maybe you should boondock a couple of short trips to see if it's for you. See how much of the current capabilities of your TT meet your boondocking needs. We travel with 2 lead acid batteries, upgraded our 15k A/C with ez-start ( run w/Honda 2000 watt genset), but no solar. Our batteries last 3 days before 50% discharge when dry camping at certain rallies. We carry our genset between the l.p. tanks and trailer body on the a-frame (built a rack). We carry only the gas in the tank(8-10hrs run time)as the genset is used only if we need A/C or heat at a rest stop, never had an issue using it. I would convert the genset to l.p. if boondocking regularly. Back to your case, I would rent a genset for a few trips first to see if works for you. With batteries/solar, look at some actual set ups, get the good, bad and ugly from owners versus salespeople...
Good luck and safe travels, Jim
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Old 01-09-2020, 04:09 PM   #17
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Charge Your Batteries From The Tow Vehicle Alternator

You don't need a generator - or solar for that matter to charge your batteries while boondocking.

Here is an excellent thread on using your tow vehicle to charge your house batteries. Post #4

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...le-202849.html
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Old 01-09-2020, 06:18 PM   #18
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We watched a couple try to charge their small camper from the tow vehicle. Their solar panels were shaded. It was 23 degrees F. The process did not go well and that couple was a pair of very unhappy campers. We fired up the generator, had coffee, charged the batteries and left warm and toasty. I would have offered to charge their cells, but they left to have breakfast at the lodge and were not around to discuss the issue when we left for Rawlins.

So at least in that case, TV charging was less than satisfactory. Solar did not work too well either. Take care to consider all when you define the solution to support your RV lifestyle.

Note - we no longer travel with a generator or solar. The bank capacity we installed is enough to keep us running for about three days and that bridges our transit between FHU campgrounds. There are many ways to solve this challenge. Do your research. Pat
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:14 AM   #19
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BTW, we are using Anti Gravity batteries in some old aircraft and EarthX batteries in new aircraft. Small aircraft can use 2 to 3 kilowatt of electrical power for all the electronics, radios, de-iceing, radar and transponders - rather more than an Airstream. LiFePo batteries are safe, non-toxic and won't burn when something goes wrong.
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Old 04-20-2020, 04:08 PM   #20
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A 100 amp lithium battery, solar controller and solar panel keeps it simple. Camp high in the summer under trees. No need for AC or a generator. We get to our bondock site, set up in 15 minutes and enjoy peace and quiet.
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