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Old 11-28-2022, 09:29 PM   #1
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refrigerator draining new lithium batteries?

New owner here looking for help. I am on my first boondocking trip with my 2023 Basecamp 20X in Big Bend National Park. Third night in a row that my batteries are dead. First night I was running the vent fan and woke up to no power. Oops. Second night I came back and realized I left the bathroom light on all day--hardly any power left. Oops. Third night I came back to no power after a sunny day. I confirmed the solar monitor was reading BULK and charging when I left in the morning.



The only thing running is the fridge on setting 4. Lithium Battleborn 100 amp hour batteries. 300 watt solar package. I do not have a battery monitor but will get one.



Surely the refrigerator wouldn't drain it all--right?



Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 11-28-2022, 10:37 PM   #2
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As an unplugged camper I am not a fan of the electric only fridges, but I have to come to its defense in this case. You have nearly 200Ah of storage and the fridge is probably pulling about 40Ah per day. Not enough to kill two BB’s, even if your solar was producing nothing.

The fan only pulls about 1amp per hour and the led light about .1 amp per hour. So, they are not enough either. Something else is wrong here. Your 300w of solar should keep you going with decent solar conditions, which I assume you have in Big Bend.

A few hundred bucks into a shunt based battery monitor (like a Victron 712) would help you understand what is going on. Highly recommended addition to your setup.
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Old 11-28-2022, 10:57 PM   #3
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Do you know if your batteries have been fully charged to 100% before this trip? Otherwise you might be starting behind the 8-ball from the get go.

A monitor like a Victron 712 will be a huge help identifying what is causing the drain. Otherwise you're basically guessing.
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Old 11-29-2022, 12:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user01234567 View Post
New owner here looking for help. I am on my first boondocking trip with my 2023 Basecamp 20X in Big Bend National Park. Third night in a row that my batteries are dead. First night I was running the vent fan and woke up to no power. Oops. Second night I came back and realized I left the bathroom light on all day--hardly any power left. Oops. Third night I came back to no power after a sunny day. I confirmed the solar monitor was reading BULK and charging when I left in the morning.

The only thing running is the fridge on setting 4. Lithium Battleborn 100 amp hour batteries. 300 watt solar package. I do not have a battery monitor but will get one.

Surely the refrigerator wouldn't drain it all--right?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Out of curiosity, could you confirm the number of batteries that you have? A reply above refers to 200Ah of storage which would mean 2 batteries of 100Ah each but it looks like maybe you only have 1 although you do refer to batteries (plural), so I'm confused.
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Old 11-29-2022, 02:35 AM   #5
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I agree with the shunt suggestions from others but I am also curious if you disconnected your tow vehicle 7way connector from the trailer or if you are draining power to your TV.
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Old 11-29-2022, 10:09 AM   #6
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Hi

Ok, let's start from the first night. Whatever you did, the batteries went to zero. What did you do next?

It sounds very much like you let the solar charge the batteries. If so, that's a big part of the problem here. You really don't have enough solar to be sure of getting the batteries charged in a day. Without a monitor there is no reliable way to know if they got charged. A lot depends on your campsite and other factors, so there is no way to guess just how much charge they got.

With a questionable charge level early on, it just snowballs from there.

Get a shunt based monitor.

Bob
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Old 11-29-2022, 10:44 AM   #7
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All of the above comments are good.

On the electrical demand side of the equation it does not look like that is the problem……..unless there is a short somewhere. This makes me think it is on the supply side.

On the electrical supply side, as has been pointed out, not knowing the beginning state of charge makes it much harder to analyze this. However, with 300w of solar in Big Bend NP under mostly sunny conditions you should expect to get 50-90 Ah of charge into the batteries. This is enough to replace the daily consumption you described.

So my guess is either solar charging problem(s) and/or problems with the batteries themselves. Battleborn batteries are great, but my first two failed (one DOA and one board failure in the first season). They were awesome about replacing them no hassle and fast, but check them out.
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Old 11-29-2022, 11:05 AM   #8
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If your solar is working and you have decent sun as described then it should be enough to maintain your compressor fridge but not much more. Based on your description I don't think your solar is charging properly. Even though you saw it in bulk mode it will not charge the batteries if it is not programmed properly. I suggest checking the settings to make sure they are correct (Bulk mode between 14.4V-14.6V) and make sure your batteries have not gone into BMS low voltage cut-off. Without a shunt you can still do some good diagnosis by estimating SOC with battery voltage and observing solar voltage/watts when charging in decent sun. Posting this info may be helpful in figuring out what is going on. Below are a few links that may help as well.

https://battlebornbatteries.com/prog...ge-controller/
https://battlebornbatteries.com/low-voltage-disconnect/
https://footprinthero.com/lifepo4-ba...voltage-charts
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Old 11-29-2022, 11:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user01234567 View Post
SNIPQ....
Surely the refrigerator wouldn't drain it all--right?
It's not a question of right or wrong, it's more like a question of probability… So probably, yes.

Bob
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Old 11-29-2022, 01:50 PM   #10
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Just a thought. Check to be sure your victron solar charger dial is set to lithium which is # 7. It is a tiny dial and easily missed. It comes from the factory set to #3 I think which is not lithium. Our two lithium BB 100 and 300w solar will keep our 12v refrig running as long as we have good sunshine. Yours should also.
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Old 11-29-2022, 02:57 PM   #11
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Check to make sure your inverter is off, if on it can drain your batteries.

If you have 2 batteries check to make sure they are both connected, people have found out that their Airstream dealer only connected 1 battery. If not connected charge each battery fully before hooking them together.
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Old 11-30-2022, 03:24 PM   #12
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Thank you all for the helpful comments. I guess I had expected a day of solar to provide more power. Thank you for the math. Yes, I did have them fully charged before leaving Indiana. There were two days of rain on the way and snow in Dallas, so since the refrigerator draws so much and solar was not replenishing much then it makes sense that I have been getting no more than a day at a time. Yes, I had my cable connected to the truck for my overnight stops. Now I know to unplug it. Thank you everyone. I will be getting the battery monitor for myself for Christmas.
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Old 11-30-2022, 04:06 PM   #13
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It does depend on your TV for whether or not unplugging from the truck is needed, some TVs disconnect the 12v themselves. To get any meaningful charging from your TV with lithium you need a DC to DC charger, there are many threads on this. If your not worried about charging from TV you can just disconnect the charge wire.
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Old 11-30-2022, 04:21 PM   #14
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Parallel Trips?

Wow! I left Illinois shortly before you, and I was originally headed for Big Bend. I'd be interested in knowing where you camped. The ranger told me on the phone that the park roads are pretty much washed out. So I headed for Guadalupe instead.

Unfortunately, I didn't get past Hot Springs, Arkansas. The propane furnace died and the weatherman lied ONCE AGAIN! With plunging temps and not furnace and no one I could find to work on it, I aborted.

I have a propane fridge, but my brother got the new Pottery Barn with the electric only fridge, and that is what caught my eye on your post. I'm interested in hearing how that works out boondocking. (Which I do at least half the time.)

About the only thing I could add to all the excellent posts is that I found with my solar panels you cannot trust the battery reading to tell you how charged the battery is unless you disconnect the panels, for I just see the charging voltage. Maybe that was covered and I missed it. For a while there I was mislead thinking that I was fully charged and I wasn't. I was charging fully!

Would love to hear about Big Bend, if you don't mind. I really want to get down there and haven't found much discussion about where it's safe to camp, and leave your trailer, etc.

Thanks!
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Old 11-30-2022, 04:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by user01234567 View Post
Thank you all for the helpful comments. I guess I had expected a day of solar to provide more power. Thank you for the math. Yes, I did have them fully charged before leaving Indiana. There were two days of rain on the way and snow in Dallas, so since the refrigerator draws so much and solar was not replenishing much then it makes sense that I have been getting no more than a day at a time. Yes, I had my cable connected to the truck for my overnight stops. Now I know to unplug it. Thank you everyone. I will be getting the battery monitor for myself for Christmas.
OP: Sounds like you may have this figured out. But, I still recommend you test charging the batteries on shore power to be certain they are accepting and holding a charge properly.

I have a dc to dc converter and still get very little charging from my tow vehicle. Not sure why, but it seems once the TV battery is fully charged very little goes to the 7 pin.

I’m sure you will enjoy your Christmas present!
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Old 11-30-2022, 09:20 PM   #16
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...About the only thing I could add to all the excellent posts is that I found with my solar panels you cannot trust the battery reading to tell you how charged the battery is unless you disconnect the panels, for I just see the charging voltage. Maybe that was covered and I missed it. For a while there I was mislead thinking that I was fully charged and I wasn't. I was charging fully! ...
This is common to all charging methods - the actual voltage of the batteries cannot usually be read while there is a charging voltage coming into them. Doesn't matter the charging source, it needs to be disabled for a short time to let the batteries stabilize before reading the voltage.

Plus, on lithium batteries the voltage will stay on a much flatter curve until the very end when it drops quickly. Lead acid batteries have a much more sloped voltage curve making voltage readings somewhat more helpful in determining the SOC. On a lithium battery the best way is a shunt based monitor which will tell you how many Ah have been pulled from the battery and what you have left.
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Old 11-30-2022, 10:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user01234567 View Post
New owner here looking for help. I am on my first boondocking trip with my 2023 Basecamp 20X in Big Bend National Park. Third night in a row that my batteries are dead. First night I was running the vent fan and woke up to no power. Oops. Second night I came back and realized I left the bathroom light on all day--hardly any power left. Oops. Third night I came back to no power after a sunny day. I confirmed the solar monitor was reading BULK and charging when I left in the morning.



The only thing running is the fridge on setting 4. Lithium Battleborn 100 amp hour batteries. 300 watt solar package. I do not have a battery monitor but will get one.



Surely the refrigerator wouldn't drain it all--right?



Thanks in advance for any help.
What daytime temperatures were you experiencing in Big Bend?
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Old 12-04-2022, 11:21 AM   #18
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We found out in BB at this time of year that I had to re-position our portable 200w Renogy panels several times to get a decent result. The angle of the sun was really low. I can imagine a panel laying flat wouldn’t get much sun.
We did really like the no generator area in Rio Grande Village. We also have lithium, but a propane option on our 2020 trailer.
The sunset view from the nature trail in the back of the CG was amazing.
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Old 12-04-2022, 03:12 PM   #19
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Adding to the good suggestions from others, you might consider doing a mathematical analysis. For example, before converting to lithium/solar, I metered the amps and watts drawn by our old original 120 vac compressor refrigerator. It draws about 2.5 amps at 120 vac, or about 300 watts, during its compressor-on cycle. That translates to about 25 amps at 12 vdc before padding upwards for inverter power losses. I timed how long the compressor-on cycle lasted per hour on a warm day, and reduced expected consumption accordingly. From that I calculated minimum expected amp-hour capacity needed. I now have three 100 amp-hour lithium batteries wired in parallel, and 400 watts of rooftop solar. At first I tried having only two 100 amp-hour lithiums, but early experience showed that adding a fan all night, in addition to the refrigerator, nearly ran down the batteries by dawn. With only the refrigerator running all night, the battery monitor typically shows at least three-quarters battery charge remaining by dawn, and one hundred percent before noon, even without direct sunlight. You should also heed suggestions by others to disconnect your 7-way plug from your tow vehicle overnight. I discussed potential parasitic draw with a tech at Battleborn, who said he didn't think it would be a problem. That may be true with most tow vehicles, but I had already metered the stopped voltage of my tow vehicle and found it lower than lithium battery float voltage. I decided to tape off the positive wire from the 7-way plug so I wouldn't be bothered disconnecting the plug overnight. The solar panels should generate ample charge during daylight hours, whether or not you're driving.
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Old 12-04-2022, 04:29 PM   #20
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Refrigerator setting

Did you set the refrigerator to night mode?
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