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Old 01-24-2018, 10:45 AM   #1
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2017 Basecamp
ABQ , New Mexico
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Factory Solar Upgrades

We have a í17 Basecamp with the solar package and absolutely love it and the boondocking options provided by it. However, it seems there are some limitations with the factory setup. To me the biggest limitation is the battery compartment only has space for 1 additional house battery. Iíve seen others mention limitations with the factory inverters and the charge controllers.

I've started to think more about our power needs while doing some initial planning of this years trips. Our two big ones will be boondocking in Carlsbad along the ocean for a week while still needed to work and a week long road trip from New Mexico to Whistler, BC boondocking along the way.

Weíd like to run a device that consumes 30W of AC for 30min at a time as well as charge phones, tablets, and computers. We can charge the phones and tablets as those take USB but the others require AC. Initially I was looking at the Goal Zero Yeti but thatís basically a battery with solar panels. For that price (~$1300) Iím guessing I could upgrade the electrical in the Basecamp and achieve a better solution. What changes would you suggest for what weíre looking for?
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Old 01-24-2018, 02:43 PM   #2
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Chelsea , Maine
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You’re limited by your available roof space. Not much room for extra panels up there.
That $1300 is better spent on a Honda EU2000 generator and the extra battery you have room for.
On second thought, with the generator you really don’t need the second battery. Keep the rest of the money in your pocket.
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Old 01-24-2018, 02:54 PM   #3
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Better yet, get the Champion 2000 generator ($469/Amazon) and keep the $500 extra savings you would have spent on the Honda! Heck, you could apply that savings and get a nice portable solar set up from Zamp or GoPower!
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Old 01-24-2018, 05:20 PM   #4
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I was really hoping to avoid generators due to noise and fuel requirements. Wouldn't upgrading the inverter and adding the 2nd battery achieve the required results?
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Old 01-24-2018, 06:07 PM   #5
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2013 25' International
Boise , Idaho
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Nothing like battery power

Many of us have moved to lithium batteries to get more energy storage with less physical space/weight being consumed. There are many different lithium battery vendors and reasons to go with each one.

I chose to go with Battle Born batteries. These are "drop-in" replacements though (your mmv) but the upshot is you could get 160A of useful energy from two of these batteries. Two traditional batteries are will get you in the neighborhood of 100A. I'm skipping a fair number of variables and modifiers here, so take this as a generalization. Lithiums are expensive and have some stricter charging and care instructions so keep that in mind. BUT, my guess is that 160A might be all you need for extended boondocking in the basecamp with thoughtful use of power.

Adam
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Old 01-24-2018, 06:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsydad View Post
Better yet, get the Champion 2000 generator ($469/Amazon) and keep the $500 extra savings you would have spent on the Honda! Heck, you could apply that savings and get a nice portable solar set up from Zamp or GoPower!
Just be aware that the Champion's noise level is 53 dBA from 23 feet. The Honda is the same at 9 feet.
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Old 01-24-2018, 06:29 PM   #7
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Chelsea , Maine
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I have two group 27 Interstate batteries that came new in my trailer. They each have approximately 80 aH capacity, for a total of 160 aH.
Since you never want to discharge your batteries below 50%, I have 80 aH available from fully charged batteries.
Presumably you have the same battery, but only one. You have 40 aH available.
You mention wanting to operate a 30w device for 30 minutes at a time, but you don’t mention how often it will run. Run it twice and that’s 2.5 aH used up. Add to this the efficiency losses in the inverter changing 12v DC to 120v AC, refrigerator, lights, water pump, and charging your other devices, well it all adds up quick.
And if, egad!, you run the furnace for heat, the blower is a real power hog.
I don’t know how many watts of solar you have, so it’s hard to say if it will keep up with your demand and recharge your battery during the day.
Upgrading your inverter isn’t going to give you any more amp hours to work with. It may or may not be more efficient than your current one, but it won’t make a noticeable difference.
Adding a second battery will give you more amp hours, but it won’t help your recharging rate from the solar panels.
I still think a generator is your best solution.
I have a Honda. It is very quiet. It is very fuel efficient. You could probably achieve your boondocking goal by running it for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple hours before bedtime. Try to do your heavy electric stuff while it’s running.
I read good things about Champion generators, but have no real experience with them, so I cannot personally vouch for them. From what I’ve read they are quiet, but not as quiet as Honda.
Many people will tell you to do a power audit to see how much you’re using during the day. You’ll need a good battery monitor to accomplish that, which is another expense. I installed one, and mainly use it to see my percent of charge. I tend to just run the generator and not worry about how much I’m using.
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Old 01-30-2018, 07:22 AM   #8
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This has been some great information. I think for the short term we're going to go with a Goal Zero solar setup instead of a gas generator though. Also, I put in the request for the fridge "fix" that includes a 2nd battery and hope my dealer will get that done before we camp again in a month. <crosses fingers>

However, sticking with the long term goal of upgrading the solar, it seems the biggest limitation will be that the Basecamp comes from the factory with the capacity for only 2 batteries. Which leads me to this question:
Knowing it isn't ideal, has anyone expanded their battery bank by adding batteries in separate locations? For example, 2 here and 2 there? Other than complicating the wiring, are there reasons not to?
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Old 01-30-2018, 08:34 AM   #9
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Middle River , Maryland
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You might want to think about a small Yamaha 1000 propane generator. We use ours when we are boondocking to keep batteries charged , you already have propane tank.
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Old 01-30-2018, 12:06 PM   #10
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Chelsea , Maine
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I recommend you read up more on solar watts vs battery capacity and how they may or may not meet your power demands. I don’t think you’re making an educated decision, and dropping $1300 on a device that may or may not get you through a week of ocean side boondocking might not be a wise choice.
My opinion is that your Basecamp simply does not have enough available roof surface to give you the solar watts you need to keep up with demand. Adding batteries will give you more capacity, but the solar will not keep them charged.
Now if you want to spread out about 600 watts of portable solar panels on the ground and add a battery you would probably be okay. Unless it rains all week...
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:45 PM   #11
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Coupla comments here. First, I'm with YoungishJedi on wanting to avoid generator use. I boondock full-time and don't even own one. (And I use a lot of power.)

Second, as others have mentioned, the Basecamp lacks the roof space for much solar capacity, but portable panels on the ground (e.g., Renogy's 100 W "suitcase") can be a useful and practical adjunct. They have the added advantage that they can be tilted and aimed at the sun, which greatly increases output compared to a flat-on-the-roof panel.

Third, adding batteries like the one that came with your trailer is tough, because flooded lead-acid batteries require venting. Lithium batteries have many advantages, but at present they are quite expensive compared to other types.

AGM batteries are more expensive than flooded-cell batteries, but much less expensive than lithiums, and they can be mounted anywhere without venting. For your budget a pair of group 27 lithium batteries, replacing your existing battery, would probably be the best fit.
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Old 11-28-2020, 08:09 AM   #12
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Columbus , Ohio
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I do not yet have a Airstream, but have outfitted my 2019, 6.5 ft bed, F150 Screw with a camper shell. I installed a 180 W solar panel on the top of the shell, Victron controller, and 50A-hr Battle born battery. Works, well, and room for one or two more panels. This set up could vey easily supplement solar on a basecamp...
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