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Old 12-02-2012, 04:29 PM   #1
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Adding BD time, more batteries

I have 2 AGM batteries and a 115 solar panel which serves quite well. I would like to upgrade to more capacity (been watching Preppers) and was wondering the best way to do that. I was thinking of adding 2 more AGMs but would have to put them in the storage bin behind the tanks. This also puts them under the bed so do I need a vented box? I do have a Honda 2000 but use it very little, pretty much for wife's hairdryer. I DO think that going to LED lighting would be a good conservation idea as we have about 18 incandescents and halogens. Any thoughts?
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Old 12-02-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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I would consult the manufacturer about the necessity/degree of venting required.

I would be concerned about recharging. If you have batteries at various distances from the charger, they might not recharge correctly due to increased resistance through the length of the cable.
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:09 PM   #3
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I think you will find you should add some panel wattage as well,AGMs still should have some venting even though they will gas much less than flooded batteries.Make sure to use a sufficient size cable to avoid voltage drop to the additional Batteries
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:27 PM   #4
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try 6 volt batteries as well wired in series. and try to keep your battery bank as close together as possible. you'll have a huge amount of usable AH plus the cells in 6V batteries are more durable. Definitely up the amps in your panel as well. at 115 you might need three to get a good charge to those batteries. you're in california so you have great exposure.
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:51 PM   #5
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"I DO think that going to LED lighting would be a good conservation idea as we have about 18 incandescents and halogens. Any thoughts?"

Do the LED conversion first....

I found when we switched to all LED interior, step and porch lights the AGM's lasted considerably longer.

Bob
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:47 PM   #6
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I just bought one of these.. takes all of the guess work out of battery use.


It measures and tracks charging as well.
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Old 12-02-2012, 08:53 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by altamont View Post
I have 2 AGM batteries and a 115 solar panel which serves quite well. I would like to upgrade to more capacity (been watching Preppers) and was wondering the best way to do that. I was thinking of adding 2 more AGMs but would have to put them in the storage bin behind the tanks. This also puts them under the bed so do I need a vented box?
Opinions vary. The conservative view is that AGMs still have a risk of gassing if overcharged and as such have to be vented. Any large battery poses a fire risk in the event of various failures. I take the conservative view. Others put them under beds and sofas.

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I do have a Honda 2000 but use it very little, pretty much for wife's hairdryer. I DO think that going to LED lighting would be a good conservation idea as we have about 18 incandescents and halogens. Any thoughts?
LED upgrades on the lights you use most often will make a difference.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:21 PM   #8
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Talking update

I called LED4RV today and ordered led scare light, step light, 4 reading lights and 4 undercounter units for my aftermarket lights. I figured I can leave any and/or all of these on for the wattage of 2 of them in regular form. This should give me all the lights I need at very little battery life. All for under $160.

Thanks for all that contributed.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:20 PM   #9
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I have 4 AGM batteries - 2 are in the battery boxes and the other 2 are beside them under the gaucho. Since AGM batteries are sealed (unlike regular wet cell lead acid batteries), there is no requirement to vent them to the exterior. The Xantrex inverter/charger control panel takes care of monitoring the batteries and its usage. I also have solar panels mounted on the roof. Yes, I do boondock, and my only limit is the waste tank.
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Old 12-10-2012, 02:51 PM   #10
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I have 4 AGM batteries - 2 are in the battery boxes and the other 2 are beside them under the gaucho. Since AGM batteries are sealed (unlike regular wet cell lead acid batteries), there is no requirement to vent them to the exterior. The Xantrex inverter/charger control panel takes care of monitoring the batteries and its usage. I also have solar panels mounted on the roof. Yes, I do boondock, and my only limit is the waste tank.

It's a myth that AGM batteries don't need to be vented....from the Lifeline manual.....

SAFETY SUMMARY
DANGER OF EXPLODING BATTERIES
Lead acid batteries can produce explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen. Take the following precautions:
 Never install batteries in an airtight or sealed enclosure and make sure installation is adequately ventilated.
 Charge batteries in accordance with the instructions given in this manual.  Keep all sparks, flames and cigarettes away from batteries.  Connect cables tightly to the terminals to avoid sparks.  Wear proper eye and face protection when installing and servicing batteries.
DANGER OF CHEMICAL BURNS
Lead acid batteries contain sulphuric acid electrolyte which can cause severe burns to body tissue. Take the following precautions:
  
Avoid contact of the electrolyte with skin, eyes or clothing. Never remove or damage vent valves. In the event of an accident, flush with water and call a physician immediately.
DANGER OF BURNS IF TERMINALS ARE SHORTED
Lead acid batteries are capable of delivering high currents if the external terminals are short circuited. The resulting heat can cause severe burns and is a potential fire hazard. Take the following precautions:
 Do not place metal objects across battery terminals.  Remove all metallic items such as watches, bracelets and rings when installing
or servicing batteries.  Wear insulating gloves when installing or servicing batteries.  Use insulating tools when installing or servicing batteries.
DANGER OF THERMAL RUNAWAY
Thermal runaway is a condition in which the battery temperature increases rapidly resulting in extreme overheating of the battery. Under rare conditions, the battery can melt, catch on fire, or even explode. Thermal runaway can only occur if the battery is at high ambient temperature and/or the charging voltage is set too high. Take the following precautions:
 

Charge batteries in accordance with the instructions given in this manual. Do not install batteries near heat sources or in direct sunlight that may artificially elevate their temperature. Provide adequate air circulation around the batteries to prevent heat build up.
Document No. 6-0101 Rev. C Page 3 of 36

.....coach battery inside the living area....not for me.

Bob
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:11 AM   #11
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Unlike the flooded cell batteries, the vent is regulated to require 2 psi - which is a high enough level to cause the the oxygen evolved at the positive plates to largely recombine with the hydrogen ready to evolve on the negative plates, creating water and preventing water loss. The valve is a safety feature in case the rate of hydrogen evolution becomes dangerously high. In flooded cells, the gases escape before they can recombine, so water must be periodically added.

Thus the danger you refer too of vented flammable gases is not an issue. As well, since the batteries are kept away from heat sources and sunlight, the risk of explosion is minimal (never zero, but highly unlikely).

Thus it has become acceptable to use AGM batteries in places where flooded ones cannot be used safely - e.g., in the inside of an RV. This is an acceptable practice and I have seen it done in other Airstream trailers.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:14 AM   #12
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I'm slowly replacing the flourescent tubes with LED's, and tested the current draw of the tubes and oscillator/transformer at 1 amp. This is about 1/2 the draw of a comperable incandescent 1141 bulb.

The maximum number of the strips I can get into a 12" housing is four (15 LEDs/strip), and together they draw 200 milliamps, so about 20% of the power drain of the flourescents. Plus, they won't go out anywhere near as often as the flourecent tubes.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:03 AM   #13
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What is your goal for boondocking as far as time? Do you have a goal are you just going for more is better? You trying to boondock full time indefinately or what? Once you define the goal we can give you better advice.

Perry
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:50 AM   #14
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What about adding batteries to the tow vehicle??

I was thinking about adding several 12 volt batteries or one large 12 volt batteries...on the bed of my tow vehicle (truck). I want to wire this so it will charge when the truck is running, add the ability to charge at a campsite with 110volt power, and provide a plug and mains switch on my AS.

I'm hoping this will be a solution to add some boon-docking power to my rig without adapting the AS or loosing storage in the trailer...

Any suggestions, schematics, turn-key solutions?

Thanks, John T.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:22 PM   #15
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Question

"Thus it has become acceptable to use AGM batteries in places where flooded ones cannot be used safely - e.g., in the inside of an RV. This is an acceptable practice and I have seen it done in other Airstream trailers."


Thus.....If they are in a sealed vented enclosure...... I'll follow Lifeline's recommendation thank you very much.

"You can do this, however, it is not good practice. All chargers can overcharge. The problem with this is they will produce hydrogen if over charged. These batteries are sealed but if they are overcharged they can and will still produce hydrogen. It is best if they are going to be inside that they are placed in a box that has a vent to the outside. It has been done many times."

Justin Godber
Lifeline Batteries
955 N. Todd Avenue
Azusa, CA 91702
Phone - 1-626-969-6886
Fax - 1-626-969-8566
web - Lifeline Batteries - Marine & RV Deep Cycle AGM Batteries

Bob
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:51 PM   #16
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What about adding batteries to the tow vehicle??

I was thinking about adding several 12 volt batteries or one large 12 volt batteries...on the bed of my tow vehicle (truck). I want to wire this so it will charge when the truck is running, add the ability to charge at a campsite with 110volt power, and provide a plug and mains switch on my AS.

I'm hoping this will be a solution to add some boon-docking power to my rig without adapting the AS or loosing storage in the trailer...

Any suggestions, schematics, turn-key solutions?

Thanks, John T.
If you're going to put several 12V batteries in the back of the truck and expect the truck's alternator to charge them, you'll need an HD alternator at a minimum... it might be a good idea to add a second one if you're going to be charging with the truck very often. If you're generally going to charge with external power (generator, mains, solar) then it may not cut the life of your alternator too much.

If you're going to have lots of 12V in the truck that you want to use from the trailer (without swapping batteries in and out of the battery box(es) on the trailer) you'll need some serious cable to connect the truck-bad array to the trailer.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:29 PM   #17
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I have camped off the grid for as much as 10 days and not had a problem with a battery going dead. I have one group 24 in the 26' Argosy and carry an additional group 27 in the back of the truck. Never had to use the group 27.
Even camping in the high mountains of Colorado where temps get down to 19 at night. The one battery has served us well. It's nothing fancy, bought it at Wal Mart.
I do have an 85 watt solar panel (portable) that I use religiously. We even watch movies on the TV with the latest improvement of installing an 1100 watt inverter.
Of course we don't run any 12 volt equipment such as the powered vents, but we do use the furnace, water pump and lights. With the use of the inverter we can also charge all of our portable devices and even run the vacuum cleaner over the carpet once a day.
A solar panel is much lighter than batteries and not near as messy.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:29 PM   #18
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What about adding batteries to the tow vehicle??

I was thinking about adding several 12 volt batteries or one large 12 volt batteries...on the bed of my tow vehicle (truck). I want to wire this so it will charge when the truck is running, add the ability to charge at a campsite with 110volt power, and provide a plug and mains switch on my AS.

I'm hoping this will be a solution to add some boon-docking power to my rig without adapting the AS or loosing storage in the trailer...

Any suggestions, schematics, turn-key solutions?

Thanks, John T.
Our thoughts as well. A 12vdc QD plug / receptacle (aircraft or 12v winch style) near the front of the AS with a marine / aircraft style battery select switch inside to change from the AS battery bank to the TV bank (bank 1, bank2, or off). Power to the AS from a short run of HD (battery jumper cable guage) cable as used to supply power to 12v electric winches.

That would open the door to a rack mounted solar expansion on the roof of the TV or -in our case - the roof of the pickup topper / rack. The TV batts would be charged from 110 via their own charger and not involve the TV 12vdc system. That way we have redundancy (too much time in the air). That way, one bank can be utilized while the other is being charged.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:45 AM   #19
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I just installed the LED's on my 4 reading lights, two overheads over the table and kitchen and the scare light and step light. THEN I brought in the wife for her approval (she goes more for looks than practicality) and she approved. Kind of freaky touching the reading spots after 3 hours of usage and NOT being burned. These are the lights we use the most and will give us the most extension of our battery life. I still might add two more AGM's later but I feel better knowing I will at least have light for extended periods.

As for adding batteries to the back of my truck, I want something that i don't have to think about every time I go out. Lugging batteries in and out seems onerous.

I am going for more is better and LED's seem like a good start. I'll replace the ceiling lights (13 of them) when I win the lottery.
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Old 12-13-2012, 09:27 AM   #20
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I have camped as long as 5 consecutive weeks off the grid in the Sonora Desert. However, I do have a requirement to power a CPAP machine, which means that I need more than one battery to last all night. Thus, I have the 4 AGM's which had been installed by the PO. Others I know have the same setup, and notwithstanding the dire predictions preceding, I know of no incident that would make me change my approach. I do "hang out" with the Boondockers' BOF of the Escapees, and some of the setups they have for solar charging are amazing, but could not be used with a typical AS trailer, as there is insufficient real estate to mount this gear.

Many of the Escapee Boondockers in large Class A motorhomes have racks with lifts to raise and point the solar panels into the sun at 90-degrees. I have seen some that raise 2 large racks each with 8 120-watt panels feeding into a bank of 16 AGM batteries in their "basement".

Here is a photo of one of the rigs:
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