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Old 11-24-2023, 07:51 AM   #1
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200Ah and 270W sufficient for boondocking-Classic 33?

I’ve searched, but have not read any detailed responses. We plan to take our Classic 33 to Alaska next summer. Part of the trip will involve boondocking at least overnight (I know, funny in a Classic). While I have not done the math, I realize this trailer is a power hog; 12V macerator toilet, fridge, and Alde heat/hot water, CZone. On the positive side, plenty of daylight that time of year, and not extremely cold.

Looking for some experienced recommendations, please. I was thinking about adding one Zamp panel to get to 360W, and one battery, for 300Ah. I also would like to move the batteries inside the front storage locker, as I don’t store much in there anyway. Of course, once I looked inside that locker at the AS rat’s nest, that opened up a rabbit hole. For access, I am looking at removing the bed frame. I’d probably leave the 1000W inverter as is. We have a 3kW generator.

Thanks.

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Old 11-24-2023, 03:01 PM   #2
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Are these lithium batteries?
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Old 11-24-2023, 03:06 PM   #3
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JeffKim,

Yes, Battle Borns, factory installed, and Zamp panels.
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Old 11-24-2023, 03:08 PM   #4
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While I’m not familiar with the Classics battery useage, if you have a generator you are taking I’m curious of the concern if your boondocking will never be more than 1 night?
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Old 11-24-2023, 03:16 PM   #5
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Are these lithium batteries?
Essential info to know. Also, since this is a math problem, you really need to do some math on your usage patterns to help you and us.

Anyway, since you have a 6kw generator if you are not reluctant to use it then you don’t need to do anything about solar or batteries. If your normal style is to be plugged in, it’s not clear to me that any additional investment makes sense.

On the other end, if you plan to camp unplugged a lot and for many days at a time then what you are proposing for solar and batteries is not nearly enough.

We need more info about your planned usage before we can do any better than to speak in generalities.
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Old 11-24-2023, 04:34 PM   #6
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While I’m not familiar with the Classics battery useage, if you have a generator you are taking I’m curious of the concern if your boondocking will never be more than 1 night?
There are three of us couples planning the trip, and we want to take it easy up through the Yukon and into Alaska, perhaps 150 miles per day. We understand there may be some nights that we will just spend along the road at a pull off, and not in a park. My wife and I are mainly full hookup people, so we will need to adapt. At this point in our planning, it looks like we'd only spend 1-2 nights without hookups. My concern is the 12V compressor fridge, and if we encounter a cloudy period. I can run the generator, but would prefer not to. We can live without the microwave, AC and coffee maker. I know the fridge can suck down the battery, from parking it at home in preparation for trips, and having to plug in shore power to charge. It's about a 7Ah draw.
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Old 11-24-2023, 04:40 PM   #7
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Essential info to know. Also, since this is a math problem, you really need to do some math on your usage patterns to help you and us.

Anyway, since you have a 6kw generator if you are not reluctant to use it then you don’t need to do anything about solar or batteries. If your normal style is to be plugged in, it’s not clear to me that any additional investment makes sense.

On the other end, if you plan to camp unplugged a lot and for many days at a time then what you are proposing for solar and batteries is not nearly enough.

We need more info about your planned usage before we can do any better than to speak in generalities.
Good points. I'm hoping to not have to run the generator. We're looking at the ability to spend 1-2 nights without hookups, and we'd also like to be able to spend nights at Harvest Hosts (not necessarily on the same trip). I don't want the ability to run AC or microwave off the batteries.
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Old 11-24-2023, 07:02 PM   #8
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OP: helpful info, thanks.

Power consumption: Airstream website says you have the Norcold N10DC fridge, which their website says draws 8.3Amps while running which would be the full 200Ah of your current batteries per day, except you can probably expect about a 50% duty cycle on that trip or an actual 100Ah per day. Just for the fridge, everything else (which is unknown) is additional.

Power recharge: Again speaking in generalities, under good solar conditions you might get 30Ah per day per 100w of panels — maybe a little more — and under poor solar conditions you will get next to nothing. Bring the generator.

My general opinion is that a rig like yours will need at least 400w of solar and at least 300Ah of lithium batteries. More is better. Some folks on this site with big Airstreams are running 1,000w of solar and 800Ah of lithium. Even then, without favorable solar conditions you won’t last long.
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Old 11-24-2023, 07:54 PM   #9
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I will state that Im not an expert in this area but I have been camping for over 40 yrs in an RV and haven’t had a dead battery … yet. If you are just trying to get by for this trip and 1-2 nights boondocking it seems like the refrigerator is your main concern and that it will probably use 100 of your 200 AH of battery each day.

I would “think” a DC to DC charger would work to recharge on cloudy days while traveling along with your generator to keep your batteries charged. Get some feather blankets to keep you warm at night / generator in the morning for breakfast and night for dinner and don’t spend $$$’s for additional solar or batteries for 1 big trip if you normally have full hookups all other trips. If your plans are for more extensive boondocking trips in the future then you may want to consider additional batteries / solar. I’d hate to spend a lot of $$$ to get by on one trip when you don’t normally camp that way and have a generator that will certainly suffice for this trip.

If you have a Victron solar controller, it should keep your batteries charged with sun for your purposes with a generator as backup with no Sun.

Just my 2 cents.
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Old 11-25-2023, 08:34 AM   #10
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OP: helpful info, thanks.

Power consumption: Airstream website says you have the Norcold N10DC fridge, which their website says draws 8.3Amps while running which would be the full 200Ah of your current batteries per day, except you can probably expect about a 50% duty cycle on that trip or an actual 100Ah per day. Just for the fridge, everything else (which is unknown) is additional.

Power recharge: Again speaking in generalities, under good solar conditions you might get 30Ah per day per 100w of panels — maybe a little more — and under poor solar conditions you will get next to nothing. Bring the generator.

My general opinion is that a rig like yours will need at least 400w of solar and at least 300Ah of lithium batteries. More is better. Some folks on this site with big Airstreams are running 1,000w of solar and 800Ah of lithium. Even then, without favorable solar conditions you won’t last long.
Thanks for the detailed response. I have not seen the 30Ah/day spec. A friend of mine that is also going to Alaska has a SOB trailer, and he installed his own 400W solar and 300Ah of lithium. The devil is in the details, as always. I carry the generator on trips anyway, we just do not have real world experience with this area.
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Old 11-25-2023, 08:51 AM   #11
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I will state that Im not an expert in this area but I have been camping for over 40 yrs in an RV and haven’t had a dead battery … yet. If you are just trying to get by for this trip and 1-2 nights boondocking it seems like the refrigerator is your main concern and that it will probably use 100 of your 200 AH of battery each day.

I would “think” a DC to DC charger would work to recharge on cloudy days while traveling along with your generator to keep your batteries charged. Get some feather blankets to keep you warm at night / generator in the morning for breakfast and night for dinner and don’t spend $$$’s for additional solar or batteries for 1 big trip if you normally have full hookups all other trips. If your plans are for more extensive boondocking trips in the future then you may want to consider additional batteries / solar. I’d hate to spend a lot of $$$ to get by on one trip when you don’t normally camp that way and have a generator that will certainly suffice for this trip.

If you have a Victron solar controller, it should keep your batteries charged with sun for your purposes with a generator as backup with no Sun.

Just my 2 cents.
Thanks for your response, certainly gave me more to think about. We do want to be able to spend a night here and there at a Harvest Host, and I guess the only way you know if you can do it is by trying it. We survived cold weather camping, and the Alde did fine, tanks did not freeze, etc. We have a thick down comforter, and only run the heat at 65F.

We have the Victron MPPT 150 35 solar controller, from the factory. My concern is adding a Zamp 90W panel, and have read it will plug into the three port factory box via a Y cable. Still have to correctly mount it, though.

We had our battery down to 37% SOC, with a failing WFCO converter, in CO, and it was 3AM, with two inches of snow. The fridge and Alde were not happy. Did not own the generator that trip, bought it soon after.

The DC-DC charger seems like it would work well, but I may have to modify some of the factory rat's nest. How well would a good portable solar panel work?

BTW, we have friends in Denver, NC. Nice area, only a bit crowded with Lake Norman.
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Old 11-25-2023, 09:13 AM   #12
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A good portable panel can work better than a fixed panel because, if you are around to move it, you can keep it directly oriented to the sun. Also, many Harvest Host locations do have electrical connections.

I'm with GOUSC, you may never need the expensive upgrade — just a dc/dc converter and a portable panel could do it. Because of solar conditions vagaries you will always need the generator anyway.
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Old 11-25-2023, 09:31 AM   #13
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A good portable panel can work better than a fixed panel because, if you are around to move it, you can keep it directly oriented to the sun. Also, many Harvest Host locations do have electrical connections.

I'm with GOUSC, you may never need the expensive upgrade — just a dc/dc converter and a portable panel could do it. Because of solar conditions vagaries you will always need the generator anyway.
Thanks, I appreciate both of your comments. Was not aware that many HH locations have electric, but have heard more are adding it.

So, the DC-DC charger would only help if I do not have enough solar as I drive, correct? We always seem to have 100% SOC when we arrive. I understand the truck will trickle charge while driving, but at a low rate?

I will look at portable panels.
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Old 11-25-2023, 09:48 AM   #14
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……….So, the DC-DC charger would only help if I do not have enough solar as I drive, correct? We always seem to have 100% SOC when we arrive. I understand the truck will trickle charge while driving, but at a low rate? .
Pretty much yes. If you have good solar conditions while driving that should properly charge the lithium batteries.

The tv alternator will charge while driving, but not at a high enough voltage to fully charge lithium batteries, hence the need to convert the lower dc voltage from the alternator to a higher dc voltage for the lithium. (Technically, the device is not a “charger” it is a “converter” which will provide a higher voltage to your existing “charger”.)
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Old 11-25-2023, 10:59 AM   #15
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The 150|35 will support roughly up to 7x100W panels so no concern there. I don't know that adding a 90W panel on the roof will be worth the effort as much as the DC-DC charger. Most people put in the Victron 18A charger ($120). It will give you roughly the equivalent of a (18AX12V)=216W always-charging panel (although the electrons aren't free) with a lithium profile as pointed out by F&S. It requires burrowing into the rats nest and the DC box to get to the charging wire, then running wire and a fused wire to the positive bus bar and another to the negative bus bar. It's not too big of a deal.

Sounds like you have a Victron Shunt or some way to measure state of charge? I might sound like a broken record to some here, but I advocate replacing the stock 150|35 Blue with a Smart 100|30 since it plays with other Victron equipment and you can monitor solar production your phone. Sell the 150|35 on eBay. It's easier to track your solar gathering that way. External panels I think are better than adding to the roof if you don't mind moving them. We have 2x200W that usually do better than the 300W roof panels.

In any case, maybe overstating the obvious, but you can try overnighting in your driveway unplugged to get some idea of what typical power consumption might be before embarking on any upgrades.
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Old 11-25-2023, 11:20 AM   #16
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Pretty much yes. If you have good solar conditions while driving that should properly charge the lithium batteries.

The tv alternator will charge while driving, but not at a high enough voltage to fully charge lithium batteries, hence the need to convert the lower dc voltage from the alternator to a higher dc voltage for the lithium. (Technically, the device is not a “charger” it is a “converter” which will provide a higher voltage to your existing “charger”.)
Thanks. Pardon my ignorance. I watched Thirteen Adventures (YT) installing his DC-DC converter but did not pay enough attention. I learned the hard way that the truck idling will not charge batteries.

So good solar conditions must prevail while driving to charge and overcome the running fridge.
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Old 11-25-2023, 11:33 AM   #17
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The 150|35 will support roughly up to 7x100W panels so no concern there. I don't know that adding a 90W panel on the roof will be worth the effort as much as the DC-DC charger. Most people put in the Victron 18A charger ($120). It will give you roughly the equivalent of a (18AX12V)=216W always-charging panel (although the electrons aren't free) with a lithium profile as pointed out by F&S. It requires burrowing into the rats nest and the DC box to get to the charging wire, then running wire and a fused wire to the positive bus bar and another to the negative bus bar. It's not too big of a deal.

Sounds like you have a Victron Shunt or some way to measure state of charge? I might sound like a broken record to some here, but I advocate replacing the stock 150|35 Blue with a Smart 100|30 since it plays with other Victron equipment and you can monitor solar production your phone. Sell the 150|35 on eBay. It's easier to track your solar gathering that way. External panels I think are better than adding to the roof if you don't mind moving them. We have 2x200W that usually do better than the 300W roof panels.

In any case, maybe overstating the obvious, but you can try overnighting in your driveway unplugged to get some idea of what typical power consumption might be before embarking on any upgrades.
Thanks. I attached a pic of my rat's nest. I have the shunt, Cerbo GX, and the BlueSolar 150-35 controller. I have the Victron app on my phone, and the CZone pulls some of the info as well. Months ago, I saw the solar charge controller pop on my app, have not seen it again. I've started reading up on this stuff, but have not gotten far. Between the rat's nest and AS documentation, it's hard to see how it all plays together. I made access near there to troubleshoot the LP tank sensor line, and my 24hr line. I have located the 12V distribution box, seems easy enough to run wiring to it.

Could I add a dongle to my BlueSolar controller?

What portable panels work the best? I see many are using Zamp. I assume they are rugged enough to ride in the back of the TV? How about the panels on AirGear?
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Old 11-25-2023, 12:23 PM   #18
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I might have to retract my comment about the Smart Solar controller. I don't have the Cerbo GX. I would guess your Blue Solar plugs into it, so it might perform any optimization (others know more than I do). Otherwise, if you use the dongle, you lose the connection to the solar display. With the Smart Solar you keep that connection.
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Old 11-25-2023, 12:58 PM   #19
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I might have to retract my comment about the Smart Solar controller. I don't have the Cerbo GX. I would guess your Blue Solar plugs into it, so it might perform any optimization (others know more than I do). Otherwise, if you use the dongle, you lose the connection to the solar display. With the Smart Solar you keep that connection.
Apologies, ignore my comments, I did some research, as I suspected your Cerbo GX is doing what VE.Smart Networking does. From Victron:

Quote:
VE.Smart Networking is designed for small systems which do not have a GX device - such as a Color Control GX or Venus GX - controlling the chargers (e.g. in an ESS system).
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Old 11-25-2023, 01:55 PM   #20
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Thanks. Pardon my ignorance. I watched Thirteen Adventures (YT) installing his DC-DC converter but did not pay enough attention. I learned the hard way that the truck idling will not charge batteries.

So good solar conditions must prevail while driving to charge and overcome the running fridge.
A little more complicated: yes, for the rooftop solar to contribute much while driving you do need decent to good solar conditions. But, the dc/dc converter will be helping while driving too so you will be getting some recharge while driving, even at night.

A couple of afterthoughts:

1) I am a fan of portable solar - it is all we have - but they only contribute during the day while you are stationary and they are deployed. Not while driving.

2) your fridge will use less power overnight because a) it has a lower power overnight mode, and because b) the duty cycle is less at cooler temperatures. If you are only going to be unplugged overnight between driving days there is much less risk of running down the batteries.
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