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#1 Traveling Tek

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 10:13 AM

I want to upgrade my outbacks power. I have one excide 12v deep cycle on it right now and it's garbage. Can't even get through one night with the furnace. I already made the mistake of leaving the camper plugged into my van overnight and it trashed the battery in my van (replaced it with an Optima yellow top). I have read a lot on different setups, but I know that a couple of you on here actually run solar and batteries and such and could tell me exactly what to get and where to get them. I want to do at least 2 6volt batteries, and some solar to charge them. I can install myself if I have too, but I could also just drive to your house and have you help me so I don't ruin anything. ;-)

What should I get?
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#2 hautevue

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 10:29 AM

I think your decision depends on how much dry camping you do, and for how long each time, and do you have a genset, etc.

We seldom dry camp more than occasionally overnight, but did it for four days at Glacier. I have two 12v batts, and with minimal use of interior lights (and the sun doesn't set until ~8:30 - 8:45 at Glacier in July), we got through the 4 days without problems. But the furnace only ran for maybe an hour or two, total, in the middle of each night. No genset, either. No kids, so no television or dvd playing, and that helps.

If you really boondock it, then you probably want two 6volt batts. If you're beyond the end of the road and want to stay a week, and have kids who love that video, you'll need significant reserve power, good solar panels, and maybe a genset, too.

As for solar recharging, most posts say you should get at least about 100 watts of power and they suggest that the el cheapos that put out 25 - 40 watts are basically useless. It takes 25 - 40 watts of power to push those electrons through the wires and into the batteries, so you really have no significant charging. But 100 - 200 watt solar panels and controller are not cheap.
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#3 thefulminator

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 11:26 AM

This sounds like a job for Oregon_Camper

He is going to tell you among other things to set up with (2) 6 volt golf cart batteries.
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#4 KTMRacer

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 12:14 PM

I want to upgrade my outbacks power. I have one excide 12v deep cycle on it right now and it's garbage. Can't even get through one night with the furnace. I already made the mistake of leaving the camper plugged into my van overnight and it trashed the battery in my van (replaced it with an Optima yellow top). I have read a lot on different setups, but I know that a couple of you on here actually run solar and batteries and such and could tell me exactly what to get and where to get them. I want to do at least 2 6volt batteries, and some solar to charge them. I can install myself if I have too, but I could also just drive to your house and have you help me so I don't ruin anything. ;-)

What should I get?


I'd also recomend dual 6V's, flooded cells (the ones you can add water to) Trojan is kinda the reference standard but there are other good ones available. My persoal preference is a pair of Trojan T-145's (240AH for a 20hr rating, 190AH for a 5hr rating). Given how much you use the trailer, hooked to shore power or not, the 6v are usually more tolerant of abuse, give more run time and last a long time. 6-10 years isn't uncommon if you take reasonable care of them. True 12V deep discharge aren't a bad choice either but few companies make a real 12V deep discharge only. If it says "starting" or gives CCA (cold cranking amps), it isn't a dedicated deep discharge battery. With a pair of Trojan T145's (240AH) and LED interior lights, we can easily go 6 days in the summer, 3+ when the furnace runs at night only. Getting 1 day w/o power and running the furnace should not be a problem with a set of 6V. They should drop right into place on your existing battery tray on the tongue, although you will need a taller plastic battery box.

One thing to remember is that battery AH capacity decreases rapidly as the temp goes down. at 32F, AH is about 70% of what it is at room temp, by 0F, it' closer to 50% IIRC.

Don't have any info for you on solar.
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#5 ED_RN

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 12:48 PM

Need to replace my batteries also. Not ready to go to 6V and usually have at least one gen with me. Who makes a true deep cycle 12v battery.
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#6 Oregon_Camper

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 01:43 PM

First off, you need to ask yourself how much "dry camping" will you do each year? Of those nights...how many nights/days in a row will you be camping? Finally, of those locations where you will be dry camping, will the Outback have enough sunlight directly on it to make the solar worthwhile?

I actually bought solar panels last year and ended up returning them. I had great ideas (from Nathan!!) on how to mount them on my 301BQ and all the great intentions of saving the planet with solar power. Then I started to map out the locations I go...and as it turns out, they are beautiful locations, but that mean TALL/BIG tress and not a lot of direct sunlight. Yes, solar will work without direct sunlight, but the calculations show a huge improvement with direct sun (not to mention rotating them to optimize that even more)

So, back to where I started, but I have a plan! I have a nice Coleman 1850 generator that does a nice job of a charging the Outback, but it won't run the AC...which is fine with me...think I've only had my AC on 2 times. I bring the generator on trips that are >5 days. The places we go are remote, so while there are other campers around, then are not right on top of us....say 1000 feet away? I have no problems firing up the gen around 1-2pm on the 5th day and letting it run for 4hrs. While it is not as quite as a Honda, I paid $200 for it almost 10 years ago from a guy that freaked out over Y2K. The thing starts EVERY time on the first pull!!!

I really wonder why your battery won't make it one night? What is on that requires that much power? We drop the heater to around 55 at night, as everyone is snug in their beds and I don't need to keep the trailer warmer than that. Get up in the morning to start coffee...let dog out...I raise it to around 65. Kids can wear a sweatshirt for a bit if they are still cold. We've done it this way since the pop-up days....works great for us. Now, if we are fancy pants camping in the winter with power, we let the fireplace run all the time....nice!

If you answered the question above with only a few nights dry camping (in a row) then I would not suggest the solar route.

If you are going to go for 4-6 days of dry camping, then some 2x6v's Trojan batteries (145's) is the way to go.

If you are going >6 nights of dry camping in a row...then possible solar (if you have the direct sunlight I was talking about above) or a small...low cost generator.

You can also consider replacing the light bulbs with LED's. This will go a LONG way in helping you reduce power consumption. Keep kids from plugging in an inverter to charge stuff. I think we camp to the extreme of most of the folks here...I bring my cell phone...but there is hardly ever coverage...no laptops...no gameboys...no TV (that is actually removed in the summer. The kids bring their iPods, but i think that is it for electronics. Again, this is how we've always done it...we're camping and the kids play outside the trailer...at night we're around the campfire or playing a card/board game inside if it is raining. I love battleship...remember that game? fun!!....kids hound us to always play Monopoly. For us it is about family time...kids playing gameboys...watching TV...etc, just isn't about family time. Not trying to preach the evil of electronics....because back at home, we are LOADED with them. I just like having an escape from that world when we camp. (Whew..sorry, kinda got on my soap box there) Posted Image

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#7 KTMRacer

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 01:44 PM

Need to replace my batteries also. Not ready to go to 6V and usually have at least one gen with me. Who makes a true deep cycle 12v battery.


Trojan

here is a link http://www.trojanbat...s/GolfCart.aspx scroll down and select T-1275 it's the highest capacity 12V deep cycle I've seen (20 Hr rate is 150AH) . They also have a group 27 or group 31 true deep cycle listed
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#8 CdnOutback

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 03:02 PM

You should not drain the battery on your vehicle when you are plugged into the vehicle. You should have the starting battery isolated from the trailer charging circuit. Otherwise it will not charge the trailer battery or batteries properly while driving.
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#9 CamperAndy

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 03:56 PM

You should not drain the battery on your vehicle when you are plugged into the vehicle. You should have the starting battery isolated from the trailer charging circuit. Otherwise it will not charge the trailer battery or batteries properly while driving.


This depends on the TV, some have isolation relays when the key is turned off, others do not. Check your owners manual.
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#10 KTMRacer

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 05:47 PM

You should not drain the battery on your vehicle when you are plugged into the vehicle. You should have the starting battery isolated from the trailer charging circuit. Otherwise it will not charge the trailer battery or batteries properly while driving.


This depends on the TV, some have isolation relays when the key is turned off, others do not. Check your owners manual.


many GM products DON'T have isolation relays on trailer line. Power is applied to the trailer connector even with the ignition key off. Leave the trailer hooke up and guess what... trailer batteries charged with ignition running, but truck battery discharged when camping!!

I wired a 12V HD relay into my silverado to isolate the truck batteries.
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#11 Oregon_Camper

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 08:40 PM

I wired a 12V HD relay into my silverado to isolate the truck batteries.



...I just unplug mine. Posted Image

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#12 KTMRacer

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 09:05 PM

I wired a 12V HD relay into my silverado to isolate the truck batteries.



...I just unplug mine. Posted Image

I do also when I remember, butI have a bad habit of forgetting to unplug, so that's why I put a relay in mine!
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#13 luverofpeanuts

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:11 AM

I second the recommendation to switch to LED lights. Having even one normal incandescent 12v bulb takes a fair amount of juice. I lasted from Saturday night to Tuesday morning with my new 12v Interstate group 24 that came with my Sydney. That was with minimal LED light usage and minimal water pump usage... the only only other notable draw is the refrigerator (even when on propane).

If you're dry camping alot the solar options can sure be attractive if you put the money into it. However, for not much more (possibly less!) you can abuy one inverter style generator that can run the A/C, or two small ones that can be put together, or just one small one if you don't want to run the A/C. They're definitely quiet enough, IMHO, to run for an hour to charge up the battery... with the bonus of being able run some A/C only appliances, if needed.

I enjoy learning more about these options.. good topic always.


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#14 Traveling Tek

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:12 PM

Ok, haven't read all the posts yet, but I will respond really quick with some answers.

We usually only dry camp or boondock one night at a time, a weekend tops. We do have a generator, but I hate to run it in a Walmart parking lot. I have the battery that came with my trailer, so it's just a generic 12v deep cycle and it can only run the furnace (lets say 20F outside) for about 4 hours before it's shot. Generally we pull in, sleep, get up shower and leave. So I am not asking for a ton of power, just not wanting to run a generator all night to stay warm. :-)

We don't generally watch TV while we are boondocking (we do have a 12v TV/DVD if we want to). We do run some lights, but usually not a lot. I think I may have damaged my battery the 2nd week I had it by completely killing it while boondocking for a weekend. So now it's feeling useless. As I stated earlier I even ruined the battery in my van by leaving it plugged in and running the furnace. It killed the battery on the trailer and the van. I would like to know more about this relay thing to protect my GM van from destroying my new $250 battery.

After reading thru I don't think I need solar as we charge while driving, and usually only boon dock while traveling from one city to the next (anyone who reads our blog knows we move every week). We stay for extended periods in campgrounds just cause we like to unhitch the trailer and go explore and you can't really leave a trailer at Walmart for the day (or can you?).

Will I need anything different beside the 2 Trojan 145's? I won't need a new charger or anything like that will I?
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#15 luverofpeanuts

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:21 PM

We usually only dry camp or boondock one night at a time, a weekend tops. We do have a generator, but I hate to run it in a Walmart parking lot. I have the battery that came with my trailer, so it's just a generic 12v deep cycle and it can only run the furnace (lets say 20F outside) for about 4 hours before it's shot. Generally we pull in, sleep, get up shower and leave. So I am not asking for a ton of power, just not wanting to run a generator all night to stay warm. :-)


If I were you, I'd be real tempted to simply change your existing battery to a bigger, good quality group 31 sized 12v... that should do you for a night or even weekend for the type of use you describe.

You could even borrow a a friends battery if they're not using, to see if the battery makes a difference.









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