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Old 12-29-2014, 02:08 AM   #1
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Boondocking battery questions?

Camped at Rincon this weekend I was learning the batteries. I have a 1998 HR Endeavor with a Trace6 inverter and 4 1 year old 6 volts for the house and 2 12 volts for the chassis.
I'd run the gennie and top off the batteries at night. I watched and topped off, they were at 14+-, then right after I shut off the gennie they dropped to 12.5. They stayed at 12.5 to 12.0 for around 3-4 hours then dropped all the way down to 10.5. The only thing I was running was the 2k inverter while watching my 24" lcd tv.
By this time it was 2:30 a.m. and the furnace was cycling and I didn't want to ruin the 6v's by running them by draining them so I shut down the furnace.
So, my question is, is this about normal when running the inverter? Is it that much of a power drain? The tv draws nothing, the furnace can't be that much, but that inverter.....................
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:16 AM   #2
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I would guess your batteries need replacing or perhaps an electrolyte top up is needed or they just were not charged long enough to get into float mode. But check all connections to make certain the charging voltage reading is taken right on the "lead" (Pb) connections of the batteries, not just the cable end, while charging and then immediately after shutting the charging source down. Good luck.
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:53 AM   #3
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I did wait to shut the gennie down until the indicator went from bulk to float. In the morning by 11:00 a.m. the solar had them back up to 12.5.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:31 AM   #4
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The way to know if batteries are providing as they should is by checking specific gravity and load test. I keep these testers on hand and test occasionally.

The 2000w in inverter is likely very inefficient running small loads. A furnace fan can be a big draw, as can any non-LED light bulbs.

Actual current draw can only be accurately determined with a shunted meter, such as a Trimetric.

My previous coach, a 1995 with suburban furnace, would take down batteries in short order.

YMMV.
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Old 12-29-2014, 03:31 AM   #5
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Check the water level. Only add distilled water if needed, never any acid. Some swear by a little mineral oil in each cell to help prevent water loss, but I'm not quite sold on it yet, so research this if you think it will help.

Check for parasitic power usage, like cell phone or tablet computer chargers left plugged in while not charging a device; your TV probably has a parasitic power usage; other things like computers, satellite system, DVD players, etc., all use power while not being used. Unplug them or install a power strip that has an on-off switch so you can cut off power to them when not in use.

If those things previously mentioned or that I've just mentioned don't cut power usage/loss, you may need new batteries and/or inverter. Some inverters that I have used in big rigs to power a microwave had fans that ran full bore even when no power was being used through them, and that robs power.

I hope you can find the source of your problem and fix it for the long term. Good batteries should last a good long time if properly cared for.
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Old 12-29-2014, 06:20 AM   #6
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On mine the fridg will automatically switch to inverter power from gas. Some voltage might be going their.
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Old 12-29-2014, 07:10 AM   #7
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We're not even sure where or how you're reading the voltage levels but 12.5 is not "fully" charged according to most.

It would not be that unusual for both the genny and the solar to do a subpar job until everything is set perfectly.

The very next thing you should add IMO has been mentioned already. Get a trimetric or some other shunt/meter. Most people install one and wish they had done it years ago. I've never heard of someone regreting the install.

By the way, my 24 inch tv and the powered ant, and 1k inverter only uses 2.5 amps. My furnace uses about 9 while running. You should be able to watch tv for ten hours on about 25 amp hours barely even noticable on the batteries. Again, I'm assuming that you have at least 225 amp hours and possibly 450.
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Old 12-29-2014, 07:15 AM   #8
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Check Rate Of Charging

Also check to make sure your battery control panel (Aladdin ?) is set to 100% charging rate. We found that the previous owner had set ours at 60% because of his rving habits(very little dry camping). We upped ours to 100% because we dry camp a lot and excercise our batteries.
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:39 PM   #9
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Top off the batts with distiller water and plug into shore power. Then run an equalization cycle from your EMS system or your solar controller. After that check the voltage at EACH battery. You may have a weak or failing battery in the pack. Given your stated usage, you should be able to run from 10 pm to 7 am and only be down to about 60% battery left. Remember, each time you draw your bank down below 50% you do some permanent damage to the batt bank. When you run your generator, you need to stay in float charge until the EMS says "full charge". That's about 12.75 volts at rest. Otherwise you are starting the evening with batts that are not fully charged and will likely run below 50% by morning. Most solar systems rarely bring a battery bank to a complete full charge; 3~4hrs of gen time is usually needed for this. A Trimetric shunt meter is an invaluable tool to a boondocker and is a must for a solar charging system. It takes the guess work out of what is going on with the battery bank.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-30-2014, 07:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stan&Jacquie View Post
Most solar systems rarely bring a battery bank to a complete full charge; 3~4hrs of gen time is usually needed for this.
Hope this helps.
This could start some very interesting conversation. I think I see what your intent is? I would add this, " All correctly installed solar systems are perfectly capable of fully charging the battery bank . "
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Old 12-30-2014, 08:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kiethco View Post
Camped at Rincon this weekend I was learning the batteries. I have a 1998 HR Endeavor with a Trace6 inverter and 4 1 year old 6 volts for the house and 2 12 volts for the chassis.
I'd run the gennie and top off the batteries at night. I watched and topped off, they were at 14+-, then right after I shut off the gennie they dropped to 12.5. They stayed at 12.5 to 12.0 for around 3-4 hours then dropped all the way down to 10.5. The only thing I was running was the 2k inverter while watching my 24" lcd tv.
By this time it was 2:30 a.m. and the furnace was cycling and I didn't want to ruin the 6v's by running them by draining them so I shut down the furnace.
So, my question is, is this about normal when running the inverter? Is it that much of a power drain? The tv draws nothing, the furnace can't be that much, but that inverter.....................
kiethco
I have 4 12V house batteries and a single 70 watt solar panel.
I seldom turn my 2000 watt inverter on, (it's only been on for maybe 100 hours in the 13 years I've owened my coach).
When boondocking I use a 200 watt inverter for the 24" LED TV and sometimes the DirecTV receiver, (but only occasionally).
I have no battery problems boondocking for 3-4 days without staring my generator.
However the propane furnace uses a lot of 12V power...(most often all I need for heat is my LP Buddy Heater, which uses no electricity)
Mel
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Old 12-30-2014, 11:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
This could start some very interesting conversation. I think I see what your intent is? I would add this, " All correctly installed solar systems are perfectly capable of fully charging the battery bank . "

That's only true when the weather cooperates. I live off grid with a "properly installed" solar system in SW Oregon. A few days of cloud cover will not allow a full charge and running the generator is necessary to bring batteries up to full charge.
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Old 12-30-2014, 05:56 PM   #13
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You said the only thing running was the 2k inverter + 24" tv, but then went on to say the furnace was running. That's a large extra draw on the batteries right there. And the water heater and fridge circuit boards draw some 12v power, as do your interior lights. So maybe not so surprising they ran down?

Also, the inverter itself wastes 12v power in the conversion process and will consume some battery amps even if there is a zero 120v load.

12.5v is not fully charged (should be at east 12.6), but it's impossible to tell for sure because the voltage drops a little if there is even a tiny load on the batteries.
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