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Old 02-08-2013, 04:45 PM   #29
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Travis,

Your comment about not having a problem running your motor for a half a hour to recharge your house battery is unfortunately not realistic. If you limit your discharge to 50% SOC overnight and for reasonable battery life you should not regularly discharge lower than that it will take several hours at least to recharge and that is assuming the engine alternator will charge your house battery as well as your chassis battery. Not all will. That is something you can check for yourself. You mentioned Harbor Freight. If you don't already have one go to Harbor Freight and buy a inexpensive digital multimeter. They are about $5.00. Every RV'er should have one. To see if your engine alternator will charge your house battery here is what you do. If you have shore power hooked up disconnect it. Shut off everything that draws battery power. Wait about a hour then set your meter on DC volts and check the voltage right on the house battery posts. Remember that number. Now start your engine and let it run for 10-15 minutes. Recheck the voltage at the house battery posts. If the voltage is now higher than the first test the alternator is charging that battery. If there is no change it is not.

Considering the age of your rig if you haven't already done it it would be wise to check the age of your tires. Every tire has a manufacture date on it. Google "How to check tire age" and you will find pictures of where the codes are and how to read them. Tread depth is not the only thing that determines when a tire becomes unsafe. Age also does.

Jim
Tires are new. Replaced in 2011. If the alt doesnt charge the house battery how would it charge? Shore hookups?
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Old 02-08-2013, 05:57 PM   #30
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What about really good quality solar chargers ? Anyone have a good source ?
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:08 PM   #31
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What about really good quality solar chargers ? Anyone have a good source ?
+1 interested
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:32 PM   #32
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Solar is nice. I have 800w of solar on the roof of our coach. It works great when the sun shines. Not so much when it doesn't. Solar is something to consider AFTER you have a generator. A generator will always make power.Solar won't.

Travis,

If you find your alternator is not charging your house battery there are two possibilities. First your coach may have a system to do it but there is something wrong with it. Or your coach never had that feature installed and it relied on the converter plugged into shore power to do the charging. First thing to do is that simple test I described then you will have a idea what is going on. If it doesn't charge and you determine there is no system there to charge the house battery from the alternator it is not too hard to wire in a simple system to do it.

Good news on the tires!

Jim

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Old 02-08-2013, 06:44 PM   #33
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Solar is nice. I have 800w of solar on the roof of our coach. It works great when the sun shines. Not so much when it doesn't. Solar is something to consider AFTER you have a generator. A generator will always make power.Solar won't.

Travis,

If you find your alternator is not charging your house battery there are two possibilities. First your coach may have a system to do it but there is something wrong with it. Or your coach never had that feature installed and it relied on the converter plugged into shore power to do the charging. First thing to do is that simple test I described then you will have a idea what is going on. If it doesn't charge and you determine there is no system there to charge the house battery from the alternator it is not too hard to wire in a simple system to do it.

Good news on the tires!

Jim

Jim
I honestly think I have an onboard charger cause after plugging in at home my lights would stay on after I unplugged butbthe battery was trashed and theyd die within a few minutes
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:58 PM   #34
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Travis,

We are talking about two different systems. The system you are refering to is called the converter. Converter is RV speak for battery charger/power supply. It is powered from your shore power cord. It provides 12v DC power to operate all the 12v DC devices you have in your RV and it also charges your house battery.

There may be/should be another system that connects your alternator output to your house batteries when the ignition key is in the run position. Your alternator is always connected to your chassis battery but should only be connected to your house battery when the key is on. This prevents you from running your chassis battery down at the same time you are running your house battery down.

Jim
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Old 02-08-2013, 10:45 PM   #35
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on solar panels the shipping is what kills you. unless you're close to a supplier. keep an eye on craigs list. most that pop up at a good price are the ones for homes. but if you have enough roof space that's cool. you'll just need to get the mppt controler.
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Old 02-09-2013, 10:26 AM   #36
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Travis,

From your posts I get the impression you are on somewhat of a restricted budget for upgrades to your motorhome. If that is the case I don't believe solar is something you should consider for your primary battery charging. You would have to spend a fair amount of money to purchase a controller and enough panels to do you any good and then they would only produce enough power to do you much good when the sun shines. Does the sun shine most of the time where you plan to camp?

A good practical setup for you would be a pair of 6v golf cart batteries for house batteries and a Honda EU 1000i generator to charge them. The Honda is quiet and can be run in any campground and will drive a 40a charger and will literally last forever. I have one I use to recharge batteries when the sun doesn't shine on my solar panels that has nearly 1500 hours on it and it still starts first pull. My 800w solar system will put out 40-42a in bright sun but less that 5a when its cloudy.

If you lived and camped in the South where the sun shines most of the time solar as your primary power source would work but still be expensive.

If you get a campground friendly generator you will be able to access the many Federal,State and County campgrounds that don't have power posts for a lot less money per day than the private campgrounds. It wouldn't take long to save the cost of a generator.

Jim
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Old 02-09-2013, 11:38 AM   #37
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Would a colman powermate 1750w be quiet enough? Generators are a new thing to me and I know Coleman is a big camping dealer

Found one for $100
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:13 PM   #38
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Tough question. There first of all is NO totally quiet as in silent generators. It is just some are quieter than others. The two that are considered the quietest to use in a campground where there are other campers near by are the EU series Honda and the Blue Yamaha models that are similar. It is true that quiet costs money so the quieter ones are expensive and the cheaper they get the louder they get. If your camping plan is to camp in primitive areas where there are not other campers close by then you just have to decide how much noise you are willing to subject yourself and your family to. If you can get to start and run the Coleman you will be able to decide for yourself if it is something you want to listen to next to your coach. To do a reasonable test take something with you that will draw at least half of its rated output. A portable electric heater would work fine. You could set it on low up to high to see how loud it gets as it makes more power. A reasonable person will know if it is too loud to take into a campground.

If you walk around a campground that doesn't have power and look at what generators are used by most it will be red Honda EU series.

Jim
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:53 PM   #39
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Hey Travis!

For a complete overview and quick reference, these sites are good to keep handy if you need help in the middle of the night. Keep asking questions here. These folks have saved my bacon too many times to count. I figure there's well over 500,000 years of RV experience amongst irv2 members.

You are wise to ask for advise before making big purchases.

Electrical Tutorial

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Old 02-09-2013, 04:21 PM   #40
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So today I went and fired up the rig and let it warm up. I noticed that the 12v interior lights would work. I dont have a house battery in it right now. So while the engine is running the alternator supplies the rig with house power?
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:31 PM   #41
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Thasssss right!
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:39 PM   #42
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Thasssss right!
Cool. So now I need to pick a house battery. Menards has a deep cycle rv/marine batt with 575 cold cranking amps. Would this be strong enough for mild use? Lights and occasionally the heater?
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