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Old 10-26-2012, 08:01 AM   #1
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Question Regarding RV House Battery on the cheap

I am disabled and on SSI, and will be homeless soon. i have a Very Limited budget but I do have a 1985 class C motor home that i will be living in and it has an Onan 4.0RV Genset. However i don't have a working house battery. on my current budget i can only afford to spend maybe $110 on a battery and my RV has a slot for a single 12v battery. I was wanting to know if anyone had any Recommendations. I see ALOT of contradicting information from numerous sites and i have no idea which way to go.
My hope is this. I have a 1500W inverter and the idea is this. Id like to be able to run my computer for a couple hours each night off the battery and then run the generator for an hour or so to recharge the battery and get some time on the computer as well as take care of other needs that need power. will this even be possible? Also i was wondering What kind of Fuel consumption i will be looking at with this Generator. anyhow any help would be appreciated.

Also here is a link to a picture of my RV Genset its kinda bad but ill see about getting a better one.

https://picasaweb.google.com/1142989...01854489659506
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Old 10-26-2012, 08:18 AM   #2
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Hello, you don't mention if you will be traveling. I assume on a limited budget you will not? My suggestion for longer amp hours search out a deep cycle marine type 12 volt battery the recharge and hold amp hours longer than "starting batteries". Best of luck, God bless!
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Old 10-26-2012, 08:21 AM   #3
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Hello, you don't mention if you will be traveling. I assume on a limited budget you will not? My suggestion for longer amp hours search out a deep cycle marine type 12 volt battery the recharge and hold amp hours longer than "starting batteries". Best of luck, God bless!
I will be living in The rv more then likely in an Urban environment moving from place to place but staying in the same general Area when i move it may only be a couple blocks at a time. Having a 110v hookup will be Rare. Ill have to live as completely self Contained as possible.
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Old 10-26-2012, 08:27 AM   #4
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I recently bought a 114ah deep cycle from WM for under $100.

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Old 10-26-2012, 08:33 AM   #5
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I recently bought a 114ah deep cycle from WM for under $100.

Any idea how long that will run with a 1500w inverter? And how long it would take my generator to charge it? Also curious what kinda of Fuel Consumption my Generator has. I've seen reports every where from .3g/h to 1.3g/h and everywhere inbetween on the forums.
Also do you have a model number for that battery?
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:20 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Wes Magyar View Post
Any idea how long that will run with a 1500w inverter? And how long it would take my generator to charge it? Also curious what kinda of Fuel Consumption my Generator has. I've seen reports every where from .3g/h to 1.3g/h and everywhere inbetween on the forums.
Also do you have a model number for that battery?
Wes, the time it will run depends on many variables, mostly though it's the load on the inverter. That in turn depends on whats running.

Your monitor, CRT or LCD? Big difference in power consumption between them. How big is the computer's power supply and what else is it running? Etc., etc.

Also don't forget there's a few items in your m/h that will be drawing on the battery 24/7 even if you're not 'doing' anything. The CO and propane detectors amongst the top of the list.

But to answer your first question, I too have an Onan 4KW in my unit, under a light load it will not burn more than 0.3 gal / hour. Like any other engine, the more demand, the more work it has to do, the more gas it takes to do it.

You should also explore some cheap solar systems though, often folks replace panels that are a few years old, they can be had cheap. If you had a solar array on your roof, you'd likely have minimal charging requirements beyond it if you're in a reasonably sunny location.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:30 AM   #7
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Wes, the time it will run depends on many variables, mostly though it's the load on the inverter. That in turn depends on whats running.

Your monitor, CRT or LCD? Big difference in power consumption between them. How big is the computer's power supply and what else is it running? Etc., etc.

Also don't forget there's a few items in your m/h that will be drawing on the battery 24/7 even if you're not 'doing' anything. The CO and propane detectors amongst the top of the list.

But to answer your first question, I too have an Onan 4KW in my unit, under a light load it will not burn more than 0.3 gal / hour. Like any other engine, the more demand, the more work it has to do, the more gas it takes to do it.

You should also explore some cheap solar systems though, often folks replace panels that are a few years old, they can be had cheap. If you had a solar array on your roof, you'd likely have minimal charging requirements beyond it if you're in a reasonably sunny location.
These are rough guestimates for my computer but i guess at heavy load it eats around 650 watts. I have a New energy star 23 inch LED monitor. Im trying to see if i can get one of those Watt Meter things to test it i think the public Library in town loans them out but im not sure.
One of my friends says he guesses my computer uses with the monitor at most around 800W. not sure if this helps.
As for a Solar Panel i have been looking into those and WoW! are they expensive. I was seeing prices of around 700 bucks, Odds are i'm going to be working with a monthly budget of less then $350 a month including gas for the Genny. so i'm not sure this will be possible.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:01 AM   #8
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FYI I just read a consumer reports and they were very high on the Kirkland batteries at Costco. I looked at them last time there and most were well under the 100 mark. Just another source for you to consider. So Walmart or Costco which ever is easiest to get to can fix you up.
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Old 10-26-2012, 10:14 AM   #9
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A friend of mine who is an Electrician did some quick math and said id be looking at maybe a little over an hour of usage out of 1 115 Mah battery If i'm running my computer under load and using my LED monitor...
That also depends on whether the 115 Mah calculation will push enough volts for that long for my Inverter to work :( my inverter is a 1500W continuous designed to run off a standard car battery while the car is running. I was hoping for twice that if not more. He said that if i get two of the batteries and run them in parallel i would get that but i wont be able to buy both of them in a single month, I'll have to buy one now and then another one in a month or two.
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Old 10-26-2012, 04:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Wes Magyar View Post
As for a Solar Panel i have been looking into those and WoW! are they expensive. I was seeing prices of around 700 bucks, Odds are i'm going to be working with a monthly budget of less then $350 a month including gas for the Genny. so i'm not sure this will be possible.
You can find them for a lot less than $700 on Amazon. I found this one for $150.00 that has rave reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Instapark%C2%A...pr_product_top

You will need to add a Charge Contoller for another $30 or so but the whole thing will be less than $200.

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Old 10-26-2012, 04:53 PM   #11
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You can find them for a lot less than $700 on Amazon. I found this one for $150.00 that has rave reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Instapark%C2%A...pr_product_top

You will need to add a Charge Contoller for another $30 or so but the whole thing will be less than $200.

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ah yeah i was looking at kits that where like 150-200W.
Also i live in the Pacific Northwest so sun is at a Premium. How long would a solar panel like that take to charge a 115MA deep Cycle.
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:15 AM   #12
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Are there any options for you to sell your computer in Craigslist and use the proceeds to get a cheap laptop (even used)? That can allow you to run / charge on 12 volt (avoiding the loss through the inverter) and also greatly extend your battery reserve due to lower wattage requirements. The battery in the laptop will also give greater runtime and you can use the laptop in locations with free Internet access. (and charge the laptop in those places, too).

This site lists some Computer wattage information. http://www.upenn.edu/computing/provi...owerusage.html
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Old 10-27-2012, 01:46 AM   #13
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Are there any options for you to sell your computer in Craigslist and use the proceeds to get a cheap laptop (even used)? That can allow you to run / charge on 12 volt (avoiding the loss through the inverter) and also greatly extend your battery reserve due to lower wattage requirements. The battery in the laptop will also give greater runtime and you can use the laptop in locations with free Internet access. (and charge the laptop in those places, too).

This site lists some Computer wattage information. Approximate Desktop, Notebook, & Netbook Power Usage
Sadly no selling my computer isnt really an option. I built it myself. its kind of my pride and joy. i do however have a laptop and it uses about 1/4 of the power. but i do need to use the desktop on occasion due to my form of income generation. (programming/video editing)
My laptop dosnt work so well with heavy duty tasks. its battery also kinda sucks cuz its old, i need to find a replacement battery for it but there are ALOT of things on list ahead of that purchase...
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Old 10-27-2012, 09:42 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Wes Magyar View Post
My hope is this. I have a 1500W inverter and the idea is this. Id like to be able to run my computer for a couple hours each night off the battery and then run the generator for an hour or so to recharge the battery and get some time on the computer as well as take care of other needs that need power. will this even be possible? Also i was wondering What kind of Fuel consumption i will be looking at with this Generator. anyhow any help would be appreciated.

[/url]

Wes -

First you want a true DEEP CYCLE battery (avoid any that says Marine on it), you also want as many amp-hours (AH) as you can get for the $$$ you have.

Unfortunately, what I'm about to explain is not going to be great news. You have an onboard 12v converter/charger. When you have shore power, it runs all the 12v items as well as charges the battery, I have to assume your's is old, it's a single stage and puts out 13.6 v continuously. The below link is charge times to recharge a 125 AH (Amp Hour) battery after it was fully discharged to 10.5-volts (which is dead). These are specs for a smart charger, so they show charging times in 14.4v and 13.6v. You will of course see at 13.6v, it takes MUCH longer to bring a battery up to 90% charged. You of course should not run the battery down to below 11.75v, which is only 30% charged and the point at which 12v items may stop working. This of course will reduce the time indicated in the chart.

Charging Times

An RV smart charger is about $140. So if you can acquire any charger that can put out 14.3 - 14.5v, that would reduce charging times. Running the engine will put that much voltage to the house battery, but you have fuel expense too. However, planning your charging around moving/driving will help with expense.

I would guess your 4KW genny just charging batteries would run about 1/3+ gals an hour. If you were running AC, elec heater, elec coffee pot, it would go up from there. Planning 110v usage around the times the battery needs charging would reduce costs.

There are ways to reduce your 12v consumption besides being careful with power. Replacing all the incandescent lights with LEDs will reduce lighting consumption by 90%. A 12v TV would be better than a 110v running off inverter. A newer small LED would be perfect. Unfortunately again, it's not cheap.

The 1500w inverter is more than what you need, but that's OK. The problem is, you are only going to have only one 100+ AH battery. Running high watt 110v appliances will run it down very quickly. You very much need a voltmeter. Either a handheld or a cheap gauge you could put inside and run the wire to or very close to the battery for convenience. Then you can take notes to see what you can run and for how long.

Since you are in OR and winter is coming, you need to consider the battery state before you go to bed so there is enough left to run the furnace all night. Certainly no problem with a good battery charged to around 80%. You can do all this and you will have it down pat after a week or so. You just need to monitor battery voltage carefully. The below is a good read and you should read it as well as the 2nd part.

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)


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