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Old 04-08-2012, 09:27 PM   #1
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Re charging the house batteries

I find that letting the V-10 motor on my moho idle recharges my house batteries much faster and much quieter than running the generator. Both are only a year old with 10K miles on the motor.

Am I going to cause problems doing this?
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:32 PM   #2
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I would think that it would take at least a couple of hours to charge house batteries. Are you letting your engine idle that long? If not this long I would imagin that you're not fully recharging your batteries
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:46 PM   #3
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If they are at 70% or more it only takes about an hour to get them over 95%. I have a Trimetric Battery monitor. I also listen to satellite radio on the cab radio and think the engine battery needs daily recharging. That battery is not monitored.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:10 PM   #4
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If they are at 70% or more it only takes about an hour to get them over 95%. I have a Trimetric Battery monitor. I also listen to satellite radio on the cab radio and think the engine battery needs daily recharging. That battery is not monitored.
So, you're now saying that you let the engine idle for about an hour daily and you want to know if this harms the engine?..........Is that the scenario?
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:34 PM   #5
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Yes

And if anyone knows, how much gas does a V-10 use per hour while idling vs a 4,000 watt onan generator?

The noise is about half with the engine and it takes over 2 hours to get the same charge using the generator.

I chatted with a guy here in the campground who has a DP, but carries a portable generator just for battery charging. He says it's much cheaper on gas and very quiet.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:45 PM   #6
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Take a look at your charger converter and see what model it is. Look that up and see how much current it is rated at. Todays rvs should have decent size chargers. Your engine alternator is probably putting out 50 amps or so at idle.

Using an alternator to charge batteries can cause your alternator to fail early. They are not designed to be battery chargers in the true sense. They are designed to supply a lot of current for a short period of time to refill batteries after starting and then to keep up with all the other things.

My MH manual specifically suggests running the generator to charge the batteries if they have been run down. I will run my generator for an hour or two on the road if I have been boondocking and tend to run them low.

Charging four to 6 batteries with an alternator can really cause the alternator to overheat. Idling a vehicle that long that is not designed as a "ambulance package" for example is also a recipe for disaster. The heat build up can be tremendous.

You may be able to upgrade your charger without breaking the piggy bank. Changing an alternator is expensive.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:12 PM   #7
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And if anyone knows, how much gas does a V-10 use per hour while idling vs a 4,000 watt onan generator?
ScanGauge indicated between 0.55 gph (no load) and 0.73 gph (with AC) last time I checked on a '10 E-450

Onan 4000: around .5 gph under full load
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:34 PM   #8
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I built a stand-alone gas-powered battery charger years ago after burning up several alternators starting vehicles with dead batteries in them.

I bought a Honda GC160 5hp (horizontal shaft) gas engine and bolted it to a piece of 3/4" plywood. Then fitted a pulley to the output shaft and made up a spring-loaded idler pulley to tension the 'back-side' (return side) of the fan belt, then mounted a 160 amp alternator out of a big rig ($50 from the wreckers) to the other end of the plywood with a hunk of angle iron.

I doubt the whole affair weights much more than about 35 pounds, far less than a generator would. IIRC the alternator puts out about 80 amps at idle.

I run the little Honda at about 2,200 - 2,500 rpm where it's making about 3 - 3.5 hp and still making maximum torque. I couldn't put a number on gas consumption, but I can tell you, that little tank on it runs it for a heck of a long time. It's real quiet at that lower throttle setting too. Way quieter than my 4k Onan is for sure.

I think in total it cost me about $300 and a couple hours tinkering.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:36 PM   #9
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This would indicate that you coach was built for FHU camping. Dry camping was probably not considered in the design.
I suggest you upgrade your converter/charger to something more capable.
If you are worried about running the chassis battery down, a radio won't do it in a day or three. If you are still concerned, get a battery combiner so the chassis battery gets charged when the house battery is being charged.
Idling is never good for any engine.
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Old 04-09-2012, 12:53 PM   #10
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With today's computer controlled fuel systems, extended engine idling is not particularly bad for your engine. It just makes it more difficult to keep track of oil changes. Since your MH does not have an hour meter for the engine, you would need to increase the frequency of the manufactures oil change schedule. Calculating this may be difficult.

I agree with others, you may want to consider upgrading your converter/charger to a higher amp model. Would be great if you could locate your converter and post the model and amperage rating.
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Old 04-10-2012, 03:58 AM   #11
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I have a solar system which I just found out has a bad charge controller. I ordered a new one yesterday and should have it by Wed or Thursday. Since I follow sunny weather, my 272 watts of panels should keep my 2 six volt batteries charged.

Until then I will limit engine idling to 30 minutes and use the genset for the rest. Ted, I wish I had your thinkering ability. Your charger sounds like a great option. I'm in a no hookups campground, which I rarely do, and more than half of the rigs here use a small portable generator.

Like this forum, there is much to be learned from other RVers. Thanks guys!
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:27 AM   #12
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John,

According to the manual, I have a WFCO Ultra III converter, WF-9800 series. It describes the 3 charging modes/stages. My coach uses 30 amp power, but I'll have to wait for daylight to see which amperage rating is on the charger.

This is all greek too me, but I best start learning. RVs have SO MANY systems to figure out. I appreciate your help and patience.
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Old 04-10-2012, 09:44 AM   #13
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Barb,

Yes, there is a lot to learn.
Some of us have been at this a very long time and are glad to share what we have learned.

Glad you found that the solar controller had failed and are dealing with it.

I think you have two issues here.
One is what the rating of the charger is (WF-98XX).
The other may be that it is not up to specification.
Please include what your house bank is in some future posting.

The fact that the coach has 30Amp service is not any part of the issues here.

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Old 04-10-2012, 12:37 PM   #14
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Whew, Forest River didn't make it easy to find the converter model. Did they get square head screws at a discount or what?

The good news is that I have a 55 amp, 3 phase converter. The better news is that I found that one of the 35 watt fuses had been bumped and may have been displaced enough to disable whatever the one on the right side protects. That won't happen again.

I just upgraded my battery bank to 2 six volt golf cart batteries from Sam's Club and I have a Trimetric 2025A battery monitor connected to the house bank. The solar system is 4 Unisolar 68 watt flexible panels and the ordered charge controller is a Morningstar Prostar 30 amp. Hopefully, once the new chg controller is installed, I will be able to recharge the battery bank with primarily solar power.
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