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Old 10-12-2021, 10:17 AM   #1
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Dry camping - and keeping a battery charged

We are doing more dry camping and are looking into getting a generator to charge our batteries. We are really not interested in running items in the camper just charging up our batteries. We have a 30Amp plug on the camper

What do you suggest is the the best way to charge 12V deep cell batteries. and what is the mininum generator. Would it be best to get an adapter from 30A to 15A or would you use a battery charger plugged in a generator then to the battery.

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Old 10-12-2021, 10:19 AM   #2
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Old 10-12-2021, 10:28 AM   #3
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For just charging using a 55A stock charger/converter a 2000W generator would be more then aneough. Won't run A/C, but will run everything else.

For charging though, the best setup is solar. You can get a 1/2 decent system for the price of a half decent generator. Less fussing around lugging a generator and hooking it up, better autonomy, absolutely quiet and practically maintenance free.

Solar won't work well if you camp deep in the woods or shaded areas, but a good solar system charges OK even in cloudy weather.

It all depends what you prefer and do.
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Old 10-12-2021, 10:30 AM   #4
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Minimum generator size is dictated by size of your converter or inverter/charger.


What is amp rating of your converter or inverter/charger.


Generator should be minimum of 25-30% higher capacity than max 120 VAC amp draw of your charging device.


Certainly, if you want to run other 120 VAC appliances, take their draw into consideration. Roof air puts you in a whole other size of generator.
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Old 10-12-2021, 10:39 AM   #5
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A 1500 to 2000 watt generator will hande the built in converter/charger and thats the best charger for dry camping recharging.

Yes, you get a 15 to 30 amp adaptor to plug in the shore cord .

Be sure your generator is a " Super Quiet " model. You and your neighbors don't want to listen to the loud ones

Solar is slow and not very effective during the morning, evening, and does nothing at night.
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Old 10-12-2021, 10:52 AM   #6
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I'm looking to get a portable solar panel system. I like the idea that i can place the panels in the sun instead of having them on the roof, because i tend to park in the shade. I can move the panels thru the day to catch the best sunlight.


Buuuuut.... solar is slow. So i would also have a small, quiet Honda generator like the above mentioned EU2200 for times when there is no sun or you need a quicker charge.
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Old 10-12-2021, 11:02 AM   #7
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Dry camping - and keeping a battery charged

Two ways to charge your batteries when boondocking are solar and/or a generator. There are many things to consider as mentioned by others. Solar is great, but has some limitations (as mentioned by others). Even if you have solar there are still times (rainy bad weather, shading for example) when solar will not work well. A good 2,000 watt QUIET inverter generator will perform well for you and with one of the “soft start” boxes added to your air conditioner will run most ac units and allow you to use the microwave. But if you just want to charge the batteries with the generator I believe the most efficient way is to use the genny to power a separate charger instead of the built in converter. You would need to find out what the maximum charge current is for your batteries and get a charger that is under that. For example (and what I have in addition to several hundred watts of solar) my lithium batteries will accept up to 100 amps of charge current, so I wired in (with very heavy gauge DC wiring) a 70 amp DC charger. My generator only needs to supply roughly 7 amps of AC current to run it. So, 7 amps X 120 volts AC = 840 watts are needed from the generator. So, technically even a 1,000 watt generator could support it in this case. Most built in converters do not run heavy gauge enough wiring for the distance run from the converter to the batteries to efficiently charge the batteries as quickly.
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Old 10-12-2021, 11:10 AM   #8
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How many batteries? If just one or two you could even get by with a honda 1000 watt generator which is tiny and light weight.

Using a device like this, you can measure how much power your on-board converter uses while charging, and then size the generator to provide sufficient power.

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Old 10-12-2021, 11:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by bfisher003 View Post
Two ways to charge your batteries when boondocking are solar and/or a generator. There are many things to consider as mentioned by others. Solar is great, but has some limitations (as mentioned by others). Even if you have solar there are still times (rainy bad weather, shading for example) when solar will not work well. A good 2,000 watt QUIET inverter generator will perform well for you and with one of the “soft start” boxes added to your air conditioner will run most ac units and allow you to use the microwave. But if you just want to charge the batteries with the generator I believe the most efficient way is to use the genny to power a separate charger instead of the built in converter. You would need to find out what the maximum charge current is for your batteries and get a charger that is under that. For example (and what I have in addition to several hundred watts of solar) my lithium batteries will accept up to 100 amps of charge current, so I wired in (with very heavy gauge DC wiring) a 70 amp DC charger. My generator only needs to supply roughly 7 amps of AC current to run it. So, 7 amps X 120 volts AC = 840 watts are needed from the generator. So, technically even a 1,000 watt generator could support it in this case. Most built in converters do not run heavy gauge enough wiring for the distance run from the converter to the batteries to efficiently charge the batteries as quickly.
We are using 12V deep cell batteries. What we did the last camping trip was was run 1 battery only each day. We borrowed a friends honda i1000 for the 6 night trip and plug in our battery Charger and set it for 10A charging. I was very cold at night and ran the furnace. The battery discharged down to about 1/3-2/3 capacity. It took approx. 4 hours each morning to charge the battery we used each day. Any suggestions
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Old 10-12-2021, 12:09 PM   #10
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What is total amp-hr capacity of your battery bank? OR how many of what "group" batteries?


What converter, charger or inverter/charger do you have? What is amp capacity.


We need the FACTS to be able to give you relevant advice.
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Old 10-12-2021, 12:20 PM   #11
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There are lots of ways to deal with this.

I used a Honda 1000 for a long time, and then changed to a Honda 2000. My rate of charging my lead-acid batteries did not change.

If you simply plug the trailer into the generator you are limited to whatever your converter will provide. That is affected by the wiring and the distance from the converter to the batteries. As an example, I installed a 100 Ah lithium battery and found that the 60 amp Progressive charger would deliver only 25 amps to my battery. When I changed to a hybrid inverter/charger that is connected close to the batteries with fat cable I can get 75 amps to my lithium batteries with a Honda 2000.

My point is that there are factors in play besides the generator and the charger.

It is OK to use a separate charger connected directly to the batteries, if you can find one that will charge faster.

Something to think about, too, is the effect of temperature on your batteries. If you wake up on a cold morning your battery voltage will show low because the batteries are cold. As they warm up it will seem like they are at a higher state of charge.

Also, the load on the batteries will affect the voltage reading and thus the apparent state of charge.

I apologize if I am pointing out things you already know.

Some of us like to use a battery monitor that measures the actual power going in and out of the battery, instead of relying on voltage measurements. A Victron BMV-712 is a popular model.

Batteries are a rabbit hole that is easy to get lost in. I started out where you are, and now have a pretty extensive battery bank and inverter. Over the winter I plan to install solar panels (although I will not leave my generator at home). To be honest it has been an interesting project and I really like the results, but it was not necessary to enjoy dry camping.
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Old 10-12-2021, 01:08 PM   #12
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We have 2 12V deep cell batteries that we purchased this past spring. They are interstate batteries. According to the paper work I have the Converter is a Cheng WF-8955SPEC.
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Old 10-12-2021, 01:36 PM   #13
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Your on-board charger is 55 amps, much better the you 10 amp charger.

You would have shortened your charging time in half or given the batteries a near full charge.
Using shore cord for charging also saves a bit of propane because the fridge will switch to 120 volts. Plus your not using the batteries that your charging them, the converter is powering things.

As far as batteries, using one and then the other will, first shorten each one's life by deeply discharging each one, and second letting the other battery sit discharge is also a life shortening practice. Third, drawing higher amps from a battery discharges it faster. With 2 together, each one is sharing the load.

Example = A 100AH battery is rated by how many amps it can be discharged in a 20 hour period. In this case 5 amps for 20 hours.

Once you start to go above that, like 10 amps for heat and lights at night, the less AHs that battery can supply. A 20 amp draw won't last 10 hours, it will only last 7 hours.

Tie them together in parallel and use them both. They will be less discharged each cycle and last much longer.
Charge them in the morning and for a bit before bed time.
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Old 10-12-2021, 01:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Your on-board charger is 55 amps, much better the you 10 amp charger.

You would have shortened your charging time in half or given the batteries a near full charge.
Using shore cord for charging also saves a bit of propane because the fridge will switch to 120 volts. Plus your not using the batteries that your charging them, the converter is powering things.

As far as batteries, using one and then the other will, first shorten each one's life by deeply discharging each one, and second letting the other battery sit discharge is also a life shortening practice. Third, drawing higher amps from a battery discharges it faster. With 2 together, each one is sharing the load.

Example = A 100AH battery is rated by how many amps it can be discharged in a 20 hour period. In this case 5 amps for 20 hours.

Once you start to go above that, like 10 amps for heat and lights at night, the less AHs that battery can supply. A 20 amp draw won't last 10 hours, it will only last 7 hours.

Tie them together in parallel and use them both. They will be less discharged each cycle and last much longer.
Charge them in the morning and for a bit before bed time.

Good advice!
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