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Old 05-04-2021, 07:28 AM   #15
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I would leave it alone and give it more time. The old rule of thumbs for solar and battries was 100 watts for 100 AH of battery at 12V. This rule would say you are 2x rich on solar.

Now in the last 10 years we have gone to more use of inverted power use in the day, which increased pannels are good for. I think you are good, with maybe your next step more battery.
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Old 05-04-2021, 07:40 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by melvin2345 View Post
The other thing we are going to get is a percolator I can use over the fire. I'm up with the sun, and first thing I do is go outside to start a morning fire. I can use that to get some coffee going while the sleepy heads do their thing.
You might want to think about a cowboy style enameled coffee pot and a pour over or french press coffee maker. You can use the left over hot water for dishes or any other thing you need hot water for. Just an idea. Here's a link:
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Old 05-04-2021, 07:57 AM   #17
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DW is a keurig lemming at home, but I was not about to install an inverter and batteries just to run one, and firing off the generator at 06:00 or whatever wasn't going to cut it either. I got a stovetop percolator and over time perfected the process of making the horrid beverage for her, not as quickly as a keurig can (maybe 15 minutes cold start to finish) but she says it's every bit as good.

Over time you begin to "consolidate" your genset run time. For us if we want to run an AC appliance we'll leave the genset run a while and cover all the bases - warm up something in the microwave, run the vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, charge something up, power tools, whatever, meanwhile the converter is dumping amps back into the batteries and giving them a boost. So while I wouldn't fire off the genset just to do one thing for a few minutes, it's not hard to combine a bunch of tasks and take advantage of those times you do run it.

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Old 05-04-2021, 09:01 AM   #18
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I found a great K cup press that you pour in water from the kettle and push down a plunger kind of like a French press. It works really well.
It doesn’t have a name on it but the model is KP-1000, I found it on Amazon.
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:09 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by melvin2345 View Post
These are perfect. Just ordered 3. I can pop 2 in the bedroom (1 on each side of the bed by the night lamps) so we can have our phones near us when charging and turn off the inverter at night. I'll stick the other one near the kitchen so the kids can charge their tablets. Thank you for the tip.

I ended up with those after a few trial and errors with others. These are SIMPLE...just drill the hole near one of your existing under-cabinet lights, tap the wires and 3 quick screws! Glad you found it helpful.

I put one above the dinette, one above the couch, and one in the rear bedroom...pretty much wherever people may sit/sleep.

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Old 05-04-2021, 03:34 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by melvin2345 View Post
In our case, however, it's the Keurig. This last trip was the last one with the current one we have. Using it drew 135amps for about 2 minutes while it warmed up the water. Maybe 1/4 of that for each subsequent cup. They make models that use half that now, so that is one change we will be making.

135 amps for 2 minutes = 135AH/30 = Just 4.5AH usage from your batteries. Don't worry about it!

As mentioned, you've got 400w of solar which on a sunny day can produce up to 80-120AH of charge back into your batteries. With what you described, I would think that you will use somewhere between 40-100AH per day boondocking (especially if you don't run your inverter 24/7). Your furnace might use half of that power, so if it's not cold at night you will use much less than 100AH/day. And you always have your generator as your safety net if needed for 1-2 hours.

I think you should boondock 4-5 more times and keep an eye on your battery highs and lows for the day. Then you will have your answer.

As a reference point: I have purchased a few 30' class C RVs from Cruise America from their rental fleet. They send out 1000s of families every year in their RVs for all sorts of vacations. Many of those people must be boondocking from time to time. These RV rentals come with ONE lead acid AGM battery which has about 100AH capacity and no solar (...except for a 10w trickle charge solar panel which is really more for when the RV is just sitting on their rental lot between renters). So most people who rent/use RVs have just the 1 battery and no real solar. You've got ~240AH of batteries AND 400w which is about enough to charge your batteries ~100AH/day as long as it's sunny.

My guess is that with your current setup and your current usage, 95% of the time when you are boondocking you will be perfectly fine. So is adding more solar panels (~$300-$500) and batteries ($300-$400) worth covering a problem that only comes up 5% of the time (....and when it does, you have a ~$4000 generator backup already to get you through)?

I think a better use of that $$$ would be to buy something for camping that makes your wife's camping experience more enjoyable ( that you can go camping more! lol).

Happy Camping!
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Old 05-04-2021, 03:42 PM   #21
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Good summary and good work.

As others have said converting phone AND computer charging to 12V will save you a bunch of Ah on the batteries. We havea very robust system but still installed 4 of these throughout the coach and run all computers and phones as well as our Blue Ray and Joey with 12V adapters..... In your situation this would be even more beneficial IMO
Paul & Jean
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Old 05-29-2021, 10:41 AM   #22
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I'm not going to go into all the reasons why but if were me, I would immediately switch to high quality Lithium batteries. I would use two, 100Amp Battle Borns. That gives you 200Amps of USABLE power. Right now, you only have 125 Amps usable. If you go below that, you are drastically reducing the life of your batteries.

I also don't understand why your power went down after you pulled camp and started home. If all your electrical draw equipment is off including your inverter, the solar system should be adding power to your batteries on your way home.
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Old 05-29-2021, 10:52 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Bruceea View Post

That gives you 200Amps of USABLE power. Right now, you only have 125 Amps usable. If you go below that, you are drastically reducing the life of your batteries.

Going below 50% state of charge EVERYtime will reduce your battery life by 50%. You bought into the myth.

An occasional drop below 50% is maybe 1 day of life out of the battery.

That's not DRASTIC.

Even the charts support going below 50%.Click image for larger version

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Old 05-29-2021, 10:58 AM   #24
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When I boondock I don't worry about watching TV. I'll just listen to Sirius on the dash radio, which is attached to the speakers throughout the motorhome. For charging the phone I installed a little battery meter that has a couple charge ports in the back bedroom, or I use some LED flashlights with USB ports, or a small battery I have that's basically for charging cell phones. The refrigerator on LP takes very little electricity, and I keep the thermostat very low at night, and just bundle up in bed. The only solar I have is a little 10 watt panel that I put out to just maintain the chassis battery. If I really want to watch TV, I'll just run the generator, which will be charging the batteries at the same time, and if I want to use the microwave I'll turn the generator on long enough to use the microwave. A lot of that depends on where I'm staying, if they allow generators, and if I want to annoy the neighbors or not. So far that's been all I need. And of course I've changed out all interior lighting to LED.
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Old 05-29-2021, 11:19 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by melvin2345 View Post
I am of the opinion that we have enough battery to do what we normally would do, but I think I should get 2 more of the 200w panels. This was only a weekend trip, so it was a good test, but there is no way we could have done more than that without being able to charge the batteries to full each day.

Does this assessment seem correct? Should I concern myself with the battery bank as well?
A couple of thoughts.
Where were you located? That effect hours of daylight & angle of sun.

How did you park? e/w or n/s orientation?

Are you able to tilt the panels towards the sun? There are motorized.

Add an on/off switch for the inverter.

How far away is your inverter from the batteries?

What size cables are you running from the batteries to the inverter?
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Old 05-29-2021, 12:02 PM   #26
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Some people never let the facts get in the way of their preconceived ideas.

I had a fleet of six fishing boats that would be out for two or three days at a time. I was replacing lead acid batteries every nine or ten months. After switching to Lithium two years ago, haven't replaced a single battery.

You are correct, one day in the total life of a battery below 50% won't kill the battery. This is an RV use environment and I would be willing to bet that after not noticing a difference with one time below 50% it will soon become five times then 20 and eventually the battery is gone in less than half it's rated life.

The smart way is to use Lithium. Three to seven times longer life, 1/3 the weight, 50% faster recovery (charge) time, and best of all, NO maintenance or water levels to check. I hot climates, especially sitting still in a RV, the liquid evaporates very fast. Oh, did I mention no deadly fumes so much safer?
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Old 05-29-2021, 01:23 PM   #27
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A few corrections to what SJ-Chris wrote. Panels do not automatically come to full power when the sun rises. Most days (depending on the latitude and season) you can expect full power 4-6 hours if the panels are flat on the roof at best. The fact that you didn't start charging your battery until 11:30 may indicate that the panels are mounted flat, partially shaded, dirty, or that you have a good standby load. (Amazing how little dirt it will take to cut performance especially if flat mounted.) So clean panels are critical.

For this reason we over built our system, with 900 watts of panels . Our particular charger will let me put up to 1000 watts of panels on a 40a charger. The benefit is that I start full charging when the sun is at about a 45 deg angle. When the sun gets high, the excess is not used, as the current is limited by the mppt charger to 40 amps. Commercial electric plants are now being designed that way, so as to provide full energy output during a greater portion of the day.

Your particular charger will only allow you to put on one more panel, but that gives you another 30-100 ah a day, depending on conditions.

The other suggestions - shutting off the inverter, putting in USB outlets are also helpful.

If you are feeling wealthy or intend to keep your rig more than five years - a lithium battery upgrade would also be worthwhile. They charge faster, last longer, and in the long run are less expensive. This is especially true if you use AGM batteries.

Good luck.
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Old 05-29-2021, 07:16 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Bruceea View Post
one time below 50% it will soon become five times then 20 and eventually the battery is gone in less than half it's rated life.
Looking at Trojan T105's, the difference in lifetime delivered Ah between 40% DOD and 80% DOD is less than 5%. No idea where you're getting "half" from. It would be my guess that partial state of charge is a greater contributor to early demise than DOD.

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