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Old 04-08-2016, 03:44 PM   #21
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Can't tell from photo. But box does not look waterproof. I would add a few holes in bottom for drainage.
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:02 PM   #22
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Opie, I wonder why you have this many batteries. I don't know what kind of camping you do, and / or how you plan to recharge them. If you go camping for a couple of days and then use shore power to recharge via the factory converter / charger? I can tell you the low charging voltage as well as the inability to program to match the needs of the batteries is problematic for these cheap units. Both, in performance and providing long life to your batteries.
This will be the first time I have "camped" in something with a roof and walls. I'm generally more of a backwoods sleep in a hammock type. With the care and passing of my wifes Mother, we decided it was time to get on with our own lives so we are going to do some traveling. I do not know how much "boondocking" we will do versus laying stakes in a modern campsite. I'm more of a rustic boondocker so I am outfitting the trailer for all contingencies. We have a EU3000is to serve generator duties.

My 60amp boondocker just arrived from Best Converters. I did my homework and want to bypass what is generally perceived as an inferior unit. I don't want to have to work on the trailer on the road so I am doing everything I can while its parked.

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The first thing I would add is a good monitor and Trimetric (such as the TM-2030); without one, you will be guessing how many AH you are using or when you need to conserve or charge. This typically requires either a 100A or 500A shunt in series with the negative side to frame ground.
My Trimetric 2030 arrived with my charger. I made sure to leave provisions for solar open...

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I would also add a 300A catastrophic fuse on the positive side.
What would purpose would this serve? Just to protect the wiring?

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I would also suggest getting a marine type switch that allows battery string 1, 2, both or none to be switched and connected to the negative side. I reasoned the switch or a cable if contacting the box will be less harmful that if a + was to contact. It is handy to cut all power or to only one string for maintenance.
Already have it..

Blue Sea Battery Disconnect

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The shunt size depends on the total amp load, whether charging or using. At around 800 A and below get a 100A shunt; over that use a 500A shunt.
I grabbed the 500a, just to cover my bases and based on what I read.

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You question about the wire gauge size to the WFCO, I would go with a #4. Again, in my case I have 75 Amp charger in an Inverter and don't charge across this small cable. But, I have the factory Converter / charger in place but switched off "just in case" I ever need it.
You wouldn't charge across 4awg? I can see not running power TO the inverter across 4 gauge, but it should handle charging duties just fine, shouldn't it?

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BTW, charging can be accomplished with a good charger in several hours via shore power or generator, but the time frame drove me towards solar to do this. The factory converter charger could take, actually, days to get to maybe 90% full, while PV is doing this silently and for very little dollars, over the long run.

WW
Solar may be in the future. I need to see HOW we will use power on the road, and whatnot.

Thank you for the insight and time you spent on your post.
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:03 PM   #23
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Can't tell from photo. But box does not look waterproof. I would add a few holes in bottom for drainage.
Yes, once everything is in its permanent position I will locate drainage holes.
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:38 PM   #24
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With that metal lid you need to cover the terminals. Same as in your tow vehicle battery terminals.
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Old 04-08-2016, 08:59 PM   #25
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Don't mount any fuses or shunts inside that box. If one pops while it's in a charging state and the box is filled with hydrogen gas you won't have a lid anymore.
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Old 04-08-2016, 10:42 PM   #26
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With that metal lid you need to cover the terminals. Same as in your tow vehicle battery terminals.
Yep.

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Don't mount any fuses or shunts inside that box. If one pops while it's in a charging state and the box is filled with hydrogen gas you won't have a lid anymore.
Thats definitely something to consider.

It will be vented so it should be OK. I do intend to monitor the batteries closely during the first few trips.
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Old 04-09-2016, 07:54 AM   #27
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Hey Opie,

You are something like me, I haven't boondocked much, but want to be able too. That drove me to 460 AH of batteries, 450W of PV, and 2000W sine wave inverter / charger. I might not need that much power, but its there if I need it. I didn't scrimp on wiring. But, it was more work than I thought it would be.

I found the Boondocker you mentioned and glanced at the manual to find out what they recommend about wire size / gauge. The minimum is stated as 8 awg... but, they don't give the length of run. They also say to locate near the batteries AND the panel. If my panel is 18 feet from the batteries, you can't place it near both.. not by my definition. I reason that if Trimetric (@30Amps) needs >3% voltage drop from PV panels to battery (in total), then any charger should need 3% or less.

It is easy to find a voltage drop calculator, but not so easy to figure out what to plug in. This boondocker says its maximum voltage in "boost" is 14.6 volts, which IMO is a little low to begin with (according to battery makers) so how much lower voltage to the batteries can you tolerate. Or how much less than a full battery will work for you. I would like to get 14.6 v to the batteries, which isn't going to happen with 8 awg or 4 awg. Figuring a minimum run length of 15 feet at 14.6 volts with 60 amp load, getting below 3% voltage drop will require #2 awg. Your length may be longer... or the load less. If I was running wire, the cost difference would push me towards #2 awg.

My Magnum Inverter charger charges (while in bulk (some call it boost)) at 14.8 volts to bring up batteries at 50% the current was reading 88 amps. I have 4 feet of #2/0 between the Magnum and the batteries in total. I was really close to needing #4/0.

I have never liked that we have all these rigs with battery cables running here and yon through steel frame members, not to mention devices connected without fusing. This is why I have a 300 Amp fuse on the B+... not to mention Magnum requires it... a fast blow 300 Amp.

My box has plenty of ventilation, so I personally wouldn't worry about the marine 4 way switch or the fuse causing an explosion. The presence of the fuse would be far less danger than the sparks and heat generated if a cable went hard to ground against the frame or a man-made fault. People tend to make more out of this than necessary. I had VWs for years and you know where the battery was? Yep, under the rear seat. Have you ever heard of a VW blowing up because of it? I worked around enormous batteries and have the greatest respect for their potential, but don't fear them.

Naturally you need to protect the battery terminals from being able to come in contact with any metal, such as the box lid; and as you know you need to vent it well. I wouldn't be too concerned about it being aluminum. I've added 1/2" plywood at the bottom and added a piece of dense foam on top of that to sit the batteries on, which cushions them and stops them from sliding around. I also screwed small blocks of wood down to the plywood to prevent battery movement. I have wood over the top of the batteries as well. I actual would have preferred a better battery hold down than this, but I think it will be okay. The box I have was originally considered having two batteries, now I have four.

I need to get you some photos, not that what I did... they way I did it... the only way or even the best way. I will take some today.

I wonder if you are concerned about the extra tongue weight you added, Opie? I have a toy hauler that could use some extra TW and a 2500 to tow it with, which can tolerate it well.

Sorry this is running so long, but one more thing. Make sure in a full forward turn the box doesn't hit your tow vehicle.
WW
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:48 AM   #28
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That is an awesome job! Your wiring is a work of art!

The only possible thing to add is in regards to securing the batteries against movement and the plastic caps on the batteries and the distance from those tops to the lid of the battery box.

It does not look like the batteries are held down into the box by anything that will prevent them from bouncing upwards on rough roads. If they are free to move, the battery lead plates might get damaged over time by the jostling. Perhaps a hold down (strap?) could be added.

Additionally, since your pictures don't show the underside of the lid, I can't tell if the lid is also lined with closed cell foam. If there is bare metal there, it is possible for the battery terminals to come in contact with it. Those plastic protection caps are for warehouse storage and could crush and break over time.

There is a lot of AH in those two batteries and if that did happen a fire could result.

I am sure you planned for all that and it is just not obvious to me in the pictures. Well, in any case an awesome great looking solution!
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:58 AM   #29
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Sorry but the VW reference above is rediculous. The generator barely put out enough to charge the single battery under the seat so you didn't have nearly the amount of gases being produced charging a gang of batteries. Also there were no fuses in the area of the battery to cause a spark so that example is also void.
A quality marine grade switch is fine in the box because it's sealed. But a regular fuse in a confined space with 2-4 batteries I'm still recommending not to do it.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:35 AM   #30
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Something I don't know, well a lot I don't know. On the cables, is this correct the smaller the gauge the bigger the cable? Is 4 AWG alright for hook in up batteries? From batteries to charger and inverter will be no more than 2ft


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