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Old 07-27-2014, 10:53 PM   #21
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camaraderie & garbonz make good points.

A decent panel will keep the batts charged. I'm not a fan of operating two banks and with a good solar panel, you won't need to have 2 banks.

Making it simple and automated will really make your days enjoyable and you won't worry about killing a battery, which is another $120 each if you replace both.

If you combine the batteries after one is down to 30%, or at rest approx 12V you'll drain the good battery. Better to allow them to drain together as garbonz suggests. They will provide more AH and this ensures you have longer day without having to manage your setup.

The monitor will help you understand your usage and without question is one of the best mods I've done to our rigs. That way you have no guessing.

Hope this helps.

BTW, I've never had to disconnect my bank due to low capacity and we can be off grid for a week and running all systems including the 1800W inverter.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:56 PM   #22
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Thumbs up

The low voltage switch will disconnect the load at a point preset by me. Way before 50% if I want to keep the batteries for a while! The solar controller regulates the recharging, that is what it is designed to do. If I charge from the generator you would be correct I will need something there, and am thinking about that regulation. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but try to play nice.

And you are correct Potter owners do understand utility. Thank you for the compliment!

PS I own several VOMs so I can check all parameters when I wish. But you have a point an inexpensive voltage and amperage display might be a nice addition. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:56 PM   #23
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Forgot to mention, I use the 12V 850DN 120AH battery from Walmart. At $89, it's the best bank for the buck. 2 of those will give you a good bank and a solid 120AH if you maintain the 50% rule and they'll last you at least 5 years.
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:13 PM   #24
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Onthelake, thanks for that. I would love to go for better bats, but as I said before I'm trying to conserve on the $s right now. What came with the trailer is far from optimal but I think it's in the ball park of what you just mentioned. I think I'll just match that for now and try to maximize the use of the two. When I need to replace them I may go for proper deep charge bats.
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:15 PM   #25
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The low voltage switch will disconnect the load at a point preset by me. Way before 50% if I want to keep the batteries for a while! The solar controller regulates the recharging, that is what it is designed to do. If I charge from the generator you would be correct I will need something there, and am thinking about that regulation. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but try to play nice.

And you are correct Potter owners do understand utility. Thank you for the compliment!

PS I own several VOMs so I can check all parameters when I wish. But you have a point an inexpensive voltage and amperage display might be a nice addition. Thanks for the idea.
The problem with using voltage as an indicator of the battery level or capacity tends to give you false information. The voltage is a good indicator when the battery has been at rest for an hour or more.

The monitor will keep track of the usage and will learn the battery state over time with usage and charging.

If you have a 120W panel and can get a continuous 60W or 5A of charging during daylight, lets say for 8 hours is 8 x 5A or 40AH being put back in.

It makes a big difference and really simplifies your management of power usage and what is being used. The shunt in your multimeter will max out at 10A and won't keep track of your usage.
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:37 PM   #26
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Crifas...just tryin' to help a fellow sailor! I understand that budget NOW must take precedence over the desired set up.
I will however make the point that a low voltage cut off will either trip prematurely or inaccurately since the camper is in use. 12.2Volts is the 50% discharge point that you must not go below to preserve maximum cycles in battery life. That is a STATIC at rest voltage...not a dynamic one for a coach in use which may for example read 11.7V or 13.2 volts at any moment in time and STILL be above or below the half discharge point. ONLY a shunt which can determine acutal amp hour net availability in real time vs battery capacity (while taking peukert into account as well) can give you real time info. All the other multimeters in the world can't do that. And batteries also get ruined by not being returned to a 100% charge state. You cannot know that without knowing your amp deficit and most people undercharge because the last 20% takes as long as the first 80% to get in.
I note that I lived aboard full time in the tropics with passive providing about 65% of my needs on average (Kyocera solar and 4Winds wind.) I could get about 1/4 of my rated wattage converted to amp hours daily ON AVERAGE in nearly ideal conditions. Good days...close to a third. So 120 watts of panels should give you 30 to 40 amp hours a day back into your batts. (Assuming an mppt type controller. )

Anyway...this is offered in the spirit of "do what you can...when you can" but know the limitations of what you think you can measure and maintain in the meantime.
All best...
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Old 07-27-2014, 11:43 PM   #27
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CrifasRF...how will you know when your batteries reach 50% and need to be recharged. How will you know when they are 100% recharged. How will you know if you can make it through the night or day at your present amp usage? How many net amphours did the sun give you today? How much will new batteries cost you vs. a monitor?
Most batteries are murdered...they don't die natural deaths unless you have the tool to maintain them properly. This isn't important so much if you plug in all the time. It is quite important if you boondock. Potter owners understand utility!! This is NOT an option unless you like throwing away batteries WAY prematurely.

Oh...and a Fluke will NOT give you ANY of the information I asked at the top of the post since it cannot measure those parameters. He is right about Mr. Peukert though...and they won't take a charge as fast either.

I did say MINIMALIST and the OP is not gonna buy a monitor, so you comments while correct are irrelevant.


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Old 07-28-2014, 12:04 AM   #28
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I did say MINIMALIST and the OP is not gonna buy a monitor, so you comments while correct are irrelevant.


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Yeah...but I didn't know that at the time. Let's be clear also...You did not JUST say minimalist you said:
"For the minimalist in all of us, a Fluke loop meter can double as a good multimeter and give you all the information that you need."
My response was that THAT statement was wrong and your suggestion otherwise is misleading.
It was not meant as a slam...but a statement of fact designed to disabuse the OP and any readers of the notion that a multimeter is of any use in determining the state of an in use battery and preserving its' cycle life.
Multimeters are critical tools for any RV owner...but not for this purpose. Unless of course they read 10.5 volts at the terminals!
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Old 07-28-2014, 12:14 AM   #29
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The problem with using voltage as an indicator of the battery level or capacity tends to give you false information. The voltage is a good indicator when the battery has been at rest for an hour or more.

The monitor will keep track of the usage and will learn the battery state over time with usage and charging.

If you have a 120W panel and can get a continuous 60W or 5A of charging during daylight, lets say for 8 hours is 8 x 5A or 40AH being put back in.

It makes a big difference and really simplifies your management of power usage and what is being used. The shunt in your multimeter will max out at 10A and won't keep track of your usage.

Very true, you can't use a low voltage shut off accurately without knowing exactly what amps are being drawn at the time you want to shut off.


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Old 07-28-2014, 12:19 AM   #30
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Camaraderie, thanks for the concern. Really. And don't worry I can handle a poke in the ribs. But I'll have to muddle through with the rudimentary tools I can afford for now. If the batteries get shut down a couple of hours early... Well I'll have to rely on my old camping skills I guess. I've done as much with less on the water to boot. the Potter is a WWP 15, you don't get much more minimalist than that. Thanks to all of you for the suggestions, I do have a lot to learn even at my age and life experience.
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