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Old 05-04-2024, 09:26 AM   #1
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2024 18RRBL battery and solar system is basically useless

I know this is a budget RV and didn't expect much from the solar system. I set the 12v fridge at the minimum position and was told it could sit in the yard and sustain itself. The dealer lied. If I wanted to run a furnace at night I was told to add another battery. It has two of the dealer's batteries (probably junk) and it can't even run the fridge with very minimal food and nothing in the freezer. I checked last night and it was at 11.8v. That's not good, so I plugged it in.

I'm leaving tonight and need to run the furnace, so I'm expecting to ruin the batteries in the next few days. I'll be replacing them anyway it seems. The 50watt solar panel is kind of pointless.

I only need to run the fridge and the heater at night. Maybe a TV. What is a good setup to go several nights without wrecking the batteries?

What size solar panel? What batteries? Can I add 3 more of these 50w solar panels and daisy chain them? Are AGM batteries the way to go?

I'm not sure what the best solution is.
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Old 05-04-2024, 11:29 AM   #2
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Moved thread from the Modifications and Updates section to the Electrical, Charging Systems and Solar sub-forum since the OP's questions are specific to that sub-forum.
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Old 05-04-2024, 11:34 AM   #3
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Your going to need at least 200 watts or more solar panels if you expect to run the fridge and heater both along with a solar controller to charge the batteries. if your going thru the expense of upgrading , I would lean towards Lithium batteries.
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Old 05-04-2024, 11:42 AM   #4
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Your going to need at least 200 watts or more solar panels if you expect to run the fridge and heater both along with a solar controller to charge the batteries. if your going thru the expense of upgrading , I would lean towards Lithium batteries.
More than that, especially if you want to cover a couple days of bad weather. Realistically, I would not want any less than 600 watts solar, and 280+ ah ogf lithium.
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Old 05-04-2024, 11:47 AM   #5
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A 50 watts panel is likely only going to give you enough power to maintain the battery while in storage and that would require a sunny spot. That said, I am surprised that a new unit came with such a small panel. My 2022 Apex came with a 100W panel that I really haven't tested for longevity other than it keeps the battery charged in spite of the occasional running the slide and awning while it sits in the driveway.

That said, if you have a 12v fridge, meaning a compressor fridge, not absorption, you will need to very dramatically increase your panel power and batteries to run it, as well as the other niceties. More info, and someone more educated on the matter will be required for a detailed design to make it work. Based upon cruising this forum and another one I watch, I would guess that you will need several hundred amp-hrs of lithium batteries and several hundred watts of panels.
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Old 05-04-2024, 12:00 PM   #6
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I was mistaken. It is a 100w panel. Can I buy 2 more and daisy chain them? Will the solar system work with the lithium battery?

I'm not trying to cheapskate out. I've just bought the wrong stuff too many times in my life and lit money on fire.

Do I just need 2 solar panels and 2 lithium batteries? Is it really that simple?
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Old 05-04-2024, 12:17 PM   #7
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I was mistaken. It is a 100w panel. Can I buy 2 more and daisy chain them? Will the solar system work with the lithium battery?

I'm not trying to cheapskate out. I've just bought the wrong stuff too many times in my life and lit money on fire.

Do I just need 2 solar panels and 2 lithium batteries? Is it really that simple?
You may need a different solar controller. Find the spec on the back of the panel and it will have a open circuit voltage rating. If you wire the panels in series, multiply that number by three. You could probably however wire them in parallel, if you have 10 or 12 gauge wire going to the panel.
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Old 05-04-2024, 12:46 PM   #8
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So it really depends on usage. The 100watt pannel that came with our TT can maintain the battery at full charge while stored in our driveway.
As an experiment we filled the refrigerator with cold and frozen food and it maintained the battery for 4 days with only the refer on. On the 4th day going into evening, the battery was at 12.0 V So we probably would not have made it through day 5 without plugging in to a gen or shore power. Having the food frozen and pre chilled helped a lot.
another time the temp was very high so I left the vent fan on for a week or more and the voltage never fell below 12.6v.
If your solar is not keeping up you are either using more than you are generating, Your storage batterys will not hold enough, or you have a power drain that is eating power that you are not aware of.
We travel with a generator, We do use more than our solar can make up. I plan to run it a couple hours before evening to top off the battery charge. and I still have to watch our power use to be sure the battery makes it through the night. At some point we will add another battery to double our reserve power.
I time the gen run for dinner time when the cooking ,cleaning, showers, etc are going. The refrigerator door is also opened a couple times and that starts it running.
once the battery's are topped off, our only loads are furnace, refer, CPAP machine, and a light. As long as we are careful we have not had our 12v system fail. DR
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Old 05-04-2024, 12:54 PM   #9
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Study up. Make a plan. define needs.

The two batteries are likely 75 ah rated batteries. That means they you have a total of 75 ah available before you hit the point you should turn them off. Generally 50% of their capacity.

On its best day in ideal weather a 100 watt solar panel can provide 25 ah of charge. That is dependent on where you are.

So on a good solar day you might have enough power, 75 ah, to run the fridge until morning sometimes. The furnace is a big user therefore you likely should not use it.

The next morning the battery will be depleted and the additional 25 ah from the solar will do next to nothing.

The free battery dealers supply are mainly to make the trailer legal to tow. The battery supplies the breakaway switch that locks the brakes. Many modern rv's typically cannot go a night without plugging in. Yours might.

I would replace the batteries you have with 400ah of lithium batteries and purchase a lithium small charger. This would give you two nights with a furnace or 4 days without. $1300 or so.

More solar helps, however it is kind of iffy in the Midwest.

Handle the fridge well. It needs to be precooled the day before with your stuff in it. Fill up spaces with frozen water in milk jugs. Becomes your drinking water.

Learn about generators.
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Old 05-04-2024, 01:16 PM   #10
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I guess I'm just surprised how bad the salesman lied to us.

What lithium batteries should I buy? It's like a needle in a stack of needles. I'll buy the wrong ones. I'll bet anything on that.

I already have a generator large enough to run the entire trailer. Even the microwave and air conditioner at the same time. Generators are banned in Wisconsin State Parks. Electric sites are booked until fall and if you are lucky you can get a tent site that allows smallish campers. When I'm at the motocross track, we just use the generator.
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Old 05-04-2024, 01:25 PM   #11
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I guess I'm just surprised how bad the salesman lied to us.

What lithium batteries should I buy? It's like a needle in a stack of needles. I'll buy the wrong ones. I'll bet anything on that.

I already have a generator large enough to run the entire trailer. Even the microwave and air conditioner at the same time. Generators are banned in Wisconsin State Parks. Electric sites are booked until fall and if you are lucky you can get a tent site that allows smallish campers. When I'm at the motocross track, we just use the generator.
What kind of generator do you have? An open frame contractor-style generator or an inverter generator?
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Old 05-04-2024, 01:29 PM   #12
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Old 05-04-2024, 04:04 PM   #13
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Would something like this be stupid?

https://www.amazon.com/12V-400Ah-Lit..._d_product_top
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Old 05-04-2024, 07:38 PM   #14
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Would something like this be stupid?

https://www.amazon.com/12V-400Ah-Lit..._d_product_top
Not stupid.

RV power is equivalent to your fresh water system. You can get a bigger tank (more Ah) or you can set up a way to fill the tank when the sun is out (solar).

Factory and dealer batteries are usually not deep cycle and have 40Ah usable each. A 100Ah LiFePO4 has 100Ah usable.
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Old 05-04-2024, 07:53 PM   #15
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IMHO, that battery sucks at current pricing 400AH at $1300 equals $325 per 100AH. At that price, I expect Bluetooth monitoring. Plus, its BMS is limited to 250AH. Mostly, that should be enough but heavy electrical usage on an inverter could draw over that on startup.
My last no name 100AH battery cost $200 with Bluetooth monitoring.
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Old 05-04-2024, 08:19 PM   #16
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Regarding fridge - read this: https://www.forestriverforums.com/fo...ta-276067.html
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Old 05-04-2024, 10:19 PM   #17
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Would something like this be stupid?

https://www.amazon.com/12V-400Ah-Lit..._d_product_top

Not stupid. LiTime is the brand I've used with my upgrade. Their products work well, and they have good responsive customer service. I've bought their products directly from their website rather than Amazon. There are frequently deals/discounts available there. I will buy their products again when I upgrade further.

I wouldn't necessarily buy the model you linked, though. It would be better to build a battery bank using multiple 100Ah units in parallel for several reasons. More flexibility to expand capacity in the future. Less expense to replace if one cell fails (I've never experienced this though). To get better total current output, though the 250A capability of that linked model is ample for any inverter you might install in the future.

You should buy a model with low-temperature protection. A Li battery can be damaged if you attempt to charge it in freezing weather. Don't waste money on a self-heated model. But you need a unit that has a BMS low temperature charge prevention. LiTime began branding this feature on new models as a "trolling motor" feature for some reason. This is the model that I bought:
https://www.litime.com/products/liti...43988946190556

Low-temperature protection isn't on every product, so be careful to confirm it in the specs of the one you buy.
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Old 05-04-2024, 10:41 PM   #18
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Post a picture of your solar controller or give us the model number and we can give you more advice on whether you can keep it or need to replace it with solar upgrades. I was able to keep my factory-installed controller while increasing the rooftop array to 600 watts.
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Old 05-06-2024, 04:17 PM   #19
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I got lucky on my 2 night stay. The fridge stayed cold and we only ran the heater in the morning for breakfast. Sunny all day both days. Never dropped below 12.1. The wife was taking a nap so I pulled the batteries out and they were Continental TM24s. 50 Amp hour deep cycles. Not embarrassing, but not great by any means. If it would have been cloudy at all I think the batteries would have dropped into the 11s or worse.

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Old 05-06-2024, 04:31 PM   #20
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Batteries come in all shapes and sizes now.

shop well.

I own two SOK 206 ah batteries. Chosen as they were to replace 4 GC2 batteries in our Fivers battery storage area. Many 100 ah batteries are too long to install 4 in our rv.

These have heaters and Bluetooth monitors. They are easily repaired DIY if necessary. Will charge or discharge to 0 degrees F.
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