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Old 07-21-2021, 06:22 PM   #1
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Batteries need constant charging, what am I missing?

Hey everyone,

I've had my 2021 ePro 19FD about 9 months now and have just started boondocking for the first time over the past month. I've never had a problem with the power system before, but it seems like something isn't working right when not on shore power.

I have the 190w solar panels on the trailer, two Champion 2500w propane generators, and two Interstate SRM-24 Batteries (Dealer installed).

My first experience boondocking, the batteries completely died overnight. I'd been plugged into shore power the week before and towed straight to the new location, so the batteries should have had a full charge. After the batteries died that night, I ran the generators for several hours to run the AC and charge back up. They only got up to about 60-75% (I wasn't closely monitoring numbers at this point) and didn't make it through the night again.

After that weekend, I was back on shore power for a couple weeks. I thought the batteries must be shot to not hold a charge, so I went to Interstate and swapped them out for two brand new ones. At this point, I'm closely monitoring their behavior. These new ones work better, but still don't seem to last as long as I would have expected them to.

My next experience boondocking, the batteries started out around 80% when I arrived that evening and slowly creeped down overnight until they were around 20% when I woke up. Even being in full sun the next day with the 190w panels, they still only got up to around 50-60% before it got dark. Overnight, they slowly crept down again and were at 0% when I woke up. This pattern has been pretty consistent over the past couple weeks. I run one of the generators about 4-5 hours a day, the batteries get up to around 70-80%, then slowly trickle down overnight until they're around 10-20% in the morning.

I don't feel like I'm being excessive in my power usage....pretty much the only thing I use overnight are interior lights and the water pump as needed. I think I've eliminated all the ancillary power draws (TV Antenna), and the only things still pulling would be the CO Detector, 12V Fridge, etc.

Would the 12V Fridge require that much power to constantly draw down like that?

Am I not understanding the Go Power Charge Controller (Why would I still be able to turn the lights on when it reads 0%)?

I know you're not supposed to let these batteries get under ~50% but this seems impossible when they go through 60% of charge overnight.

I'm still relatively new to this, but thought I had a good handle on these systems from all the research I did. All I'm really trying to do each day is have some lights on when it's dark outside, use some kitchen appliances to prep meals, and watch an hour or two of TV a day, and occasionally charge phones/laptop. I really thought the 190w panels would handle this with ease and only got the generators to run AC on hot days or to provide a boost on cloudy days. Now I'm that guy running a generator all day at the campground.
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:35 PM   #2
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Ok- you say the batteries were charged the week before you left. Did you use a battery disconnect or pull the negative wire while it wasnít being charged or used?

If the answer is no, the batteries were gobbled up by paracidic draws before you left. Not uncommon for a battery to be totally discharged within a week.

Second, you only need to run one generator for the converter to charge and if itís a WFCO you would need 6-8 hours minimum to bring back 2 batteries to 80%.

Lastly, Iím not a fan of the interstate group 24 batteries- if you plan on a lot of boondocking get 2 6v units an look into a PD converter
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:36 PM   #3
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Those dealer batts don't sound like true deep cycle batts. If that is case, they will be damaged going below 60% SOC. Deep cycle batts can go to 50%, even as low as 20% if you recharge right after. My 100w OEM Go Power panel keeps my 2 golf cart batts at 100% just sitting. The 12v fridge sucks a lot of power. Glad my older model Geo Pro has a propane fridge.
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HONDAMAN174 View Post
Ok- you say the batteries were charged the week before you left. Did you use a battery disconnect or pull the negative wire while it wasnít being charged or used?

If the answer is no, the batteries were gobbled up by paracidic draws before you left. Not uncommon for a battery to be totally discharged within a week.


Second, you only need to run one generator for the converter to charge and if itís a WFCO you would need 6-8 hours minimum to bring back 2 batteries to 80%.

Lastly, Iím not a fan of the interstate group 24 batteries- if you plan on a lot of boondocking get 2 6v units an look into a PD converter
I agree if he did not have solar, but his solar is almost 2x mine, and should easily have kept them charged all the time (unless he had battery disconnect activated).
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HONDAMAN174 View Post
Ok- you say the batteries were charged the week before you left. Did you use a battery disconnect or pull the negative wire while it wasnít being charged or used?

If the answer is no, the batteries were gobbled up by paracidic draws before you left. Not uncommon for a battery to be totally discharged within a week.

Second, you only need to run one generator for the converter to charge and if itís a WFCO you would need 6-8 hours minimum to bring back 2 batteries to 80%.

Lastly, Iím not a fan of the interstate group 24 batteries- if you plan on a lot of boondocking get 2 6v units an look into a PD converter
It was the same day. I left one site with shore power and went to the next one that didn't have electric.

I only run one generator to charge, I run two when I need the AC. No clue about the converter, it would be whatever came stock.
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:42 PM   #6
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Those dealer batts don't sound like true deep cycle batts. If that is case, they will be damaged going below 60% SOC. Deep cycle batts can go to 50%, even as low as 20% if you recharge right after. My 100w OEM Go Power panel keeps my 2 golf cart batts at 100% just sitting. The 12v fridge sucks a lot of power. Glad my older model Geo Pro has a propane fridge.
Would replacing the batteries be the first step? What am I looking for if I go to buy golf cart batteries?
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Old 07-21-2021, 06:47 PM   #7
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Heavier the better with GC batts. I have Deka (East Penn) from Lowes. You may need a new box if they don't fit existing box. Same footprint, but higher. Only need a jumper (short cable) to make a series connection, you probably already have it.
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:07 PM   #8
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!2V fridge uses more power than all the other items you listed. The batteries usually supplied by dealers are marginal at best for boondocking. You need to do a power audit to figure out you actual demand and resupply capability. Also check the breakaway switch just to insure it is not activated.
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HONDAMAN174 View Post
Ok- you say the batteries were charged the week before you left. Did you use a battery disconnect or pull the negative wire while it wasn’t being charged or used?

If the answer is no, the batteries were gobbled up by paracidic draws before you left. Not uncommon for a battery to be totally discharged within a week.

Second, you only need to run one generator for the converter to charge and if it’s a WFCO you would need 6-8 hours minimum to bring back 2 batteries to 80%.

Lastly, I’m not a fan of the interstate group 24 batteries- if you plan on a lot of boondocking get 2 6v units an look into a PD converter
The op has 190W of solar, this is more than enough to keep the batteries fully charged when in storage. I only have 80W of solar and it maintains the group 27 battery when in storage, I never turn the disconnect off. The 10cu ft Norcold in our Surveyor has a energy saving night switch that decreases power requirement by about a third, to help you "Make it Through the Night".

I have a couple questions for the OP, Is the solar controller set up properly, for the right battery type, What is the battery voltage when the controller reads "0"? Have you cleaned the solar panels recently?

I have never pulled the plug to see how long our battery would last, and I don't intend to. It is a pedestal Queen. All I know is that keeping the frig on when traveling, connected to the TV has always left us with a functional battery at our destination.

Living in central Florida our Surveyor TT is part of our Hurricane preparedness plain. My next purchase will be a multifuel Champion generator. This appears to be a better option than a massive solar system.
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:22 PM   #10
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I have a couple questions for the OP, Is the solar controller set up properly, for the right battery type, What is the battery voltage when the controller reads "0"? Have you cleaned the solar panels recently?
The solar controller is still set up the same way it was when I picked up the trailer. Itís set for flooded batteries, which appears correct. Not sure if thereís any other settings to look at.

Right now itís at 49% and 12.0V (it was 61% when I started this thread an hour ago and there is nothing on). Iíll look again in the morning when itís closer to 0%.

I havenít cleaned the panels, but itís definitely been a to do item.
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:46 PM   #11
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Did you check breakaway switch?
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:51 PM   #12
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The solar controller is still set up the same way it was when I picked up the trailer. Itís set for flooded batteries, which appears correct. Not sure if thereís any other settings to look at.

Right now itís at 49% and 12.0V (it was 61% when I started this thread an hour ago and there is nothing on). Iíll look again in the morning when itís closer to 0%.

I havenít cleaned the panels, but itís definitely been a to do item.
Something is wrong, parasitic load should only burn a couple of percentage points in the dark hours and you should be fully charged with 3 or 4 hours of early sun, and maintain full charge until after dark.

I might suggest to start with the batteries. Fully charge them, totally disconnect them, let them rest for a couple of hours, record the voltage. Go back every day and record the voltage. It should remain fairly stable (for months).

My unit has been in storage for a week, I visited it around 9:30 this morning and the battery was fully charged.
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:52 PM   #13
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Did you check breakaway switch?
Good Point
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Old 07-21-2021, 07:53 PM   #14
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Did you check breakaway switch?
For the brakes? No, what am I looking for with that?
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Old 07-21-2021, 08:03 PM   #15
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Something is wrong, parasitic load should only burn a couple of percentage points in the dark hours and you should be fully charged with 3 or 4 hours of early sun, and maintain full charge until after dark.
This is what I was expecting from solar.

Quote:
I might suggest to start with the batteries. Fully charge them, totally disconnect them, let them rest for a couple of hours, record the voltage. Go back every day and record the voltage. It should remain fairly stable (for months).
I'm living out of the trailer for at least a couple more months so I have to use the batteries.
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Old 07-21-2021, 08:06 PM   #16
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If the brake switch got pulled out and not properly replaced, it will constantly energize the electric brakes and drain batts right quick.
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Old 07-21-2021, 08:09 PM   #17
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If the brake switch got pulled out and not properly replaced, it will constantly energize the electric brakes and drain batts right quick.
Never been pulled that I'm aware of. I'd notice that when towing, correct?
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Old 07-21-2021, 08:13 PM   #18
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Your fridge is the problem.

The 190 watt panel will produce around 8 amps and the fridge will use 6 of those amps when it is running.
In full sunlight the panels will produce about 60 amp hours throughout the day. If the fridge runs at 50% duty cycle it will use about 70 amp hours in 24 hours.

This would be the reason your batteries never get fully charged and end up discharged in the morning.
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Old 07-21-2021, 08:36 PM   #19
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Your fridge is the problem.

The 190 watt panel will produce around 8 amps and the fridge will use 6 of those amps when it is running.
In full sunlight the panels will produce about 60 amp hours throughout the day. If the fridge runs at 50% duty cycle it will use about 70 amp hours in 24 hours.

This would be the reason your batteries never get fully charged and end up discharged in the morning.
So that's kind of been my gut feeling all along. I think my calcs had the fridge using half that, but I had a hard time finding reliable info about the power consumption.

Assuming that's the problem, what's the best path for me (short of getting a new fridge)? Get a portable solar kit in addition to the panels which would actually allow me to bank some power?
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Old 07-21-2021, 08:45 PM   #20
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With a 12V fridge and two group 24 batteries your system is working as well as I would expect it to. two 6V batteries or two Group 31 12V Deep cycles will help a bit but you really need some more solar or need to run the generator longer.
Running the generator so that you shut it off later will leave you with more battery overnight. Then start charging first thing in the morning.
Try running the generator in two or three sessions. The batteries charge faster in the 0-80% range.
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