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Old 10-26-2020, 11:11 AM   #1
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Boondocking and what to do moving forward

We have a Cherokee Arctic Wolfe 295 Bunkhouse 5th wheel. Forgot the designator

We've been using our 5th wheel a lot this year. Initially, we have been staying in RV parks with full hookup. But getting into RV parks these days is difficult unless you plan well in advance. The last few months we've been boondocking and love the freedom and low cost. But of course there are drawbacks.

Number one drawback is heat. We live in Las Vegas and going anywhere in the desert southwest this year has been tough, especially when boondocking. With full hookups we feel the need to get the second unit as any temp over 85 to 90F the single unit it came with just can't keep up. When boondocking there is no air conditioning as we have a basic setup, 2 lead acid batteries and a Honda 2000 generator. So we boondock as high on a mountain as we can get

We are almost always away from our RV as we are avid hikers, going for more than 10 miles a day and when not hiking we decided to take up fishing. Having a 10 year old I felt the need.

It seems that our power storage is not sufficient. Honda works hard to get the batteries up and I've been paying close attention to power draws. I wish to improve our situation and was fishing for advice as to how best to proceed.

Here's what I came up with initially:
Battery monitor.
Solar panels 200watt for keeping batteries up when we are away.
Possibly adding a second generator when we're boondocking.
Lithium batteries but crazy expensive
Adding a third AGM battery to increase capacity.

I think the battery monitor is a no brainer.
Given the cost of Lithium batteries, tough to justify.
Adding a 3rd battery is relatively painless but should I change all 3 batteries to AGM?
If I add a second generator, could I run an AC unit? 2 generators might generate more than 4000 watts of power. I wonder though when I add the 2nd AC unit, if I could isolate or simply unplug the second unit as I know 2 generators would not not power ~27500 BTU of cooling.

Taking extended family to Death Valley late November. Would like to get my power needs buttoned down.

Thanks for your suggestions!
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:34 PM   #2
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You don't say which batteries you have, but if they're just 12 volt group 24 or 27 batteries I'd suggest changing them out to true deep cycle batteries. Two 6 volt golf cart batteries would be good.

If you already have deep cycle batteries then I'd suggest adding two more.

As for the second A/C, when you're boondocking you can just not use it.
Getting a second generator is a good idea as that will allow you to run the A/C and if you're careful to turn off everything else you could possibly run both A/C's, especially if you install Micro-Air soft starters on them.
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Old 10-26-2020, 02:23 PM   #3
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Look at these two pricey products, pricey at about $300 each, one of which Bama Rambler mentioned. They both install on the RV air conditioner, one per A/C, and will allow a 30-amp hookup to run both air conditioners.

They work by cutting back on the massive amount of electrical power needed to start the unit. They will not void your warranty.

Here is one person's experience: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/off...r-conditioning

They also have a few solar videos here: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/rvin

SoftStartRV: https://www.softstartrv.com/

Micro-Air EasyStart: https://www.microair.net/products/ea...nt=30176048267

Both have discounts occasionally, such as Black Friday sales.

Two of those are still a bit less than a second Honda generator with a paralleling kit.

Bama Rambler also has it correct if you have two 12-volt batteries. One person replaced their two Group 27 12-volt batteries in their Georgetown with two of these 6-volt batteries wired in series, the UTL version, if I recall.

https://www.interstatebatteries.com/.../extreme-cycle

It looks like the stock two 12-volt batteries on the newer Georgetowns are about 150 amp reserve capacity at a 25 amp discharge each. But since you should not discharge lead-acid batteries below 50%, you do not have 300 amps reserve capacity, just 150. The golf cart batteries are about triple the reserve capacity of the 12-volt batteries.

If you go the golf cart battery route, check with your converter manufacturer that their unit will work with two 6-volt golf cart batteries. Our Progressive Dynamics PD9270 will, per a support ticket with them.

Costco does sell some Interstate batteries and you certainly should have enough golf cart companies in your area to find the best price.

Good luck,

Ray
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Old 10-26-2020, 03:56 PM   #4
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The SoftstartRV product looks like a solution to solving our boondocking AC issues.

Getting back to the battery question, the more I research, the more confusing it gets.

Our Arctic Wolfe Cherokee is in storage so I can't recheck what I have other than noting when I do maintenance on the batteries, they are standard flooded batteries and probably group 24 X 2

I was looking at adding another battery, perhaps an AGM. Research suggests that there shouldn't be a problem with charging AGM in parallel with flooded batteries. However, when looking at the Renogy AGM battery 100AH they suggest only having AGM type batteries charging in parallel. That would be 2 X $207. Not to terrible I guess. Costco has the forementioned Interstate AGM "Golf Cart" type batteries 12V for $238 each. Why go with 6volt?

I might need a different charge controller as well due to changing to AGM.

Also, if I added a solar panel, I would want the charging electronics to be compatible with whatever solution I decide to go wit

Thanks for the suggestions! Really like the SoftstartRV suggestion.
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by desalvo55 View Post
The SoftstartRV product looks like a solution to solving our boondocking AC issues.

Getting back to the battery question, the more I research, the more confusing it gets.

Our Arctic Wolfe Cherokee is in storage so I can't recheck what I have other than noting when I do maintenance on the batteries, they are standard flooded batteries and probably group 24 X 2

I was looking at adding another battery, perhaps an AGM. Research suggests that there shouldn't be a problem with charging AGM in parallel with flooded batteries. However, when looking at the Renogy AGM battery 100AH they suggest only having AGM type batteries charging in parallel. That would be 2 X $207. Not to terrible I guess. Costco has the forementioned Interstate AGM "Golf Cart" type batteries 12V for $238 each. Why go with 6volt?

I might need a different charge controller as well due to changing to AGM.

Also, if I added a solar panel, I would want the charging electronics to be compatible with whatever solution I decide to go wit

Thanks for the suggestions! Really like the SoftstartRV suggestion.
If you wire 6 volt batteries in series, they become 12 volt. The 6 V golf cart batteries can be safely discharged lower than standard 12 volt dual purpose batteries and $/Ah can't be beat. Sam's club has GC2 batteries for $89 each and are 215 Ah. Two of those in series will give you 215 Ah, which at 50% is about 110 usable Ah. Or better yet, four GC2 6 volt batteries wired in series parallel will give you 430 amps (215 usable) for $360. They're heavy and old lead acid technology, but they work and give you a lot of capacity.
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:44 PM   #6
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There's another difference with golf cart batteries. You likely have two marine-type deep-discharge batteries. The golf cart batteries will supply the same amount of power for a longer period of time before the voltage starts to drop off when compared to a marine battery.

Nobody recommends running an AGM battery in parallel with a non-AGM battery. They have different charging profiles and your converter cannot get both batteries charged properly. They also have slightly different discharge cycles and what will happen is the battery that discharges least will actually expend some of its stored energy to try and charge the other battery.

There's a chart on this page that illustrates that: https://www.energymatters.com.au/com...age-discharge/

When you service your existing batteries, how many cells are there per battery? A 12-volt battery will have six cells while a 6-volt battery will have three cells. Each cell is good for about 2.1 volts.

Ray
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:51 PM   #7
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There's another difference with golf cart batteries. You likely have two marine-type deep-discharge batteries. The golf cart batteries will supply the same amount of power for a longer period of time before the voltage starts to drop off when compared to a marine battery.

Nobody recommends running an AGM battery in parallel with a non-AGM battery. They have different charging profiles and your converter cannot get both batteries charged properly. They also have slightly different discharge cycles and what will happen is the battery that discharges least will actually expend some of its stored energy to try and charge the other battery.

There's a chart on this page that illustrates that: https://www.energymatters.com.au/com...age-discharge/

When you service your existing batteries, how many cells are there per battery? A 12-volt battery will have six cells while a 6-volt battery will have three cells. Each cell is good for about 1.2 volts.

Ray
I think you transposed the 1 and 2. Each cell should have about 2.1 volts.
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:56 PM   #8
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I think you transposed the 1 and 2. Each cell should have about 2.1 volts.
Duh. Thanks for the note while I could still edit it. The numbers are now detransposed.

Ray
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:17 PM   #9
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So what I believe is being suggested here is that I could replace or add to, my current setup 4ea 6 volt batteries.

Adding to my bank of batteries, the downside is that I'm adding weight and sacrificing storage space in my RV. If I simply replaced the current 2 flooded batteries, I gain amp hours for which I gain time for being away from my RV before dropping below the 50% threshold.

If I add a solar panel, I believe other than a battery monitor, I could keep the current charging electronics that came with the Arctic Wolfe. Need to verify that.

Initially, I had settled on panels that are not attached to the roof, but would allow movement around the RV site. But deeper thought suggest that roof mounting might be preferable due to security reasons. I have a long history of crap getting stolen and don't get me started on what has happened to my 5th wheel since we purchased it in 2018
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:35 PM   #10
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Yup. If you have the time, consider getting the battery monitor first so you have some data in order to make your decision. That could let you know how much solar capacity you'll need.

Ray
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Old 10-26-2020, 09:08 PM   #11
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Duh. Thanks for the note while I could still edit it. The numbers are now detransposed.

Ray
I knew you knew what you were talking about and just transposed them. Easy to do.
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Old 10-26-2020, 09:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by desalvo55 View Post
So what I believe is being suggested here is that I could replace or add to, my current setup 4ea 6 volt batteries.

Adding to my bank of batteries, the downside is that I'm adding weight and sacrificing storage space in my RV. If I simply replaced the current 2 flooded batteries, I gain amp hours for which I gain time for being away from my RV before dropping below the 50% threshold.

If I add a solar panel, I believe other than a battery monitor, I could keep the current charging electronics that came with the Arctic Wolfe. Need to verify that.

Initially, I had settled on panels that are not attached to the roof, but would allow movement around the RV site. But deeper thought suggest that roof mounting might be preferable due to security reasons. I have a long history of crap getting stolen and don't get me started on what has happened to my 5th wheel since we purchased it in 2018
I second the suggestion to get a good monitor, so you know how much you're using. That's what I did, and found out my onboard voltmeter was quite off.

I went with the four six volt batteries and have a battery bank large enough that I don't worry about power consumption at all when boondocking. I also oversized solar to account for flat mounting on the roof. I have 800 W of panels. On a clear summer day it's laughably oversized. However when the weather is bad or I'm in the shade, I'm glad to have the extra capacity. If you are flat mounting on the roof, make sure to appropriately oversize compared to portable panels you can face directly at the sun.
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:42 AM   #13
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I second the suggestion to get a good monitor, so you know how much you're using. That's what I did, and found out my onboard voltmeter was quite off.

I went with the four six volt batteries and have a battery bank large enough that I don't worry about power consumption at all when boondocking. I also oversized solar to account for flat mounting on the roof. I have 800 W of panels. On a clear summer day it's laughably oversized. However when the weather is bad or I'm in the shade, I'm glad to have the extra capacity. If you are flat mounting on the roof, make sure to appropriately oversize compared to portable panels you can face directly at the sun.
You have 2 banks of batteries, one bank for storing solar energy and another separate?
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:12 AM   #14
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You have 2 banks of batteries, one bank for storing solar energy and another separate?
No. One battery bank of four 6 volt batteries. They're wired in series-parallel to create a 12 volt bank.
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Old 10-27-2020, 10:17 AM   #15
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Gain some elevation and AC is moot. This year, boondocking more than ever.
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Old 10-27-2020, 02:54 PM   #16
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It looks like the stock two 12-volt batteries on the newer Georgetowns are about 150 amp reserve capacity at a 25 amp discharge each. But since you should not discharge lead-acid batteries below 50%, you do not have 300 amps reserve capacity, just 150. The golf cart batteries are about triple the reserve capacity of the 12-volt batteries.
You've got reserve capacity confused with amphour ratings.
Reserve capacity is how many MINUTES a battery will run at a (typically) 25 amp load. It is typically a rating used in dual purpose or starting batteries but is NOT an amp hour capacity rating!
AmpHours are (typically) used to rate deep cycle batteries for how many CONSTANT amps they can supply over a 20 hour discharge. Example...a 100 amp hour battery can supply 5 amps for 20 hours.
A Typical Brand Name WET CELL can supply 95 amphours in the Group 27 size and 105 in ghd Group31 size. El Cheapo dealer batts (Group 24) are usually around 75. A PAIR of 12V Group 27 in parallel wil thus supply 190 amp hours, Group 31 210. This compares with a pair of 6V golf carts in series to produce 12V at 210-215 amp hours. Thus there is virtually no difference in capacity between Group 31 12V and a pair of golf carts.
One assurance you do have though is that ALL golf carts have the thicker plates of a true deep cycle. Only SOME 12V's can say the same. They also can generally be had cheaper at the discount clubs.
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Old 10-27-2020, 03:33 PM   #17
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You've got reserve capacity confused with amphour ratings.
You're right. My apologies for the incorrect info.

My current 12 volt lead acid house batteries seem to be rated at about 150 minutes reserve capacity at 25 amps. The Interstate Extreme 6-volt golf cart batteries are rated for triple that amount in the smaller ones.

Two 12 volt lead acid batteries in parallel would give 300 minutes at 25 amps to fully discharged. But since you should try to never discharge them below 50% you're back to 150 minutes actual usable time or about 2.5 hours while drawing 25 amps.

Two 6-volt golf cart batteries in series would give 450 minutes to fully discharged with the same 50% caveat so it's really 225 minutes or almost four hours.

Or 75 minutes longer than the two 12-volt dual purpose batteries.

Being able to go to four golf cart batteries would take your usable time to 550 minutes or 7.5 hours with a 25-amp drain.

In practice, you're not going to draw 25 amps continuously for that long a period of time. But if it's winter and you're using the batteries to run the blower in the propane furnace it will add 8 amps (for mine) often.

That is why the monitor system would be my first item; so I can see what my actual usage is.

OK, did I finally get the math right?

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Old 10-27-2020, 08:23 PM   #18
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If you need A.C. and a couple of generators perhaps boondocking is not your best choice. Most boondockes recognize that certain comfort need to be sacrificed.
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:06 PM   #19
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You're right. My apologies for the incorrect info.

My current 12 volt lead acid house batteries seem to be rated at about 150 minutes reserve capacity at 25 amps. The Interstate Extreme 6-volt golf cart batteries are rated for triple that amount in the smaller ones.

Two 12 volt lead acid batteries in parallel would give 300 minutes at 25 amps to fully discharged. But since you should try to never discharge them below 50% you're back to 150 minutes actual usable time or about 2.5 hours while drawing 25 amps.

Two 6-volt golf cart batteries in series would give 450 minutes to fully discharged with the same 50% caveat so it's really 225 minutes or almost four hours.

Or 75 minutes longer than the two 12-volt dual purpose batteries.

Being able to go to four golf cart batteries would take your usable time to 550 minutes or 7.5 hours with a 25-amp drain.

In practice, you're not going to draw 25 amps continuously for that long a period of time. But if it's winter and you're using the batteries to run the blower in the propane furnace it will add 8 amps (for mine) often.

That is why the monitor system would be my first item; so I can see what my actual usage is.

OK, did I finally get the math right?

Ray
You're far better using amp hours to compare batteries. That's The standard measurement that is used for measuring battery bank capacity. Once you get a battery monitor, you'll be able to see just how many amp hours you use in a day, how many amps certain items draw, and make a better prediction at battery bank size. Get reserve capacity out of your mind. Use amp hours, and cut the rated amp hours in half for your usable amp hours (assuming LA or AGM).
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:07 PM   #20
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If you need A.C. and a couple of generators perhaps boondocking is not your best choice. Most boondockes recognize that certain comfort need to be sacrificed.
You can boondock with A/C and generators on a hot day. They're not mutually exclusive.
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