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Old 09-01-2008, 06:42 PM   #1
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Extra Battery

I am thinking about putting an extra battery on my camper. Currently I have a year old one that is a Marine Battery. I only dry camp. I use a generator and during the week I am not there I use a solar panel. 5 watt. I really don't like to run the generator alot so I figure if I have 2 batteries I would have enough light time at night for the wife and kids. Also is there a way to rig charging the batteries. I have read that generators plugged in though the camper don't charge the batteries as efficiantly... is that correct?

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Old 09-01-2008, 09:14 PM   #2
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I don't think your camper knows the difference between a generator and the grid provided the generator has sufficient output.

If you do go with two batteries be sure the batteries are identical, same rating, brand and batch numbers. Otherwise one may "load" the other and rob you of some of the capacity you should have in a two battery system
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Old 09-01-2008, 09:37 PM   #3
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Thanks Radio,
But grid or generator they still go through my inverter in the camper to charge the battery right? The generator seems to charge my battery pretty quick but is that the best or most efficient way? So you are thinking I can't just add a battery to my year old setup? darn.
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:42 AM   #4
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Extra Battery

If you dry camp, the best setup are two six volt golf cart batteries. They will give you more amp hours than two 12 volt and last longer. Nevertheless, the above post is correct; you should use batteries of the same age; brand etc or you'll chance having one ruin the other. A 12 volt battery will draw power from the other (if you use two) whereas 2 six volts act as one and will not riunthe other battery. Your 5 watt solar panel isn't sufficient to recharge your battery; and , unless you have a two stage charger (one that equalizes your battery) you are not fully charging your battery and you will shorten it's lifespan. You need enough solar panel power and a good charge controller in order to bring the battery up to full charge. The cost will be around $500 to $1200 depending on how many batteries you want to charge and how much power you use during the day. Check on AM Solar's website. They have a very good explanation of how 12 volt batteries and solar chargers work as well as giving a table to figure your usage.
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Old 09-02-2008, 06:47 AM   #5
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You don't say which unit you have but most newer units have 3 stage chargers built into the converter (not inverter ) so they do a really good job of charging your battery(s).

My personal opinion is that adding a battery to your already existing battery is fine. Then in a couple of years you can replace both of them with a larger size if you need to. If you added a battery to an old and failing battery that's where you'd have problems.
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Old 09-02-2008, 08:58 AM   #6
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Thanks Radio,
But grid or generator they still go through my inverter in the camper to charge the battery right? The generator seems to charge my battery pretty quick but is that the best or most efficient way? So you are thinking I can't just add a battery to my year old setup? darn.
Yes, either the generator or the grid will charge your battery just fine. And it's likely pretty efficent.

Yes, you can add a battery, same type and group number, etc, but having two matched batteries works better. There will be some loss in efficency, but not much. Get a cheap battery for now, to go witht the one you have, and when they finally crap out get two really nice identical batteries.

There is "good" and then there is "best" if you follow me...
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:05 PM   #7
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Okay those are all good informative posts. I think my converter is called a wifco.. something like that. it does seem to charge the battery fast and good. I was out reading last night and I read about the 2 6 volts in series. That does sound good. But I do think my plan will be to get as near as possible to the current battery untill those go bad and then replace some point down the road to the 6 volt batteries.

The solar panel comment surprised me some. I go to my camper about every weekend sometimes it 2 weeks apart but the battery indicator always shows full charge. I figured this as a trickle charger to get the battery charged during the week. Sounds like I better look into that somemore. thanks to everyone for the help... its all pretty new to me. We used to do a lot of tent camping... this is much different...
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:18 PM   #8
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As far as charging directly off the generator, the battery charging will be unregulated and you may potentially overcharge. The best method is to charge the batteries through the convertor (charging is regulated) or by using an automotive battery charger...10 amp is sufficient. In an emergency, the automotive battery charger will also keep your 12v system going if your convertor were to crap out.
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Old 09-03-2008, 04:29 PM   #9
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okay thanks
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Old 09-11-2008, 12:22 AM   #10
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Check out this site. It is my "Bible" for everything 12 volt related.

http://www.ccis.com/home/mnemeth/12volt/12volt.htm

Simply put, 2 6volt golf cart batteries are much better that 2 12volt batteries.
Converters in most all but the really expensive RVs only put out 12volts so charging is not at all efficient or complete through the on-board coverter no matter if you use generator or shore power. I will sometimes use a standard automatic type of automotive car charger which actually adjusts voltage to the charge state of the battery bank.

Check out the site above, it's a godsend to the dry-camper....
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Old 09-11-2008, 06:39 AM   #11
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Converters in most all but the really expensive RVs only put out 12volts so charging is not at all efficient or complete through the on-board coverter
Not to start anything, just clearing up a bit of misinformation.

My WFCO converter has a very good three stage charger built in, and my rig is certainly not a high end unit. In fact all the later units I've looked at have good three stage chargers built in.
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Old 09-11-2008, 10:49 AM   #12
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Thanks NWJeeper... from one jeeper to another! Proud JK 4 door owner here!
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:25 PM   #13
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Hey NWJeeper, that is a great site, what a wealth of information. I saved it to my favorites for future access! Thanks.
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Old 09-12-2008, 07:42 AM   #14
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Steve, I'm right with you on this one.
We bought our trailer back in February.
It came from the dealer with a 12v group 24 battery.
I just bought a 2nd one from Sams Club.
It's not the same brand but they are similar and
both read nearly identical voltage when fully charged.
I'm gonna use them until they get too weak and then
most likely go with a couple 6 volt replacements.

I also have a small generator and am experimenting with
the best/quickest way to re-charge my batteries if needed.
I have the luxury of parking my trailer at home so I can
plug it in at any time and let my power center do the
charging. It fully charges my single battery in 24 hours
no problem and I expect it to charge the pair in a day also.

What I am trying to find is a way to fast charge the pair
in an hour or 2 at the longest.
Maybe not full but a significant charge in 60 minutes.
My power center wont' do it.
Read my discussion here--
http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ead.php?t=2701

My previous trailer had a different brand of power center. It would toss as much
as 40 Amps at your battery when you first plugged it into shore power if the
battery was really low.
The one in my Rockwood starts out with a good charge rate but quickly drops
back. This is good for battery life but bad if you are trying to charge the
stupid batteries in a hurry!!
I'm looking for an external charger in the 20 amp + range that I will only
use a couple times a year when we are dry camping and need to boost the batteries.
When I find it I will do some testing on charge rates and times necessary and
report back here.
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Old 09-12-2008, 08:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bama Rambler View Post
Not to start anything, just clearing up a bit of misinformation.

My WFCO converter has a very good three stage charger built in, and my rig is certainly not a high end unit. In fact all the later units I've looked at have good three stage chargers built in.
Thanks for the info, maybe FR does it better than the rest but I wouldn't think you will find a good 3 stage charger in most rigs. As we just took delivery of our FR Georgetown 378 this morning I will have to poke around it and find out what is in there for a converter. If it is a good one then that would save me the money I was planning to spend on a new one.
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Old 09-13-2008, 05:22 AM   #16
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Read the manual for your charger. I think you will be surprised.
I have had 3 new trailers in the last 5 years and all had 3 stage charger/power centers.
They know that many folks are going to be plugged in for long periods of time.
A charger that cooked your batteries would draw an awful lot of complaints.
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:14 PM   #17
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Maybe that's why there are so many unhappy Fleetwood owners out there
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:12 AM   #18
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Have you done your research or are you just guessing?
Did you read the owners manual/specs for YOUR power center??
(I've read the fine print on all mine.)
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Old 09-14-2008, 02:19 PM   #19
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Most (not all) RV manufactureres don't put a lot of money into the converters and don't really care much about battery maintenance as most people (almost 90% or more by the survey right here on the group) don't dry camp much. Going back 30 years and having had experience with just about every kind of RV out there I have seen very few that provide a quality charging system.

As we just got our Georgetown a few days ago I have not had the time to investigate the converter/charger situation. In all the documentation I have yet to find a manual for the converter/charger to verify what unit they used.

With recent personal experience with a Fleetwood RV I know they don't usually use a good charger in them. Had to keep a very close eye on my batteries while the rig was plugged in out in the garage.
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Old 09-15-2008, 06:46 AM   #20
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All I know is that the last two RV's I've owned (from different mfg's) had good three stage charger/converters in them. I've owned this last one over two years and the batteries are always charged properly and I have had to add a very small amount of water twice and then only to one of the batteries. And the RV stays plugged in to shore power full time when we're not camping. I don't even remember if it was the same battery I had to add water to each time. I'd say that's a pretty good charger.

I'm sure there are better chargers if you're looking for very fast rate charging but this one will do for the kind of use I need. I'm sure 30 years ago they didn't have good chargers. Even in the last 10 years the technology has improved to where they can make a very good charger very inexpensively.

Maybe Forest River and Cruiser RV are the exceptions to the rule. I don't know. I will agree with you that both my 1973 model Country Squire and my 1977 model "??" had terrible chargers. Of course, the dedicated chargers you could buy then weren't much better.

Hey, I think I'll go unplug my RV and go camping this coming weekend
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