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Old 05-20-2016, 08:07 AM   #1
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My battery & charging upgrades

We've always had problems lasting more than a few days and then charging the normal dealer installed Interstate Dual Purpose group 24 battery with the generator became a 2x/day chore until we went home. At home, it's plugged in 24/7 so it's always fully charged when we leave for the next trip.

I've been on a mission to upgrade my electrical system to extend our dry camping time. We camp in the woods a lot so solar wouldn't be the "best" option for us and we have a pair of Champion 2K invertor genny's with parallel kit to use as needed.

With this knowledge, I've changed over to a pair of 6v GC batt's (230AH total), so I've almost tripled my battery capacity. I've replaced the factory generic 55A WFCO charger with a 75A Powermax Boondocker (PM4B-75 MBA) and, almost as important, I replaced all of the crappy crimped on ring connectors that the factory put on with proper tinned battery lugs because 3 of the 4 that I've replaced so far I've been able to pull off the end of the wire with my pliers ... meaning they had a very poor connection for charging!

BTW: all lights are LED, we have no inverter (so no 120VAC things) and we try to be very conscious of the power we use.

What do y'all think?
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:30 AM   #2
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Your upgrades will work out just fine, that will be a huge improvement for boon docking.

Congrats and Happy Camp'n !
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:38 AM   #3
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Where in relation to your batteries is your new converter installed?
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:41 AM   #4
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I have done the very same things. One other item that you may consider, check your Fridge to make sure you don't the version with an always on heater. It was recommended to me to do an easy mod to allow that to be disconnected and save power
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:41 AM   #5
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The charger is a direct replacement for the WFCO unit so it's in the same spot as original which is roughly 12ft from the batt's. The rig came with 6 awg wire and that should serve me well ... for the time being ... I hope.
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:44 AM   #6
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It's the 1st Norcold fridge I've had so I'm not 100% sure if it does or doesn't have the heater. But, I don't think it does because I haven't found a switch ... yet.

On edit: anyone know if the Norcold has a perm type heater???
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:49 AM   #7
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I believe its the Dometic fridges that have the heaters. (at least mine was)

The issue is that they didn't put a switch on it, hence the Mod
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Old 05-20-2016, 10:10 AM   #8
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I almost always dry camp. My portable solar panel has been my best investment so far. If it's not raining, there is always some sunlight close enough to move it to. I have only used the genny for the microwave and that's not very often either
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Old 05-20-2016, 11:45 AM   #9
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@John... I think you've made very good choices though 75 amps is overkill for your present setup which can accept a max of around 45 amps in bulk charge mode...but it will be good insurance if you find you need another bank to meet your needs.
The next upgrade should be a TRUE battery monitor like from Trimetric or Victron that will let you know where you stand on the battery charge and charging process AND help you understand your usage & loads. It will also pay for itself in extending your battery life & cycles. No rush...but anyone who boondocks a lot need one! About $150 for the excellent Victron. A bit more for the also excellent Trimetric.
https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...-series-EN.pdf
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Old 05-20-2016, 11:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
@John... I think you've made very good choices though 75 amps is overkill for your present setup which can accept a max of around 45 amps in bulk charge mode...but it will be good insurance if you find you need another bank to meet your needs.
The next upgrade should be a TRUE battery monitor like from Trimetric or Victron that will let you know where you stand on the battery charge and charging process AND help you understand your usage & loads. It will also pay for itself in extending your battery life & cycles. No rush...but anyone who boondocks a lot need one! About $150 for the excellent Victron. A bit more for the also excellent Trimetric.
https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...-series-EN.pdf
X2 on what Camaradierie said. You will be amazed at the information you can view and learn from with a monitor. We have been very pleased with our Trimetric.
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Old 05-20-2016, 12:27 PM   #11
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Yes, I agree ... I've had my eye on the Victron BMV-702 for a while now since it has temp monitoring also.

The reason for the 75A is:
1 - It doesn't hurt anything
2 - It was "only" $40 more
3 - I may need to go with more batteries so it would be needed for faster charging
4 - Randy at Best Converter recommended it after hearing what I plan on doing.

thanks
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Old 05-20-2016, 06:55 PM   #12
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I almost always dry camp. My portable solar panel has been my best investment so far. If it's not raining, there is always some sunlight close enough to move it to. I have only used the genny for the microwave and that's not very often either
Which portable panel did you use?
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Old 05-20-2016, 10:53 PM   #13
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Portable + Roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob dirt View Post
I almost always dry camp. My portable solar panel has been my best investment so far. If it's not raining, there is always some sunlight close enough to move it to. I have only used the genny for the microwave and that's not very often either
I installed a trimetric monitor and controller for 200w portable & it works so well I added 200w to roof since I had most of the expense in the controller & monitor. The portable just plugs in parallel with roof when needed for 400w. Just got back from 3 weeks all solar and no problems. I only have one 114AH batt & think I should replace with 2 6v GC batt as original post did. I think that would be my best upgrade.
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Old 05-20-2016, 11:14 PM   #14
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Which portable panel did you use?
I bought the zamp ZS-120-P folding 120w for it's convenience. It was a little pricey but it's easy to stow and has a weatherproof controller and a carrying case. It works good for what I need
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Old 05-20-2016, 11:47 PM   #15
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I keep the 5er in storage when not in use. It gets little use during summer months. I'd simply like to keep the battery maintained ~~ or I'm going to add a 50 amp receptacle in the yard to charge things and get the refer cold before we leave on trips.
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Old 05-22-2016, 07:47 AM   #16
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I kind of wonder if the biggest "bang for my buck" was to replace the battery connectors. Like I said in the OP, I pulled 3 of the 4 off with pliers without much of an effort (2 at the battery & 2 at the battery disconnect switch). If I were to have large current draws with an inverter, I'm guessing it would have caused some problems. Maybe even with trying to recharge with the generator?
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Old 05-22-2016, 07:48 AM   #17
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I keep the 5er in storage when not in use. It gets little use during summer months. I'd simply like to keep the battery maintained ~~ or I'm going to add a 50 amp receptacle in the yard to charge things and get the refer cold before we leave on trips.

No need for the expense of the 50a.
A 30a will do just fine. Unless you want both ac.


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Old 05-22-2016, 08:04 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by johnm1 View Post
The charger is a direct replacement for the WFCO unit so it's in the same spot as original which is roughly 12ft from the batt's. The rig came with 6 awg wire and that should serve me well ... for the time being ... I hope.
Per a voltage drop calculator using 6 awg wire, 40 amp load (though your charger is 75 amps), 12 foot run:

Voltage drop: 0.38 volts
Voltage drop percentage: 3.17%
Voltage at the end: 11.62

Going from 12 volt to 11.62 doesn't sound like much, but I feel the drop will greatly increase your charge times in bulk charge mode of 14.5 to almost 14.1 volts.


My camper's converter was 25 feet rear of the batteries up front. That distance and thin wire caused a .5 volt drop which I didn't realize or consider due to lack of knowledge on the subject. I couldn't figure out why it was taking me 8 hours of running the generator to charge my battery banks each day after running heater all night. I had upgraded my converter to a 70 amp PD 3 rate charger and was upset that it wasn't charging much faster than the stock 40 amp charger. Moving the converter within 3 feet of the batteries fixed the issue. Morning charge is about 2.5 hours on generator but since then I've gotten solar and the generator is collecting dust.
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Old 05-22-2016, 08:17 AM   #19
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Morning charge is about 2.5 hours on generator but since then I've gotten solar and the generator is collecting dust.
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Tony is right. On my RV the charger is 22 feet from the battery bank and wired with a round trip of #6. On my 70 amp converter this costs me about .5 volts which drops me to 14.1 or so in boost mode (I force it using the pendant). This is a problem. My current plan is to ground the converter to the chassis and eliminate at least the 22 foot negative run, which cuts my voltage drop in half. Don't know why FR didn't do that.
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Old 05-22-2016, 08:26 AM   #20
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I'm learning here ... where does the 40A load come from?
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