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Old 01-23-2023, 08:03 PM   #21
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One thing I know, I don't want a generator.
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Old 01-23-2023, 08:20 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Susanontheroad View Post
One thing I know, I don't want a generator.
Why not? What are you going to do when you are boondocking at it is cloudy and/or raining for 2 or 3 days? It doesn't have to be huge just to recharge your batteries. A little suitcase generator is very, very useful!
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Old 01-23-2023, 08:43 PM   #23
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Batteries are the weak link.

Modern 200 amp lithiums are not very big. Much more power.

Solar is a western thing. If you play in the Midwest you need a big panel. A 100 watt panel on its best day you will get 25 amps to charge the battery.

Rain, clouds and nice trees are the problem in the Midwest.

Compressor fridges complicate the issue as they use lots of amps.

We have 400+ amps of gc2 batteries and a small generator. We need to run it every other day.
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Old 01-23-2023, 10:51 PM   #24
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Bad, bad generator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Susanontheroad View Post
One thing I know, I don't want a generator.
I understand and, while I have one, try not to use it. But the two posts that followed your latest do make a good point ó what do you do on a cloudy day or camping in New England? If I recall, I think you said you didnít plan to boondock more that three days at a time and that your electrical needs were modest. In that case, you likely could get by on a 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery without charging for that period of time. A 200 Ah battery would give you some more insurance.

We have two 100 Ah LiFePO4 batteries and have gone almost three days without charging and thatís using the lights, water pump, and furnace every day in our trailer.
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Old 01-23-2023, 11:17 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Susanontheroad View Post
State and national parks, some blm land. Electric needs are few...phone/tablet, interior lights. Probably no more than 4 or 5 days at a stretch off grid. Want to really keep it simple.
Well, the simple way would be to buy 3-way rechargeable lanterns (internal battery, car charger, regular batteries, or solar) for your interior lights when you camp offgrid.
A portable power bank can recharge your phone and tablet.
We each carry one of these to recharge the phones. If you're going hiking, you can clip it to your backpack. https://www.amazon.com/Solar-Power-C...42&sr=8-9&th=1
That would leave battery power to light your water heater and refrigerator.

The best way to test how long your batteries are going to last would be to camp at home or a local park (not using the electric hookup.)
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Old 01-23-2023, 11:27 PM   #26
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Interior lights are probably the lowest load when in use, except for maybe the control board for propane refrigerator or propane water heater.
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Old 01-24-2023, 09:49 AM   #27
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On the A122 series A-frame, you have the following loads:
  • CO/propane alarm - less than 0.25A, 6AH/day
  • RM 4223 fridge does NOT have a control board, no draw while on propane. I installed a low RPM, low draw, computer case cooling fan for the fridge so it would work in all temps - 0.07A, 1.7AH/day
  • stereo - can be a significant draw while on standby (or in use), I wired in a switch to disable all power.
  • lights - all LED, no significant load unless run for hours. We use battery powered reading lights so as not to disturb spouse at night.
  • Fantastic Fan - 1.75 amp on Low. Makes too much noise above Low, and provides plenty of air movement on Low.
  • Propane heater - 3A when running
  • water pump - doesn't run enough to matter
  • water heater - 0.2A? for control board. We stopped using water heater most of the time, a kettle on the stove provides the hot water we need for washing dishes.
In another words, you can easily keep your usage to 20AH/day. Heater, Fantastic Fan, and stereo usage are the controllable loads that determine your power consumption. Base load is about 8AH/day.

Your A122x A-frame stock converter - WFCO 8735P - is not going to fully charge a LiFePO battery. Nor will your tow vehicle without modification. The other problem with LiFePO batteries is not being able to recharge them in freezing weather. LiFePO drop-in is not "drop-in". Your charging systems and schedules have to change to make proper use of the lithium technology.

My experience has been that $220 will buy 2 GC-2 batteries (210AH) from Costco or Sam's Club, which are totally compatible with existing A-frame converter and tow vehicle charging, and will provide 4+ nights with temps in the 40s. If you find that is not enough, then look at LiFePO, solar and/or generator options. The only disadvantage to the GC-2 batteries is that you will add 60lbs tongue weight above current weight. And you have to check and add distilled water every 3-6 months.

Fred W
now 2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW (same as A213) A-frame
then 2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
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last trip Onslow Beach, NC
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:09 AM   #28
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Ok, going with this advice! Thank you pgandw
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:13 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by pgandw View Post
Your A122x A-frame stock converter - WFCO 8735P - is not going to fully charge a LiFePO battery. Nor will your tow vehicle without modification. The other problem with LiFePO batteries is not being able to recharge them in freezing weather. LiFePO drop-in is not "drop-in". Your charging systems and schedules have to change to make proper use of the lithium technology.

Lifepo4 and Standard converter AND Tow vehicle
The batteries don't care if they are not fully charged.
a Standard converter or alternator will be quite adequate to replace the charge that was used.

Solar can be used to TOP OFF and BALANCE the batteries
The batteries only have to be balanced once in a while and then lifpo4 will be very happy little camper..


keep the batteries warm .. use a tank heater OR install them inside.
good batteries will switch off if they get too cold to charge.
But it's easy to keep them warm enough to accept a charge.


Charging schedules are improved using lifepo4
They accept charges faster ...
new trailers / RV are now fitted with converts made for lithium.

lots of videos / reviews on lithium so you can stay away from the JUNK
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Old 01-24-2023, 10:44 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussieguy View Post
Lifepo4 and Standard converter AND Tow vehicle
The batteries don't care if they are not fully charged.
a Standard converter or alternator will be quite adequate to replace the charge that was used.

Solar can be used to TOP OFF and BALANCE the batteries
The batteries only have to be balanced once in a while and then lifpo4 will be very happy little camper..


keep the batteries warm .. use a tank heater OR install them inside.
good batteries will switch off if they get too cold to charge.
But it's easy to keep them warm enough to accept a charge.


Charging schedules are improved using lifepo4
They accept charges faster ...
new trailers / RV are now fitted with converts made for lithium.

lots of videos / reviews on lithium so you can stay away from the JUNK
In all that, you never mention price
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Old 01-24-2023, 11:05 AM   #31
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My recommendations were based on the OP's specific needs and desires. LiFePO is great WHEN its advantages are pertinent. It's a very expensive mistake when LiFePO doesn't fit the situation well. I will install LiFePO on my 19ft sailboat. I will not replace my GC-2 LA batteries on my A-frame with LiFePO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aussieguy View Post
Lifepo4 and Standard converter AND Tow vehicle. The batteries don't care if they are not fully charged. a Standard converter or alternator will be quite adequate to replace the charge that was used.
The mindset has to change to use LiFePO effectively - longest life is achieved by using LiFePO in the 30-80% charge range with a rare charge to 100% for cell balancing. But now you are only using 50% of the battery's capacity - JUST LIKE LA. Your battery bank has to twice as big as battery ratings would indicate.

Automotive and truck alternators and vehicle wiring are NOT set up for LiFePO charging. The alternator or wiring is at risk if the alternator regulation can be tricked into delivering the voltage and current best suited for fast charging a LiFePO battery. To do it right, and isolate the LiFePO battery from the alternator, a DC-DC converter is needed, and probably upgraded wiring.

On the converter side, the latest converters have LiFePO programming. But the OP has a 2019 that I am sure does not have the latest and greatest Li-compatible converter from WFCO.
Quote:
Solar can be used to TOP OFF and BALANCE the batteries
The batteries only have to be balanced once in a while and then lifpo4 will be very happy little camper..keep the batteries warm .. use a tank heater OR install them inside...good batteries will switch off if they get too cold to charge...But it's easy to keep them warm enough to accept a charge.
The OP has an A-Frame in New England. Temps below freezing are common in the winter. The small A-frame has very limited space to move the batteries inside and off the tongue. And would require some wiring to be performed to either add heaters or move batteries inside.

Camping in the Eastern US, shade is the norm. And an A-frame does not have a flat roof to mount solar panels on. Nor is there easy storage space for portable solar panels in an A-frame. Solar is not a simple solution with an A-frame.

In the meantime, the $220 all-up except for battery box will allow the OP to camp the way they want without having to research, learn, and live with the expense and wiring to bring a LiFePO system into their simple A-frame. Hence my recommendation.

In different circumstances, I would recommend differently. On my sailboat, I don't have an existing electrical system of alternators, converters, and chargers to integrate with. When the boat is close to capsize, lead acid batteries can spill electrolyte (battery would be in the cabin floor), compounding the problems. Thus, LiFePO is my choice for my sailboat.

Fred W
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Old 01-24-2023, 08:29 PM   #32
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Our Flagstaff T12RB is the same as the A122 just from a different division of Forest River. We have two Group 29 batteries (one supplied by dealer and we bought a matching one). We have a 100W solar suitcase that works great keeping us charged up most of the time. There are instances where we just donít get enough (or any) sun and need to break out the generator. Battery maintenance is also critical. Disconnect when not in use, charge fully before & after trips and keep electrolyte levels up (if lead acid).
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Old 01-30-2023, 07:36 PM   #33
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Get a generator

Get a generator. I like to set up in the shade when I can so I have written off solar.
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Old 01-30-2023, 09:09 PM   #34
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Go with pgandw’s recommendations. They are modest and appropriate for your usage. Aussieguy’s are more ambitious and costly and, IMHO, wrong.
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Old 01-31-2023, 12:05 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by pgandw View Post
A simple voltmeter can give you an indication of the state of charge of your battery(ies) when not plugged into shore power. 12.6V fully charged, each 0.1V less is about 10% down. 12.1V is down to 50%, and it's time to recharge. Get down to 11.9V or less, and you are damaging your batteries.

Fred W
Fred W:
Thank you for that concise summary which as you have stated is easily determined by an inexpensive voltmeter. I have been trying to get my head around why a "12 volt" battery would be almost dead when it still shows 12 volts

Susan:
Welcome to the Forum. Lots of great knowledge and advice on here.

This spring I will be installing 2 new Kirkland (Costco) 6v golf cart batteries (one of my existing 12v batteries died). The six volts have way more amp hours and apparently can more easily withstand discharging below 50%.

I stuck with Lead Acid because in a pinch I can just hook up the booster cables from my truck and charge the battery bank while the truck idles quietly on the other side of the campsite; not sure that would work with Lithium without more gear and wiring

I concur with someone elses suggestion on this thread; install a battery monitor (mine is a Renogy but others seem happy with the AiLi). This will help you determine your usage and more accurately determine when it's time to recharge. The built-in monitor that the manufacturers install are just pretty lights
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Old 01-31-2023, 06:28 PM   #36
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Go with pgandw’s recommendations. They are modest and appropriate for your usage. Aussieguy’s are more ambitious and costly and, IMHO, wrong.
nothing complicated or wrong?
1 -200ah battery + some solar


an older standard converts will charge lithium to almost full
13.4 -13.6v will give you 90-99% SOC depending on age/condition

alternator will be fine as long as you don't expect it to charge up a depleted 600ah bank in 3 hours

small trailer limited solar capacity

one mounted on roof can be used while towing
and a suitcase made from the biggest panels you can store.
will put a decent amount of power back into the battery each day...


You don't drain the battery completely and then connect solar.
it's always connect and charging if enough sun is out.

a suitcase style set of panels takes 5 minutes to setup.
find a decent spot that gets the most sun
they use suitcase style a lot..... for all size trailer
especially if they camp in the woods..


Panels are not that expensive
you need them for any battery style you choose.

Lifepo is a smaller battery AND holds more power
charges faster too...... saves space and weight in a small trailer.

heating them is a non issue .. plenty of cheap cost effective ways to heat em.

100 ah capacity will do... but
a 200ah battery will be a ton of power that they will never have to put a lot of worry or effort into monitoring.
More camping and less electrical engineering.

after you get home connect to some shore power for a day or two....
gets as much power into the batteries
and then get the solar to top off and balance

If you don't want any solar... change out the converter.


the $$$ invested will be good for many many years of almost maintenance free camping.
1.5 - 2,000 $$$ spent will last about 10 years....
and you'll get some better re-sale prices if you decide to upgrade to a bigger unit later.


OHH did i mention price.... some good deals on 100 or 200 ah are starting to turn up.
------------------------------------------------------------------

I plan on assembling a DIY 280ah battery for half the retail price of a 200ah ....

and before I get any posts .... DIY battery is fraught with dangers...
all you are doing is joining 3.2v cells and a BMS bit of extra wiring.
Not much harder to do than joining a couple of 12v pre-made batteries.

Not rocket science.
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Old 01-31-2023, 07:31 PM   #37
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The original question is hardly A-frame camper specific but the experiences of others with similar campers is always helpful.

First step in problem solving is to determine the problem -- if there is one. In this case how much power are you using? If you've read even a few topics here you should know that if you have a propane/120v refrigerator you probably won't need exotic lithium batteries or mammoth solar panels. But if you have such a refrigerator you should know it will suck the life out of our battery when off grid.

As noted above it's all about AmpHours. Nothing more complicated than that. 4-day weekends are no challenge for our Roo with just a pair of "golf cart" batteries and no solar charging. Much more than 4 days and some solar helps. And some power conservation always helps.

Recommend you take your time. There's no rush. You don't actually need to go "off-grid" to camp off-grid -- just don't hook up shorepower and see what happens with your trailer setup as-is. Learn some lessons regarding power (and water/sewage). Camp Driveway or that nice state park over in the next county are good places to spend an "off-grid" weekend and see what happens -- of doesn't.

Massive solar panels and multiple lithium batteries are undeniably excellent power sources. But do you need them? -- we can't tell you it's all part of the game you have to play yourself.

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Old 01-31-2023, 07:33 PM   #38
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1.5 - 2,000 $$$ spent will last about 10 years....
I agree with you on the price tag - all in. A tough pill to swallow for a camper that cost me $14K, including tax and title to buy. Every time I have priced switching to 200AH LiFePO for my A-frame, I come up against $2K by the time I figure in decent quality cells, a DC-DC converter to protect the alternator and vehicle wiring in my Hyundai Palisade, and replacement of the A-frame converter. And some wiring modifications regardless of where I mount the DC-DC converter. In the A-frame the converter is a combined panel and converter, the converter is not separately replaceable (I know, I already replaced my WFCO 8735P converter that did not work correctly). Given the roof raising issues on FR A-frames, I am certainly not putting solar on the roof. And my camping style of often leaving the campsite for the day for tourist activities makes portable solar a non-starter (for me). So battery capacity to carry the camper for 4+ nights does the trick when I only have 20 gal of water and 3 cu ft of fridge space.

Meanwhile, $200 every 7 years for a new set of GC-2 batteries that require no changes in vehicle or trailer wiring, no solar panels to top off and balance, and are totally compatible with my winter camping and storage realities seem like a pretty good deal in comparison. Doesn't satisfy the geek in me but gets the job done at an affordable price.

If the OP has a use case that needs more battery, or for which solar will be worth the $$, they will learn this rather quickly. The OP already ruled out carrying a generator. If the OP needs more, the system can be built out as you have shown.

Fred W
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2022 Hyundai Palisade
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Old 01-31-2023, 08:26 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Aussieguy View Post
nothing complicated or wrong?
1 -200ah battery + some solar


an older standard converts will charge lithium to almost full
13.4 -13.6v will give you 90-99% SOC depending on age/condition

alternator will be fine as long as you don't expect it to charge up a depleted 600ah bank in 3 hours

small trailer limited solar capacity

one mounted on roof can be used while towing
and a suitcase made from the biggest panels you can store.
will put a decent amount of power back into the battery each day...


You don't drain the battery completely and then connect solar.
it's always connect and charging if enough sun is out.

a suitcase style set of panels takes 5 minutes to setup.
find a decent spot that gets the most sun
they use suitcase style a lot..... for all size trailer
especially if they camp in the woods..


Panels are not that expensive
you need them for any battery style you choose.

Lifepo is a smaller battery AND holds more power
charges faster too...... saves space and weight in a small trailer.

heating them is a non issue .. plenty of cheap cost effective ways to heat em.

100 ah capacity will do... but
a 200ah battery will be a ton of power that they will never have to put a lot of worry or effort into monitoring.
More camping and less electrical engineering.

after you get home connect to some shore power for a day or two....
gets as much power into the batteries
and then get the solar to top off and balance

If you don't want any solar... change out the converter.


the $$$ invested will be good for many many years of almost maintenance free camping.
1.5 - 2,000 $$$ spent will last about 10 years....
and you'll get some better re-sale prices if you decide to upgrade to a bigger unit later.


OHH did i mention price.... some good deals on 100 or 200 ah are starting to turn up.
------------------------------------------------------------------

I plan on assembling a DIY 280ah battery for half the retail price of a 200ah ....

and before I get any posts .... DIY battery is fraught with dangers...
all you are doing is joining 3.2v cells and a BMS bit of extra wiring.
Not much harder to do than joining a couple of 12v pre-made batteries.

Not rocket science.
Let us know how building your own LiFePo4 battery works out.

There just might be more rocket science to it than you think or is shown in all the youtube videos you've been watching.





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Old 02-02-2023, 12:39 PM   #40
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We did a month worth of camping last year in blm land and in parks in Utah, az, and then through the Ozarks, up the Appalachia range, and back to new England. It was in a aframe very similar to what we bought, though much older. I take to heart everyone's advice on knowing your camper, and knowing your needs. Thank you! I think my current plan is a 100 ah lithium for about 299. While I love the idea of a solar panel, I will hold off and see how life unfolds. To quote one of you, kiss

Thoughts? Biting off more than I need? Wrong direction? We really appreciate everyone's advice and very much looking forward to getting out there.
Because your camper will be in cold climates you should make sure your new lithium battery has a "low temp cuttoff" builtin to protect it when temps are low enough to damage it. That option is usually only a few dollars more than a standard lithium battery.
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