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Old 04-14-2016, 08:31 PM   #1
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Best way to monitor voltage on pop-up

I just finished putting in two golf cart batteries, now I'm wondering what the best way is to install a volt meter? Something like this appeals to me.
12/24 Volt LCD Voltage Meter - Prime Products 12-2020 - Voltage Monitors - Camping World

Is there a 12v outlet inside? I have a new 228BH.
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Old 04-14-2016, 08:45 PM   #2
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If I was measuring battery volts I would go directly from battery. You can wire in a voltmeter directly or add a 12v plug to use the one you linked to.
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Old 04-15-2016, 10:21 AM   #3
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I installed a 12V socket near the door, wired/fused directly to the battery. I use it for my portable air compressor for tire filling. I also wired a digital voltmeter (ebay $5.00), installed in the wall, to the socket wiring. It is on all of the time but draws practically no current so that is not an issue. Two years and no issues. I also installed a battery disconnect near the battery for storage.
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Old 04-15-2016, 09:04 PM   #4
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I wonder if the Zamp solar plug could be used?
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Old 04-16-2016, 05:19 AM   #5
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Trimetric

There are many threads on why the Trimetric is the best way to monitor voltage. I have a HW29SC on order and have already bought a Trimetric and Shunt; (2) 6V golf cart batteries; and a Torklift dual battery box.

I picked these after reading this thread:
My battery, inverter, solar and wiring upgrade install
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Old 04-16-2016, 05:46 AM   #6
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Remember that volt meters are a power draw. While they don't draw much (depends on the quality of the meter), if left on/connected continuously it will impact your parasite losses.

Trimetric monitor is the only way to go IMO. Love mine.
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Old 04-16-2016, 06:36 AM   #7
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Go on ebay and buy one of the many inexpensive digital volt meter gauges (that will measure dc volts) and an inexpensive momentary push button switch (for press to test) of your choice. Connect the switch, directly from the battery (or splice to an existing wire that is directly connected to the battery) in series (with an inline 5amp fuse) with the 12 volt input to the gauge (gauge ground side can be any chassis ground point or ground wire). This type of install is very inexpensive, permanent and will not put any continuous load on your battery. These items can be mounted just about anywhere if the power requirements can be met. You could even make your own small panel to mount the items, just depends upon your expertise and imagination. Sounds like a lot but not really. Just another approach.
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sallystrothers View Post
I just finished putting in two golf cart batteries, now I'm wondering what the best way is to install a volt meter? Something like this appeals to me.
12/24 Volt LCD Voltage Meter - Prime Products 12-2020 - Voltage Monitors - Camping World

Is there a 12v outlet inside? I have a new 228BH.
I use a cheap digital multi-meter I wired to the batteries. They have an on/off switch. Turn it on, check reading, shut it off.

Jim
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Old 04-16-2016, 11:48 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sallystrothers View Post
I just finished putting in two golf cart batteries, now I'm wondering what the best way is to install a volt meter? Something like this appeals to me.
12/24 Volt LCD Voltage Meter - Prime Products 12-2020 - Voltage Monitors - Camping World

Is there a 12v outlet inside? I have a new 228BH.
This cheap to just see what your convertor is doing will tell you the voltage. only $5.00 bucks at amazon. That is on the inside of a WFCO panel, will not give you amps but will tell you the voltage. That is with the power turned off, with the convertor working it will tell you what is going on like 13.2, 13.5 or with my Progressive 14.6 when it go's into desal. mode.
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Old 04-16-2016, 06:59 PM   #10
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Nothing will beet the acid densety test and the tester is not expensive!
No modification to your rig is needed!!
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Skier View Post
There are many threads on why the Trimetric is the best way to monitor voltage. I have a HW29SC on order and have already bought a Trimetric and Shunt; (2) 6V golf cart batteries; and a Torklift dual battery box.

I picked these after reading this thread:
My battery, inverter, solar and wiring upgrade install
If you don't know what you are looking at a volt meter is useless. Voltage alone isn't a good yard stick. And, those optimistic status indicators that come with many high dollar RVs are just as bad. They read at the "charger" not at the batteries and do so while under load or charging.

The only way to know the state of charge is with a hydrometer and doing that daily is not practical; but everyone should have one, they are very inexpensive. If you have sealed batteries, ignore that.

X2 on the Trimetric (I have a TM2020); just going through the installation process will teach you a lot. And, they are not that expensive. Oh, you will need a Shunt, probably a 100A and some cabling.

If you don't already have one, you need to start thinking about getting a good charger. The one that came with your camper is probably not up to the task.

BTW, a 220AH battery (or batteries) has 110AH available.

By the numbers.

State of Charge Specific Gravity Voltage
12V 6V
100% 1.265 12.7 6.3
75% 1.225 12.4 6.2
50% 1.190 12.2 6.1
25% 1.155 12.0 6.0
Dead 1.120 11.9 6.0

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Old 04-17-2016, 08:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jonol View Post
Nothing will beet the acid densety test and the tester is not expensive!
No modification to your rig is needed!!
My concern with SD testing is the location of the batteries. I moved them to the rear of the bike rack, so when the bed is pulled out they will not be easy to get to.

Slightly different question, does anyone know if the Zamp solar plug could be used as a 12v power supply? Is it directly fused? Was thinking of using it for a CPAP machine.
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:30 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by WolfWhistle View Post

If you don't already have one, you need to start thinking about getting a good charger. The one that came with your camper is probably not up to the task.

WW
What constitutes a good charger? I have an older analog battery charger with three settings, 12V/6A, 12V/2A, and 6V/6A. Is it better to charger the batteries in series on 12V or individually with 6V?
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by gljurczyk View Post
This cheap to just see what your convertor is doing will tell you the voltage. only $5.00 bucks at amazon. That is on the inside of a WFCO panel, will not give you amps but will tell you the voltage. That is with the power turned off, with the convertor working it will tell you what is going on like 13.2, 13.5 or with my Progressive 14.6 when it go's into desal. mode.
This is what I was referring to.

Digital Multimeter - Save on this 7 Function Digital Multimeter

Just go across the positive and negative terminals. You can cut the probes and wire it in to the posts. Leave it set to volts and just turn it on and off to get your reading.

Check your voltage reading when you are not on shore power. If you are plugged in you can check to be sure your converter is charging but you really don't need to monitor that.

On my 5er, using the switch panel, I wired one to the battery monitoring wires because I hate those idiot lights on the panel. When I am not on shore power I can check my batteries charge without going out side.

Jim
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Old 04-17-2016, 04:30 PM   #15
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First, it doesn't matter where you measure the 12V system voltage. The converters in PUPs and A-frames do not apply separate voltages to the battery and 12v distribution. A voltmeter draws very little current compared to any device, so adding it anywhere will give you the same reading.

Second, as has been already said, a battery's voltage reading will not tell you much unless the battery has been sitting without being recharged for at least 12 and preferably 24 hours.

If you are plugged in, the voltmeter will tell you if the converter is working, and what charge mode it is in. If you are not plugged in, but are supplying loads, the battery voltage will read slightly lower than the actual state of charge would indicate. The higher the load, the more difference there will be. PUP and A-frame parasitic loads are pretty small (CO/propane alarm), but the High Wall models are higher due to the control board in the fridge (and possibly a dehumidifier strip in the fridge, too). The radio/stereo can be a surprising load unless it is totally off.

That said, the voltmeter can give you some indication of your battery state when dry camping/boondocking and tell you how your converter is working when plugged in.

The standard WFCO converter/AC distribution centers used in PUPs and A-frames are 3 stage chargers. Almost all stock RV converters are set up to protect your batteries from overheat/gassing at the expense of re-charge time. Could you charge your batteries faster with a different charger? Possibly. Is it worth it to install another more aggressive charger to decrease re-charge times? Possibly, if you run a generator to recharge your batteries. Otherwise, I'd say no.

I have the same setup you do - dual 6V 236AH golf cart batteries from Costco. My installation will run the A-frame for at least 4 nights of 5hrs/night heater on without depleting the batteries below 50%. That was my goal, and recharge time is what it takes. This trip coming up will be our 1st of more than 4 nights, but we will be driving some every other day, and will partially recharge batteries then. We may even have a night or two with hook-ups, which will bring us back to nearly full charge.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage (minivan)
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
next week is 9 days for the Utah 5
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Old 04-17-2016, 05:20 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by sallystrothers View Post
What constitutes a good charger? I have an older analog battery charger with three settings, 12V/6A, 12V/2A, and 6V/6A. Is it better to charger the batteries in series on 12V or individually with 6V?
Charging and maintaining RV deep cycle batteries, isn't like trickle charging a car battery and using a clip on charger should be for emergencies.

Here is an IOTA... also get the IQ4 addon for it.

https://www.altestore.com/store/char...rcharger-p698/

Progressive Dynamics PD9200... note they aren't sized the same, but just to give you a couple of examples.

Inteli-Power 9200 45amp Converter/Charger-pplmotorhomes.com

You will also need the Charge Wizard for the PD.

You will be amazed the difference ... in how long you can run on these two batteries, if you start the evenings fully charged. Also, how long they might last.

I also want temper what I said about a volt meter being useless... this was hyperbole... I would not be without a good and dependable volt - ohm meter.
WW
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Old 04-17-2016, 05:36 PM   #17
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Look up drok meters on the web. I put DC and AC volts plus AC amp. Super cheap too.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:08 PM   #18
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The standard WFCO converter/AC distribution centers used in PUPs and A-frames are 3 stage chargers. Almost all stock RV converters are set up to protect your batteries from overheat/gassing at the expense of re-charge time. Could you charge your batteries faster with a different charger? Possibly. Is it worth it to install another more aggressive charger to decrease re-charge times? Possibly, if you run a generator to recharge your batteries. Otherwise, I'd say no.

I have the same setup you do - dual 6V 236AH golf cart batteries from Costco. My installation will run the A-frame for at least 4 nights of 5hrs/night heater on without depleting the batteries below 50%. That was my goal, and recharge time is what it takes. This trip coming up will be our 1st of more than 4 nights, but we will be driving some every other day, and will partially recharge batteries then. We may even have a night or two with hook-ups, which will bring us back to nearly full charge.
So you believe the factory converter is sufficient? Is it actually a 3 stage charger or just a converter? Will it reach 100% charge? I really don't want to spend the money on a smart converter unless absolutely necessary.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:22 PM   #19
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I installed a meter similar to the DROK previously mentioned and wired it to the 2/0 lines to the battery that the dealer installed when I had an inverter installed. My meter is on a switch that has on-off-momentary on positions so it can be turned off when the unit is in storage. The meter light also serves as a night light when we're boondocking.

Phil
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Old 04-18-2016, 11:52 AM   #20
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So you believe the factory converter is sufficient? Is it actually a 3 stage charger or just a converter? Will it reach 100% charge? I really don't want to spend the money on a smart converter unless absolutely necessary.
The standard converter on recent PUPs and A-frames is a "smart" converter. Not the highest quality, but works pretty well in most cases. But look at the back side, find the model number, and download the manual from the WFCO web site. Unless you have something very different installed, the manual will state that it is a 3 stage battery charger.

WFCO converters normally operate in absorption mode. According to the manual, after 44 hours of no significant change in current draw, the converter switches to trickle mode (to avoid over-charging and boiling water away). Mine goes into trickle mode at 13.6 - 13.7V. Bulk mode is pretty rare in my case. I have seen it when the batteries are pretty discharged. The converter fan comes on in bulk mode.

Problems reported by SOME with the WFCO are 1) not going into bulk mode; 2) not going into trickle mode; 3) not working correctly (or at all) if a reasonably charged battery is not attached. #1 and #3 are somewhat related.

In some cases, the WFCO struggles with a very low battery or no battery. My Sears charger does too - the circuit breaker pops repeatedly. The reports say the WFCO is reluctant or won't go into bulk mode. Mine does go into bulk mode (once) and works fine without a battery - but I have a 2014 camper (newer model converter). When one of my original dual 12V batteries failed, the 30 amp fuse to the battery charging circuit blew in the converter. I don't know which happened first. But after replacing the fuses and the batteries with 6V golf cart batteries from Costco ($150 for both), the converter worked just fine. The 12V batteries never recovered.

The complaints about not going into trickle mode - I doubt many folks are waiting the 44 hours with no current change to check. I generally disconnect the batteries after a few days of recharging regardless. I don't like leaving the camper plugged in indefinitely.

There are converters that set up their mode parameters a little differently for charging a battery faster, and there are 4 stage converters available, too. But remember, the converter in a PUP or A-frame is a combination converter and AC/DC distribution panel so you can't just replace the converter. The 4th stage is an equalization stage, which puts an extra-high voltage (15+ volts) on the batteries for a limited time to force bubbling and thereby equalize the battery acid concentration in all areas of the cell. Equalization supposedly adds some life to a battery, but doesn't work in all cases. The other issue is that your other 12V RV components may not handle such a high voltage very well.

Being a simple-minded guy, I want to camp and do things, not spend my time monitoring camper systems (including batteries). I don't do solar, I don't have a generator, and I don't monitor my battery voltage or specific gravity daily. I don't even have an awning because of having to monitor winds in my neck of the woods. As a result, I may not get every last year possible out of my batteries. I may get 6 years of life instead of 7 or 8. I'm OK with that. The battery bank is sized to give me at least 4 nights of 5 hours of heater operation plus normal usage of lights (inside lights are LED) - without recharging or going below 50%. Stereo is not used. Fantastic fan substitutes for heater in warmer weather but draws less so can run longer.

My A-frame stores in the garage, and I plug in when I get home to fully recharge beyond what the car did on the way home. After a couple of days, I unplug and the camper (with batteries disconnected) sits until the next trip. Yesterday, I checked my batteries before plugging in for our upcoming trip - 12.78V. The batteries had been disconnected for a week. Water levels were good. So yes I do get a full charge from the converter.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame with dual golf cart 232 AH 6V batteries
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan with Equalizer 600 WDH/anti-sway
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