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Upgrade Batteries And Add Inverter

battery inverter boondock

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#1 kastl

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 07:44 AM

I have some thoughts around upgrading my 2015 17' SD. The purpose of the upgrade would be to be a little more boondock ready and allow for some comforts as well.

 

My rig is pretty standard but I added a charge controller and external plug so I can plug in my 150 watt portable solar panel that I keep stored in the camper shell of the truck and pull out and plug in when I need to.

I want to augment that with some more battery capacity. I am thinking of removing the existing battery and putting 2 new AGM batteries with a battery box under the bed which is permanently configured that way. I am thinking around 300 AH of capacity. I would want to minimize the amount of floor space required so that I can still store stuff under the bed and keep it to the rear left corner under the bed so that it doesn't interfere with the access panel on the right where the water pump and water heater is.

 

After I do that, I would put a 1500 to 2000 watt inverter in the spot where the old battery was. Since these things generate a lot of heat, keeping it out of the rig but still protected from the elements seems like a good idea.

The inverter would be used for the coffee pot, microwave, toaster, nuwave induction, TV, etc. as needed.

 

To complete the set up I am thinking of a good battery monitor so that I can know exactly the state of charge and AH in and out.

A remote for the inverter so I just hit a button to turn it on and off seems useful.

Finally a  manual switch that allows the inverter power to go to all the existing 110 plugs in the rig or use the shore power, as needed.

 

I am trying to slowly add what I would need/use and see how it goes. For example, I could see adding a generator for topping up batteries later on.

 

Does this approach sound reasonable? Any suggestions are welcome.

 

thanks,

 

Ken.



#2 Euphoria

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 11:48 AM

Maybe it's just me, but it seems you're asking quite a lot from your trailer to be able to power electrical equipment designed primarily for use with shore power. Trying to run major appliances like the microwave, etc, will bring your battery bank down to parade rest in short order, and inverters are not totally efficient when making AC from DC. And, for example, why wouldn't you just use a common percolator coffee pot that you can put on the burner of your camp stove instead having to use an electric coffee pot while boon docking? It's your choice, but to my thinking, it doesn't seem the best way to go. If you want to boon dock, then learn to "rough it" a little. If you want all the creature comforts, get a site with 120 vac power at least, or get yourself a 2,000 watt generator like most of the members here have, to use when you really need power. And don't forget about all the added weight with the extra batteries, and the fact that the curb side of an SD is already the heavier side with the water tank, fridge, stove, sink, furnace, cabinetry, etc, on that side already. Sounds like you should slow down and really think this through a little more before you get too far along in this. Just my 2 cents.


Edited by Euphoria, 29 October 2017 - 11:52 AM.

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#3 Meadowlark

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 12:30 PM

I wonder about the safety of having batteries underneath the bed. They do put out fumes, slight though they may be.

 

He may have offered only two of them, but Euphoria's cents are valuable...he should have spelled it 'sense'.  Weight distribution is an important thing to plan for and manage. All of the Casita models have weight limits. You can't just stuff her full.  As he said, the SD is already weight heavy on the curb side of the trailer. Even if you minimize the amount of weight to something reasonable...for instance, the fridge full of food and your pantry and microwave cabinet full...you will find that one side of the Casita is heavier than the other. While it's still within safe limits, still...you don't want to possibly have a whip lash situation occur while you're towing.


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#4 kastl

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 01:50 PM

Some good points by both of you. Perhaps the more sensible next step is to add a generator as you mentioned.  This would yield the most flexibility especially during those hot Texas summer days. I could run the A/C which would be impossible with batteries or at least not practical.

 

Then later if I still think I need more battery capacity, I can add it later.

I'm okay giving up some creature comforts, although if it doesn't hurt anything, why not? I guess it's a trade off between using more propane and gasoline vs. solar and batteries.

But the generator sounds like the next logical step for me at this point and the easiest to set up! Just plug it in and go. I can keep the generator in my truck camper when not in use and pull it out when needed fairly easily.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

Ken.



#5 Tom Haberski

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 02:32 PM

If you go with extra batteries, look at Trojan or other high end lead acid batteries.  There's mixed results with AGM's and they're finicky on recharge requirements.  I'm sure they work, but for how long, and for how much?  The lowest initial cost way is a Costco or other deep cycle battery.  But forget about running high load appliances, for any length of time with an inverter and batteries.  Per pound, there is something like 10 TIMES (1000%) more energy in gasoline than a battery.  A generator for boondocking is necessary for AC operation.



#6 Meadowlark

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Posted 29 October 2017 - 06:00 PM

We've done a lot of boondocking and found that our 90W solar panel happily keeps the batteries up and charged, even on some not so sunny days. Admittedly, we don't have a lot of electronic gizmos..no microwave, no TV etc. The one gizmo we take is a toaster, and we use that for perhaps five minutes, max, once a day.  We have never found the need for a generator, ever. Personally, and this is merely my personal opinion, but I go boondocking to get away from the noise of civilization, especially a generator., and resent it when someone feels the need to keep one running so he or she can watch TV. What is the point?


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

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"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#7 vermilye

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Posted 02 November 2017 - 08:57 AM

For me, the important part of putting together a system like this is the battery monitor.  When properly configured, it will let you know if you have the "juice" to run the microwave, make toast, etc, or use a substitute method of getting the job done. You can plan your meals around the state of charge of your batteries. When you are in a hurry for a quick meal after a hike, tossing a frozen burrito into a microwave sure beats setting up a Dutch Oven to do the same (although I do admit I prefer the oven baked version).

 

I dry camped 91 days in a row in 2015, and 78 days in a row in 2016, in an Escape 17B, using a pair of 232 amp hour 6V batteries, a 1000 watt inverter, 195 watts of solar on the roof & a portable 160 watt panel wintering in the  Quartzsite, AZ area.  Usually made a pot of coffee each morning, 2-3 times a week the microwave for 5 - 7 minutes, and about the same with an electric toaster.  The combination worked fine, although 3-4 cloudy days would bring my batteries down to 12.2V.  I don't carry a generator. 

 

Along with a power hungry computer, camera & phone battery chargers, and cell phone amplifier, I used between 30 - 40 amp hours per day. 

 

While it certainly is possible to use far less electricity (I made 13 tent camping trips across the US  before getting a trailer) if one wishes to add some of the comforts of high power appliances, I don't condone the idea, particularly for those spending months at a time on the road. 


Edited by vermilye, 03 November 2017 - 08:37 AM.

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#8 larrysmith

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Posted 03 November 2017 - 07:09 AM

Sleeping with a battery in an enclosed trailer may not be the thing to do.  Fumes and fire danger scares me and I would not sleep a wink.    Larry



#9 THSTRANGER

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 07:43 PM

Has anyone tried a Battle Born Battery ?



#10 JaxDan

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 10:45 PM

Tesla makes batteries that move a car 300 miles...I'm wondering if this discussion will look like one about 8 track tape stereo in a few years?



#11 lgboro

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 07:23 AM

I've been working with RELiON battery company and Progressive Dynamics to come up with a system to give me the most battery power with useable amps while considering weight.  I ordered a 300amp Lithium Ion that can be drawn down to empty without major damage and 240 amps for optimal life cycles.  Just got back from a 6 week off grid trip that I spent under $35 on camping fees so I believe the cost of the lithium battery and required charge system coupled with my current 350 watt solar setup will pay for itself over time and allow me a larger cushion when boon docking.  I had to cut back on usage a few nights and believe my upcoming setup will cover my current and future needs for years to come.  I have a planned 4 month+ trip to Alaska beginning in late May so I intend on being 1/2 time camping this year.



#12 mcguinnorders@comcast.net

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Posted 03 March 2018 - 10:14 AM

The information you posted about the LI ion battery was very interesting.

Do you have only one? 

Does it fit in the battery compartment?

Please explain the 350w solar configuration.  What brand of solar panels do you have?

 

We are wanting to install a compact inverter.  We think these are made in 1500w varieties. 

We have 2 agms and roof solar, but may need to beef it up some, so.......interested in your layouts.



#13 lgboro

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Posted 09 March 2018 - 05:12 AM

Currently, I have the upgrade factory battery, however,  my Ll ion battery is on the truck and should be delivered today.  The battery is too large to fit in the battery compartment of the Casita so it will find a home in a small aluminum sealed box incorporated into a proposed bumper change.  The weight of the battery is almost the same as the much smaller factory battery and with my hitch weight should not pose any problems as I will use the battery compartment for water hoses and my 12 volt pump setup I use when boon docking.  It. will require another upgrade to my  onboard charger again (my factory one crapped out in months and replaced with Progressive Dynamics unit) but that was not too difficult last time.  This system was expensive but I am currently a little over half time living in my Casita and would not hesitate to spend that amount on my house to make it more a better living experience.  Install will be delayed until Spring arrives...its cold here in eastern NC again.