I hate selfies....it's hard enough to look in the mirror to shave.... what do people do with all the shots of themselves?
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Posted by buckland on 27 November 2020 - 07:16 PM
I hate selfies....it's hard enough to look in the mirror to shave.... what do people do with all the shots of themselves?
Posted by Ted on 14 November 2020 - 03:35 PM
I have taken a jaundiced view of government scientists ever since they had elementary school kids hide under our desks to 'protect' us from a nuclear blast.
The difference in the masks shown is the first five are to protect you from breathing something in. The last one is also to protect others from what you breathe out. Most people that catch this flu don't even know it for a week or so, but they are contagious during that time. The mask is to help stop them from spreading it as much as it is to protect you.
I get it, wearing a mask is a PITA. As a cancer patient receiving chemo twice a month, I have a "compromised immune system". And since my cancer has spread to my lungs, it is sometimes a pain for me to breathe without a mask. But I have no choice but to wear a mask when I go to my appointments because so many others aren't wearing one. And while wearing a mask won't kill you, you not wearing a mask can kill me.
Posted by eyemgh on 13 November 2020 - 11:48 PM
My concern in all this is that the recommendations/mandates simply say face covering/mask is required.
There is no mention of any mask ratings/specifications that provide a suitable level of protection for the wearer to avoid infection or to not spread infection. I find no standard for masks or which masks have been tested and proven effective for the purpose. That information is available for dust/various chemicals or pesticides for agricultural/industrial uses and is typically printed on the package. It is missing on packaging for masks being sold for compliance with face covering requirements.
This has made me very skeptical of the face covering requirements especially when seeing neck gaiters or bandanas accepted as meeting the face covering requirements. Far too many times, I see people at half-mask covering the mouth but not the nose and that is accepted as complying.
I use KN95 rated masks without exhalation valves when available and the “TV show surgical masks” when KN95 are in short supply. I suspect that the mask requirement is for show or to keep our stress level high. Oregon was just issued more restrictions to start immediately for individuals but in 5 days for businesses. Why the delay for businesses? Are they less likely to spread the virus?
The governor did tell us that camping is OK unlike this spring when they closed the campgrounds. Either they are not all that smart or we are not all that smart. YMMV, I guess.
By the way, the quarantine period is 4 weeks in Multnomah county but just 2 weeks in adjacent counties.
There is indeed good data on this. It comes out of Asia from institutions that were primarily measuring pollution, but pivoted their particle counter work to smaller particle sizes. Essentially nearly anything helps some. N95s and most real KN95s block 95% or more. Standard three layer procedure masks block 80%. Single layer cloth...60% give or take. Remember though, that's what's coming IN. The primary purpose of the mask is to reduce the distance of what is being exhaled. If you can reduce the distance the particles travel from 6 feet to 1 foot and watch your distance and time exposure, all is good. There's a reason Japan, a densely populated nation with 126 million people has had fewer cases total than we had yesterday alone. This is not that complicated.
Posted by teledork on 05 January 2020 - 12:12 AM
Only about 2% of our public land is wilderness where motor vehicles are not allowed. I drive on dirt roads some of the time but I have a hard time supporting a group whose users are inclined to threaten me with things like - oh, death - when I speak in defense of wilderness.
Posted by Mighty Dodge Ram on 24 October 2019 - 03:34 PM
I just want to say thank you to the WTW owners, admin, moderators, and members for providing a friendly and civil forum. I used to spend more time over on another forum...you know which one...but over the years it has become more difficult to post anything without inviting the wrath and nastiness of someone who might disagree with you. Not everybody, of course, but enough vitriolic responses to make it unpleasant. It just seems as if more and more people feel free to post comments that they would never say to someone in person. Perhaps this mirrors the polarization we see in politics these days?
Anyway, really appreciate the tone, manners, and content of this forum. 👍
Posted by jimjxsn on 01 February 2019 - 11:47 PM
cvant, I just bought a Batwing and am replicating much of what you did here. I too don’t want to add holes to the camper. Have you made any changes to the design? Also wondering what you came up with for the tightening system at the end. They send what looks like a plastic boat cleat that you would hook to and pull the whole system taught at the end. I’m hesitant to use it and not sure where to mount it anyway. Did you come up with anything for the pop up latch? I’ll try and post pics of what I come up with as mine is being fabbed in steel. Thanks in advance, I know it’s been a while since the last post but there ain’t much out there in terms of a fabbed setup for a 270° awning on our rigs.
Here are some pics of my install, different awning and camper but might give you ideas. I used 1x2 aluminum for the uprights to clear the roof so that it could be placed higher to clear the camper door. The rear is solid aluminum bar and the front upright is tube. Then, 1x aluminum angle for the awning attachment pieces at the top of the bars.
Posted by rando on 25 August 2018 - 09:22 PM
Posted by windy on 03 November 2020 - 04:41 AM
Posted by ski3pin on 31 October 2020 - 12:17 AM
Our furnace is 7 to 8 years old. We just started to have an occasional issue with the furnace not starting. It would run through the cycle - blower on, click, but no ignition, and the furnace would shut down as it should. Restarting with the thermostat and it would light.
Back home, I did a visual inspection. Nothing was obvious until I pulled out the burner and found it rusty with the holes blocked in the area below the ends of the igniter. This looked like a good candidate for causing the issue.
After a trip to the online furnace parts store, a package arrived with a new burner, igniter, orifice, and sail switch. The burner assembly is easily removed. Unhook the propane supply line (turn it off at the tank first and be prepared for a bit of propane as the line empties), unclip a couple of wire spade connectors, and 4 sheet metal screws.
Out with the old, in with the new.
The old igniter had a bit of rust.
The new igniter came with a new wire (no spade connector) and a felt gasket not present with the original assembly. Also pictured are the old/new orifices.
The new orifice installed.
The igniter is installed through the hole above and the two sheet metal screws are the attachment points for the burner.
The new igniter in place. I positioned the ends of the igniter a quarter inch apart and one eighth of an inch above the burner.
The burner and gas assembly ready to be reinstalled. The black wire is the new wire from the igniter.
The burner slides in on the right and the exhaust on the left. I found the screws out of the two holes, bottom right and left, empty with the sheet metal screws rolling about. I replaced them with one size larger (#10) screws and they snugged up nice and tight. The pink rubber cover was removed and the supply line fittings lowered out of the way to easily slide the burner in.
The sail switch is on the inside of the black half cylinder cover. Remove some wires to get them out of the way and the four screws on the four corners. Rotate the cover around and here's the sail switch.
The new sail switch in place.
The burner and exhaust in place. The black igniter wire is attached to the new orange wire from the mother board and a wire tie to hold them in place.
The cover back in place. The wires attached and wire ties in place to keep it all neat. The new thick orange wire (included with the igniter) runs down to and connects with the black wire from the igniter.
We've run it several times, as we would on a trip. It has started up flawlessly every time. It appears to run great. Where shall we go?
I thought this would be of interest, including the photos of the various parts I hear people mention here on Wander the West. I expect that most models of these furnaces are all very similar. Hope it helps and best of luck with your repairs and projects.
Posted by Lighthawk on 05 January 2020 - 02:47 AM
I do not support BRC and the shrinking of our national monuments.
Posted by clikrf8 on 16 December 2019 - 07:34 PM
We used to have a campground but nosy neighbors turned us in. First, the county said yes then reneged. Anyway, a loophole exists: friends and family. We would like to invite you for a free night’s stay next year.. If you are in our neighborhood message me on this site for our email. I will try to check in every few days. Please give us several days notice.
We are close to world class mountain bike trails. It is fairly quiet at night but busy during the day as we have a parking lot for the bikers. Bellingham also has the terminal for the Alaska Ferry.
We hope to see a few of you this next year.
Posted by buckland on 07 August 2018 - 06:17 PM
Posted by Lineman on 16 July 2018 - 02:33 AM
I needed more insulation in my camper for the climate right AC to keep up here in the hot and humid Midwest. I considered the factory thermal pack, but I question how much it would help in this situation and hesitant to try it because of the price point. I think Reflectix would be effective, but I don't want the hassle of put up and take down. I wanted a light weight thermal pack with insulation that could be left up full time and allow my 5k btu AC to cool the camper to a reasonable temperature.
So, I started looking at fabric options at Seattle Fabrics and ordered a bunch of samples. They stock Thinsulate in three thicknesses, the thickest is 210 gram. I decided this should work, it seemed to compress really well and even folded over on itself a couple times it compresses down to very little. With the insulation chosen I needed a facing material, it needs to be very thin and synthetic to keep it from soaking up any condensation we don't get wiped up in the morning. I found a 1.1 ounce ripstop nylon, also from Seattle Fabrics, that seemed to fit the bill. All together with the insulation, nylon, velcro and shipping totaled $350, inexpensive enough to gamble a home build on.
Over a week later (I used the really cheap shipping) a surprisingly small box arrived and I got started. After remeasuring everything I rolled out the Thinsulate and started cutting. Unfortunately this has to be done on the floor, I don't have anyplace else large enough.
The thinsulate comes 60" wide so two 26" side panels will be cut from it.
This is the second cut and the remainder, these sections are cut 26" wide and long enough to reach well behind the lift panels and will be cut to the exact length later. Next comes the facing nylon, it is incredibly thin, nearly see through. It is rolled out and the insulation laid on top.
An inch and a half margin is allowed for and the whole thing is folded over itself.
The excess is trimmed off, the edges folded in and pinned every three to four inches. This nylon is so slick I'm afraid it move all over when it is run through the machine. The 1.5" velcro is also pinned on. It is only applied where it is needed. I would normally not pin velcro on, but I want to make sure I get these really long pieces where they need to go. Here it is all pinned up and ready to go through the machine.
I ran a stitch across each end and two down the long sides on each edge of the Velcro. Then it was taken out to the camper and installed in place (I first had to install the loop side of the Velcro on the camper wall since my camper was ordered with out a thermal pack). With it in position I traced the window locations directly on the nylon with a pencil. You can barely see the marks in the picture below.
Secure the nylon to the insulation with pins all the way around the opening to keep everything in place, then take a deep breath and hope this plan works, it would be a shame to ruin hundreds of dollars worth of material here.
All the windows came out no problem and even in the right spot! A really sharp knife helps to cleanly cut the nylon, I tried a box blade, but had cleaner cuts with the polished edge on my pocket knife. The edges of the window will need to be trimmed out with something. I cut a 5" wide strip of the nylon, folded it in half and stitched it, turned it right side out and then folded in half again and ironed to form the edging.
Pin this all the way around the opening, overlapping the corners.
There is no need to pin the 1/2" Velcro on here, it can be applied when the stitching is done. After running it through the sewing machine it looks like this, note there is no Velcro across the bottom edge.
Now we need window flaps. These are built just like the rest of the walls, start with a piece of insulation large enough to cover the window opening plus the edging, I my case that worked out to 36" x 15", then wrap it in the nylon and pin every 3-4".
Velcro is added on the three required edges when it is stitched. Then the stitched window is stuck in place on the wall panel.
Secure the bottom edge to the wall panel and run a couple stitches across the bottom and bam a window!
Then then whole thing is hung in the camper again to mark the button hole location on the windows for the bungee loop and to mark the whole thing for length. I decided to make the over all length long enough to tuck behind the lift panel to the first rivet between the lift panel and the soft wall of the camper. The insulation puffs up enough to pretty much seal the gap between the wall of the camper and the lift panel, so it should help slow the thermal loss there even without running really far behind the lift panel.
1.75" button holes are then sewn on the window flaps, the dark spot is where I marked the location with a pencil when the pack was hung in the camper.
Don't forget the stopper pin across the button hole when it is ripped. It would really sting to ruin it now, so close to the finish.
All that's left is to cut the pack to length and finish the ends. I trimmed the pack down just a little longer than the desired finished length, I just used the width of my yard stick, the rolled the facing material back and trimmed the insulation to the correct length. This allows enough material to create a finished edge.
Here it is stitched.
The top and bottom seams will have to be repaired where I had to rip them to create the finished edge, and then it is time to install it in the camper!
With the thermal pack installed the roof was lowered and buckled no problem. I rolled the camper out of the garage and raised the top to test the effectiveness. Missouri blessed me with a couple of 105 degree test days, if it works in this kind of weather it should work anytime we camp. I left the camper out in the direct sun for two days with the AC on the whole time and checked the temperature every few hours. The AC kept the inside 13-15 degrees cooler than outside while the camper was in direct sun, it did better of course with a little shade and shortly after the sunset with the ambient still in the nineties it pulled the temperature inside down to 73. So far I think it is a success! I look forward to testing it in much cooler temperatures.
Posted by PaulT on 03 June 2018 - 07:45 AM
Posted by rtpvibes on 30 August 2017 - 08:13 PM
Posted by Vic Harder on 11 October 2016 - 08:34 AM
I hope this thread will help us gather most of the info out there on powering our campers into one place.
In short, I hope it will address how much power we need, and how to reliably get it.
To start with, I want to acknowledge the work of others in this space. Forgive me if I miss a few, and please do point them out:
HandyBobSolar - http://www.w8ji.com/...ging_system.htm
Hawk Solar Upgrade - LINK
Running heavier wire for solar panels - LINK
Rice Build - LINK
DrJ on DIY Solar/Trimetric - LINK
ACR – improving your battery isolator - LINK
Modeling Small Solar installations – CarlD - LINK
How much power do I need?
The first bit we need to look at is how much power is needed. DrJ LINK indicates about 60 AH/day is typical for FWC use. If you want to run the numbers yourself:
This calculator can confirm some of that, although it is designed for home alternative energy use - LINK
I went at this in some detail, reviewing each of the appliances I intend to use, which are:
TruckFridge 130L – 24w/hr, 60w input, 5 A; 53 lbs; Size - H x W x D 29 ½" h x 20 ¼" w x 20 ¾" d (estimate 14hrs/day at 24w/hr)
Shurflo 4009-101-A32 pump 12vdc @ 3.5A (max) = 42W/hr (estimate 2hr/day)
ProPex 2200 heater – 1.4A = 16.8W/hr (estimate 5hr/day)
LED lights total = 1A (estimate 6hr/day)
Overhead lights = .8A
(Flood lights = 2.8A)
Porch Light = .2A
Fantastic Fan = 1.5A at full speed (.2A at low) (estimate at 4 hrs/day)
USB chargers (negligible?)
Inverter (120 v to 12v) (estimate running small one of 50W for 2 hrs day)
- Camera battery charger
- MS Surface 3 Pro laptop
Total of 60 AH/day. That’s exactly what DrJ figured out for himself, and also worst case. For example, the if the heater needs to run for 5 hrs a day, then it is likely cold out and the fridge won’t be running for 14 hrs, and vice versa, meaning my draw could be as little as 53Ah, assuming no furnace is needed on warm day.
How much battery do I need to support this load?
And you can use this to figure out your battery bank size
This Crown website has lots of good sizing info too: http://american-batt...olar-batteries/
To put it in words, Crown and others suggest no more than 30% of discharge for maximum battery life for Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) batteries, while 50% is possible with Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, but that will reduce the battery life. Plugging in the numbers to the capacity calculator (LINK), or spelling it out like this for my case:
60 AH * 50% and 2 days = 240 AH. That means I need at least a 240 AH battery as the smallest I can get away with. If I want to have 3 days between charges, even at the maximum 50% drain the number is 360 AH. Hmmm, maybe I need to adjust my expectations.
OK, so let’s go for 2 days between charges, but keep the batteries healthier, allowing only a 40% draw... that yields a need for 300AH of total capacity. OK, let’s run with that.
Crown’s 6CRV330 model battery looks like a good fit here. Fit being AH. Size is another matter... it is 14.6” tall. I will have to design my battery box to fit that.
Now here is a really strange thing. A bigger battery (or a lower load) get you more AH of daily use and a longer life per battery than you might expect. The relationship is non-linear. Lowering your AH draw or stuffing in more battery will lead to better than expected battery life. This is reflected in the warranty on batteries, which is often stated as 2/5 years. Two years of hard use, or 5 of gentle use. Draining them 50% every day, or just 30% every day.
What kind of batteries should I get?
OK, so more battery is better. What kind? FLA or AGM?
Apparently you can tilt the FLA up to 45*. That would be significant pucker for me, so that isn’t really a limitation.
AGM batteries are spill proof. You can even mount them sideways. That could open up some interesting mounting options in a FWC.
AGM’s can be charged up to 5x faster than flooded lead acid types.
AGM’s can also handle vibration, because they were designed for military aircraft and the shaking they go through, so wash board roads should be no problem.
FLA batteries need maintenance. Lots of it, to stay healthy, whereas AGM’s need none.
Finally, FLA batteries are about 50% of the cost of AGM’s.
OK, so cost favors FLA; everything else favors AGM - vibration, charge time, zero maintenance. AGM it is. How to charge them up?
How do the batteries want to be charged? There are right and wrong ways to charge AGM batteries. Battery capacity and life are critically impacted by how they are charged. Guys like HandyBob are very passionate about the fact than almost NOBODY does it right, and that almost ALL batteries in campers are chronically under charged.
Let’s not be part of that crowd!
First off, there are 3 different types or stages of charging an AGM battery:
Bulk (when you can dump practically unlimited amps into the battery at a pretty high voltage)
Absorb (when the battery is about 85% full, and it gets harder to “push” the amps into the battery)
Float (when the battery is basically fully charged and you want to keep in there)
Manufacturers list a lot more parameters about their FLA batteries than they do for their AGM batteries. I suppose the FLA batteries need more maintenance, so that makes some sense. So , I had to do a bit of digging for this info:
Rolls/Surrette says the max charge rate, or bulk rate, is c20 * 0.35, but more typically c20 * 0.25 - LINK
What does that mean? The c20 rate is how many Amps the battery can provide before it is completely dead after 20 hours of use. If you want more on AH ratings, go here - LINK. The c20 rate is the most commonly quoted one, so my chosen 330 AH battery just happens to have a c20 rate of 330 AH. Running the numbers, I get 330 * 0.25 = 83 Amps, and 330 * 0.35 = 115 amps. These are the amps these batteries want to see while charging. Whoa.... that’s a lot of juice.
More importantly, our AGM batteries have a minimum charging current, that being C20 *0.10 = 33A for my 330 AH Crown batteries - LINK
So, now we know that we don’t really want to draw more than 30% of (c20) AH capacity, but can go to 50% in worst case settings. And we want to charge at least 10% of C20 (330AH) = 33A, and can go up to 115A during the bulk charge phase.
How to do this? A FWC will usually have three options – the truck’s alternator, shore power and Solar. And we introduce another factor here besides the charging current, namely the VOLTAGE at which the battery is charged. This is really important stuff. Read on below, but before getting to charging, let’s look at measuring your batteries STATE of CHARGE (SOC)
How do I know what the SOC is of my batteries?
I think many folks have already sung the praises of the Trimetric 2013 Monitor. I think the simple answer to this question is get one of these. Done. As for why, this POST is very relevant – showing essentially that many folks measure their battery SOC when there is no load on it. That’s a sure way to kill your batteries. Apparently you need to measure the battery under load. The last two pictures on this post are perhaps the most important. The meter shows the battery at 12.1v when at a 49% SOC – the lowest you should ever take an AGM battery. Disconnect the load, and it bounces back to 12.32V, or 70% SOC. If you think you still have 70% left in that battery, you will be majorly disappointed in the battery life/performance you get out of it.
Even this site that has this handy table is mistakenly calling this a no-load table. The marine folks above think it should be considered a full load table.
Oye, sometimes this stuff makes my head hurt!
Charging via your truck’s alternator
Since we are looking at alternators first, let’s consider what the manufacturer (Optima 75 AH Yellow Top) of my truck’s starting battery has to say about how it should be charged. LINK.
They say it wants from 13.65 up to 15V (up to 15.6 if you can monitor the battery temp), at unlimited amps for the bulk charge, or 13.8 to 15v via a charger for 10 hours for an absorb charge, and 13.2 to 13.8 for float charge. The min/max amps for optimal charging (c10 and c35) are 7.7A and 30A.
When your truck is running at more than idle it is outputting its nominal alternator rating. My truck has a 135A alternator. Thanks to the car audio SPL wars, many higher power alternators are now available, and I can upgrade that if need to. These guys make BIG alternators LINK
Assuming my Optima Yellow top starting battery is fully drained, my stereo and headlights are on, the draw would be:
Battery = 30A
Stereo (500w amp plus head unit) = 35A
Low beam 2 x 35w bi-Xenon Headlights = 5A
Misc small lights = (10 x 10w each) = 7A
So I have 77A being taken by the truck, leaving 58A for the camper batteries.
To get better charging rates, I can turn off the stereo and headlights. Assuming I do that and can get the max charge amps out of my alternator, the other key factor to consider is the voltage at the camper battery. As we saw for the starting battery, AGM batteries want different voltages depending on where they are in their charge cycle. Assuming for just a second that the alternator can deliver these, Crown says that this is what you want for a 12 volt system (which includes 2x 6v batteries in series):
Bulk v = 15
Absorb v = 14.52
Float v= 13.5
Note: Trojan lists an alternate value of 14.4v for absorption charge. http://www.trojanbat...ry-maintenance/
Anything less than these voltages and the batteries will not charge properly. They will work, they will take some charge, but they won’t be at full charge, and will drain faster and ultimately fail completely well before their time.
So we need to get those volts to the camper battery, which means we really need to consider the voltage drop that arises from the resistance in the cabling/wires between the source of the power (alternator) and the batteries. Voltage drop depends on the specific length and gauge of the wire, for a given current drawn across it.
So, back to my 330AH batteries. As we saw, they want between c10 and c35 during the bulk charge phase, at 15V.
OK, so can I even get 15V from my alternator? I just went out and measured my alternator’s voltage output. To do that, I measured the battery when the truck was not running (11.5v – whoa, that’s pretty discharged, and that after normal short runs for groceries and such... seems like maybe I need to hook up my trickle charger!). This low state of charge for the starting battery is great for our testing purposes, as it means the alternator will be in bulk charge mode when I start up the truck. So, I start it up and Woot!!! I see 15.2V! Remember that Optima says they can take up to 15.6 for short while during this phase.
Now, what do I need to do to get at least 15V of those volts to my camper batteries, with at least c10 levels of current, as per Crown’s recommendation?
I will be hooking up the wires to my alternator (not the battery posts) and I figure that the distance will be 20’ from there to my camper batteries. This includes all the short little sections between the breakers, the ACR and such. I will want less than 0.2v of loss, or around 1% so I get the full 15V at the camper battery.
Let’s see what the stock – as supplied by FWC – wiring will get us. Using this calculator LINK, and assuming:
10 AWG (stock FWC wire)
15.2 VDC from my alternator
With a SET of wires this size (no frame ground)
And 33A (c10) minimum for bulk charging
(pic didn't come through)
It looks like I will get 13.88v at my batteries. That’s an 8.7% voltage drop, or 1.32v. That only gets me to slightly above a float charge level, not absorb, never mind bulk level. Clearly, those folks on this forum who have upgraded their wiring from the truck to camper and gotten better results are on to something.
What if I want to get closer to a c25 level of current for my bulk charge? That’s 25% of 330AH = 82.5A. Aside from melting my wires, that would result in a 21.7% voltage drop and only 11.9v getting to the camper batteries. Ouch.
BTW, use this link to figure out your fuse size for a given AWG, so you don’t melt your wires! - LINK
So, what AWG wire SHOULD I use? You can use this calculator from Blue Sea (Link), although it generalizes the voltage values too much. I prefer to use the original calculator I linked to and use trial and error with the numbers to figure this out
I figure I should be running 1/0 AWG. That will get me 15V with 50A:
(pic didn't come through)
Let’s think about the implications of this for a minute.
First, I’ve seen a few folks here upgrade to 4AWG, which isn’t big enough according to our calculations, and yet it seems to work for them. Why?
Well, for one thing, they are using smaller batteries. 220 AH or smaller. C10 for those batteries is only 22A. Using the calculator and changing the wire size to 4AWG, I get 14.98V at 22A to the camper batteries. That’s enough to get us well above “absorb” charge state and good enough for a bulk charge even. Given enough time, that will charge up your camper batteries.
How much time? Going back to the Optima website, they recommend 13.8 to 15v for up to 12 hours for a 75AH battery. For the 220 AH battery we just ran the calculator for, that means 220/75 * 12hrs = 35.2 hours to fully charge that 220AH battery. Oh, and if your starting battery is low too, then you have to factor that in too = 295/75 * 12 = 47.2 hours! That’s a lot of driving! And if you need to charge your battery daily... well, last I checked there are only 24 hours in a day. Ooops.
Maybe this is why my nice new Optima only read 12.0 v this afternoon when I tested it. The trickle charger goes on NOW.... stay tuned for results on that. OK, after charging for 18 hours at 10A and 15v the battery reads 13.0 v this morning. Much better. How much better?
According to this graph, at 12v I was at 20% of charge before. Darn near dead. Now, at 13 v (my analog meter needs to be replaced!) I am at 100% charge.
A quote from HandyBobSolar’s website might be appropriate here:
“Get the battery manufacturer’s charging specifications and pay strict attention to them. The charger manufacturers are nearly all not setting their equipment up for the voltage that the battery manufacturers specify. The difference between 14.4 & 14.8 volts is not 3%. That difference is nearly 20% of the charging range (12.2 to 14.8 volts). That 20% makes a huge difference in how full the battery gets before the charger shuts off. You can eventually get the batteries full by charging at 14.4 volts, but it takes hours, not minutes. We have related industries that are not talking to each other and the outcome is that the majority of RV’s are running around with weak batteries.”(emphasis added)
In short, without some other charging method, your truck will never keep the camper batteries (or the starter battery for that matter) at full charge.
See this LINK for a good write up about how to check your vehicle battery and alternator.
Another implication – and a quick note about battery isolator/charge relays:
Many folks have noticed that the battery isolator prevents their alternators from charging the camper batteries. Upgrading the wiring and/or using a BlueSea ACR seems to help. Why?
The isolator is designed to protect the truck starting system so you don’t get stranded with a dead starting battery. It monitors the camper battery, and if it is TOO low, won’t connect to it. What voltage is that? 12.4v. So let’s imagine that your camper batteries are actually at 14.5 volts and would benefit from a long absorb charge cycle, and they want 20 amps for this purpose (about right for a 100 to 200 AH battery). The wire feeding the isolator is the same one running to your batteries, and 20’ long or so.
The ACR will sense that it can charge the camper battery (sense voltage implies no current movement). So it connects. Current starts to flow across that FWC stock install 10 AWG wire. As soon as it does, it incurs voltage drop from trying to stuff all those electrons through that tiny wire. The voltage it now sees is only 13.7v. So it disconnects. After a bit, it notices the batteries are back to 14.5 and connects again... click, click, click.... and no charging is really happening. Sound familiar?
Bigger wire is the answer.
Folks, there is only bad new here, as the voltage output cannot be easily adjusted to meet manufacturers requirements. Even so, a lot of members here have the IOTA DLS-30 with IQ4 as their charger. There is a lot of discussion about the Iota DLS series and IQ4 on the net. The unit is frankly no good at all for FLA batteries – see post #32 in this thread: https://www.solarpan...a-charger/page3.
That said, it might work for AGM batteries with the IQ4, which also appears to be conservatively set, with bulk/absorb only 14.8v (should be 15) and float at 14.2 (should be 14.52).
If you are willing to forgo the automatic features of the IQ4, you can use a trim pot inside the DLS-30 to tweak the output voltages, and use the two separate output voltages to manually do (enabled via the Two-Step Voltage Jack) bulk and float charging. But you have to be careful, or you will boil your batteries to death. Iota DLS manual here http://www.iotaengin...lib/dlsmanl.pdf and the IQ4 manual here: http://www.iotaengin.../#/products/iq4
Info on the trim pot in this thread - http://forum.solar-e...r-potentiometer
My understanding is that when you adjust the higher voltage – to say 15v from 14.8, the normal output voltage will also go up .2v, to 13.6. This would give you a good two stage charger, for bulk and float levels. I don’t know what happens if you adjust the voltage up to 15v and then plug in the IQ4. IDEALLY, it would stay at 15 for bulk, and scale the other voltages too. I will have to try that, or maybe someone who already has a DLS30 and IQ4 wants to try this (at their own risk)?
Conclusions re Alternator and Shore Power
My conclusions about shore power are the same as those reached by HandyBob, who says “Therefore, you can’t expect your converter to charge [your batteries], either. You are actually lucky to ever get your batteries over 80% full with a converter that is plugged in for several days unless the rig is stored and no electricity is being used.”
Oh, and a generator makes no difference here either. If you are feeding your batteries through the DLS30/IQ4 you would have to run the generator for several days also.
There is just no way around it. You have to get the charge voltage up to 15v to get into that bulk charge state, and then once that is done keep it at absorb for many hours to get the last 15% of charge done before you go to float charging. Shore power through an IOTA unit won’t do it if you are using your camper while attempting to charge it, it just can’t keep up. And we don’t have enough hours in a day to drive enough to charge fully via the alternator either.
That said, if I was to camp for two days in the winter in Banff NP, and no charging took place, I could get away with my 330AH setup. My batteries would be down 38%. That’s acceptable. They would get partially charged on the 2 hour drive home from the park, and then the IOTA with IQ4 would likely get them up to a full charge during the week before I headed out again. Boon docking is another story...
In short, we need properly set up solar when boon docking. And what does that look like?
How many AH do I need to recover?
You want enough solar power to recharge your batteries to full power after the number of days you decided (above) would be how long you will go between charging. In my case, that was 2 days, bringing my 330 AH batteries down to 40% to a 60% SOC. Now, on the third day, the sun is out and I need to recharge my batteries, and provide enough power to supply my daily needs to I don’t continue discharging my batteries. Basically, I need to have enough power coming from my solar panels to run my daily load with enough left over for the battery charging.
That’s 60 AH plus 330*40% = 60 + 132 = 192AH.
Sizing your solar panels
You need to know how many solar hours you have in a day at the location where you are camped. This map gives you a good idea - LINK. I myself will often be in zone 5, sometimes in zone 3. That’s between 4.2 to 5 hours a day, at solstice. In the winter, that can be up to 50% less! Winter also adds snow cover considerations. Right now I am not planning to camp in winter, so I’m just going to go there right now. And to keep it simple I’m going to estimate 4 hours of solar a day for my three season camping.
192AH needed with only 4 solar hours available means I need to generate 194/4 = 48.5A when the sun is shining, worst case.
Best case, my system never gets that loaded down, and I just need 60AH every day to keep up with my consumption = 60/4 = 15A
I suppose it would make sense to assume that a typical scenario would be to go 1 day without sun, and then have sun to do a recharge. That means 120/4 = 30A are needed every other day during my available sunlight.
The size of solar panels is usually given in watts. Watts = volts * amps. I would use 15v for the voltage number to make sure I get the needed voltage to bulk charge the batteries, so the watts needed are 30*15 = 450.
OK, so I will need two 225w panels. I think I will mount one on the roof and use another in a portable setup. And I will want to use 24v panels to keep the size of cables down. Why? Well, I understand that the wires to the roof are about 10’ long, and that the stock FWC is something like 12 or 10 AWG, depending on the vintage of the camper. I think mine has 12AWG.
Let’s say I put 3 of the 100W GrapeSolar panels from HomeDepot on the roof. I would be trying to feed 16.68A at 18v back to the controller. Plugging that into the voltage drop calculator (LINK) I get 17.47v, a 2.94% loss. If I use a 265W Canadian Solar 24v panel, I will be trying to move only 8.66A but at 30.6v to the solar controller. That yields 30.32v, a 0.92% loss. Much better. To get the equivalent efficiency from a 12V panel I would need to upgrade the wiring in my FWC to 6AWG, and that is not easy to do.
It gets even more important when considering the portable panel voltage drops, as the wires are much longer to this panel. I figure that panel will be 50’ or more away from my camper to catch the sun while I am parked in the shade. Using the commonly suggested 8 AWG wire over 50’ yields a 5.83% loss with that 12v GrapeSolar panel, and only 1.76% with the 24v panel.
24v seems like a no-brainer to me, except that I can’t use the highly recommended Trimetric 2030 charge controller, and have to get a MPPT type instead. The cost difference is substantial ($300 or more).
I’ve put together a spreadsheet of my costs for this solar setup, and the number is a bit scary, actually. So I am hoping someone can point out that I made a mistake in my calculations or something.... ;-)
Posted by smlobx on 29 December 2020 - 04:39 PM
Although it is not West of the Mississippi River I thought you may like to know about a new NP that is about to come to fruition.
The New River George, located in West Virginia is probably best known for the annual day the bridge is closed to vehicle traffic and people are allowed to bungee jump the gorge. This area has the best white water rafting East of the Mississippi with many Class III and IV rapids. The fishing is also outstanding!
You can read more about it here:
So if you find yourself lost in the East consider checking out our newest NP!