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FWC Electrical basics and upgrading to lithium!

lithium camper electrical batteries charging

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#11 Mthomas

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Posted 20 January 2022 - 11:04 AM

KP is a great, innovative resource for these electrical upgrades, I am lucky to have him nearby. The manifesto he posted above is a well thought out roadmap to upgrading your electrical system based on KP”s several years of research,work and hands on experience with a ridiculous number of campers, trailers and vans. He has also developed some awesome add ones for campers; an outdoor shower enclosure and some quick connect attachments for the cornerjacks. https://www.zerodeclination.com/

 

 

Here is the summary of what was achieved; upgraded wiring allows my 200 plus amp alternator to take my batteries from dead to full in a couple hours of driving, my 200 Ah of useable capacity relieves any remaining power anxieties. I do not enjoy thinking about power when I am out and about, I just want it to happen. 

 

I did this in two phases. First I had KP upgrade the wiring from my truck to the camper and add in a victron BMS to replace the overland solar monitor. I did this after a late November trip with cold temps and minimal solar avail to top up. Healthy one year old AGM batteries were just not keeping up, solar was minimal, and the four hour drive home did not give the truck time to get the batteries full again through the factory wiring. When I imagined a longer duration trip without 8-10 hours of driving a day, and inadequate solar, I realized that an improved charging system was needed. Going to 4 AWG is like using a firehose to fill a swimming pool instead of a garden hose, it gets done quick. If I run my batteries down, which does become an issue with 3,4,5 year old AGM batteries, I am topped up in a few hours of driving, and functional after a few minutes of high idle while parked. 6 to 9 months later, the overland mppt conked out, fairly common, and KP replaced with a victron mppt.
 

This fall I observed that my three year old AGM batteries were having a tough time keeping up. Running the heater for a short period would rapidly drop them from full 12.8 V down into the 12.2  range. I am not sure what happened, the fall off in capacity was pretty quick. I think it might have been secondary to the failure of the two starter batteries in my diesel, but I cannot verify that. I had been noticing since late summer that the overnight voltage of the batteries was getting lower and lower in the history that the victron BMS records. So, I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought a couple battleborns and a victron dcdc charger. 
 

To be honest, I was going to have KP do the conversion, but he was on a well deserved vacation trip and I had a lot of free time on my hands through the holidays. I used the above posted guidelines as my instructions and installed. It is a PITA working in the compartments, but I eventually got it all done. Two of the battleborn golf cart batteries will fit into the battery compartment of a late model FD hawk. YMMV. One take away from this was to use welding type wire in the future rather than the usual automotive grade. It is much less rigid and so much easier to work with. Standard wire is a real PITA to move around in these tight spaces. KP uses welding wire, my additional wires were automotive grade and only made my life difficult. Another take away is that the hammer style crimper works, but the crimp looks much more uniform and reliable when done with a professional grade crimper. I will probably have KP make up some replacement connections for me eventually to release some of the strain on the super stiff connections I made.


Edited by Mthomas, 20 January 2022 - 11:12 AM.

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#12 Wallowa

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 12:04 AM

KP did a complete Victron change over [110/MPPT/DC/DC...I had the 712] in my '16 Hawk last June; my two Zamp rigid solars [160 + 170] along with a DC/DC and a  BB100 aH heated battery [went heated because even when snowing I can get some solar charge and since I don't leave furnace on and temp could drop below the BB low temp shut off for charging, with BB heater keeping battery temp above shut off any solar contributes to SOC]  Big fan of the DC/DC [4ga]; that sucker cranks out a lot of juice and is a great fall back even if not driving on road.

 

Will comment on a strange event...with DC/DC breaker "on" and my Tundra AGM truck battery on a Battery Tender in my shop..the Battery Tender was charging the BB... I found BB in a 'float'...not good over a sustained period for the BB...so my protocol is to 'open' the DC/DC breaker [on firewall] when I hook up the Tundra battery.

 

Life span of AGMs? Well 'your mileage may vary' but mine with meticulous maintenance [never letting it go below a 60% estimated SOC/voltage] and use of 110 in shop the two 12v 75ah Exide FWC AGMs lasted from 2016-2020...then they would not hold a charge and discharged very easily...hence my visit to KP....I wanted a reliable system.

 

Lastly KP did a first rate job of installing what I needed and not selling me what I did not need....

 

Go Lithium, a no brainer.

 

Phil

 

Ps...After much time spent back and forth with BB, I came to realize that my BB after a full balancing charge [14.4v] when removed from chargers will in time 'settle into' 13.3v [about 90% SOC] state for months while losing about 2% SOC per month ...perfectly normal...start up and DC/DC has it to 100% SOC in minutes.


Edited by Wallowa, 21 January 2022 - 12:13 AM.

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#13 mobilelists

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 12:12 AM

What is a "great" way to pass the charging cable from the truck alternator though a slide-in camper wall? I would prefer not to do the grommet and caulk method or have a bulky conduit box.

The plan is to run 1/0 cable from the alternator to the front of the truck bed. From there connect to the cable coming out of this yet to be identified feed-through.

I will use Andeson connectors with either the one on the camper fastened to the camper wall or the one on the truck bed fastened to the truck bed.

What works best?

thanks
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#14 Vic Harder

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 02:20 AM


I will use Andeson connectors with either the one on the camper fastened to the camper wall or the one on the truck bed fastened to the truck bed.

What works best?

thanks

 

These work well - Summit Racing SUM-G1431-RED Summit Racing™ Bulkhead Cable Connectors | Summit Racing

 

Put a pair of those in the corner of the pickup box, bolt the heavy cables from the alternator to the bottom and a short connector to an Anderson PP that you can reach from the turnbuckle door to plug it in.


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2012 ATC Puma Shell build - https://www.wanderth...012-puma-build/

Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

Building out an electrical system - So, you want to setup a good electrical system in your camper? - Electrical, Charging, Solar, Batteries and Generators - Wander the West


#15 blitzkrieg3002

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 04:48 AM

I just recently upgraded my battery in my 2015 swift to lithium. I went with a 200AH Jita battery. So far I've been very impressed. I am monitoring with a Victron 702. Charging via solar with a Victron MPPT. I have a nocco 110 plug in 10amp charger wired in place for plugging in. And also have a Victron 12/12-30 dc-dc charger. I ran 6awg copper back from the batterry with 40amp breakers before and after the dc-dc charger. It works great. The unit gets pretty hot. Im going to add a switch in the cab to turn the dc/dc on and off and also tie a 12v fan onto this switch to help cool it.

I used these plugs that I reach at the turnbuckle cubby doors to unplug the camper from the truck
Orion Motor Tech Wire Connector 2... https://www.amazon.c...op_mob_ap_share

Edited by blitzkrieg3002, 21 January 2022 - 04:50 AM.

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#16 chief

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 01:48 PM

KP (and all on the thread) - your post had the exact effect of your intent - I feel like I do understand the parts of the power system (generally - applies to any truck camper, not just an FWC).  

fwiw - I've had truck campers for years (cirrus, artic fox, lance to name a few before winding up with my fwc hawk) and your post helped me understand the power and how it applied to all of them.  Sadly I'm a cyber/ electronics guy by trade but trying to figure out all the components here on my own has always been, a bit confusing.  your post truly cleared a lot of that up.

 

appreciate you taking the time to write out the above - now your next post could be "here are some recommended components for capacity" ;)  I'm pretty sure I'm tracking what I need to add but just an idea to help with the next-steps 


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#17 mobilelists

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 03:42 PM

Vic,

Thanks! Now I just need the truck to be built and delivered so I can see what will work.
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#18 Vic Harder

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Posted 21 January 2022 - 05:54 PM

Vic,

Thanks! Now I just need the truck to be built and delivered so I can see what will work.

Not sure if you have seen this thread... so including a link here now

So, you want to setup a good electrical system in your camper? - Electrical, Charging, Solar, Batteries and Generators - Wander the West


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2015 Silverado 3500 crew cab 8' bed Diesel

2012 ATC Puma Shell build - https://www.wanderth...012-puma-build/

Power considerations thread - https://www.wanderth...e-power-scotty/

Building out an electrical system - So, you want to setup a good electrical system in your camper? - Electrical, Charging, Solar, Batteries and Generators - Wander the West


#19 BBZ

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Posted 30 January 2022 - 08:00 PM

We are currently in Baja.. 

 

No major issues, but looking at the best way going forward to get more juice. 

 

I recently added a 200 ah lithium, but just kept my old charging system in the meantime.. 

 

I can run my fridge/freezer 24/7 and it will charge in the limited daytime hours if there is full sun. 

 

My charge controller only has a gel mode, but not lithium, how much of a difference will that make to get a better charging monitor, or should I just add another panel (not sure what I have, likely 160 watts, but it is clearly after market system). 

 

I guess my question is, what to do first?

 

Thx


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#20 Jon R

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Posted 30 January 2022 - 11:32 PM

200 ah should give you about 4 days without charging. Do you often stay longer than that in one place? If not, I’d suggest doing a 30 amp dc to dc charger first, and only after that upgrade the solar.
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