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Old 08-25-2022, 04:38 AM   #1
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Boondocking

So we’re planning on doing a lot of boondocking in our magnitude. Would it help to add two more 6v batteries and/or another 100 watt solar panel to increase voltage life? So we don’t drain down overnight?

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Old 08-25-2022, 10:41 AM   #2
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It depends how much boondocking, how long and what you want to be able to use.

I originally added two more 6V batteries in my '20 Magnitude SV34. That would handle boondocking overnight with running both refrigerators, charging phones and making a couple pots of coffee in the morning.

I also installed two 160W Renogy flexible solar panels (my coach was solar ready and only came with a controller but no panels when it was first introduced).

Last year I upgraded to 850Ah of LiFePO4 batteries and this spring I upgraded my inverter to a Xantrex Freedom XC Pro 3000 Inverter / Charger. I rewired the coach so I can run any circuit off the inverter... like one A/C unit or the microwave. I also added an additional 175W solar panel.
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Old 08-25-2022, 11:59 AM   #3
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I just want to be able to keep my batteries charged up overnight. So adding the extra batteries should do that?
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Old 08-25-2022, 12:16 PM   #4
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If you plan to do lots of boondocking, then the first thing I would do is install a shunt based battery monitor. Here are four choices in increasing levels of sophistication: Qworks, a $50 unit from Amazon that is basic but works well. Renogy, a mid level one. And Vicron with Bluetooth connectivity.

Then measure your daily amp hour usage. It will probably be about 100 amp hours if you have a DC compressor fridge, as much as 150 Ah if a large residential AC fridge run off of an inverter, and less than 50 Ah if it is an absorption fridge and you do little TV watching.

Then determine whether you will camp in shady, tree covered areas or open areas that can produce significant solar power.

And finally how long do you spend in one campsite before you pack up and go home or drive to another campsite?

With that data in hand, you can make a reasonable determination of battery and solar capacity.

FWIW with our newish Thor Axis we use about 30 Ah daily (absorption fridge) and can go at least three days on 200 Ahs of AGM batteries before going below 50% SOC.

David

With those two
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Old 08-25-2022, 04:48 PM   #5
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I’m brand new to motorhoming. We had toy boxes for 30 yrs prior and always had absorption frigs. This our first to deal with residential frig off the inverter. I only have one 100 watt solar panel And two 6v batteries. Our boondocking is mostly sunny areas little shade. It was suggested by another camper to add 2 more batteries in parallel and/or another 100 watt panel. I don’t understand ah/volts as it is…..ha
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Old 08-25-2022, 05:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob911;359208[COLOR=Red
]I just want to be able to keep my batteries charged up overnight.[/COLOR] So adding the extra batteries should do that?

If this is your only concern, your original battery package will be fine. Mine will run the residential fridge for over 36 hours without drawing the batteries down to point critical. If the fridge is pretty full and you don't open and close it often, overnight is fine. It doesn't run continually...only when the temps inside drop down a tad, then it only runs long enough to lower the tems back to your setting. You can also freeze a few blocks of "blue ice" during the day and place them in the fridge at night. This will reduce the amount it comes on and off. When we know we are boondocking a fair amount on the road, I also carry a Honda 2000 inverter generator (52 pounds) in the rear storage bin...just in the event batteries get too low or we decide to just stay put for longer than a night. You can run it 2-3 hours in the evening, bringing batteries back up to full before you go to bed. While on generator, the fridge bypasses the batteries/inverter and runs directly from the generator/shore power.
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Old 08-25-2022, 05:18 PM   #7
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More batteries equal more power: equals good thing!
More solar equals more charging ... same thing!
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Old 08-25-2022, 05:42 PM   #8
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I kept it simple, because there are two paths you can go.

Path #1 is the ultra expensive HUGE bank of lithium batteries, combined with a HUGE bank of solar panels. This is for those who strive to be able to boondock "generator free" and run everything, including AC, from inverted battery power.

Path #2 is what I call the "efficiency route". You don't have the funds to invest in a lithium setup. But you need to keep your lead-acid batteries charged while boondocking. Realize you WON'T be running AC off battery power, but will need to run your generator for that.

Many folks use Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) sealed batteries, which are more expensive than flooded lead acid batteries, BUT there's no maintenance (adding water) involved. The number of batteries needed depends on your electric usage.

For instance, I ditched the single 12volt battery that came with my rig, and installed two 6volt GC2 golf cart batteries. Wired in series rated at 215 amp hours each, I have about 107 amp hours available, which is 1/2 the battery capacity. To keep them topped off without generator use, I installed two 100 watt solar panels on the roof.

The same GC2 batteries I bought for $90 two years ago are now $109 each. 100 watt solar panels are now under $90 each... but I'd recommend buying at least 150 watt panels now. I bought a 40amp MPPT controller for $140.

With a couple cables, I kept it well under $400. Some people spend at least that on a single battery!

My batteries are under the steps (class C), and it takes me all of 5 minutes once a month to check them. The entire setup has worked flawlessly for keeping the batteries fully charged. We never need to run the generator for just charging batteries... BUT we do need the generator for high amperage use, like the AC, microwave or using electric (instead of propane) for the water heater.

But that's just us... YOUR usage may be entirely different!
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Old 08-25-2022, 07:10 PM   #9
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Ok, I think you have answered most of the basic questions: an AC powered residential fridge running off of an inverter and you camp in sunny spots.

So double your 6V battery capacity and install a total of 400 watts of solar. The 220 Ah usable Ah available would then get you through a cloudy day or so and 400 watts of solar will produce 100-150 amp hours on a sunny day (depending on latitude and time of year).

Also upgrade the charger portion of your converter to 80 amps or install a 100 amp inverter/charger. This will minimize generator run time if you have two or more cloudy days.

Unfortunately, large AC powered residential fridges are rather inefficient, unless Energy Star rated, and you don't see many of those on RVs. They can use 150 Ah daily.

David
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Old 11-23-2022, 11:07 PM   #10
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Inverter does not power ac outlets

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Originally Posted by Judge View Post

I rewired the coach so I can run any circuit off the inverter... like one A/C unit or the microwave. I also added an additional 175W solar panel.
Can you tell me more about having to rewire? I have noticed the inverter seems to run the fridge but not anything on the other side of the RV. I assumed the inverter was putting battery power to all the AC outlets (except maybe the air conditioner). Can't use any household outlets via the inverter.

Thanks,
Scott
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Old 11-24-2022, 12:48 AM   #11
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Can you tell me more about having to rewire? I have noticed the inverter seems to run the fridge but not anything on the other side of the RV. I assumed the inverter was putting battery power to all the AC outlets (except maybe the air conditioner). Can't use any household outlets via the inverter.

Thanks,
Scott
Fridge and TVs; and, maybe another outlet ot two but not all AC loads/outlets.
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Old 11-24-2022, 02:17 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by sthursto View Post
Can you tell me more about having to rewire? I have noticed the inverter seems to run the fridge but not anything on the other side of the RV. I assumed the inverter was putting battery power to all the AC outlets (except maybe the air conditioner). Can't use any household outlets via the inverter.

Thanks,
Scott
Download your electrical diagrams. They will show you which outlets are wired to the inverter circuit.
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Old 11-24-2022, 12:20 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by sthursto View Post
Can you tell me more about having to rewire? I have noticed the inverter seems to run the fridge but not anything on the other side of the RV. I assumed the inverter was putting battery power to all the AC outlets (except maybe the air conditioner). Can't use any household outlets via the inverter.

Thanks,
Scott
Most coaches aren't wired so the Inverter can power any circuit. They typically don't have enough space to house enough battery power. Some of the higher end Class A's and the higher end Super C's can have enough battery and inverter power to be wired this way from the factory.

The typical Thor coach with an inverter is only wired so a few outlets are powered by the Inverter. This includes powering a residential fridge, a TV and maybe another outlet in the bedroom for a CPAP machine.

As others have suggested, download the schematics for your coach from the Thor Owner site and it will show you which outlets are on the inverter circuit for your specific coach.

I did a lithium conversion about 18 months ago. I installed (5) 170AH LiFePO4 batteries from BigBattery to give me 850Ah. I then upgraded the stock Xantrex Freedom X 2000 Inverter to the Freedom XC Pro 3000 Inverter / Charger to give me plenty of power to run one of my two A/C units or the convection oven / microwave.

I took the output of the inverter and used 10/3 wire and installed a 75A Subpanel (something Thor should do as recommended by Xantrex but doesn't). I left the original inverter circuit intact but added a 15A breaker for the out put to the fridge, TV, etc. I then used 12/4 SOOW wired and did a run from the subpanel to the WFCO Power Center. I had two open circuit breaker slots (one for each line of my 50A service) so I installed a 20A breaker on Line 1 and another on Line 2. I connected one hot wire of the 12/4 SOOW to breaker 1 and another hot wire to breaker 2 and the neutral and grounds to the busbar in the Power Center.

When I want the inverter to power every circuit, I turn off the 50A main breakers and the 15A breaker for the inverter input so I don't back-feed my EMS and ATS and don't back-feed the inverter. I then turn on the two 20A breakers so the output of the inverter back-feeds the Power Center.

When I am ready to switch back to shore / generator power, I turn off the two 20A breakers and then turn on the 50A mains and 15A inverter input breaker.
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Old 11-24-2022, 02:05 PM   #14
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Judge:

The system you describe in your post above is very comprehensive, but has one potential flaw: If you forget to turn off the breakers and back feed your inverter, you will likely ruin it. Most inverters will self destroy if back fed.

I learned this the hard way a number of years ago, but maybe today’s inverters have better protection for this sort of thing.

David
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Old 11-24-2022, 02:51 PM   #15
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Judge:

The system you describe in your post above is very comprehensive, but has one potential flaw: If you forget to turn off the breakers and back feed your inverter, you will likely ruin it. Most inverters will self destroy if back fed.

I learned this the hard way a number of years ago, but maybe today’s inverters have better protection for this sort of thing.

David
Can't backfeed inverters with integral ATSs on their output or that are inverter/chargers.
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Old 11-24-2022, 02:52 PM   #16
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Judge:

The system you describe in your post above is very comprehensive, but has one potential flaw: If you forget to turn off the breakers and back feed your inverter, you will likely ruin it. Most inverters will self destroy if back fed.

I learned this the hard way a number of years ago, but maybe today’s inverters have better protection for this sort of thing.

David
Well said…
There’s already way way too much to think about with switches & closures & systems.
In fact, once stopped, I place an 8-1/2” x 11” placard covering my speedo/dash. A reminder with several bullet points of what must be attended to prior to starting engine & moving RV.
And, that bullet point list has grown over the years.
If I ever forget something, it’ll cost me $$$
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Old 11-24-2022, 03:20 PM   #17
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Judge:

The system you describe in your post above is very comprehensive, but has one potential flaw: If you forget to turn off the breakers and back feed your inverter, you will likely ruin it. Most inverters will self destroy if back fed.

I learned this the hard way a number of years ago, but maybe today’s inverters have better protection for this sort of thing.

David
I have a check-list but its pretty straightforward. But the Xantrex inverter won't get damaged as ACE mentioned. But it would create a loop and drain the batteries faster if I would forget the 15A input breaker.
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Old 11-24-2022, 03:24 PM   #18
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Well said…
There’s already way way too much to think about with switches & closures & systems.
In fact, once stopped, I place an 8-1/2” x 11” placard covering my speedo/dash. A reminder with several bullet points of what must be attended to prior to starting engine & moving RV.
And, that bullet point list has grown over the years.
If I ever forget something, it’ll cost me $$$


It's actually not much more difficult than turning on a couple light switches once you understand what you want to do.

When I built a new garage several years ago I had the electrician put an 30A outlet outside so I could plug in my 5500W generator to power the well, fridge, etc. during a power outage.

The process works the same was in my coach as it did at the house. In the house I had to shut off the main to the street so I don't back-feed the electrical lines on the street and then turn on the breakers in the sub-panel to back-feed the house. Then turn off the breakers that I didn't want to use so as not to overload the generator. The coach is actually a little easier.
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