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Old 08-27-2019, 06:26 PM   #1
Tin
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Shady Camping

Shady Camping
Hi all,
It's been a wonderful camping season so far, and Bear has performed flawlessly. The new Trojan AGM batteries and the roof and portable panel performed fantastic when in the sun. The problem in some camp sites is not enough sun light to replenish used amps. We went into conserve mode and managed to get by but it just did not sit well with me Humm. The time has come to upgrade some of Bears electrical components and wiring. ( no generators allowed )

1. RENOGY 40 AMP DC TO DC CHARGER
2. VICTRON 100/30 SMART SOLAR CONTROLER
3. UPGRADE WIRE AND FUSES ON CONTROL BOARDS
4. INSTALL LARGE GAUGE WIRE FROM TOW TO DC TO DC CHARGER
5. MAKE IT COMPATABLE WITH LITHIUM ( FUTURE INSTALL )

So where to begin ? I have started to draw said components on control boards arranged to fit space. I am not an electrician by no means but can do most things with a little blood sweat and tears.Thought about posting what I have drawn in hopes that someone with electrical experience could critic and help with, might even help someone else at the same time ? Humm I don't know if others would be interested ?
Happy Camping
Tin.
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Old 08-27-2019, 06:45 PM   #2
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I believe Jon V. upgraded his E21 to lithium and uses a Dc to Dc charger, so yes there is some of us that would benefit.
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Old 08-27-2019, 07:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tin View Post
Shady Camping
Hi all,
It's been a wonderful camping season so far, and Bear has performed flawlessly. The new Trojan AGM batteries and the roof and portable panel performed fantastic when in the sun. The problem in some camp sites is not enough sun light to replenish used amps. We went into conserve mode and managed to get by but it just did not sit well with me Humm. The time has come to upgrade some of Bears electrical components and wiring. ( no generators allowed )

1. RENOGY 40 AMP DC TO DC CHARGER
2. VICTRON 100/30 SMART SOLAR CONTROLER
3. UPGRADE WIRE AND FUSES ON CONTROL BOARDS
4. INSTALL LARGE GAUGE WIRE FROM TOW TO DC TO DC CHARGER
5. MAKE IT COMPATABLE WITH LITHIUM ( FUTURE INSTALL )

So where to begin ? I have started to draw said components on control boards arranged to fit space. I am not an electrician by no means but can do most things with a little blood sweat and tears.Thought about posting what I have drawn in hopes that someone with electrical experience could critic and help with, might even help someone else at the same time ? Humm I don't know if others would be interested ?
Happy Camping
Tin.
One thing I have wondered about is improving the charge amps from the truck to the trailer and I'm clueless how to do that
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Old 08-27-2019, 08:15 PM   #4
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Does your truck have the largest alternator available or is it possible to buy an aftermarket alternator with a higher output? When we had snowplows and winches on trucks we spec’d or bought extra heavy duty alternators. Plowing Parking lots at night and continuously raising the plow with two sets of headlights on would drain batteries faster than stock alternators could put juice back. Back in the day there were some two Battery two Alternator setups out there too. One side just ran the plow or the winch.
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Old 08-27-2019, 08:23 PM   #5
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I think I'll check the alternator model number and see just what have. Rewiring back to the 7 pin plug might be a challenge. Might there be a bottleneck on the trailer charge controller end?
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Old 08-27-2019, 10:13 PM   #6
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I also made a recent switch to AGM batteries and the Victron Smart controller. I only have portable panels so I can “usually” get them in the sun. What I found was my 120 watt portable solar panels we’re not capable of generating enough power even during midsummer high sun. This summer I looked for larger panels and found 200 watt was the largest portable available. My fear was it would not be enough.

I switched to a 310 watt 60 cell “portable” panel. Well hardly portable as it weighs close to 45 lbs. I call it portable because I can still get it inside my Escape.

With full sun I now get decent charges in 2-3 hours. By the way we are power hungry campers and use 25% of the 220 amp hour batteries per day.
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Old 08-27-2019, 10:56 PM   #7
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Does your truck have the largest alternator available or is it possible to buy an aftermarket alternator with a higher output? When we had snowplows and winches on trucks we spec’d or bought extra heavy duty alternators. Plowing Parking lots at night and continuously raising the plow with two sets of headlights on would drain batteries faster than stock alternators could put juice back. Back in the day there were some two Battery two Alternator setups out there too. One side just ran the plow or the winch.
Iowa Dave
Yes my F-150 has a 220 amp (smart) alternators. I believe most f-150 have 200+ Alternators.
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Old 08-27-2019, 10:59 PM   #8
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I switched to a 310 watt 60 cell “portable” panel. Well hardly portable as it weighs close to 45 lbs. I call it portable because I can still get it inside my Escape.

With full sun I now get decent charges in 2-3 hours. By the way we are power hungry campers and use 25% of the 220 amp hour batteries per day.
Since I expect we'll be power hungry campers too after we pick up our 5.0 TA in March, what 310 watt panel did you purchase? What is its size, and where you do store it while on the road?

Thanks, Ron.
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Old 08-27-2019, 11:10 PM   #9
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I think I'll check the alternator model number and see just what have. Rewiring back to the 7 pin plug might be a challenge. Might there be a bottleneck on the trailer charge controller end?
In order to install a dc to dc charger, you need to run heavy gauge wire from the
truck battery to the dc to dc charger. The dc to dc charger should be close to trailer batteries. Now instead of 4 or 5 amp while towing (or just hooked up to running truck ) you are getting 40 amps at 14.7 bulk, 14.4 absorption, 13.5 float (or what ever you set it for ) plus your solar gain. That is 500+ watts rain or shine.
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Old 08-27-2019, 11:22 PM   #10
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I also made a recent switch to AGM batteries and the Victron Smart controller. I only have portable panels so I can “usually” get them in the sun. What I found was my 120 watt portable solar panels we’re not capable of generating enough power even during midsummer high sun. This summer I looked for larger panels and found 200 watt was the largest portable available. My fear was it would not be enough.

I switched to a 310 watt 60 cell “portable” panel. Well hardly portable as it weighs close to 45 lbs. I call it portable because I can still get it inside my Escape.

With full sun I now get decent charges in 2-3 hours. By the way we are power hungry campers and use 25% of the 220 amp hour batteries per day.
I have a 160 watt on the roof and 100 watt portable with a 50ft 10 ga. cable. but with out direct sun I am lucky to get 5 to 10 percent output.
We are power hungry to (wife hehe) 25% out of 220 amh, and if its cold more like 30%.
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:07 AM   #11
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When we are in the deep shade and even the portable won't reach good sun, we just conserve energy like not using the inverter, keeping the heat set cooler if we need it at night, and just watching the battery voltage. I find the my solar still charges in the shade, just nowhere near as good as in the sun. We can usually do 3-4 nights in colder weather with very little solar charge, heck we did this all the time with the 19 which had no solar.
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:07 AM   #12
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Solar is the one thing our Matilda did not come with when we bought her almost a year ago. It's not even prewired for it but I know this is something I will want to add in the next year or so, hope then I will have a better grasp of what is best thing to do for that.

Enjoy the journey.

Steve
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Old 08-28-2019, 08:37 AM   #13
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Nothing was prewired for my solar either, which I am glad for. The only wire you need is from the panels to the controller, then on to the batteries. In my trailer I removed the fridge to do a nice easy run from the port mounted on the roof.

I too had to do a bit of research to fully figure trailer solar out, and then decide what I wanted to do.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:24 PM   #14
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I switched to a 310 watt 60 cell “portable” panel. Well hardly portable as it weighs close to 45 lbs. I call it portable because I can still get it inside my Escape.
.
Yikes, portable is definitely an over statement 65"x 40" @ 45lbs. but I bet it works great and if you ever need a picnic table 4 poles and your good. I will probably switch out the 160 watt for a 200 watt and use the 160 as a portable. Honestly having a large panel on the roof has it merits, when not in the shade we have all the power we need with out even using the portable panel.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:33 PM   #15
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When we are in the deep shade and even the portable won't reach good sun, we just conserve energy like not using the inverter, keeping the heat set cooler if we need it at night, and just watching the battery voltage. I find the my solar still charges in the shade, just nowhere near as good as in the sun. We can usually do 3-4 nights in colder weather with very little solar charge, heck we did this all the time with the 19 which had no solar.
We do the same. Try 10 nights in shade, travel 200 miles to next camp site for an other 10 nights in even worst shade, it progressively gets worst, but it wont happen again.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:44 PM   #16
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Stayed 6 nights in Chiricahua NM in Wilcox AZ (wonderful empty park) in a shady site in Feb, spent a day trying to get the 2 portables to do me some good but it was futile as the sunny spots moved fast then I could.

Batteries at 60% when we left, roof 160w was pulling in about 1A an hour at the height of the day.

We use about 20A a day in the winter, 10A in summer, if I recall correctly the furnace was on nights.

Portables are not a cure all.
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Old 08-28-2019, 02:53 PM   #17
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I have thought of having solar on my truck bed cover and batteries in the back so I could move the truck to a sunny location and then connect to the trailer at night There is a lot more shade in the Smoky Mountains than out West

Graham
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Old 08-28-2019, 03:12 PM   #18
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There is a lot more shade in the Smoky Mountains than out West
Seeing the west is mostly mountains and trees, it can be very shady.
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Old 08-28-2019, 03:34 PM   #19
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Stayed 6 nights in Chiricahua NM in Wilcox AZ (wonderful empty park) in a shady site in Feb, spent a day trying to get the 2 portables to do me some good but it was futile as the sunny spots moved fast then I could.

Batteries at 60% when we left, roof 160w was pulling in about 1A an hour at the height of the day.

We use about 20A a day in the winter, 10A in summer, if I recall correctly the furnace was on nights.

Portables are not a cure all.
I would have to agree with you, try 20 nights talk about futility.
On the bright side I had plenty of time to evaluate my portable 105 watt solar panel under various conditions :

1. Clear skies, 12 noon, panel perpendicular to Sun, directly from panel (no extension cord).
Volts = 20.4, Amps = 5.88, 120 watts

2. Clear skies, 12 noon, panel perpendicular to Sun, With 50' 10 ga. extension cord.
Volts = 19, Amps = 5.93, 112 watts

3. In complete Shade, 12 noon, panel perpendicular to Sun, directly from panel (no extension cord).
Volts = 16.48, Amps = .35, 5.77 watts

4. In complete Shade, 12 noon, panel perpendicular to Sun, With 50' 10 ga. extension cord.
Volts = 15.9, Amps = .35, 5.5 watts

4. Half Shade half Sun, 12 noon, panel perpendicular to Sun, With 50' 10 ga. extension cord.
Volts = 18.74, Amps = .74, 13.8 watts

And yes there are some big trees out west.
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Old 08-28-2019, 03:36 PM   #20
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The biggest draw to us about the west is the big sky feel. We remarked on this just last week when we drove to the Canadian border through VT. Most places it like driving in a narrow trough, tree walls on either side, a ribbon of sun above, just like Maine. Haven't made it to the NW as yet, does it sound like Vermont and Maine, or open like Wyoming?
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