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Old 07-10-2013, 01:12 PM   #11
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Thanks again for the thoughts. I've decided to educate myself more on charging batteries, including how our solar panels charge. My husband and I travelled half way around the world on a sailboat relying largely on solar panels (in the tropics), and we had a Link e-meter that showed us the amp usage of each and every lightbulb, the amps coming in, etc. I knew a lot more then, but that was ten years ago and it's all fuzzy now.

I read a really interesting article by a guy who has been boondocking with solar and no generator for eight years. It was very informative and detailed on every aspect of battery charging, although I'm not experienced enough to know if he is as accurate as he claims to be. If any of you are interested in reading it I'd be curious to know what you think. (link below)

The last thing in the article are photos of solar panels being shaded by vent covers, etc and the possibly very significant loss of power associated with that. It has me thinking about the installation of our panel just inches away from the Maxx fan cover, where I know it gets shaded. Also, when we are on our boat we were constantly tilting our two panels to follow the sun and that made a HUGE difference in the amps coming in...but nothing we can do about that on the Escape for now.

I think I'll buy a hydrometer or voltmeter (the guy in the article says hydrometers are more accurate but messier) and try to arrive at a better understanding of all of this!!

The RV Battery Charging Puzzle « HandyBob's Blog

Thanks for the support!
Lisa
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:15 PM   #12
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I think that any shading problems you may think you have would only occur in those cg's where you are facing east or west. In any other direction the shading would not occur.
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyFun View Post
I read a really interesting article by a guy who has been boondocking with solar and no generator for eight years. It was very informative and detailed on every aspect of battery charging, although I'm not experienced enough to know if he is as accurate as he claims to be. If any of you are interested in reading it I'd be curious to know what you think. (link below)
I hope you get your issues worked out. I really have nothing more to add than what was already said.

In just over 4 years of owning my 19, I have done mostly boondocking without the use of a genset or solar. I haven't gone more than 4 nights in a row though, but have had nighttime temps dropping below freezing. I do have dual 6V batteries, and with conservative electrical usage, have never dropped too much on the battery monitor. I would like to get a better monitor to read actually voltages, and not rely on the stock one that was installed. We do not use any electric appliances. Cell phone chargers is the only draw other than that built into the trailer.

It would be great if you could link to this article, I always appreciate another point of view.

I did buy a 40W Coleman portable solar panel recently, but have not had the need to put it to use. My brother with a tent trailer and single 12V has one too, and says with minimal heater usage, he was easily able to bring his single battery back up to full power in short order.

Some day when I can devote more time to camping, I may upgrade the solar. We'll see.
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:38 PM   #14
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I have worked with hydrometer and a volt meter on my Escape and you do not want to mess with the hydrometer. There are all kinds of volt meters, I selected the Equus model shown below. I compared results between the hydrometer and volt meter and found them quite close. The volt meter is available at some auto supply stores, online and I believe Wal-Mart.

If you want to go for further monitoring you could consider a amp meter between your solar panel and batteries. I have not done this and do not have a recommendation.
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:53 PM   #15
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I have the unit shown above, and after buying it, I discovered that my 200W Motomaster Eliminator inverter, from Canadian Tire, displays the voltage coming so I really didn't need the voltage reader. It is, however, more convenient.
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:34 PM   #16
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I use one of these, it will beep when voltage drops below preset amount. Universal 12v Digital Volt Minder with Car Adapter
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:48 PM   #17
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Hi Jim,
I put a link to the article in my post but here it is again in case it didn't work:

The RV Battery Charging Puzzle « HandyBob's Blog

It was really quite interesting.


FudgeBrownie,
Thanks for the advice about the hydrometer/volt meters
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:03 PM   #18
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Yeah, sometimes it seems I have trouble putting 2 and 2 together.
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
I have worked with hydrometer and a volt meter on my Escape and you do not want to mess with the hydrometer.
A voltmeter will tell you overall battery condition, the hydrometer will identify individual cells that are weak or bad. I don't carry a hydrometer with me because of the mess, but do use it in the garage fairly frequently.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:27 PM   #20
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The hydrometer indicates the state of charge. All of the cells should be the same with the same specific gravity.
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