Can Experienced and/or Expert RVers Advise Me About Battery Charging
We will be trying out our first semi-boondock stay this summer, a five day stay at Awenda PP in Ontario. I have no concerns about fresh water and waste water as the park has the former available in central locations, and I have a honey wagon (and there are central showers and toilets) to deal with the latter. My concern is electricity, as there is no hookup
For equipment I have two Group 24 batteries wired in parallel and a 3000 watt Honda clone (Kipor) invertor generator. I also have a separate Schumacher 120V battery charger. My RV has the stock converter built in, and my lighting has all been converted to LEDs.
Here's my questions:
1. I will not need the furnace or AIRCO, but may occasionally use the fans, but there will be a reasonably limited time to run the generator (maybe 4-6 hours a day). What is the chance it will be able to keep my batteries charged so I run the lights and water pump, and the other smaller loads in the RV (propane fridge, alarms, sensors, etc.)?
2. I have read a better way to charge batteries with a generator is to plug in a dedicated battery charger like I have, and charge the batteries directly, as the built in converter is not efficient at doing this. If I attempt to do this, do I have to disconnect the batteries before I charge them (I can do this as I have 30 amp fuse wired in to isolate them from the RV) or I can I leave everything connected?
3. My 3000 watt generator is OK at electricity production, but it is heavy and certainly overkill if all I want to do is to keep batteries charged and low draw equipment working. A store (Canadian Tire) has much lighter and quieter 2000 watt Champion on sale right now. Would there be any difference in the ability to charge the batteries with this generator as compared to my existing 3000 watt? What about one of the 1000 watt class generators if I decided to go really small?
Thanking you in advance for your advice ...
Dave (and Jo)
As far as power usage, if all you want to do is run the lights, water pump, and other basic functions, your batteries will be more than adequate. You will need to run the generator for an hour or two every day or every other day to charge them.
I would just plug the trailer into the generator and let the on board charger charge the batteries. That is what it is there for.
The 3000 watt generator will run everything you need, including the A/C ( most likely). A 2000 watt generator is more than enough to charge the batteries.
I have a similar set up to what you are describing. I use a 2000 Honda generator. I boondock for a week at a time easily with that set up. Depending on how many people are using the trailer, and how efficient you are, you probably won’t use all of your water or fill your black tanks in that amount of time.
Have a great trip!
Thanks for the advice, Logan!!
I don't see you having a problem at all for 5 days off the grid. We dry camped for years with a pair of batteries and a 2000 watt Champion before adding solar. The biggest power drain was the furnace fan and you say you won't need the heat and being summer in Canada it's light out late so won't use much power lighting the rig. You likely won't even need to fire the generator for several days.
2000 watt is nice to have versus 1000 watt because you will be able to easily run the microwave, toaster, a coffee maker that sort of thing if desired.
Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge, Ray!!
In reading your original post I see that you have two group 24 batteries. This size battery doesn't have much capacity to carry typical trailer power loads for very long, especially if the batteries are not brand new. As others have said, you'll need to run your generator a couple of hours a day to keep the group 24's charged. If you want to run your generator less, when the group 24 batteries need to be replaced I would suggest upgrading to at least group 27 or group 31 batteries. You may also want to consider going to two large 6-volt golf cart batteries wired in series. The idea is to get higher ampere-hour rated batteries.
I have one 140-watt solar panel on my 24-foot trailer and an 8-amp charge controller. As long as the days are sunny this is plenty to keep my two 6-volt 8AGC2 AGM golf cart batteries charged up, without my needing to run a generator at all. In fact I can go two or three days without needing to run the generator, even when the skies are cloudy. This assumes I don't need to run the furnace, which is a true power hog! The 8AGC2 batteries could carry the load even longer, but it is best to not let AGM batteries drop below about 50% of their operating voltage range in order to get long life out of them. I do have a 1,000 watt Westinghouse inverter generator in case there are several cloudy days in a row. When plugged into shore power or using the generator my trailer has an Iota DLS-30 with an IQ-AGM module to keep the batteries charged.
I'm not a full-timer, but my wife and I do spend a couple of months a year in Arizona and southern California, boondocking for about half of that time. I converted my trailer lamps all to LEDs, and that made a HUGE difference in how long the battery lasts before needing to be recharged!
Best of luck in your quest for quiet boondocking!
Thanks for your advice Rick, and for sharing your experience. I decided to go with the 2000 watt Champion as I mentioned was on sale above. I plan to take it along (and leave the 3000 watt at home) to several places in Ontario this summer (mostly provincial park sites with no electric hookup).
Depending on that experience, I may or may not keep the larger unit. I will keep the advice re: two 6 volt (or Group 27/31 batteries) in mind when he current ones need replacing (which I hope isn't soon!).
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