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Old 03-25-2009, 10:17 PM   #1
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Will the batteries make it?

I'm heading out this weekend for a week of dry camping, temps will range from 55 to lower 30s. We will be camping in the middle of no where on this trip. I have my original Napa Stowaway 12v batteries in our Sightseer. So far they have done fine, we've gone a week plus dry camping in the summer, but this trip we'll need to run the furnace a lot a night. Wife is concerned we're going to end up dead and freezing. I'm still thinking these batteries can pull us through if we're running the generator a couple hours each day.

We'll be with 2 other families so we couldn't fire things up we could get a jump, but I think between the 2 house and engine we will be able to make it. One of the other guys has a Sightseer and replaced his two with a couple Interstate 29M batteries. Dealer is not one that promotes using dual 6 in these Sightseers, from what I've read many here use the 29M's as well.

Any thoughts or advice?
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:55 AM   #2
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Magazine sez ...

Steve ...

I was reading a recent copy of Motorhome today ... the topic of charging batteries was discussed ... the author suggested using the engine alternator to charge batteries ... with the engine running at a fast idle ...

The output of the alternator is much greater than the output from the generator ...
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Old 03-26-2009, 06:00 AM   #3
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How much more fuel does the main engine use than the generator use per hour?
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Old 03-26-2009, 07:46 AM   #4
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2 hours of genset run time will not charge up batteries fully that have been discharged very low,and the power converter is not designed to charge a completley dead battery
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Old 03-26-2009, 08:32 AM   #5
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You might want to pick up a nifty little accessory

Either a Honda Eu100I or a Yahama 1200 watt inverter Generator

These things are so noisy that if you are standing with one foot on top of it,, You might not hear it running (At least once the converter finishes re-filling the batteries) They sip gasoline (Running hours on what another generator would polish off in a matter of minutes) and are light weight. Of course the 1,000 size can not run much beyond a converter (up to 60 amps)

The downside: They do cost money.. Plus they are thief magnets So at night, LOCK IT UP inside the tow vehicle

But they sure are nice
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Old 03-26-2009, 02:54 PM   #6
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We sometimes do as you are planning in chilly Minnesota temps. I always run my genny two hours each morning and night. In addition I also run engine every 2 or 3 days for one half hour at 1200 RPM's for more charge. This has always kept me from discharging my batteries to low, which I am not one to ever do. I do run 6 volt Interstate batteries. I plan to buy a 2000 Honda genny when we retire in a few years and do more boondocking just because it is so much quieter. Enjoy your week away.
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Old 03-26-2009, 03:14 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback, after really debating if I need to spend the money last night my wife woke up not feeling 100% and that was the deciding factor. I went to the dealer and picked up two 29M batteries, what's a couple hundred bucks (yikes!). They're being charged now and with the charge time and the day and half drive down we should be fully charged for the trip.
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Old 03-26-2009, 05:12 PM   #8
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Hi Ho: We discovered that batteries do gradually deteriorate. We put in new batteries a little over a year ago and the difference was really substantial. We can run everything in the coach (including a stereo amp and TV and furnace) for about 24 hours now. It will run the TV for over 5 hours straight including DVD player etc. That is just about what you can calculate for capacity in watt-hours.

So, maybe you money is well-spent. Anyway we can always rationalize that it is.

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Old 03-26-2009, 06:19 PM   #9
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LOL Dirt always need a good rationalization!

Seeing we mostly dry camp and I've been wanting to upgrade the batteries it just made sense to get it done now. I really sort of wish I had put in a 3rd now, I think there is enough room. If I do I'll have to do it after the trip. Everything is installed now and working, fit like a glove.
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:31 PM   #10
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Update: We're home from our 8 night trip, 7 nights boon docking and 1 night with power. The new batteries were great, never ran out of power or had any issues. One of our fellow campers with dual 6 did run dry one night :( The other camper, also a Sighteer had the same batteries as I put in, we both did fine. I'm going to measure to see if I could fit in a 3rd or not, if so I may add one now and not have to worry about power for a while.
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Old 04-05-2009, 01:04 AM   #11
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Thanks for the update. I'm going to be in the market for batteries soon and was following your thread. I do a lot of dry camping when we go off roading and good batteries are priceless.

Tom
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Old 04-05-2009, 05:45 PM   #12
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I suspect you will be OK too. However "A couple hours" may not be long enough, Most batteries 2 hours will take 'em from 50-90 percent.. Do that morning and evening (just before quiet hours) and you should be good. 5-7 hours is needed to fully charge

THIS assumes your converter is the proper size.. Smaller converter = longer charge time

To compute Figure out amp hours of batteires (If 2 six volt add voltage to get 12 volts, if 2 12 volt add amp hours to get capacity) and compare to converter charge current (Some converters only charge at a few amps, some can dump their full output into the batteries) 30% of capacity is the proper size for most batteries, Lifeline AGM's and GEL cells take, much more and slightly less, respectively, but most (Flooded wet cell, maintenance free and even most AGM's) take 30% to 1/3
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Old 04-07-2009, 09:03 AM   #13
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Batteries indeed deteriorate and life expectancy is about 5 to 7 years. I have 3 group 29's and when new they would drain in about 24 hours which would include about 2 hours of invertor usage to power the TV. Now they are about 7 years old and without any invertor usage they drain pretty quickly. I need to replace them...but they still function sufficiently so I keep delaying the purchase of new ones.

While sleeping I keep the furnance in the low 50's and the old tired batteries just make it (barely) thru the night! The Honda EU2000 tops the batteries in the evening and allows us to quitely watch TV, use internal lights as much as we wish, and make popcorn in the Microwave. The Honda also ensures we can have heat and warm coffee in the AM and indeed, gas usage is minimal. A gallon will last several days. Safe, fume free, gas can storage is the biggest issue.
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Old 04-07-2009, 03:31 PM   #14
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I use a hydrometer to test my batteries to see if the individual cells are week. It is a quick and easy way to determine if you battery needs replacing. They cost about $8.00 and are available at most auto supply stores. Great tool.

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