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Old 11-20-2018, 06:28 PM   #21
Winnebago Camper
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 34
Well,

I can claim some success with my solar / Lithium installation. I came in right on budget, and when I flipped that big red switch it was thankfully without drama! Pics to follow but first a few notes on the system.

In my previous posts you can see which primary components I used. Everything plays nicely together and allows a fully customizable charge profile. I'm still tweaking the settings to find optimal numbers. More on that later.

The batteries can be charged via solar, the generator, or shore power. The inverter charger delivers roughly 80 amps charging power and switches seamlessly between inverter and charger modes. It also includes a 30amp bypass and automatic transfer switch. This means I can leave everything on, and when I start the generator, everything switches to generator without any user input. Those lithium batteries charge FAST.

I was able to tie into the existing system, while at the same time leaving the original components available down the road. This means at sale, I could realistically disassemble the solar system, switch back to original, and be done in a few hours work.

I elected to build my own battery box and rooftop combiner box. I routed my wires through the fridge chase and was able to install all equipment below the bed area. In total I lost a little over 2 cubic ft storage to the battery box, and another negligible amount for the inverter.

From a user stand point, the entire interface is over a Bluetooth network that can be used to change all charging parameters, and also monitor every aspect of the entire system including historical data.

From a practical stand point, it's like being plugged into shore power without the inconvenience of finding an outlet. It's like having the generator run without any of the noise. In short - it's awesome!

Like I said, pictures to follow but it may take a few days since I've got 3 weeks off and there is a lot of road ahead!!

EC
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Old 11-21-2018, 02:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElCampo View Post
Greetings all,

Well, we did it. Pulled the trigger and joined the group as proud owners of a '16 View 24J. We intend to upgrade the electrical system and I will need some help. I'm very capable with wiring and installation but I still have lots of questions.

Proposed system:

300 watts solar (poly panels to help prevent shading issues)

MPPT controller

300 ah lithium battery - most interested in prismatic (non-cylindrical) construction with a built in battery management system,

Upgraded inverter - 2000 watts

Upgraded converter/charger - one that plays nice with lithium batteries

Battery monitoring system


General thoughts so far:

The electrical draw for evaporative cooling Norcold is quite high - too high to sustain with only solar charging so this will remain unchanged (12v while driving, 120v plugged in, propane off grid) unless I could find a suitable danfoss or swing compressor style replacement - anyone wanna trade?

I'm not convinced the voltage regulation from the alternator is adequate for lithium battery charging, and beyond that I'd prefer to keep the lithium system entirely isolated from the lead acid starting battery system. That being said, I'd be open to suggestions on this point.

I'm going to try to complete the installation with as little rewiring and reconfiguration as possible so that most systems function "like normal"


Questions so far:

Is there any point in having both an inverter/charger and a converter/charger? I believe right now the converter/charger handles coach battery charging while plugged into A/C power or while the generator is running - correct?

Does anyone have recommendations on a replacement refrigerator that uses a danfoss or swing compressor?

Has anyone tried the "drop in replacement" lithium batteries with an integrated battery management system?

Recommendations on a solar controller, converter/charger, inverter, monitoring system that would play nice with big lithium?

Suggestions on installation locations? I'd like to keep any low voltage wiring runs as short as possible to keep internal resistance and voltage drop to a bare minimum. I'm considering building an insulated battery box with a very small electric heating element to keep the enclosure above freezing (can't charge lithium below freezing) or coming up with a low temperature cutoff for charging

What am I missing?

Thanks in advance!

I don't mind being the test bed for this stuff - just want to be free of the generator and extension cords!

Or .... you could skip lithium batteries altogether (which have to be kept charged, like any battery) and instead spend your money on a permanent solution that keeps any type of RV battery topped up all the time anywhere, anytime, rain or shine, day or night, and with no noise or odor .... an RV fuel cell.


Here's the link: https://www.efoy-comfort.com/install...ur-mobile-home



Here's :
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Old 11-21-2018, 03:43 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil G. View Post
Or .... you could skip lithium batteries altogether (which have to be kept charged, like any battery) and instead spend your money on a permanent solution that keeps any type of RV battery topped up all the time anywhere, anytime, rain or shine, day or night, and with no noise or odor .... an RV fuel cell.


Here's the link: https://www.efoy-comfort.com/install...ur-mobile-home



Here's :
Interesting, but expensive, even compared to Lithium & Solar.
-- $4300 for Fuel Cell which gives a max of 140AH at 12V per day
-- $5900 for Fuel Cell which gives a Max of 210AH at 12V per day

-- Now add on the fuel container at 2 for $160.

Based on the very vague fuel usage numbers given, on the Efoy website, I guesstimate the monthly cost as follows. (NOTE: this is a guesstimate)
-- For the 140 AH model "maybe" as low as $80/month
-- For the 210 AH model used as we do at 125-200AH a day $200-$300/month

Links to websites I viewed for info:

https://www.efoy-comfort.com/technical-data
https://www.imarineusa.com/efoy150-9...hocth4qavd_bwe


Also the installation manual https://www.efoy-comfort.com/sites/d...ide_EN_web.pdf
has a number of interesting warnings that has direct bearings on RV installations.
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2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
https://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/
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Old 11-21-2018, 08:03 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al1florida View Post
Interesting, but expensive, even compared to Lithium & Solar.
-- $4300 for Fuel Cell which gives a max of 140AH at 12V per day
-- $5900 for Fuel Cell which gives a Max of 210AH at 12V per day

-- Now add on the fuel container at 2 for $160.

Based on the very vague fuel usage numbers given, on the Efoy website, I guesstimate the monthly cost as follows. (NOTE: this is a guesstimate)
-- For the 140 AH model "maybe" as low as $80/month
-- For the 210 AH model used as we do at 125-200AH a day $200-$300/month

Links to websites I viewed for info:

https://www.efoy-comfort.com/technical-data
https://www.imarineusa.com/efoy150-9...hocth4qavd_bwe


Also the installation manual https://www.efoy-comfort.com/sites/d...ide_EN_web.pdf
has a number of interesting warnings that has direct bearings on RV installations.
I haven't verified your figures, but .... that seems like a big jump in ownership/operating costs jump per month between the 140AH model and the 210AH model.

Isn't $200-$300 per month (your 210 AH model estimate) for electrictiy when not on hookups "not too bad" ... especially with respect to elimination of the noise, vibration, and fumes when there isn't enough sun each day?

For what it's worth as an initial sunk cost comparison, a friend of ours last year bought a new View with the diesel generator option. The cost for that generator option was somewhere north of $5000. Around 12 years ago our new at the time Itasca's gas Onan 4KW generator option was around a $3000 adder.
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Old 11-23-2018, 11:50 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil G. View Post
I haven't verified your figures, but .... that seems like a big jump in ownership/operating costs jump per month between the 140AH model and the 210AH model.


The figures come from the links I provided. It is good to note the company states the fuel container would last 30 days, but doesn't note if this is on the 140AH or 210AH box. Also no info about how much the system is used.


Isn't $200-$300 per month (your 210 AH model estimate) for electrictiy when not on hookups "not too bad" ... especially with respect to elimination of the noise, vibration, and fumes when there isn't enough sun each day?


A well sized and properly installed solar system and lithium batteries there is almost no " noise, vibration, and fumes". On our 2016 Alaska trip, we went 137 days and only ran our generator to charge batteries for about 1.5 hours on one day. That was because of several consecutive days of heavy clouds. Note that we typically use about 100-125AH a day from the batteries. Even in light cloud cover you do get some power from the solar panels. Even if you only get 40-80AH from the solar panels from daylight to dark, that still helps.

For what it's worth as an initial sunk cost comparison, a friend of ours last year bought a new View with the diesel generator option. The cost for that generator option was somewhere north of $5000. Around 12 years ago our new at the time Itasca's gas Onan 4KW generator option was around a $3000 adder.


Yep. It looks like generator options are expensive. Makes the solar panels cheap by comparison.



Quote:
Isn't $200-$300 per month (your 210 AH model estimate) for electrictiy when not on hookups "not too bad"
My solar panels (two 325 watt panels) cost about $700 plus about $125 shipping. $200-$300 per month not spent pays for that cost pretty quick. Note I didn't factor in the battery cost, since even with the fuel cells you still need the batteries.



We should not ignore the effort which goes into ordering, having an address to receive the shipping of the fuel cells, and the need to store highly flammable alcohol containers.



Lots of warnings in the install manual about the dangers of the alcohol used to power the fuel cell.



But, hey this is not to say the fuel cell system can't be used. It looks like a workable system. If you camp in places with trees, or that have lots of very cloudy days, this would be a good system for you.



By the same measure, installing lithium batteries and larger solar panels are not justifiable unless you spend lots of time dry camping/boondocking.



I figured we paid for our system of solar and lithium on our Alaska trip by not staying in RV parks at $40-$50 a night. Our average cost per day was $7.53 for the 137 days.



Additionally our system keeps paying dividends by supplying free electric year after year. Quietly and with no fumes as well.
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2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
https://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/
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Old 11-23-2018, 01:05 PM   #26
Winnebago Owner
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 156
Thanks much for your additional comments.

I guess I don't get the infatuation with lithium RV batteries - especially in light of their current pricing.

The main advantage countering the disadvantages I see with lithium RV batteries is that you effectively get more AH per cubic inch of battery size because they can be drawn down lower than liquid or AGM batteries before recharging - without long term degradation.

If one doesn't have the weight or space limitations, lithium battery raw capacity can easily be duplicated through use of a fast charging AGM RV battery bank that requires roughly 2X the cubit inch area and 3X the weight.

Even if cost is no object ... my personal "negative emotional aspects" against use of lithium RV batteries probably center around "I don't trust them yet", "I don't like their low temperature charging restraint", and "unless one uses an AH monitoring system with them one cannot know when they're getting low because their terminal voltage doesn't sag enough to use as a reliable indicator as to how much they're discharged".

Since Winnebago did it right and installed our Onan so as to be fairly quiet, vibration free, and since we use a no-fumes technique with it ... and since our backup portable generator runs for 5-6 hours on 1/2 gallon of fuel and is one of the quietest ever offered - I'll probably wait a while yet before switching to generator-less daylight-dependent RV drycamping.
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Old 11-23-2018, 06:53 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil G. View Post
Thanks much for your additional comments.

I guess I don't get the infatuation with lithium RV batteries - especially in light of their current pricing.

The main advantage countering the disadvantages I see with lithium RV batteries is that you effectively get more AH per cubic inch of battery size because they can be drawn down lower than liquid or AGM batteries before recharging - without long term degradation.

If one doesn't have the weight or space limitations, lithium battery raw capacity can easily be duplicated through use of a fast charging AGM RV battery bank that requires roughly 2X the cubit inch area and 3X the weight.

Even if cost is no object ... my personal "negative emotional aspects" against use of lithium RV batteries probably center around "I don't trust them yet", "I don't like their low temperature charging restraint", and "unless one uses an AH monitoring system with them one cannot know when they're getting low because their terminal voltage doesn't sag enough to use as a reliable indicator as to how much they're discharged".

Since Winnebago did it right and installed our Onan so as to be fairly quiet, vibration free, and since we use a no-fumes technique with it ... and since our backup portable generator runs for 5-6 hours on 1/2 gallon of fuel and is one of the quietest ever offered - I'll probably wait a while yet before switching to generator-less daylight-dependent RV drycamping.
Taking a page from your opening paragraph:
Quote:
I guess I don't get the infatuation with lithium RV batteries - especially in light of their current pricing.

My take on the above statemen is: "I guess I don't understand the enjoyment of sitting outside my RV hearing the constant drone of the generator. "

It sounds like you are very happy with dry camping and relying on running your generator frequently. As long as that works for your that is fine.

"Quiet" is relative. If someone doesn't mind hearing a constant sound then it is not a bother. If someone is camping in a place where generators are not being used, then someone starting up a generator is a real irritant.

About depending on a generator. When I pull into a NF or BLM campground and park my RV where my generator is 15-30 feet from a campsite which doesn't use a generator, or are tent'ers, I'm sure they don't want to listen to a generator.
The issue comes down to "if can I hear a generator running", then it is out of place in an otherwise totally quiet environment.

If folks are in a place where others are running their generators, and this group didn't drive up and park where others not using generators are parked, then IMO they are fine running their generators.


The statement
Quote:
"unless one uses an AH monitoring system with them one cannot know when they're getting low because their terminal voltage doesn't sag enough to use as a reliable indicator as to how much they're discharged".
If you have lead acid batteries, even AGM, and you depend on them for your power you need to have the AH monitor or you will find the capacity of your batteries will significantly decrease over a period of a few weeks or a few months of mostly dry camping. You have NO way to "know" how much battery you have used or how close to 100% you have recharged the battery w/o an AH monitor.

Battery voltage or idiot light percentage display are guesstimates at best. Even using a volt meter to measure the voltage is a guesstimate as to state of charge.

It is very important to understand that to get a lead acid back to 100% from a 40% discharge (60% full) will require 5 to 8 hours of generator running. The last 4-7 hours of charging are to get the final 15% of charge back into the battery. The typical RV battery monitor will show full charge after 1.5 to 2 hour of charging.

Folks who dry camp for a few days, or a week or so using a generator run of a couple hours a day and then go back to elect hookups are not likely to notice or be concerned about a decrease in battery capacity.

Again the vast majority of RV'ers don't spend lots of time dry camping. That would be continuous weeks of camping w/o elect with a possible 100-150 days or more in a year dry camping. For those folks, running the generator to provide most of your elect power and recharging your batteries works just fine.
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2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
https://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/
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Old 11-23-2018, 08:41 PM   #28
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In one of my comments above I mentioned an AH monitor. That is a simple to understand way to keep on eye on RV battery condition/capacity (if the monitor is calibrated and kept calibrated) - but a combination of a voltmeter and an ammeter is just as good - if one knows how to interpret them versus camping style.

What I use are two permanentlly plugged-in four-place (XX.XX) voltmeters and a permanently mounted ammeter that I installed in the RV, with it's shunt in the main negative line of my two paralleled Group 31 AGM deep cycle batteries (Fullriver).

I use a combination of: The stock Parallax single stage converter, an external 50 amp charger, the main Onan generator, a 54dB very quiet legendary four-stroke Honda 650 watt portable generator, and the V10's 130 alternator (driving between campsites or idling it) ... to keep the AGM battery bank charged. FWIW, the idling V10 is ultra quiet and can't be heard a few feet away or inside of the coach by us.

After watching the voltmeter slowly decline to around 12 volts - about 50% discharged (close enough) - I start charging with some combination of the equipment above. When the ammeter reading declines to less than about positive 0.5 amps (negative readings mean current outflow from the batteries), I consider the AGM bank as being "fully charged" - regardless of the method or time I used to get to that point.

State-of-the-Art solar-based electrical RV systems are expensive to get started with and best suited for RV'ers who stay put for more than a few days per campsite. That's not us, as we are hit-and-run campers. As such we want to be ready for any conditions at any time at any location we want to camp at.

I also am still able to, and must, climb up on our RV's one piece fiberglass roof to perform maintenence up there. I can't have solar panels in the way up there that must be crawled carefully around when doing other things up there - as I have had to do many times over the years - sometimes unexpectedly on RV trips and even in remote places. In addition, if I did install permanent solar panels on the RV roof it would have to be using adesives because in no way do I want more holes in the roof than there already are to maintain or leak. To do this would mean that I would have to trust one of the various double backed high strength adhesive tapes to do their job year after year of UV exposure. Good luck with that.

What I have considered is a portable solar panel set so I could deploy it occasionally where effective in shaded campsites when we were maybe camping for a long stay ... which is very rare indeed.

I stand by my thoughts that wisely used generators of the proper type and appropriate equipment configuration offer a more versatile power source choice anywhere, anytime ... than solar or wind turbines.

What I would really like is portable solar, plus a fuel cell, plus the built-in big generator, plus a large AGM or lithium (when/if lithium becomes really ready for prime time) battery bank. This would provide for the ultimate in flexibility and reliability.
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Old 11-24-2018, 07:23 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil G. View Post
In one of my comments above I mentioned an AH monitor. That is a simple to understand way to keep on eye on RV battery condition/capacity (if the monitor is calibrated and kept calibrated) - but a combination of a voltmeter and an ammeter is just as good - if one knows how to interpret them versus camping style.

What I use are two permanentlly plugged-in four-place (XX.XX) voltmeters and a permanently mounted ammeter that I installed in the RV, with it's shunt in the main negative line of my two paralleled Group 31 AGM deep cycle batteries (Fullriver).

I use a combination of: The stock Parallax single stage converter, an external 50 amp charger, the main Onan generator, a 54dB very quiet legendary four-stroke Honda 650 watt portable generator, and the V10's 130 alternator (driving between campsites or idling it) ... to keep the AGM battery bank charged. FWIW, the idling V10 is ultra quiet and can't be heard a few feet away or inside of the coach by us.

After watching the voltmeter slowly decline to around 12 volts - about 50% discharged (close enough) - I start charging with some combination of the equipment above. When the ammeter reading declines to less than about positive 0.5 amps (negative readings mean current outflow from the batteries), I consider the AGM bank as being "fully charged" - regardless of the method or time I used to get to that point.

State-of-the-Art solar-based electrical RV systems are expensive to get started with and best suited for RV'ers who stay put for more than a few days per campsite. That's not us, as we are hit-and-run campers. As such we want to be ready for any conditions at any time at any location we want to camp at.

I also am still able to, and must, climb up on our RV's one piece fiberglass roof to perform maintenence up there. I can't have solar panels in the way up there that must be crawled carefully around when doing other things up there - as I have had to do many times over the years - sometimes unexpectedly on RV trips and even in remote places. In addition, if I did install permanent solar panels on the RV roof it would have to be using adesives because in no way do I want more holes in the roof than there already are to maintain or leak. To do this would mean that I would have to trust one of the various double backed high strength adhesive tapes to do their job year after year of UV exposure. Good luck with that.

What I have considered is a portable solar panel set so I could deploy it occasionally where effective in shaded campsites when we were maybe camping for a long stay ... which is very rare indeed.

I stand by my thoughts that wisely used generators of the proper type and appropriate equipment configuration offer a more versatile power source choice anywhere, anytime ... than solar or wind turbines.

What I would really like is portable solar, plus a fuel cell, plus the built-in big generator, plus a large AGM or lithium (when/if lithium becomes really ready for prime time) battery bank. This would provide for the ultimate in flexibility and reliability.
Very good description of how you manage your batteries. Good info for anyone wanting to emulate what you do.

A major concern of mine is still the need to run your generator and/or engine and thereby disturbing your neighbors, if they are not generator users.

I find it interesting that since you did the work to install a shunt for the ammeter why you diidn't just use the same type of shunt which comes with a Trimetric monitor TriMetric Model Descriptions - Bogart Engineering and have a very accurate and continuous monitoring of the battery. There isn't any more work to install the shunt and wiring to mount the monitor inside the RV than to just add the ammeter. The Trimetric only costs about $150. It also provides a voltmeter that you had to add separately. Additionally the Trimetric provides much more info than what you are getting from your setup.

BTW there is no calibration or re-calibration needed for battery monitors.

About solar panels on the roof. Just do quality install of the mounts for the solar panels including holes in the roof and there are no worries about leaks or the panels coming off. It is all about doing quality work.

On my 29' Class A RV I mounted s mounted two 325watt residential panels. I shifted them off to one side so I could leave about 20 inches of room to walk around one side. I have no problems walking around the solar panels to work on the roof or clean the solar panels. Again it is about doing quality work and good planning.
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2006 Winnebago Journey 36G
https://downtheroadaroundthebend.blogspot.com/
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