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Old 12-06-2022, 11:48 AM   #1
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2014 Winnebago Sightseer questions

We are strongly considering purchasing our first motorhome, a Winnebago Sightseer 35G. We'll have the inspection this week, and pending a good outcome will likely make the purchase.

Two of us will be using it full-time for work for 12 months, and will have a fair bit of mountain driving. We'll be towing a 2000+ lb car. Our route is rather aggressive, and we'll be moving every few days.

It appears there are only 2 house batteries for this rig. The salesperson wasn't sure where they were located (neither were we) so we didn't get to look at them during our first walk-through. We're wondering how long 2 batteries will provide power when not hooked up to shore power and using the generator only a couple of hours per day. Is the battery storage area large enough to add more?

Can anyone who owns or has owned this coach share your likes/dislikes?
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Old 12-06-2022, 05:55 PM   #2
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IMO that MH is lacking in battery capacity, depending upon their condition, they might last through one night of dry camping during cold weather.
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Old 12-06-2022, 09:18 PM   #3
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A good site to learn all kinds of things about a new to you RV?
https://catalog3d.winnebagoind.com/menu/Parts.htm

This year, make, model will have two builds early with serial number 7 th digit of 1 or late with digit of 2. This snip from the early shows the batteries in yellow.
Click the snip to get a better view or go direct to site.
Click image for larger version

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Old 12-06-2022, 10:29 PM   #4
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As others have mentioned, those models don’t come from the factory prepared for extensive Boondocking/dry camping.

Certainly, any RV could be modified to provide that capability. But stock, you would not have much in the way of battery storage. The generator will provide the power you need to run AC appliances (in limited amounts), but to get to your “few hours a day” would require added battery storage and solar charging too. In other words, you’d have to spend money on modifications to make that happen.

How much you’d need to spend depends entirely on your needs and wants. The sky’s the limit.

PS. This is not a shortcoming of that model… as I wouldn’t expect any motorhome of that period to offer what you are locking for directly from the factory. Those features are just now being introduced on brand new RVs.
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Old 12-07-2022, 08:30 AM   #5
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Thank you for the replies.

Our understanding is that we could create a larger battery bank in one of the bays. Not sure how to do that, but we'd likely have it done. Two batteries just doesn't sound like very much.
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Old 12-07-2022, 03:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bigthinkers View Post
Thank you for the replies.

Our understanding is that we could create a larger battery bank in one of the bays. Not sure how to do that, but we'd likely have it done. Two batteries just doesn't sound like very much.
Part of the problem is first deciding hard far to go! Many different ways to go from somewhat simple to really complex and each has a different level of expense.
You have two lead acid batteries and adding two more would be the next step up but understanding what that gets compared to some of the more difficult/expensive may help.

Lead acid batteries alone can ge mind boggling at first as there are start batteries, designed to let the energy out fast for turning over an engine and then various designs leaning into hybrid which have lead plates designed to let some power out for starting but also keep some as "deep cyclce" batteries. These are often used for things like boats where we want to start the engine but also may want to use a trolling motor all day! Moving further toward deep cycle there are the batteries used in golf carts where they only use the batteries to run electric motors!
Small points that are simple but cmplex, perhaps?
Once past the idea of which type, comes how to recharge them. Lead acid batteries are older and they have some limits on how low we can discharge them without damage (50%?) and they also recharge much slower, taking possibly 6-8 hours to fully recharge. That combo can be a factor that makes folks go way out and invest in the correct cables, chargers and equipment to move up from lead acid to newer tech which is often expensive but lasts longer and charges quicker.
But without going into weeks long explanation which is not my field at all and avoiding lots of study, work, and expense, I would first check if adding two or more extra lead acid would serve for what you want.
Thinking of batteries as simpy a place to store the energy, if we have two and move to four or more, it is much the same as adding more buckets of water!
The amount you can draw out, in theory, is doubled each time you add the same size/type battery. The amp hour rating gives this theoretical rating but that rating slips with age and condition, so becomes somewhat suspect with age.

But the advantage is that the same charge system will charge six lead acid the same as it did 2 without moving to different type charger and heavy cables to carry that charge. Absorbed glass mat (AGM) may be a medium level to consider as they are a newer form of lead acid which has some real advantages but still can be used without major changes to other things. Four AGM might get you far enough??

Sticking to lead acid AGM makes the addition much less complex as it is then a question of finding the space, where they can be cabled together with those in the current space, using just normal battery cables. Connect positive on each together and negative also together. Called parallel wiring.

Deep, deep, subject without real firm answers for what is best for each user!
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Old 12-07-2022, 05:23 PM   #7
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I've done a great deal of research about the various kinds of house batteries, but I have no real-world experience with using them in a 36ft motorhome.

The concern I have isn't so much which KIND to get, it's whether or not lithium ions will fit in the existing battery storage area (literally right under the entry steps), since we didn't know where the batteries were located on this rig when we walked through it and did a test drive, and neither did the salesperson.

We since discovered there are only 2 house batteries. I'm not certain there is any room to expand the battery bank, since it's located under a step. I don't think there is, and I don't know how long a full charge (and only 50% dispersal) will last without shore power. That's the real-world experience I'm looking for in my question.
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Old 12-13-2022, 10:55 PM   #8
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Lots of good info already mentioned. I have a 2012 Winnebago Sightseer. We replaced the two stock batteries with two Lithium, plus solar. It's works well for us as we boondock between longer stays at parks.
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Old 12-14-2022, 05:03 PM   #9
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A lot depends on your appliances, especially your refrigerator. I'm not familiar with what your year/model comes with, plus a prior owner might have "upgraded". Is it an LPG/120V AC "absorption" refrigerator, a 120V "residential" compressor refrigerator or a 12V DC compressor refrigerator. Also, is your stovetop LPG or 120V AC. The other appliances, heater, microwave, etc. don't really vary much from rig to rig.

If you have a 120V residential refrigerator, it will draw the most battery power. The LPG/120V absorption refrigerator is the lowest consumer of battery power, with the 12V DC falling somewhere above it.

Your stovetop is probably LPG, but, if you have a 120V AC stovetop, it will consume a significant amount of battery power compared to an LPG stove.

Note that, if you have a residential refrigerator and an electric cooktop you will need an inverter of an adequate size to run them off batteries.

Don't even think about trying to run your AC off your batteries.

It's likely the existing batteries are dual purpose "marine/RV" batteries which are a compromise between a deep cycle battery and a starting battery. Even if new, you should consider replacing them. Lithium, or more specifically LiFePO4 will be the most efficient and the most expensive choice of batteries. Keep in mind that a 100ah LiFePO4 battery can provide more useable amp hours than a traditional battery, will charge faster, weigh less and can be mounted anywhere, in any orientation, including upside down.

Once we know what appliances you have (or will have) and how big your existing battery space is (including height) we can help you further.
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Old 12-14-2022, 10:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigthinkers View Post
it's whether or not lithium ions will fit in the existing battery storage area (literally right under the entry steps),
Iím not trying to be a smartÖ Alec, honest. But itís an important distinction to make. The battery chemistry in RV batteries is not Lithium Ion, itís Lithium Iron Phosphate or LiFePO4. Lithium Ion chemistry has proven to be problematic in vehicle batteries. LiFePO4 batteries are much less prone to starting fires.
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Old 12-15-2022, 10:15 AM   #11
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I don't have LiFePO4 batteries and have been on the fence for a couple of years, continually educating myself.

Currently I'm not using my MH enough to justify upgrading but, if I was going to use it like you describe, I'd go the LiFePO4 route especially since quality batteries can be found in the $300 range.

Many 100Ah LiFePO4 batteries are about the same size as a Group 31 RV/Marine battery, although they can come in a variety of physical sizes and shapes, even for two of the same Ah rating. Some even use bigger than necessary cases on cheaper batteries so they look more impressive. Don't forget they are much lighter, 20+ lbs vs 60+ pounds. I'd be surprised if your battery location won't handle at two Group 31 sized LiFePO4 batteries.

You may find that, even if they'll fit, the understep location may not be the best location. People install LiFePO4 batteries in a variety of spaces, including under the bed. There are distinct advantages in installing them in insulated or preferably heated spaces since they'll be damaged if you try to charge them below 32įF. Most of them will cut-off automatically to avoid damage but you still won't be able to charge until they warm up. Some now have heating elements built in but they tend to be more expensive.

Will Prowse, a generally well regarded Youtuber has done a number of videos featuring teardowns and tests of LiFePO4 batteries. You'd be amazed at the hidden faults of many of the batteries, primarily low cost alternatives. There are, however, a number of lower cost batteries that he recommends. Personally I wouldn't buy a LiFePO4 battery that he hasn't tested, torn down with positive results:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...DwE0k40bpXZBQs

Three low cost batteries that I recall as having been positively reviewed by Will are Amepre Time, Chins and SOK so you might want to search out his video reviews on them. There are others with positive reviews but many with negative reviews.

Some of these are very cost-effective vs. traditional batteries. For example, the Chins 100Ah LiFePO4 battery is $300 on Amazon, while a Duracell Group 32 100Ah AGM RV/Marine battery is $214 at Sam's Club. Roughly speaking, you'd need two to match the usable Ah capacity of the single LiFePO4 battery. Note that the 50% maximum rule-of-thumb for traditional batteries isn't set in stone, it's a recommendation for a reasonable life span in terms of life time discharge cycles. Even then, it's only an issue if you routinely discharge to 50%. True damage doesn't occur until 80% discharge. This is explained in detail if you go to battery manufacturers' websites.

In addition to the batteries themselves, you'll likely have to spend several hundred additional dollars to upgrade your charging system to handle LiFePO4 batteries, including a new converter/charger and a DC-to-DC charger for charging from your alternator. Will has a good video on the Renogy DC-to-DC charger and the reasons for using one.
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Old 12-15-2022, 12:34 PM   #12
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So many options to consider and many of them depend on how much value you will get back for the extra time, grief and money spent.
Each level fits different people in different ways. But really knowing how it will work for you is hard to state until you actually get there!
Two batteries may work IF you are okay with not doing lots of TV watching while not connected to power and if you are moving, say four hours of recharge time while driving to another site? The coach will be recharging while driving but it is a somewhat slow process and 50 miles will likely not get you bad to full charge while 300 will!
So if you are looking a hooking to power, moving 300 miles to the next and maybe wanting to run on batteries one night, there is a good chance that is plenty for lights and basic things, but may depend on weather for how much furnace power you will need.
My wife and I have done this for a longtime and find we do not like to go without power when the weather is hot. WE want air conditioning, so we go for places like state or corp parks where we have electric hookups. If we are doing the trip for simple dirve till drop, we may go without power as we don't use much when we just drop into bed and don't need air!
How it works for each is the hard part to figure, so I would suggest just leaving myself options!
We often take off without reservations and just keep a couple bills in the back pocket, knowing that we may get caught and go to a motel but it saves lots of greif on not planning for things we can't figure in advance!
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Old 12-21-2022, 03:37 PM   #13
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Since buying used is your plan, why not search until you locate a used MH already modified for dry-camping?
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Old 12-22-2022, 05:22 AM   #14
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Our house batteries are under the steps in the stairwell.
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