Question Learning about my little camper. Batteries?

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Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
29
Location
Texas
RV Year
1982
RV Make
Fleetwood
RV Model
Jamboree Ralley
RV Length
25 ft
Hello,
I just purchased a 1982 Chevy Van G30 Conversion Camper. It is most assuradly a classic. It has just a few issues needing to be addressed but nothing super big.

Right now I am shopping for a battery. The problem is I have no idea what I'm reading while examining the details of the different options for a "house" battery. I am looking for one that will power what it needs to. Which is not much. I want to make sure I have all the power I need for a good long stay out in the middle of nowhere.

My camper has a single 12V 50A sealed deep cycle marine battery in it. At least that is what I was told. The current "house" battery has no markings on it at all! I found an owners manual online. It confirmed what the mechanic said.

In my truck the battery is under the hood on the opposite side of the trucks battery. The negative is on the left.

Could someone please help me with advice on this subject
 
Last edited:

Jim

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Discussions about batteries can be quite diverse. But in a nutshell, add as many storage AMP's as you can in whatever (sometimes limited) space as you have.

Without seeing your current battery, I'm guessing you have an AGM battery, so no maintenance is needed. That's a good thing! But that being said, 50 amps isn't much. And the rule of thumb is "Never discharge your battery bank under 50%" So that leaves you with effectively 25 amps of battery power.

You can power some LED lights with 25 amps, but not much more.

Can you give us some insight as to what you want to power with your battery bank? (i.e. House Batteries) Will you be adding an inverter? Refrigerator, etc
 
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Remember that the "house battery should be a deep-cycle type while the "chassis" (truck) battery is a conventional type.

TJ
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
29
Location
Texas
RV Year
1982
RV Make
Fleetwood
RV Model
Jamboree Ralley
RV Length
25 ft
Oh, cool! Thank you for your responses, @TJ&LadyDi and @Jim

Yes I have an inverter. I now nothing about the one that is installed. Yes my truck battery is separate from the deep cycle battery. Both under the hood. The house battery needs to run the plugs, the lights, start the generator, and run frig when propane is off. I have learned I am to turn off the propane before taking off on the road. Seems very logical to me. I will need it for a TV and gaming system. I don't watch TV itself, I stream everything over the net. I plan to follow the advice of @Neal concerning what is working for him. I have found nothing better in the research I've done. I will have solar gadgets to charge my phone and laptop. I also intend to install some version of solar power. I have one battery for house, not a bank. It is 12V AGM from what I can tell. I will be doing more dry camping/boondocking than anything. Need it to hold me for as long as possible. The generator charges the battery as does the truck when it is running. The issue is generator uses trucks gas supply.

This is one I have been using for comparisons of other batteries.
Battery.png
  • 12V 100AH AGM Deep Cycle SLA Battery. Sealed, non spillable
  • Group 27 12 Volt 100Ah AGM Deep Cycle Battery
  • Superior Military Grade Alloys. Maintenance free. No dangerous toxic gas release
  • L=12.1" W=6.7" H=8.2"
  • Capacity: 100Ah; 1.35kWH; Reserve Capacity: 220min
  • Positive Post: Right
 
Last edited:

Jim

Joined
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Messages
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Location
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2016 Jeep Rubicon Hard Rock
There are far more qualified individuals on this forum than myself, but in their absence, maybe I can give you some basics to work with.

First, determine how many amps you have available in your battery bank. This figure is displayed as AH, which stands for Amp Hours. Note: A battery bank can be 1-battery, or several batteries connected together. (More on this later.) In your case, you only have the one battery, and it is a 100ah battery. As mentioned previously, you do not want to discharge your battery bank below 50% of its total amperage, so that gives you 50ah of stored power you can use.

Next, how many of those amps will your appliances use. Look at each component that you want to run/use and find out that components power needs. This information can be found on the component itself and will generally be given in watts. This means you will have to convert the number of Watts used into Amps used so that you can find out how many of your stored Amps you will need.

For example, a TV might use 225 watts of power each hour that you use it. The formula for converting watts into amps is (Watts / Volts = Amps). Your van is a 12-volt system and your TV uses 225 watts per hour so to find out how may Amps the TV will use, the formula is 225/12=18.75.

Your current battery bank has 50 available amps so if you run your TV for 1-hour, you will use approximately 20 of those 50amps. To take that a little further, you will be able to run your TV for about 2.5 hours before you deplete your reserve of amps.

Let’s stop here for a bit and make sure you understand the basics and then we’ll move forward with how you can add more amps to your system. OK?
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 14, 2020
Messages
29
Location
Texas
RV Year
1982
RV Make
Fleetwood
RV Model
Jamboree Ralley
RV Length
25 ft
There are far more qualified individuals on this forum than myself, but in their absence, maybe I can give you some basics to work with.

First, determine how many amps you have available in your battery bank. This figure is displayed as AH, which stands for Amp Hours. Note: A battery bank can be 1-battery, or several batteries connected together. (More on this later.) In your case, you only have the one battery, and it is a 100ah battery. As mentioned previously, you do not want to discharge your battery bank below 50% of its total amperage, so that gives you 50ah of stored power you can use.

Next, how many of those amps will your appliances use. Look at each component that you want to run/use and find out that components power needs. This information can be found on the component itself and will generally be given in watts. This means you will have to convert the number of Watts used into Amps used so that you can find out how many of your stored Amps you will need.

For example, a TV might use 225 watts of power each hour that you use it. The formula for converting watts into amps is (Watts / Volts = Amps). Your van is a 12-volt system and your TV uses 225 watts per hour so to find out how may Amps the TV will use, the formula is 225/12=18.75.

Your current battery bank has 50 available amps so if you run your TV for 1-hour, you will use approximately 20 of those 50amps. To take that a little further, you will be able to run your TV for about 2.5 hours before you deplete your reserve of amps.

Let’s stop here for a bit and make sure you understand the basics and then we’ll move forward with how you can add more amps to your system. OK?
I understand thus far. These numbers are in line with mine. The adding of more amps to my system (battery bank of one single battery :) ) will be key to getting where I want to be in this endeavor.

I can see going further with my math would include subtracting (or adding; either way) how much generator time I should implement to get the battery recharged to full capacity (or running the truck; if one recharges the system faster than the other)? I misunderstood the idea behind the deep cycle battery. I was understanding that you could completely discharge it and then recharge it without harming it.

I have also come to understand solar power/recharging units are available but have not gone far into researching that option. I do have an electrician buddy that "has an idea!" so it is important to me to figure this all out because he can get almost dangerous when he starts a conversation that way. LOL

I am learning about inverters a bit and those instant charge/start devices.
 
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You mentioned that you will be doing primarily dry camping and boondocking, so you might want to investigate adding a second"house" battery in parallel with the one you have. That would double your amp-hour capacity.

Running your refrigerator on electricity will be one of your biggest amperage draws, so using the propane option will be one of the keys to successful dry camping/boondocking. If you use your TV, it will also be a large draw on the battery/batteries.

I suggest that you establish a power management plan to extend your battery life. As @Jim suggested, you need to know what each and every appliance, light, etc. uses in amp-hours. That way, you can make some informed decisions about what electric uses you need at any given time. It will also let you know when you need to run the generator to charge the battery bank.

TJ
 
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Texas
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1982
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RV Length
25 ft
Thanks, @TJ&LadyDi, I agree. I am coming to understand that truth. Yes, having the fridge on propane is a blessing. Actually making a written out plan with amperage needs, amperage availability, needed generator time, and maybe even a log of actual trip by trip data so I can be sure I am getting the most out of it all is a wonderful idea. Thank you. I had not thought about that or how useful it would be. I will be going solar as well; recharging without the truck or generator. Adding to my power bank is going to be a necessity. I am thinking maybe using the 6V sequential flow type set up. I am trying to see which set up will be most efficient and work out the best for me. I am also wondering it the truck or the generator will charge the battery most efficiently as far as gas usage goes. Thoughts?
 

Jim

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I imagine you could outfit the conversion with a big enough alternator to keep the batteries charged, but I don’t think it would be a good idea to build your charging plan around running the truck all the time.

Also, unless there is more room on top of your van that what I’m thinking there is, I don’t think solar is going to provide the total solution either. But if you had room for a couple of 245-watt panels, and you could get a good solid 4 hours of solar exposure every day, then you could put approximately 160 amps back into the battery bank every day you had sun.

Couple that with the help of a small, fuel efficient generator, and you can probably produce enough power to recharge the battery bank.

I have a couple of Honda EU2200i inverter generators that are very quiet and drink only a small amount of fuel. Maybe you build in one of these generators (or something similar) and between the solar panels and the generator, you can get where you need to be.

Of course, all of this depends on the size of the battery bank you eventually build. Also, keep in mind that it’s possible to build a battery bank that is too large as well. Building a bank you can’t keep charged will create problems as well.
 
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Thanks to all for all your help. I am understanding all this so much more than when I started. I am just crazy about this site! @TJ&LadyDi , @Jim :)
 
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This is where I shall begin. Now is when SCHOOL really begins! :) I will tend to it with loving care as it grows, and grows, until it doesn't need me anymore:) @Jim ; @TJ&LadyDi
MyPowerSetUp.png
 
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Wow! You are a quick learner. Looks like you are off to a good start. Keep us informed with progress reports as you start installing things.

TJ
 

Jim

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Hey @FLPeterson, what are you planning to power with this?
 
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start my generator and run lights and fridge, internet. @Jim My plan is to have separate banks and inverters for my sound systems as well as the gaming systems and the large flat screen HD monitor and the small motor that moves the arm that brings monitor down and then face it forward. I am sure I am dreaming much of this up and once I get a GOOD electrician to help me figure it all out I'll have to change horses in the middle of the stream more than likely. May even have to get a completely different House battery. I'm going by my gut and lots, and lots of research I barely understand. I have to google the info I googled!!!!!
 
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Hi FLPeterson,
I am an Arizona resident, who always boondocks. I am well known on the LTVA north of Yuma as being a solar spurt. I set up 460 W on a conversion van from the early 90's. was room for another 230 panel but funds kept him from the task. I don't look at less than 500w as a real system. the reason is as simple as reduced amount can't meet expectation.

even still things that keep design goals to reduced level is the fact one is lucky to get 80 percent power from the panel at best and considerably less at other times. example: highest power level with one of my 280w panels is 240w (this is not an average, rather point in time measure).

Panels must not be shaded, one cell on the panel will kill the output. look at this as a battery with dead cell. vent covers and AC units do a great job of shading a cell or two.

If two panels are used on one controller, and one cell on one panel is shaded, the complete system is down. With low prices on some mppt controllers a good argument is made for a controller per panel. That is how I am set up.

Tilting vs. flat
Tilted to the south, the same panel will produce more than twice the power, of a flat panel. I spent more than a month compiling graphs that prove that. Keep in mind that only two kinds of panels exist: panels bolted down, and panels that are broken.

Not even with what I have researched can I run consistently an RV fridge on 12v. My fridge(115VAC apartment fridge) is on a timer in winter months to lower number of cycles the bank must acrew.

first 2 hrs in the morning, and last 2hrs in the evening, will do little to charge or maintain a battery.

Believe this, A battery is like a turkey. when you bring the oven up to temperature and throw the turkey in, first the oven temp drops. Even after the oven has recovered the temp setting the turkey must roast for a given time at the given size. It is so with a battery, the system must reach charging voltage before the battery can be charged to capacity. And although that voltage may come before lets say 10:00AM the battery must bask in that glory for a period of time based on number of amps the battery is down. The same people that believe that 14.4 is the magic number of a charged battery, these are the same people that wonder why they can't make it though the night. That said, If you don't have enough panel, supplement with a generator from 6 am quiet time to about 10AM. let the panels trickle charge for the rest of the day. Turning off the panels and getting a reading from the battery will help you determine the state of charge if it still reads lower than 12.8 run the generator while you are doing your night time activities. remember curfews.
Batteries maintained with generators alone have short life, because the generator is shut off short of a full charge.

a Little about my system. I use a 24vdc system. I have no means to charge the bank, than solar power. my 200ahr 24v bank is equal to 400ahrs at 12v my panels can be handled from the ground completely. 560w installed, each panel has its own mppt controller. If I need to let the batteries charge up after cloudy days, my house is plugged into the generator, and inverter may be turned off if batteries are really low(has not happened yet) I prefer leaving the inverter on. Sounds simple but a lot of thought goes into purchase of equipment. an example of this train of thought. I was forced into an RV park due to illness at the start of the summer season. After running AC 24-7 for a month and not connected to my solar set-up my electric bill was a overpowering 32USD. This tells us half the solar experience is lowering our energy need thru thought provoked purchases.
 
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