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Old 03-07-2013, 06:12 PM   #1
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2nd battery or solar panel??

About half our summer trips are boondocking, and we found by the 2nd day our battery
was running low. So, we'd have to start up our noisy generator. We also stored our trailer
where we couldn't plug it in.

Costco has a 45w solar kit for sale locally for $150, or would I be better off going with 2 batteries $300+ ??
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Old 03-07-2013, 07:40 PM   #2
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I would go with two COSTCO/SAMsCLUB GC2P golf cart batteries at $90 each that will give you a good 225AHs battery system that will produce 12VDC at around 25AMPS for a good four hours....

Your 2011 trailer should already be equiped with smart-mode converter/charger and this will allow you to re-charge your 12VDC battery bank back to its 90% charge state in as little as three hours of generator run time by connecting your 30AMP shore power cable directly to the generator 120VAC receptacle using a RV30A-15A "dogbone" 18-inch long adapter.

I suspect you would not get much use from a 45WATT Solar Panel for much of anything except maybe a tricklecharge for the battery bank. I am no solar panel expert by I would think you would need around 120WATTS of solar power to start off with.

I would work on beefing up the battery system first to run everything both 120VAC using an inverter and 12VDC items you want to use when camping off the power grid and then be able to re-charge in a short three hour generator run time when allowed to run your generator.

Solar power would be a big assets added to this later on to recharge your battery bank during the daytime hours...Solar panels after dark don't help you very much unless you have a good battery bank to store the sun power energy in during the daytime when the sun was out.

More batteries first, make trailer as "GREEN" as possible, use generator for short period of time to re-charge battery bank on a daily basis would be my first priority for camping off the power grid... Adding solar panels would be just making it easier to re-charge the batteries. Icing on the cake so to speak...

This is what we do with my off-road POPUP trailer just running 255AHs battery capacity. We are very successful camping off the power grid doing this as described above.

Just my opinion...

Roy Ken
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:18 PM   #3
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45 watts will not do anything, especially if you only have one battery to start with.

I have two batteries, last year I thought I would try the solar power, bought a 45 watt system from Harbor freight, optimal power output requires absolute direct sunlight with correct azamuth with the sun, in otherwords, you wont be able to camp in the shade, and you will have to constantly be turning your solar panels towards the sun.

Many people have had success with the much larger solar panels, but 45 is a drop in the bucket....
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Old 03-08-2013, 04:35 AM   #4
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One thing to remember, batteries are like people... as we age things change inside us.. same with batteries. In batteries it is the internal resistance. If you add a new second battery, to a battery that has been in use for awhile, the performance/life will be affected. In the long run you will be replacing both together. I would get 2 new batteries and make sure the mfg month are the same. The date code can be found on the internet. Good luck. Sorry about typing errors...learning how to use a 7 inch tablet.
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:19 AM   #5
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The easiest solution would be to start out with two 12 VDC batteries connected in parallel. Deep cycle Marine batteries should run about $90 each. If you do much boondocking then consider replacing your lights with LED lights. Also remember you big current hog will be the furnace so heat your trailer accordingly.

Solar power can be great but you'll be punching holes in your roof to mount them and heavy wiring to recharge the batteries.
Try eaasiest first--
Good luck,
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:56 AM   #6
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I think you would be best served if you went with 2 golf cart batteries AND a 135 watt solar panel plus charge controller. those 45 watt jobs are a good leaning tool but really USELESS as anything more than a battery maintainer.
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Old 03-08-2013, 11:04 AM   #7
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How long are your camping trips without shore power. If you average more than a few days you may want to purchase thicker plate deep cycle batteries. An easy way to determine a true deep cycle battery is to look at the batery specs.. if it lists CCA (cold cranking amps) it is not the best choice. There are a few threads regarding true deep cycle batteries. For a little extra you get more use from your batteries. Key is to maintain them on a regular basis.
Good luck
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Old 03-08-2013, 10:11 PM   #8
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Hang on all - the OP states that they store the trailer where it is not connected to power. It's not going to charge from the tow vehicle, so in this case, a small solar setup right would keep the batteries charged while in storage.

I personally think that is a great solution to the the problem. Clearly there are other variables involved, but from the info provided.....

-Chak
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Old 03-09-2013, 10:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chakara View Post
Hang on all - the OP states that they store the trailer where it is not connected to power. It's not going to charge from the tow vehicle, so in this case, a small solar setup right would keep the batteries charged while in storage.

I personally think that is a great solution to the the problem. Clearly there are other variables involved, but from the info provided.....

-Chak
More importantly Chak he says he spends half his time boondocking... AND in a storage facility one of those free standing systems would disappear or get blown over real fast.
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Old 03-10-2013, 08:27 PM   #10
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I am lucky enough to store my trailer at home, plugged in 24x7. If I had to use a storage lot I would setup some type of solar to keep the batteries fully charged. Especially as I am a boondocker. Its a rare setup where the trailer will effectively charge through the umbilical cord - meaning the battery absolutely never get a full charge on them. Seems to me some type of solar would be the only way to get those batteries ready to camp. Not to mention taking care of them. Disconnecting helps, but if they aren't fully charged and depending on how long you will store them, can cause issues. The best way IMHO is to keep them on a quality charger/converter/charge controller.

If adverse to putting solar on the roof, I'd personally look at a way to attach it to the trailer in such a way it can get lots of sun while in storage. I'd probably do "temporary" setup, with some types of brackets/straps on the tongue (assume tongue side is facing any direction but north). I'd probably take down the "temp" setup when getting ready to get on the road.

The others are right, 45W isn't going to do much for you while actually camping. However if you start with less than full batteries, well, you are behind the game from the start.

Just one mans opinion.....

-Chak
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