Camper solar help

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by sdr, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    Crap! Hoping my batteries aren't damaged.

    Decided to redo the original battery location on the tongue. Cut and rewelded the brackets to accept two batteries. Wired the charge controller to mount inside the camper close to the tongue. It's all been up and running great for about 3 or 4 weeks now. That little 54 watt panel I currently have connected keeps them charged at 14.7 volts. I'll add more panels when camping.

    Saturday nights my wife and I spend about 4 - 5 hours in it. During that time I turn the furnace on. I noticed when the furnace is running it uses the 12 volt power. Even though the 110 is plugged in. If I disconnect the batteries it uses the 110. Seems completely backwards.


    Note #1. Also seems backwards.

    So last weekend when I went to fire up the furnace the blower didn't come on. Realised right away that I had forgot to turn off the thermostat the prior Saturday night. Turned the propane off just not the switch. Checked the charge controller voltage. 4 volts. Crap! Disconnected the batteries and hooked up my 10 amp charger.

    Now being a prepper on a budget for many years I have alot of experience with both maintaining and reconditioning used lead acid batteries. Normally I can tell how good a battery is by how it accepts a charge. Good drained batteries will accept a charge starting at 10 amps and slowly drop the needle on the charger down to zero when fully charged. When the meter drops to around 2-3 amps I'll switch it to 2 amp charge for the remainder.

    My charger has been on since Saturday and the meter isn't dropping past 5 amps. I checked all the cells and they seem to all be bubbling at the same rate. Damaged batteries will show one or more cells bubbling at a much slower rate.

    So I'm not sure if I damaged them or I just haven't charged them long enough. I did hook the solar back up tonight just to see. The controller is reading 14.1 volts.

    So a couple of things I need some input on
    1. Feedback on what to do with the batteries. Keep solar connected? Hook the charger back up or exchange them?

    2. Master switch on the 12 volt main? I'm sure this isn't the only time I'll forget the thermostat switch. Plus it's hard to believe the furnace is wired that way. Seems like it should run on AC on default.


    I can't tell from the schematic if it supposed to do that or not.

    All the wiring on the camper is original with the exception of the charge controller and panel wiring.
    I would have assumed there would be a way to disconnect the 12 volt system or at least have a built in charger that would automatically kick in when 110 was hooked up.

    Well... It's best to discover these things now and figure them out before I actually use it. So that's a plus. But argh!
    Seepalaces and Dunerunner like this.
  2. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    Camper stuff is part time toy world stuff . .
    AS i read that schematic , bottom right above trans (transformer ) is not doing it's job , it is to send a voltage signal to the AC-DC relay and flip it to Ac Voltage . Diode trio is hooked up wrong or toasted !!

    Keep charging for a week plus @ a 10 amp is squat , you sucked your fused amount out .

    I use a real / REAL battery maintainer Iota , in 25,55,90 amp models , Just remember 90 amps 12Vdc needs a 30 Amp 120 Vac service .
    Plus we need to know if your 12Volt battery is a cell like in my remote fob or a 4D size of 148 pounds ? that all makes a difference .

    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    sec_monkey, Seepalaces and techsar like this.
  3. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Agree with @Cruisin Sloth on initial diagnosis. Make sure you've got 12-18 volts ac coming out of the transformer, if good check for dc voltage at bridge. Looks like the ac/dc relay should switch to shore power when it's available.

    Don't much care for using the center tap of xformer secondary for ground, either.

    Eta: it is normal to have the blower, fuel solenoid, ignition sequence as described. Safer that way. No blower, then no fuel is supplied.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
    sec_monkey likes this.
  4. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    2 marine/RV deep cycle batteries. $59 on sale at Sam's club.

    Looks like I'll be checking the furnace electric this weekend.

    Lots of forums on the web. I am a member of only one. There's a reason for that

    Thanks for the info guys!!!
  5. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    NUMBERS OF the batterys buddy
    or take a picture & I'll pick them and post what were looking for
    sec_monkey likes this.
  6. BenP

    BenP Monkey++

    I have been using one of these on our RV and it works really well to keep the batteries charged without boiling them: Powermax 110 Volt to 12 Volt DC Power Supply Converter Charger for RV (45 Amp). They are on Amazon.
  7. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    It is my experience that automatic battery chargers only put out what a battery will take , my back up system has a charger wired in along with the solar panels and wind mill .
    If I happen to have that much demand on my system I simply switch in the charger and let it supplement the charging like every thing else does . However under very lite duty I may only switch on 1-2 small panels just as a trickle .
    All my components are switched and run through fuses, amp, and volt meters, and controllers .
  8. sdr

    sdr Monkey++

    de75be05-48a1-4684-98c4-90e3548757a1. here's the pic
  9. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Generally speaking, a true deep cycle battery doesn't have cold cranking amps specs...according to Duracell, the 24DC is a marine starting/moderate deep cycle battery while the 24DCC is deep they say.

    For light current applications it'll work, but definitely not designed to be drawn completely flat. In the long run you'd be better served by golf cart batteries...jmho.
    arleigh, sec_monkey and Cruisin Sloth like this.
  10. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I like using the 6 volt deep cycle golf cart batteries ,especially because they endure more abuse and at 6 volts they can be daisy chained to any standard voltage range you desire . 6-12-18-24-36-ect...
  11. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    If I wasn't going to use a forklift battery I would use cart batts when I go off grid.
    ochit likes this.
  12. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    So you posted
    If you have the chance for that , swap them up for as Techsar posted , 2 deep cycle 6 Volt golf cart batterys in series makes 12Vdc . Much better way to go in Deep Cycle & yes you have taken life out of the battery .

    Forklift batterys as per se` needs some serious solar power to create the amps required to get the H2SO4 moving . If you can't get a C12-C15 on Equa cells , your battery will be a great weight .
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
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