Friday, March 16, 2012

More Electric Power!

Lew started “collecting” (Social Security) this month and Jan turned in her Retirement resignation effective June 8 so it’s time to get prepared for moar RoVing. Lots more. From 6/8/12 to about 10/30/13 we will be @ Stix&Brix for a total of about 6 weeks. So we need:
(1) More Electric Power
(2) More Cooking Power
(3) More Cycling Comfort

     This Post is about Battery Power, the mainstay of Boondockers (RoVers who camp without “hookups”).  Remember that Marco has a maximum weight of just 3500lb and Scape has a maximum combined weight (car, trailer, people, junk) of just 7100lb. Marco weighs about 3070lb loaded with water onboard and Scape weighs about 3700lb with us and some junk onboard. We are close enough to the GCWR we aren’t comfortable adding any weight.
     At this weight we were carrying only one 50AH coach battery. Being a Lead-Acid battery it is only safe to use about half it’s rated capacity so about 25AH is all the Power we were able to use before needing to recharge the battery. On a cold night the Propane Furnace  (3.5A to run it’s fan and electronics) uses about 17AH. Lights (LED super-high efficiency) for the evening use about 3AH. The TV and DVD player use about 3.5AH to watch an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Wireless Aircard/Router/Amplifier uses about 3AH for the evening. So we have enough Power for just one night.
We would really like to be able to Boondock in mild Fall/Spring weather for at least 4 nights. But with no carrying capacity to add 120lb of golf cart batteries we have been constrained. Enter the newest technology in Batteries, the LiFeMnPO4 chemistry so-called “Lithium” battery. Elite Power Solutions in Phoenix is packaging electric car battery cells into 12V batteries for RV and Boat people. We purchased one of their 100AH batteries and installed it in Marco.

100AH Lithium Battery
w/ Low Voltage Disconnect

     Cost was $700 with shipping. 80AH per cycle can be taken from this battery for more than 2000 charge/discharge cycles and it weighs just 28lb. That is a12oz Pop can for scale. Lithium batteries must never be totally discharged because once Dead they stay dead and they must never be overcharged as this causes permanent damage or even failure. The device to the left and above the battery is a Samlex 40A Low Voltage Disconnect which will automatically disconnect the battery in the event battery voltage falls below 12.5V, leaving the battery with a safe margin of charge. The Samlex will also disconnect the battery in the event charging voltage goes above 16.5V.

     So we now have enough electric power to last for four mild nights, the length of time we can go with a tank of fresh water before needing to dump wastewater and refill fresh water. We are pretty excited and looking forward to extended camping this Fall in Southern Utah.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post - found the link from rv network. We've just bought our first travel trailer, and will start the full-time lifestyle in a few weeks. Currently trying to decide between a portable generator (Honda EU2000i), solar panels, and the lithium batteries. Would love to see a post on why you choose batteries.

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