How to keep a car battery charged in the winter,jump pack for car battery,revive 18 volt craftsman battery,battery acid white powder nails - Test Out

20.01.2015
Our aim for the camper van electrical system is to be able to do without electrical hookups indefinitely, and to be able to be away from any power source for a day or two without much sun and without having to run the engine.
To achieve this we have tried to keep electrical loads down by choosing efficient gadgets, avoided some high power consumption electrical devices, included some extra battery capacity, and a large solar panel to charge the battery when sun is available.
This section goes over the design of the electrical system for the camper conversion, the selection of components, and the installation.
The material on these pages describing our camper van conversion has been moved to our new new site dedicated to efficient RVs and camper vans.
The new site covers all the material here and adds a lot of new material on other camper van conversions, camper van design and build, resources for people converting vans, other efficient camping vehicles, new ideas in efficient RVs and camper van travel hints. I'm leaving these pages here as you may have bookmarked them and the Comments section has some good suggestions, but I suggest that you go to the new site -- I won't be updating this material anymore.
Thanks to all the people who read these pages and especially to the people who left comments and suggestions! We do not want to be tied to electrical hookups at RV parks, so we incorporated a good sized house battery and tried to minimize our electrical loads.
The house battery can be charged from the van alternator, or from a large solar panel on the roof, or from shore power if available.
Note that at this stage, most of the component installs and wiring have been completed and tested to some degree, but there are still a few things to do, and a road trip to see if it all works well together in actual use. The house battery powers all of the DC loads (like lights, fridge, furnace fan, water pump) via the DC distribution panel. We used two 200 amp-hr, 6 volt golf cart batteries from Costco connected in series for 12 volts.
We thought about using an AGM battery, the advantages of the AGM battery is that it does not need water to be added (low maintenance), it vents less hydrogen during charging than a flooded battery, and no chance of spillage..
The conventional flooded lead-acid golf cart batteries we used are less expensive and very readily available, but will require checking the water levels from time to time, and the battery compartment will have to be vented to the outside to prevent hydrogen buildup.
Just as an approximate comparison -- some data on two of Trojan Batteries offerings of flooded and AGM batteries.
Trojan recommends a charge rate of 10 to 13% of the 20 hr amp-hr rating, so about 22 to 30 amps for our golf cart batteries -- lower charge rates are OK, but higher charge rates will result in more gassing and shorter life.
Both types will have a longer life if they are not discharged as deeply, but, it seems like for a camper van that might only be used 30(?) times a year that discharging to 80% should still give a very long battery life. Another option that is just becoming practical is to use Lithium batteries (as used in electric cars).
After quite a bit of looking around, I found this nice and not very expensive distribution panel for RV's that handles both the AC and DC distribution in one fairly compact package.
This gadget allows the van alternator to be used to charge the house battery, while preventing the van starting battery from being drained by powering loads in the RV. This relay based unit appeals to me because: 1) it does not have the voltage drop that the diode based isolators do, 2) it does not get wired between the alternator and the starting battery as the diode ones do (so less interference with the van wiring), and 3) It is easy to hook up because it just needs a wire from the starting battery and an 12V source that goes on with the ignition switch.
Not sure if I'm reading this right, but it seems like when you start the van that this unit puts the starter battery in parallel with the house battery. We selected the Tripp Lite APS1250, which provides 1250 watts of AC from the battery, and when in charger mode, provides up to 30 amps of battery charging using a 3 stage charger. Like most of these inverters, it draws some power from the battery whenever the inverter is turned on even if nothing is plugged into the inverter, but it can easily be turned off manually when no AC power is being used, so this is a nuisance, but not a serious one.
The unit includes basic monitoring of the system, and they sell an add on unit for more extensive monitoring if desired. Midnite Solar has a nice online tool that lets you see if the PV panel(s) you are planning to use are compatible with the KID. I ordered the panel from the local Platt Electric -- their price was competitive and if you pick it up at Platt there is no shipping charge. For the most part, I used this ampacity table to determine the maximum capacity of a given wire gage, and this voltage drop table (the 12 volt section) to determine the minimum wire gage for less than 2% voltage drop. While the overall wiring diagram gets a bit busy (and more than I am up to drawing), it really consists of a few simple functions that are largely independent of each other. This is the electrical subsystem responsible for charging the house battery from the van alternator when the van is running. The battery isolator relay connects the van battery to the house battery only when the van ignition switch is on. The barratry isolator relay is turned on by connecting it to a 12 volt power source on the van that is only on when the ignition switch is on. The van alternator is the source of power for both charging the van battery and the house battery. The wires between the house and van battery are 8 gage -- this provides the 50 ampacity with less than 2% voltage drop for the about 10 ft run. The diagram above shows a breaker which protects the wiring between the two batteries from over current that originates from the House Battery, but the wiring between the two batteries is not protected from over current originating from the van battery.
This is the part of the electrical system that charges the house battery using a roof mounted PV panel.
The charge controller is from Midnight Solar -- its is described under the Components section. The 30 amp DC breaker between the charge controller and the house battery is what Midnight Solar recommends as this is the maximum charge current that the charge controller can supply. The wires connecting the charge controller and the house battery are #10, which has the required 30 amp ampacity. The DC distribution panel takes 12 volt power from the house battery and distributes it to the various 12 volt loads in the camper. The 60 amp breaker in the line from the house battery to the DC panel is somewhat more than I think our total DC usage will ever be, and is well within the 100 amp maximum rating of the DC panel. Note that for our system, the DC and AC distribution panels share the same housing, but are separated by an internal partition. This part of the electrical system is responsible for distributing power to the 120 VAC loads in the camper, and also manages whether the source of the AC power is shore power or the camper inverter. The AC panel distributes power to the 120 volt AC loads in the camper in the same way as the DC panel (above) distributes power to the DC loads.
Since our AC loads are low, the shore power receptacle is just a 20 amp regular 120VAC plug.
The batteries plus all the main components take up an about 2 by 2 ft space under the bed on the drivers side.
The distribution panel on the right serves as both the DC and AC distribution panel -- AC on forward end and DC on aft end.
This pictures shows the AC and DC distribution panel (top) and the solar charge controller (below). The DC panel provides for up to 12 DC branch circuits, of which I am using 11 (some of the fuses have not been installed yet). The switch panel mounts next to the fuse panel on the vertical face of the driver side bed platform.
The two switches on the left are pump and furnace, and the remaining switches are spares for future use. The blocks of wood on the top and bottom are to keep things from hitting the switches and accidentally tripping them. I have not updated the wiring diagram to show this panel, but the switches are in the plus lead between the fuse and the the furnace or pump, and the switches should be rated to at least the same current as the fuses. The charge controller goes between the PV panel and the house battery and regulates and optimizes the charging of the battery. The MidNite Solar KID charge controller is mounted in the bed enclosure just below the distribution panel. There are several status screens that display various info about the solar charging -- e.g.


Left picture is the positive terminal connection, and right is the negative terminal connection. The picture shows how the through floor bolts are anchored under the floor -- the steel plate provides tear out resistance. I did a rough estimate of the power use while in camping mode, and estimated the battery size and PV panel size needed to support this load for a couple days.
The spreadsheet also includes a rough heat loss calculation to get the furnace size and the power drain for the furnace fan and electronics. Otherwise, table below is copied out of the spreadsheet, but its hard to read because of the formatting. Based on the stuff below, you would want the solar panels to put in about 500 wh over the day. Dometic says 40 watts, but this would be 365 KWH per year, which seems high for a tiny RV fridge. Correction: The power drain for the 700 watt (nominal) microwave should be more like 1000 watts. This is with average weather for Billings -- you can, of course, have full overcast days with very little production. Our estimated use per day is about 400 watt-hrs, so for most of the year, on average, a 315 watt panel would easily meet our daily needs even with the horizontal tilt. Note that PVWatts has a bug that results in inaccurate output with arrays smaller than 1 KWH, so you have to put in a larger array, and then just scale the output numbers down. I did not keep track of the time spent installing the electrical system as it was spread out over a month.
I'd be happy to hear any ideas, suggestions, corrections, or questinons -- use the Comments link just above. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. I put together the following chart which indicates the state-of-charge (percent) as it relates to battery voltage or specific gravity.
How I determined the voltage values: I researched as many battery manufacturers that I could find regarding their own published SOC data.
Note: Voltage measurements are only approximate to determine SOC, and measuring battery voltage is NOT the most accurate way to do this (there are variables under varying circumstances). Note: For longer battery life, batteries should remain in the green zone (40% or more SOC). Note: The 100% voltage is NOT the recommended charging voltage (which will be higher, and multi-stage). If the gravity of each cell stays relatively the same (usually all in the green) does that mean that I don’t need to equalize that battery? The reason I ask is: I have 90 watts of harbor freight panels, run thru a sunsaver controller that charges 2 wally world deep cycle batteries and the gravity has almost never been below the green level, and I never really have had to add much water. My other set up has about 750 watts of poly panels, run through a xantrex 30 amp charge controller charging a trojan 12 volt golf cart battery. I guess my question is do I need to do this since the wally world batteries always seem to be in good shape as per hydrometer readings? I built an off-grid system for my home and have expanded and maintained it myself over the years, so that is my knowledge base. Also, NEVER combine different types, or age, or widely differing state of charge of your batteries when charging. Thanks Carl, and as you insinuated, there are variables, including temperature compensation measurements and others.
Saw this as I was looking for a SG to SOC chart and thought I would make a couple of comments. Most of our loads are DC and run directly off the house battery with only a couple of modest AC loads that can be powered either by our onboard inverter or shore power. The battery can supply a couple of days (or more) with typical loads, and on a sunny day, the solar panel can recharge the battery fully. It also powers an inverter to provide 120 Volt AC house power to our small number of AC loads.
On the down side, they are quite a bit more expensive for the same capacity, and appear (from the Trojan Battery data below) to have a shorter life.
Designing for 80% discharge allows the use of a smaller, lighter, more compact, and cheaper battery compared to (say) designing to 50% discharge. They would reduce weight and size by quite a bit over the lead acid batteries, but are still expensive, and would likely take some careful homework to get right. It isolates the van starting battery from the house battery when the ignition switch is off so that RV loads only discharge the house battery.
I guess this could be good if your starting battery is low, but maybe not so good if your house battery is low? The unit is inline with a 50 amp circuit breaker, so anything over 50 amps would probably be fine. This is a relay similar to the one above, but the relay is activated just monitoring the van battery voltage to determine if the engine is running or not. When you are not hooked up to shore power and are being powered by the house battery, it provides limited 120 volt AC power for the van from the house battery. I chose the Tripp Lite mostly because I have a larger one I bought several years ago and it has held up well. It transforms the PV panel output voltage down to a voltage that is suitable for charging the battery, and it prevents the solar panel from overcharging and damaging the battery. This is a relatively new design that has quite a bit of flexibility for small solar systems. The manual is written in an informative and down to earth style that is refreshing compared to the awful manuals that come with so many products. Thinking about mounting it as low as possible and aft of the Maxx Fan on the centerline of the roof.
This prevents house loads from discharging the the van battery and resulting in a vehicle that has a flat battery in the morning and won't start. I used power from the 12VDC outlet near the driver side back door as it is only powered when the ignition is on.
The circuit breaker can also be manually switched off, so it acts as a disconnect when you want to be sure there is no connection between the van and house batteries. I do not know what the charging current will turn out to be for the ProMaster, but I plan to measure it, and if more than 30 amps, take steps to reduce it. For example, if the wire connecting the van and house batteries were to develop a short to ground, the circuit breaker near the house battery would break, but there is no fuse or breaker in the wire from the van battery. It is a 72 cell PV panel so, it has a higher output voltage (36 volts) that is compatible with the input voltage range of the Midnight Solar charge controller with only the one panel hooked up.
Basically, it transforms the DC voltage put out by the solar panel to the voltage needed to charge the house battery (so the PV panel might be putting out 36 volts and the charge controller transforms this to 13 to 14ish volts needed to charge the battery.
To connect this to the charge controller, I bought a 50 ft long MC4 extension cable and cut it in half. We have planned the camper to minimize AC loads and only have a couple of AC outlets and a circuit to power a small microwave. It says to use a fuse in this line that is located close to the battery and rated at least to the maximum amperage listed on the inverter, which is 127 amps. I think this will be fine and it allows us to just use a regular 12 gage extension cord to hook up to the shore power tower. The DC distribution panel is to the right (with the car type DC fuses), and the AC distribution panel to the left with the AC circuit breakers. Up to 4 branch circuit breakers can be installed below the main breaker (I'm only using 2).


It also provides 12 volt DC and USB charging outlets as well as a small volt meter to provide for easily monitoring the house battery voltage. We have always found it to be a good idea to turn the pump off when not in the RV, as any kind of leak or faucet left on will cause the pump to run and drain the tank and them damage the pump. This means you have to get down on hands and knees to read the status, but it does keep the wire runs short and the electrical bay compact. Most RV's now use 30 amp or 50 amp shore power connections, but with our small AC loads we just don't need that. I was concerned about these breaking away in a crash and coming forward to injure passenger or driver. For the deep winter, the panel only meets about 75% of our daily usage, but if it could be tilted, it would meet our daily needs with a bit of margin. It is powered through putting the USB charging wire into the USB port of computer, or inserting into the USB power charger directly. Voltages and Specific Gravity are listed for a 6-volt or 12-volt battery, and battery banks of 24 and 48 volts.
Some were slightly different from each-other with regards to their SOC values, however I averaged all of them together to come up with a chart which represents what I believe to be a good general indication. A more accurate method is to measure the specific gravity of each cell within the battery, however for many batteries this is difficult or impossible (AGM batteries, for example). Occasional dips into the yellow may not be harmful, but continual discharges to those levels will shorten battery life considerably. Just thought it might be helpful to add that one tool I’ve found useful is the little floating balls thing for checking individual cell status in lead acid batteries. I mainly use this system for 12 volt water pumps,a few LED’s and cfl lights and occasionally power tools. My immediate thought about the differences in your two battery banks is that the wally world batteries are newer, or less heavily used than the Trojan. I do off grid solar for a living, 25 years now and I sent a customer the link to this chart to give him an extra tool to keep tabs of his system.
Charging voltages for flooded and AGM batteries are different, so the charger should be settable to the type of battery you have. The idea is that even if you discharge the house battery overnight, the van starting battery will still be fully charged. When you are hooked up to shore power, it turns off the inverter function and passes the shore power through to the AC loads that are connected to the inverter, AND it charges the house battery using a full 3 stage charger.
It includes MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) which is more efficient than the PWM models. The 72 cell design provides enough voltage (36 volts) to work with the KID charge controller as a single panel.
So, a fuse should be added near the van battery in the wire that connects the two batteries. Right now this breaker is a model that does not have a manual shut off switch built into it, and I plan to replace it with one that does when I find one. I used one half of it to connect to the plus MC4 terminal on the PV panel and the other half to connect to the negative. I am using a 150 amp breaker, which seems high for #2 wire which has an ampacity of 115 amps -- will check further into this. The switch on the furnace allows you to completely turn the furnace off and still have other DC gadgets powered up. If we decide to do upper cabinets (above the windows) in the van, I may move the charge controller to one of the upper cabinets for easier reading -- I'd convert the hole for the current position into an air vent to ventilate the electronics area.
For an RV that only gets used maybe 30 days a year, 750 cycles is about 25 years, and I'm sure the battery will die of something else before 25 years. Measuring and knowing the SOC of a battery or battery bank is useful when applying towards alternative energy, or any other situation where you need to know its condition. Many (most) alt-energy systems incorporate a DC-shunt which keeps track of SOC by monitoring the current flow in and out of the battery or battery bank, which is a very accurate way to track state-of-charge. To be somewhat accurate, the battery should be in that condition for an hour or two before taking a measurement, while for a more accurate measurement you should wait 6 hours up to 24 hours.
Generally speaking, the less you discharge the battery before recharge, the longer the battery will last.
The Trojan sounds like it is getting old, and needs more frequent watering and equalizing to keep it functioning. The one thing I would disagree with somewhat from your well written article is concerning the accuracy of state of charge meters.
I'm aware that some sources recommend using stranded wire for greater vibration resistance, but the Romex is widely used in RV's and does not appear to cause an problems.
The other end of this bed houses the propane bottle and is bolted through the floor with several more bolts. Most alternative-energy systems are designed to keep the battery bank at least 50% or higher.
When batteries are in series they do not necessarily charge at the same rate and can become imbalanced. The isolator I used is a PAC-200 (see above) -- the 200 amp rating is quite a bit more than is required. The charge controller also prevents the PV panel from overcharging the house battery, which would damage it. It also starts up its battery charger and if the house battery needs charging, it charges it from the shore power -- it supplies up to 30 amps of charge current. The bed boxes are made out of a premium quality MDO plywood with all joints glued and screwed. It is set to equalize every 30 days, however sometimes I have to do it more than that, to bring them all back to green. The plates may have become heavily sulfated enough that the equalize mode can’t get it all off into solution.
The equalizing charge ups the charging voltages in order to get enough voltage to the lesser charged batteries in the series chain. The voltage drop for 15 ft of #10 wire at 8 amps is about 2%, or about 0.7 volts under full sun conditions -- this seems OK to me. I combine the batteries whenever we lose power for more than a few hours so we can run TVs, fans DVD player and lights etc.
The standard meter for years has been the Tri-Metric meter but I finally gave up on using them because they arent very accurate unless fine-tuned beyond the level most homeowners are capable of understanding. Yes it will over charge the higher charged batteries, which is why the equalizing charge is only applied for a short time, however if the system uses a single battery equalization is not required and can be detrimental. You should probably start saving your shekels for a new battery because that one is not going to live much longer.
It doesnt help that the manual makes little sense to the layman or that the meter cant read battery voltage and often keeps compounding small errors into bigger ones. It would be wise to buy a desulfator unit for your batteries in order to reverse sulfation of the plates after long periods of less than 100% charge. The meters that you can get that take their info from the inverter or in the case of Midnite Solar from the charge controller are more accurate because they temperature compensate but they need fine-tuning as well. Just yesterday a customer called because his inverter shut down at 23 volts, a definite low battery but the SOC meter claimed he was at 81% full. I sent him a link to your chart and told him to call Magnum tech support to learn to tweak the meter.



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Comments How to keep a car battery charged in the winter

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