PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

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PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:54 pm

Admins: I didn't know where to place this, so please move if better suited elsewhere. Thanks.

Well, I've reviewed my electrical needs over the last couple years as it relates to my tiny teardrop camper trailer. The original builder only wired it for AC power--it basically has one outlet and one light inside. I've never been interested in adding DC because I don't want to tear into the interior or the exterior when I know I'll upgrade down the road. On our trip to the Outer Banks last year, there were numerous situations where we could only run our camping generator until a certain time and shore power was not available. I do have a couple of those small battery packs you can charge your cell phone with and it worked good for a couple nights' use of the little 12v usb fans, but I'd like MORE POWER available. I toyed with installing a dual battery setup in the 4Runner, but after installing the Northstar 31M battery in place of my starting battery, I don't feel I need anything else directly in the vehicle. My 12V fridge runs fine for days without the engine running and I have adequate room to add more accessories. I didn't like the idea of the camper being tethered to the truck either because we often divide and conquer which means one person is running errands while the other is at camp. So, portability made sense.

I've seen what's available portably, including: jump packs, ArkPak, National Luna Power Pak, Thunder Weekender, all the lithium battery options, battery boxes with external terminals and sockets, etc, etc, etc. With all of these options, I had problems with price or function or reviews. So, what's left to do? Build it myself. I don't particularly feel like having another project right now, but let's face it, making stuff is cool and rewarding. Whatever, I'm seriously saving money. I have hoarded my eBay gift cards and I have a small Lowe's gift card, so my out of pocket expense will be limited to the storage box, batteries, and inverter to get the unit up and running.

THIS IS MY PLAN. It will happen in stages for the sake of time, money, and a trip I'd like to use this on a trip next month.

STORAGE
I looked at Lowe's, Home Depot, Academy Sports, Wal-Hell, and online for a "box" I felt would meet my needs at a frugal price (anyone who has looked at the beginnings of my 4Runner build knows I'm going to by thrifty). I really didn't love the options. I'd love to stumble across a free Pelican case, but that's not going to happen. I narrowed by choices down to a Plano Sportsman trunk and a Kobalt tool box. Neither as sturdy as I'd prefer, but the price and size was generally right. Lucky Facebook Marketplace saved me. Today, I picked up a old 26x15x16 military shipping container for $35. So basically, I got my pseudo-pelican case. I plan to add some more one way valves for ventilation.

Image

BATTERIES
I ran my options for one 12v AGM and I want more aH for the money. So I've looked at golf cart batteries with the intent of wiring two 6v batteries in series. I can get 200aH+ this way. These batteries are also designed for the rigors of life. I'd love to find two free Trojan T-105's, but again, not going to happen, and AGM just became outside my budget. These are the contenders right now:

Duracell SLIGC110
[url="http://www.batteriesplus.com/productdetails/sligc110"]http://www.batteriesplus.com/productdetails/sligc110[/url]

Duracell SLIGC115
[url="http://www.batteriesplus.com/productdetails/sligc115"]http://www.batteriesplus.com/productdetails/sligc115[/url]

RURAL KING (Excide) GC115G
[url="http://www.ruralking.com/exide-golf-cart-battery-6volt-gc115g.html"]http://www.ruralking.com/exide-golf-cart-battery-6volt-gc115g.html[/url]

Feel free to throw other ideas at me. Mind you, those ideas need to be limited to around $100/battery for 6v and the comparable for 12v

INVERTER
I've researched inverters more than I ever dreamed. I'd love to find a pure sine wave inverter for free, but the free fairy hasn't visited lately. My needs don't seem to dictate having a pure sine wave inverter at this time so I can safely say I won't be spending the money on one just yet. If I charge the fridge off the box, then I'll use the 12v socket. One of my preferences is that the inverter have a wired remote so I can mount it on the outside of the box while the inverter is inside the box. I would like to minimize the need for taking the lid off the box. I've kind of narrowed down to this 1100w inverter from Krieger:
[url="http://www.amazon.com/Inverter-Installation-included-Automotive-according/dp/B00T564EIY"]http://www.amazon.com/Inverter-Installation-included-Automotive-according/dp/B00T564EIY[/url]
I'm a little disturbed by the number of smoking ones in the reviews, but unless I find another feasible alternative, I'm willing to roll the dice. I'll connect the inverter to a wet location outlet on the outside of the box.

OTHER STUFF
I'll be wiring up the series of batteries with 2/0 marine cable (found a deal) with 100a MEGA FUSE. I may buy a Blue Sea 5030 Fuse Block with Negative Bus just to make future expansion easier. I'll be mounting one of these so I'll have a volt meter, socket, USB charger, power switch:
Image

I also plan to mount a Anderson connector to the outside of the box to charge while driving. I already have a Battery Doctor smart isolator, so I'll hook it up in the engine compartment and then run cable with a Anderson connector to the cargo area of the T4R to attach to the box while driving. I'll also make an exterior connector to quickly connect my Noco G7200 charger.

SOLAR
This will all eventually be maintained with a 100w solar setup. I won't be able to get this going before my Sept trip, so I'll have to rely on the battery charger when I have shore power and the alternator when traveling. For the money, I'm looking at the 100 watt Renogy bundle with the Wanderer controller for around $190. I'll have a solar panel hookup on the outside of the box and the controller will mount inside the box.

INCIDENTALS
I'll probably end up installing some temp controlled 12v case fans to keep things cool. Haven't decided on exactly what yet. May install a cheap temp probe and LED display. I also may, down the road, mount a digital energy display.

OK, I know I've forgotten to list stuff, so be gentle. But please give me feedback, suggestions, opinions, etc. Keep in mind, this is a budget build which is why I've chosen the particular items listed. However, I'm up for hearing your thoughts!
Last edited by Pixie Susan on Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby John61CT » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:28 pm

Batteries: yes Duracell (Deka) GC, no to the Exide
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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:48 pm

John61CT wrote:Batteries: yes Duracell (Deka) GC, no to the Exide

Noted! I was leaning more toward the Duracell just based on Batteries+ being everywhere.


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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:14 am

John61CT wrote:Batteries: yes Duracell (Deka) GC, no to the Exide


Do you think the US Battery 1800xc is significantly better than the Duracells? I didn't include it in my list because I'd have to drive 1.5 hrs to get the US Batteries.


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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby tony.latham » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:42 am

What do you think it'll weigh?

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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pinstriper » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:59 pm

You haven't said much about what all you plan on needing power for. I'm seeing a large inverter but a small solar recharger, for instance. I think you should put some thought into the ratios - total battery bank capacity, how quickly you will draw it down, and how long it would take to recharge by various sources: tow vehicle, solar, shore power, genset.

I don;t have answers for you, just questions I think you need to ponder some more.

For example you mention driving a fridge. Fair enough, but maybe a small 3-way with propane as your primary off-grid source would be more advantageous, for instance. You may be oversizing the battery system while undersizing its ability to recharge, when propane would be a better solution. Maybe.


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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby John61CT » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:56 pm

Pixie Susan wrote:
John61CT wrote:Batteries: yes Duracell (Deka) GC, no to the Exide


Do you think the US Battery 1800xc is significantly better than the Duracells? I didn't include it in my list because I'd have to drive 1.5 hrs to get the US Batteries.


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No US Battery is a great mfg, but the 1800XC is an economy grade battery and fewer AH.

Similar to Trojan's T-605, no where near as good as T-105s.

If either of these were the same price as the Deka maybe, but not worth paying more.

The T-105 is really the one to look for, especially RE version.
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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby John61CT » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:58 pm

Pinstriper wrote: maybe a small 3-way with propane as your primary off-grid source would be more advantageous, for instance.
If going to stationary maybe, but only if already trucking in propane regularly.

But the 12V on those is crazy inefficient, might as well not be there.
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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby John61CT » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:02 pm

Yes even with 400w solar for suboptimal weather, just one pair of GCs is marginal when powering a fridge, plus fans, plus what else?

With a lot of daily driving alt charging will help, or a genny run in the morning even better.

But solar only, when you have cloudy weeks that bank's getting murdered.
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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Shadow Catcher » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:43 pm

I will disagree with the previous poster, Good choice using computer case fans which use a lot less current. We power that and LED lights a TV/DVD chargers... and a Waeco CF50 refrigerator with a 185W high voltage panel.
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PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:48 pm

Lots of great info! I'm still on the search for a good deal on the T-105's but my budget may have to go Duracell.

Let's see, what am I powering? Currently, my 24hr amp needs are just shy of 20ah at the heavier end. This covers a case fan and two other 0.5a fans. I'll also power a laptop for about 3 hrs and charge 2 cell phones. Of course there will be other random things but not much. I come from backpacking, so electricity is a luxury. My portable fridge is a Dometic (Waeco) CF-18. It's really nothing major for the dual purpose battery in my 4Runner. I have a dedicated full time line for it. I also keep the battery protection on the fridge set fairly conservatively. I'm not considering propane until I upgrade travel trailers. The Dometic works great for what I need and I keep everything else in a Yeti knockoff and it's easily had ice after 5 days.

I went with gc batteries because they can take a beating and it's more ah for the money. At this point in life and budget, I can be bothered with maintenance. Been doing it to car batteries for 25 yrs. I can also easily add two more batteries wired to the other set in parallel... down the road and have 450ah. Right now that's way overkill for my needs but it leaves the option open. Considering the efficiency of the Renogy panels, one 100w seems sufficient given my ah usage...I think. However, I like that I can add 3 more panels to the setup later.

As far as the inverter goes, I could pretty much get away with not having one. It's a convenience. If power goes out at my house, I can utilize the inverter and power box for some items. I don't want to be terribly limited if I need to use the inverter but at the same time I have no need for anything larger. I would even consider a smaller inverter if one in the same price range as the Krieger is suggested...and has a wired remote so I can mount it.

For charging: I plan to be able to attach my Noco G7200 with Anderson clips (when shore power is available) just as I'll be able to attach it to the vehicle for alternator (130a alternator) charging. I also have a Briggs & Stratton p2000 gas inverter generator. Seems like a good reason to finally dabble in solar.

Everything I've been thinking about is in terms of expandability. I currently have a teardrop the size of a full mattress inside. I hope to one day parlay that into something the size of a R-Pod 179(ish). But right now I'm basically a tent camper with a hard tent...and I love it.

Please keep the questions, comments, suggestions coming. I really appreciate it! Btw, I have no practical application experience with solar. I've read up on it, am feeling brave, but can adequately kill my own solar garden lights.


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PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:07 pm

tony.latham wrote:What do you think it'll weigh?

Tony


Right at 150 lbs...which just made my back ache. I better get back into the gym. Lol. I have a small portable folding dolly rated at something like 300 lbs so it'll essentially be on wheels and two of us will lift it. A single 12v battery at 200ah wouldn't save me much of any weight.


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PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:08 am

Lots piling up! If only I could buy time now.
Image

Still haven't pulled the trigger on the inverter and batteries.

This is the work already done on the tow vehicle side.
Image
I made a mounting plate for the engine compartment where I have a circuit breaker from my main, dual purpose Northstar 31M battery, and the breaker connects to a Blue Sea fuse panel. From there, I'll wire a switched Blue Sea panel with a fast usb charger, locking 12v socket, and a voltmeter/ammeter in the cargo area. This panel will not be tied to ignition and I'll run my fridge off the socket 24/7 while camping.

Then I plan to go ahead and wire up my battery isolator in the engine compartment with the auxiliary line from the engine compartment running back to the cargo area where it'll terminate on an Anderson connector. That's where the diy portable power pack will hook up for charging while driving....at least, that's the plan.


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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby Pixie Susan » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:41 am

I'm still tossing around venting ideas as I'd like the box to remain as low profile (no long snorkel hanging out) and waterproof (which will end up just highly water resistant) as I can. I've looked at these Gore vents to mount on the lid of the box:
https://www.gore.com/news-events/new...igh-airflow-us

And I've also looked at these

https://www.stego.de/us/products/acc...pe-1-4-4x.html

Any suggestions that meet my criteria?



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Re: PORTABLE POWER GENERATOR plans FEEDBACK please

Postby John61CT » Wed Aug 16, 2017 9:12 am

That fridge should really be on House, unless you don't mind replacing your starter more frequently.

You get more total capacity merging all deep cycling into one bigger bank, Peukert effect.

Ideally all charge sources go to the one House bank, top off the Starter from there, hardly any charge needed if dedicated to cranking only.

Are you able to self-jumpstart from House if Starter batt died while boondocking?
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