I probably won’t be able to give a write up of my trip from Nugget City to Campbell River, complete with pictures, until I arrive, so in the meantime, I’ll just share my experiences with the house batteries this time around.
I noticed last spring that my house batteries were not charging while driving. I started by blaming the installation of the new truck battery, which proved to be correct as there was no voltage on the cable from the truck solenoid to the house batteries.
There were no loose wires around the truck battery, so I examined the connections from the solenoid to the battery and found them loose. I cleaned the terminals, applied conductive gel, and tightened the connections. After that, there was proper voltage going from the truck to the house batteries. But that only solved part of the problem as I found that the charging was not satisfactory, especially after long days of driving.
My next suspect was the refrigerator. I guessed that by putting it on ‘auto’ it was switching to battery power rather than LP and that I was draining the battery as I drove.
When I left Nugget City, I purposely left the fridge on ‘auto’ and when I arrived at my spot for the night, my voltage read 12.3. I had left with a fully charged battery and driven almost three hundred kilometres. This did not seem right. I switched the fridge to LP. The battery voltage dipped to about 12.0 overnight as I left the inverter on to recharge the laptop.
The next day, I stopped after about one hundred kilometres of driving and my battery was at 12.6, fully charged! This confirmed to me that my charging problem was resolved. When I parked for the night at the turnout, I still had a fully charged battery. However, I had no sooner turned on the furnace than my battery was at a 50% discharge evidenced by an 11.1V reading!!! I turned off the furnace and the battery reading increased to a more reasonable 11.5 to 11.6 range, more than enough for a comfortable night.
I had recently checked the distilled water levels for the batteries and found them to be satisfactory, but decided that maybe they did need a bit of topping up. They each took on a little water, not enough to make a difference I thought, but I was in for a surprise.
I parked in Prince George with the battery at 12.6V. I ran the furnace all night while recharging the laptop and the battery levels dipped down to the 11.6 to 11.8V range and stayed there steadily.
From Prince George, I returned to the Chasm. My voltage was at 12.6V upon parking and 12.1V upon going to bed after running the furnace and charging my laptop. I left the furnace on all night and awoke to a voltage of 11.8. During the day, the only direct use I made of my batteries was to charge my laptop and the voltage hovered in the 11.6 to 11.8V range. It was a nice sunny day and without doing any math, so take this with a grain of salt, I suspect that I was getting enough juice out of the 15W solar panel to compensate for the laptop charge.
I stayed a second day at the Chasm just for a rest and my battery remained at the 11.6 to 11.8V reading right straight up to my departure (so, two nights of running the furnace). I drove only about a hundred kilometres, including careening down a mountain, before my stop for the night where my battery was at 11.5. It was at 11.3 when the tow truck came this morning.
It seems that my batteries rapidly discharge into the 11V readings, but then stay there steadily. I was glad to be hooked to power tonight, but would have had enough juice for running the furnace.
The generator will be useful to help me boondock in one place for several nights, but I now know that I can boondock from place to place with a small of driving in between each and still be perfectly comfortable. This knowledge is very comforting. I’m starting to feel like a seasoned RVer. 🙂
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