Batteries for camping setup

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Old 04-26-15, 07:36 PM
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Batteries for camping setup

Evening, all. I'm looking for a bit of advice on proper battery selection and configuration. I spend about 10 days in the field setting up for and attending the Philly Folk Festival. In years past, we've been taking various types of 12v batteries (car batteries, deep-cycle marine, lawmower,etc) into the field to power inverters (for fans, led lighting and phone charging) as well as powering a 12v marine pump for the hot shower hookup. Typically, one battery was dedicated to the pump, and the others were connected (one at a time) to the inverter. Im looking to bring it all together into one good power 'brick' by running multiple batteries in parallel. Can anyone offer any tips or warnings that i should be aware of? Do all batteries need to be identical? Do I need to be worried about higher amps? Etc, etc. Much thanks!
 
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Old 04-26-15, 08:11 PM
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Welcome to the forums! How do you charge the batteries? Would it not be beneficial to just use something on the order of a Honda generator? It can power 120v applications and charge batteries at the same time. They are relatively quiet.
 
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Old 04-26-15, 08:16 PM
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I like Chandler's idea but have you considered a solar panel to charge your batteries? Harbor Freight have some fairly inexpensive units.
 
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Old 04-26-15, 09:20 PM
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More batteries are better but you'll still need to recharge them. Solar won't give you a fast enough recharge without being a good sized panel or several panels.

A small Honda generator with a large charger would work well.
 
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Old 04-27-15, 12:14 AM
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Thanks for the welcome! Alas, generators are verboten in the light camping (tent) area, and for good reason. It's pretty packed in there , and exhaust would end up in someones tent. Fortunately, as one who does setup, I have access to power to plug in chargers, and we cycle through. The heavy usage doesn't begin until the rest of the crowd shows up on Thursday, and we tend to drain a battery per day on average for inverter use. The shower battery usually goes the whole time on one charge thanks to conservative usage. I'm thinking that 6 batteries together should probably last the week. Recharge is an avalable option, though not desirable, as it involves carrying them on a cart up the hill and waiting. Solar may help to keep the charge up, but I havent seen anything useful in my budget range as of yet.
 
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Old 04-27-15, 02:36 AM
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Thanks for the welcome! Alas, generators are verboten in the light camping (tent) area, and for good reason. It's pretty packed in there , and exhaust would end up in someones tent. Fortunately, as one who does setup, I have access to power to plug in chargers, and we cycle through. The heavy usage doesn't begin until the rest of the crowd shows up on Thursday, and we tend to drain a battery per day on average for inverter use. The shower battery usually goes the whole time on one charge thanks to conservative usage. I'm thinking that 6 batteries together should probably last the week. Recharge is an avalable option, though not desirable, as it involves carrying them on a cart up the hill and waiting. Solar may help to keep the charge up, but I havent seen anything useful in my budget range as of yet.
What I use is a hybrid system with a generator and a deep cycle battery. For the lighter loads such as phone charging, I'll leave the generator off and run the inverter, then when I need to run a heavier load I'll run the generator. Also, with a Honda EU 2000i inverter generator, I've run it about 5 feet from my tent and I couldn't hear the thing running over my box fan.

You said you have access to power, how far away is power? A 10/3 extension cord may be all that you need.
 
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Old 04-27-15, 06:03 AM
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If it take multiple batteries to store enough for your usage I'm not sold on the idea of putting them all together into one package. I think that would get rather heavy and ungainly. You'd probably have to put them on a cart or wagon since you'd probably have well over 100 pounds. But... you can hook a group of batteries up in parallel or series. Parallel you'd have the same voltage but higher capacity. Or you could use 6 volt golf cart or forklift batteries in series to get 12 volts.

One thing to keep in mind is that inverters are inefficient, especially cheap ones. You loose a fair bit of your power just converting it to 120 VAC. You'd probably be better running chargers and fans directly off 12 VDC.
 
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Old 04-28-15, 10:12 PM
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I think the rule is for the noisier generators, but exhaust,is still a factor. I did contemplate hiding it and using the exhaust extension. The shower utilizes a Cabella shower tent which resides under a walled-off half of a 100 carport to maKe a shower room(fancy camping here!). Given the low noise of the Hondas I could hide in there and snake the exhaust out through the roof. If I had the budget for the generator...

Yeah, hauling the batteries up the hill can suck in the heat of the day, but it's been a small,price to pay for a powered site with a hot shower. The advantage of a multi battery setup is mainly to prevent those that are afraid to touch anything with wires from having to swap a battery out and possibly shorting the whole system...it's happened once. Yeesh. I think the most practical,approach would be to make the investment in a good honda generator...perhaps the 3000 model. By what I read, the bilge pump for the shower makes more noise than they do.
 
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Old 04-29-15, 06:44 AM
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I have a Honda Eu3000i and let my parents use it when they pulled a camper. I attached it to the bed of their truck and most of the time you could not tell there was a generator running from 10 feet away. It gets a bit noisier when a high draw item like an air conditioner or large fridge turns on but they are extremely quiet. Another benefit of the larger 3000 model is that it can operate more things while in quiet mode where a smaller 1000 or 2000 has to kick into high gear which can be noisier.

As for longevity I really wish the 3000 had an hour meter. I've tried roughly estimating it's use over the years and put it close to 2'000 hours without having to do anything more than change the oil, air filter and replace the battery after 6 or 7 years. They are not cheap by any stretch but if you want something for the long haul and do anything stupid like leave it sitting for long periods with gas in it they can be a good investment.
 
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