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Winter storage - with solar or 110 pug-in?


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I have the 320 watt solar with Zamp controller and at home park the unit outside in reliable sun.  So what to do?  Plug it in to 110 power for a Colorado winter, or allow the unaided sun to do its daily work?  I have the AGM 6 volt batteries.  Last year I winterized and plugged it in. As far as I can tell, no damage done.  But, the sun brings the voltage up to 13 plus volts each day.  Any wisdom out there?  (Or does it fundamentally matter?)  Solar and batteries remain a marvelous mystery to me. 

Thanks in advance. 

Stan from Boulder, CO.  Hull #204

 

 

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As an experiment I have not plugged in our Oliver since bringing it home, while at home. That was 2017. I have plugged in at CG to run electric element in water heater and the AC heat strip, but not at home. The solar has kept me charged with ice and snow on it. The only caution I have taken is to make sure the batteries are topped off with distilled water at the end of the season, and again at wake up...

Edited by Mainiac
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If you have nothing running - solar will be more than adequate. Depending on what you have running on the DC system - you can also rely on the solar - if there is sufficient sun. We camp for weeks at  a time in our Oliver - and use nothing but solar for power - so  storage should be fine.

As for the mystery - just think of the batteries as a pitcher of water - which has two sources of supply - the tap - (shore power) or a well (Solar).  AS you drink from the pitcher - you will need to refill - the tap is always at the ready - the well - sometimes it may be dry (no SUN) . As long as the pitcher is  3/4 full you will be fine 99% of the time. When you feed the pitcher from both sources - the well takes a back seat. 

Cindy,  Russell and  "Harley dog" . Home is our little farm near Winchester TN

2018 Oliver Legacy Elite II - 2018 GMC 2500 Duramax 

"Die young - As late as possible"

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Given that I cover my Oliver while in storage, the rooftop solar panels are useless.  However, I do plug in a small 25 watt solar panel for the purpose of keeping the batteries charged.  The climate in Western North Carolina is kinder/milder than others I can think of, but, we do get down into the teens for short periods a couple of times over the winter.  I make sure that everything possible is turned off inside the Ollie, I turn off the rooftop solar panels and I "trip" the two main breakers so that there is minimal current draw.  Each Spring and the several times I check on the camper over the winter, the batteries are always fully charged and ready to go.

Bill

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2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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I go down to the camper in the winter. Turn on the heater, turn on lights, turn on the tv, maybe watch a movie. The solar has snow and ice on it. Usually around 13.4 on the meter when I leave.

The sad part is when I forget to turn off a light. Now get dressed again, after dark of course, find a flashlight, wade through fresh fallen snow. Only to find out it wasn't a light after all, it was just a reflection of the moon on a window. Just like camping.

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Does anyone in snow country tilt their solar array toward the sun? This will keep most of the snow and ice off. The lower panel may get obscured by snow buildup, but the top one should remain fully clear and operating normally at full output. It takes just a few minutes and $10 worth of aluminum to make strong support arms.

46A21F27-308A-4B20-9DDF-48287E699CB7.thumb.jpeg.ae281a7a76cf8b026031c26f2757ee74.jpeg

I recommend lowering them back to the normal position when a strong wind storm is coming..... and no, I have not actually tried this. “Mouse” lives inside.

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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I go down to the camper in the winter. Turn on the heater, turn on lights, turn on the tv, maybe watch a movie. The solar has snow and ice on it. Usually around 13.4 on the meter when I leave.

The sad part is when I forget to turn off a light. Now get dressed again, after dark of course, find a flashlight, wade through fresh fallen snow. Only to find out it wasn't a light after all, it was just a reflection of the moon on a window. Just like camping.

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3 hours ago, John E Davies said:

Does anyone in snow country tilt their solar array toward the sun? This will keep most of the snow and ice off. The lower panel may get obscured by snow buildup, but the top one should remain fully clear and operating normally at full output. It takes just a few minutes and $10 worth of aluminum to make strong support arms.

It just so happens that when we park our unit it faces almost perfectly North and South. So with the panels being flat they catch the morning sun, the noontime sun as it passes over head, and the afternoon sun....all 7 hours or so. We probably also have more unexpected wind than sun, so being flat works, for us. Now an automatic tracker for the panels might be nice, but I have yet to exceed my power needs.

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On 10/17/2020 at 6:01 AM, topgun2 said:

Given that I cover my Oliver while in storage, the rooftop solar panels are useless.  However, I do plug in a small 25 watt solar panel for the purpose of keeping the batteries charged.  The climate in Western North Carolina is kinder/milder than others I can think of, but, we do get down into the teens for short periods a couple of times over the winter.  I make sure that everything possible is turned off inside the Ollie, I turn off the rooftop solar panels and I "trip" the two main breakers so that there is minimal current draw.  Each Spring and the several times I check on the camper over the winter, the batteries are always fully charged and ready to go.

Bill

I did not know you can turn off the solar panels.  Our Oliver will be stored in a similar way, under a carport, with access to Southern exposure where we could plug in an external solar panel.  Our Oliver is being equipped with Lithium Pro package.  Not certain what will be the best way to maintain during storage.  We can plug in, but would like to use solar power as an option.  Will also want to have an oil heater on when it turns cold.  

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin Hull# 699 - delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCACOGAHIIDILKSLAMSMONENVNMOKORSCTNTX

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12 hours ago, Susan Huff said:

I did not know you can turn off the solar panels.  Our Oliver will be stored in a similar way, under a carport, with access to Southern exposure where we could plug in an external solar panel.  Our Oliver is being equipped with Lithium Pro package.  Not certain what will be the best way to maintain during storage.  We can plug in, but would like to use solar power as an option.  Will also want to have an oil heater on when it turns cold.  

Yes, you are certain what the best way is to maintain your Lithiums when in storage.  Directly from the spec sheet:

Storage Method:  50% SoC, test @ 90 Days, recharge if below 13.0V

So don't use solar power to keep your Lithiums topped off during storage unless "topped off" means 50%.  😏

Edited by NCeagle
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John and Anita

Future (11/20) Oliver Elite II Owners, Hull TBD

Tow Vehicle:  2006 Silverado 2500HD Crew Cab.  6.6L Duramax

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Sorry I apparently confused BackofBeyond  and perhaps others.  

Bottom line is for the LifeBlue lithium batteries, assuming you want to maximize longevity, you should not store them at full charge and keep them topped off at full as you would other batteries.  Topping off a Lithium during storage is recharging it back to 50% if it drops below 13V.  That's all I meant.

John and Anita

Future (11/20) Oliver Elite II Owners, Hull TBD

Tow Vehicle:  2006 Silverado 2500HD Crew Cab.  6.6L Duramax

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37 minutes ago, NCeagle said:

Topping off a Lithium during storage is recharging it back to 50% if it drops below 13V.  That's all I meant.

This is confusing, because I have read you should store at "about" 50% (30-70) and then do a full charge/ discharge cycle to 50%. That isn't the same as just topping it back up to 50%. I think long term storage at half charge makes sense, but you should also give the system a full workout once every six months.

I have also read that you should just charge to 100% every three months, (as per the instructions for my Viking LiFePO4 car booster). I compromise and charge it every six months until the built in charger turns off. But if this $70 unit fails, no big deal.... a multi-thousand dollar RV battery bank is different in this respect.

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

Edited by John E Davies

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags.

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5 hours ago, NCeagle said:

Yes, you are certain what the best way is to maintain your Lithiums when in storage.  Directly from the spec sheet:

Storage Method:  50% SoC, test @ 90 Days, recharge if below 13.0V

So don't use solar power to keep your Lithiums topped off during storage unless "topped off" means 50%.  😏

Charge to 50% and monitor, I get.  

What about while keeping an electric heat source going?  Turn on heater and monitor SOC . . . . . charging by shore power vs solar . . . . . I wonder how much solar would be needed to maintain 50% charge with each . . . . . I guess we'll just have to experiment since there are not many OTT owners with lithium batteries.

 

 

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin Hull# 699 - delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCACOGAHIIDILKSLAMSMONENVNMOKORSCTNTX

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9 minutes ago, Susan Huff said:

What about while keeping an electric heat source going? 

Charge them to 50% and then disconnect them.  If they're disconnected, they won't charge, and you can plug the trailer in and run the heater all you want.

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Snowball • 256 • 2018 Ford Raptor

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Just now, Overland said:

Charge them to 50% and then disconnect them.  If they're disconnected, they won't charge, and you can plug the trailer in and run the heater all you want.

Thanks . . .  that sounds easy!  Does the lithium pkg have a cut-off switch, or do you have to unhook the cables?  If you disconnect the batteries, wouldn't the LP/CO alarm eventually go off?

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin Hull# 699 - delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCACOGAHIIDILKSLAMSMONENVNMOKORSCTNTX

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