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Old 12-03-2007, 05:03 PM   #1
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Batteries for a/c & tv

I think I have read everything here on this subject and am more confused. I would like to do the following: 1 Use my minibus only on three day weekends 2 Buy a remote control wall unit air conditioner from home depot 3 Hopefully not have to buy a generator 4 Use this wall unit a/c going down the road 5 Never in the three or four day period be without a/c 6 Carry a series of new car batteries 7 Buy an inverter. 8 Charge the batteries up two days before I leave 9 Switch over and plug in at night at rv parks to run the air and tv and recharge the series of batteries.

Is this possible, and if so, what is the purchase list. I have customized vehicles all my life and each and every one has had an expensive mistake I've made that I would never do the same way again. I want to avoid this on this vehicle. The vehicle has nothing right now and I am starting from scratch. I live in Florida and it gets mighty hot.
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Old 12-03-2007, 06:13 PM   #2
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

Even small A/C's take a LOT of power. You will need a pretty big battery bank. I've looked into this myself. All of the batteries, inverter, and the rest of the stuff you would need will cost more than a generator will. Get a Honda EU2000i generator. They're about $850, but they are very quiet, efficient, lightweight and one of them will run all but the biggest A/C's. One of mine will run a 13,500 BTU A/C, but the geni is running at full power. Also, tell us a little more about your bus! Is it one of the mini-buses built on a van chassis?
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Old 12-03-2007, 07:02 PM   #3
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

Hehehe...this is always a fun topic.

Let's start with some math.

The best AC units out there will do slightly better than 100 watts of draw per 1000 BTU's of cooling while the vast majority will draw more than 100 watts, but that is a decent starting point just for the sake of argument.

So...100 watts per 1000 BTU's with one 13,500 BTU roof unit...that's 1350 watts. Easy enough, right?

Watts=volts*amps
1350 watts=12 volts * X amps which leads us to 112.50 amps of draw on the 12 volt battery/alternator side of things.

Amp hours are a measure of a battery's storage capacity and are quite simply that...amps times hours. 1 amp for 5 hours is 5 amp hours. 5 amps for 1 hour is 5 amp hours. Now there is more to it thanks to this guy named Peurket, but that is bad news for you so we'll leave that out of this discussion.

In a typical day lets say you have the AC unit running at full bore for 8 of the 24 hours.

8 hours * 112.50 amps= 900 amp hours

Since you want to be able to run for three days we will multiply that figure by 3 so we get 2700 amp hours of battery capacity needed to run the AC unit (and only the AC unit) for 3 days like you planned on. Good to this point?

Deep cycle batteries are rated in amp hours just like we've converted the load into making it simple to see how much battery power you need. There's lots to it, but basically you want twice as much capacity in the battery as you're going to use to maximize its life. So if you need 200 amp hours for a day you should plan a bank with a total capacity of 400 amp hours.

Golf cart batteries are far and away the most economical route when you break it down to dollars per amp hour. They are also quite resilient. 8D's are also good, but for the sake of argument we're going to give you all the advantage we can so we're sticking to golf cart batteries.

Deka is a well known brand in the battery business. Their GC25 is the highest capacity Group GC2 battery they make with a rating of 225 amp hours (ignoring that Peukert guy again). Lead prices are extremely volatile, but I'm going to price that one at $100 estimating from what I know.

Ok...225 amp hours...but that's at 6 volts. We need two of them connected in series to get 12 volts to be usable by the inverter. So...$200 for 225 amp hours. We needed how many amp hours? Oh yeah...2700 for the three day weekend.

2700/225=12
12*2 to get 12 volts=24

Hmmm...24 batteries at $100 each means $2400 worth of batteries alone JUST for the AC while ignoring lots of other important stuff (like the Peukert fellow). But that's not it...we need to DOUBLE the bank so that our depth of discharge is only 50%.

$4800 worth of batteries weighing about 70 lbs each (3360 total weight) JUST for the AC. Uh oh...

Check out the thread entitled "Jacuzzi Bus 4" and look at what Jason is doing to power his AC off an alternator going down the road. While parked he will use his gen-set or shore power no doubt.

I don't mean to rain on your parade, but coping with living off batteries is something we all must go through. For now we all have had to deal with a gen-set, deal with the heat, or always stay at a place with a plug in if we want AC. If you can come up with a more glamorous solution I PROMISE you will be everyone's favorite, but for now I think you might want to rethink what you want and need.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:12 PM   #4
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

I second the EU2000 idea.

I used one to power my window AC in bus one weekend. It did run hi throttle but it worked. Even at high idle it uses less fuel than other Generators. Better than carrying a trailer to haul your battery bank though. I know Jason has used his while going down the road - he had it strapped to his roof. I don't know how well they'd handle the weather, but I'm sure you could build an enclosure for it easy enough.
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Old 12-04-2007, 08:31 AM   #5
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

Just as I suspected but I wanted to make sure of it. No batteries for me. There is a guy on ebay right now selling a truck load of new NO WARRANTY in-the-box 13 hp elec start 5500 watt generators and I was thinking about buying one. He also has some bigger ones, I think. I am just worried about noise and fuel consumption, but for three days, I don't care too much I guess. They are averaging about $250 each auction but you have to add $125 shipping which kind of takes the fun out of it. Still a great buy. Harbor Freight has the same thing marked down to $500 for christmas but the warranty is only for 30 days. I might go ahead and bid on one today. My bus is a 1987 Chevy mini school bus. I think it is a G30 or something. 350 ci, three speed auto. It takes a tank full of gas to get to the end of the driveway. I have already taken the lift out. I am actually thinking about trading it for a step van that has a FOUR speed automatic and is all aluminum which is great for rust prevention and gas mileage. If I get a generator, can I run it right out of the normal gas tank, and if so, is there a down side.
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Old 12-04-2007, 09:56 AM   #6
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

you'll regret buying a cheap generator. You REALLY should buy the honda eu 2000. I use a honda every summer for 10 days in a row out in the desert in northern nevada. I use it to run a freezer, jacuzzi, lights, batt charger, microwave, toaster oven, ect ect and i average about 15 hours per gallon of gas. Compare that to the 2 hours per gallon you'll get from the cheap geni you're looking at.



another advantage of the honda, it always starts! doesn't weigh any more than a 5 gallon can of gas, and super duper quiet! At the party in the desert i would return t the bus from a volunteer shift around 7 am and once or twice the geni had run out of gas. I'd ask my g/f who was in the bus, "was the generator still running when you went to sleep?" and she'd say "it isn't running now??, i really can't tell the difference."

the place to buy the honda is an online place called mayberrys http://www.mayberrys.com/honda/gener...tgenerator.htm they're out in NJ and offer free shipping. I think mine was $857.00 which is aobut 2 hundred bucks below msrp.

a quick calculation...the price of the cheap geni $400 plus 166 gallons ($500 worth) of fuel which (or about 300 hours of run time) = $900. That's about 12-13 days of run time.

with the honda it would take 20 gallons of fuel to run for 300 hours which is about $60 bucks in fuel. Bringing the total price to just over $900.

If you dont plan to use your generator for more then 300 hours over it's lifetime, and you don't mind having a noisy heavy single cylinder air cooled engine screaming away a few feet from where you're sitting/sleeping then the cheap generator will work fine.
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Old 12-04-2007, 10:30 AM   #7
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

Jason,

Thanks for the generator info.

Robert
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Old 12-04-2007, 01:39 PM   #8
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

i LOVE Honda products from my experience with my 6 speed lowest level commercial mower for the house. However, the model generator you pointed out doesn't seem to carry enough power for constant a/c plus lights, TV, etc. Wall unit a/c pulls a lot of amps. You don't have it in your list of things you power in the desert, which I assume is hot. Is it because it won't handle the a/c power requirements? I have the money, I just don't want to pay too much and then barely make it anyway. I like to overkill and then hope for the best. What should I do. I don't want to buy one generator for the a/c and another one for the rest of the stuff.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:01 PM   #9
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

I just saw that the Honda generator mentioned(eu2000i) is rated at the same noise level as the 13 horse one. It is also only 1600 watts compared to 5,000. I was going to put a motorcycle muffler on the big one and have it roll away from the bus with larger wheels (at least when parked), on a very long cord anyway. Now I don't know what to do. Decisions, decisions.
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:44 PM   #10
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Re: Batteries for a/c & tv

A word of caution on the tranny swap you're looking at doing. I would put money on you having a TH-400/3L80 right now. The 4 speed you would be looking at is almost positively a 700R4/4L60. You would be swapping 1 ton stuff out for a tranny that is more at home in an S-10. I'm not going to rant for a long time because I know the 700R4 WAS used in 1 tons, but do yourself a favor and don't bother with the conversion. It would be throwing good money after bad.

Now if, by chance, the 4 speed you were looking at was a 4L80E I would jump on it in a heartbeat...but plan to spend some money on the standalone TCM for that electronic monster to shift.

Honda makes more than just the EU series of generators. The other models aren't QUITE as quiet or QUITE as fuel efficient, but are leaps and bounds ahead of the competition and come with larger outputs. To save a little money you might want to look at a Honda powered generator under another label (Northern Tool has their Northstar line for example).
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