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Old 06-24-2016, 10:32 AM   #1
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Battery Charger, Charge controlers, and Monitors

I've already got the 6500 watt genset, three deep cycle batteries and inverters.

I'm trying to figure out what Charger, Charge Controller, and Charge Monitor to get. As usual cost and size are important. I'm also trying to keep the complexity to a minimum.

I see the Trimetric brand TM-2030 A or RV Monitor gets high marks around here. These seem to run about $150.00

So does the Bogart Engineering SC-2030 Charge Controller. I see these at about $120.00

Which battery charger would work with these? I suppose I'm looking for something greater than 50 amps.

OR ...

Is there an alternative to the monitors, controllers and chargers mentioned above?

Is there a reliable all in one (charger, controller, monitor) unit, priced about $300-$350?

Thanks
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Old 06-26-2016, 10:19 PM   #2
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Same research boat as you at the moment. I have some criteria on the system I want to have in place, but it's a matter of time/research. I'm gettin there myself...just gotta keep reading and searching.
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:04 PM   #3
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get an mppt charge controller, ive had the outback mx 60 for over ten years no problems. the bogart trimetric battery monitor is the bomb, if your living off batteries its a must.if you can swig it get the inverter/charger combo. makes charging by shore power or genny a snap.
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:06 AM   #4
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get an mppt charge controller, ive had the outback mx 60 for over ten years no problems. the bogart trimetric battery monitor is the bomb, if your living off batteries its a must.if you can swig it get the inverter/charger combo. makes charging by shore power or genny a snap.
I'm not going to be living in our Skoolie full time, its mostly going to be a weekend kind of thing.

Also, I already have the inverters, they are new and were given to me when I started this project.

Based on what I have read here and other forums, I think I'm going to order up the Trimetric brand TM-2030 A or RV Battery Monitor and the Bogart Engineering SC-2030 Charge Controller. Like yourself, everyone that has them seems to give them VERY high marks.

Although I am a life long auto mechanic (and etc.), I have zero experience with this type of charging system and am relying on the collective voice of experience.

I'm looking for a battery charger that would be compatible with the Bogart/Trimetric units. I could just buy anything off the shelf at Walmart, but I would like to know what folks are using and have had success with. Cost? Maybe up around $100 to $150 would be OK.

My guess is that almost ANY 50 to 100 amp battery charger would work to supply the amps and the Bogart SC-2030 would properly control the charging process, but I really do not know about the compatibility.
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Old 06-27-2016, 06:48 PM   #5
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Old 06-27-2016, 09:35 PM   #6
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charge controller info, good reading.
MPPT vs PWM charge controllers by Blue Sky, Morningstar, OutBack and Xantrex
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Old 06-28-2016, 10:24 AM   #7
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Actually, I have read both of those ... they were recommended on a number of threads found on this forum. Good information here; it helped me make up my mind about the monitor and charge controllers I'll be using considering my need and the batteries I'll be using. UNFORTUNATELY these sources do not indicate which battery chargers the folks on this forum are using in a generator based (no solar at all), wet battery system, which is the question I'm asking.

As I mentioned, I've got the inverters already, so I'd like to avoid a combined charger/inverter unit.

I'd really like to get some feedback about which chargers will be compatible with my set-up. Also I'd like to hear from folks which battery chargers work and hold up well and which ones just don't cut it and need to be replaced after 6 months.
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Old 06-28-2016, 11:09 AM   #8
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i have a progressive dynamics 80Amp smart charger/converter in my bus. it seems to work fine, but i have complained about it on the forum before.

the smart charger is not what you want to see when you are charging up your battery. imo

it slows down as it charges, to compensate for over charging. it might start out charging at 40a, but its not to long before that drops to a much lower speed.

the just never finish charging, imo. i just unplugged my bus from charging for 2 weeks and the battery was only 60%. you can override the smart charge, but you have to keep an eye on it.

my battery monitor is this. its worked good. google "battery monitor bm-1"
and you'll find it.



good luck
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Old 06-28-2016, 05:43 PM   #9
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turf makes a good point about charge current tapering. The number quoted on a charger is its bulk charge maximum, but if you're taking good care of lead-acid batteries they'll spend most of their time at less than full bulk charge rate because they won't be discharged very deeply.

I didn't see any mention of the amp-hour capacity of your bank, only a mention of three batteries. I'll guess they're lead based 12v batteries less than 100 AH each. Check with the manufacturer, but they might recommend charging at max 0.1C -- 10 amps per battery or 30 amps for the bank. A 50 amp charger may be unnecessary because a) the batteries will get cooked and b) they'll spend so little time at 50 amp rate anyway you could have saved money by getting a smaller charger.

For portable use I have a Black & Decker 40 amp charger I really like. I can't make any recommendation for permanent installation though.
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Old 06-28-2016, 09:49 PM   #10
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a charger needs to bring the batteries to several set points dictated by the battery manufacturer. a regular battery charger will ruin batteries because of this. here
https://www.altestore.com/store/char...-3-bank-p9007/
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Old 06-29-2016, 09:30 AM   #11
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I'll guess they're lead based 12v batteries less than 100 AH each.
115 AH actually. 900 MCA.
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Old 06-29-2016, 10:28 AM   #12
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a charger needs to bring the batteries to several set points dictated by the battery manufacturer. a regular battery charger will ruin batteries because of this. here
https://www.altestore.com/store/char...-3-bank-p9007/
Unless I'm reading the study material incorrectly, isn't this the function of the charge controller?

That being said, I looked at the link you offered and did a bit more digging around.

This Xantrex Charger/controller combo unit: Xantrex true<i>charge</i>™2 40amp battery charger - 3 bank 12v - SavingLots.com

combined with their monitor: https://www.altestore.com/store/char...e-panel-p9458/

It's pretty interesting especially that it is stack-able; 2 or 3 of these things can be easily combined if I find I need more batteries down the road. It will also accommodate solar panels if I decide to go that route.

If I shop around, the price isn't too bad; about $400 gets the 40 amp charger/controller and the monitor. I like the idea of running units from the same manufacturer. I've read over the install manual and it seems like a simple enough and neat package to install. The reviews all seem to be very positive ... but ... it's the internet ... the reality could be anything.

I'm gonna keep looking ... and reading ..

THANKS FOR THE TIP!!!
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Old 06-29-2016, 10:02 PM   #13
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a charge controller uses solar to charge the batteries. a charger uses shore power. a charger/ inverter uses shore power to run all circuits and charge the batteries, once you pull the plug to shore power it transfers the loads to the inverter. when you plug in again it tranfers the loads to shore power and recharges the batteries. if you plan on being away from shore power and not driving you will also need solar panels and a solar charge controller.
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Old 06-30-2016, 10:19 AM   #14
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If you plan on being away from shore power and not driving you will also need solar panels and a solar charge controller.
I do not want solar panels just now.

I'll be bringing shore power with me in the form of the 6500 watt genset I mentioned.

The literature for the Xantrex 804-1240-02 indicates that a genset is an approved source for ac power.

While looking for more information about this unit, I found this:

The RV Doctor: Product Spotlight: Xantrex Truecharge2 Battery Charger

Unless I'm missing something, this might be what I'm looking for, but I'm gonna keep reading. I'll will be sharing more information AND reviews (pro and con) about the Xantrex equipment as I find it.
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Old 06-30-2016, 11:40 AM   #15
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To any novice looking to build one of these systems ... After almost a year reading (and reading and reading) trying to understand these things, here's what I've learned:

1. I've been an auto mechanic since the early 1970's both in the aftermarket and in dealerships. I've been working on electronic motor management systems since VW hung the first computer controlled fuel injection system on VW 3 types. I have a degree in Automotive Technology, and though I haven't renewed them in a while, I have my ASE certs. ... and guess what? It don't help AT ALL with these RV power systems. Deep Cycle batteries might look like automotive batteries ... and might be heavy like automotive batteries ... and some might even be black like most automotive batteries ... But they AIN'T automotive starting batteries.

In fact, after 40 years+ in the trade, I have to say that most automotive technicians have NO IDEA how to properly charge a lead acid battery ... hell, most AT's today have no idea what a hydrometer is or what specific gravity means. There are, of course, exceptions ... but in my experience, not very many. But I digress ... apart from power generation and storage, the AC/DC systems found in RV's have very little in common with those DC only systems in automobiles.

2. Please note that Solar Panels are in such high use today that almost all the information I've found assumes that they are in your system ... someplace. Even if you tell somebody right up front that you are not using solar panels ... they will automatically assume that you are. This has caused me no end of confusion.

3. Some (Most?) "smart chargers" are not really all that smart. Further, it would seem that most of them are designed for automotive use and really do not meet the needs of properly charging deep cycle batteries. In addition to other short-falls, most of them simply do not produce enough volts to properly charge a deep cycle battery. There are exceptions ... but you really have to read the fine print.

4. It is very easy to get over loaded with information as there is are so much out there and so much of that information is conflicting. For example, ask a question about chargers ... and instead of an answer ... folks give you books. And the Internet? I have found it very hard to separate out opinion from fact, and fact from advertising claims.

5. About the internet searches ... out there in the internet there are a LOT of people who want to sell you something. To do so they will claim just about anything, including brighter teeth and curly hair, if you buy their product. Caveat Emptor BIG TIME, baby!

These and other issues can make it real tough for the novice who thinks he is asking a simple question about what charger he needs in a very basic system. Add this to the fear of spending $400 to $600 on equipment, only to find that it doesn't meet your needs, or is broken within 6 months of purchase. Extended warranties don't mean a damned thing when you're in the middle of nowhere and you don't have power for your refrigerator or microwave any more.

To sum up: There are no simple questions ... and there are no "basic" systems.
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Old 10-14-2016, 11:13 PM   #16
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I almost hate to bring this subject back up, but I'm at an impasse. I just bought a brand new 3-stage converter/charger cause my batteries never reached 80% even plugged into shore power for two weeks. My biggest obstacle is that the converter is 20' from the house battery bank (330Ah). The new converter reads 13.4 at its terminal and 13.01 at the batteries all the time. I have never seen it at bulk or absorption voltage (14.8V).

I have an Intellitec Battery Isolator Controller so when the motor is running the alternator is charging the batteries at 14.4V thus I'm not at risk of depleting the batteries given my bus usage, I just want the fastest possible charge going into the batteries from shore an generator power. I am considering buying an additional battery charger to install in the battery compartment which is open to the elements.

I understand a little about what I need: 20% total Ah max current; Bulk - Max amp to 14.8V; Absorption - hold at 14.7 reducing amps to 3A; Float - 13.4V continuous.

I go full-time next week and I just can't see paying another $180-500 for just another battery charger that meets the above requirements. Especially, when, for $600, I could go full solar. I can't move the current converter or the batteries. The wiring to the batteries is 4/0.

I can't keep doing what I have been. I considered a Battery Tender, but their max is 5amps. Looked at Xantrex, boy are they expensive. There has to be a middle ground. Am I missing something? I'm currently supplementing the converter with an old school auto battery charger that I have to watch closely so as to not boil the batteries (It raises the battery voltage up to as high as 16V if I don't disconnect it; I usually turn it off at 15V. I then turn it on and off for 2 hours maintaining the voltage between 14.4 and 14.. The converter is then fine for a float charge overnight.
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Old 10-15-2016, 12:01 AM   #17
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read this in full.

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/

then buy a Magnum electric charger controller for 700 in ebay and you will be trouble free.
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Old 10-15-2016, 11:44 AM   #18
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My biggest obstacle is that the converter is 20' from the house battery bank (330Ah). The new converter reads 13.4 at its terminal and 13.01 at the batteries all the time. .... I can't move the current converter or the batteries. The wiring to the batteries is 4/0.
It seems suspicious to have 0.4 volt drop across 4/0 cable at a time when apparently the charger thinks it is float charging the batteries. I'd begin by searching for the voltage drop in that circuit. With a bit of creative meter lead probing you can measure voltage from the charger's positive output post to the cable lug, then the cable lug to the cable conductor, the conductor at one end to the conductor at the other end, then at the battery end from the conductor to the lug, the lug to the battery terminal, etc. The idea is to check voltage drop at every interface where one solid metal is pressed against another. Do you have a dedicated 4/0 cable for both the positive and the negative, or does the negative path go through the frame or something? Check every connection along both the positive and negative sides of the circuit.

You could save yourself a bit of hide-and-go-seek headache in the above by first measuring directly from charger output positive post to battery terminal positive, and repeat on the negative side. (Use a scrap of wire to extend the meter leads to reach the 20 ft distance.) If most of the 0.4 volts shows up on one side of the circuit, there's not much need to investigate the other side.
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