Problem: My Camper battery was dying every 3 to 5 days.
The absolute worst thing you can do for a lead-acid battery is to drain it below 50% of it’s fully charged state. It greatly reduces the number of battery cycles you can obtain if not outright KILLS THE BATTERY.
So I got a deep cycle AGM battery after I KILLED ANOTHER BATTERY. The AGM battery can be discharged to about 20% remaining capacity without reducing the number of cycles or KILLING THE BATTERY.
Even with the new battery after about 4 days the AGM battery would be at about the 50% state. I paid almost $300 for that battery and I ain’t killing this one. It’s a real PAIN IN THE A** to hook a charger up every few days and even worse in my garage. I won’t go into that but I don’t have enough outlets, something else gets unplugged and backing the truck over the extension cord (which you aren’t supposed to use with a charger) always causes problems.
Why does the battery drain? Two words. PARASITIC DRAIN.
Alpicool C20 Portable Refrigerator
I like gadgets. And I like useful gadgets. Why not a portable refrigerator? Truckers use them. People who own smaller boats use them. People who boondock camp use them. Or how many times have you holiday driven home and thought it would be nice to have some cool drinks or lunch meat for sandwiches available so you aren’t eating expensive, just off the interstate, food. I drive quite a bit for work and live in hotels a bit as well. Now that we’ve identified a need let’s identify a product solution.
Enter the Alpicool C20 portable refrigerator/freezer. That’s right, it is also a freezer. Cost new was $179, however I must have caught that just right as it is now $209. I have a three way (120v, 12vdc, gas) Dometic refrigerator in my camper. It sure is nice but it is NOT a freezer. I think we all know what happens to chicken and pork after 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. If we go out in the woods for any amount of time we may need some method of freezing food unless we want to eat MRE’s. I do not.
If you go look at campers there almost always is a sticker on the camper or the dealer will tell you it is “Solar Ready”.
Wow! Sounds cool. Let’s delve into what that means. In the case of my camper, a Rockwood A122 pop up A Frame camper it means there is a 2 pin connector, SAE style located on the frame.
Zamp SAE style Solar Connector
The top pin (male) is wired to the battery and the bottom pin is wired to the frame (ground). Note that the sticker says to only hook it up to a ZAMP Solar Charging System. Okay. If you look at the ZAMP systems they are basically a suitcase solar panel with a charge controller on them. They want like $700 for them. It’s crazy.
If you go to Amazon you can get a 100 watt Renogy Solar Suitcase with a waterproof charge controller for about $240. That’s a no brainer. What’s the catch?
The Good Life
A couple of years ago my daughter left for school and I found myself for the first time maybe in my adult life all alone. I knew I had to shake things up in my life so I went and bought a camper. I never camped, never thought about camping, and I’m still not sure what compelled me to run to the bank and borrow a bunch of money to buy a camper.
I’m two years into this thing and I’ve learned a lot about camping and figured I’d scratch down my thoughts in the hopes it helps some other middle aged crazy guy.
First of all I have to state that my camper choices were limited by one gigantic factor. It had to fit in the garage. I live in an HOA that doesn’t allow campers in the driveway, street or even in your own fenced backyard. I’m essentially a rule follower so that was my major criteria for selection. There are not many campers that fit under an 8′ garage door. Buying a bigger camper and storing it at a pay lot were out of the question as well. At that time the budget was quite a bit tighter than it is now. So it had to fit in the garage. That was that.