Adding a House Battery

speedsurfer

Member
If you go with GZ Yeti try and get the 12V charging cable as soon as it's back in stock. It can charge at 5 or 10 amps while your drive, that's 60 or 120W. That way you will need way less solar and everything will be topped off when you park. Just plug it into the back right 12V plug (in my van that is ignition switched) so it will automatically charge when engine on but not when off. That way it won't drain the battery when the van is off. I actually used my starter battery too during my last camping trip by hooking up a foldable 80W panel with inexpensive charge controller to the constant on 12V dash plug. When it's bringing in 30-50W you can run fans or even a fridge without the engine running without worrying about depleting the starter battery. Good luck with your choice, there are pros and cons with both.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01M5DCPKD/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MVZ777D/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

Riverchi

New member
First, thanks to everyone for their input and I went back to my notes for a pros/cons assessment. Here's a comparison between the two installs I'm considering:

Solar:
1. MB Factory Roof Rails $304
2. Panel direct mount adaptors $234 = (3 X $78)
3. Renology 100W panels $251 (2x115 + shipping)
4. Goal Zero Yeti 1000 - $1000
5. Misc cables, materials and adaptors $100
6. Est 6 hours DIY labor $0 (mostly dropping headliner and installing rails and solar wires)
Solar total $1889 estimated


Underhood battery:
1. Adventure Wagon Battery Tray kit $655 (with ECU + shipping)
2. Full River DC224-6 AGM $580 (2X)
3. Misc cables, materials and adaptors $100
4. Est 3 hours DIY labor (est. kit install)
Battery total: $1335


There are still some economies in the pricing possible above (Hein’s battery tray install may save some and I'm still considering that), but I suspect roughly equal on both sides. So the dual battery install appears about $550 less expensive, requires driving the van some distance every few days at least, has about 45% more usable energy storage and is an easier install. The solar install will likely keep the battery topped off naturally, can recharge battery while driving and will take longer to install. An unknown is whether the roof panels will affect fuel economy - mounted behind the factory rooftop A/C unit - which has an ongoing cost.

Since the primary use of the battery will be on long vacation road trips (lots of charging time) and weekend camping trips (3-day refrigerator energy storage needed), I’m still thinking the dual battery setup makes the most sense. I save money and time upfront and keep everything looking almost stock.

Do you see any holes in my logic?

Regards,
Sean
 

cc_windsurfer

Well-known member
It is going to take hours of driving every day to keep those dual agm's charged. The reason I installed solar is that I don't drive enough to keep the house battery charged when I am on vacation.

Goal 0 is not a cost effective battery solution and you can install a quality solar system far cheaper than outlined above. You don't need factory rails or $230+ mounts
 

speedsurfer

Member
Your cost comparison is with a solar system and non solar system. I agree with windsurfer that you will have to drive for hours to charge and you may run low when camping for a few days. I assume you will run AGMs in series so that's an effective 224 Amp hrs for both at 12v. That's about 100-110 usable amp hours at 50% depending on weather. Those batteries will need to be replaced every 3-5 years and maintained above 50% charge. The Adventure wagon system does look like a very nice system. I believe a $1000 Goal Zero Lithium 1000 (about 80 usable amp hours) at Costco is actually a pretty good deal because it includes the solar charge controller and 1500W inverter (I ran an instant pot, blender, microwave, air compressor, and jig saw to name a few things it can handle). If you add the 12V charging cable for $70, $100 solar panel (not roof mounted, just when parked hanging from van) and and you can run your fridge forever. Adding a solar panel to your AGM build (non roof) and an inexpensive charge controller will only add $150 or so. That would be another good option when camping for long periods of time. I agree that roof panels may not be worth the hassle of putting the rails on top. Some people run flexible panels with VHB tape although that may not be a good long term solution.
 

Riverchi

New member
cc_windsurfer and speedsurfer,

Thanks for the thoughts. After reading through some of cc_windsurfers earlier posts on other threads, I see that charging a big AGM bank with the stock smart alternator is probably not going to do the job even with a couple hours driving each day. That's great that portable solar panels can be so useful and maybe if I don't put in the work to get them roof mounted, it could be a good solution for our trip combined with the 12V charger. I also saw a post saying that you can get to the first few rear rail bolt holes without having to drop the whole headliner so I'm reading some ideas on how to direct mount a couple cross bars without the full set of rails.

BTW, I just saw sale flyer from REI saying all Goal Zero products are 25% off May 17-27...that makes the pricing more attractive too.
 

john61ct

Active member
at $10 per 12V Ah, is that right?

To compare, need to use watt-hour, so Deka GCs are about 8¢ per Wh, $8 per 100Wh
 
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cc_windsurfer

Well-known member
yes, a pair of Deka GC15's in series will give 12v, 215aH which will last a long time with <100AH discharge cycles if charged properly. Cost is less than $300

either Deka or GZ, you will need to work out a safe mounting system
either Deka or GZ, you need to work out how to properly charge. look critically at the GZ integrated charging.
 

speedsurfer

Member
You have to compare cost of the whole system, not just the battery watt-hours. Of course deep cycle lead acid batteries are cheaper than lithium. With Deka batteries you will need all the cables, terminals, crimpers, outlets, brackets, isolator or acr, solar charge controller, AC inverter, etc. You don't need that stuff with the GZ. As you know Lithium charges faster and and can be discharged safely to 20%. AGM is best kept above 50%. Many people have calculated long term cost for these systems being a better bang for buck with lithium due to the higher life cycle of lithium batteries. I'm not saying one is better or worse, as I have worked with and installed both. Windsurfer has a valid point about the stock PWM charge controller in the GZ being mediocre. GZ made an add on MPPT charge controller which plugs right in works great, adding about 15-20% efficiency. Additionally you can charge from the PWM controller at the same time. When I initially did research on the GZ I decided against it for some of the reasons above, and went with an AGM build. When my next vehicle came with a GZ and I had time to really use it I've changed my mind completely and in fact bought a second one. They are just so convenient to move around, use in multiple vehicles, tents, lend to a friend, use as power backup in your house, etc. A similar Battle Born system would cost much more and be stuck in the van. So yes I do think a GZ lithium 1000 for 799 at Costco with both the Costco and GZ warranty is a smoking deal.
 

gltrimble

2017 170 4x4
The Goal Zero is perfect for charging your cell phone but not for full time use in a van. Read the user reviews on the Goal Zero or Costco website to realize it has a lot of issues. Delivers 10.8 volts, up to 2 days to recharge, can not power an Engel fridge for long (one of the more efficient fridges). Many users report getting only 45 minutes of operation out of the Goal Zero. An expensive toy and not really portable at claimed 42 lbs.

As others have suggested you are better off investing that $800-1000 into a true AGM or lithium system with solar. I recommend starting with a pair of Fullriver batteries, two 100 watt solar panels, and a Victron solar controller. Less than $1000 and it will last you 10+ years, not 45 minutes.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
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cc_windsurfer

Well-known member
Lithium batteries can be great and can be quite cost effective

...but if you don't have appropriate charging you will find it very limiting over extended use. Remember over time Pin must be greater than Pout - the battery is simply a buffer to allow time shifting your power usage. This is true with any battery technology

Reading what was said above, the GZ unit is being used to power high demand things like pressure cookers via an inverter. This means likely using most of the capacity daily. I also read about charging at 5 or 10 amps while driving. this means > 20 hours or > 10 hours a day driving (that won't work for me since my wife tells me I get grumpy if I drive that much). Augmenting with a single 50W solar helps, but likely not enough. I still see this implementation as a short-term solution - good for a few days, but with extended use you end up with a perpetually dead battery.

Don't want to badmouth GZ, to me it looks like they designed this system to be an easy solution intended for people who go camping a couple of weekends a year -This may be perfect for your use case, or it may not.
 

john61ct

Active member
Yes designed to take for a weekend, power fan, lights and screen gadgets, then recharge overnight on mains.

No way electric cooking for any length of time
 

speedsurfer

Member
I agree with the above statements about electric cooking unless you've got a lot of solar and you cook for short periods during the day. It was only a test to see if we could make rice in the Instant Pot and the GZ cooked it perfectly and went from 100% to 80% which I thought was impressive. I have no vested interest in GZ but feel there is a lot of misinformation out there. I do want to give you updates on some of the complaints about the GZ as they have come up with solutions, although you have to buy extra equipment.

I use the GZ lithium 1000 full time in my van with 200W solar on the roof. It runs an ARB 50 or Dometic 40 full time at nearly 100% charge. It gets down to 70-80% overnight. It powers occasional lights, TV/DVD player, fans, water pump, and charges phones, laptops etc. I can use it sparingly for an electric blanket. I bought a second so I can have backup power for a freezer or extra fans in high heat. Yes it is true they put out less than 12V so that is why it is necessary to use the 12V regulator cable for the fridge due to low voltage disconnects built into the fridge. Initially GZ lithiums could not run refrigerators on DC and a lot of people complained thus the bad reviews. Of course a GZ can run a fridge on AC but you lose 15% efficiency that way. This has been a known issue and that's why they made the cable. I know that should not be needed in the first place but it works great for refrigerators and I run it 24/7. Every other 12v appliance I use runs fine. I'm sure they did that to conserve battery life which means your other 12v appliances will run longer on a slightly lower voltage.

Slow charging was also an initial complaint of the GZ. Initially the only way to charge was the stock AC unit which took 1-2 days. Now they have multiple fast charging options. Remember that lithium charges faster and more efficiently than lead acid, especially the last 20%. Lithium does not need float charges like lead acid. The GZ LINK can pull directly from the alternator at 25-50 amps. The fast AC charger charges at 25 amps. A simple 12V charger with 5 or 10 amp select is useful when working together with solar (they can accept multiple charging inputs at the same time). I intend to use that cable to charge 1 GZ from the other (essentially creating a 200AH dual lithium battery system) but it's on back order. You can add on a folding solar panel to any of the charging inputs anytime. They created a MPPT charge controller which can plug in directly to the GZ for 15% higher efficiency. Of course GZ makes you pay you extra for these things but at least it seems high quality and you can choose what you need. I have only the 12V regulator cable and the MPPT charge controller.

I hope that clarifies some of the issues brought up on the GZs. I think the initial fridge problems gave them a bad reputation. It took me a while to realize they are actually pretty good little units.

https://www.goalzero.com/shop/yeti-...ZvN5s1nk3n0oQRwTyutLa1Iodey2V7vRoCxz4QAvD_BwE
 
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speedsurfer

Member
There is no replacement. When it dies it dies. The point I was trying to make is that the GZ lithium 1000 with 98AH at 799 with all the bells and whistles is still cheaper than the Battleborn 100AH at 949 for just the battery. Also, they can be used full time in a van if you know what you are doing contrary to what some people are posting.

To be fair there are a few negative about the GZ. I don't like the 8mm ports, or the way they put Anderson charging ports in a vertical manner. Their cables and accessories are overpriced. It's harder to run wiring with their outputs although it can be done with add on cables and an Anderson fuse block. The GZ warranty is only 1 year and the Battleborn is 8 years. Although Costco often takes back anything. For someone just running a fridge the GZ and a solar panel is fine.
 

Riverchi

New member
I just wanted to close the loop on this thread and thank everyone for their help. I ended up with a solution similar to what speedsurfer found successful - Goal Zero 1000 as the battery storage and 200W of solar on the roof. Just a reminder, I'm not living in the van, we tent camp and primarily wanted the battery to run the refrigerator (Dometic CFX 65) and recharge small electronics. You'd want a different setup if you have high-power needs or boondock in places where losing power would be a disaster. I've had the refrigerator running for a few days and the battery is charged up to 100% most mornings by 9 AM, even when parked under a tree. I bought the car charging plug also for the Goal Zero, I'll report later how much it was needed, but my calcs show 200W as a little oversized for our needs - especially in the long summer days. We head out in a few days for an 8 week camping trip test.

Key components:
1) Goal Zero 1000 with optional Goal Zero MPPT controller
2) 2 Renogy monocrystalline 100W panels (compact)
3) Impact3D rack towers and 80/20 cross bars (thanks also to Hein and Kim for advice along the way). Also used their solar panel mounting tabs to connect the panels to the cross-bars.
4) 52" roof rails made from 80/20 15-series t-track. With the factory 2nd A/C, this is about all the room you have on the roof to mount anything and let me use 4 of the factory roof holes to get a secure mount to the van. It required dropping the last three inside headliner panels and all the inside center A/C vent trim. That was the PITA part of the project. I didn't have easy access to a drill press to countersink holes in the 80/20 rail so used 80/20 t-nutz to connect the Impact3D towers to the rails. Used EPDM tape under the rails with Sikaflex around the bolts and holes.
5) Renogy two-into-one MC24 connectors to put the panels in parallel (required by the GZ MPPT)
6) I used the existing factory hole behind the 3rd brake light to run the wiring from the panels inside. A 1.5" rubber gasket, 10' of 10 gauge wire and 10' of corrugated wire wrap made a nice neat run.
7) Renogy dual wire gland with Sikaflex to attach it to the roof. There's a roof rib in that spot, but it was a straight-forward Dremel job to shave a half-round into the glad for a close fit.
8) Powerwerx Anderson Panel Mount mounted below the rear factory 12V plug. A short Anderson cable connects from there to the Goal Zero. I should have also put a quick-connect fitting behind the panel (to make it easier to remove the panel in the future), but that will have to wait until after the trip.

Here are some pictures. I did a bit of finish work after this (little more Sikaflex, end caps on 1575, etc)








 

speedsurfer

Member
Nice job Riverchi, how has the GZ system been working out longer term? My GZ is near 100% most days running the ARB 50 fridge and a fan inside full time, and watching a little TV in the afternoon.

You were able to drop the headliner and AC trim from the back? I thought you had to start from the front.
 

Riverchi

New member
Just got back from our 8-week trip yesterday. The whole system worked great for us and, like you, our GZ was at 100% by mid-morning most days. With just a refrigerator and small electronics, we only got below 80% charge once and that was because the Anderson solar charging connection cable got disconnected for a couple days before we noticed. Since the GZ was below the last row of seats, it was hard to see when loaded and I found myself wishing for the bluetooth capability on the other GZ's (which I thought would be useless when shopping :)

Overall, we definitely had more capacity than needed with 2X100W panels but also nearly ideal conditions. Even when our campsite was in the shade, we tended to leave the van at trailheads during the day and would get a good charge. In drizzle, would get a trickle of 20W in and saw 140W max input in the mid-day sun. We're already thinking what other powered items we may add in future trips.

Thanks again for the advice!
 

Riverchi

New member
You were able to drop the headliner and AC trim from the back? I thought you had to start from the front.
Sorry, forgot to respond to this part of your message! Yes, I was able to remove from the back. First the vertical trim around the rear doors and then from the back to the front - I took off every panel but the front two. I also had to remove all the rear A/C trim. Trim tools are almost required to not mark up everything, I used this cheap set (they were only okay but MUCH better than screwdrivers):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HNMLQAG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The headliner was definitely made to be removed front to back but if you work carefully it wasn't too bad in reverse. The hardest part was getting the sides of each headliner panel removed. There are tabs on the side that slot into the roof sheet metal and working in reverse order made these difficult because you have to bend them. I found it easiest if I took out all the center clips for all the panels at once - then they're all kind of loose and easier to bend without damaging them. I broke only a couple clips but luckily had ordered a bag anticipating the worst:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01B60YD8C/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Surprisingly, all the A/C trim was straight-forward to remove - that was the part I was dreading. Getting the big plastic pieces back in place was a little bit of Tetris but not too bad. I had forgotten some of the order since I left them out for a couple days while I attached the roof rails. I only took a couple pictures, they're below just in case they're useful.

Why reverse order? I hate trim work because it never seems to go back 100% the way you started and if anything was going to be slightly off or rattly I wanted it to be behind me instead of annoying me to death. My solar rack is only behind the A/C unit so I didn't need full-length roof rails.

https://photos.smugmug.com/Public/S...11524427--5013232019348224958-IMG_2707-XL.jpg
https://photos.smugmug.com/Public/S...11524427--5296559822637176778-IMG_2708-XL.jpg
 

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