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 > Advice on replacing my IOTA battery charger for boondocking

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IAMICHABOD

Sunny So Cal

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Posted: 12/27/21 08:02am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

opnspaces wrote:

Thanks for the replies. So the PD will go in or out of boost mode without me having to monitor the charge current and flip it manually?


Yes This Instruction Manual explains it with charts.I never let my batteries go to 10.5. I will start charging at about 12.6 so about 50%


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opnspaces

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Posted: 12/27/21 10:43am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks everyone for your input on this. It appears to me that the only real difference between the Iota and the PD is the frequency of the equalization mode.

The PD will equalize every 21 hours of non use of the battery.
The Iota will equalize after every 7 days of non use of the batteries. This fact has me leaning toward the PD as my trailer is rarely plugged into shore power for more than a few days before it gets unplugged and hauled back to storage. I know already that the blinking LED on the pendant would bother me when camping. But I imagine I can just leave it in a cabinet or otherwise out out of site so I don't see the blink.

@Pianotuna: I agree that SiO2 batteries would be better suited. But they're still a bit too expensive for me. The 90 percent is what I'm targeting while I'm out camping as I know that the charge time from 90 - 100 can be long. In the past I really didn't mind long generator run times out in the desert. But lately I want to just get enough charge back in so that I have the heater overnight and get back to the quiet. The trailer gets plugged in at home for a day or so to get the batteries up to charge before storage.


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pianotuna

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Posted: 12/27/21 10:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

opnspaces wrote:



The PD will equalize every 21 hours of non use of the battery.
The Iota will equalize after every 7 days of non use of the batteries. This fact has me leaning toward the PD as my trailer is rarely plugged into shore power for more than a few days before it gets unplugged and hauled back to storage.


The PD just "stirs" the electrolyte for 15 minutes every 21 hours. This is NOT a true equalization charge.

I do not have the details on the Iota.


Regards, Don
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BFL13

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Posted: 12/27/21 11:56am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How much hands on are you willing to do really? It seems you have been using a portable gen to power your 13.6 converter to charge your 6s when off grid, so you do have to get out the gen and plug the shore power into that.

(your 6s must be sulfated from never seeing any 14.x)

You are correct that you want to do 50-90s off grid on the portable gen and 13.6 on grid Float once batts are charged up (at 14.x).

To do the 50-90 you want a charger that stays at 14.x the whole time until you get to 90 and shut off the gen. At home you would first do the 14.x until the batts are to 100, then drop to 13.6 (or no power at all disconnected in storage if that is how it goes.)

So basically you want a charger that is single stage 14.x and keep the Iota now installed that does 13.6 whenever you are on shore power after the batts are full using the other charger.

So my suggestion is leave the Iota as is and get a second converter or charger that will do single stage 14.x (Trojan 6s want 14.8, eg but 14.4 would be sort of ok with most 6s)

You would get a deck mount converter and put cut off #8 jumper cable ends in its output so you have the wires and clamps same as a portable charger has. Plug that into the portable gen and clamp onto the battery bank outside and do the 50-90.

Now the problem is to tell when you are at 90 so you can stop the gen there. You can tell when you are at 50 from voltage, but not when you are still charging. I had trouble with that until I got a charger that shows amps. When the amps taper down to a certain amount (found by trial and error in backyard testing) that is about 90 SOC, then that is your marker when to stop the gen.

Another way that time2roll suggests as being close enough is to watch when the battery voltage reaches the 14.x (when amps start to taper but you cant see that) and give it another hour of gen time.

Another way is to use a battery monitor and note the amps tapering and also the AH counter for the SOC

So you do that off grid and once home do it once more only now you can use shore power to run the charger. Leave it running overnight and check the SOC in the morning (using an hydrometer is the best way to tell when they are truly full) If full, you can now unplug the portable charger-converter and just be on the Iota doing 13.6 until you go to storage.

BTW when the trailer is on shore power, the Iota will be at 13.6 and if the other charger is on the batts too at 14.x, it will be doing all the work. No problem. When the 14.x is stopped, the 13.6 is still there carrying on running the rig 12v.

So what converter choices for doing the single stage 14.x:

1. PowerMax LK model in single stage mode (least expensive)
2. PD Li model 1st generation that only does 14.x (expensive)
3. PD standard three stage with CW--does 4 hours at 14.x but you have to make it do that (you said that is too much work) (also expensive) If four hours is not long enough time to get to 100 when back home, hit the CW again for another four hour run.

On the 45 amp size, your portable gen can run that now it seems. You might need more of a gen in watts rating to run a bigger amp size charger for the 14.x job to keep gen time down. EG my 2200 (1700 really) is maxed with my 75 amp charger. You could put a 75 amp charger on a pair of 6s for minimum gen time.

You have to pick between gen time noise, and cost of a bigger gen if you want to do faster gen time for a 50-90 if you only have a smaller gen now.


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Gdetrailer

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Posted: 12/27/21 12:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

opnspaces wrote:


And Gdetrailer, the relocation of the charger is intriguing. My current load center is near the back of my 30 foot trailer. What would be involved if I was to move the charger up front closer to the batteries? Would I be extending the wires from my shore power cord where it terminates at the load center? I'm assuming since I'm extending 120v AC wiring it would be a smaller gauge than 12v DC wiring of the same distance. Are we talking something like 6awg or is that too thick and 8awg would suffice?


Deck chargers like PD92XX and even the Iota series I linked are in their own case. Those cases are designed to mount anywhere you have some space open.

You do not have to relocate the shore cord.

The internal converter was designed to connect the 120V input directly from the breaker inside the breaker panel.

The external deck converter is designed to simply plug into a wall outlet. This means you can place the deck converter near any outlet or if the place you choose does not have an outlet, you could add one in the location you picked, run new 12Ga 0r 14Ga Romex wire back to the breaker panel and connect to the breaker that the internal converter was connected to. The advantage is 12Ga or 14ga Romex is one heck of a lot cheaper than using 6Ga or heavier wire for 12V.

You can leave the existing 12V wiring that goes from the battery to the fuse panel in place and not have to change that by moving the deck converter much closer to the batteries.

Locating the deck converter close as possible to the batteries means you can now use much less wire (in your case 30Ft+ down to say 8ft-10ft) for the 12V side and will have much less voltage drop for the given wire size you choose. Less voltage drop can often improve the performance of any multistage converter. Converters like WFCO versions placed so far away from the batteries can cause the converter to never go into bulk mode or never go into storage mode.

Assuming your batteries are on the tongue, if you have a compartment, lower cabinet or space under something (couch, bed, cabinet) in the front near the tongue those are good places to consider. Some trailers have a "pass through" storage compartment in the front, some of those even have a 120V outlet already existing.

dieseltruckdriver

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Posted: 12/27/21 05:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

opnspaces wrote:

I know already that the blinking LED on the pendant would bother me when camping. But I imagine I can just leave it in a cabinet or otherwise out out of site so I don't see the blink.
This is exactly what I did (left it in a cabinet) when I added the pendant to my PD 9260. As far as it being too much work, after you start your Honda go in the camper and press the button on the pendant then forget about it. That is MUCH less work than starting the generator. That is from personal experience.

It has been mentioned, but according to what you are posting here a better solution yet is just add solar. Then you don't have to do anything. I have both, and the generator only gets used anymore if I am in rain or cloudy days for a couple days. We don't conserve electricity, but we don't waste it either.


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opnspaces

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Posted: 12/27/21 05:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

BFL13 wrote:

How much hands on are you willing to do really?

(your 6s must be sulfated from never seeing any 14.x)

BTW when the trailer is on shore power, the Iota will be at 13.6 and if the other charger is on the batts too at 14.x, it will be doing all the work. No problem. When the 14.x is stopped, the 13.6 is still there carrying on running the rig 12v.

So what converter choices for doing the single stage 14.x:

1. PowerMax LK model in single stage mode (least expensive)
2. PD Li model 1st generation that only does 14.x (expensive)
3. PD standard three stage with CW--does 4 hours at 14.x but you have to make it do that (you said that is too much work) (also expensive) If four hours is not long enough time to get to 100 when back home, hit the CW again for another four hour run.





Thanks for the input BFL13 and Gdetrailer, you've both given me some things to think about. As it is I'm sure my existing batteries are severely sulfated and I plan to replace them as a just because in the next week or so.

As far as hands on, I was originally thinking about just replacing my existing 13.6 amp charger with a PD in the same location. But as many of you have mentioned I could just add a second deck mount in the front pass through.

BFL, When you mention CW I assume you are referring to using the PD pendant to put the charger into bulk mode. I was assuming that once I used the pendant to put the charger in bulk mode I would have to remember to turn it back off again or risk boiling my batteries. I see from reading the manual again the bulk will shut off automatically so the pendant is back on the table so to speak.

Gde Yes the batteries are on the tongue and I do have front pass through storage on the trailer so relocating there would be easy. And if I only have to add an outlet with 14 gauge romex that is extremely easy and cheap as I already have everything in my garage.

Hmmmmm here's my latest thinking now. I'm thinking about BFL's option #3 with a 60 amp deck mount PD in the front pass through. Yes I know I could make it a portable and put it out on the tongue but don't really want to do that. Since it's a 3 stage I'll probably disable the Iota and just run the PD pendant up into the cabinet next to the bed. Then I can just push the button as needed.

opnspaces

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Posted: 12/27/21 05:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks Dieseltruckdriver. Yes I'm now leaning toward doing the same thing and adding the pendant in a cabinet.

opnspaces

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Posted: 12/27/21 06:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

one last question for any of you who run an inverter generator. Currently my Honda 2000i basically idles when plugged in and charging. I assume this is because the charger is stuck at 13.6 volts.

If I go to a PD 45 or a PD 60 amp I'm assuming the generator is going to ramp up a bit and make some noise. Does your 60 amp charger cause the generator to really ramp up and put out some noise? Or does it still stay fairly low in the decibel range?

And back to dieseltruckdriver. Yes I agree solar is probably the best way to go, but I'm not there yet on it.
Thanks again everybody, I really appreciate the input.

2112

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Posted: 12/27/21 06:09pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

The PD will equalize every 21 hours of non use of the battery.
The Iota will equalize after every 7 days of non use of the batteries
This doesn't matter to the Iota the way you want to use it. I don't know about the PD but in the Iota the boost and equalize are the same voltage, 14.75V. If the battery voltage drops below 12.8v the Iota goes into boost, regardless of elapsed time.

If you let your battery get down close to 50% then fire up your generator, the Iota will detect the battery voltage is below 12.8V and charge the battery to 14.75V every time. If you want more equalization time, unplug the Iota from power, let your battery rest below 12.8V and plug it back in.

Someone can chime in on how the PD behaves in this scenario.


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