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Camper Mod Contest Entries

VOTE: 2016 Truck Camper Mod of the Year

It took me five hours to complete and cost $100.  In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is medium.

September 2015 Winner – Battery Relocation

2. Mark Siminoff, Mountain View, California
2005 Dodge Ram 3500
2004 Alpenlite Saratoga 935

I chose to upgrade my camper’s electrical storage system for three reasons.

1. I wanted to have more total capacity so that I could boondock for extended periods of time without the need to start the generator or truck engine.  Also, I wanted to be off-the-grid during times of overcast skies or in a dense forest.  Those are conditions in which the solar panels would be shaded.

2. I wanted a battery bank that could supply sufficient current and capacity to operate high current devices (via a 2000W sine-wave inverter), such as my convection oven/microwave, induction cooktop, or even the roof air conditioner.

3. I wanted the batteries to be in a better location than where they were originally installed.  In my case, better means that the temperature is controlled so that the battery capacity and service life will be extended.  I also wanted the batteries as low and as close to the front of the truck camper as possible to contribute to shifting the camper’s center of gravity down and forward.

The fact that I wanted the batteries to be in a climate controlled space meant that I needed to use absorbed glass matt (AGM) batteries.  AGM batteries, when properly charged and discharged, do not vent hydrogen gas and, as a result, they are safe for installation in spaces with limited ventilation.  Conveniently, this battery type can provide extremely high discharge rates (perfect for running the microwave) and also accepts very high charge current.  I can charge at over 100A from either my alternator or my inverter/charger.

I selected to use three Odyssey PC2150 (Group 31) batteries for my installation.  These were a size that would fit in my intended location in the basement, offered 100Ah of capacity each (at 20/hour rate), and have an unlimited charge current rate.

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Above: The T-shaped configuration of the three Odyssey PC2150 (Group 31) batteries.  Click to enlarge.

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Above: The fuse and fuse holder.  There is one of these on top of each of the three batteries.  Click to enlarge.

In addition, Odyssey has a nationwide dealer network and their batteries carry a three year warranty.

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Above: The factory battery location and the where they have been relocated to in the basement

I moved the batteries from their original location in a battery box on the side wall of the camper into the basement up against the front wall of the camper.  This move meant that I needed to do a significant reinforcement of the structure of the front of the camper and basement floor so that the 230 pounds of batteries could be safely supported.

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Above: These three photos show the assembly of the battery mounting components in the basement.  The white box in the photo on the left is the camper’s fresh water tank.  The eye-bolts are used to securely tie-down the batteries and they are screwed into T-nuts which have been installed into the plywood base plate.  In the photo on the right you can see the temperature probes for the inverter/charger and solar charge controllers.  Click to enlarge the above photos.

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Above: The batteries are installed into the compartment through an access panel in the side of the basement.

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