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Old 07-22-2016, 01:45 PM   #1
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The Travato 59K would be a luxurious step-up from our plug-in fold-out tent trailer. From reading this RV sounds great, but I get the impression itís hard to charge the batteries soundly. Could this affect our ability to camp comfortably without shore power (12v refrigeration, lights, fan, maybe even the Truma heat) or break down the batteries prematurely?

Iíve never camped with batteries. I imagined ďnormal useĒ of the provided charging tech (driving, running the generator a bit when allowed, or spending a night on power, combined with factory solar) would properly charge the (two class 31 AGM) batteries. Iím trying to be realistic in understanding this big purchase and noticed some possible issues:

+ The Travato Progressive Dynamics charger canít do itís job properly (because it does not have temperature compensation).
+ Alternator charging is not good (because it might provide full voltage too long).
+ Output of the factory 100W solar panel on the Travato 59K is especially compromised (because of shading by the adjacent the rooftop AC unit).
+ Solar and other charging sources interfere with each other (because of different charger charge profiles).
+ Charging while using your RV isnít good (because under load canít attain charge profile voltage).

Will these issues lead to bad charging and premature battery demise, or have I misinterpreted things Iíve read? One improvement over our current trailer would be the ability to confidently take advantage of no power campsites. Does the Travato battery system actually work well without extensive upgrades?
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:32 PM   #2
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The Travato 59K would be a luxurious step-up from our plug-in fold-out tent trailer. From reading this RV sounds great, but I get the impression itís hard to charge the batteries soundly. Could this affect our ability to camp comfortably without shore power (12v refrigeration, lights, fan, maybe even the Truma heat) or break down the batteries prematurely?

Iíve never camped with batteries. I imagined ďnormal useĒ of the provided charging tech (driving, running the generator a bit when allowed, or spending a night on power, combined with factory solar) would properly charge the (two class 31 AGM) batteries. Iím trying to be realistic in understanding this big purchase and noticed some possible issues:

+ The Travato Progressive Dynamics charger canít do itís job properly (because it does not have temperature compensation).
+ Alternator charging is not good (because it might provide full voltage too long).
+ Output of the factory 100W solar panel on the Travato 59K is especially compromised (because of shading by the adjacent the rooftop AC unit).
+ Solar and other charging sources interfere with each other (because of different charger charge profiles).
+ Charging while using your RV isnít good (because under load canít attain charge profile voltage).

Will these issues lead to bad charging and premature battery demise, or have I misinterpreted things Iíve read? One improvement over our current trailer would be the ability to confidently take advantage of no power campsites. Does the Travato battery system actually work well without extensive upgrades?
The 59K is a nice coach with an awesome bath but it's a little long in the tooth with respect to battery management, the generator profile and is sorta skimpy on solar capacity. If battery management is your greater concern, IMO, Roadtrek has been more active in addressing this and I suggest you also have a look at their Zion model which offers lithium batteries, an underhood generator, volt-start protection, up to 300 watts of solar, a management system that coordinates it all, plus a 6 year warranty.

If you opt for the 59K, I think there were some mid-year improvements on their 2016 model. There are folks on this forum that can provide you a wealth of information on the 59K.
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Old 07-22-2016, 10:04 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. I'll examine the roadtrek, too, and see if I can understand its battery advantages and the tradeoffs. I also posted this question in the "battery" area of the forum-- I using this as a test of my ability to post!
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:19 AM   #4
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Thanks for your reply. I'll examine the roadtrek, too, and see if I can understand its battery advantages and the tradeoffs. I also posted this question in the "battery" area of the forum-- I using this as a test of my ability to post!
Seems like every builder has pluses and minuses. Leisure Travel and Pleasureway seem to offer the best build quality but not advanced technically, although Pleasureway is now employing lithium batteries and multiplex wiring. Roadtrek is offering some cutting edge technology but their builds are not as well crafted. Winnebago is pretty much status quo technically but their build quality seems to have picked up and for a class B they are probably the best value. However, IMO, their one year warranty leaves something to be desired. Airstreams are very high quality units but costly. The Avion Azur is worth a look. They sell direct. And if you win the lottery, Advanced RV makes some custom vans that will leave your mouth watering.

And trust me, be sure to include the cost of a psychiatrist in your math because weighing all the pros and cons in making your decision will surely drive you nuts.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:06 PM   #5
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Seems like every builder has pluses and minuses. Leisure Travel and Pleasureway seem to offer the best build quality but not advanced technically, although Pleasureway is now employing lithium batteries and multiplex wiring. Roadtrek is offering some cutting edge technology but their builds are not as well crafted. Winnebago is pretty much status quo technically but their build quality seems to have picked up and for a class B they are probably the best value. However, IMO, their one year warranty leaves something to be desired. Airstreams are very high quality units but costly. The Avion Azur is worth a look. They sell direct. And if you win the lottery, Advanced RV makes some custom vans that will leave your mouth watering.
Great summery of the state of the market. I agree with almost all of it. I have only two quibbles:

1) As a former owner, I do not agree with your assessment of the quality of Airstreams. The designs are good, they are masters of glitz, and the name is iconic. But build quality under the covers is a disgrace to the brand, especially given the price point. In fairness, my first-hand data are not completely current. But, at least as of two years ago (last time I shopped), things had not improved.

2) I'm not sure how much weight I would put on length-of-warranty. Maybe it is important in the new high-tech vehicles, but in more traditional builds, I have rarely found collecting on upfitter warranties worth the trouble--at least after the initial shake-down period.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:52 PM   #6
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The current Roadtrek warranty is 6 years bumper to bumper including everything in the coach except for AGM batteries (1 year) and items covered by the chassis warranties. Factory installed appliances are covered up to 6 years after the individual appliance warranties are over.

Agree on the fact that there is inconsistent build quality presently and some of the new technology items are still getting debugged but the 6 year warranty gives some assurance that they are standing behind the product.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:59 PM   #7
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Six years on appliances in impressive. Most upfitter warranties seem to be limited to the devices' manufacturer warranties.
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Old 07-23-2016, 05:56 PM   #8
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1) As a former owner, I do not agree with your assessment of the quality of Airstreams. The designs are good, they are masters of glitz, and the name is iconic. But build quality under the covers is a disgrace to the brand, especially given the price point. In fairness, my first-hand data are not completely current. But, at least as of two years ago (last time I shopped), things had not improved.
Can you expand on the problems you experienced?
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:37 PM   #9
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Can you expand on the problems you experienced?
Where to start...
--The little velcro dots on the privacy curtains didn't come close to aligning with their mates on the window.
--The other curtains used snaps with pop-rivits that pulled right out.
--Whenever fresh tank was completely full, a puddle would eventually form on floor. Turned out (after years of searching) that they never tightened the clamp on the air vent tube. Water flowed out into the insulation between the van and the walls, soaking it thoroughly and eventually seeping down onto the floor.
--Coax cables pulled right out of the antenna outlets.
--Other wires twisted, wrapped with electrical tape, and left in a rats nest.
--Sub-woofer sounded like a wet sponge and hummed constantly due to lack of shielding. Eventually just disconnected it.
--ALL sealant everywhere slathered like it was applied by a 4-year old. Especially on the roof.
--Fantastic vent framed by wood, not properly sealed, rotted away in 4 years.
--EVERY penetration drilled into the van body ended up with rust bubbles around it. (This may be the worst single issue. Inexcusable.)
--Wooden doors warped
--Fridge roof vent leaked until all the wood on the floor below rotted and had to be replaced.
--Folding bed mechanism not properly padded--rattled constantly.
--Beautiful leather trim mis-sewn and looked like crap.
--Small wood bits (braces, arm rests) inevitably came loose.
--Veneer peeling everywhere.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The sad part is that it was basically a great van. But it was death by a thousand cuts. I fixed almost everything, and by the time I passed it on, it was almost perfect. All of these things could have easily been avoided. There is just no excuse.
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Old 07-23-2016, 06:53 PM   #10
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The current Roadtrek warranty is 6 years bumper to bumper including everything in the coach except for AGM batteries (1 year) and items covered by the chassis warranties. Factory installed appliances are covered up to 6 years after the individual appliance warranties are over.

Agree on the fact that there is inconsistent build quality presently and some of the new technology items are still getting debugged but the 6 year warranty gives some assurance that they are standing behind the product.
With regard to the Etreks, the AGM issue is going to get interesting. In initial production, if the BMS shut down the lion batteries, the coach side apparently went into a coma because there was no mechanism to awaken the batteries when the UH generator or shore side charger attempted to charge them. Apparently, in current production, there is an AGM battery that serves to bring the lithium BMS back to life to accept recharging. My guess is that this is sort of a kludge to fix the problem until the BMS can be totally revamped. The 64 amp hour question is: what is the warranty on this AGM battery which is only used to support the battery management system, not the coach loads? The verbal asssurance I got from one dealer is that it would be covered under the 6 year warranty but how the factory handles this remains to be seen.

The 6 year warranty is a little complicated. It excludes the engine, chassis and drive train. It also covers the factory installed appliances etc. only after the appliance warranties have expired so who you have to address the problem with depends on when the problem occurs. There is one very positive thing about R/T warranty policies. Typically OEMs are very stingy regarding warranty repair rates and flat rates them to a point where the dealer makes little if any profit on the work. The result is that warranty repairs end up either low on the repair list and sometimes even refused. R/T reimburses their repair facilities for warranty work at the same rate the facility charges for all repair work.
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Old 07-23-2016, 07:34 PM   #11
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In many cases it appears that the auxiliary AGM on the ecotrek vans is a single 12 volt battery maybe 80-100 amp hours so if for some reason Roadtrek didn't cover it for 6 years then it is nothing like paying for the 8 AGMs on the eTrek which now have a 1 year warranty...
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:37 PM   #12
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Here are your Roadtrek Etrek AGM under hood batteries for the Li-ion Etreks. Two 6 volt batteries?

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Old 07-23-2016, 09:27 PM   #13
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Here are your Roadtrek Etrek AGM under hood batteries for the Li-ion Etreks. Two 6 volt batteries?

I might well be wrong about this but I don't think these are AGMs that support the BMS for lion batteries. I think these batteries are part of an 8 battery Etrek where two of the eight coach batteries are under hood.

Incidentally, I wonder how the AGM maintenance battery is charged? By the primary alternator? By the under hood generator? And when shore power is used, is it charged at all? And if so, how does it deal with the algorithm setup for lion battery charging?
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Old 07-23-2016, 09:59 PM   #14
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There are several reported configurations of the aux AGM on the ecotrek vans. Some Sprinters are as Davyydd showed with the typical two 6 volt batteries but some have a single 12 volt battery in that location. The Zions seem to have a single 12 volt battery mounted under the rear on ecotrek vans. Not sure where they are on the Chevy vans. As it typical with Roadtrek, there are lots of variations...

It appears that the aux AGM battery (or batteries) are always connected to the charge terminals on the ecotrek modules along with the engine generator. I have not seen any info on what type of battery charge profile is used by the Balmar regulator to handle the fact that there are AGM and lithium batteries connected in parallel for charging.

The inverter/charger is on the load terminal side of the ecotreks and the solar controller seems to vary from one side to the other at least that is what it appears from various reports by owners.

Same thing on the other two chargers, no info on what battery charge profiles they may be using. When the ecotreks are completely online then any charger is charging the AGM in parallel with the lithium cells. Shore power charging from the inverter/charger and solar charging from the solar controller. One question of interest is what happens when the ecotrek battery modules shut down at the maximum discharge point? If the load terminals are disconnected from the battery cells at this point and the charge terminals are still connected does that mean the you cannot recharge from shore power? Similar question on the other extreme, if the battery cells in a module reach maximum charge what happens to prevent further charging? If you are using engine generator charging you must disconnect the charge terminal from the cells. If you are on shore power and disconnect the load terminal to prevent overcharging you would eventually disconnect all the batteries from the inverter/charger. What happens then??
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Old 07-23-2016, 11:19 PM   #15
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I might well be wrong about this but I don't think these are AGMs that support the BMS for lion batteries. I think these batteries are part of an 8 battery Etrek where two of the eight coach batteries are under hood.

Incidentally, I wonder how the AGM maintenance battery is charged? By the primary alternator? By the under hood generator? And when shore power is used, is it charged at all? And if so, how does it deal with the algorithm setup for lion battery charging?
Those are the discussed AGM batteries on a Roadtrek that had 800ah of lithium ion batteries in the back under the floor. I took the photos at the RV Super B Show in Glendale, AZ last spring.
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Old 07-23-2016, 11:53 PM   #16
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There are several reported configurations of the aux AGM on the ecotrek vans. Some Sprinters are as Davyydd showed with the typical two 6 volt batteries but some have a single 12 volt battery in that location. The Zions seem to have a single 12 volt battery mounted under the rear on ecotrek vans. Not sure where they are on the Chevy vans. As it typical with Roadtrek, there are lots of variations...

It appears that the aux AGM battery (or batteries) are always connected to the charge terminals on the ecotrek modules along with the engine generator. I have not seen any info on what type of battery charge profile is used by the Balmar regulator to handle the fact that there are AGM and lithium batteries connected in parallel for charging.

The inverter/charger is on the load terminal side of the ecotreks and the solar controller seems to vary from one side to the other at least that is what it appears from various reports by owners.

Same thing on the other two chargers, no info on what battery charge profiles they may be using. When the ecotreks are completely online then any charger is charging the AGM in parallel with the lithium cells. Shore power charging from the inverter/charger and solar charging from the solar controller. One question of interest is what happens when the ecotrek battery modules shut down at the maximum discharge point? If the load terminals are disconnected from the battery cells at this point and the charge terminals are still connected does that mean the you cannot recharge from shore power? Similar question on the other extreme, if the battery cells in a module reach maximum charge what happens to prevent further charging? If you are using engine generator charging you must disconnect the charge terminal from the cells. If you are on shore power and disconnect the load terminal to prevent overcharging you would eventually disconnect all the batteries from the inverter/charger. What happens then??
The undeniable sign of an excellent post is one that asks more questions than it answers.

What I don't understand is, why would you need an AGM(s) with this amp hour capacity to accomplish what we are told it's presumably supplied for, to wit:

a. If the lion battery shuts off, provide a load to permit operation of the UH generator or the shore power function.

b. Provide a momentary power source to initialize a BMS in a shut down condition.
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:11 AM   #17
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The undeniable sign of an excellent post is one that asks more questions than it answers.

What I don't understand is, why would you need an AGM(s) with this amp hour capacity to accomplish what we are told it's presumably supplied for, to wit:

a. If the lion battery shuts off, provide a load to permit operation of the UH generator or the shore power function.

b. Provide a momentary power source to initialize a BMS in a shut down condition.
You need a 12v source with capacity, eg battery, to get the charging sources to initialize and also to run. There are a bunch of tests the smart chargers do to prove they have a real battery in the circuit both to start and to stabilize and run. I tested this a bunch when I was working with our Blue Sea charger.
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:36 AM   #18
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You need a 12v source with capacity, eg battery, to get the charging sources to initialize and also to run. There are a bunch of tests the smart chargers do to prove they have a real battery in the circuit both to start and to stabilize and run. I tested this a bunch when I was working with our Blue Sea charger.
OK......but 200 ah capacity?
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:47 AM   #19
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As I mentioned they seem to be using a single 12 v 80-100 amp hour AGM in many cases, even on the Sprinters, but Roadtrek is very consistent in their inconsistency, hard to find two vans wired the same sometimes...
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:49 AM   #20
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OK......but 200 ah capacity?
200ah capacity is useless if it is in low voltage or too cold cutoff. Then it has exactly zero amp hours and zero voltage.
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