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School me on energy efficient TVs..
#777205 June 07th 2021 9:49 am
Joined: Sep 2013
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Alright, I'm looking to add a smart TV to my van. Primarily for show use, but also while camping sometimes. I have a pair of AGM 31 series batteries with 105 amp hours each already and they are isolated. I can run lights, stereo, etc for many hours already off of this setup with no issues. I would like to add a TV to the mix. nothing huge, maybe around 32". My question is about the power usage and what the most efficient models might be for this type of application.

I see some 12 volt tvs out there. They seem common for RV use and are a bit more expensive than standard tvs. But I've also seen some complaints that they need very stable voltage, and will shut off at certain voltages well earlier than most other electronics. Not sure the validity of all of that, but that's what I'm trying to research.

The other option would be to run an inverter and a standard 110v tv. I feel like this would definitely be the less efficient way to go, but I'd like to know if there are any benefits to going this direction?

So what I'd like to know is what specific TVs are people using that work in your vans but are relatively easy on the electricity? looking for real success stories.

Thanks in advance!

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Re: School me on energy efficient TVs..
tuner4life #777277 June 08th 2021 11:18 am
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 142
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 142
I bought and really like the SuperSonic SC2412 LED TV. Can be powered by 12 volt DC lighter plug or 120 volt supply. I use it all the time when I go vamping! Had it now for 4 years and would buy another one again. I purchased off Amazon in 2017 and still works and have remote control and multiple inputs.

Re: School me on energy efficient TVs..
tuner4life #777333 June 09th 2021 12:04 pm
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 142
Joined: Feb 2018
Posts: 142
I thought that I would add to this as you asked.

I don't know the energy use of the SC2412 TV, but I have left the TV plugged into the lighter plug over a week (TV left on) and didn't drain the battery (didn't use or start the van that week).
I have also used the TV for hours on end without starting the van when vamping and van started right up next morning (using a standard 1 battery system).

My only complaint on the TV is that it isn't a Blu Ray player, just a DVD player.

Re: School me on energy efficient TVs..
tuner4life #777351 June 09th 2021 3:09 pm
Joined: Apr 2010
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Joined: Apr 2010
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A group 31 with 105AH is likely the Lifeline gpl-31t, the gpl-31xt has 125AH.

Good batteries, but....
AGMs in deep cycle duty really need, more so than their cheaper flooded/wet brethern, a true full charge every 7 deep cycles or more often, AND when drained to the 50% range, need no less than 20 amps charging current per 100Ah of capacity.

If they are never given this much current when deep cycled and if they are cycled often and only recharged to 95%, they will lose capacity quickly, and disappoint greatly, considering their reputation, and price.

Lifeline are pretty much top tier deep cycle AGMS, but no lead acid battery is immune to chronic undercharging and AGMS can be tickled to death with 'trickle' charge currents, in deep cycle applications.

as for the TV,

I've got a 13.3 inch RCA 12vDC TV for many years now. While not very big I have it on a long double elbow swing arm to position as needed, whether in my chair or lying in bed.

Turned off, but still hooked to 12v, it draws 0.09 amps. This parasitic draw is the TV awaiting the signal from the remote to turn on. I put an inline rocker switch on it to eliminate this draw when not in use.

Rounding this parasitic draw upto 0.1 amps, every 10 hours it draws 1 amp hour from the battery.
So one single 100 amp hour battery would be 50% discharged by this parasitic load in 500 hours.

The TV is rated for 18 watts, which is about 1.5 amps, but it can only draw that much juice when the brightness is turned all the way up, and the volume is too, and it is spinning a DVD.

Generally it draws 0.9 to 1.1 amps, 10 to 14 watts or so. It has Zero issues with 14.4v or 9.7v DC input voltages.

An inverter is generally no more than 85% efficient. If a AC to DC powerbrick is used( and could be inside the TV itself) they too are no more than ~ 87% efficient, so this can be a big waster of battery power.

An inverter can also induce a 60HZ buzz into the speakers, and if watching over the air TV, will knock out some TV stations as it is electrically noisy.
A pure sine wave inverter might eliminate the Buzz, but likely not the TV interference, and they are usually slightly less efficient than Modified square wave inverters.

Ciggy plugs and 12v powerports are extremely poor electrical connections, and more so with time and when they are asked to pass more current. Even the best ones will become problematic, it is just a matter of time.

Best to eliminate them when possible. but do consider they have an internal glass cylinder fuse to protect the wiring from plug to tv itself, which is part of their issue in the long term, all that extra resistance, along with spring loaded connections built as cheaply as possible.

I've no experience with 12vDC TVs that are susceptible to issues with voltages far outside of 12v, as might be seen with a low battery to too long and thin of wiring to the tv from the battery.

There are devices to deliver a stable output voltage. A buck/boost converter can deliver a very steady voltage, and can be upto 94% efficient, but they can induce the electronic noise which can kill TV stations. I use B/B converters to power/speed control 24v fans and at certain speed ranges it will knock out my VHF channels 8 or 10, which are my two strongest stations.

If searching for buck/boost converters, make sure the description says both 'buck/boost' and 'step up and step down converter'. They generally have limits of 5 or 10 amps. I've had no luck with 5 amp versions at well less than half their rated amperage, but no issues with the 10 amp versions.

My RCA TV, several years ago had issues with one of the LEDS on teh bottom going out and causing a V shaped shadow and flickering. I disassembled the TV and applied some Caig DeOxit D5 to the ribbon cable connectors and the issue has not arisen in many years, though it did not go away immediately.

My major issue with the TV, has been the remote. The battery contacts and that internal plastic which supports them got damaged and need reinforcement.

If you can find the figures listed on a TV power brick, know that is the maximum current the brick can handle or the TV can ask for. It is not the current the TV will always consume, only the maximum it can possibly draw.
Actual consumption in use varies depending on brightness of the screen, and volume, and if it has a DVD spinner and is spinning it and using more CPU power.

NO experience with Smart TV's steaming internet video, but my laptop the average consumption goes from 32 watts typing this, to about 55 watts streaming videos at 720p.

So two group 31 house batteries if the TV were the only load will have little issue for X amount of time, but other electrical demands could make or break them.

Also know while an alternator might be able to deliver its rated capacity, it can only do so at 2000+ engine rpm, when cold and when the voltage regulator is asking for voltages in the mid 14 range.
getting even teh best healthiest lead acid batteries from 80% to 100% requires no less than 3.5 hours, assuming mid 14v is held that entire time, which few voltage regulators will allow for fear of overcharging the starter battery.

Far too much of the motoring public act like the alternator is free energy that nearly instantly recharges a battery to full.
Don't be like the general motoring public.

The battery itself decides how much amperage it wants to accept at the electrical pressure( voltage) reaching the battery terminals.

The BEST healthiest AGM batteries still need no less than 6 hours of charging to reach full from 50% and this assumes a high amperage source for that uner 80% range and one which can hold 14.4v+ for the final ~4 hours.

So even a long drive home is highly unlikely to return the battery to a true full charge, and one should employ a plug in charging source which can complete the charge.
Note one will likely have to trick the average smart charger into doing this. Trick it into restarting by loading the battery until voltage drops to below 12.7 then restart charger, over and over.

210 Ah of Lifeline AGM can only be considered truly full when held at 14.4v, amperage tapers to 1.05 amps or less.
Full charge cannot be determined at lesser voltages.

If you want the Lifelines to last, achieving this threshold is required, regularly and becomes more important the deeper the discharge, or the longer since it was last achieved.

Note if it has been a long while since it was achieved, that 6.5 hours minimum from 50% to 100% might double or triple until that threshold is attained, and No garage grade 'smart' charger ever accomplishes it.

The Green light on Smart chargers ONLY means the charger has decided to revert to 'float' voltage. The green light indicates the battery is charged enough to start an engine, not that it is fully charged as its marketer's would have you believe.

The marketers of smart chargers will try and make you believe the smart charger will fellate you afterwards too.

Re: School me on energy efficient TVs..
tuner4life #777454 June 11th 2021 10:11 am
Joined: Sep 2013
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Holy crap! Thank you for such a detailed reply! I've seen a lot of your posts before and while they are often a bit over my head, I do try to absorb the advice as much as possible!

My house batteries are a pair of Duracell Ultra BCI Group 31M AGM batteries. They show a rating of 105AH. They are isolated from the starter battery when camping, but do charge from the alternator while driving. There is also an onboard charger. A Guest 16102 dual bank unit. It charges each house battery on their own bank while plugged in to 110v and does have settings specific to AGM batteries. I know it's not quite as ideal as some of the methods you've mentioned, it does seem to do pretty well and does what I need it to. I've tested the whole vehicle running off the house batteries (all lights, stereo, fridge, etc) at the same time and that charger keeps up with the usage and there was zero voltage drop after several hours. Even without the charger hooked up, I've ran it all off-grid for several hours and it never broke a sweat.

From what I've gathered from you in the past, I am a little weary that it may be "tickling" the batteries, but we've used this same model charger in marine applications at my work for years and haven't really had any issues. I guess I'm just gonna chance it lol. I am looking at upgrading to a larger amp alternator soon, and possible putting together some way to achieve the 14.4v of charging that you mention.. One step at a time I suppose.

As for the TV. Thank you for confirming my thoughts that a 12v unit is going to be preferred to an inverter setup. I figured it would be, but I'm still a noob when it comes to this level of electronics and cramming it all into a vehicle. I am going to be looking for a smart TV as I do have a mobile hot-spot and would like to be able to play online content such as youtube and Amazon through it. On top of that, I have also been given the opportunity to work remotely at my job, and I would live to be able to park up somewhere and plug in to 110v and work from in the van all day. I have a laptop, and would use the TV as a second monitor. Long term pipe dreams I suppose, but this is the rabbit hole I'm in the midst of going down lol.

As always, you are an excellent and generous source of info! Thank you so much! I'm sure I'll have more dumb questions as I go along here.

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Re: School me on energy efficient TVs..
tuner4life #777467 June 11th 2021 2:31 pm
Joined: Apr 2010
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Joined: Apr 2010
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Duracell AGMs are made by East Penn. They are a rebranded Deka Intimidator, which is one of the most rebranded AGMS in The US.

Practical sailor magazine did a PSOC test with several different AGMs.
Partial state of charge cycling means starting the next discharge cycle before a true full charge is reached.

Of the AGMS tested the Intimidators did the worst, by far, in this regard.

I bring this up not to say your batteries are crap, but to let you know how important it is to actually achieve a true full charge with them, to a higher degree than some other AGM's.

All AGMS seem to behave poorer than their cheaper flooded/wet brethern in PSOC duty, making them the poorer choice when PSOC cycling is unavoidable. Many people seem to think their higher price makes them the better battery always, but I call them a princess battery, in that if they are not coddled they will take their ball stomp their feet and go home.

But 12v flooded Marine batteries, which proudly state deep cycle, are not deep cycle. They are usually quite poor at PSOC cycling and lose capacity quickly.

The most resilient and best bang for the buck lead acid battery, is the 6v golf cart battery, but they are 11 inches tall, where a group 31 is ~9.5 inches.

Anyhow, the East Penn Intimidator AGM lineup has different charging specs than some other AGMS.

The Guest marine charger is quite $$$. I've no experience with it, so no comment.

While Lifeline AGM says the higher charging current the better in deep cycle applications, and Odyssey TPPL AGMS say no less than 40 amps per 100Ah of capacity in deep cycle duty, the Deka Intimidators say no more than 30 amps per 100 ah of capacity.

Most lower end AGMS say no more than 30% charge rate.

I generally ignore this 'recommendation' at least while the battery is newer. the danger is excessive heating, and I've hit smaller Asian made 30% AGMS with 150% charge rates and usually settle in at 60% without issue, but the older one does heat a bit more than the newer one and I will soon restrict the amperage it gets fed and monitor it closer for excessive heating

I have a group 31 Northstar AGM which is similar to Odyssey, and when newer and well depleted it was able to easily suck up 134 amps of combined plug in charging sources. My previous Northstar-27 got deep cycled ~1200 times over 6 years , and a big part of that was not just insuring it reached true full charge often, but that after many low and slow charges I depleted it well and then blasted it with high amperage.

Anyway, Its hard to really quantify the remaining capacity of a battery without actually performing a 20 hour load test, which in itself is abusive to the battery, and quite difficult to perform accurately.

The General method to not overdischarge is to not go below a certain voltage. The voltage under load will be lower than when the load is removed though. so using the laptop and seeing 11.9v, then turning off the loads and voltage rebounds to 12.2v in 15 minutes means you are in the 50% range, and taking lead acid batteries below 50% is not recommended. When taken lower than 50% reaching true full charge afterwards becomes even more important and tickling them with 'trickle' currents, when drawn this low is not beneficial, it is detrimental, but not as detrimental as leaving them discharged or depleting them even further.

Upgrading to a higher rated alternator, can often be a fools errand. Often the higher rated alternator can only achieve this rating when spun at rpms that the engine, in normal use, will not allow. The higher rated alternator often sacrifices low rpm output for that higher total rating. There's a whole bunch of dishonest claims by high output alternator manufacturers.

Low rpm output is highly desirable, but also comes with its own can of worms, when one Idles to charge.
A depleted healthy battery can ask for a LOT of amperage, and the voltage regulator, which controls the alternator output, fully fields the rotor, and the alternator can generate tremendous heat.

I wanted to know just how much, so I set up temp sensors. The short version is that fully fielding the alternator under 25mph allows it to quickly shoot towards the 220F danger zone, where fully fielding it at 65mph and it struggles to get to 140f. Underhood airflow is that important, but of course varies depending on the vehicle.

If you need to recharge, when parked, do not do so for more than about 15 minutes, and don't really expect more than 50 amps from the stock alternator idling when hot, and expect 8 to 12 of these amps to be eaten up by fuel pump and ignition.

The Voltage regulation is also a huge consideration, and in most instances plays a much larger part than the alternator's rating. The VR varies the field current sent to the rotor to allow it to make just enough amperage to seek or maintain a certain voltage. There's all sorts of VR strategies, and almost NONE of them are actually good at recharging a deeply cycled battery. After startup they might goto 14.4, but once they get hot they will drop to 13.6v range.

A depleted battery with 14.7v reaching terminals will accept 3x more amperage than it would at 13.6.
Driving or idling to recharge can be frustrating, when the voltage regulator has decided that 13.7v is fine and dandy.
13.7v is likely fine and dandy, for a starting battery depleted 0.05% by starting the engine, but not a marine battery drawn to 50%$ by a laptop.

So voltage regulation is often far more important than the alternator's rating, in terms of charging depleted batteries. Obviously an alternator with excellent cooling and high output at low rpms is ideal, but if the voltage regulator controlling it is only seeking 13.6v, then a lower rated alternator whose voltage regulator is seeking 14.7v will charge more effectively, except perhaps at hot idle or low engine rpms.

There are DC to DC converters which step up that 13.6v to 14.4 or so for faster and more complete recharging of depletedhouse batteries, but these are $$$ and generally limited to 20 40 or 60 amps.

My personal strategy, aided by Dodge using exernally regulated alternators, was to bypass the VR inside the engine computer, and use an adjustable voltage regulator. I modified it to be adjustable via a knob on my dash, and I can and do get the full expected 50 amps at idle from my 50/120 chrysler alternator and 120 amps, but at 2350+ engine rpm, and at 65mph, my engine turns 1950 rpm.

Basically, when I drive, I can almost always instantly achieve 14.7v, even if the battery needs 80 amps to achieve that voltage instantly. Idling, I have 38 amps max for battery charging from the one chrysler alternator, and it gets so hot so fast that I avoid idling just to charge, or limit it to no more than about 10 minutes, which does not really accomplish all that much. A VR seeking only 13.7v would not heat up as much, but also charge 3x slower.

My system is under consistent modification. My 'lifetime warranty' chrysler alternator had failed on a cross country journey, and Oreilleys claimed to have no records of me ever having bought an alternator from them. I bought a new Nippondenso alternator from AZ, as I was told its dual internal fans would be better at hot idle speeds in terms of output. Perhaps an original ND alternator would have been better, but not my Made in Malaysia one. Its hot idle speed output was way worse, and it would max out at 109 amps. The rpms just over idle to that 109 limit were pretty good.

When I took apart the failed alternator I saw the previous rebuilders just screwed up the brush alignment, and remedied that and returned it to service.

Last december I replaced my useless AC compressor with teh ND alternator. I also found the original alternator location was 6mm out of parallel alignment with teh crank pulley, and spent considerable time and effort getting that alignment within 1mm.

I've still not activated that alternator, but soon.
I got some used Deka intimidator 6v GC-2 AGMS from a boat for free. I modified my dual 27 underbody battery tray with a taller hatch lid to accommodate these taller batteries.
Soon,( relatively) I will have the chrysler alternator feeding the G-31 Northstar under the hood, and the ND alternator feeding the Deka's under the floor behind drivers seat with the ability to combine their output into one or the other.

I don't really require this ability at the moment.

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