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– Today we’re gonna talk
to you a little bit about the different types of RV batteries and what features are important, but more importantly
we’re gonna talk about how to monitor those batteries and know how much juice you have left so you’re not left in the dark. – Literally.
♪ Hey ♪ (upbeat music) ♪ Hey ♪ – We see online a lot about people taking their brand new RV out for the very first time and
maybe they’re dry camping or boon docking for an overnight stay on the way to their destination… – [Chad] Maybe a harvest host
or a boon dockers welcome. – Right! And they wake up the next day, and their batteries are dead. – Yeah or they…
– What happened? (laughs) – Or they wake up freezing because their batteries are dead
and their furnace died. – Yeah.
– And the fact is that most RV’s particularly
trailers like ours are gonna come with a standard
cheap battery that’s crap. So we’re gonna talk a little bit about the different types of batteries cause you’re gonna want
to upgrade your batteries but more importantly
we’re gonna talk about how to monitor that. – Was it an option for us to upgrade the batteries when we ordered the RV? – Yes and no. You can probably get a battery
upgrade from your dealer. You’re not gonna find that
on Grand Design’s website because the RV manufacturers
aren’t typically the ones putting the
batteries in, it’s the dealer. – Okay, I didn’t know that. – Yeah, we did buy our first set of Trojan T-105’s from Lazydays. – Oh we did?
– We did. – [Tara] Oh! (laughs) – But they didn’t install ’em. We just bought them and gave them to us cause I wanted to wire ’em. Unless you are going to
never, ever, ever dry-camp, you’re gonna go from RV park to RV park and always be on full hook-ups you’re gonna want a better battery. And you’re also gonna want
to monitor that battery and that’s the focus of today’s video. – This is not going to be an: “everything you need to know
about RV batteries video.” – Yeah that could be probably
an hour long video by itself. In fact… (laughs)
– Which we’re not opposed to. – In fact Jared from All About
RV’s has an excellent video that covers all the
different types of batteries and goes into great detail on that. And we’ll link that below. That’s a great resource to have. We’re gonna talk a little bit about the types of batteries and some of the key numbers you’re gonna want to know in relation to monitoring your batteries, just so we have the right verbiage as we talk about the battery monitor. Mainly we’re gonna focus
on what you can run and how long you can run it…
(Daisy growling) – Wait hold on Daisy’s growlin. She sees something.
– Oh, you got it. (Daisy growls) – I hope you guys can hear that. What’s out there? If you’re new to our channel and you’ve never seen
our mascot, dis Daisy. (Chad laughing)
She’s fierce and she was growling at the mean vicious
hikers outside the window. – Three and a half pounds of ferocity. – That’s right. Okay, anyhow.
(Chad laughs) – [Chad] What kind of battery is best? – And what can you run on
those specific batteries? – Right and most importantly. The things you want to
run, how long can run them? How much do you have left? How much time? How much juice? When are the lights gonna go out? – Yeah. (laughs) – (laughs) Because that happens a lot particularly with a furnace
that draws quite a bit of juice. Every RV has two full electrical systems, an AC and a DC side. Your AC side is going to be
things like your microwave your T.V., your coffee–
– Coffee. – Toaster ovens, toasters,
hair dryers, things like that. – Okay, they get it.
– Yeah. We’re gonna focus on the DC side. Which is direct current. And that comes from your batteries or your inverter/converter. The DC system covers
things like your lights, your hydraulic system,
your control system, probably your radio, all of your controls for like your refrigerator. Even on your air conditioning typically the AC system itself
is running off of A/C. Don’t get those two confused. But the little control
box to turn it on and off is running off of DC. So you really got to have both. But when you’re dry camping and you’re not connected to anything it’s just DC power. And we’re not gonna go to inverters, we have a separate video on that. That converts DC to AC so
you can run everything. We’re gonna focus on the DC side only. Your batteries are your
only source of power when you’re dry camping. You know, obviously you have
a generator, shore power those are other things… – What about solar? – That’s a good question. Solar doesn’t run anything. That’s kind of a misconception
that kind of pervades online. “Oh I can run this off solar,
I can run that off solar.” – So solar charges the batteries? – Exactly, exactly.
– Huh! You see I learn as we do it.
(Chad laughs) – We don’t have solar but
if we had solar panels, they run through a
controller and the voltage and current are variable
depending on the sun. It’s a very unreliable,
unsteady source of power. But it can charge your batteries
as the powers available but you’re still gonna run
everything from your batteries so that’s the key. – We would love to have solar. We will eventually have solar. It’s just expensive. – Mm-hm, and a lot of work. Another quick note on the
batteries we’re gonna discuss. We’re strictly gonna talk
about ‘house batteries’. House batteries are what run the house. Your Class C’s, your
Class A’s, are typically gonna have two separate battery banks. One for the coach and one for the house. The coach is to start your engine, and do all that engine stuff. We are gonna talk a little bit about the types of batteries and
how much they can discharge in just a little bit. But first we’re gonna go
through some other numbers. First up is voltage. I mentioned it’s all a 12 volt system. Most RV’s are 12 volt,
maybe some, a few exceptions here and there, but we’re
gonna focus on 12 volt. Batteries will typically
come in six or 12 volt and those can be wired in such a way that they make 12 voltage. Put two, six volts in a
series and it makes a 12 volt. Again, see Jared’s video
for details on that. We’re just gonna be dealing with some type of 12 volt battery bank. I like to think of voltage, I use an analogy of
water and water pressure when it comes to electricity. Voltage is kind of like
your water pressure. It’s like you’ve got a big tub of water the more full that tub of water is the more pressure you’re
gonna have at the bottom. And that’s really what voltage is, it’s electrical pressure. Electrical potential. – The higher the number
of voltage on the battery is the more pressure? – Yeah. So while we’re not gonna go
into a lot of detail on this because there are other resources for it and we don’t want this
to be a 90 minute video, is when you wire two batteries in series those voltages will add. So two, six volts in a
series you’ll have 12 volts. When you wire batteries in parallel, the voltages do not add
but the current adds, or the potential current or
the amp hours add together. And we’re gonna get into
that in just a minute. – Okay. – Speaking of current,
that’s our next topic. One of the ratings you’ll
have on a deep cycle battery is it’s maximum current
that it can sustain without over heating or having a problem. Back to our water and water tank analogy. This is analogous to gallons per minute. How many gallons per minute can this tank provide and not blow up, right? This is gonna become a
factor when you talk about what you can run, that kind of stuff. Amp hours is a rating of how much power over how much you time you can supply. Let’s take a good example, it’s easy math of a 100 amp hour battery. 100 amp hour battery is
rated that way at 20 hours. Meaning it’s been tested
that it can supply five amps of power for 20 hours. That’s 100 amp hours; 5 X 20. It could also do one amp for 100 hours or 100 amps for one hour,
or 200 amps for half an hour – Gotcha.
– So it’s all just a math thing. And again, that 200 amps for half an hour, probably not. (laughs) That’s just a theoretical thing. Most batteries, like
even our Battle Born’s which we’re gonna get to
are rated at 100 amps total. So you can do 100 amps solid for one hour. When using this math you
can also kind of reverse it and you can figure out how
much stuff you need to run and how long you need to run it. That will tell you how
many amp hours you need. I want to run a 50 amp
device for 10 hours straight. I know I’m gonna need a
500 amp hour battery bank. Another key factor about your
batteries amp hour rating is that’s it’s rating to zero. And depending on the battery type which we’re about to get into, that’s usually not–
– It doesn’t go down to the real zero.
– The real, yeah the real amp hours. When you’re talking about
flooded cell batteries and AGM, it’s usually 50% of that. So you might buy 100 amp
hour battery thinking, “Woo I got 100 amp hours!” When in reality you’ve only got 50. But we’re gonna get into that right now. – Doesn’t really make any sense. (Chad laughs) It doesn’t. I mean why put it on there then? – Because it sells batteries. – But that’s false advertising! – Well it’s the real
rating of the battery. It’s up to the consumer to know the type of battery they’re getting how much of that they
can actually discharge. (Tara sighs deeply) – This is why I don’t get into this stuff. (Chad laughs) It was all making sense
until you were like, “But that’s not really what it is.” – Well it is if you’ve got
lithium ion Battle Born. – Okay. (sighs)
– Okay. So let’s talk a little
bit about battery types. – Hey!
– Yes. You’ve got basic flooded cell. That’s almost like a standard car battery it’s got a liquid electrolyte that does have to be maintained as those batteries charge they do off gas, hydrogen, and oxygen and they have to be sealed and vented because of that. While those are your
least expensive option, they’re also gonna be your heaviest and the highest maintenance. – Is that what we had first? – That’s what we had first. When we first started out we
got four Trojan T-105 six volts and they were wired in series in parallel. That’s what we had initially. – And I remember it was sealed and vented and all that stuff.
– And it was very heavy. And I had to put supports underneath. It was a pain. But it was our least expensive option and it was what we could
afford at the time. – Mm-hm, and it did okay. – Yeah, it did great. Another type of battery that you’ll see is called AGM or absorbed glass mat. Or sometimes just called
glass mat batteries. And it is a sealed battery. Does not require any maintenance. Which is good.
– I’ve never heard that before – Hmm?
– I’ve never heard of that before.
(Chad laughs) – Yeah it’s, it’s… – I mean shocker. But sorry go ahead. – So those are still gonna be heavy, but they’re not gonna
require any maintenance and they are gonna be a
little bit more expensive then your flooded cell. So it’s kind of a one notch
up from your flooded cell. Now one thing to remember about
both AGM and flooded cell, I mentioned the flooded
cell off gases, so does AGM. So both of those types of batteries have to be sealed and vented. And the other key thing
about flooded cell and AGM is they can realistically
only be discharged to 50%. So that’s something to keep in mind when you’re using these batteries. If you go below 50 it’s okay, but the further you go down the
more you risk damaging them. If you went down past
80% you can pretty much chuck the thing, it’s probably no good. If you go down to zero, if you’re camping in your RV overnight and your battery goes boom! All the way to the floor. It’s a goner. – Wow.
– Yeah. – It’s a goner. So this is why you want to be
able to monitor your batteries you don’t want to just run your batteries. “Oh, we’ll just run ’em til they’re dead.” You know, it’s not like
a Duracell nine volt that you’re just gonna chuck. The third type of battery we’re
gonna talk about is lithium. Sometimes called ‘LiFePO4′. Which is lithium, iron, phosphate. Your lithium batteries
are your best batteries. But they’re also the most expensive. Which is why we didn’t buy them initially. The cool thing about lithium is you can take those things
all the way down to zero. In most cases. Check with the manufacturer. Battle Born’s are rock solid. Another thing about most
lithium ion batteries is they’re gonna have a
battery management system or a BMS built in to each battery. And that is like a
little brain inside there that shuts off your
battery if it’s too cold. Shuts off your battery if it’s too hot. Stops the outflow of current
before it gets too high. It protects that battery
and also balances the cells. They’re really, really good. But they are really expensive. If you want to do what we did, we bought some flooded cells
for our first like year and then we upgraded to Battle Born. – Which we did pay for ourselves. – Yes.
– No partnership there. – We’ll have a link
below to our Amazon page. That’s an affiliate link. But yeah, we paid for our Battle Born’s and yes, they’re expensive. And again, zero maintenance with lithium. You just put ’em in there. And they’re super light. Way, way! They’re like 1/3 or 1/4 of the
weight of their equivalent. I’m making that number up. But they’re super light. (both laughing) So let’s talk about
monitoring your batteries and how you can tell how much is left. What percentage are you? Are you at 100, 50, whatever? Our RV came… – I’m gonna get out of the way. – Okay.
– This is all you anyhow. (Chad laughs) – Our RV came with this LCI-1 control, and in here I can see our battery voltage. And generally in a new RV your voltage is the only indication you have of how charged your batteries are. – [Tara] So is that like
what you were talking about with the water in the tank
and the voltage and stuff? – Yeah, exactly. So if you go back to our analogy of the water tank and the water pressure. If that water tank is
full you’re gonna have maximum pressure down at the bottom, and if the water tank is half empty then you’re gonna have less pressure. So that’s really your only way to know. And if you go out and Google: “battery charge percentage by voltage.” You’ll see some charts out there that say, based on the type of
battery this voltage is your 100%, and 75, and 50. But again, there’s nothing
that’s super accurate about that voltage because
of a couple of things. A- this system right here is hooked up who knows where, on this whole DC system. It’s certainly not connected
directly to the batteries. Also DC systems in an
RV are always in use. So when you have a system
that’s pulling current the voltage is gonna drop even though it might really be higher. So it’s never an accurate measurement unless you shut everything off and measure it at your batteries. Which you’re never gonna do
unless you have a problem and you need to see what’s going on. But most of your RV’s,
particularly your fifth wheels, and trailers, and toy haulers,
you’re just gonna have some kind of system like this to see the voltage and that’s it. The only way to really
truly know what’s going in and out of your battery
and how much has been used and how much is left is with
a shunted battery monitor. That is key. And the thing is with
that is there’s a shunt that sits between the negative
side of your battery bank and everything else. So it acts like not really a traffic cop cause it’s not gonna stop anything, but it can watch and
monitor all of the traffic in and out of your battery bank and know exactly how much has been used, how much is left, and give
you a very, very accurate representation of your battery condition. So let’s go outside and
I will show you our shunt and how I’ve got it wired out there. We have a few changes
up here probably since the last time we filmed. First off, you can see we have three Battle Born’s in series. Positive, positive, positive. Negative, negative, negative. If you are familiar
with the front of these there’s quite a bit different up here. This guy right here is the biggest thing. You’ll notice the wires coming out of it. One of them is just a sensor
for the positive side. And the other is isolating
the entire thing. So here’s the big thing with this. When you get an RV and
whatever battery they put in it is probably gonna have everything connected to the battery bank. So, your generator start, your 50 amp bus, the hydraulic systems,
whatever else was connected right to the battery system is gonna be connected right to the batteries. And to be able to properly
monitor via a shunt at least the things that
are on the negative side of the battery have to
all come off onto a bus. And that’s what we have right here. You can see that the negative
side of the battery here has nothing else on it. Just the temperature sensor
and that goes straight to here. And then every other thing that was on the battery bank is now on that bus. Key thing about the bus
it has to be rated for the highest amperage you’re gonna pull. These are rated for 600 amps. Which is way more. And even though I didn’t need too you’ll see that I also did the same thing with the positive side
of the battery bank. Except it goes through a cut-off switch before it goes to the bus bar. That way I have a cut-off
directly connected to the batteries that I
know when I shut that off there’s no DC power anywhere in the RV. Even though the RV comes
with it’s own cut-off switch it’s further down the line and doesn’t isolate things like the hydraulic system. Another note about the
way I have this wired if you watch some of our
other wiring install videos you know I had a really tough time getting the wires to that front cabinet. So I waited until I was
doing our new surge guard before I reran that wire. And that’s this wire right here. And you can see that it
goes up and that goes to the cabinet that we
showed you on the inside. Now the cool thing about this BMV-712 is since it’s Bluetooth
if you don’t want to run the wires just leave it in here. Mount it somewhere. I think for about six months or so I had it just laying in here and I would connect to it via the app. The advantage to having
it up here versus inside is that I could reach it from the truck and we like to travel with our propane off and use our inverter to power the fridge. And that way I could keep an eye on the batteries while we were driving. Now I have to wait till we stop and get out and then I’ll check ’em. So, the advantage is
it’s nice and convenient to have the control panel right there. I don’t have to get the app out if I just want to walk by and look at it. Disadvantage is that the Bluetooth doesn’t reach it from the truck now. Just a real quick, in case you’re curious about the other stuff in here. Obviously you can see three Battle Born’s, but the other things
that I’ve done in here are the separate 80 amp
breaker for the hydraulics. We’ve got a blog post on that. We also talk about in our hydraulic video. And everything up here,
that’s all for the inverter. This is high amperage fuse. Those go right over to here,
and this is the inverter and you can see both the
DC and AC sides to that. Again, not an inverter video
but do check out that video. And that’s all we really
had to show you up here. I’ve got plenty of room
up here if I want to add. I could probably rearrange these and get three more up here
to have 600 amp hours. Which we want to do eventually. Just because it’s so nice
to have that extra power that extra capacity
when you’re boondocking. Not have to worry about it on travel days, and things like that. So you can see the install is
really not that complicated. The most difficult part is
gonna be getting everything off of the negative
blocks and onto a bus bar so that you can put the shunt in and then of course running that cable. We ran ours up here. In regards to configuring it,
it’s really pretty simple. As soon as you powered up and use the app it’ll ask you like what type of battery, what the amp hours are. The rest it pretty much figures out. If you’re confused about
any of the parameters reach out to Victron, they were great. I had a couple questions for them. They helped me out, they’ll help you out. Let’s get to a quick little
demo of how this thing works. I’ve shut off outside
power, so the A/Cs off. It’s a little bit warm. Let me fire up the Victron Connect here. The first thing you’ll see is that we have a “Device List.” This means you can control more
than one Victron component. More than one battery monitor. If you wanted to have all
kinds of battery banks and put them all in here you can do that. But we’ve got one. So we’re gonna go into there. And we can see right now
my batteries are at 99%. My voltage is 13.22, just went to .21. The current coming out of the batteries is right around 24 amps,
which equates to 314 watts. Watts is just amps X voltage. It’s kind of a good
way to talk about power whether you’re talking about
12 volts DC or 120 volts AC. Wattage is wattage. So that’s kind of why sometimes you’ll see watt hours on batteries versus amp hours, but usually they’re rated in amp hours. So you can see that our
inverter is running. And right now the inverter is saying it’s pulling about one amp, but I can see on the battery it’s pulling much more than that. And that is what the inverter is pulling. The rest of the draw that
we see in that 24 amps are lights, the refrigerators on propane. Just RV stuff running. And you can see at this current level we would last for 11 hours and 25 minutes. Let’s turn on some things
and see what we get. I’m gonna start with the fridge cause we usually run that on travel day. So right now it’s on propane. I am gonna switch it to auto. Which will actually detect
that we’ve got power and it will switch to AC. Looks like it just switched. We are currently pulling
72-73ish amps from the batteries. And you’ll notice that my
time remaining is going down. It’s starting to adjust. I’m not sure exactly how far back, you know what kind of average it uses. But you’ll see that
when you change the draw on the batteries this
does take a few minutes to kind of recognize it and
give you a new estimate. You can see on the inverter
that we’re now pulling 52 amps. That’s of course now supplying
power to our refrigerator. And it’s starting to level out now. You can see we’re gonna last probably a little bit less than five hours, maybe four hours 45 minutes-ish. And there in lies the problem sometimes on our travel day is we have to keep an eye on this and make sure we don’t
drain them all the way down. We can do that, it’s not gonna hurt ’em. But we want to have at
least enough DC power to power the fridge on propane. So we kind of keep an eye on that. We do want to add more batteries. Right now what we do is
when we stop for lunch or something we kick on the generator, charge the batteries back up and voila! – Lunch break. – Lunch break at a truck stop. So this is what we do sometimes. We get all the way to
the left side of the stop put this slide out that way
we’ve got all this room here we got the generator running to charge the batteries back up for the remainder of our drive to run our refrigerator. – [Tara] We got some healthy quinoa food. – Healthy food. – Healthy food. – A lot of people want to
know how much juice does the A/C pull, can you run
your A/C off the inverter? And yeah we can, let’s do it. I’m gonna turn the fridge back on propane. Let’s kick on the A/C and see it really start drawing some amps. So that initially was just the fan, now the compressor just kicked on. (compressor whirring) The inverter is now drawing
about 145-ish, 144 amps. (sensor beeping) And I can see coming out of my
batteries is about 160 amps. And you can do some math in your head, 160 amps, 300 amp hours is
gonna be less than two hours that the A/C will run, but it will run. Another key note here
about your battery bank, I mentioned that I had three
Battle Born’s in parallel. Each one of those Battle
Born’s can provide 100 amps of continuous power. In parallel it’s 300 amps total. But if I only had one Battle
Born with 100 amp hours this would not be possible. I’m pulling 155 amps,
the battery would say, “Pfft, no.” So I got to have at least two batteries to be able to supply
that kind of amperage. If you think about the maximum
that our inverter can supply it’s a 3,000 watt inverter. 3,000 divided by 12 is 250. So if my inverter is
maxed out at 3,000 watts it’s pulling 250 amps from the battery. So when you’re sizing
things like an inverter, inverters probably gonna
be the biggest draw, but if you’ve got some big DC appliances. Oh, and let’s try running the furnace and see how many amps that pulls. The furnace runs off of
DC to power the fan– (fan whirring) Just kicked on. Running the furnace we
are only pulling 30 amps. That’s not too bad. We were pulling 24 before. The inverter is back to
drawing just two amps for you know, the clock on
the microwave and computers. So the furnace is only
drawing about 30 amps. Let me turn the furnace off now. Furnace just shut off finally and we’re drawing roughly 23 amps. You can see the furnace
we were drawing like 30. So it’s about seven amps,
that wasn’t too bad. That’s the cool thing
about this battery monitor is it monitors everything. If you know your furnace is
seven amps and you think, “Oh, well I’ll just divide 300 by seven. “Then I’ll know how many
hours I can run the furnace.” Well the problem is lots
of other stuff is using it. Lights, right now we’re using 23 amps. Let’s turn off some lights
and see how much those use. Those were all the lights we had on. And we’re still drawing about 15 amps. That was what about nine
amps all that stuff. Turn that stuff back on. The bottom line is, I know. I know exactly what’s going
into or out of the batteries. I know exactly how long it’s gonna last based on that current load. And I know exactly how
many amp hours I have left. So it’s really, really cool
to have that information. When you’re looking at just voltage it’s a guessing game. It’s like, pfft, I don’t know. You can’t tell how much is being drawn out just by looking at your voltage. So a couple of other quick notes about features that are on this. I can set SOC alarms which
are state of charge alarms and I can have this notify
me when my battery percentage gets to a certain level, I can say, “Hey when it gets to 25%, wake me up. “I want to know, I want to go
check my furnace, whatever.” so that’s really the gist of it. I know we went through
a lot of little things to get to the monitoring piece but we wanted to give you a base for that. And we’ve really, really liked
having this battery monitor. (Chad laughs) And the thing to keep in mind is when you’re looking at your time remaining remember that’s based
on your current draw. It’s not magic or psychic. It doesn’t know what your
gonna be using in the future. But it can tell you based
on what’s currently going on how long your batteries are gonna last. And honestly a shunted battery monitor is the only way to do that. – But if you are planning
on doing any kind of boondocking or dry camping
you should get yourself a shunted battery monitor for sure. – Absolutely. Whatever kind of battery
you have this system will monitor it down to the electron. – Ooh! Fancy.
(Chad laughs) – That’s it. – Thanks for watching. – Bye. – Sorry, okay. – So the biggest thing
we want to cover is, how you can get the information… (Daisy growls)
Daisy! – All right.
– Just close that door. – [Tara] Enough! It’s cute and all but you
know, we’re trying to film. Okay we forgot to dog proof this video. All right, take three. – The advantage to having
it up here versus inside… (clears throat) (Chad squeals) – Noisy campers. – Are they like right behind us? You know, we haven’t had
anybody behind us for days. – Well, that’s what happens
when we start to film. – We’re filming…
– We’re even inside and we’re still getting noise. Okay, it was family photo
time outside of our RV. – I say we throw on some Metallica or some real, just some death metal. – No they’ll be…
– Get some Seether going. – I think they’re gonna be leaving soon. (Chad laughs) – And of course there’s an
airplane going over right now. (plane engine whirring) So we’ll wait for that. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it is, as
soon as we film somewhere something noisy happens every time. – Daisy!
(Daisy whining) He does look like a
crotchety old man right now. (Chad laughs) “You kids get off my lawn!” I think they’re yelling
cause they’re trying to get– – Trying to get the kids excited. – Kids excited to smile and stuff. (Daisy growls)
No! – Hey! – I don’t think I’d have moved much. – Why not? You don’t
like being close to me? – No I said, “I don’t think
I’ve moved that much… – It is similar to a flooded cell… Oh wait… (Chad imitates tape rewinding) Go back. AGM down here.
– Oh, okay. – Yeah.
– All right you got start over cause you burped. – I know. (laughs) Most of your better
batteries like Battle Born… Pfft, try to say that! (laughs) Better batteries Battle Born. They’re super light and… Yeah that was, that was great. – Cool.
– Yeah. – That was awesome.
(Chad laughs) – Unless you’re talking
about like a $400 Tiffin… – $400 tippin?
– $400 (laughs) – [Tara] I’ll take a $400 tippin all day! – Okay, do that over.
(Tara laughs) – Right outside our RV. In the whole!
– Who would think in this giant park–
– Campground. – Right in the back of our RV is a whole family of people going, – [Both] “Whoo! Whoo!”

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