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Old 09-26-2015, 08:34 AM   #1
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Battery life--camping without electric hookup for the first time.

Next weekend we are camping for 3 nights in a spot without an electrical/water hookup. We have no idea what to expect in terms of battery life and wanted to get a general sense of whether we have reasonable expectations. We have a 19' bambi international. Plan to use fridge (but will keep on propane), one or both fans at night, water pump. Not planning to use stereo or lights. Only appliance will be coffee maker. Will the battery still have enough juice to use the power jack to reattach to tow vehicle after the weekend?
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:06 AM   #2
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if you have 2 batteries check them with a hygrometer to be sure they are balanced and charged before you go out. Imbalanced batteries will kill themselves. You should be fine for 3 nights as long as you don't try and run the fans all night, a heater fan will kill a set of batteries in one cold night, and only use the light as needed and where needed.

Not sure how you are going to use a coffee maker without a generator. Get a peculator
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:15 AM   #3
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If you are running your 120 VAC coffee maker from an inverter it will use large amounts of 12 VDC
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:53 AM   #4
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Does your power jack draw from the 7 pin power when that is connected ?

Ours seems to (it is aftermarket )

So if battery is low on juice we can back up close enough to plug in, then adjust tongue up as needed. Then unplug and get the truck where it needs to be. Then plug in again and lower the tongue.

*plugged in and truck engine running.
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Old 09-26-2015, 09:57 AM   #5
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I think you will be fine, using reasonable caution, for three nights, but I do suggest you pick yourselves up a stovetop percolator.

They make great coffee, use no juice and that morning perking also adds to early day ambience, which I love..

Then, no worries whatsoever.


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Old 09-26-2015, 10:11 AM   #6
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Ditto, with limited power ditch the electric coffee pot and make cowboy coffee. Other than that you should be fine. Unless you have to use the heater. I can easily go 3 days boondocking as long as the weather is comfortable. I have replaced all my interior lights with LEDs and upgraded to 2 6 volt batteries. Both those upgrades help.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:51 AM   #7
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Just keep an eye on the battery voltage. You can buy a voltage meter for 12V either plug in like this one:
http://www.amazon.com/HappyPrimeDay-...oltage+display

Or get one that you can attach with cables to the battery.

Do not discharge the batteries below 12.0 V - fully charged they will be above 13V. Once they are discharged into the 11V range, they are below 25% which will be damaging. At this level, you are still ok using the jack - but I also would recommend to do this with the TV plugged in and running.

If you do this more often, you should consider a solar panel. We have solar and when the sun is shining our batteries are pretty much always full.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:54 AM   #8
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As others have suggested, a stove top percolator works well...we purchased a folding 80W GoPower solar (Go Power! GP-PSK-80 80W Portable Folding Solar Kit with 10 Amp Solar Controller) from Amazon couple years ago and use it when dry camping to top off our batteries. Important, as mentioned, to make sure your batteries are in good shape. Even though our AS was brand new in 2014, the Interstate batteries had bad cells, and would not top off properly. We went below 10.5V a couple times when we first took it out, which affected water pump and some lights. (Keep in mind, the "new" AS may have sat on dealer lot awhile before purchase, and who knows what sales or maintenance guys may have left on drawing from those batteries.) Fortunately, Interstate warranty is 2 years, and they gave me 100% credit; I used the credit and purchased 2 new AGM Gel batteries from Interstate, and no problems this past year. Anyway, the solar works well for us; we have a lightweight 2000W generator also, but have never had to use it. By the way, if all is lost, there is a hand crank for the jack...
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:59 AM   #9
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Good point - yes, I forgot. The jack can be cranked by hand, just make sure that you have the right tools.
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Old 09-26-2015, 12:38 PM   #10
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Even when running on propane, a fridge NEEDS 12VDC to run the control board so, there will always be an electric draw there. As already stated, forget the coffee maker (and any other heat producing 110VAC appliance). Have you considered getting a small (1 or 2 KW) gasoline powered inverter / generator? Honda and Yamaha make excellent models that are very quiet. Run it in the morning and, you CAN have your coffee (or use microwave). Run an hour or two in the PM to recharge your house batteries. I had a Honda Handi 3KW pull start genny that could run my entire 17' Casta travel trailer. Used less than 1 gallon of gas / day.
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Old 09-26-2015, 12:39 PM   #11
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Thanks all for the comments! I of course forgot that we won't be able to plug in the coffee maker--OOPS

Percolator is a great idea.

Also thanks for reminding us that we can use the hand jack

Weather will be mild--we're camping in central NC--high 50s at night and 70s-80's day time so heat won't be an issue--have sweaters.

I will look into voltage this weekend to make sure the batteries are in good condition.

Appreciate all the help/advice!
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Old 09-26-2015, 12:42 PM   #12
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In our very early, very newbie days, we were known to turn on the generator in the mornings, long enough to brew the coffee.

Perked is so much better, in many ways.


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Old 09-26-2015, 01:02 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizfsmith View Post
[snip]
I will look into voltage this weekend to make sure the batteries are in good condition.
[snip]
Do you have one or two batteries? If only one (standard with your model I believe], it should be in tip-top shape, and you might consider turning the furnace off for the night.

Also, does your fridge have the ventilation fan behind the top exterior door of the fridge compartment? It is only 1 Amp, but mine runs a lot in warm weather. I can turn off this fan, but will end up using more propane as a result, or so I have read, which may be better while boon-docking that using up precious battery juice.

The more you can store cold items in a cooler in your tow vehicle, and minimize opening the fridge door, the better off you will be.

Have fun!
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Old 09-26-2015, 01:11 PM   #14
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Dont worry about it too much, lizfsmith....for three days, unless you really try to use your battery up, you will be just fine.


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