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Old 04-18-2015, 03:59 AM   #15
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How to Recharge your batteries. Solar technology is improving almost daily, however it has lots of caveats. So I wasn't all that impressed with a single factory panel on my almost new 2012 EB. Having had it for nearly 2 years now, I admit it's almost put the old Honda 1000 generator out of business. The generator came with two wires to directly charge my batteries. I've never used them - simply because it's really easy to overcharge batteries and "kaboom" is one possible side effect. I'd always had a battery charger that would go into trickle mode as the batteries became near fully charged. So I used the 1000 to run the battery charger, or a hair dryer, an induction burner, or recharge the batteries on my drill or vacuum, etc. (I've lent it out to run a CPAP machine all night too.) A Honda 1000 is minimal power... and minimal weight/noise. Don't even THINK about running your A/C with one, but recharging batteries and boondocking til the waste tanks overflow, great!

Solar is great if (1) the sun shines or (2) you are parked in full sun.

A little generator will run as long as you have gas and can pull the starter cable. (Don't make the mistake of trying to siphon gas from your truck's tank to fuel the generator, most modern tanks have anti-siphon technology to keep people from stealing gas.) If I know I'll need the generator I fill it's tank and a 3 gallon can. It's a good idea to use fuel without ethanol too - or use Sta-Bil to keep the gas from getting water in it - or just run the tank dry when you use the generator.
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Old 04-18-2015, 11:42 AM   #16
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Solar Power for Boondocking.

In my 65 Caravel I use a 14 Watt self regulating solar panel and place it on the sunny side of the trailer. I installed a plug to go to the battery. I have used this system for years and have never run out of power. We nearly always Boondock and seldom have shore power. I leave the panel hooked up and in a sunny window to keep the battery charged all year.

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Old 04-18-2015, 01:10 PM   #17
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Your Caravel probably has minimal electrical needs. If you have an original type refrigerator, there will be no power draw at all. If a replacement, it might average half an amp an hour. Your furnace will draw about 4 amps, the 7 amp load mentioned in one post would be for a much larger furnace than you have.

The biggest change you can make is with the incandescent lighting. Change it to LED and you will cut your power draw from lighting by 80% or more.

Add a second battery, or replace both with a pair of deep cycle golf cart types. That will increase you battery to double to triple what you have now.

Consider a modest solar system. It also will do wonders to your trailer electrical system.
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Old 04-18-2015, 01:14 PM   #18
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Oh, if you ever plan a trip to Idaho, let me know. I have a place for you to stay and will be glad to do a complete electrical evaluation of your Caravel for you. I love to do electrical things and can monitor and show you what uses power and how much.
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Old 04-18-2015, 02:24 PM   #19
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Electrical questions about boondocking in Caravel

I put two 6v Trojan batteries and. 55w solar panel on our '65 caravel. I carry a Honda 2000i generator to run the microwave and espresso maker. Started off with no solar and no generator.

Bite the bullet and be done with it.


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Old 04-19-2015, 01:50 AM   #20
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Oh, if you ever plan a trip to Idaho, let me know. I have a place for you to stay and will be glad to do a complete electrical evaluation of your Caravel for you. I love to do electrical things and can monitor and show you what uses power and how much.
I hope I can take you up on that someday - There are a lot of things to see in Idaho on my must-do list!
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Old 04-19-2015, 01:52 AM   #21
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The biggest change you can make is with the incandescent lighting. Change it to LED and you will cut your power draw from lighting by 80% or more.

Add a second battery, or replace both with a pair of deep cycle golf cart types. That will increase you battery to double to triple what you have now.

Consider a modest solar system. It also will do wonders to your trailer electrical system.
Well, I ordered the LED lights today from Dan at LED4RV. He was a lot of help figuring out which bulbs will fit my fixtures, so I'm looking forward to trying that out.

I'll do more research on the golf cart batteries. I have room for two full size RV batteries.
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Old 04-19-2015, 10:19 PM   #22
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You should buy and install a catalytic heater to use rather than your furnace. No electricity needed and the heat is constant. Doesn't use a lot of propane either. I have one in each of my trailers.
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:57 PM   #23
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Thanks, but I had one in my Bambi and I didn't like the idea of a non-vented heat source. I know some people like them, but I was not comfortable with it.
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Old 04-20-2015, 07:40 AM   #24
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You should buy and install a catalytic heater to use rather than your furnace. No electricity needed and the heat is constant. Doesn't use a lot of propane either. I have one in each of my trailers.
If I might ask, what size cat heaters do you have in each of your trailers? And are they sufficient?

Thanks
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:20 AM   #25
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I have an older Olympian Wave 6 in my '84 27-foot Sovereign. It had been installed by the previous owner. It's all I need to heat the trailer in temps down into the 30s.
I replaced the original furnace in my '66 Globetrotter with the Olympian Wave 3. In retrospect I wish I had purchased the Wave 6, but I don't use the GT as much in the colder weather.
I don't worry a bit about the heaters not being vented. Even if I forget to crack a window or open a ceiling vent, I believe each trailer is drafty enough so that my safety is not a concern.
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Old 04-20-2015, 10:51 AM   #26
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That's good to know. I'm planning on a Wave 6 for my 25-foot Caravanner. Sounds like its cold-weather use will be similar to yours. We're in the midst of a shell-off rebuild, and I like the idea of no ductwork to run. What are your thoughts on keeping your tanks warm? Have you done anything special or do you avoid using them when it gets very cold? We don't plan on any mid-winter camping using the tanks, but I'm wondering if I might need to consider some other kind of tank heating solution.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-20-2015, 11:01 AM   #27
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In my 65 Caravel I use a 14 Watt self regulating solar panel and place it on the sunny side of the trailer. I installed a plug to go to the battery. I have used this system for years and have never run out of power. We nearly always Boondock and seldom have shore power. I leave the panel hooked up and in a sunny window to keep the battery charged all year.

Don B
Don- do you have a source for your 14 watt solar panel?

Stephanie- I think boondocking for a week is easily doable if you go with 2 golf cart batteries, go with led lights, have an old style fridge with no parasitic loads, not too much furnace or cooling fan usage and monitor your batteries. Two regular batteries may work too.

My fully charged batteries are at 13.0 volts. 50% discharge is at 12.06 volts. After 3 days of camping I am usually at about 12.7 volts. I have never gone more than 5 days, but at least in theory based on 0.1 volt per day decrease, I could boondock for about nine days minimum.

I monitor my battery consumption (voltage) by using a permanent battery meter (voltminder). I got this from Best Converters, but I don't see it on their website. It looks like you can order it from Digital Voltmeter | VoltMinder.com for $45.

I bought the two golf cart batteries from Walmart for about $70 each.

If you look at my Tradewind Thread you can see how I mounted my batteries, etc.

I carry a small Honda genny, but only use it for my wifes hair dryer.

Good luck, Dan
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Old 04-20-2015, 11:04 AM   #28
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I haven't done anything about my tanks. My '66 GT doesn't have a gray water tank and just a small black water tank. If I'm camping in below-freezing temps, I keep the black water and fresh water tanks empty. I winterize by blowing out the lines.
I've had my '84 out on trips when night temps have dropped below 20 degrees, but with both the catalytic heater and furnace running, I haven't had any problems with using my water system. I don't empty the holding tanks, however, until the temps are above freezing. The furnace does provide some warm air to the holding tanks, as I understand it.
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