Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 04-19-2012, 02:52 AM   #1
Winetripper
 
2007 25' International CCD
Santa Barbara , California
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 26
How long can I boondock - electrically?

I'm planning a 7000-mile RT to Michigan from Southern California. I have a 25' International CCD and am new to towing a travel trailer (but I've towed other large trailers). We will be two people and a Golden Retriever. We plan to stop in a number of no-hookup locations. I want to know if I'm likely to run my batteries down, and if so, when and/or how often?

I will be equipped with two 100-AH deep cycle batteries (newish - fully charged on departure) and a new 2000W Honda generator. I will drive for 5-7 hours every other day or every third day. We will use water sparingly and keep furnace use to a minimum (I will usually use a small catalytic heater to take the chill off just before retiring and just after getting up). We'll use a few lights for 2-3 hours in the evening. I'll also use my laptop and occasionally a 19-in flatscreen TV that draws 5 amps, plus a DVD player, or the radio.

How much charge will I be pulling out of the batteries on an average day? How much charge can I expect to replace from 6 hours of driving? How much charge will the generator provide per hour? If I do stop where there is shore power, at what rate will the batteries be charged?

Will my power outflow normally exceed my inflow, or will I normally be using less than my system generates so my batteries will get topped up?

Should I consider either another generator for parallel use or installing a solar battery charger?

I hope to hear from a few experienced boondocking Airstreamers.

Thanks! Don

Oh, yeah, I've learned from my own boat towing experience to carry a charged-up Black & Decker jumper battery so I can always start the car or boat and run the power jack.
__________________

__________________
Winetripper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 03:57 AM   #2
Rivet Master
 
2005 19' Safari
GLENDALE , AZ
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 2,441
You should be fine overnight on the days that you are driving. On other nights, you may be OK; but that depends on your actual usage. You may find that running the generator for an hour or so during breakfast or lunch, and/or for an hour or two during/after dinner will keep your batteries topped off. As a reference, in the summer we can go several days without recharging the batteries; but in the winter, we usually recharge every day for an hour or two, especially since you don't want the furnace to quit during the night.

The easiest way is to just try it and see, since the amount of power used depends a lot on your individual usage, and the type of lights, etc. that you have. The furnace blower will be your heaviest drain on the batteries; although it should make it through a night OK, if you don't keep the thermostat at 80 degrees all night. (We usually turn our thermostat down to 50-55 degrees at bedtime.)

You only need two Honda 2000's (in parallel) if you use the air conditioner or heat pump (if so equipped). Also, the electric heat strip in the air conditioner will run on one Honda 2000, as long as you don't run the microwave, electric radiant heater, hair dryer, etc., at the same time.
__________________

__________________
Phoenix is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 05:00 AM   #3
2 Rivet Member
 
rd tighe's Avatar
 
2007 25' International CCD FB
We are , Relaxed
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 60
Images: 12
We have a 2007 25ft International. Last summer we went on a 2 month trip from Michigan to Washington. With the cost of fuel. we boon-docked 90% of the time. When we traveled we would drive no more than 6 hours a day and we avoided the interstate.We had a cost of parking of less than $5.00 per night. We went solar all the way, and yes my wife could still use her blow dryer and her coffee maker. And yes we did go to all the National parks on the way that's why our cost per night was so high. We plan to do it again this summer different trip but boon-docking and our goal is to cut our per night charge. Have fun!
__________________
rd tighe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 07:54 AM   #4
CLOUDSPLITTER "Tahawas"
 
ROBERT CROSS's Avatar

 
2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 11,153
Images: 1
Thumbs up Welcome Aboard....

Winetripper,

Our last 3 week cross-country, we never started the 2000i. Daily travel, kept the batts' charged, 2 100ah grp27 Lifeline's. Nightly battery use on stop-overs. Under normal boondocking conditions, with moderate electric conservation they will last 3+ days. High use interior, step & porch lamps switched to LED's.
When on the pad at home the agm's will reach 100% from 65 in about 6hrs with an IOTA DLS 55a IQ4 three stage converter up-grade.

On extended boondocking stays, running the genset for about an 1 hr per day has kept the batt's at 75%+. We always use the Honda when watching tv or using anything in need of AC power. I always re-charge before/at 30%.
Sleeping sacks keep us warm at nite, no furnace until reveille, not normally needed for Summer camping as stove use for coffee brewing warms the interior quite nicely.

We don't use the AC off grid, the single 2000i LPG/dual conversion, has worked very well for us, if we lived in SCa a parallel 2000 would most likely be part of our "kit". We do have 30w of flexible panel solar, usually used only when out of the "forest" campgrounds, not often.

Have fun on your trip.

Bob
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	happy_camper_cab_04.jpg
Views:	99
Size:	33.6 KB
ID:	156147  
__________________
PFC.....

“After all these years the reason I continue to love Thanksgiving.....I still sit at the kids table.”
RLC

Sandra wanted to go to Cleveland on vacation,
but I’m the Husband, so we went to Cleveland.
RLC
ROBERT CROSS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 08:35 AM   #5
Rivet Master
 
AirsDream's Avatar
 
1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 914
Yes, what Phoenix and Robt. Cross said. You will likely put not more than a 10 amp flow into the batts. while driving ... so four to six hours a day would get you forty to sixty amp hours. You are unlikely to draw more than that, IF a.) you are using LED lighting, and don't use furnace very much. You should not need furnace heat much, if at all by now. If there is a shortfall, an hour or two of generator use every other day or so should keep you topped up - depending upon your converter / charger (I'm assuming it's a 50-60 amp unit). Almost certainly, you will run out of gray water tank capacity or fresh water before electricity becomes an issue for you, even if you're off-grid every night.

I have two solar panels on my roof (either 130 watt or 150, can't remember), and unless I'm going to be running a lot of heavy-use power tools at my destination, I've just quit carrying my generator, 'cause I found I never needed it. Just back from a seven day trip to the mtns. of Kentucky and Tennesee two weeks ago. Even in overnight-freezing weather and running the furnace at 55 or so at night, my bank of three Group 27 Lifelines never got below about 65% charge. And that's about the worst I ever see, assuming that it's not totally overcast and I park somewhere that the panels can "see" the sky for at least half of the day.

BTW, I like to stay in National Parks, specifically BECAUSE they've usually got no hookups, which keeps most of the "giant RV" set away, are pretty well patrolled, have been at this for a while so they know what they're doing and e.g. have a sane reservation web site, and since I'm a "senior" and have one of their passes, get to stay at half price (maybe $7.50 a night?).

Welcome to the Forums, and welcome to Michigan. It's a great place to have an Airstream ... zillions of great places to camp ... ESPECIALLY if you want to be off-grid. Just don't tell anyone, so the crowds don't keep growing!
__________________
AirsDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 09:13 AM   #6
Maniacal Engineer
 
barts's Avatar
 
1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,223
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 4
We use 200W of solar panels and two group 27 batteries. We've redesigned the interior lighting and use all LEDs, and use AC for charging batteries in phones, cameras, and running my CPAP machine. This just works so long as we don't park the trailer where it's shaded all day. During the summer, we're charged by 11:00, in wintertime or partial shade takes longer.

- Bart
__________________
Bart Smaalders
Menlo Park, CA
http://tinpickle.blogspot.com
http://smaalders.net/barts
barts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 09:26 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
Gene's Avatar
 
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,840
If you have the halogen and incandescent bulbs, batteries will run down faster. Replacing with LED's will help a lot.

As others have said, furnace is the big draw. Depending when you begin the trip, you may run into freezing temps in the mountains (that can happen in June), and it may be cold enough to run the furnace anytime at night. A small catalytic electric heater can keep the trailer warm when temps are in the 40's and 50's. Those heaters are really cheap. The LED's are not, but get good quality as those are the ones that last.

Solar is a big investment, though panel prices are coming down fast. Even with that, if it is very cloudy, trees are all around and you are camped in a narrow canyon with no sun much of the day, the generator is a backup.

The TV will take some amps and a DVD player so more, but you'll find out all of this when you try it.

Gene
__________________
Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 10:31 AM   #8
Rivet Master
 
1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,164
Blog Entries: 1
Can not give you the amps, but we travel in a very similar trailer and setup You probably will only need to start the generator if you stay in one place for more than 3 days. You will not be fully charged after driving a day. Buy one of the little battery checkers for $20 and leave it plugged in. After watching that for a few days you will have a good feel for it. If you spend the night with hookups you will be fully charged overnight. I am not much on catalyic heaters. I turn the thermostat up for a bit early in the evening, then turn it off or way down for the night, the back on for a bit in the morning. I find that running the gen for 2 hours after a couple of days is enough to keep us going. I run a CPAP at night so I probably have more draw than you will. I travel in a pickup, so I just drag the gen. out on the tailgate and fire it up. No lifting if I can avoid it. I give it a while for the muffler to cool before I push it back in. For hot weather we have a fantastic fan and a portable fantastic fan. For really hot weather I move or find a campsite with power. For reaIly long hot spells I just do not go there. I do not think I will ever add the second Honda.
__________________
Bill M. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 10:58 AM   #9
Winetripper
 
2007 25' International CCD
Santa Barbara , California
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 26
Wow! Thanks to everyone - already! - the post is only 8 hours old (Bart, you're on this fast, it's only 8 am!).

Everyone's comments and shared experiences are much appreciated.

Although some have said I'll learn as I go, my itinerary puts us in pretty remote country (Southeastern Oregon, for example), so I'm trying to get as prepared as possible. In two short trips so far, I've had battery issues with modest electrical usage. The coach is presently at an AS dealer (fortunately close to our last campsite) and they are doing a complete diagnostic. The trailer had been only intermittently used - as a guest room - for 3 years prior to my purchase, so the batteries may be the problem although they look very new.

They are AGM Group 24 "American Battery Company" and look very generic - virtually no markings, stamps or other useful identification. Chinese? If I decide to replace them, do you have size and brand recommendations?

Other than the enigmatic and often incorrect battery light on the MicroPulse Systems Monitor, how can I accurately check the charge level in my AGM batteries?

My lights are incandescent. Can I get LED's for the overhead "can lights"? How about the little sconces?

We will keep our furnace use to a minimum, as much for the noise as for the power draw. My silent little Coleman catalytic seems to warm things up enough, especially if we're warmly dressed.

My brand new Expedition has a 110V inverter outlet which I can use to charge the batteries for my electronics stuff.

Much as I'd like to stay in the NP's, they're very restrictive with pets, so I have used the very excellent Moon Camping Guides to find campgrounds in National and State Forests nearby (example: Beaver Creek CG on Earthquake Lake near West Yellowstone). Most of the CG's I've chosen have water - some also have dumps.

I VERY much appreciate the detailed and thoughtful responses to my questions. They are a big help!!

Don
__________________
Winetripper is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 11:20 AM   #10
Rivet Master
 
Jim Foster's Avatar
 
1965 17' Caravel
1983 27' Excella
Walnut Grove/Laguna Woods , California
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,615
Send a message via Yahoo to Jim Foster
Don't depend on your tow vehicle to keep your trailer batteries charged. The output of the alternator on your TV is controlled by the voltage regulator which is in turn controlled by the bettery which has the highest charge. Therefore, when you hook up your rig, you may have a low charge in your trailer batteries, but as you drive, the TV battery will come up to full charge and cut cown the output of the alternator. If the low battery in your trailer kept the alternator output high, you would burn up you TV battery.

We also use a Honda 2,000 and have solar on both trailers, a great combination for boondocking.
__________________
Past President, El Camino Real Unit WBCCI#6620
Street Rod Builder (see avatar)
Kite flier (check out links below)
http://www.youtube.com/my_videos?feature=mhee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y1_U2XQ0bI
Jim Foster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 11:31 AM   #11
Rivet Master
 
webspinner's Avatar
 
1971 25' Tradewind
Menlo Park , California
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1,269
Images: 15
The reference was to using the TV battery to charge electronics, e.g. cell phone and camera batteries, I believe.
__________________
Barbie
Our travel and renovation blog: http://tinpickle.blogspot.com/
webspinner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 12:43 PM   #12
Rivet Master
 
Gene's Avatar
 
2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 10,840
Batteries are a topic in itself. The short answers are that the OEM batteries are wet ones and series 24 that don't always last very long and were apparently replaced by the AGM's you have. If they were overcharged, that may have shortened their life. They may also be a marginal brand as you suggest.

We have two Lifeline AGM's which we got last year. They cost a lot and are supposed to last as much as twice as long as the wet cell ones. If they do, they cost no more than wet cell batteries and I don't have to change them as often. I got the next series up (27 I believe). They are a very tight fit in our battery box and I had to cut away some of the lip underneath the cover to get them to fit. But they have more capacity than series 24. Some people buy 6 v. golf cart batteries, but they need more modifications to the battery box.

The monitor for the batteries and tanks is notoriously unreliable. We check battery voltage on the solar panel monitor, but there are a number of voltage monitors for the 120 v. circuit and there are ones for 12 v. that plug into a 12 v. receptacle. Camping World has this: 12/24 Volt LCD Voltage Meter - Prime Products 12-2020 - 12 Volt Accessories - Camping World

LED's: they make LED's for just about any use and they get more like regular bulbs all the time. I got ours from Superbright.com and have had no problems. Their website is big and complicated, but after a while it can be figured out. The prices keep coming down. I believe most of the OEM bulbs are #1041, but LED's have a different number, but the website will tell you equivalent ones.

The OEM converter is a cheap one. It does not have a 3 stage charger and as a result, it can overcharge the batteries. We replaced ours with an Iota which came highly recommended. Wiring a new one in can be a challenge if you are not used to doing electrical work, but you can always ask questions here.

When we had a not very good solar panel (which failed last year) we found that sometimes we had to use our 1,000 w. generator for an hour or hour and a half. That was more likely in the fall, cloudy days, under trees and in the shade of a canyon. Since we got new panels, we haven't used the generator. But everyone uses power differently and you will learn as you travel.

If you replaced the batteries with series 27 Lifelines, the converter and all the lights with LED's, you'd probably be over $1,000, so you may not want to do all this right away.

I'll attach a voltage chart to give you can idea what voltage reading equals what battery capacity. Although 12.6 is 100%, charging will be in the mid-13 v. range and sometimes gets up to 14. This is because 12 v. is not 12 v., but more like 13.6 or 13.7. If you have a voltage meter in your tow vehicle with numbers on it, you'll see it charges around that amount. Why 12 v. is not 12 v. is one of those mysteries of life. We keep a copy of the chart on the wall. It is best not to let battery charge drop below 50%.

Gene
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	voltchart1.gif
Views:	138
Size:	6.4 KB
ID:	156162  
__________________
Gene is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 01:20 PM   #13
Rivet Master
 
1988 25' Excella
1987 32' Excella
Knoxville , Tennessee
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,164
Blog Entries: 1
Your best bet would be to replace the batteries. $180 to $220 and you are good to go for 3 or 4 years. I use the regular flooded cell deep discharge batteries and they work well. Group 27 fits my 88 trailer. The deep cycle batteries at Walmart are okay. the Interstate brand are perhaps a bit better. Unless you are going to buy a new converter. I would stay well away from AGM batteries. And you DO need the DEEP discharge batteries. Like for a trolling motor. The standard Airstream converter works fine with flooded cell batteries and a litlle attention: check the water in the batteries and do not store it long term plugged in. I know there is a case for ripping out the converter and going to a smart sytstem and AGM and perhaps solar. But for thousands less we have been very happy with our stock system and have had plenty of power for boondocking for a few days. And you do have the generator, so why expend a lot of expense to maybe go a couple of days more without running it?
__________________
Bill M. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-19-2012, 01:23 PM   #14
Rivet Master
 
AirsDream's Avatar
 
1999 23' Safari
Perrysburg , Ann Arbor
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 914
A few more quick notes:

Sounds as if your OEM batteries are more or less shot. The received wisdom is that among AGMS, Lifeline has probably the best reputation. Lots of us use them ... they're expensive but durable. But as noted, factory converter will likely kill AGMs pretty quickly. Whether you replace your battery bank or not, at some near point, consider updgrading to something "smarter" by way of a converter. Search the Forums - lots of discussions about these and about vendors.

Also, the chart that Gene puts in his post above is one I've been using for years, but it does not track the state of charge chart that Lifeline puts in its battery manual ... I think it's for flooded cell batteries - but it's pretty close and easy to use, so I keep using it, making mental interpolations. You can create your own from the info. in the Lifeline owner's manual if you want ...

Finally, don't forget to unplug the trailer from the tow vehicle when parked for long periods / oernights ... in many machines, there is essentially no battery isolation, and you can drain your tow vehicle's starting battery(ies) along with the coach cells, if you leave it plugged in while parked.
__________________

__________________
AirsDream is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 04:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.