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Old 11-07-2013, 09:06 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Truck drivers use 12 volt electric blankets. You could keep your baby warm with one and consume much less power.
Interesting idea, but the 12V blankets that I found consume about 50W (4.2 A) which is more than my furnace fan. I actually have some 12V heated clothing for my motorcycle, but the jacket pulls even more power at 70W.
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Old 11-07-2013, 09:54 PM   #30
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For 9ish days off the grid you will either need to be a gen-boondocker, running a genset a few hours a day OR an extreme solar dude. Extreme solar will mean several hundred watts of panels and AH's of batteries with a minimum electrical draw each day.

Either way,water usage and disposal will really be a limiting factor in less time, specially with a young 'un!
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Old 11-07-2013, 10:44 PM   #31
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I have been re-thinking that situation as well and have adjusted my travel plan to reduce the consecutive days off the grid to 5 with a full hook-up park added to the mix.

I believe that I will probably add another group 29 battery to double capacity to 250 Ah regardless of whether I go with solar or a generator.

Our plans are structured to allow for dumping of the tanks and refilling the fresh tank every 3-4 days. We have mostly camped in parks with only power hookups but without plumbing. I am fairly comfortable that our water and containment capacity will be adequate for that duration.
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Old 11-08-2013, 06:03 AM   #32
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I suggest a supply of what we called "blanket sleepers" for your little one.

Fleece, all one piece, with feet and a zipper up the front.

An undershirt on her little body and warm socks on her little feet, inside the jammies, will help keep her warm and toasty in cold weather and while toddling around on cold floors.


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Old 11-08-2013, 09:02 PM   #33
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Solar or a generator- both are nice to have, but you may not need it. I have a 10 year old Honda 1000w genny that works great, but I have yet to use it camping. I bring it along for insurance.

I boondocked for 3 days in the middle of October at a music festival. Beginning voltage was 12.88v. After 3 days it was only down to 12.81. Minimal lights- all LED., minimal water pump usage, minimal furnace usage. I was camping by myself. Two 6v golf cart batteries. Fridge uses no battery power.

You can do it with out spending money for solar or a genny.

I recommend:

1. 2 6v golf cart batteries ($130 at Walmart).

2. All LED lights

3. $30 for a battery minder to keep track of battery voltage (Best Converter).

4. Coffee perculator

5. No microwave- I reheat stuff on the stove

6. If your batteries get low, charge off of TV or go to a campground with power.

Your mileage (and power use) may very.

Have fun being a power miser.

Dan
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Old 11-10-2013, 10:28 PM   #34
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As part of our winter camping, I boondock for a two-week stretch every January in Quartzsite. In the desert the temperature drops considerably during the night, so heat is necessary. Here's my setup, which works for me - I do have a requirement for 110-volts for my CPAP machine.

I have 3 75-watt solar panels (225 watts in total) mounted on the roof feeding into 4 AGM batteries - two in the battery cases and two behind the gaucho. The charger/converter has been replaced with a Xantrex Freedom 3000 (3K-watt pure sine wave inverter/charger). All the lights have been converted to LED. I have added a blue-flame heater, which provides heat without any electrical draw. The blue-flame heater is only $120 on Amazon, and it is mounted in the same way as the Catalytic heaters (at less cost).

There is a lot of free camping on BLM land, and my setup is ideal for this. A side benefit is that when on the road, I can switch on the inverter and run the refrigerator on ac instead of propane.

The shore power wiring is: from the shore power cable to a junction box, then to the inverter/charger. From the inverter/charger back to the junction box - different circuit - and then to the 110-volt breaker panel. Thus, switching on the inverter provides 110-volts throughout the trailer.

I do have a generator as a backup - a cheap 3050 watt one from Harbor Freight (cost me $250 two years ago). It is a bit noisier than the Honda, but I use it sparingly.
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Old 11-11-2013, 07:05 AM   #35
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I have added a blue-flame heater, which provides heat without any electrical draw. The blue-flame heater is only $120 on Amazon, and it is mounted in the same way as the Catalytic heaters (at less cost).
I was reading about these and considering the purchase of one. However, the manual says NOT to install in an RV. Have you found any concerns or reasons why this should not be done? I have read many positive reviews on these units, numerous from RV owners using them in their rigs. Just curious. Looks like a nice inexpensive alternative... without using 12v. I had an original catalytic in my previous Airstream that worked great, but replacement costs are way more expensive than these units.

Thanks...
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Old 11-12-2013, 08:21 AM   #36
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Because the Blue Flame is not vented to the exterior, it requires that you have a source of fresh air to avoid asphyxiation. So to err on the side of caution, they don't recommend it for RV's. Since mine is mounted beside the entryway on the side of the cabinet housing the stove, I leave the stove vent open so that fresh air gets in. I also open the vent in the shower so that there is a supply of oxygen to the rear where we sleep.

There is a huge difference between the catalytic heater and the blue flame one. The catalytic heater (which is also not really recommended for RV's for the same reason) is a radiant heater. So it radiates heat where pointed. In my case, the heater was pointed to the right side of the gaucho, which meant that was the only place that got any warmth. The left side of the gaucho was cold and there was no heat transferred to the rear of the trailer. The blue flame, on the other hand, is a convection type of heater. Cold air enters a vent at the bottom, and it is heated as it passes through two plates of tempered glass and exits the vent at the top of the heater. You can immediately feel the heat exiting as soon as it is fired up. As hot air rises, there is an air movement that ends up providing heat throughout the trailer, particularly towards the rear. The thing you will notice is that the floor is still cooler than the ceiling.

Last winter we were boondocking in Quartzsite, and the night-time temperatures dropped to 25F. We were quite comfortable with just the blue flame heater.

The Blue flame we have has just the settings for off-low-high. There is one with a thermostat, and it is my intention to swap that for my current one.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:28 PM   #37
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The blue flame heater looks like a good option. I had also considered a Mr Buddy heater, but was concerned about the surface temperature with the kids. I don't have a great place to mount a catalytic type heater and it's hard to monitor everyone all the time.

I appreciate all the good ideas. I'm definitely learning a lot about power management options.
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Old 11-12-2013, 09:36 PM   #38
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this has been an excellent thread...good info...not going to be boondocking soon, but very informative for when I do down the road...
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:07 PM   #39
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Quote:
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... I'm definitely learning a lot about power management options.
After our first 'learning experience' camping in Yellowstone, we found a few things out.

We stay warm at night with a good memory foam mattress and blankets. That alone fixed 90% of the battery issues because the furnace was a horrible thing to run on battery power.

Catalytic heaters work great although we only use it while we are awake.

LED lights draw so little power that we don't even make a big deal about leaving a few on for the evening.

Feeling normal means watching a bit of television, we set up the Directv and flip channels each evening (our biggest power draw)

Lots of battery power, we used 3 big interstate group 27's

A 3 stage charger and a Honda 2000 will pump a bunch of charge in a couple of hours, monitor it with a Trimetric.

Even a small solar panel will keep up with the evil draw of the fridge...
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Old 06-24-2014, 10:32 PM   #40
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Thanks for all the advice. I ended up installing 300W of fixed solar on the roof and adding a second battery. In addition, I replaced all the overhead dome lights and the light over the sink with LED's. I left the incandescents in bathroom fixtures and reading lamps.

The only 120V we used was a small 140W inverter to charge our camera batteries and other electronics. All other usage was for the 12V systems in the trailer. We did end up staying off the grid for 9 consecutive days. Each night we ran the furnace set at 65F with average nightly temperatures about 45F.

The minimum voltage in the morning was 12.5V and we started every evening at 12.9V. All of our sites were partially shaded. The earliest we had full sun was 11AM. Despite this, the charge controller reached float mode by 4PM every time I thought to check it.

I'm pretty sure that I significantly overestimated my power usage. I was planning on about 40 AHr per day, but believe that actual battery load was closer to 25 AHr per day. I installed a shunt for a future AHr meter, but don't have one yet so this is sort of a best guess.

Part of the lower usage was due to worst case estimates for things like furnace run time. The remainder was due to the solar carrying most of the loads throughout the daylight hours. I was also able to use the late afternoon solar surplus to charge the electronics without cutting into the house batteries.

It was great not having to fuss with a generator. Breaking camp was easy since I only had to raise the stabilizers and hitch up. Overall, I was very pleased with the solar system's performance and would choose it again over a generator. My recommendation for new boondockers would be to go solar first. You may never want a generator.
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Old 06-24-2014, 11:42 PM   #41
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We also just finished a round of no-hook up camping, 9 days without having a site where we could plug in. My solar system had our batteries topped off every day except one. The peak output I saw was 75 watts into the battery but we also used the max sunlight as an excuse to recharge computers, tablets, phones, cameras...

We have "0" draw from heating but the fridge fans pull .25A as our biggest consistent draw.

Directv and the television drop 15AH for a full night of feeling like we are at home. The fantastic breeze running overnight is another 15AH hit.

A Trimetric is a geeks best friend for following usage!
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:43 AM   #42
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For even less draw on power, skip the TV and play a game of cards or scrabble, or read a good book.

Nooks and Kindles are great for travel.

Everything you want to read in one compact item, that will recharge thru your dash invertor.


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