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Old 10-20-2010, 09:15 AM   #15
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
Spokane , Washington
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,014

It is really difficult to come up with a specific number of days you can dry camp. There are many variables and the biggest one for me is how much I run the furnace. Just got back from a fishing trip where we were off the grid for 5 days, each night right at or below freezing. I have been camping like this for many years and decided to take the safe route and purchased a Honda 2000i generator.

On the last trip I ran the generator for about 2 hours each day and the batteries were charged up nicely. If you want to camp without a generator then you will need to forget using the AC, the microwave and any electrical appliances like coffee makers. During the warm days, we can probably go for 4 or 5 days. We don't even turn on many lights.

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Old 10-20-2010, 10:03 AM   #16
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1961 24' Tradewind
1969 29' Ambassador
1970 21' Globetrotter
Jamestown , Tennessee
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With any reasonable power management,meaning no hair dryers or electric coffee makers and little or no microwave use power useage should not exceed 40 amp hours a day.
We use a laptop computer, small TV, Ham radio equipment and XM radio and average 30 amp hours per day since going to LED lighting.
You can pack a lot more heating potential in a bottle of propane than in a battery.
If you must use the high power appliances a generator is the best route to go.
We recharge with 250 watts of solar and rarely ever use a generator.
We Can run a small microwave with a 1000 watt inverter, but rarely do.
We have no computer ,drill or camera battery recharging issues using a lower priced modified square wave inverter.

Rick Davis 1602 K8DOC
61 tradewind, plus a few others
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Old 10-20-2010, 10:34 AM   #17
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2010 30' Classic
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South of the river , Minnesota
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For dry camping you want to use propane for any kind of heating need you may have, so you want to use the stove and the (conventional) oven instead of the coffee maker and microwave.

In warm summer weather with long days people can go 4-5 days on batteries because there is little need for lighting and no need for the furnace.

Conservation makes a huge difference.

Battery recharge time depends on the converter you have. In general the stock Airstream converters take a long time to recharge batteries, 6-8 hours. There ar ebetter converters available.
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Old 10-21-2010, 02:26 AM   #18
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2006 19' Safari SE
Tucson , Arizona
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"Aftermath" is right about there being so many variables in determining how long you can stay off gird... it all depends on how well you can conserve energy...what you must have in terms of power draws ...and how much you can go much you're willing to use propane instead of electricity...not to mention your batteries' general health (and how many you have)...the size of your rig, whether you have solar, what the weather is like, whether you have LED lights...whether you use a catalytic heater rather than the furnace, etc. etc. etc... the list goes on.

No two campers are going to have exactly the same experience. You need to find your own comfort level with your energy consumption. Having a generator gives you the freedom to experiment and to determine just how long you — personally — are able to dry camp before you need to juice up.

We have factory solar, but on a 19' Bambi, it's not a large output panel, and there's only room up there for one panel... We also have a factory 600 inverter. If we are very conservative and we get good sun for solar charging, we can probably go 3, or maybe 4 days without having to charge the batteries since we have all LED lighting ... but if we want to watch the news or a DVD or if I have to spend several hours on the computer working (as I sometimes must), then we are going to need to use the generator to keep us afloat.

But because we have the Honda 2000w generator we are prepared to spend as long dry camping as we want to because we know we can charge ourselves back up when necessary (or as we go, which is better). Just because you have a generator doesn't mean you have to use it, but it sure is comforting to have it in the background if needed instead of worrying about not being able to last out the trip. We just got back from a 3-week trip ... we had electric hookups only 4 nights during that 3 weeks in 2 different places, and all the rest was dry camping... and it was great. We didn't use the generator every day, but we used it when we needed to.

Frankly we worry more about running out of fresh water than electricity! (And filling up our holding tanks...)
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Membership Chair, 4C
Unit #3954
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:27 AM   #19
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West Linn , Oregon
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Thank you for your input. I recently discovered that the Classic has room for four batteries. The 600 W inverter certainly should be enough for daily living w/o the AC and coffee maker, but should run the computer, lights and tv's. Solar seems like a very wise investment. Spoke with only one salesman as yet, and he recommended a 2k Yamaha generator. He has almost 30 years with AS. Great units!!!!!
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Old 10-22-2010, 07:08 AM   #20
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Thanks for the excellent writeup about energy consumption and boondocking. It really is nice and reassuring to have a small generator to recharge the batteries when the batteries are depleted and solar recharging is not adequate. I agree with you that running out of water is more of a concern. I have toted water using a 6 gallon can a few times and quickly found out that was not an acceptacble way to refill the fresh water tank. An old fresh water tank repair job by the PO came loose, so we replaced the tank. I patched the original tank and now carry it empty in the truck bed. I fill this at the campground and use it to refill the fresh water tank using gravity feed. This works great!

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Old 10-22-2010, 02:07 PM   #21
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Dan...that's great. (And you recycled!) Unfortunately we don't have the room to carry a large external supply of water...wish we did sometimes, because water is actually more limiting to our dry camping ability than power is.

When we know we will have water available (but not at our site), we carry a 6-gal container (empty) to schlep water to refill the on-board tank (which is only 23 gals)... When we know there will be no water source we carry two 7-gal containers (full) and watch our water use. We can go almost a week with the extra 14 gals ... if we are really careful.

The other option is to camp next to one of our AS friends who has one of those big 40-gal water bladders in their truck!
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Membership Chair, 4C
Unit #3954
Travel Log: AZBambi...On the Road Again
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Old 10-22-2010, 03:57 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by TBRich View Post
The other option is to camp next to one of our AS friends who has one of those big 40-gal water bladders in their truck!
Like this 50 gallon one?!
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Old 10-22-2010, 09:30 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by mello mike View Post
Like this 50 gallon one?!
Well, Mike, I was thinking about Louis & Sergio, but now I know we should try to camp in between the two of you and we'll have plenty of water! (L&S have an ice machine, too!)
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Membership Chair, 4C
Unit #3954
Travel Log: AZBambi...On the Road Again
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Old 05-01-2012, 03:43 PM   #24
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ARTHUR , Illinois
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Another way to 'skin the cat'

For the past 3 years, I've been using something that might be appropriate to mention here.

I have the 2 obligatory 55 amp hour Lifeline batteries on the Bambi AND I also have a 110 amp hour Lifeline battery mounted in the front of my T/V bed. And they're all hooked in with the Alternator and T/V battery. This gives me a total of 220 amp hours when charged up.

I employ a 'combiner' circuit made by which I mounted in the T/V bed beside the big battery that does a couple of nice things for me. First, it isolates the T/V battery from discharge by the RV. And, second, it allows me to charge all 4 batteries right off the alternator. I wired it all together with good 4 ga. copper welding leads to carry full alternator output.

And, when I'm hooked to shore power, it charges the T/V battery also.

I can and do routinely watch DVR/TV for 3 or 4 hours a night, run the furnace if needed without worry, one LED light, and run my lap top the following morning for a couple hours. I run lightes and water pump to shower and shave, etc. I usually start the pickup in the morning and let it run for about 45 minutes and I'm good to go one more night. I did disconnect the nearly useless charging line coming from the 7 pin plug and use only the heavy guage system for charging. I use a heavy guage battery disconnect at the bumper and have also made up a short 'jumper' so all I need to do is park the T/V n-e-a-r the RV to hook it back up (also if I need to lower the tailgate).

I just checked and it appears that they are still in business. I used their "Combiner 150" which looks to have perhaps been replaced by a "Combiner 160". They are a marine oriented device manufacturer and they're certainly vapor tight. My combiner measures only about 3"x2"x3" but it'll handle full output.

Like I said, it's worked good for me for quite some time now.

(I've just traded for a new 25B w/ solar so we'll soon see how that works out)

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