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Old 06-02-2015, 09:24 AM   #1
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Boondocking in Grand Tour

Does anyone with a Grand Tour know how long you can reasonably stay unplugged and without a generator in the Grand Tour? I have an Interstate Lounge model and it's about 1-2 days if I'm careful before I get to 50% battery. I'm curious if the new, larger refrigerator on the Grand Tour reduces the time greatly or if it's about the same.
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:54 AM   #2
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Do you drive it during the day? Or is it stationary, unplugged, and no generator? I have done one 2-night 3 day trip, and will do an upcoming 3 night 4-day trip, with no hookup, but tend to drive around a bit during the day. Not sure my experience is relevant to the way you're camping
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Old 06-10-2015, 09:58 AM   #3
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Hi Marks71. That's helpful. I'll inevitable drive around a bit. I'm hoping I can go a minimum of two days/one night without driving. Do you have the Grand Tour with the larger refrigerator or an Interstate?
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:21 AM   #4
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Grand Tour w/ larger refrigerator. I'll track our battery experience next week when we do a 3 nights w/ no hookup, although we'll be doing some traveling during the days.

One thing I tried (once) is disconnect the house batteries overnight. The temperatures were cool (~60's) and we didn't have anything critical in the fridge/freezer, so we figured no big risk. That really cut down on battery usage overnight. Others have pointed out that if you do that, to make sure to turn your propane off. And turn the inverter/charger and power antenna off as well, since they drain. If you have stuff in the fridge and it's warm out, this might not be a helpful suggestion.
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Old 06-10-2015, 05:25 PM   #5
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Thanks Marks71. That's helpful. I haven't tried disconnecting the house batteries overnight, but do regularly disconnect the house batteries while I leave it in storage and the batteries are usually at 100% when I return. There's minimal parasitic draw if I disconnect house batteries. I don't need to turn off propane or power antenna as I think it's all turned off automatically with the disconnect. I don't know, however, if I leave the house batteries connected if there's a benefit to turning off the propane. Does the solenoid parasitic draw still happen if the propane is turned off and house batteries are on? Maybe that's something I need to pay more attention to when boondocking.
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Old 06-11-2015, 07:51 AM   #6
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I was in another thread on this topic and the subject came up about the propane. Someone pointed out that if you disconnect house batteries, the propane detector is inoperative, which could be dangerous. My manual says the detector is wired directly, and should not turn off with battery disconnect. However, I tested it, and it DOES turn off when I disconnect the house batteries. Secondly, my manual says the propane solenoid automatically shuts off with battery disconnect, and should therefore not be capable of sending any propane along anyway. Nevertheless, I just shut off the propane switch overnight when staying in our rig w/ the house battery disconnected.
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Old 06-11-2015, 09:06 AM   #7
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Secondly, my manual says the propane solenoid automatically shuts off with battery disconnect, and should therefore not be capable of sending any propane along anyway.
You can test this to find out for sure since the manual sometimes lies. My test procedure…
* Turn on the propane solenoid.
* Turn off the big red main switch.
* With the sliding side door open so no propane fumes can collect inside the van (remember your LPG detector is going to be inoperative for this test), turn on a stove burner and use a match to light the burner.
* If the propane solenoid is shut off by the main disconnect, the only propane available to the burner is whatever is left in the lines, and the burner will rapidly extinguish itself for lack of fuel.
* If the propane solenoid is not shut off by the main disconnect, the burner will stay lit and keep burning until you turn off the burner or turn off the propane solenoid.

On my 2012 Interstate, the burner stays lit, so I have to be sure to turn off the propane solenoid separately to avoid running down the batteries.

By the way, this is also a good way to drain propane from the lines for long-term storage, i.e. lighting a burner with the propane solenoid turned off to burn out any residual propane.
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Old 06-13-2015, 12:35 PM   #8
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So we are right now having our first unplugged trip in our Grand Tour, parked in the beautiful Coyote Lake County Park near Gilroy, CA. Have not been on shorepower for 24 hours, and am trying to do intelligent monitoring and use of power. Have not used the inverter, doing without 110v, but still overnight the Sunexplorer solar readout showed battery down to 15% and the Magnum panel showed battery voltage down to 11.2. While we are sitting outside enjoying the late morning sun and breeze I have shut off the 12v power switch, and battery % has risen to 35 based on solar panel. But it seems to drop quickly when power is back on...maybe from frig and freezer, which right now are off but plenty cold (for the time being). Don't know exactly what all this tells me, and what danger lurks if I don't run the generator before tomorrow morning when we leave. Any thoughts?
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:21 PM   #9
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Boondocking in Grand Tour

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So we are right now having our first unplugged trip in our Grand Tour, parked in the beautiful Coyote Lake County Park near Gilroy, CA. Have not been on shorepower for 24 hours, and am trying to do intelligent monitoring and use of power. Have not used the inverter, doing without 110v, but still overnight the Sunexplorer solar readout showed battery down to 15% and the Magnum panel showed battery voltage down to 11.2. While we are sitting outside enjoying the late morning sun and breeze I have shut off the 12v power switch, and battery % has risen to 35 based on solar panel. But it seems to drop quickly when power is back on...maybe from frig and freezer, which right now are off but plenty cold (for the time being). Don't know exactly what all this tells me, and what danger lurks if I don't run the generator before tomorrow morning when we leave. Any thoughts?

At 15% you're way inside the danger zone: in danger of completely ruining your batteries. You should never let them go below 50% otherwise their capacity to hold a charge is greatly reduced. You can probably get away with it a couple of times - most of us have accidentally drained our batteries for one reason or another.
When I'm dry camping, I try to ensure the batteries are above 85% at sundown. If it isn't then I run the generator for an hour or two, and at the same time use the microwave and/or water heater on electric.
Most of us dislike running the generator but it's a necessity with the capabilities of the standard Interstate. That's why some on this forum have installed increased solar and battery capacity.


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Old 06-13-2015, 01:40 PM   #10
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If that's the case then I definitely have something wrong. The Sunexplorer battery % drops to 85% within an hour of being unplugged...and I do have 100w solar panel. So I don't see any way that I can go for a day (or even several hours) without having to run the generator or start the engine to keep battery storage above 50%.
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Old 06-13-2015, 01:53 PM   #11
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Boondocking in Grand Tour

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Originally Posted by tlundell View Post
If that's the case then I definitely have something wrong. The Sunexplorer battery % drops to 85% within an hour of being unplugged...and I do have 100w solar panel. So I don't see any way that I can go for a day (or even several hours) without having to run the generator or start the engine to keep battery storage above 50%.

Actually that could be fine; the reason is the solar controller is set to kick in when the voltage drops to 85%, to prevent overcharging of the batteries.
Edit: and you have the separate fridge and freezer in the Grand Tour. When they are on the cooling cycle, that can drop the batteries to 85% in an hour or so.
And regarding running the generator to charge up the batteries, shortly after starting the generator you will see the state of charge very quickly move to 100% as displayed on the Sunexplorer display. You have to ignore that since it takes considerably longer to fully charge the batteries. I didn't understand that in the early days and had to ask about it on this forum. Here's the thread:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ng-128099.html
My question is post #14, with answers from the experts following.


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Old 06-13-2015, 03:07 PM   #12
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Thanks for your help, UKD. I did read through that long thread, and I am still troubled by the difficulty of keeping batt charge% above 50%. It keeps sliding down to 20-25 very quickly then I run the Gen for 30 min or so. Also trying to reconcile with the 2015 manual which, for boondocking, only warns against voltage dropping below 6...nothing about less than 50% damaging the house batteries. Makes it hard to enjoy the beautiful park!
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Old 06-13-2015, 03:22 PM   #13
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Thanks for your help, UKD. I did read through that long thread, and I am still troubled by the difficulty of keeping batt charge% above 50%. It keeps sliding down to 20-25 very quickly then I run the Gen for 30 min or so. Also trying to reconcile with the 2015 manual which, for boondocking, only warns against voltage dropping below 6...nothing about less than 50% damaging the house batteries. Makes it hard to enjoy the beautiful park!

Of course your dealer may not have taken care of the batteries when it was parked on his lot before you bought it. That has frequently been reported on this forum. It results in the total battery capacity being just a fraction of what it should be. The batteries can be tested for capacity and if found to be bad, you should take it up with the dealer.
On a note of consolation, don't you have that wonderful aroma of garlic wafting over to the state park at this time of year? (Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world!)


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Old 06-14-2015, 04:57 AM   #14
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UK ... why did you say you run the microwave and water heater on electric at the same time as you are running your generator? What is the significance of that? THANKS
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Old 06-14-2015, 05:51 AM   #15
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UK ... why did you say you run the microwave and water heater on electric at the same time as you are running your generator? What is the significance of that? THANKS
I can answer thatÖ

A couple of reasons spring to mind, first that the microwave doesn't even work from inverter power, so you either need to run the generator or have shore power to use the microwave at all. Also, the best time to run any of your heavy-load appliances is when you're running the generator, so they're not draining the batteries.

Second, your 2.5kw/20amp generator doesn't always put out 2.5kw. Actual power output is dependent upon rpms, so the more you load up the generator, the more efficient it is. Within reason. The sweet spot on the torque and horsepower curves, to get the maximum electricity output per unit of propane input, is somewhere between 50% and 75% of the generator's rated load. Meaning you want to have a load of somewhere between 10amps and 15amps including battery charging.

It doesn't have to be microwave and water heater. You could run your generator in the hottest part of the day to power your air conditioner instead. Or any combination of appliances that gives you a load somewhere between 10amps and 15amps.
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:27 AM   #16
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I thought it had something to do w/ your second paragraph, but wasn't too clear on that. Thanks for your helpful clarification.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:00 PM   #17
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Looking for some advice. For our '16 GT we have boondocked on numerous occasions. With wise battery management we can get 16 - 20 hours before we need to charge. I've found that the chassis 220 amp alternator is far more effecient at charging the house batteries than the Gen and alot quieter (this was actually suggested by an AS Regional Sales rep). So that is my method versus the genset. I recognize that MB does not recommend long idle times so I try to work in a fast idle on occasion.

I would like to have the capability of at least a couple days without having to charge and accomplishing this plug&play versus the major solar upgrades discussed elsewhere in the Forum. In researching batteries and loads, I've come up with the following scenarios. Does anyone know of any downsides to switching to LiFePO4? I know I may have to modify the battery boxes, but that appears relatively easy. See my scenarios and battery options below.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:28 PM   #18
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Lewster can probably answer this best as he's mentioned it previously but from what I can recall, you have to protect them from freezing. But they may have mitigated that since then.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:55 PM   #19
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Thanks, the batteries I'm looking at are good to -20 degrees C
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Old 04-19-2016, 08:08 PM   #20
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I have long wondered about charging house batteries with the engine. The Magnum charger and my Blue Sky Energy MPPT controller both have sophisticated charging strategies designed for Lifeline AGM batteries. On the other hand the Mercedes alternator is designed to charge the lead-acid chassis battery. AGM coach battery charging is an afterthought through the BIM. So... am I better off charging the coach batteries 'the wrong way' through a poorly controlled engine alternator , or not charging them at all? Hobsons' choice I guess.
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