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Old 08-29-2017, 10:08 AM   #1
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Question Best 2 day Boondocking Solution?

Hello.
We have a 2016 Classic, with two Interstate™ batteries, the stock Parallax converter/charger, and no solar.

We would like to be able to: Use some of the 12v trailer lights at night (for 4 – 6 hours), use gas appliances, use water pump, sometimes run the Fantastic Fan all day/night, watch a DVD, while parked at a no hook-ups site for 2 days/3 nights. We have found that the 12v batteries often do not store enough power to allow us to do this.

What is the best solution?


I know this subject has been covered in a number of older posts/threads. I am looking for guidance to the best threads that can help me.

Thanks, Ed
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Old 08-29-2017, 10:43 AM   #2
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I don't know about the best threads, but I have a couple of suggestions.

You might supplement your lighting with a few of those stick on, battery operated ones, which put out a tremendous amount of light for the size....and don't draw off your battery.

I have put up a couple of these in my Interstate, and they are perfect for reading or on the IPad at night.

Perhaps use your laptop or IPad to download movies rather than drawing off your battery.

Try not to run your FF during the day, instead opening everything up for ventilation and sit outside to catch the breezes.

Once the sun goes down, there is often enough cool air coming thru the windows that the fan isn't needed, or just on low.

Good luck.

Maggie
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Old 08-29-2017, 10:44 AM   #3
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Purchase a portable solar panel (Renogy 100w or 200w or Zamp 120, 160, 200w) or purchase a small generator when there is no sun, maybe purchase both. When its time to upgrade the batteries replace the converter/charger with at least a PD4655 multi stage charger and upgrade to Trojan or Lifeline batteries. If you ever add roof solar you can get installed a connector so you can plug in the portable solar panel (remove built in controller on the panels) into the trailers solar system.

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Old 08-29-2017, 11:22 AM   #4
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[QUOTE=pt.reyesfan;2001004]Hello.
We have a 2016 Classic, with two Interstate™ batteries, the stock Parallax converter/charger, and no solar.

We would like to be able to: Use some of the 12v trailer lights at night (for 4 – 6 hours), use gas appliances, use water pump, sometimes run the Fantastic Fan all day/night, watch a DVD, while parked at a no hook-ups site for 2 days/3 nights. We have found that the 12v batteries often do not store enough power to allow us to do this.

pt.reyesfan

We have been camping on and off grid for 15 years. There's a lot of ways to conserve your batteries. However we found that for peace of mind we have always carried a generator (after the first few trips dry camping). Then you can do whatever you'd like to do and if necessary recharge your batteries.

In addition you can use some of the other accessories when you're dry camping that make life enjoyable.

My preference was a Honda EU 2000 there are other less expensive, noisier units that you can carry for that peace of mind.

LynnSr
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Old 08-29-2017, 11:29 AM   #5
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Anything that requires an inverter is going to waste a lot of energy (e.g. TV and DVD player), your options are to add more stored energy or to use the energy you have more efficiently. Using an iPad to watch movies is going to be far more efficient than running an AC powered TV and DVD player, and thankfully Amazon Prime Video and Netflix both allow downloading movies for access when Internet isn't available.

A good option is to install a power meter so that you can actually know how much energy devices use, you an then actually do some energy planning to determine your best approach and decide where the best bang for the buck improvement is. You will want a DC power monitor that will actually track how many amps you are drawing and how many watt hours you consume over time.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xipper View Post
Anything that requires an inverter is going to waste a lot of energy (e.g. TV and DVD player), your options are to add more stored energy or to use the energy you have more efficiently. Using an iPad to watch movies is going to be far more efficient than running an AC powered TV and DVD player, and thankfully Amazon Prime Video and Netflix both allow downloading movies for access when Internet isn't available.

A good option is to install a power meter so that you can actually know how much energy devices use, you an then actually do some energy planning to determine your best approach and decide where the best bang for the buck improvement is. You will want a DC power monitor that will actually track how many amps you are drawing and how many watt hours you consume over time.
Thanks! Can you suggest a good DC power monitor?
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:20 PM   #7
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http://amsolar.com/rv-solar-panel-kit/battery-monitors


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Old 08-29-2017, 04:56 PM   #8
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I ordered a $25 device that installs with a shunt on the DC negative pole, but haven't installed it yet. Hoping to get it installed this week before our weekend trip...so I don't have much to offer at this point. I couldn't bring myself to spend more on a monitor than my battery bank cost.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:17 AM   #9
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I installed a Trimetic meter in my Argosy's. It was a little hard to program but once set up I rely on it all the time.

The first thing I did after installing the meter was to turn everything in the trailer off and look for parasite power draws. The refrigerator computer is on all the time and the meter draws a little. Then turn each light, fan (on each speed) refrig, etc... on one at a time and white down how many amps each draw on each setting. You now know what settings draw the least and use those when boondocking.

Another suggestion is change as many light bulbs to LED's which draw a fraction of the power of regular bulbs. I have LED spotlight bulbs in the swivel lights over the beds and dinette and those draw less than the overhead lights.

Power hogs are anything with a can motor. The furnace, vent hood and older style roof fans. The gas furnace fan will run your batteries down overnight. 120v items like a hair dryer when run thru an inverter also use a lot of power.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pt.reyesfan View Post
Hello.
We have a 2016 Classic, with two Interstate™ batteries, the stock Parallax converter/charger, and no solar.

We would like to be able to: Use some of the 12v trailer lights at night (for 4 – 6 hours), use gas appliances, use water pump, sometimes run the Fantastic Fan all day/night, watch a DVD, while parked at a no hook-ups site for 2 days/3 nights. We have found that the 12v batteries often do not store enough power to allow us to do this.

What is the best solution?


I know this subject has been covered in a number of older posts/threads. I am looking for guidance to the best threads that can help me.

Thanks, Ed
The inverter is a battery killer. I overhauled a 1974 Overlander and installed all LED lighting and 12 volt tv and DVD player. I can boondock on 3 group 27 deep cycle batteries for 6 to 7 days.

Jay.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:12 AM   #11
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Hi

If you go through the math, your power budget is pretty massive compared to what batteries can reasonably be expected to provide. Adding another six or eight batteries might get you to the point that you can run for several days. You still would need to charge them.

More or less:

Fan at 2A for 24 hours = 48 AH (might be 24 AH depending on speed)
Inverter + DVD + TV = 200W for 3 hours, 600WH = 50 AH
Lights could be 4A (might be more) for 6 hours = 24 AH
Fridge, water pump, misc this and that about 1A for 24 hours = 24 AH

That's pretty close to 200AH over 24 hours. Your batteries are about 150 AH. You get 50% of that if you want to keep the batteries healthy. Your 150 AH gives you 75 on a regular basis. Three days would be 600 AH of usage and 1200 AH of battery.

Who knows if my numbers are high or low. Without a lot more data on usage and exact equipment, they are just guesses. I'd bet they aren't terribly far off.

So simple answers:

1) Yes, you can add batteries. You will add a *lot* of them and they have to go somewhere.
2) Solar will help, but 300 W will give you about 160 AH best case in a day. A properly designed system should charge things in one day and run for two. ( = it's really 80 AH).
3) Generators are a *much* more effective way to handle big power drains.
4) Ditch the DVD and inverter ....
5) Get a good (as opposed to a cheap) monitor system.

Lots of ways to go ....

Bob
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:15 AM   #12
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I would just buy a small generator. It can charge your batteries while you watch TV.
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Old 08-30-2017, 03:06 PM   #13
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Go to the mountains or at a time of year when you don't need the fan. Build a small campfire you can sit around and talk, sing, whittle, etc., so you don't need the DVD. Use small, battery-powered reading lamps. The batteries will run your gas appliances, pump and a few LED lights.
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Old 08-30-2017, 06:05 PM   #14
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No need to buy a generator when you can charge your batteries quickly from your quiet, powerful tow vehicle alternator. You can either use your existing charge wire from your 7-pin connector or use heavy-duty jumper cables from your TV directly to the batteries. Most trucks with a tow package have 150 amp alternators or larger compared with the 8 amps from a portable generator. Another advantage is not having to carry a fuel can of gasoline.
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Old 08-30-2017, 08:55 PM   #15
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I'd made that point once on an other post, Ray. Someone else chimed in that he didn't want to kill the battery in his tow vehicle. I'm guessing he didn't realize that you only leave it connected while you're charging, meaning the motor is running. It works. I've done it.
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Old 08-30-2017, 09:03 PM   #16
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I think most people use their inverter to charge the batteries off the generator, which is likely 55amps or more. The alternator doesn't really matter as most vehicles have a 20amp or 30amp fuse on the accessory 12V feed that is used for charging on the 7-pin...but a viable option. If you use 85 amp hours, you need to put 85 amp hours back in...though how quickly that happens has a lot of variables. In theory 85aH would take 4 hours of your TV running and putting our 20amps (amps * time) to bring it back up.
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Old 08-30-2017, 10:45 PM   #17
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I think most people use their inverter to charge the batteries off the generator, which is likely 55amps or more. The alternator doesn't really matter as most vehicles have a 20amp or 30amp fuse on the accessory 12V feed that is used for charging on the 7-pin...but a viable option. If you use 85 amp hours, you need to put 85 amp hours back in...though how quickly that happens has a lot of variables. In theory 85aH would take 4 hours of your TV running and putting our 20amps (amps * time) to bring it back up.
Lead acid batteries don't charge that way. A 50% drained lead acid battery will take about 12 hours at 14.4 volts(boost charge) to recharge to 100%.
Batteries are good at generating power but slower to charge. Just because you can feed it doesn't mean it can chemically convert it as fast.

If you're taking that much out of your batteries it will take a lot of genny hours each day to get them back to 100percent. But you can get them high enough so you're not totally moving backwards.

My best recommendation would be a small generator to use while you're using most of your load.

Lithium ion batteries can charge close to 1 for 1, meaning if you can give them 40 amps they can just about take that full current to charge. So if you have 100ah to charge and can feed them 45 amps it'll take about 2.5 hours. So if you've got the money those would also be a good upgrade with the genny to top them off quickly. Keep in mind you'd want to get a converter specifically for lithium ions.
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Old 08-30-2017, 11:15 PM   #18
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I suppose I am more familiar with Lithium batteries, as that is where I have spent a lot of my time building my own packs from bare cells.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:53 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by pt.reyesfan View Post
We would like to be able to: Use some of the 12v trailer lights at night (for 4 – 6 hours), use gas appliances, use water pump, sometimes run the Fantastic Fan all day/night, watch a DVD, while parked at a no hook-ups site for 2 days/3 nights.
I just did all of these things 3 weeks off the grid without a generator.

I have 300 Watts of solar and 4 LifeLine batteries. The battery monitor is the key to figuring out where your worst loads are. I noticed that my fridge light stayed on all the time drawing over an amp. I removed it. Most of the lights are switched to led. Next year I want to replace the remaining ones. Most of my movie watching was done on a laptop with Netflix loaded movies, but I did use the Inverter to charge the laptops. The stereo played for hours on end each day, which draws around 2.5 amps.

Despite some very cloudy days and a lack of sunshine the batteries still charged to 100% every day. It is doable without a generator and without a substantial investment in solar.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:09 AM   #20
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For me, "boondocking" equates with less usage of power....be that lights, electronics, air conditioning, etc.

Try reading or playing games, using light sources that draw none or less off your batteries, cooking outside, etc.

Back up a bit, and simplify, enjoy the quiet and the natural environment around you.

Boondocking is not traditionally seen as being parked somewhere without electricity, sewer, etc., but trying to live within your RV and run everything as if you were at home or in a campground with at least 30 amps available.

I'm a bit flummoxed with what seems to be this trend. If you must have all of these things, all of the time...and some do, which is okay...it would seem that a campground is a better, less frustrating and challenging option.

Boondocking is traditionally seen as getting away from it all...

Maggie
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