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Old 01-01-2015, 07:26 PM   #1
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Boondocking 15 degrees any advice.

Leaving Iowa for Florida Monday, the forecast for our first night out is 15 degrees and we'll likely be Wal-Mart boondocking. We have a 2007 TropiCal pusher with two 6v house batteries and all systems are in great shape and ready to go. We'll leave the coach winterized until we reach our park in Florida and use RV antifreeze to flush the commode.

I'm still a little afraid of the unknown or untested, 15 degrees is really cold. I'm concerned that the batteries may not get us through the night and if they do will the 5 or 6 hours driving the next day be long enough to fully recharge them. I'd love to hear from some folks out there that have done this kind of traveling with advice or comments.

Burr,

Robby
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:33 PM   #2
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I have camped in 19 degree weather with no electricity and did not use my genset. I had a zero degree sleeping bag, a handful of iron oxide hand warmers that I threw into my sleeping bag and layered clothing. I made it. It is possible if you have the right gear.

If you are just heating off of the house batteries I would think that if you set the thermostat very low (like maybe 50 degrees) and used a lot of blankets, sleeping bags, and clothing the heat would not come on as often. You could always use the emergency switch to start your rig the next morning.
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:33 PM   #3
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My advice. Get a generator for future traveling in 15 degree weather, if only to recharge your batteries in the morning.
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:36 PM   #4
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Robby
We have four six volt batteries and I wouldn't consider spending a night boon docking at that temp without running the generator. Furnace fan really draws juice, and I am not sure whether your basement wet bay gets any heat from above. Therefore unless you have a wet bay heater (and they really draw, like about 20 amps) I would place something like a Trouble Light with maybe a 100 watt bulb into the wet bay to keep it from freezing. Basically, with the price of a diesel generator running all night, you might as well find something like a Passport America campground close to the Interstate. The thought of a pipe bursting somewhere inaccessible (like in a wall) would preclude me getting any sleep w/o the generator running or being hooked up to 50 amps. But I am a worrier. Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robby W. View Post
Leaving Iowa for Florida Monday, the forecast for our first night out is 15 degrees and we'll likely be Wal-Mart boondocking. We have a 2007 TropiCal pusher with two 6v house batteries and all systems are in great shape and ready to go. We'll leave the coach winterized until we reach our park in Florida and use RV antifreeze to flush the commode.

I'm still a little afraid of the unknown or untested, 15 degrees is really cold. I'm concerned that the batteries may not get us through the night and if they do will the 5 or 6 hours driving the next day be long enough to fully recharge them. I'd love to hear from some folks out there that have done this kind of traveling with advice or comments.

Burr,

Robby

Run the generator. The fuel used is much cheaper than a couple of GC batteries. The generator needs some exercise anyway.


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Old 01-01-2015, 07:49 PM   #6
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I think since you will have it winterized, that you should be fine. I suggest you set the thermostat low to save your batteries. And as was suggested, bundle up for sleep. I wouldn't use the stove top for heat. But have found that using it to heat coffee water, does take the chill off in the morning. It could create too much CO if you leave it on. Also the use of any unvented LP heaters is way too dangerous.
Above all, stay safe, just add another quilt to the bed.
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:49 PM   #7
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FWIW as I don't have a DP. ;-) My inclination would be to go for it. Run the generator for a couple of hours before going to bed to top off the batteries then set the coach temp to 60. A bit cold to sleep but a lot less furnace on time. Assume you are doing the vent pillow/window insulation/heavy curtain behind the driver routine to minimize heat loss.

Hit the generator as soon as you get up and get a jump on charging plus have that for power while doing breakfast. If the house batteries are too flat to start the generator then start the unit and use the booster switch to start the generator. Depending on your setup the generator may recharged the chassis batteries while it is running. If not let it idle a bit and/or add a charger to your stuff. If you have a block heater for the DP you might want to investigate running it off the genset. If you have the generator running the rest is a matter of time and wiring. ;-) I have done that in a gasser several times. If you have the generator and propane you have heat and can deal with any other problems.

It helps if you have an alarm that tells when the battery voltage drops to critical for starting. Our propane detector did on the old one and probably does on the new one.

The one thing I am sure of is that once I get the show on the road I want to keep it above freezing inside. That means no motel for the night. Too much stuff that does not want to be frozen. I'd rather idle the genset but that may draw attention you do not want.
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Old 01-01-2015, 07:51 PM   #8
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Robby
We have four six volt batteries and I wouldn't consider spending a night boon docking at that temp without running the generator. Furnace fan really draws juice, and I am not sure whether your basement wet bay gets any heat from above. Therefore unless you have a wet bay heater (and they really draw, like about 20 amps) I would place something like a Trouble Light with maybe a 100 watt bulb into the wet bay to keep it from freezing. Basically, with the price of a diesel generator running all night, you might as well find something like a Passport America campground close to the Interstate. The thought of a pipe bursting somewhere inaccessible (like in a wall) would preclude me getting any sleep w/o the generator running or being hooked up to 50 amps. But I am a worrier. Good luck!
Our coach does have an onboard diesel generator, I have let it run all night in the summer when it's been to hot to sleep so I guess letting it run most or all the night is an option too.

Robby
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:11 PM   #9
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You can always check into a motel (deep breath here) for one night instead of freezing your tootsies.
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:32 PM   #10
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That's why we have generators make sure your co2 alarm has a new battery and is working try to park so the wind carries the fumes away from the coach and if your wallydocking don't worry about drawing attention. I would also carry an electric heater to
help keep it warm and if you have one an electric blanket for the bed. Leave a vent cracked open just to be on the safe side, snuggle in get a good nights sleep and enjoy the trip.
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Old 01-01-2015, 08:55 PM   #11
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I've run the furnace all night on just the batteries many nights. (4 house batteries.) The furnace blower motors (there are 2 in our coach) don't draw that much juice. And I leave the thermostat set on 72. In the morning the batteries are showing 12.1 to 12.2 volts. I fire up the generator while I make the morning coffee. I shut the generator down when I hit the road.

That has always worked out fine for me, even when it was 17 degrees outside. That's the coldest night I've had so far.
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Old 01-01-2015, 09:16 PM   #12
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I do not think you will be able to use 2 6volt batteries to run the furnace. Not enough amp hours since it is basically the equivalent of one 12volt battery for amp hours. I am going to be kinda blunt. One nights campground fees will cost you about the same as 80 miles of diesel fuel. Or to translate the 30.00 or so a campground cost is not anything compared to the cost of fuel for the trip. Your motorhome will not handle 15 degrees very well. If you are insistent on wally world camping you are going to be running your generator all night. there is a post about someone on the east coast sometime around Feb 2014 They had 4 6v batteries and they went down, the people got very cold and had all kinds of problems. I really think that it is foolish to boondock in Walmart to save what is really an insignificant sum of money.
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:07 PM   #13
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I do not think you will be able to use 2 6volt batteries to run the furnace. Not enough amp hours since it is basically the equivalent of one 12volt battery for amp hours. I am going to be kinda blunt. One nights campground fees will cost you about the same as 80 miles of diesel fuel. Or to translate the 30.00 or so a campground cost is not anything compared to the cost of fuel for the trip. Your motorhome will not handle 15 degrees very well. If you are insistent on wally world camping you are going to be running your generator all night. there is a post about someone on the east coast sometime around Feb 2014 They had 4 6v batteries and they went down, the people got very cold and had all kinds of problems. I really think that it is foolish to boondock in Walmart to save what is really an insignificant sum of money.

Thanks, I'll Google for open campgrounds but I don't think there are any open here in snow country.

It's really more about not liking motel rooms then saving a dollar and I can't let the contents of the motorhome freeze anyway. If it mean running the generator all night then so be it. My 2 6v actually have a little more capacity than 2 12v but it cold and there is only two so that's defiantly a week point.

Robby
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Old 01-01-2015, 10:21 PM   #14
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Are you sure you only have 2 house batteries? I'm a bit surprised you don't have 4 house and 2 chassis betteries.

That said, get the furnace going while you are on the road, don't let the rig get all chilled down (and the engine whilst driving will keep the batteries topped up) -- but regardless I would expect your 2 batteries (if that's really all you have) to get you through one night if they are topped off. Furnances use power, sure, but not THAT much power to go through 70+ amp/hours of battery.

Do keep your slides in to reduce the volume of the coach. And keep all the shades down (again, insulation).

make sure you've plenty of propane, though... it's amazing in our coach how fast we bleed heat (darn single pane glass in places) and we can go through 3+ gallons in a night if we are keeping it toasty.

Throw a gallon of windshield de-icer in the black and grey tanks if they are empty -- that way you don't have to worry about them freezing right around the valves (which on my coach the last 8" of "neck" to the blade valves is exposed in an unheated bay). It's cheap and easy.

If in doubt, run the genset until you are really ready to go to bed, and then hit it again first thing in the morning).

Steve
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