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Old 03-05-2016, 08:58 AM   #1
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Boondocking

I'd like comments and opinions about smartest way to power a residential refer/freezer and other minor house loads (1 tv, lights, etc) during 7-10 day boondock (about how long our water and holding tanks last the way we use them). Parameters are fulltimers, 80/20 hooked up/ boondocking, 10kw main generator, 24 cu ft refer, 3000w true sine wave inverter/converter, 4 flooded 8D size house batteries in good shape, 2kw portable generator.

Options seem to be:
1. run main generator 4-6 hours/ day (our current solution)
2. run portable gen thru battery charger to maintain charge in battery bank
3. rewire to provide a bay accessible pigtail on refer to power selectively thru an a-b switch using portable gen when boondocking and shore power when available (other loads on inverter)
4. add solar panels and controller to maintain battery bank
5. other???
Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:06 AM   #2
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sounds like your rig is already designed and ready for the few days you are concerned about - turn on your AGS to run for 30mins to an hour when it reaches about 12v and you should be fine. It will probably run even less than you think since you have 8 storage batteries. No worries...
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:23 AM   #3
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I am in the same situation. 10KW Isuzu diesel genset, four deepcycle flooded batts (232AH each, two and two in paralel). I also boondock 7-10 days, but not in one stretch (I move around a lot). Never more than two nights in the same spot.

I am currently researching solar (daily), and I think I'll go with 400W flex panels, permanently glued to the roof. I also have 2500W inverter, and the solar will allow me to run the genset for a very short time during the night. I am not concerned about disturbing any neighbors (I seldom have any!), or diesel consumption. I just like it quiet in the nature. If I am parked on the casino parking lot, I'll run the thing all night long!
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Old 03-05-2016, 09:59 AM   #4
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I have six 300 amp Lifeline batteries for 900 amps available. I also have 620 watts of solar panels on the roof. Along with that I have a 2KW Honda generator that feeds a 45 amp smart charger and of course the 10KW generator of the coach. The solar does a good job of running the RR and basement freezer during the day if the sun is out and in AZ it is out a lot. We watch movies at night and use the micro for cooking. Most of the time, I will start the Honda about 5 pm and let it run till 9-10 pm. We are usually in a remote part of the desert and set it away from the coach and can hardly hear it. The battery bank rarely gets below 75% charge. Unless we want to use the cooktop or need the AC, I never start the 10KW generator. The Honda will run for 10 hours on one gallon if gas, so 1/2 gallon a day is ok.
I also carry an extra 35 gallons of water in our trailer that I can transfer to the coach if needed. With this setup, we can either dry camp for 2-3 weeks if we use the water very sparingly or dry camp for a week to 10 days and shower everyday.
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Old 03-05-2016, 10:55 AM   #5
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We boondock a lot and seem to have a solution that works for us.

Our entire coach is equipped with LED's for ALL interior lights. We have an LP range and oven as well as LP hot water supplemented by a 110v heater when hooked to shore power, and 2 LP gas heaters. We have a 1200W dedicated inverter for the household Kitchen Aid refer, a 17 cu ft chest freezer and a 3.5 cu ft chest freezer. We supplement the 10,000W Onan generator with 6 140W solar panels run through a Morningstar MPPT controller, and have a 6 Lifeline AGM battery bank for coach power.

Our LP is set up with a T fitting and valves so we can run the coach from typical 5 gallon picnic bottles and don't have to take the coach into town when we need propane. With our factory installed tanks (black, grey, fresh) and by using standard water conservation techniques, we can go for 10-14 days. In this period we run the generator up to about an hour a day depending on how much TV we view or how much additional power we need and how much sun we see.

These methods work very well for us whether fishing in Alaska or on the deserts in Arizona. The coach was designed and specially built by Tiffin based on my request not to have Hydro-Hot heating due to the excessive amount of electric power it consumes. Our LP system has worked well down to 17 degrees with 25-30 mph winds. We do not generally desert camp in hot months.
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Old 03-06-2016, 06:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by texas2travel View Post
I'd like comments and opinions about smartest way to power a residential refer/freezer and other minor house loads (1 tv, lights, etc) during 7-10 day boondock (about how long our water and holding tanks last the way we use them). Parameters are fulltimers, 80/20 hooked up/ boondocking, 10kw main generator, 24 cu ft refer, 3000w true sine wave inverter/converter, 4 flooded 8D size house batteries in good shape, 2kw portable generator.

Options seem to be:
1. run main generator 4-6 hours/ day (our current solution)
2. run portable gen thru battery charger to maintain charge in battery bank
3. rewire to provide a bay accessible pigtail on refer to power selectively thru an a-b switch using portable gen when boondocking and shore power when available (other loads on inverter)
4. add solar panels and controller to maintain battery bank
5. other???
Thanks for your thoughts.

We are currently similar configuration with our Phaeton. Rather than running the onboard 10kw generator instead have a ~3kw gas portable with 30a RV connection. Quieter, less fuel, will run one AC unit if need be. A couple three hours morning and evening provide for charged batteries. So we typically only run the larger onboard genny if more AC is needed or a short stay where we don't break out the portable genny.

I don't see advantage to rewire refrigerator separately.

Our previous coach has 600w solar, where we seldom run genny. Solar is in the plan to be added to the Phaeton, likely doubling or more the capacity. Solar is the way to go IMHO.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:45 PM   #7
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We just spent 8 weeks in Key West dry camping. Easy access to upload fresh water and dumping tanks. We have a washer/dryer and our coach came with several circuits that run through the 1800 watt inverter. They power all 5 TVs, satellite receiver, hdmi control box, a number of charging stations and refrig. We have the standard 12v circuits for lights, commodes, etc. We have 4 house batteries - standard deep cycle 6 volt models. We ran our 5.5 Onan about 4-5 hours per day to keep everything charged and bit more for ACs or washer/dryer. Our standard cycle for taking on fresh water and dumpinng was 5 days. That included showers everyday, standard housekeeping chores and 2 loads of wash.

It really was easy. I maintained our Onan myself - oil change and air filter every 150 hours. Costs about $20 each time.

Our Challenger has 100 gals for fresh, 40 gals back grey (shower), 40 gals front grey (w/d and kitchen) and 2 40 gal black tanks.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-06-2016, 07:59 PM   #8
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vsheetz, the dedicated inverter for the refer and freezers is so we can run just that alone instead of turning on the house inverter. The house inverter draws about 9-12A just turning it on and powering all the phantom loads the Tiffin folks have connected to it. The efficiency of the smaller dedicated inverter only costs me 2-3A when turned on so I'm saving 7-9A an hour running it alone.
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pigman1 View Post
vsheetz, the dedicated inverter for the refer and freezers is so we can run just that alone instead of turning on the house inverter. The house inverter draws about 9-12A just turning it on and powering all the phantom loads the Tiffin folks have connected to it. The efficiency of the smaller dedicated inverter only costs me 2-3A when turned on so I'm saving 7-9A an hour running it alone.
I understand. A bit confused as your rewire comment spoke to generator usage. Maybe I am misreading. But for inverter usage given the setup you have with four 8D batteries is the savings really needed? Unless you are running out of battery overnight? I have six GC2's and run through the night even with a furnace running. But if so, then moving to multiple point of use inverters can be a savings.
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Old 03-06-2016, 09:25 PM   #10
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Boondocking power management is very simple. The batteries are just like a fuel tank...it's just a good idea to never let lead/acid batteries to get below 50% charge or service life is lost.

Since boondocking for the minority of time, the genie can charge the batteries as needed - or you could buy solar.

We use a portable solar set because we only dry camp for about 20% of the time or less and driving between destinations charges the house batteries from the engine alternator.

A mid-sized portable system (or more than one linked together) is very affordable like:
Solar Power Systems, Solar Panels & Chargers at Harbor Freight

IMHO, solar is the best way to extend the time that dry camping can be enjoyed without extended genie operation. The amount of solar collection depends on how much off-grid time you want.

Best luck
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
We are currently similar configuration with our Phaeton. Rather than running the onboard 10kw generator instead have a ~3kw gas portable with 30a RV connection. Quieter, less fuel, will run one AC unit if need be. A couple three hours morning and evening provide for charged batteries. So we typically only run the larger onboard genny if more AC is needed or a short stay where we don't break out the portable genny.

I don't see advantage to rewire refrigerator separately.

Our previous coach has 600w solar, where we seldom run genny. Solar is in the plan to be added to the Phaeton, likely doubling or more the capacity. Solar is the way to go IMHO.

OP - Vince's way is probably the most economical way for you go go at this time. You mentioned you have the smaller generator already... It consumes less fuel, makes less noise, and should support what you've outlined. (Yeah, need to have gas for this unit... and that means gas cans...)

At the volume of your 80/20 mix, why send or more money on solar at this time? It is a rapidly shifting technology, with IMO potential game changes coming in regards to new battery technology. So just cruz along with what you have. If it becomes too much of a PITA, or say you start doing more boon docking, you can always shift over to a solar system and whatever is the right battery type and costs for you at that time.

Sounds like you're in pretty good shape!

Best,
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:09 PM   #12
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I understand. A bit confused as your rewire comment spoke to generator usage. Maybe I am misreading. But for inverter usage given the setup you have with four 8D batteries is the savings really needed? Unless you are running out of battery overnight? I have six GC2's and run through the night even with a furnace running. But if so, then moving to multiple point of use inverters can be a savings.
Actually we're running 6 Lifeline coach batteries. Based on their capabilities, we are overpowered with the size of the solar array, but I ran it this way so I get maximum charge with less than maximum sun for less than maximum time. We run the inverter systems the same way. In many situations when everything is perking along well, we won't run the generator for 2-3 days. When sun and day length is less than optimum, and/or we're using the audio visual setup for extended time, or running the heaters a lot, saving that 7-9A becomes more important. Since I don't know how the following day is going to be or how much power I'll use overnight, I try to get the batteries at 90% or more when we turn in and hope I'm not below 70% on wakeup. I'm sort of a belt and suspenders guy and don't like to get behind in my power needs. This procedure works for us, but I can easily see how others with different living habits would have very different needs, equipment, and use patterns.
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Old 03-06-2016, 10:40 PM   #13
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Now I am more confused. My comments here have all been in response to the OP original post.
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Old 03-06-2016, 11:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigben View Post
We just spent 8 weeks in Key West dry camping. Easy access to upload fresh water and dumping tanks. We have a washer/dryer and our coach came with several circuits that run through the 1800 watt inverter. They power all 5 TVs, satellite receiver, hdmi control box, a number of charging stations and refrig. We have the standard 12v circuits for lights, commodes, etc. We have 4 house batteries - standard deep cycle 6 volt models. We ran our 5.5 Onan about 4-5 hours per day to keep everything charged and bit more for ACs or washer/dryer. Our standard cycle for taking on fresh water and dumpinng was 5 days. That included showers everyday, standard housekeeping chores and 2 loads of wash.

It really was easy. I maintained our Onan myself - oil change and air filter every 150 hours. Costs about $20 each time.

Our Challenger has 100 gals for fresh, 40 gals back grey (shower), 40 gals front grey (w/d and kitchen) and 2 40 gal black tanks.

Hope this helps.
What I find most amazing is dry camping in Key West! How is that possible?😇😇😇
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