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Old 03-15-2013, 11:50 AM   #1
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Batteries and boon docking

Being a newbie with two camping trips under my belt and with FHU I have no experience with what to expect when boondocking. I have an '02 Damon and it appears to have 2 relatively new 6 volt house batteries. They are fully charged. My question is, if I overnight anywhere without electric what can I reasonably expect to use in the coach without running down the batteries? Should I turn off the non-use switch when I am going to sleep? If it is warm out can I run the whole-house fan? I have no idea what to expect and don't want to run the generator for more than what is absolutely necessary. I realize there are many variables here but a "rule of thumb" would be appreciated.....thanks!
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:02 PM   #2
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well if not using the heater you should be fine if you just conserve the first few times to find out what you use...put WH on propane and fridge on propane...use fan only when needed...jeff
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:18 PM   #3
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Limit the number of lights you turn on unless you have converted to LED. It is amazing what the incandescent lights draw. You have about 115 ampere hours to work with. With the typical converter/charger it will take 3 to 4 hours of generator time to replace that amount of power. it reperesents one half of the battery capacity. Measure your battery voltage and try to never drop below 12 volts. On high a Fantastic fan draws 3 amps/hr, I assume that is what you meant by whole house fan. 8hrs would be about 25% of your useable battery capacity. Most of the incandescent lamps draw about 1 1/2 amps. Dual lamp fixtures would be 3 amps.
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:43 PM   #4
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We boondock all the time for 2-3 days and don't have any problems with power. In the evening, I run the generator so I can watch the news/weather before going to bed. This helps to put some juice back into the batteries. I don't know of any "rule of thumb" techniques aside from common sense. As stated earlier, be sure your fridge is running on LP. We run our roof vent fan on low all night to keep it cooler inside while sleeping. Never a problem in the morning. If there was, we would fire up the generator and charge up the batteries. Another item that helps is a solar panel on the roof. Not sure if you have one, but it sure helps to replace any voltage loss throughout the night. You'll just have to give it a try and see what works for you. I wouldn't bother turning off the non-use switch for fear of needing lights in the middle of the night. You might be suprised how long the batteries last. Good Luck
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Old 03-15-2013, 12:48 PM   #5
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RV Baby,

Just to elaborate on John Hilley's post- here is a complete list of appliances and the energy amounts they consume. I wouldn't turn off your battery switch at night (if that's what you meant)- you may need a light or something in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if you said you had a generator but if you do- great! I make our coffee with a percolator on the gas stove. I only run the gen. for about 4 to 6 hours during the day in the summer for the a/c's. Just remember, on 12v some of the biggest draws are the furnace and water pump but you should be just fine if you only conserve a little bit. Another reminder: make sure you leave for your boondocking trip with empty gray and black tanks and fill your fresh water tank just before you arrive. You'll have fun where ever you go...

Happy camping!


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Old 03-15-2013, 02:40 PM   #6
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Run the genny a couple three hours in the evening - and again in the morning for another couple three hours. Adjust accordingly as you gain experience.
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Old 03-15-2013, 03:47 PM   #7
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However, when running the Genny, please remember that if you have neighbours, they might not appreciate you running the genny 6 hours in the day. If you are in a park, be sure to check what restrictions on Genny use there may be. Nothing can spoil your trip quicker than having someone parked 20' away running their Genny, their Radio's and what not while you are sitting trying to enjoy a sunset. Just keep in mind what you are trying to achieve by getting away from it all. IMO, this is one of those things that people can be extremely thoughtless about.
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Old 03-15-2013, 08:37 PM   #8
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I agree with sirpurrcival, all our charging is solar, all of our lights are LED the fans, Antec 3 speed computer case fans... If I were ever to need to charge the battery I would use tow vehicle alternator at idle, but I haven't had to do that. If you do have to use the gen do it in the morning.
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Old 03-15-2013, 09:21 PM   #9
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Color me curious.

I have about 24 halogen lights that I would use boondocking. Many more I would not use.
What does it cost to buy LED fixtures that are good quality and give good incandecent-like light? Is this an "investment"?

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Old 03-16-2013, 12:21 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CampDaven View Post
Color me curious.

I have about 24 halogen lights that I would use boondocking. Many more I would not use.
What does it cost to buy LED fixtures that are good quality and give good incandecent-like light? Is this an "investment"?

Dave
You probably wouldn't have to replace the fixture, there are LED replacements for virtually all incandescent and halogen lamps. Cost from under a dollar to over twenty dollars each. Depends on what you consider an investment, it is definitely an investment in power saving.
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Old 03-16-2013, 12:34 AM   #11
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Having at least one solar panel is an advantage in case your fuel drops to a quarter, generator refuses to run and when you store your RV unplugged. But with solar you must have good monitors so you don't fry your batteries.
I myself have for panels on my roof. Oh yeah, all solar panels are not alike. For more info about solar visit AM Solar's Educational Pages for RV Solar Systems
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Old 03-16-2013, 06:01 AM   #12
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We have a large teardrop trailer with a 185W high voltage solar panel on top. This was intended for use in a grid tie system and required the use of an MPPT controller in our case a Morningstar. The advantage of a high voltage panel is that it produces usable current even under low light conditions. We also have a flexible 140W panel that stays rolled up unless we need to put it out in the sun and it is hooked up to a Steca PMW controller, We have yet to need to use it. If you use a good solar controller it has a charging profile similar to a converter, bulk at 14.8 V (settable by computer interface) charge at 13.6 maintenance at 13.2. I have a Victron battery monitor hooked up to a 150AH Lifeline AGM battery and on our trip to California we never got below 70% state of charge and this included three days at Big Basin Redwoods State Park with lots of deep shade. we watched a couple of movies one night to deaden the sound from a bunch of college students and the Waeco refrigerator was on 12V.
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Old 03-20-2013, 12:33 AM   #13
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Highly recommend installing a Trimetric or similar charge meter device. It will show you accurately exactly what the state of charge is with your bank of batteries and you can monitor usage or rate of discharge as well. Great for your peace of mind while off the grid.

I swapped out all the lights for LED ones and it saved a bit on the charge needed but also meant we could use as many lights inside as we wanted and not worry about it. The LED's use 1/10 as much juice as the tunsten type of lamp.
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:22 PM   #14
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When I started, it was suggested that I try a night or two at a FHU campground.
Hookup like you would normally. Make sure fresh water tank is full and waste tanks
empty. Turn on water pump/ turn off shore water and electric breaker. This way if problems
arise, you have them available.

Good Luck
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