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Old 03-17-2017, 03:45 PM   #1
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Fear of boondocking

I know. You long-timers will be laughing at this one. But, for me it's real. Yes, I have solar and a 1K inverter. But, two things are holding me back from boondocking. First, I am afraid of not being on AC power because I don't want to damage my batteries by draining them below "50%". Yes, I know it's a matter of adding up all the watts and keeping them under 1K. But, for how long? The spec sheets on my two 12-volt batteries list a cranking power, but I have no idea how long the amp-hour rating would be. It doesn't say on the batteries. So, I am frozen.

Second, I have a listing of boondocking sites across the nation. But, those that aren't campgrounds are usually wide places in the road or at noisy truck stops. My real fear is that if I find a place on my own, that one of two things will happen; either someone will be knocking on my rig at 1 a.m. and say, "you can't park here", or that I'm vulnerable to crime and all that entails.

So, I'm paralyzed with anxiety. Any thoughts?
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:07 PM   #2
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I would have thought that after the anxiety of buying the coach everything else would be easy.

Parking lot boondocking is pretty simple. Rule #1 Ask First and you won't have to worry about someone knocking on the door at 1AM. As far as neighborhoods are concerned I've done pretty well at Cracker Barrel rather than Wally World or truck stops. A lot less traffic and very quiet after the restaurant closes and I can load up on carbs first thing in the morning before heading to my next destination. I time my arrival to after closing or as close as I can when customer activity has dropped off plus calling ahead to check.

For the batteries try a few dress rehearsals to get a feel of how long you can go living off the batteries. Next time you're at a powered campsite unplug and set a timer to check the batteries every hour or two. See how long you can go before you need to plug back in to recharge based on your regular camp site activities. Don't be too afraid to run the generator during daylight hours if needed but try and wait until mid morning before firing it up. Quiet time might end at 7AM but your neighbor might want to sleep in until much later.
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Old 03-17-2017, 04:07 PM   #3
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Test run an overnight at a Flying J / Pilot Travel center. Many have RV parking, so no big rigs in the way.

Keep an eye on the battery volts. 12.0 volts is about 50%

As a side note, you have the wrong batteries for the house. AH capacity is what deep cycle batteries list. CCA is a start battery listing.

Assume they are about 50 AH each for your calculating.

Wear them out and get 2, 6 volt GC2 batteries. Hook them up in series, ( nose to tail ) and enjoy over twice the capacity.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:01 PM   #4
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I don't call parking lot camping "boondocking", but if you do there are some recommendations. As PP said, ask for permission to park. Second, get a monitor for your batteries so you don't run out of juice without advance notice. A dry run in your driveway, if possible, would give you an idea of your battery usage. There are phantom battery using appliances (CO monitor, radios, etc) but you should be fine for an overnight.
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Old 03-17-2017, 08:53 PM   #5
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Most 12v cranking batteries have about 75 amph rating. So two hooked up in parallel should give you about 150. Assuming you don't want to draw below 50% then your capacity is probably around 75. The 1000 watt inverter is irrelevant to your calculations, except if you use it a lot!

How much solar do you have?

If you don't have one you need a good battery monitor. Only then will you really know what you have used and remaining. I would recommend the Trimetric 2030.
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Old 03-17-2017, 09:53 PM   #6
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Boondocking is not pulling off along the roadside or staying on parking lots. It's going off on public lands such as national forest or BLM lands, finding your perfect spot and staying for a few days, at least. We absolutely love it and have found some gorgeous spots overlooking a stream, lake or mountains. We've never had a feeling of uneasiness. Everyone out there is there for the same reason - to get away from people for a while.... which reminds me, if you do go real boondocking and you see someone parked and set up, please don't go and park close to him. That's definitely not what he wants - a neighbor. Hope you can get over your fears!
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:26 PM   #7
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Don't overthink it 😜 I've only done this for 2yrs and I've never had a problem. I Boon-dock 90% of the time. I have all I need with me, why pay to stay someplace overnight? Parked in lots, grocery stores, gas stations, dirt lots, closed Malls, or even in residential neighborhoods. You park late at night and leave early. Never been woken up. My rig ain't stealthy at 35ft 😜

Be aware of your surroundings, lock the doors and relax. If you feel uncomfortable, start up and leave 😜👍🏻 You can't do that with a loud neighbor...

About your batteries... If the 12v in your dash is connected to the house batteries, buy a 12v plug with the voltage reading on it. Keep it above 12.0 and they will be fine...


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Old 03-18-2017, 06:26 AM   #8
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A good way to get used to it is simpler than you think. Driveway. Yup that's what i said. Every year our "first" camping trip of the season is in our driveway to test everything. Its a good way to go thru the camper, test things and still be home if it all goes bad !
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:47 AM   #9
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Don't get hung up on a word - boondocking. If you are concerned about it go to a campground and don't hook up. You then have a safety net when you try it the first time. If the batts go below 12.1 or so volts plug in.
If the batts you have are only listing CCA then they are most likely not deep cycle. If they are not deep cycle you really should not bring them down to 50% DOD but that is another story. As another said use them up and replace with deep cycle when they no longer suit your needs.
Back to the campground. Make sure you have a way to view the voltage of the battery. When it gets low you have an idea how long you can go without plugging in. That is what boondocking is, not hooking up. I won't go into an enery audit but you should do one so you have an idea of what devices you how much energy.
Also, as a note, make sure you charge the batteries properly to get the longest life out of them. There are plenty of threads on charging profiles and specific batteries so I won't go into it here.
Just go out and try it. We all started somewhere and learned along the way.
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:02 PM   #10
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A good way to get used to it is simpler than you think. Driveway. Yup that's what i said. Every year our "first" camping trip of the season is in our driveway to test everything. Its a good way to go thru the camper, test things and still be home if it all goes bad !
I was thinking the same thing.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:05 PM   #11
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A good way to get used to it is simpler than you think. Driveway. Yup that's what i said. Every year our "first" camping trip of the season is in our driveway to test everything. Its a good way to go thru the camper, test things and still be home if it all goes bad !
Makes perfect sense, we still do our first tent trip of the year in the back yard, and the second just 20 miles away.
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Old 03-19-2017, 10:46 PM   #12
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Boondocking gets you this view when you wakeup.

https://youtu.be/hzyqf6D6aaY
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:42 PM   #13
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Makes perfect sense, we still do our first tent trip of the year in the back yard, and the second just 20 miles away.
Our first trip this spring is going to be to a state park 30 miles from home. The campground is actually closer to town than our house, so our driveway would be more like boondocking than the park. I plan to test everything out and dry camp, even though we will have electrical hookups, just because most of our trips will be national forest camping and I need to find out how the new trailer does on battery and water usage, and how effective our single solar panel is for extending battery life.

Water shouldn't be a problem, but I really don't have a feel for electrical, with just the stock class 24 battery. This is the first time we will be needing power at the end of the trip for the tongue jack and slide, and I'd rather find out now ( I have a 2000w inverter generator to hook up if it's actually needed, but I'd rather try and get by without it if I can). We are quite conservative just as a matter of course, but I'd rather know exactly where I stand.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:41 PM   #14
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@ Sweetbriar..."I would have thought that after the anxiety of buying the coach everything else would be easy." ain't that the truth!

And I also agree with the "driveway" campground theory, it really doesn't get better than that

As to "fear" of boondocking, someone once said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself". And that was a long time ago but still very true today. And real "boondocking" is not of cement or asphalt, think in the middle of the forest where it gets real dark and you can actually see the stars (lol)
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