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Old 10-08-2018, 11:29 AM   #1
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HELP new to dry camping

Hello,

we just bought a used 1997 Southwind Fleetwood 32v earlier this year. been resort (full hookup)camping few times . We tried dry camping for a week for first time last week. No idea what we are doing. LOL

How long do We need to run generator to charge batteries daily(Onan 5000) ?

Is selecting INVERT button only way to use electrical plugs?
Xantrex 458 3 stage inverter/charger

Seems like if I hit INVERT button to run coffee pot or microwave or portable heater. The panel shows my charge goes down quickly. I was afraid to turn on tv and watch movie at night for battery drain. Am I doing something wrong? Earlier this year I went to Interstate Battery Distributor in Lake Havasu, they sold me black label trojan batteries. They said were just as good.
215 ah 6 volt I believe. I have 6 batteries.

Any help about all this is appreciated. Including proper operation of Xantrex 458 3 stage inverter/charger

Also the toilet smells horrible. Is there seal/gaskets to replace or should we just replace it. Appears yellow stains on lino floor like leaking.

Thanks
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:08 PM   #2
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Onthehunt --

Welcome to the IRV2 forum of motorhome owners. I was able to find a brochure for a 1999 Fleetwood Southwind 32V which hopefully reflects the what you have in your 1997 model --> https://library.rvusa.com/brochure/F...d1999_sw_b.pdf

Per that sales brochure, a Southwind 32V has an on-board 5500 watt generator (presumably gasoline powered) which is a must for dry camping (boon docking is another term used). You'll need to run the generator continuously to power all of your 120 volt items -- air conditioner, Keurig, television, hair dryer, microwave, etc. When boon docking, the generator replaces the "shore power" at an RV resort.

The "battery" used to start a generator is typically the "coach batteries" that supply power to all of your 12 volt users -- lights, slide-out motors, water pump, vent fans, a/c & furnace controls, etc. If you choose to not to continuously use your generator, be cautious not to drain your coach batteries to the point that you can't operator your slide-out nor start your generator. Using your coach batteries to power 110 volt items through the inverter will drain those batteries rather quickly! Best advice is to continually operate your generator while "boon docking". Of course, make sure your gasoline tank is a full as possible when you start your boon docking stay to power the generator.

At the start of your boon docking adventure, the fresh water tank needs to be full and your gray and black water tanks empty. Depending on how long you boon dock and number of people, you'll likely need to practice water conservation especially with bathing -- use the get wet / turn water off / quick "suds up" / turn water on for a very quick rinse. Per the brochure, you have a 60 gallon fresh water tank which can be drained very quickly! Identify a place where you can dump your gray and black water tanks on your way home from boon docking.

Per the brochure you have a 25 gallon propane tank which is great! Use propane for your refrigerator and hot water heater to reduce load on the generator.

You stated your toilet smells horrible. Are you using the proper chemicals in your black water tank such as this Camco chemical I use --> https://www.walmart.com/ip/Camco-TST...0-Gal/14504341

Also get on the roof of your motorhome and check the vent pipe for your black water tank to assure it is not plugged with cob webs, bird's nest, sticks, etc. and that the vent pipe has a proper vent cap such as this one --> https://www.amazon.com/Camco-40034-R...ap+replacement If the vent pipe is plugged, "fumes" from your black water tank will come up through the toilet every time it is flushed.

Does your toilet hold water after it is flushed? If not, the seal for the "flush ball" in the toilet opening could be cracked / worn which could allow fumes to seep up through the toiler. A new seal easy to replace --> https://www.amazon.com/Dometic-38531...sh+ball+o-ring

Hope this info is helpful !
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:29 PM   #3
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Your coach probably has some items that today are not considered dry camp friendly. There is a good chance you have halogen lights, if so you can change them out to LED.


For heavy electric demand (micro, electric toaster/oven) use your gen, that's why you have one.


The toilet probably needs a new bottom seal - similar to your home toilet except instead of wax they are usually foam.


The best thing you can do is find someone local that knows about RV systems to help you out.


I use "Happy Camper" in my black tank - works very well...


Good Luck!
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Old 10-08-2018, 03:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Onthehunt49 View Post
Hello,

we just bought a used 1997 Southwind Fleetwood 32v earlier this year. been resort (full hookup)camping few times . We tried dry camping for a week for first time last week. No idea what we are doing. LOL

How long do We need to run generator to charge batteries daily(Onan 5000) ?

Is selecting INVERT button only way to use electrical plugs?
Xantrex 458 3 stage inverter/charger

Seems like if I hit INVERT button to run coffee pot or microwave or portable heater. The panel shows my charge goes down quickly. I was afraid to turn on tv and watch movie at night for battery drain. Am I doing something wrong? Earlier this year I went to Interstate Battery Distributor in Lake Havasu, they sold me black label trojan batteries. They said were just as good.
215 ah 6 volt I believe. I have 6 batteries.

Any help about all this is appreciated. Including proper operation of Xantrex 458 3 stage inverter/charger

Also the toilet smells horrible. Is there seal/gaskets to replace or should we just replace it. Appears yellow stains on lino floor like leaking.

Thanks
You have 1290 Amp Hours of new battery's. Half of that is usable thats 645AH
So once your set up your not going to be using slide motors so we don't need to worry about that. Run your generator 4 or 5 hours, that should bring your battery bank pretty close to full charge, Then if you need to use the microwave or anything else that is a high amp user then start the genny. But with that battery bank fully charged, and all your lights switched to LED's you should be able to watch tv all night with no generator, it looks like you have internet? you should be able to google the Xantrex?? Bottom line, with a full charged battery bank like you have you should be good for a couple days, if you use it correctly. Our battery bank in my signature is smaller then yours, but with a full charge (we also have 400 watts of solar) We can go 3 or 4 days without starting the generator. There's a learning curve, you'll get it. Remember you never want your battery's to get below 50%
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Old 10-08-2018, 03:35 PM   #5
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I believe with 6 volt batteries in series for 12 volt and then paralleled--each pair of series-connected batteries DOES NOT double the aH. So, with 3 pairs of 215, you only have 645aHs. To use that down to 50% would give you 322 aHs.
Thats the way I understand it...
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:00 PM   #6
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I'm sure you'll get the hang of it with a couple more tries. Don't give up. It's an awesome way to use your RV - reasonable with nice surroundings.

You've gotten good answers so far. One thing I'd recommend is to get a stovetop coffee perculator. It makes wonderful coffee. We also buttered the bread and plopped it in a frypan to toast - the best ever! No need for electrical appliances when dry camping. If you will be doing a lot of dry camping you might want to invest in a propane heater made especially for RVs. We used one for 16 years of full-timing. It's a economical heat and a constant heat - none of the on/off cold that a furnace does. Microwave use for us was just a one-minute heat up; no long cooking. As stated, conserve water whenever you can, especially with showers. Use a dishpan for dishes and use for toilet flushing. The sudsy water helps the toilet, too. On that note, don't be stingy with water for the toilet for #2. It will help with smells and will give a good flush out when dumping. With conservation we could go 10-14 days dry camping and still have fresh water left and space in the black tank. We pulled out when the grey was full. Keep on pluggin'!!
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:09 PM   #7
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Yes, you only have 645 Amp Hours of battery capacity.

2, 6 volt batteries in series doubles the voltage. Still 215 AH

3 series pairs in parallel triple the AmpHours. 645 AH
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by wingnut60 View Post
I believe with 6 volt batteries in series for 12 volt and then paralleled--each pair of series-connected batteries DOES NOT double the aH. So, with 3 pairs of 215, you only have 645aHs. To use that down to 50% would give you 322 aHs.
Thats the way I understand it...
This can be a little confusing. When you connect batteries in series, that is negative to positive the voltage of the overall battery pack is the sum of the voltages of each battery. Assuming the batteries are all the same the amp hour rating of the overall battery pack is the same as the rating of any one of the batteries...not the sum of the ratings.

If you look at a 6V golf cart battery internally you will find 3-2V batteries (cells) connected in series to give you 6V. When you connect two 6V golf car batteries in series you have in essence created one 12V battery 6-2V cells.

When you connect 3 (or more) 12v batteries in parrallel you still have 12V but the amp and amphour capability is equal to the sum of the batteries. In this case 645+645+645=1935 amphours.

See this link for a better explanation:

https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/...configurations

I just returned from Yellowstone where the night time temps hovered around 32 F. We watched a movie on the 27" flat screen TV each night using an inverter. The furnace with its forced air blower kept the interior at 65 F all night long. I ran the generator for about 2 hours each day to recharge the batteries. I have incandescent lamps for interior lighting. I didn't use the batteries to run the coffee pot or microwave. I have 2 6V golf cart batteries.

The OP has a VERY large battery pack considering his MH. He should have no problems dry camping for several days and running his generator for a couple hours each day. Water will be a much bigger issue than battery capacity.
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Old 10-08-2018, 07:50 PM   #9
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OntheHunt, boondocking is a different way of living life. Conservation is the key to success and happiness. To that end-

1) eBay has LED bulbs for about $1 each. Change every bulb in the house.
2) any appliance that heats uses WAY to much power. Find other ways such as coffee percolator, 12 volt TV and a gas heater. I installed one of these last winter and it cut my propane use in half, it's silent and has a built in thermostat. Shop around, mine was $306.

https://ordering.fwwebb.com/woitem/1...yABEgIgZvD_BwE

3) Be stingy with water. Never let it run while you brush teeth, wash hands, etc. This showerhead will make your shower feel like it's using more water.

Oxygenics Shower Head White - $25.40

Consider adding solar panels if you are in sunny areas. Prices are coming down, they last forever and are silent.

Read old threads on this forum. There's a lot of people who learned the hard way so you shouldnít have to.

BTW, I donít use any toilet chemicals and donít have any smell. I have a cyclone black tank vent on the roof.
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
Yes, you only have 645 Amp Hours of battery capacity.

2, 6 volt batteries in series doubles the voltage. Still 215 AH

3 series pairs in parallel triple the AmpHours. 645 AH
This is correct. I read that the batteries were 635 AH when they were really 215 AH.
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Old 10-09-2018, 06:48 AM   #11
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Use your generator for a couple of hours at a time or you will use more energy starting it than you put back charging it. A lot of us routinely start the generator when we get up so it can supply power to make breakfast and heat water while topping of the overnight loss. That gives us the microwave/toaster/coffee maker if you use one power. That gives us around 2 hours of battery charging built around the morning peak power usage time. Repeat in the evening for dinner when we again want the higher power capacity plus either A/C or heat. That lets us coast through the rest of the day.
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by wingnut60 View Post
I believe with 6 volt batteries in series for 12 volt and then paralleled--each pair of series-connected batteries DOES NOT double the aH. So, with 3 pairs of 215, you only have 645aHs. To use that down to 50% would give you 322 aHs.
Thats the way I understand it...
I did not know this! GREAT, now I need more battery's!
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Old 10-09-2018, 09:29 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by nothermark View Post
Use your generator for a couple of hours at a time or you will use more energy starting it than you put back charging it. A lot of us routinely start the generator when we get up so it can supply power to make breakfast and heat water while topping of the overnight loss. That gives us the microwave/toaster/coffee maker if you use one power. That gives us around 2 hours of battery charging built around the morning peak power usage time. Repeat in the evening for dinner when we again want the higher power capacity plus either A/C or heat. That lets us coast through the rest of the day.
Good advice here. Running your generator for about 2 hours will bring your battery bank up to approximately 80% SOC (state of charge). To get the last 20% will take about 4 hours more of generator run time (very inefficient). Wait until you are back on shore power to get back to full charge and cycle your battery bank between 50% and 80% for the short time you are out boondocking.
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Old 10-09-2018, 10:36 AM   #14
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Thanks everyone.
So much info and I never thought it would take 4 hrs to charge the batteries.. 🙃
I thought running generator hour and half to 2 hrs was long and something wrong with batteries or generator...lol

Keep the info coming😎
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