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Old 11-27-2011, 02:28 AM   #1
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Parking lot with a hook-up

Hi,

I'm considering living in my van for the next little bit to save money. My school offers a cheap heated parking spot with a hook up to keep the engine warm in the winter.

I've never used one of those, so I'm not sure what it's capable of. If my car is plugged in, can I use its lighter plug in to use my computer/fan/etc without draining my battery?

Thanks
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Old 11-27-2011, 03:46 AM   #2
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You need to supply a lot more information as to what exactly you are referring to with regards to a "hook-up" in the parking lot. Also, what VAN/RV are you talking about and what systems does this vehicle have for electric, battery charging capabilities, inverter/converter if any, etc. etc. etc.

This information is needed before anyone can supply you with a decent accurate answer.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
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Old 11-27-2011, 04:18 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr4Film View Post
You need to supply a lot more information as to what exactly you are referring to with regards to a "hook-up" in the parking lot. Also, what VAN/RV are you talking about and what systems does this vehicle have for electric, battery charging capabilities, inverter/converter if any, etc. etc. etc.

This information is needed before anyone can supply you with a decent accurate answer.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
I'm not sure, but it's not a lot designed for RV's etc. The plugs are the basic type that allows your car to start up in the morning. My van is a pretty standard dodge caravan. I can buy an inverter, but will that prevent my batter from dying? Does the plug give the batter just enough juice to stay warm, or is it enough to power a laptop or fan? I'm sorry that I'm so ignorant about this lol
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Old 11-27-2011, 06:53 AM   #4
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As previously stated, you didn't post a lot of "clues" to your situation. I'm going to offer my guess, based on personal experience from living in colder climate areas --Colorado and Vermont.

I "suspect" that the parking lot hookups you describe are to accommodate vehicles that have engine "block heaters" that are plugged into power to recirculate and heat the engine's radiator water system.

A warm engine offers less resistance to cold weather starts and is easier on the battery when the engine is cranked up. I have one on my diesel and it helps. (It's also nice having a warm engine so I don't have to run it on high idle while the system heats up.)

With that said, and what you have responded with about your Dodge, I don't believe the intent of what is offered is for temporary RV hookup. You may want to reconsider all of your available options first, or bundle up. There's cold nights ahead.
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Old 11-27-2011, 01:20 PM   #5
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It sounds like you have a good relation with your school. However, if the hookup plug is a standard residential type, it will only be 15 or 20 Amps. This will effectively limit what current you can draw, and there might not be much - if any- surplus after running the engine block heater. Even is you don't run the engine heater, you will be very limited in what you can power. The only real way to evaluate this is to add up your anticipated power use and compare this to what is available at the plug. And, don't forget that this plug is probably protected by a residential circuit breaker which is only rated for 80% of it's handle amps for continuous duty. This means a 20A breaker will only carry 16A continuously.


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Originally Posted by proper View Post
Hi,

I'm considering living in my van for the next little bit to save money. My school offers a cheap heated parking spot with a hook up to keep the engine warm in the winter.

I've never used one of those, so I'm not sure what it's capable of. If my car is plugged in, can I use its lighter plug in to use my computer/fan/etc without draining my battery?

Thanks
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:11 PM   #6
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If the parking space comes with an outlet, can we assume that it gets really cold out there? If you have a propane heater, you can probably get by. If you are trying to heat with a space heater, unless you have LOTS of insulation, you'll probably be a little chilly.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:50 PM   #7
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Thank you for your feedback. I guess I'll have to re-think a few things lol
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:58 PM   #8
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All you would have to do to keep your battery charged is a battery charger. You can selectively plug in your engine heater, no need to plug it in if you aren't going to start the vehicle. A catalytic heater with a 20# propane tank could keep you warm. Just remember to crack a window or open a vent a little. An electric blanket and sleeping bag should keep you warm while sleeping. What state are you located in.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:01 PM   #9
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I'm from Canada, and I'm considering moving somewhere warmer like British Columbia. That's why I'm not really worried about the heating. However, of all the conveniences of having your own place, going online every now and then is one that I'm not willing to sacrifice

How does the battery charger work?
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:07 PM   #10
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You plug it into 120 VAC (the power receptacle in the parking lot) and connect the 12 VDC cable on the output to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. To keep up the battery while using your computer and a light, you could get by with a 10 amp charger.
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Old 12-15-2011, 10:13 AM   #11
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You Need to check what the wattage draw is, on what you will be using; And to be on the safe side DO NOT EXCEED 1200 Watts.. Here why; We have gatherings at our place It's a resident. we have several out door plugs. Shop, pump house, etc, Several asked if they could lpug in.. I said we don't allow that However If no heaters (electric, air conditioners, electric blankets ,Or high draw are used.) well they pluged in. Now the breakers as with most ;; are in the main house., about 2;30 AM O;clock the breaker blue . One of them thought they could use there E blanket.. I only say this . To make the point. 99% of the wireing is NOT capeable of carrying a electric heater load, as it is a steady draw, And the wireing is not designed for that..
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:02 PM   #12
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The outlet is a 15 amp 120 volt outlet designed for a block heater.

Your question is can you use the lighter to power a laptop etc. and not run the battery down.

The answer, Unless you have modified your van by adding a converter, is NO.
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:21 PM   #13
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While an RV Power Converter would be the deluxe way to go, it is probably beyond your limited knowledge of AC and DC electrical wiring. Just get a decent battery charger and you shouldn't have any problems
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Old 12-15-2011, 01:53 PM   #14
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I may be missing something here BUT why involve the van's 12v system at all? Assuming the van is gasoline powered, it probably doesn't NEED a block heater especially if it's a "heated parking spot" (presumably in a garage of some type?)

I agree that there's a lot of unknowns here, but I doubt that anything near 100% of the other parkers use block heaters. I'd recommend just running an extension cord from the power source directly into the van. I'd get one of those oil-filled electric radiators. Most have 3 levels of heat output, some I saw draw as little as 400 watts. If you're worried about tripping the breaker, find out where it is and charge your laptop when the heater is not running.

BTW: my RV parked in the driveway is supplied with an extension cord from a 20 amp outlet. I can run the A/C in the summer and last winter (after winterizing) my teenage son used it for partying with friends and the only heat was an electric oil-filled radiator. The RV may be insulated better (kinda doubt it) but the van's parking spot is probably more sheltered and the interior volume is much smaller.

I think it can be done.
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