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Old 05-17-2015, 04:53 PM   #1
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Battery boondock question

2006 Damon.Astoria.Pacific.
Plans are to attempt a couple weeks of Boondocking June 1 thru 15th. But Temperatures are going to be low 30s or Hi 20s evenings, days are in the mid 60s ot low 70;s elevation 6200 ft.
Also Can not run generator 10pm to 7am.

SO QUESTION BEING: We WILL NEED "off and on" to selectively choose independently..... 12v Atwood Propane Furnace #8535 @ 8.9 amps, Norcold Propane Frig @ 1.2 amp 14 watt, plus Occasional 12v Water Pump for flushing toilet and shower ? Not sure of the Water heater unless we run Generator before 10 pm for showers only.
Generator is a Onan Quiet Pac 7,500 watt that we plan to run days up to 3 to 4 hours daily to assist a battery recharge after using batteries each overnite for ATWOOD FURNACE HEATING & NORCOLD FRIG ONLY.
Maybe an occasional LED light for a late night restroom run.

WIFE REALLY CONCERNED Our Battery System which is 4 - 6v Deep Cell/Cycle will not hold or even be recharged daily based on my plan.

ALL OPINIONS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED...Particularly since temps will be major concern for heat overnite.
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Old 05-17-2015, 05:04 PM   #2
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When we boondock we usually run the generator for a few hours right up to the nighttime shutdown time. During that time we take our showers, warm up the MH, and do all the stuff we need to do with 110 volt. Then we shut it down and set the heater at about 40-45 degrees and just use some extra blankets if needed. If it is really cold out the heater may come on a couple times but not for very long, not enough to wear done the batteries. About the coldest we have boondocked in so far has been right around 30 degrees. Then first thing in the morning we start the generator, make our coffee, breakfast ect, and let it run until the batteries are at a full level. So far I don't think combined we run it for more than 4 hours a day and have not had a problem with dead or low batteries.
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Old 05-17-2015, 05:31 PM   #3
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We did similar prior to installing solar. Run the generator a couple three hours in the morning to replenished from the night and fix breakfast. Again in the evening for a couple three hours to fix dinner and watch a bit of TV.

A good down comforter on the bed really works well to keep warm at night and allow the furnace set lower.
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Old 05-17-2015, 05:55 PM   #4
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FWIW your biggest heat losses are probably your vents and front glass. We use vent pillows because they make a big difference. A Curtain behind the cab area would also help if you can do a temporary without a lot of hassle.

If the genset is hard to start leave it alone and start the main engine. Let it idle a coulple of minutes and it should be topping off the chassis batteries from the alternator. Start the genset then shut down the main engine. You will get an added boost from the engine alternator. In turn the genset should charge the chassis batteries as well as the house batteries. If it does not a simple charger will work as long as you do not leave it on all the time.
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Old 05-17-2015, 06:09 PM   #5
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Will you have enough propane for that length of stay?
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Old 05-17-2015, 07:21 PM   #6
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So. You have probable 400 or so Amphours in those 4 batteries, and perhaps 200 useable amphours. Your furnace will have maybe about 50% cycle time so thats about 4 Amps/hour.. So even with a 20 hour run time thats 80 AH.

The central problem is the deplorable performance of most battery chargers/converters that don't deliver anything even close to a decent charge. You could use up to a 100 ampcharger with temperature compensation and recover you daily use in a couple of hours. But the stock charger, regardless of it's rating wont do more than 20-30 amps per hour and thats the problem. This is especially true after the batteries are back up to 80% and the charging tapers off to under 10 amps/hour.

SO, get a good charger and a battery monitor and you will be fine on a couple of charging hours per day. Better yet get a couple hundred watts of solar, and tou can run thegenerator for an hour in the morning and the panels will do the rest during the day.
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:33 PM   #7
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Boondocking replies......thanx

First of all thanx much for the replies that all have presented.
To answer a few here goes:
DO ALL THESE SUGGESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE RUN ON 4 - 6V BATTERY SYSTEMS ?
I have also been told via friends there is an Online Calculator to calculate using Ah = AmpHours and GRT = Generator Run Time it takes to Regenerate batteries. Maybe someone has found this already.
Soooooo Next step is to check Acidity which is where we are headed now with Hydrometer and Distilled water

Mike & Cha Your suggestions make a lot of sense to us, especially running Generator 2 hours before shutting down about 10pm each night and setting temp to 45 degrees. Then run Generator in morning another 2 hours. WE have Comforters from IKEA

Northmark: We have a Windshield Cover that can be pulled closed with a handle that covers entire width and height of glass windshield. Did you add more than that ? Do you add any cover to the other windows such as "Silver Quilted Insulation" sheets from Home depot. Our windows all have night shades as well as windows with insulated e-glass.

Charliej: Our tank is 24 gallon Propane, so should be adequate for 2 weeks.

Garbonz: Do you know of a web site Ah / CCA calculator that allows calculating what is needed to rejuvenate batteries ?

Overall.....looks like with a little thought and a stiff drink before bed each night plus using only appliances we need as we need them. All should work for the 2 weeks we Boondock.

BTW ..... Do each of you or others also run Refrigerator on Propane 24x7 while boondocking ?

Thanx to all, for great ideas and how to conserve.
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baldtbird.06 View Post
First of all thanx much for the replies that all have presented.
To answer a few here goes:
DO ALL THESE SUGGESTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE RUN ON 4 - 6V BATTERY SYSTEMS ?
I have also been told via friends there is an Online Calculator to calculate using Ah = AmpHours and GRT = Generator Run Time it takes to Regenerate batteries. Maybe someone has found this already.
Soooooo Next step is to check Acidity which is where we are headed now with Hydrometer and Distilled water

Mike & Cha Your suggestions make a lot of sense to us, especially running Generator 2 hours before shutting down about 10pm each night and setting temp to 45 degrees. Then run Generator in morning another 2 hours. WE have Comforters from IKEA

Northmark: We have a Windshield Cover that can be pulled closed with a handle that covers entire width and height of glass windshield. Did you add more than that ? Do you add any cover to the other windows such as "Silver Quilted Insulation" sheets from Home depot. Our windows all have night shades as well as windows with insulated e-glass.

Charliej: Our tank is 24 gallon Propane, so should be adequate for 2 weeks.

Garbonz: Do you know of a web site Ah / CCA calculator that allows calculating what is needed to rejuvenate batteries ?

Overall.....looks like with a little thought and a stiff drink before bed each night plus using only appliances we need as we need them. All should work for the 2 weeks we Boondock.

BTW ..... Do each of you or others also run Refrigerator on Propane 24x7 while boondocking ?

Thanx to all, for great ideas and how to conserve.
baldtbird.06
BTW ..... Do each of you or others also run Refrigerator on Propane 24x7 while boondocking ?

YES, on 12 volts the refrig will pull 8 amps CONTINUOUSLY. so run it on propane.

AND I don't know of any calculator, only a good battery monitor will tell you what you need to know. Trimetric or similar, otherwise it is just speculation.

If it is only 2 week and you have a stock charger, just check you voltages in the morning and don't worry about it.

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Old 05-18-2015, 11:08 PM   #9
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Our fridge runs only on 110 or propane and can be set to automatically choose the power source, with Electric being the first choice, or set for one or the other. So when the generator is running it will automatically go to electricity. The fridge is the least of your concerns for using up your propane, as it only uses a really minimal amount to run it. The big draws on the propane will be the heater and your water heater. Ours has an electric water heater also so when we have the generator on we turn on the electric heater to save propane. Also if you have heat pumps you can run those with the generator on to save some propane.


On ours the generator brings up the batteries really quick, and two to three hours run time is more than enough.We have two 12 volt chassis batteries so I'm not sure what the 6 volts do. Also when we go to bed we use the inverter to watch the TV, which has never been a problem. If you have an EMS it will tell you what power your batteries are at, and how well they are coming back up, that will help with your peace of mind.

We have had several RV's over the years and when our kids were small we did most of our Camping in the desert, dry camping, motorcycle riding. We used the heater every night as it gets down in the low 30's at night, and the kids were small. We never ran out of propane and seldom had to fill the tanks. With our current MH we went all last year, spent over 100 nights in the MH, about 1/2 of them with no hookups, and traveled over 8000 miles. A lot of those dry camping nights were in the Sierras where it got down in the 30's. The gauge only went down to about 5/8 ths of a tank, so I topped it off to see what I really used. It only took 9 gallons to fill the 24 gallon tank so it was right on the mark and you can see the propane use is pretty economical if you plan it out somewhat. Even without planning you will be fine for two weeks and a whole lot longer. Good luck and have fun, the more you use it the better you will know what it can do.
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Old 05-18-2015, 11:23 PM   #10
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A couple hours of gen time will usually bring the batteries up to 80% charge and it takes several more hours to get that last 20%. So it's not really feasible to get more than the 80% charge. That's what I figure on no matter what RV we have.
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:25 PM   #11
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For several years we have been boondocking with a like setup. Set the refer on propane, get the vent pillows(this is a big heat loss), run the Gen 4-5 hours a day(we do computer time, TV time, and charge the cells at this time also, and run the water heater on the Gen too. We leave the furnace off during the night unless it gets to about 25 or so. We also run two small Elec heaters while the Gen is on. Never even come close to running out of power. Another thing is put insulated aluminum window covers on between windows and curtains/blinds. The wife reads after 10:00 bed hour but we have LED lights for that and never worry.

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