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Old 08-14-2019, 06:38 PM   #1
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Dry camping/Boondocking questions

I know that my camper doesn't fall under catagory of the OP, but my question is pretty generic...


Just so that I understand....most campers always leave their converters on, even when boon docking?


We just got back from our 3rd camping trip ever, so we have a lot to learn.


We ran the fridge on propane for about 24 hours prior to leaving for our trip. It got nice and cold.


All the switches in the panel were shut off, and remained off for the entire trip....there were no hookups at this State Park.


I just figured that if there were no hookups, why have the breaker switches on? Unless it doesn't matter either way?


Is there an advantage to leaving the switches on, when not plugged in to any electrical power source?


Ran everything off of propane (and battery power) the entire time. Didn't use any 110v items, of course...



Also....the couple that went with has a 2019 GeoPro. We have 1999 Wildwood 5er(20 years old...older technology??)


Their camper will charge the RV battery from the TV battery as long as the camper's power cord is plugged into the TV 7-pin outlet. I was not aware of this fact.


I looked through all my original manuals and didn't see that our camper would do this. Any comment on this?


Rich
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:03 PM   #2
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This is true, but if you are not running the tv, you risk draining the battery and not being able to start for the ride out. You would do much better to charge with a small genny or solar array.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:24 PM   #3
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Since there is a constant draw from small items, like the fridge on propane, radio clock, etc...we find the need to use the generator in5he morning to charge the battery back up. Plus, we have a large slide out and big unit to level and unhitch, so a generator saves the battery from heavy duty applications. We also discovered the need for air conditioners on the east coast in the summer, so a generator was required. Doesn’t help we cannot run it after 10 for the AC in a campground though!

Many people use solar as well, but I don’t have experience with that. I would suggest borrowing and trying a small generator as well as investigating solar.
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Old 08-14-2019, 07:49 PM   #4
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The breakers in the panels are usually not switches. I. e. Turning them off and on a lot wears them out. So you sort of avoid that.

As stated modern rv’s have fairly high parasitic loads on the dc side making a generator sort of necessary.

Unfortunately ac is necessary in most of the US in the summer.
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:04 PM   #5
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We boondock a lot. Love it.
Turning off the breakers doesn't gain you anything, same with converter. If not hooked to 110, they don't come into play.
A reason to leave them all on is when you run a generator, you don't have to turn them on again to use the 110 items.
Charging the battery through your 7way plug is a long process and IMHO, not worth messing with. Some vehicles allow it, others do not. Invest in a generator if you plan to boondock frequently enough.
Enjoy!
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Old 08-14-2019, 09:17 PM   #6
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The “charge” you get through the truck’s stock configuration is barely enough to cover the parasitic draws. I have screenshots from my battery monitor.

Also be aware some trucks have a shutoff that disconnects the battery if the truck isn’t running. Not all, of course, some will happily run their batteries down. You’ll have to check yours.
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Old 08-14-2019, 10:12 PM   #7
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X2 to the great advice. Once exception might be that some turn off the switch to the WH so that it can not run if the switch at the WH is on and there is no water in the tank.
I always disconnect from the TV.
And yes to a small 2000 generator. Once a day is all that we seem to need it on.
We do use the 6 volt batteries and always measure the level with a in-line meter.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:37 AM   #8
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Thank you for all the replies.


We brought our Predator 3500 watt inverter generator with us.


But...even though the generator is super-quiet,this campground was so quiet, that I felt a little self conscious running it. But that's my own mania...because I didn't hear any one else running a generator.



So, I waited until there was a time when the campers on both sides of us left their site. Then I ran it for an hour to re-charge the battery.


Of course, I turned the breakers on for that.


We didn't need A/C...weather was nice. We also disconnect the TV, mainly to drive it around the town.


We love our little camper, but it is older, and bare bones....no slide outs, no radio clock, no DC television. "Human-powered" leveling system... not much parasitic draw.



But, going forward, I'll leave all the switches on, all of the time.


Thanks, again.


Rich
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by rollscanardly View Post
Thank you for all the replies.


We brought our Predator 3500 watt inverter generator with us.


But...even though the generator is super-quiet,this campground was so quiet, that I felt a little self conscious running it. But that's my own mania...because I didn't hear any one else running a generator.



So, I waited until there was a time when the campers on both sides of us left their site. Then I ran it for an hour to re-charge the battery.


Of course, I turned the breakers on for that.


We didn't need A/C...weather was nice. We also disconnect the TV, mainly to drive it around the town.


We love our little camper, but it is older, and bare bones....no slide outs, no radio clock, no DC television. "Human-powered" leveling system... not much parasitic draw.



But, going forward, I'll leave all the switches on, all of the time.


Thanks, again.


Rich
Good for you for being respectful of your surroundings. I do the same, even though I can run the genny, I will wait until the campground noises start picking up before running it.
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Old 08-15-2019, 08:24 AM   #10
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How long have you been camping? It is strange that you did not know that your Tow Vehicle did not charge your battery while towing. Look up (google) and see how that all works. You could have ran your propane fridge in the 'on' position while you were driving, most RVers do.

If I were boondocking and wanted to re-charge up my camper battery and did not have a generator to plug into, I would not plug into the 7-point connecter as that is only a trickle charge and would not really 'charge' your battery to a high/hard charge. I would start my tow vehicle and hook up jumper cables to the truck and then to the RV battery and run the truck for 10-15 minutes. This will give your RV battery a 'harder/higher' voltage charge in a short amount of time. Have a good/charged RV battery when boondocking. Most camping people always plug into 30/50 amp campground posts and never think of the 'state' of their battery. The battery may be old and have a cell or two 'dead' and all 12volt systems will still work fine because an RV can run the 12volts systems with out a battery by getting that 12volt power from the converter when plugged into 'shore power'. (not the best of ideas to run your 12volt systems with a 'shorted out' battery.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:20 AM   #11
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It is strange that you did not know that your Tow Vehicle did not charge your battery while towing. .
New to this thread - sorry for butting in - but we were specifically TOLD by the tech who did our very thorough walk-through, that the TV battery would charge the TT battery while towing.

I'm not doubting you - don't take it that way please - but that is exactly what we were told!
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:37 AM   #12
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Charging with the tv.

Technically the tech is correct.

Engineering answer.

The line loss of 12 volt wiring is awful. Your alternator produces likely 200 amps dc, great!

However, the accounting department decided to run small wire to the plug. The accounting department at the trailer company did the same. They then used a 15 amp fuse likely. Therefore the power starts out at 14 volts but due to the length of the wire the voltage dropped to 12.9 volts. A trickle charge is used not to recharge the battery is 13.1 typically. But, it “maintains” the battery, not recharge it.

You can rewire the truck and tv with big wire. Or there is some fancy voltage changing devices. Some trucks do a little better than others.

But, otherwise the tech is correct.

No need for a life jacket.
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Old 08-15-2019, 10:50 AM   #13
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Good for you for being respectful of your surroundings. I do the same, even though I can run the genny, I will wait until the campground noises start picking up before running it.

I waited, too. But it never got all that noisy.



We arrived at the campground late Sunday, and got back home on Wednesday. So, it was a non-weekend stay, and not too busy there.


A few kids laughing and having fun now and then, but that was it for noise. Actually, almost eerily quiet.


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How long have you been camping? It was our 3rd trip ever, as stated in the opening post.It is strange that you did not know that your Tow Vehicle did not charge your battery while towing. Why is that strange? I have a 20 year old camper that I bought used and fixed up. So...no walk-through.No one ever told us this information.Look up (google) and see how that all works. After hearing of this, I looked for this information in the original owner's manual that came with the camper, and there was no mention of this feature. You could have ran your propane fridge in the 'on' position while you were driving, most RVers do.I ran the fridge the entire time, including travel time, on propane. Stayed nice and cold!!

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Old 08-15-2019, 11:10 AM   #14
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Just so I’m tracking…

We generally boondock on our way to see our daughter every couple months. We’re always at “4 lights” on the panel when we park/unplug the truck for the evening and generally down to 3 lights by morning. By the time we arrive at our destination 5 hours later, we’re always back to 4 lights. For what it’s worth, the truck has a ’17 Cummins with dual batteries and dual alternators and the trailer has 2 12 volt batteries (Interstate?).

So assume the TV is recharging the trailer batteries while in route.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:23 AM   #15
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Most vehicles will charge the batteries if you drive long enough. But it's not a whole lot when compared to other charging methods. And definitely, some TVs will charge your RV batteries more than others.
The only way to know how much, is to use a multimeter.
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Just so I’m tracking…

We generally boondock on our way to see our daughter every couple months. We’re always at “4 lights” on the panel when we park/unplug the truck for the evening and generally down to 3 lights by morning. By the time we arrive at our destination 5 hours later, we’re always back to 4 lights. For what it’s worth, the truck has a ’17 Cummins with dual batteries and dual alternators and the trailer has 2 12 volt batteries (Interstate?).

So assume the TV is recharging the trailer batteries while in route.
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Old 08-15-2019, 11:39 AM   #16
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The only way to know how much, is to use a multimeter.

Test how? Touch multimeter to battery terminals after sitting for a couple hours? At what voltage should I pull out the EU2200 and charge the batteries? Bought Honda generator charging cables, but haven’t used them yet.
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:00 PM   #17
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Yep, I use the free multimeter from Harbor Freight
I will usually test after a few hours (or one) of sitting with no major discharge. After towing, and disconnected from tv, I will turn on something like a light (then off) to get rid of surface charge and let it sit a spell and test.
I charge everyday as we start the generator every morning for coffee pot and Liz can watch her morning news programs. And then again at night for dinner prep and tv/radio. So about 5 hours a day which also recharges the battery bank. In the winter the batteries may drop below 50% overnight, but otherwise is around 70%+ in the morning.
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Test how? Touch multimeter to battery terminals after sitting for a couple hours? At what voltage should I pull out the EU2200 and charge the batteries? Bought Honda generator charging cables, but haven’t used them yet.
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:06 PM   #18
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Oh, don't use those charging cables, you will get faster charge by plugging your RV into the generator and using the RV converter.
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Test how? Touch multimeter to battery terminals after sitting for a couple hours? At what voltage should I pull out the EU2200 and charge the batteries? Bought Honda generator charging cables, but haven’t used them yet.
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Old 08-15-2019, 12:15 PM   #19
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Dry camping/Boondocking questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob.n.Denise View Post
Test how? Touch multimeter to battery terminals after sitting for a couple hours? At what voltage should I pull out the EU2200 and charge the batteries? Bought Honda generator charging cables, but haven’t used them yet.


If your converter has a multi stage charger you would be much better off to power that from your generator. The charging cable you bought will charge at 10 Amp max. A multi stage charger will bulk charge at several times that. Typically a couple of hours will bring your batteries to 80 or 90%. Charging at 10 Amps will take most of the day to accomplish the same thing.

Using a voltmeter is a poor way to determine state of charge. To be more accurate, yes measure after a couple of hours but you must also have the battery physically disconnected during that time because parasitic loads will affect your voltage reading. Any load can cause a lowering of terminal voltage and an erroneous charge level reading. You might want to invest in a Battery Monitor that measures the actual amount of current that flows into and out of the battery.

The chart illustrates that the difference in voltage (and “full to empty” charge) is only about a half of a volt.

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Old 08-15-2019, 12:27 PM   #20
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Agreed, using multimeter might be a poor method, or better put, a poor man's method.
You can be accurate enough with a multimeter for RVing purposes by using a 100% battery cutoff. Good enough to let me know general charge status of my battery, and that's all I'm after.
If battery maint was my hobby, I'd spend more money on fancy monitors, solar, wiring, etc. But my main objective is to enjoy traveling by keeping it simple and cheap
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If your converter has a multi stage charger you would be much better off to power that from your generator. The charging cable you bought will charge at 10 Amp max. A multi stage charger will bulk charge at several times that. Typically a couple of hours will bring your batteries to 80 or 90%. Charging at 10 Amps will take most of the day to accomplish the same thing.

Using a voltmeter is a poor way to determine state of charge. To be more accurate, yes measure after a couple of hours but you must also have the battery physically disconnected during that time because parasitic loads will affect your voltage reading. Any load can cause a lowering of terminal voltage and an erroneous charge level reading. You might want to invest in a Battery Monitor that measures the actual amount of current that flows into and out of the battery.

The chart illustrates that the difference in voltage (and “full to empty” charge) is only about a half of a volt.

[ATTACH]212448
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