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Old 06-23-2012, 10:53 PM   #1
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New user electrical questions

In just over a month I'll be renting a 28' Xlite 2012 Wildwood. I've never used one before but very much looking forward to it. I'll be attending an astronomy camp in Central Oregon for 5 days. There will be no available 120v or water during the trip. There will be my wife and two boys joining me. I understand the trailer has a fridge, microwave, lights, water pump, tv and who knows what else. I noticed that it has a 140 amp hour battery.

The first and main question is: does the fridge operate from the 12V dc? If so, how long might that last on a full battery? We are fine without the tv and microwave but having water, lights and fridge would be nice.

I've been thinking about buying a 100w solar panel and charger but charging the battery from 50% to full could take days. I estimate we will have 9 hours a day of full sun. At least in the past we have. If the fridge uses a lot of dc amperage then I was thinking about buying a quiet 1600w (peak 2kw) generator for charging the battery. I can only use a generator at this sight for 5 hours a day.

Can anyone give some info on how power hungry the fridge, water pump and lights are?

Thanks for any feedback.


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Old 06-23-2012, 11:19 PM   #2
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Normally the fridge will only work on 120V AC or propane. The lights and water pump will work from the battery. TV and microwave will also only work on 120V AC. Water pump will pump from the fresh water tank so make sure you fill that up.

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Old 06-23-2012, 11:36 PM   #3
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Don't worry about the water pump, not going to have enough water for 5 days with that many. Toilet and dishes will deplete your tank, don't even think about a shower. The firidge will run on propane, as long as the battery is up to charge. The main problem you are going to have is fresh water and full holding tanks. Shower is about 10 gallons per person. You have 4 people, and that is 40 gallons, will run out of fresh water, and will fill the gray tank after the first night of showers.
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Old 06-24-2012, 01:05 AM   #4
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Regarding showers there will be a shower truck at this event so we can avoid showers in the trailer. I'll be sure to bring extra drinking water in the back of the pickup. There will also be out houses nearby so we can use those during the day. Thanks for the info.
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Old 06-24-2012, 05:01 AM   #5
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The fridge will easily run the week on 2 propane tanks since it uses very little propane. The water pump only runs when used. You can shut it off if it is cycling when not in use, but that should only happen if there is a leak somewhere.

Is the "5 hour generator use" rule a window of use or can you run it for an hour here or there for an accumulated 5 hrs? If that is the case, you might want it just to run the AC for a bit if it gets hot. The generator isn't a bad idea either way, though.

I agree with the others in saying 5 days will equal no water by mid week and full tanks, you might want a Barker Manufacturing Company 11104 22 Gal. Original Tote-Along: Automotive for dumping the grey tank when full if they have a dump station.

Also, what truck (need payload number off yellow tire sticker on door specifically) are you pulling this with and what exact trailer. You might not have room in the truck for extra load if it is a ill-equipped 1/2 ton with a full family load already and a 28' TT will have some good weight to it on the tongue. I see the 281BH is 700lbs dry so keep that in mind...
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Old 06-24-2012, 09:45 AM   #6
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Great info. I'm glad to hear the fridge can run off propane. If we get low on that I can run into the nearest town for more (about an hour away). Once i park the trailer though i dont intend to move it agin until the 5 days is done. My truck is an F250 super duty. I thinks it's got an 11000 lb towing capacity but I'll double check for sure. If grey water fills up then just do what we at used to, dishes and washing outside.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-24-2012, 10:04 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Cablet View Post
Great info. I'm glad to hear the fridge can run off propane.
The fridge does run off of propane, but as windrider posted earlier, it still needs a small amount of 12 volt to power the mother board, inside light, and cooling fan. Not a lot of current draw.

With the fridge and water pump only, a fully charged 140 ah battery should be plenty to go 5 days. Keep the lights off, and use battery powered lanterns. Worse case, plug the truck into the camper for a quick charge.

You did not state what 28' trailer you will be using. Many that size have slides, which will take power to open and close. I leave my truck plugged in while operating the slide in dry camping areas.

2 full propane tanks should be plenty to run the fridge, strove, and water heater. Heck, I have only filled our 30 lb. tanks 6 times over the last 3 1/2 years, and we do quite a bit of dry camping.

As previously posted, water management is going to be the big concern. With 4 people using the toilet, that might fill quickly. Hopefully, other options are available.

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Old 06-24-2012, 11:03 AM   #8
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We have 3 children. Our water tanks, no showers are empty at 4 days being frugal.Biggest use of water is flushing and washing dishes. I suggest turning the water pump off unless the water frugal adult is monitoring. Use your on-board water for cooking.

You need to preserve the battery for running the fridge controls (stays cold on propane, but if your battery is low it will not work). The solar panel isn't enough to keep your battery charged, the generator is a better choice which would allow your lights at night, fans, etc. You could only use the microwave while the generator is running.

So, instead of a week long rental, have you thought of buying? A used unit might already have that generator!

For more good information, search this forum for info on "generators", "solar panels", and "boon docking" or "dry camping".

Frugal water use is a whole mindset. For example will you use paper plates? Wipe as much trace of food from pans and dishes with the paper napkins before washing, use multiple dish pans, the first a pre-rinse - perhaps the water used for hand washing before the meal, then wash water and two rinses, when the first rinse gets too soapy, greasy, it becomes the wash water, etc so that the water is used multiple times. Little children in the bathroom could easily go through 10 gallons of water washing their hands and brushing their teeth without water frugal instruction.

This is a huge teachable moment (month) about water cycle, fresh water conservation etc. Depending on the age of your boys you could do all sorts of interesting projects before/during the trip.
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:32 AM   #9
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Here is an idea of what the amp draws are for your camper.

normal appliance amp draws

Some show stoppers you will not be able to recover from:

1) Forgetting to turn the fridge "defroster switch" off. Will by itself kill your battery dead in a couple of hours.

2) Forgetting to turn off tank heaters (if equipped) - See above.

3) Using too many lights, too often. At 1.2 amps per BULB; a 2 bulb fixture can make a serious dent in your battery.

4) Even with a 1600 watt generator, forget the AC and microwave (won't hack the amps and can destroy your generator). If you intend to do this again, invest in a Honda 2000. Pricey but well worth the money. Use a stand alone charger like a "Ship-N-Shore" 4 stage unit ( Schumacher XCS15 SpeedCharge Ship 'n Shore Battery Charger: Automotive) plugged into your generator to charge your battery. Do not try to use the onboard charger; it will take too long and you have a very small generator run window.

5) 140 AH is an awesome battery. It normally takes a pair of 12 volt deep cycle batteries (70AH each) to get that. I question whether a rental has a 500 dollar battery or even a pair of 100 dollar batteries) in it.

6) Will there be other campers there? Maybe you can talk one into letting you tap into their generator (bring long HD extension cords as you may need them anyway).

7) Water. Where is it and how will you haul it? Once you set up head to town for the local big store (Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, etc) and buy 1 gallon bottled water jugs (easier to handle and no deposit on the jugs).

8) Dumping. Where and how will you do it? Will there be Porta-Johnnies? Use them. A full black tank will really be a hastle since you will need to dump it somewhere. Flushing it out (since it is a rental) could be problematic. When we rented I was pretty dumb about how to do it and I was always charged for not dumping properly.

9) Solar will not do much for you (IMO) as even a 100 watt panel with controller will not replace 20% of what you will use in a day.

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Old 06-24-2012, 11:51 AM   #10
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Looks like the 28 XLite Wildwood does have a slide. Using the shower trailer and outhouses would help make it through the week.

As mentioned dishing washing can use up a lot of water & using paper plates can reduce water usage. Ditto on using battery operated lanterns.

It's a personal choice but I only kept one propane tank on and will go out to switch over when the first tank is empty. This way I know when one tank is empty vs finding out that both tanks are empty. Beware that using the furnace will eat up propane real fast. I only run my furnace to take the chill off.

Yes to bringing drinking water. Most of us do not drink the water from the fresh water tank.

Good luck and have fun.

Great choice for "Living within my means" and camping for one...

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