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Old 08-11-2019, 09:13 PM   #1
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Smile 3 way refrigerator

Hi all, I'm new to the camper life in general and decided to start with an a frame. I purchased a 2016 Rockwood A212HW. I am going on my first "boondocking" trip this month. We will be going for four nights. I have scoured this forum for hours but cant seem to find a consensus on my two questions. Can you help?

First - will my refrigerator run on propane only (if I have the battery disconnected)? If so, will my dual propane system last the trip?

If not, and I use nothing but the refrigerator ( I understand there will be pull on the batteries from other places once connected) will the propane and DC power last me the full five days if I do not recharge at all?

Thank you for your help, I'm trying to teach myself from the internet and you know how that can go.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:09 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kp0130 View Post

First - will my refrigerator run on propane only (if I have the battery disconnected)? If so, will my dual propane system last the trip?

If not, and I use nothing but the refrigerator ( I understand there will be pull on the batteries from other places once connected) will the propane and DC power last me the full five days if I do not recharge at all?

Thank you for your help, I'm trying to teach myself from the internet and you know how that can go.
First- the propane side needs 12v battery power to ignite the propane. It uses very little power. Your dual 20lbs tanks should easily last the entire time.
Second- hard to answer without knowing what kind of batteries you have.

The biggest 12v battery power drain is the furnace. The 3-way fridge will use very little. The water pump would probably be second highest in power drain.

I'm assuming, since you didn't state it, that you'll be dry camping or boondocking.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:58 AM   #3
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Good morning from Montana! We also just purchased a 2015 same model and are planning our first shakedown run. Starting in our mid 70's it is a bit of a learning curve for us, but still get excited thinking about it. Lol

Just wanted to reach out and share, know that you are at a good site here. Good camping
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:34 AM   #4
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yes on propane lasting, easily.... but it does need battery power to ignite.... minimal, but can not disconnect.

On "will battery last"? May depend on # and set up. I only have 1 - 12 Deep cell that came with my rig and NO it would not las the trip. Have 2000 w Geny. I borrowed one from a friend to take on my first boondock trip just as caution. I Learned quickly that I needed one. I might last 2 dats without it but since I now do, I run gey to recharge twice daily for an hour or two.

Remember too that it suggested everywhere on here to not let battery fall below 50% level.

Suppose you could get a larger bank of batteries, solar may help some; but I operate on the theory that if boondocking regularly you will want the generator.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
First- the propane side needs 12v battery power to ignite the propane. It uses very little power. Your dual 20lbs tanks should easily last the entire time.
Second- hard to answer without knowing what kind of batteries you have.

The biggest 12v battery power drain is the furnace. The 3-way fridge will use very little. The water pump would probably be second highest in power drain.

I'm assuming, since you didn't state it, that you'll be dry camping or boondocking.
Hi all, I'm new to the camper life in general and decided to start with an a frame. I purchased a 2016 Rockwood A212HW. I am going on my first "boondocking" trip this month. We will be going for four nights. I have scoured this forum for hours but cant seem to find a consensus on my two questions. Can you help?

Yeah he did.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:14 AM   #6
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Oh, and wher this is a GREAT site for info..... Dont ever expect to get a concensus on anything! Too many different rigs, habits, and equipment.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:16 AM   #7
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Oh, and wher this is a GREAT site for info..... Dont ever expect to get a concensus on anything! Too many different rigs, habits, and equipment.
My all time favorite word....."Expert Opinion".
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:33 AM   #8
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We just returned from a month on the road in Colo. The fridg uses very little propane; won't come close to using even one of the tanks.
The battery should last if you disconnect the radio, CO2 alarm, and any other parasites. (It is not safe to disconnect the CO2 detector - but for times you aren't inside it should be fine.) You might also use lights and accessories that do not draw on your aframe battery.
Go for it!
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:42 AM   #9
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You sort of need a battery monitor and generator.

Batteries last longer if you do not discharge over 50%. Can kill them easily in a season.

I have the BM2 from Amazon. Bluetooth signal to your phone. Mine was $40. Easy install.

Modern rv’s have parasitic loads that get you. You would need two batteries for a long weekend likely. Or a generator. Maybe solar if you live out west where the sun always shines.
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Old 08-12-2019, 12:45 PM   #10
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As an A-frame camper for the past 6 years (half of it dry camping), and 7 years of pop-up camping prior, these are my findings:

Propane usage - fridge uses next to nothing. Heater uses considerably more when it's running. Nevertheless, I have never used a full propane tank in less than a year of camping. I use the stove inside the camper maybe once every 2 years. The throwaway 1lb bottles that we use for our 2 burner camp stove and Weber 1200 Baby-Q last about 1 week on each appliance. We use the hot water heater maybe 6 days a year - normally heat water on the camp stove for dish washing.

Battery usage - I was frustrated by dead batteries mid-week on 8-9 days dry camping at Lake Tahoe (every year for 8 years). Before the trip was up, I could no longer pump water out of the tank because the battery was too low. I went up to a Group 29, which helped, but didn't solve the problem. The primary villain was the heater fan, although our incandescent bulbs in the lights didn't help. We really needed a way to recharge the battery mid-trip.

When we started with the A-frames, I went with a dealer-installed 2nd Group 24 battery. Our use case was 4 nights without going below 50%. A-frame heaters run a lot less than a pop-up - there is more insulation in the walls, and there is a lot less volume to heat. In the A-frame, on a 40 degree night, I can keep the thermostat at 60, and still have less than 5 hours run time on the heater. With the 2 batteries, we could make our use case of 4 nights without recharging, but not much better. Which was OK, since the food and water were running out after 4 nights anyway.

Doing some investigation, I found the stereo was a power hog that was difficult to control. It kept turning itself on every time there was a voltage change - such as plugging in/unplugging the camper, disconnecting the battery, plugging/unplugging into the tow vehicle, etc. I installed a separate switch in BOTH stereo + power leads - there are 2 leads, one for power through the ignition, and back power for memory that bypasses the ignition. With the external switch off, the stereo cannot turn itself on.

When the parallel 12V batteries crapped out - a bad cell took out both batteries before I realized what had happened - I replaced them with 2 Costco/Interstate GC-2 6V batteries (210AH). This gave me additional power (105 usable AH).

As others have pointed out, the fridge in HW A-frames has a DC control board that must be on for the fridge to run on propane. If you eliminate the stereo, and use LED lights and water pump reasonably, you can keep your electric usage around 15AH/day (no heat running). The standard Group 24 has 40AH available (max) before you run into the 50% line. The 50% is not a cut-off but repeated discharges below 50% really reduce battery life (number of charge/discharge cycles). The heater fan draws about 3.5 amps, so you can see that will impact the number of days you can run without recharging.

Bottom line: to get 4 consecutive nights dry camping without recharging and without destroying your batteries, you need 2 batteries.

hope this helps
Fred W
2019 Flagstaff T21TBHW A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
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