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Old 07-09-2016, 04:42 PM   #11
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You can also recharge your batteries by plugging into you tow vehicle. Be careful you don't draw down your starting battery or you will be in a spot. I just bought a Renogy 100watt folding solar panel. A bit pricey but a lot cheaper than they were a few years back. You can find cheaper ones on eBay. A 40ft extension cable allows the camper to be in the shade and the panel in the sun. I was surprised how little power we actually use. The 4month old will keep both of you warm if the heater stops I promise. Our daughter would cook us out of bed when she was really little. A regular little furnace she was.


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Old 07-09-2016, 05:11 PM   #12
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You can also recharge your batteries by plugging into you tow vehicle.
Just be aware that most tow vehicles will only provide a trickle charge at best.

So a depleted battery would take hours to recharge from the tow vehicle.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:14 PM   #13
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Just be aware that most tow vehicles will only provide a trickle charge at best.

So a depleted battery would take hours to recharge from the tow vehicle.
You'd be lucky to get much charge on most TV through the RV cable. If you must run the motor, use it to power an inverter connected to a battery charger. It will still take hours to recharge if the battery is low.

A Honda i1000 (900 continuous watts) should provide enough power to run the onboard converter. From recent personal experience, I can say not go go lower than that at altitude. My 800 watt Generac does the job at sea level but not in Colorado. A false economy buy.
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Old 07-09-2016, 06:43 PM   #14
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...Just getting out and doing it will tell me a lot about our battery usage. I'm fearful of running out of juice with a 4 month old. Not that we need power for much...the heater is the priority. Our first trip we used the inside lights for about 1min and realized...dang those are bright. I ordered LED's on Amazon to replace all the inside and outside lights to help save battery juice. The water pump is going to get exercised...we love having hot water. I'd like to use the radio but will avoid it to conserve if we don't do solar....
As you say, using it will teach you. Some more I have learned.

The water pump isn't going to use diddly. You can pump your 15 gal water tank dry in less than 15 min. Tip I learned - when you fill your water tank, open a hot water spigot (I open the hot on the outside shower), turn on the water pump, and fill the hot water heater. Turn off the pump. That's an extra 6 gal of water. Then top off the water tank.

Install a battery disconnect (they don't come standard with A-frames). A picture of mine is below. Mine is a marine switch for 2 12V batteries - you don't need anything that fancy. Disconnect whenever not camping or towing. This keeps the stereo and propane/CO alarm from depleting your batteries while the trailer is parked.

My stereo turns itself on whenever something electrical happens - turn disconnect on, hook up shore power, etc. I'm going to install a separate switch in the power feed, and add a voltmeter for convenience (and maybe a USB/cigarette lighter charge port as well). The stereo with the speakers cranked up can draw a couple of amps.

Most of all relax. The worst that can happen is that you take your batteries down below 50% charge, and that may shorten their life if done repeatedly. Everything still works. If you draw them down to almost dead (11V and less), then the water pump is the 1st thing to quit working (lights are dim but work). The low voltage alarm on the CO/propane alarm will probably chirp before the pump quits. If you do draw your batteries way down, prompt recharging minimizes the damage. Been there, done that with a single Size 27 dry camping in a Coleman PUP for 9 days at Lake Tahoe, running the heater some most nights.

Another tip - the CO portion of your CO/propane alarm has a life limit of 5 years, which you are approaching. Plan on a replacement soon for the baby's sake.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
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Old 07-09-2016, 09:02 PM   #15
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I got a fantastic deal on a Honda 3000 inverter generator. I keep it on a rack I bought from etrailer and it takes weight off the tongue as well S lets me run anything I want. I spent two weeks in the keys dry camping with no problem and the weather was cool on January
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Old 07-09-2016, 11:04 PM   #16
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Thanks again !!! You guys are great. Sooo...I actually saw your post Fred on the home made battery box and disconnect. I was wondering, if I'm home and plugged into shore power is that ok? Is there any harm in keeping it plugged in long term, say over the summer when are are going camping often? I planned on keeping the frig going and just stay on shore power when at home.

Cantxsailor-How have you found the Renogy folding setup? I've been looking at it and was wondering how it would work. What is your battery setup? I was curious how long it would take to recharge....say half battery level?
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Old 07-10-2016, 03:41 AM   #17
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...I actually saw your post Fred on the home made battery box and disconnect. I was wondering, if I'm home and plugged into shore power is that ok? Is there any harm in keeping it plugged in long term, say over the summer when are are going camping often? I planned on keeping the frig going and just stay on shore power when at home.
Check your battery voltage after leaving the A-frame untouched for at least 3 days. WFCO states their converters will drop into trickle charge mode of 13.2 volts after at least 44 hours of no significant current change. The WFCO in my unit never dropped to less than 13.7 volts (normal charge mode). In my mind, that is too high for long term maintenance of the batteries. So I am changing out to a Progressive Dynamics converter - 4135 which is supposed to be a drop-in replacement for the WFCO 8735 that came standard on my A-frame.

If your battery charge voltage drops to 13.1 - 13.2 volts after a few days, leaving it on permanently should do no harm.

My battery box itself is a standard plastic box that was installed by the dealer for 2 size 24 12V batteries. The Interstate 6V golf cart batteries actually fit better in the box - but is a snug fit. The plastic cover blew off in a cross-wind while towing, never to be seen again. The same thing happened to the replacement plastic cover. I made a replacement of wood (1x2 frame with 1/4" ply top painted black) with screw eyes and bungee cords to make sure it didn't depart.

I put a plywood plate under the disconnect switch to reinforce the plastic where it mounted.

Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
camping Colorado and adjacent states one weekend at a time
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Old 07-10-2016, 06:09 AM   #18
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Planning on a A213HW -- plan to do some extended dry camping over my retirement year starting in 2018

been thinking of doing a 4 6V battery bank in custom box with cut off and solar and have a couple of honda 2000 generators -- for very extended trips

as some the trips could be 2 weeks or more -- thinking through these upgrades and accessories - mods to be long term self sustaining

likely will try the BAL hide away spare holder and mode the back of camper with a real storage rack / to support 300-500 lbs to have place for generator other things needed for extended time out...

if doing Canada-Alaska -- would need more than one spare for extender self sustaining mode
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:50 AM   #19
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Planning on a A213HW -- plan to do some extended dry camping over my retirement year starting in 2018

been thinking of doing a 4 6V battery bank in custom box with cut off and solar and have a couple of honda 2000 generators -- for very extended trips

as some the trips could be 2 weeks or more -- thinking through these upgrades and accessories - mods to be long term self sustaining

likely will try the BAL hide away spare holder and mode the back of camper with a real storage rack / to support 300-500 lbs to have place for generator other things needed for extended time out...

if doing Canada-Alaska -- would need more than one spare for extender self sustaining mode
Personally, I would be very careful with these plans.

The A-frame frame, axles, and wheels could prove to be the casualties of your mods. I don't know how much beefing up is done of the frame, axle, or wheels as you move up in the A-frame sizes. Judging from the specs of the A213HW - not much. Your CCC is only 807 lbs, according to Rockwood. That includes your batteries (250+ lbs for 4), battery boxes, water (220lbs for full tank and HW heater), generators, generator fuel, storage rack, all options (dealer and factory), and ALL other stuff you put in the trailer.

Second, if truly going to Alaska, making sure your tires have a decent load margin and tread is way more important than carrying a second spare. The tread-cutting gravel roads are in Western Alaska (Kodiak). But overheating from overloading is even more prevalent in Alaska than the lower 48.

Third, unlimited 12V power does not prevent you from running out of water, food, or propane (if you use a lot of heat). While batteries are the most difficult supply to replenish while camping, you have to give thought to the other essentials. Especially when your overall weight is limited.

Bottom line, Forest River A-frames are lightweight (not all that light compared to the competition) trailers built to be towed comfortably on reasonable roads by a husky V-6 vehicle. They are not built like an old Land Rover for cross-country travel in Africa. Trying to make it something it is not sets you up for a series of failures.

just my Alaska experiences kicking in
Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
2008 Hyundai Entourage minivan
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Old 07-10-2016, 09:59 AM   #20
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TV is a V8 4x4 2016 GMC Yukon -- so i have some room to load balance in the TV and plenty of towing capacity..

yes -- I have also thought of potential other mods on torsion bar axles -- heavier duty version - lifts -- even potential for larger tires etc..

I like the A-Frame -- but may well do many mods to met a heavy use cycle for retirement extended use -- I'll have the time and money for it..

much time solo -- at most 1-2 other friends for some trips

Propane area for extended trips is another area of thought -- water I can filter with appropriate equipment...

lots to think about on a extended duty rigging

likely will be modding the TV - Yukon to remove the 3rd row seating and have a Truck Vault storage system install with some drawers and sliding top storage and can have some storage on a good roof rack -- to balance things across TV and Camper

and yes I get it -- not trying to take things to cross-country safari type things...
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