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Old 07-29-2014, 09:05 PM   #1
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First boondock, power questions

This weekend, we are camping in national forest with our HW276. Thus far, all places have had power and this is our first adventure without power. This will be at around 9000 feet so it will be chilly at night and the furnace will be running.

A couple concerns I have is that there's no battery meter installed so I really never know where the battery level is I have a test meter and can manually test it, but coming from my truck camper, I can always check tanks and battery with the panel. Additionally, I want to have enough power to lower the roof when packing up.

Questions...
What is a viable battery meter that won't be a constant vampire drain? I've seen many meters that can direct wire to the battery, but it also constantly draws power. I'm looking for something like the truck camper had which is an on demand switch.

Will the TV plugged in while running offer enough power to run the roof jack in case the battery is dead? I *really don't want to manually crank the roof down :-)

I will consider getting a generator but would rather save the money if I can, but considering the heater is going to be run, I might need it just to get through the weekend.
Generator being considered.:
http://www.costco.com/Smarter-Tools-...100121916.html
This will not only charge the battery but in the future, I can get a second generator with a parallel cable which will let me run AC.

So long story short, is there a reasonable option to monitor battery voltage that doesn't do a vampire drain, can TV power the roof jack and would a generator make sense for added safety net?

Thanks!
Dan


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Old 07-29-2014, 09:22 PM   #2
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Tv is ennough to lower your roof jacks but i would use booster cables between booth batteries , because i do not know what size fuse you have tv the jack can take up to 50 amps. But personnally i would get the generator it will be better safety blanket. that is what i have is a generator and my batteries are always full charged at night.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:35 AM   #3
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My winch has a 40 amp breaker, my Silverado (and Hummer) have 40 amp fuses in the trailer power line. And the winch does not draw the full 40 amp. It can be done, I've done it. Look at your TV fuse panel and check the amp rating of that particular circuit.
If it is 40 amps, the wires is safe to supply 40 amps. But I'm sure it depends on TV mfgr.

Trimetric (Bogan engineering) makes a meter that draws minimal power; I have not had a problem with mine when dry camping.
You can also use a power drill (or do it by hand) to raise and lower the roof.
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:46 AM   #4
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Old 07-30-2014, 08:58 AM   #5
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It's early, but I don't see how many, or what type battery(ies) you have installed.

To give you an example, I have a 228BH, dual deep cycle model 27 batteries, and in Dec, at approx. 8000 feet I can easily get three days off the batteries and still be above 50 percent.
That's with the heater running all night (when I say running it goes on/off; how often not sure since I'm sleeping). Fridge not running (not needed) and all interior/exterior battery powered lights are LEDs.
I do carry a Honda 2000 gen in the truck, but only use it to charge the batteries when trips are over three days; not because the meter says I need it, but because I feel safer to charge the batteries up. I I also use a dedicated charger to charge the batteries.

A few weeks ago, at 6K feet in ID, I ran for four days on battery and the heater did click on a few times at night (temps dropped a few nights to around 40 or high 30s). And I never charged the batteries.
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Old 07-30-2014, 03:31 PM   #6
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We used to camp 7-9 nights at Lake Tahoe (8 years running) in our PUP without hookups. We did not have LEDs, so I had to be the mean cop on light usage to save the battery to run the heater. We had a single size 27, which usually, but not always, would last the full time running the heater 2 or 3 nights of the trip. Installing a pair of size 27 Marine Die-Hards pretty much guaranteed us power for the entire trip.

From what I can find out, the typical heater fan sucks about 4 amps running. I figure worst case (I keep the thermostat at around 55 and tell family to use sleeping bags if cold) I use 20 AH per night for heat. I have a dual size 24 install on my present camper - A122 - which will run the heater for 4 nights without dropping below 50% charge. The A122 has LED interior lights, and a little more parasitic draw, but I still feel comfortable with the calcs, as a 4 day weekend is only 3 nights. We chose size 24s as adequate, yet not overpowering TV or camper wiring to recharge - and the tongue is pretty small.

And that was our planning factor for the battery - to be able to do without hookups for a 4 day long weekend. I did not want the hassle of a generator - the weight, the gas, the handling, the noise, and the storage. We prefer to camp in the shade, and Colorado winds are known for destroying awnings, so solar has less appeal to me than to others. Besides, adding a second battery is the simplest and least expensive way get additional power - if you can live within the power budget of the dual batteries.

I can totally understand the wanting of power to lift the roof. But is it really that difficult to hand crank it down if need be? With the Coleman West Lake PUP, I had to lower the roof in stages so I could tuck the canvas in neatly enough to get the roof down all the way.

If you are camping at 9000ft, why worry about powering the AC? You will never see more than 85 dry degrees at that altitude. Our home is at 7500 feet and we do not have air conditioning. Only a couple of days a year when that is less than comfortable.

With the limited interior space of an A-frame, being cooped up all day to stay in air conditioning is not my idea of camping. Either the temp is reasonable enough to be outside in - at least under the shade of the EZ-up - or we're not having fun and it's time to go home.

just my thoughts and experiences, yours may differ
Fred W
2014 Rockwood A122
2008 Hyundai Entourage (minivan) Equalizer 600/6000 WDH
somewhere between Black Forest and Monument, Colorado
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Old 07-30-2014, 03:54 PM   #7
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Thank you all for your input! It really helps a TON!

We will be at Peak One on Lake Dillon in Colorado :-)
I'm reasonably confident we will make the weekend so long as the DW doesn't want to run the heater to create summer during the night haha.

As for the battery, I think it's either group 24 or 27, I just don't remember. We definitely will have no need for AC this weekend for certain but I know my wife will want the refrigerator cold and the heater and possibly electric bed at night.

I'm probably going to get the generator anyways for assurance that I'll have power not only for this trip but for future trips as well.

Last question, when charging, should I run the house line to the generator or use a battery charger hooked up to the battery. I'm guessing safest route is to use the charger hooked up to the battery.

Thanks!
Dan
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Old 07-30-2014, 07:16 PM   #8
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Both the trimetric and victron monitors are good choices and very very little power draw. Either a 2nd battery or the generator are good choices, but the best choice depends on whether you are going to drycamp a lot, have space for the spare battery or the generator. Personally, I'd go for the 2nd battery and a victron monitor, and the TV as a backup using LONG jumper cables.


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Old 07-30-2014, 11:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishhawk1650 View Post
Thank you all for your input! It really helps a TON!

We will be at Peak One on Lake Dillon in Colorado :-)
I'm reasonably confident we will make the weekend so long as the DW doesn't want to run the heater to create summer during the night haha.

As for the battery, I think it's either group 24 or 27, I just don't remember. We definitely will have no need for AC this weekend for certain but I know my wife will want the refrigerator cold and the heater and possibly electric bed at night.

Thanks!
Dan
Dan

You probably already know all this...

All PUP fridges I have ever seen run noticeably better on propane than on AC, and much better on AC than on DC. I plug my A-frame in the night before we leave to charge the batteries and pre-cool the fridge (on AC). Two nights before doesn't hurt anything. I keep the fridge running on DC while towing, and switch to propane or AC upon arrival at the campground. Fridge cools best when at least half full of already cold stuff when you turn it on.

Electric bed requires AC. We have never used ours, especially since we added a foam topper to make the bed pretty comfortable.

Heater works great on battery and propane, but it is your greatest battery load unless your lights are not LEDs.

By adding the extra battery, and doing my best to make sure the batteries are fully charged when I arrive at the campground, I just don't feel the need to do any battery monitoring.

If I was going to add anything to augment dry camping in Colorado, I would go with an 80-100 watt solar panel rather than a generator. Here in Colorado, many of the sites aren't as treed as I'm used to in other places, and we almost always have at least half a day of brilliant sunshine. The panel costs considerably less than a generator, no noise, and no fueling or maintenance.

Unless you take your battery down below 80% and keep it there, the generator and charger/converter can't charge the battery at bulk rates. So the lower charge rate of solar is just as effective.

If you keep your usage somewhere close to the solar panel's ability to keep up, your next limiting factors will be hauling water, dumping gray water, and replenishing food.

just my opinions
Fred W
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Old 08-01-2014, 12:47 PM   #10
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I blow the fuse in my pop up all the time and then the frig drains the battery when I am towing....then I get to the campground and my electric lift will not work. All you need is a set of jumper cables and hook you tow vehicle battery to the rv battery and you should have plenty of power to raise or lower the roof.

This happened to me one time and I learned that I should always have jumper cables and spare fuses...you should never have to hand crank unless your lift physically breaks as long as you have jumper cables...


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