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Old 11-02-2017, 12:10 PM   #51
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Update: we did end up getting a generator that won't go to waste even if we never need to use it boondocking since we are here for several more days. Thanks to everyone for the links. Been reading The 12 Volt Life and learned a lot, what a great article. We will be upgrading battery, converter, and investing in an inverter. This is all great learning experience since we decided next year we want a toy hauler. Thank you for all the helpful info!
I am lost. Why do you need to upgrade the battery, converter and invest in an inverter? You have a battery and an converter. If you killed the battery, meaning that it won't fully charge or hold a charge, ok. Make sure that you get the correct type of battery - deep-cycle, not a regular car battery. Does the converter no longer work - meaning that it does not charge the battery when connected to shore power? Or is it the battery that can't hold a charge?

Connecting an inverter to your battery when shore power is not available is a sure way to quickly drain your battery. Since you have a generator, it comes with an inverter, i.e. a 120V ac outlet. So why do you want to buy an inverter?

For boon-docking, make sure to not use the exterior light, it is likely not a LED type and will drain your battery overnight. Mine draws more than 4 amps (2514g).

For the fridge, others have mentioned this but I will repeat it here. It works off of propane or 12V DC or 120 Vac. Note the "or." Before switching from one to another, turn off the one that is on first, then turn on the other one or start the propane. These instructions are in the manual. When you are travelling, turn on the 12V DC for the fridge. However, if you stop for any length of time, meaning 1 hour, turn it off and turn on the propane, or just leave it off. When you come back to your vehicle after an hour with the fridge on 12V DC, you will likely find that your vehicle's battery is dead and won't start. This, too, is in the manual. Of course before going back on the road, turn on the 12V DC (after turning off the propane, if on).

And, as I hope you found out, when boon-docking, put the fridge on propane, not 12V DC, because once again, your trailer battery will be dead within an hour.

I use 100W of solar panels to charge my battery when shore-power is not available. You need sunshine, of course, but no one has ever complained about the noise.
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:49 PM   #52
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When dry camping with a generator I know in most camp grounds you can only run them at certain hours, and the time in between will being running off the 12v....my question is how long would it then take a 3500 watt generator to recharge the battery to full?.....my wife insist on having 120 working so we can have ac in the heat, so solar is out!
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:54 PM   #53
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When dry camping with a generator I know in most camp grounds you can only run them at certain hours, and the time in between will being running off the 12v....my question is how long would it then take a 3500 watt generator to recharge the battery to full?.....my wife insist on having 120 working so we can have ac in the heat, so solar is out!
We'd need to know way more about your batteries (capacity) your charge state (when wanting to recharge) and your converter (charger) output along with what other loads you are trying to utilize before we could give you a good answer. Too many variables. Every set-up is different.
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Old 11-14-2017, 02:30 PM   #54
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We'd need to know way more about your batteries (capacity) your charge state (when wanting to recharge) and your converter (charger) output along with what other loads you are trying to utilize before we could give you a good answer. Too many variables. Every set-up is different.
I have a 2017 Flagstaff 627d one deep cell battery and not sure of the converter output.....since the generator will be off from say 8pm til 7am the time in between I will be running off 12v, water pump, water heater, lights and maybe some time with the heater, don't know just how far the battery will run down....will be first time to camp without having 30amp at site.
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Old 11-14-2017, 03:12 PM   #55
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If you have just one battery you are going to drain that pretty far in a day's worth of running lights, pump and heater plus things like fridge control board, fridge door heaters for frost/moisture control (if equipped and most are) radio memory, propane/CO detector and etc.

Again without knowing the capacity of the battery (AH), the charge rate of your converter and such, we are just guessing but practical experience says you'll need at least 6-8 hours of genny time to get back close to full charge. Maybe more.
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Old 11-14-2017, 03:26 PM   #56
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OK, so answering this last question, which is really about how long a given battery will last when used with the common 12 VDC items in a trailer. To do this, we need to know the current (amp) draw of the various items.

When I was in a PUP, here are the ratings I used:
  • Incandescent bulbs: 2.9 A per 2-light fixture (that is, each of my fixtures had 2 bulbs that combined for a total of 2.9 A)
  • Furnace: 4.2 A
  • Water Pump: 4.75 A
  • Water Heater: 0.66 A
  • LP/CO Detector: 0.05 A

So, assume that I go to bed at 10 PM and wake up at 8 AM. That's 10 hours. Assume that the furnace runs for 60% of the night for 6 hours. And, I'm pretty good about turning lights off when not used, but maybe we screw around for an hour before going to bed. Say a total of 3 hours (or 1.5 hours with both light fixtures on). Water pump shouldn't get a ton of use. It takes 45 seconds to brush teeth or wash hands. Even a shower (if equipped) would only take a few minutes. Let's say 15 minutes total. The water heater is sort of inconsequential and most of the heavy lifting is propane. Figure 2 hours total. LP/CO detector is continuous 24 hours.

Quick math adds up to about 37 amps of power you'd draw off a battery with that kind of load. That's not much.

When I camped, I didn't use my water heater or pump. My conservative use was 30 Amps. So, in 2 days, I'd use about 60 Amps. You should never draw a battery lower than 50% of its rating, so I looked for a battery with at least 120 A-Hrs rating. The one I bought was 137. For weekend camping, I didn't need any sort of charging.

Let's go the other way. You want to only run your generator for 30 minutes. How big of a generator do you need?

Start with Ohm's Law and P = IV. Add in the time component and probably some efficiency loss factor: P = IV/t * efficiency = 37*12/0.5 * efficiency. Assume a 25% loss and that comes out to 1,184 Watts. That is, if you ran an 1184 W generator (assuming such a thing existed) for 30 minutes at 75% efficiency, you'd put 37 Amps into your battery.

Hope that helps.
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Old 11-14-2017, 03:31 PM   #57
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Dunno if this was stated but 12 volts DC also runs my dometic air conditioner "brains"/thermostat. My air conditioner quit working on a camping trip this past summer and I thought the thermostat was bad. I had no voltage at the thermostat and found a 12 volt DC blade fuse in a wiring box on my air conditioner. For some reason 5 amp fuses were blowing with my new thermostat-a home t'stat I modified for RV use. A change to 7.5 amp did the trip on following trips.

OP, it takes a while to figure out all of the tricks of the trade. For example, a trip I wish I learned sooner was bleeding out the the air in propane lines via the stove top so that the fridge and water heater can run on propane. Air in lines usually trigger a fault in both hot water and fridge after a couple of failed start attempts.

Good luck and welcome to this fun activity.
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Old 11-14-2017, 03:53 PM   #58
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I have a 2017 Flagstaff 627d one deep cell battery and not sure of the converter output.....since the generator will be off from say 8pm til 7am the time in between I will be running off 12v, water pump, water heater, lights and maybe some time with the heater, don't know just how far the battery will run down....will be first time to camp without having 30amp at site.
10 to 1, your battery is a marine battery and not a true deep cycle battery. Pretty standard for dealers to install the cheapest group 24 marine battery to unsuspecting newbies.

If you plan on doing more dry camping, you need to go to a dual battery setup, preferably two 6v golf cart batteries.

If you run the furnace all night long, that single cheap battery will be close to dead by morning.
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Old 11-14-2017, 04:29 PM   #59
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[...] If you plan on doing more dry camping, you need to go to a dual battery setup, preferably two 6v golf cart batteries. [...]
Definitely not. Lots of people dry camp all the time without a dual battery setup.

You may like a dual battery setup and, especially if you're camping for weeks at a time, it might be preferable to more frequent charging cycles. I wouldn't say need, though. That's a bit too prescriptive.

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[...]If you run the furnace all night long, that single cheap battery will be close to dead by morning.
Definitely not. See my post above. That furnace is drawing around 4-5 amps per hour. Running 100% for an 8-10 hour night is going to pull 40-50 amps. Even really cheap marine batteries will have around 90 Amp-hours of capacity.

Again, if you want to size your battery (and genny), start with a list of items you're using and their current draw. Calculate out your daily demand. Then, figure out the proper size of battery (again, being careful to double the battery from your usage).

Good luck.
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Old 11-14-2017, 04:53 PM   #60
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Thank you all for the info that I was looking for, I guess I have to learn a lot by just getting out and dry camping!.....although most camping will be in camp grounds with electric and water hookups!
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