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Old 04-15-2011, 12:17 AM   #1
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Camping with No Hook up

Didn't plan on doing much camping this summer without hook ups but it appears I missed all the spots in Yellowstone that have hook ups. Our trailer is a 2012 Wildwood 26BH X-lite. How long should I be able to run on just the one battery? Should I just hook it up to the TV every night and let it run for 20 minutes to charge the battery back up. Looks like we will be there for 4 nights. For water and waste water I can always transport it. This would mean no AC or microwave. Any ideas and thoughts would help.
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Old 04-15-2011, 05:19 AM   #2
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When we visited Yellowstone Park we stay outside near the west entrance. We found this to be a great base camp for our Yellowstone days.
RedRock RV Park Home Page for Motorhome and Fifth-wheel travelers
We stayed here with a travel trailer. It has full hookups and was roomy enough for us and our 2 teenage girls.
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Old 04-15-2011, 07:12 AM   #3
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First you need to know that most of us have found that
simply running the tow vehicle does not charge the trailer
battery much.
Unless you know from experience that this is not true in
your case, you shouldn't count on that happening either.

The reason is your tow vehicle has a battery right there
close to the alternator. The trailer battery is way downstream
with under sized wire running to it.
The engine alternator voltage regulator sees the engine battery as full and drops
the output voltage accordingly. This doesn't send a high
enough voltage all the way back to the trailer to do much
charging there.

We dry camp on occasion. Example, last Fall we went to
Cumberland Gap national historical park.
Weather was awesome!! The CG is about half with electric
and half without. The electric sites were mostly taken so
we grabbed a nice big flat site without and our nearest
neighbor was 50 yards away.
We have 2 basic 12v batteries and used the furnace a
little at night and also watched a couple DVD movies.
We camped 5 or 6 nites on one charge.
We have a maxxair fan over our bed that gives us a nice
breeze in warm weather when we don't want or can't run
the roof AC unit.

You have a "self contained" trailer. Get another battery
and go camping!! You don't always need hookups!
Plan those few meals where you don't have hookups to
not use the microwave.
We use a little cheap cigarette socket inverter to run our
LCD tv once in a while.

IF you're careful you can go 4 days on one battery in
the summer. The LP furnace is a battery hog so if you're
planning to use that, plan on 1 or 2 days per battery.
This is with minimum furnace usage.

The thing to keep in mind is Yellowstone is HUGE.
It can take 2 hours to drive from point A where you camp
to point B where you want to sight see.
Camping outside is OK as long as you only want to see
the stuff on that side of the park.

I'd choose a more central located CG and then plan on
driving to each of the 4 corners of the park one each day.

See yellowstone discussions on this site.
Just put yellowstone in the google search box at the
top of any page and hit the search button.

Happy Camping!
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Old 04-15-2011, 07:33 AM   #4
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Another way you can get by with just one battery in
your trailer is to plug your tow vehicle into the trailer
when you're in camp.

2 caveats- 1st Some tow vehicles have a relay that disconnects
the battery lead that goes to your trailer plug when the
tow engine is off.
You would need to check your
tow at the plug with the engine off to know whether
yours does this or not.
Mine does not do this so I occasionally plug in at night
to extend my dry camping without need of a
generator.

2nd you could -possibly- run down your engine battery
but I think this is highly unlikely since you will be driving
every day and not using your furnace at night.
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Old 04-15-2011, 07:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pandkm View Post
Didn't plan on doing much camping this summer without hook ups but it appears I missed all the spots in Yellowstone that have hook ups. Our trailer is a 2012 Wildwood 26BH X-lite. How long should I be able to run on just the one battery? Should I just hook it up to the TV every night and let it run for 20 minutes to charge the battery back up. Looks like we will be there for 4 nights. For water and waste water I can always transport it. This would mean no AC or microwave. Any ideas and thoughts would help.
Since you have apparently never dry camped, welcome to the world outside resort camping.
For that long, your first issue will be power, or rather lack of. Get a second deep cycle battery. And be prepared to use everything that consumes power sparingly. Lights, water pump, all consume power. If you are very careful you might get away with three days on two batteries. If the weather is cool and you try to run the furnace, consider a battery a day minimum.
As for your water? If you start with a full water tank and again are very careful, you depending on the tank size and number of people, might get away with one tank full. Go get one of the 5 gallon plastic water jugs. there is always water available in NF camp grounds, so you simply fill it and dump the water into the tank. Did that for years. As for the waste. the black tank should not be an issue if you keep the flushes to a minimum. Again there is generally a place to dump the gray water, so one of the gray water totes is the simplest way to drain and dispose of the gray water.
My routine when dry camping, get up in the morning, after breakfast while the DW is doing the dishes, is run the generator if needed, dump the gray water and fill the fresh water tank. Takes me maybe fifteen minutes.
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:11 AM   #6
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If you are very careful you might get away with three days on two batteries. If the weather is cool and you try to run the furnace, consider a battery a day minimum.
We have camped 6 days with power to spare with just
2 basic 12v batteries. This is warm weather camping
without the furnace. One night per battery using
the furnace is reasonable. We use our maxxair
fan on low a few hours per night.
I think you can get 4 nights out of one battery if you're
careful.
We use the campground facilities for "flush-able" heavy
stuff and thus never get close to filling the black tank.
This also saves fresh water.
Grey water can be kept to a minimum by washing
dishes every other day and using paper products some.
You can dry camp for a week with only minimal "inconvenience" if you are careful.

If your kids leave the water running while they brush teeth
or wash hands all bets are off on water usage and gray
tank capacity

I agree with Don, get a 5 gallon collapsible water tote
also found in the camping isle of your favorite store if you
want to save space or get a blue water tote that doesn't
collapse but are easier to use and just sit it on your
picnic table (in the shade if possible).

Remember that those 2 bulb over head lights are battery
hogs too. We have LED bulbs in the bathroom
and also one over the sofa. These are enough light when
we're dry camping, allowing us to use the incandescent
fixtures a minimal amount.
At the very least you can remove one bulb from the
lights you need.

If you like morning coffee you'll need a stove top coffee
percolator. You can find these in the camping isle of
Wally World or most any big box dept store that has a
camping/sporting goods dept.

Have Fun!
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Old 04-15-2011, 08:22 AM   #7
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How long the battery will last defends on several variables: capacity of the battery, condition of the battery and the amount of power you consume. Trying to charge from your tow vehicle is pretty well useless.

If you want hook-ups, the selection in Yellowstone is quite limited and as you have found, fill up quickly. Although staying in Yellowstone itself certainly adds to the experience, if hook-ups are important to you, you might consider the private campgrounds outside of the park. We stayed at Flagg Ranch Flagg Ranch Resort - Home Page which is between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.

What is the AH rating for your current battery? If you are going to dry camp, one option is adding a second battery. Another option is to rent a generator for the time you will be camping. Obviously purchasing a generator is another option, but unless you think you will have continued use for it, renting would be more economical. Make sure the campground will permit generator use and consider the hours of use. Remember, you will most likely spend most of the day in the park and will need to run the generator in the morning before you leave or in the evening when you return.

Good luck and have a great trip!
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:49 AM   #8
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If you do run out of battery power while boondocking, will the tt brake system still work when you hook up to return home?

What are other consequences, besides the inconvenience of having no power to run your systems, of running out of battery power?

I plan to spend four nights with two friends in a remote campground at Penns Creek in Central PA over Memorial Day weekend. I plan on using minimal electricty, but it looks like I will need a second 12V battery based on what I'm reading.
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Old 04-15-2011, 10:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gkconfer View Post
If you do run out of battery power while boondocking, will the tt brake system still work when you hook up to return home?

What are other consequences, besides the inconvenience of having no power to run your systems, of running out of battery power?
No matter what anyone says, you will not believe it until you have experienced it. While it is possible to dry camp a few days without serious thought about what is involved, the third day will be a real trial.

The one thing you will not have to worry about (with a flat battery) is brakes on the way home as the truck should provide all the power you need to work them. (if you need emergency brakes; that might be a different story - break away situation).

Once the battery is flat:

No lights at night
No heat at night - Fan Blower required to fire heat
No fridge all day - 12 volts required to run the propane
no water (unless in jugs)
No potty (need water pressure to flush)
Manual EVERYTHING! -
Slides (have you tried that yet?)
Awning (if you have power now - how do you close it?)

Buy a generator. A Honda Ei2000 would be perfect for you.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gkconfer View Post
If you do run out of battery power while boondocking...What are other consequences, besides the inconvenience of having no power to run your systems, of running out of battery power?
If you completely discharge a 12V RV/Marine you can expect to replace it fairly soon. My experience has been that once used until the lights are dim and the CO detector is chirping, the battery is on borrowed time. 6V true deep cycles are a little more resilient, but still do not like to be compltely discharged.

You need to stop using the battery before you reach that point.
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Old 04-15-2011, 11:46 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gkconfer View Post
What are other consequences, besides the inconvenience of having no power to run your systems, of running out of battery power?
Your refrigerator needs 12v power for the control board
even when you're dry camping on LP gas.
IF you totally kill your battery your fridge will stop working.
The same goes for your LP waterheater.

I think you can get by 4 days if you are careful.
Use candle power or flashlights for the bulk of your light.
Take one bulb out of any interior light you must use and
then use them sparingly.
As I said earlier you CAN plug in your vehicle for a little
"auxiliary" power if you do that sparingly as well assuming
your tow vehicle does not shut off the battery lead when
you turn off the key.
Some do and some don't. You can easily check this with
a meter at the plug B4 you go.

See this thread for which pins in your plug are the battery
lead--
http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...not-11126.html
There is a picture of the socket with pin outs on post
#18.

As mentioned it's best to never totally run down any
battery. It does tend to shorten the life but sometimes
"a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do!".
For max life you don't want them to go lower than
half charge but we sometimes get below that and my last
trailer was 4 years old when I traded it and the 12v
batteries seemed to still be working pretty good.
YMMV.

I've totally killed the battery in my Chevy at least 4 times
and it's the ORIGINAL FACTORY battery and it still
cranks my truck. I'm on borrowed time but this is just
to show what you can get away with -usually-.
(How quickly the dead or nearly dead battery is recharged
has a bearing on life too. Leaving one dead for many days
or weeks is very bad.)

Go and camp and have fun!!
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Old 04-15-2011, 12:18 PM   #12
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Best option is to buy a generator, and you have two choices when it comes to that.
First you can opt to get a small cheap generator, champion or something similar and a deep cycle battery charger maybe even a second battery. You can use this setup to keep your batteries charged and run the TT off of them, I would not run the TT off this type of generator though, but some do.
Second option is to get a generator like a Honda 2000i or similar and run the TT directly off of it as needed. This is a more expensive option but if you decide you like camping away from others it is well worth the investment as long as you have a future use for it.
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:17 AM   #13
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Thumbs down Battery Life

Reading all the threads on this subject I haven't seen anyone mention solar charging panels. If a person really wants to get away from the hookups and find the beauty this country has to offer will solar panels buy you a few more days. With that said what size charging system is adequate for one battery verses a two battery system?

Getting the camper out for a trip next week.
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:38 AM   #14
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Battery life

Forgot to mention that I did buy a Honda 2000i generator ($850 on Black Friday, Northern Hydralics) but never took it out of the box. I was later told that it wouldn't handle the air conditioner in my camper. So I returned it and purchased a larger 3500 watt generator ($300 not Honda). That to is still in the box because I haven't needed it yet. But the down fall is that it's big and loud and weights 150 pounds. Not very convienent to say the least. No where to put it on the camper too (gas fumes not wanted in the pulling SUV, Expedition). I will probably keep it for home use and bit the bullet and buy the Honda 2000i again for camping (who needs air conditioning). Just wish there weren't so expensive.
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:31 AM   #15
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I bought a honda 2000i and if I had it to do over, I'd buy
a 1000i.
I already have a big honking 7.5KW at home so don't really
have any use for the extra capacity of a 2000 vs a 1000.

As you said, the 2000i won't run most roof AC units unless
you have a really small one.
The 2000 will operate a microwave with no problem but
we don't dry camp enough to miss the microwave on those
few occasions.

A 1000 will easily power a stand alone 25 amp quick
charger to charge my batteries so if I could go back
in time, I'd get the 1000 and save the money and weight
over the 2000. All I really want it for is battery charging
on the rare occasions we dry camp.

Watts = Amps times Volts.
25 amps times 12 volts = 300 watts.
So even a 1000i would be loafing while charging my 2
batteries.

My 2˘
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:47 PM   #16
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If you have the time, go to the nearest campground this weekend or next and see if you can go without hookups for the weekend. Preferably choose a campground with electricity so that if your battery goes dead all you will have to do is plug in.

Don't forget that Yellowstone NP is at elevation and depending on the weather, it can get quite cool after the sun goes down. It can get cool enough that you might want to run your furnace. Running a furnace uses up the battery very quickly.

Someone else mentioned solar for charging batteries. Most of the campgrounds in Yellowstone are very shady because of all the trees. Solar would work at some sites but you would have to know before hand whether or not it would work for the site you are assigned.

Going 4 days on one battery is a tall order. If it were me, I would get a Honda 1000i to charge up the battery during the day. BTW, generators aren't allowed at 5 of the campgrounds within the park. However, 7 of the campgrounds do allow generators but the hours you may operate them are restricted to 8AM to 8PM. The park rangers DO enforce these rules.
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Old 04-20-2011, 01:55 PM   #17
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Don't forget that Yellowstone NP is at elevation and depending on the weather, it can get quite cool after the sun goes down. .
Exactly!! No AC or air conditioner needed.
Bring your flannel sheets and keep a down comforter
or just a down sleeping bag handy.
It's camping not the Holiday Inn but we love it!!
We especially love the high country with it's warm
days and cool nights.
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Old 04-20-2011, 02:55 PM   #18
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since the OP has responded yet, here's my 2 cents!

we have been dry camping, almost exclusively, for over 20 years now. with our two popups and our hybrid, we've learned to conserve battery power and water.

it sounds like you're new to dry camping and don't have a clue on what's expected, especially since you didn't mention possible gray tank issues.

we camp with 2 12v deep cycle batteries and, like KyDan, can go at least 6 days, unless we use the furnace a lot.
we also have a Honda 2000 to re-charge if needed. also have a 6 gallon fresh water container we got from WallyWorld for about $8.
and finally, we have a 12 gallon Barker tote tank, in case the gray tank needs dumping.

we have all these items to make sure we can dry camp for extended periods without having to move the trailer.

with one battery in Yellowstone, you'll use it up in one night, since the furnace will be used a lot.
and if you don't use water conservation, depending on how many are in the trailer, you'll run out of water and your gray tank will get full.

and as others said, using your TV to recharge your trailer's battery will be slow and inefficient, especially if the battery is low.

your options are to buy/rent a small generator and/or get a second battery. if you get a second battery, it has to match the one you already have. and you'll need to get a FW container and possibly a tote tank.

otherwise, staying at a RV park, outside of YNP, is the other option.
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:15 PM   #19
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Possibly a dumb question; could you not charge your trailer's battery from the TV using jumper cables?
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Old 04-20-2011, 04:16 PM   #20
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you could, but the fuel usage and length of time, make it only a last ditch effort.
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