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Old 07-30-2016, 12:12 AM   #1
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First time extended dry camp

We are heading up to Sebago State Park in 2 weeks. We much prefer the sites that don't have any hookups and will be dry camping for 1 week. Here is my current set up. I just upgraded the batteries to 2 6v Trojan t105's wired in series. I also purchased a Zamp solar 160 watt portable solar charger. My main draw on the power I believe will be running the propane fridge and lighting at night. We might watch a movie or 2 while there to keep the grandkids entertained. Coffee ( a must have ) will be made on the coleman stove using a percolator as will most of the cooking.
So what do some of you more experienced folks say. Am I safe leaving the generator home? I hate using the thing even though its a run quiet model. Any other suggestions or tips?
Thanks,
Gary
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Old 07-30-2016, 12:42 AM   #2
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You're not going to run the furnace?
That's the biggest battery drainer.

The fridge uses very little battery power.

If no furnace usage, I think you can make it.
We have with our dual 12v batteries.
But not sure the grandkids won't use up excess power.

Personally I prefer to have my Honda 2000i along, just in case.
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Old 07-30-2016, 01:54 AM   #3
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Thanks Dan. Don't see using the furnace as temps should be well above freezing for this time of year up in Maine. Might be more likely to need the AC! But if the nights are cold we will have plenty of blankets along.
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:43 AM   #4
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We dry camp almost %100 of the time. Your 160 watt portable will most likely be more than adequate based on your mentioned use as long as you are dedicated to moving it and keeping it pointed in good sun. I would factor in some additional usage for water pump for showers and other water needs and furnace though. Even up here just North of the boarder we have had plenty of warm nights and with two medium sized dogs the heat generated from us in the trailer keeps it warm but I believe I keep the thermostat set around 68. It will kick on once or twice.

Where you run into a problem is if you have two or more days of rain/cloud. Take a look at your power usage and use one of the many online calculators to get an idea of your daily power use. Remember a day is a 24 hour period and you will want to gain back those amp hours used every day.

We do not spend time at our trailer during the day, so a portable system doesn't work for us. Our 2000watt inver/gen rarely gets used but we have had it run on extended trips when we run into those rainy periods just in case the sun didn't come out the 3rd day.

Also, do not rely upon the TT's built in battery led battery display. If anything get yourself a cheap multimeter, or even a 12V cigarette led display that plugs into your cigarette adapter if you have one and use a battery chart to give you an indication of your state of charge. It isn't ideal but much better than the built in display. A dedicated Battery monitor would be best but if you rarely dry camp its overkill for one trip.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:06 AM   #5
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Take the Gen and Enjoy Everything that is Elect.that You paid for! Ex fans,water pump,Refer,water heater,lights,CO Detector,and the TV for the Kids! They all need Power be it 12V or 120V! Take the Gen and Sleep well and enjoy! Youroo!!
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:29 AM   #6
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Take the Gen and Enjoy Everything that is Elect.that You paid for! Ex fans,water pump,Refer,water heater,lights,CO Detector,and the TV for the Kids! They all need Power be it 12V or 120V! Take the Gen and Sleep well and enjoy! Youroo!!
Like many things in this world, I'd rather have it and not need it vs. needing it and not having it.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:38 AM   #7
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X3 on taking generator. Insurance . If you have a few days of rain you will have limited recharging and kids will likely use more capacity.
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:03 AM   #8
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We dry camp most of the time also. I find our daily exploration trips in the truck (leaving the trailer at camp) charges up the TV batteries (2) then when we get back we plug back into the trailer and good for another day. That said on longer stays I would definitely bring the generator but avoid using it so as not to bother the neighbors.
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Old 07-30-2016, 12:14 PM   #9
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We dry camp all the time and have even gone out for three weeks using two 12 volt batteries and a 100 watt renology suitcase solar panel. We secure it using a pull chain that is very robust and can be seen from the road so no one messes with it. In reality if someone wanted the panel it would take five minutes or less to unscrew the legs and take the chain off but the chain serves two purposes, one for solar panel security and I always keep it in the back of my truck to pull people out when they get stuck. I also use 6 normal garden solar spot lights from Harbor Freight and remove the stake and use them in the trailer at night. I stand them on the solar panel in the trailer and shine them up. It works great and eases my energy use. With this setup I never have to use my generator unless we need the A/C. With your 160 watt panel you will be just fine. Even on cloudy days between my garden lights and my solar panel I never have any issues and we are not crazy energy misers. Good luck.
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Old 07-30-2016, 12:59 PM   #10
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Old 07-30-2016, 03:00 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the replies. I think Inwill bring the generator as a backup. It really doesn't take up much room to have it along.
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:58 PM   #12
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Take the generator with you. We have been dry camping for more than 40 years with a variety of rigs from a 1973 Chevy Surfer Van to our newest fifth-wheel. Our little Honda Eu 1000 is all we need to keep batteries charged, run TV's occasionally, but most of all to provide the security that we will not be stranded with dead batteries anywhere, especially when the weather does not cooperate. When the Honda is running in "Economy" mode no one can hear it unless you are within 20 feet.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:54 PM   #13
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generator

Hooray for you. My wife and I are snowbirds and spend most of six months on the road with 100 watts of solar power. I carry a Honda 2000 but never used it last year but nice to have just in case. I hate the sound of generators. My Honda is quiet but even at idle the noise carries a long ways. Our biggest restriction on how long we can stay is grey water.
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:15 PM   #14
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fander - I agree with your sentiment about the noise of generators, especially in those very special, remote camp sites where the sound of a falling leaf can disrupt the silence. My wife and I try our best to be responsible campers, and we never run our little generator in close to proximity of other camp sites, or in such a way that it would disrupt the privacy of nearby campers. We often camp in the local San Bernardino Mountains here in California, and we are too often confronted with camping families who think nothing of running their generators all day long at their camp site, when no one is there!! Then they come back to camp and crank up their "Boom-Boxes" to incredibly loud levels and wonder why people complain!!

I'm thinking about writing a book about all the things that people do wrong when they are camping. No.....I'm too old for that!!
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Old 07-30-2016, 11:39 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Gaberdeen View Post
We are heading up to Sebago State Park in 2 weeks. We much prefer the sites that don't have any hookups and will be dry camping for 1 week. Here is my current set up. I just upgraded the batteries to 2 6v Trojan t105's wired in series. I also purchased a Zamp solar 160 watt portable solar charger. My main draw on the power I believe will be running the propane fridge and lighting at night. We might watch a movie or 2 while there to keep the grandkids entertained. Coffee ( a must have ) will be made on the coleman stove using a percolator as will most of the cooking.
So what do some of you more experienced folks say. Am I safe leaving the generator home? I hate using the thing even though its a run quiet model. Any other suggestions or tips?
Thanks,
Gary
I would bring the generator just in case. We also have the Trojan T105s and it's almost like having a powerhouse. Run the fridge on propane as it takes just a pilot type flame to power it. No sense to use any electrical power there. Watch TV all you want as today's LED TVs take little power to run. If you have LED lighting you can use all the lights you want. If you don't...well...you'll want to swap them out for LEDs asap.
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Old 07-31-2016, 09:28 AM   #16
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We use close to the same set up and dry camp mostly as well. The thing with the portable solar is that you must "chase" the sun all day. The panel should be exposed to full sun a minimum of 3 hours per day to get a pretty decent charge back to the batteries. I made up a 14 gauge 50 foot extension cord to be able to move our panel around our site to gain full sun. Voltage lose over 50 feet is .1 to .2 volts so not a big deal. Your batteries will charge without full sun but it's painfully slow. I agree as well with others that generators are noisy and a pain but that said I also carry it along as a backup. The t-105s are amazing!
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Old 07-31-2016, 09:53 AM   #17
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If you have a Dometic fridge, you can significantly improve battery life by going to the control panel in the back and unplugging the wire labelled "light/htr". The fridge has a door seal heater that draws around 1A ALL THE TIME when the fridge is operating. It doesn't seem like a lot but that's 24A/day.

Many years ago, they had a shutoff switch to disconnect the heater strip, Later, they removed the switch but left the hole in the frame for it, with accessible wires. Now, if you want to just shut off the heater, you need to cut the power wire to it where it is attached at the interior light and install a switch there.

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Old 08-31-2016, 09:03 AM   #18
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A weather forcast for upcoming week shows temps in the mid 50's at night. Unless you have heavy comforters, you'll probably running heat at night.

Your solar and battery setup should work fine even with the heat running at night.

With that said, I have a pretty sweet solar setup on my fiver, 650 amp hours of battery capacity, 400 watts of solar, 1500 watt true sine wave inverter, etc..etc... and I always carry my 3k generator with me. I usually leave the 3k generator in the truck bed and in my front storage, I have a small 800 watt HF 2 stroke generator which can easily charge one battery bank at at time-all 3 banks are switched.

Bring the generator! If it is too large, consider getting a smaller one that you are comfortable transporting with you all of the time. Harbor Freight has a nice light 1900 watt inverter generator on sale for $349.

BTW, first time dry camping many years ago, generator saved our butts. We left our two vehicle plugged into our camper and it got very cold on our last night camping. Our heater ran all night and not only drained the two 12 volt batteries but also our truck battery. Running the generator allowed us to recharge the camper batteries which we then removed one to jump the truck. For some reason, the truck battery was able to be discharged but not recharged via the tow cable.

Without the generator, we'd have been stuck a long way from civilization.
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Old 10-02-2016, 12:00 PM   #19
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So Gaberdeen, inquiring minds want to know how you managed.
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