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Old 04-27-2016, 03:19 PM   #1
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Dry camping - how long?

We recently purchased a 2016 model year Rockwood 8280WS fifth wheel. It has two 12 volt batteries and one ZAMP 100 watt solar panel.

Since all lighting is LED and we seldom travel where it gets very cold (below 40 or so) at nights the heater seldom runs.

Dry camping, the refrigerator will use propane as does the water heater and furnace. The main drain on the batteries, I think, would be from lights and only be a few hours each night. Around the same for the furnace.

The question is, given we are fair weather travelers, can we expect to dry camp for at least two nights with no issue? As you can tell, dry camping is something we have yet to experience.

This forum, by the way, is a great place to learn what is needed when it comes to the RV life.

GT
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:24 PM   #2
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With LED lighting and if your heater runs seldom you should be good for way more than a couple days.
Make sure your batteries are fully charged at home before going camping. Your 100 watt solar panel should supply at least 40 amp hours per day (possibly up to 50 ah per day) as long as you are not camped in the shade. That should keep the batteries charged fairly good if you are not a power hog.
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Old 04-27-2016, 04:44 PM   #3
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Three to four for you easily. I could get two to three days on a pair of group 24's with no solar and only use about 40% charge.
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Old 04-27-2016, 05:02 PM   #4
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The furnace eats up battery power faster than the lights.
If you run it all night, it can drain a single battery by morning.
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Old 04-27-2016, 05:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greytraveler View Post

Dry camping, the refrigerator will use propane as does the water heater and furnace. The main drain on the batteries, I think, would be from lights and only be a few hours each night. Around the same for the furnace.
Be aware that most reefers, water heaters, and space heaters use 12 volts for their electronic control boards. The amount of electricity consumed by each is small, but it is being used 24 hours a day.
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Old 04-27-2016, 05:52 PM   #6
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To give you a ball park idea, we boondock for at least 30 days straight at a time.
We use the lights (LED) about 2-3 hours a night, water heater on propane, fridge on propane, furnace runs a fair amount at night (gets cool boondocking in the mountains). My two 6v batteries (225 ah) are charged back up by noon at the latest each day with 200 watts of solar.
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Old 04-27-2016, 06:27 PM   #7
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We have all LED lights , one 12v battery , a 60 watt solar panel..and can comfortably do 5 -7 days. I know some folks that couldn't get through 1 night with my set up.. Your furnace will be your biggest draw.
We also have a separate 12v battery and inverter for a 1-2 hrs of TV a day if needed.
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Old 04-28-2016, 06:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kevnval View Post
We have all LED lights , one 12v battery , a 60 watt solar panel..and can comfortably do 5 -7 days. I know some folks that couldn't get through 1 night with my set up.. Your furnace will be your biggest draw.
We also have a separate 12v battery and inverter for a 1-2 hrs of TV a day if needed.
Wow! Impressive ...
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:06 PM   #9
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A good small generator is a life saver. The furnace is the biggest battery depleater.
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Old 04-28-2016, 01:29 PM   #10
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A Honda generator is great for recharging and the use of appliances that will not run on battery power. I kept running out of water when several people took showers. A small submersible pump works great to refill the water tank. Some campgrounds will not allow a trailer to hook up to the water but you can always fill a 5 gallon jug and fill with the pump. Takes a few trips but keeps everyone smelling fresh. Most forest service campgrounds allow draining the grey water as it helps water a pine tree.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:34 PM   #11
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We dry camp quite often, and I love my Zamp portable 200W system. If that is all your use, what you described, you will be fine on a day-to-day basis, just make sure you keep your batteries charged as much as possible throughout the day with your solar panel, and don't let the batteries get below 50% charge, 75% or greater is ideal.
Keep in mind, if you are running your exhaust fans, or happen to have your heated mattresses plugged in, those things also eat up amp hours. We dry camped all week last year on the Outer Banks, and I'm pretty sure my biggest energy usage was running the exhaust fans all day and night though we had no problem keeping up with the energy usage. When really chilly, we rely more on our Little Buddy propane heater which is very efficient, and we only use the actual furnace for a few minutes just to really warm up if needed.
The only other consideration is if you utilize an inverter to power certain appliances, which can be a tremendous amount of usage depending on the appliance, microwaves and coffeemakers will quickly drain a battery.
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Old 04-28-2016, 02:55 PM   #12
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If DW agrees to a few days of dry camping then I will be looking to add another 100 watt solar panel to total 200 watts. No inverter so that is not going to be a problem. My guess is the furnace will be the biggest drain based on what people have said. That we can manage.

I suspect we will be dry camping in state or federal parks which may or may not have a source of water and a dump. No electric. Will have to learn from experience.

The length, which is now 4 feet longer than our last rig, is now 32 and that needs to be considered when selecting a site. Oh well.

Will make sure we do not park in the shade.

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Old 04-29-2016, 09:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by ablindmule View Post
We dry camp quite often, and I love my Zamp portable 200W system. If that is all your use, what you described, you will be fine on a day-to-day basis, just make sure you keep your batteries charged as much as possible throughout the day with your solar panel, and don't let the batteries get below 50% charge, 75% or greater is ideal.
Keep in mind, if you are running your exhaust fans, or happen to have your heated mattresses plugged in, those things also eat up amp hours. We dry camped all week last year on the Outer Banks, and I'm pretty sure my biggest energy usage was running the exhaust fans all day and night though we had no problem keeping up with the energy usage. When really chilly, we rely more on our Little Buddy propane heater which is very efficient, and we only use the actual furnace for a few minutes just to really warm up if needed.
The only other consideration is if you utilize an inverter to power certain appliances, which can be a tremendous amount of usage depending on the appliance, microwaves and coffeemakers will quickly drain a battery.
I use a microwave and love my coffee. But to save my batteries when boon docking I cook on a grill when possible and use an old fashioned percolator for my coffee. These are things you need to get use to doing. I use my grill on a spare 20 pound bottle. I also have a 2 burner Colman stove I can hook up to that bottle. It is easy to exchange that bottle when it gets low or empty. This way I can save my main 30 pound bottles for heat if I should need it. That spare 20 pounder really comes in handy. Of course you can always cook inside on the stove if the weather gets bad. I could always cook using the oven if I can figure out how, LOL!

Jim
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:28 AM   #14
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I use a microwave and love my coffee. But to save my batteries when boon docking I cook on a grill when possible and use an old fashioned percolator for my coffee. These are things you need to get use to doing. I use my grill on a spare 20 pound bottle. I also have a 2 burner Colman stove I can hook up to that bottle. It is easy to exchange that bottle when it gets low or empty. This way I can save my main 30 pound bottles for heat if I should need it. That spare 20 pounder really comes in handy. Of course you can always cook inside on the stove if the weather gets bad. I could always cook using the oven if I can figure out how, LOL!

Jim
Jim, try this. Melitta Coffee Maker 6 Cup Pour Over Brewer with Glass Carafe 1 Count New 055437640442 | eBay You might like the taste over perked coffee. Malita also makes a one cup version that fits over your cup. Cheapest filters for these are at Wally World.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:34 AM   #15
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You might be surprised to learn that your fridge draws over 25A or more a day. This is for a fridge running on propane; caused by the fridge's door seal heater.

Check the control panel for your fridge for a connection labelled "light/heater" If you remove the wire plugged into it, it will eliminate this drain on the battery but will also turn off the interior light. Be careful removing the wire if your fridge is plugged into 110AC because there's usually an exposed 110 connector nearby.

I always unplug the wire on my fridge when dry camping.

Phil
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:34 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by ablindmule View Post
We dry camp quite often, and I love my Zamp portable 200W system. If that is all your use, what you described, you will be fine on a day-to-day basis, just make sure you keep your batteries charged as much as possible throughout the day with your solar panel, and don't let the batteries get below 50% charge, 75% or greater is ideal.
Keep in mind, if you are running your exhaust fans, or happen to have your heated mattresses plugged in, those things also eat up amp hours. We dry camped all week last year on the Outer Banks, and I'm pretty sure my biggest energy usage was running the exhaust fans all day and night though we had no problem keeping up with the energy usage. When really chilly, we rely more on our Little Buddy propane heater which is very efficient, and we only use the actual furnace for a few minutes just to really warm up if needed.
The only other consideration is if you utilize an inverter to power certain appliances, which can be a tremendous amount of usage depending on the appliance, microwaves and coffeemakers will quickly drain a battery.
I have been looking at the Zamp models you mention. I wondered if the 200W was a good size. I just want portability without all the retro fit. Did you just connect directly to the 12v bat posts and monitor the batteries periodically during the week.
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Old 04-29-2016, 10:02 AM   #17
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Jim, try this. Melitta Coffee Maker 6 Cup Pour Over Brewer with Glass Carafe 1 Count New 055437640442 | eBay You might like the taste over perked coffee. Malita also makes a one cup version that fits over your cup. Cheapest filters for these are at Wally World.
Thank you! Didn't know they still made that! I use to have one but it got broke. I just ordered one off of Amazon. Here is a filter you might be interested in.

Robot Check

Jim
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Old 04-29-2016, 10:27 AM   #18
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ummm, 6 cups... you know they had a 10 cup for $2.43 more...

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Old 04-29-2016, 11:49 PM   #19
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What's wrong with a French press for coffee?

If I'm feeling lazy, I boil water and use coffee "tea" bags or put my favorite ground coffee in a tea strainer.

No electricity used just propane to boil the water.
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Old 04-30-2016, 08:22 AM   #20
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ummm, 6 cups... you know they had a 10 cup for $2.43 more...

That is what happens when I am in a hurry. Oh well. That will fill both my insulated mugs, by the time I drink them I will have another pot made. That works!

Jim
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