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Old 05-09-2011, 02:17 PM   #1
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Keeping Battery Alive

I recently purchased a Rockwood Tent Camper. It has an Interstate Deep Cycle battery. I frequently dry camp and can't keep my battery working for more than a day. Even if everything is turned off, the LP/CO Detector drains it very quickly and I can't make it more than 24 hours without having to charge the battery.

This is a real pain and I need a solution for keeping my battery alive so I can camp remotely for more than 12-24 hours. Thanks.
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:25 PM   #2
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to the Forums. You can add another battery of the same size to add some more time to your stay, but a generator to charge them up during the day will most likely be the best solution. Should you require the furnace one night you'll want those batteries to be fully charged so you make it through the night.
Also you could add a battery cut-off switch so there is no draw at all when you don't need any power during the day.
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:39 PM   #3
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... I need a solution for keeping my battery alive so I can camp remotely for more than 12-24 hours. Thanks.
If you're satisfied with your battery then consider a generator to recharge each day, solar, or simply a battery disconnect to conserve power when away from the campsite.

I will say though that a single battery is not generally going to last you too long, especially if its small or both small and multi-purpose.

Check to make sure you don't have a marine or multi-purpose battery or something like that.

If its truly a deep cycle battery, then check how many amps the battery is good for? If its a group 24, this might be all you're good for. Consider replacing with a bigger battery(s) - group 31 or two golf cart 6v such as a Trojan T-105.
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Old 05-09-2011, 03:09 PM   #4
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First off - Welcome to the forum!

As far as the battery concern, what is the amp hour rating for the battery? Unless you specifically request and are willing to pay for an upgrade, most dealers are only going to install the most basic battery.

Next make sure it is good. Just because it is fairly new does not mean that it is not bad.

If you are going to install two batteries, they should be matched and there is not much sense in buying a second small capacity battery. I would therefore recommend buying a larger capacity battery first (assuming you stay with 12 volts, if you convert to 6-volts you will need two wired in series). If that is still not sufficient, then you can buy a second matching battery later to parallel with it.
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Old 05-09-2011, 03:45 PM   #5
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Any idea how long a couple Trojan T-105s would last or how long a single Group 31 battery would last?

There was also the mention of solar. Any further info or experience with that option?

Thanks again for all the help.
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:02 PM   #6
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Any idea how long a couple Trojan T-105s would last or how long a single Group 31 battery would last?

There was also the mention of solar. Any further info or experience with that option?

Thanks again for all the help.
How long would they last? This depends on how many amps you draw while camping. Do you have a good idea of your power needs? The T-105 has a 20-hour rate of 225ah. You would need two wired in series as has been mentioned.

Solar information? I'm afraid I can't help. I'm still trying to wrap my noggin around everything solar and solar is winning.
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:26 PM   #7
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How long they last will of course be dependant on the amount of electricity used. In cooler temperatures where the heat is used more they will not last as long as in more moderate temperatures with little or no use of the heater.

For a comparison, like Triguy said, two Trojan T-105s in series would result in a 225 AH 20-hour rating. I have two Group 31s in parallel resulting in a 260 AH 20-hour rating, so I have a larger capacity for the camparison. In our 30' fifth wheel in cool climate using the heat, they will last about 3 days. In more moderate climate I have gone as long as 5 days. This is with a family of four of which two are children and are not the best at conserving power.
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Old 05-09-2011, 04:42 PM   #8
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Your LP/CO2 sensor should only draw about 2 amps. If it's working 24 hours, thats 2x24 = 48 amp hours. If you have a propane/dc refrig, it draws about 4 amps. 4x24= 96 amp hours. Those devices have to run 24 hours a day. Add to that any lights or times you run the water pump, etc.

You say you want to boondock often? You'll probably at least 150 amp hours per day. That's the equivalent of a Group 31 battery, but it's 100% of it. You can't use 100% of a battery. Once it hits 12.3V, it's pretty much dead and the load should be removed from it.

I don't know if you have a refrig, water pump, etc but use that for an example. If your using a LP/DC fan furnace, the current draw is very high, like 12 amps or more, but the furnace isn't on 24hr/day.

As far as using solar to recharge big batteries, forget it. Once big batteries are depleted, you'll need an AC charger to replenish them individually, either from a portable generator or from an AC outlet.
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Old 05-09-2011, 06:59 PM   #9
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Sam, your numbers are a bit high. My memory is not as good as it once was but it is as good once as it ever was - wait... That was not memory!

Anyway, with my TM-2025 measuring current with everything that can be turned off - off; the camper draws 200 milliamps. That is the propane detector and all the parasite draw from the Concertone.

Fridge running on Propane is about 1.2 DC amps.

Here are some others:
LPG detector draws .2 amps
Single dual bulb light (198 bulbs) 2.3 amps
Single dual bulb light (LED panels) .1 amps
Light fixture over dining table (4 198 bulbs) 4.5 amps
Single reading light over bed (1 198 bulb) .8 amps
Recessed Halogen lighting, living room (6 lights) 8.4 amps Full on
2.1 amps Fully dimmed
Recessed Halogen lighting, over sink (1 light) 1.4 amps Full on
.4 amps Fully dimmed
Recessed Halogen lighting, over couch (3 lights) 4 amps Full on
1.2 amps Fully Dimmed
Refrigerator 1.2 amps
Furnace (Suburban SF35) 7 amps
Water Pump (Shurflo Smart Sensor 5.7) 11.9 amps running, 12.6 max
Exterior porch lights (3 incandescent bulbs) 2.8 amps
Exterior Porch Lights (3 LED bulbs) .8 amps

Of considerable interest to me was the amount of amperage the water pump draws. I had no idea it drew so many amps.

Check this thread. It is where some of these numbers came from.
http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...itor-5436.html
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Old 05-09-2011, 07:58 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the assistance. It looks like I'll go with the generator. Since it's a tent camper with no TV or microwave I was thinking I could get away with 1000W. It looks like most use Honda or Yamaha but even for a small 1000W version it will be at least $800. I'll also do the battery cut off switch when not in use.

Any other advice on this issue?
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Old 05-09-2011, 08:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Thanks for all the assistance. It looks like I'll go with the generator. Since it's a tent camper with no TV or microwave I was thinking I could get away with 1000W. It looks like most use Honda or Yamaha but even for a small 1000W version it will be at least $800. I'll also do the battery cut off switch when not in use.

Any other advice on this issue?
Well with the 1K the air conditioner is out, but you would need 3K to run that. A battery cut off switch is very handy when storing your unit, but if you are in the camper I strongly recommend you not using it to save 200 milliamps and put your family at risk if you develop a propane leak.

The Smoke detectors and CO detector are powered by their own 9V batterys, so no worry on that end.
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:27 AM   #12
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Batteries are quieter.
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:09 AM   #13
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Batteries are quieter.
No argument there; at least until they are dead.
Then the constant drone of DW tends to make my ears hurt.
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Old 05-10-2011, 09:16 AM   #14
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Be sure you have a large wire to run to the battery. Years back, I could not get much life out of my battery in my 64 Airstream. Ran down quick. I put large, 4 gauge cables directly from my tow vehicle battery to the battery on the trailer. I doubled or more the life of the battery charge. There is too much voltage drop in the tow vehicle wiring for that length. The trailer battery was not getting fully charged. The large wire allowed it to get fully charged. That may be your problem.

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Old 05-10-2011, 11:35 PM   #15
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mpierce makes a good point. You can't rely on the tow vehicle to keep your battery charged. Before you go boondocking again, put an AC charger on the battery to insure its fully charged. If you suspect the battery is at its end of life, you might have it checked at an auto parts store. Most will test it for free.
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