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Old 01-22-2023, 06:28 PM   #1
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Needy newbie

We just bought 2019 a122s forest river hard side. Very confused regarding battery and solar. Want to be able to be boondock, but also want to keep it simple. We are serious newbies, former bureaucrat and recovering attorney - we can't wire our way out of a cardboard box. Did a month long trip last summer in a borrowed aliner so we caught the bug.
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Old 01-22-2023, 06:42 PM   #2
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Hi and Welcome to FRF.
Suggest that you visit the A-frame sub-forum here and ask your model-specific questions to other A-frame owners.
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Old 01-22-2023, 06:51 PM   #3
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Thanks, will do!
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Old 01-22-2023, 07:09 PM   #4
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Need basic battery advice- newbie

We just bought 2019 a122s forest river hard side. Very confused regarding battery and solar. Want to be able to be boondock, but also want to keep it simple. We are serious newbies, former bureaucrat and recovering attorney - we can't wire our way out of a cardboard box. I assume I should start with a couple good batteries....help!
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Old 01-22-2023, 07:50 PM   #5
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I would look at start with 1 or 2 100ah Lithium batteries

1-200watts solar on the roof

PLUS 200watts solar suite case style panels


mainly due to the angle of the roof ... you probably will only get good sun for half the time

suitcase style panels will allow you more freedom to move panels around to get the best sun from the campsite.



Lithium because they hold more USEABLE charge and will charge up faster using solar... 100ah battery probably OK depending on how much power you use
200 ah gives you a good margin for cloudy rainy days


good solar charge controller 100v/ 50amps for faster charging too
1000 - 2000watt Inverter



small 2000w generator for backup if you want to go real far away from services
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Old 01-22-2023, 08:04 PM   #6
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Get educated!

Where you play makes a difference. Those out west effectively use solar. In the Midwest not so much.

You need to get familiar with needs. A battery monitor is a necessity.

Rv’s with compressor fridges consume more amps per day.

Fortunately the price of lithium batteries has come down.

Watts=Amps x voltage.

Minimal users use 50-70 amps per day. We have a cpap and use 100 per day boondocking. Those with compressor fridges use more than 100 amps per day.

Car batteries have a max of 50 amps dc available.

Most rv’s come with a small car battery intended to run the breakaway brake. Not intended to last overnight for most.

We have 4 110 amp 6 volt golf cart batteries and a 2200 watt generator. We have to charge every other day.
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Old 01-22-2023, 08:20 PM   #7
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2019 a122s is a small hardside popup .... not a lot of room
so Lithium will be best bang for buck.

can't see you adding (or the need for) a whole lot more electric stuff



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Old 01-22-2023, 08:27 PM   #8
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Amazon sells 200 amp lithium batteries for under $1000. Also 300 and 400 amp batteries.

Pair that with a generator. What we do. However back in 2017 when we ordered our rv lithium was prohibitively expensive so we have wet cell gc2 batteries.
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Old 01-22-2023, 08:34 PM   #9
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Be prepared

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Originally Posted by Susanontheroad View Post
We just bought 2019 a122s forest river hard side. Very confused regarding battery and solar. Want to be able to be boondock, but also want to keep it simple. We are serious newbies, former bureaucrat and recovering attorney - we can't wire our way out of a cardboard box. I assume I should start with a couple good batteries....help!
Be prepared ó you may have opened the flood gates on advice on solar/batteries/etc. Hereís my 2 cents - donít do anything until you figure out what your electric usage will be. Make the shoe fit the foot. The best way to do this is decide what electrical devices you will use and find out how much juice (wattage) each uses. If all your going to do is have a couple lights and charge your cell phones you wonít need much. If you cook gourmet meals and need a microwave and convention oven, well thatís another story.

Remember that you wonít use all your devices all the time so it will also be good to know how many minutes/hours you would typically use stuff. You wonít need lights during the day, for example. This will give you an idea of your watt hours, the basic figure you should use to now start designing a system.

With that figuring done, you are now in a good position to start designing a system. Donít just take somebodyís opinion and go out and buy a lot of stuff. First figure our what you need.
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Old 01-22-2023, 08:48 PM   #10
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Welcome. I'd suggest you tell folks about your plans. Many posters assume you want to do what they do.

Do you expect to spend weeks or just a few days boondocking (no water or electric). Do you have state/national parks in mind or heading out to BLM wastlands? Do you need cell service and or wifi?

Having an A-frame your sanitary (toilet/blackwater) options are somewhat limited.

Again, welcome. We've been doing this (in an A-frame) 6 years and thoroughly enjoy it.
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Old 01-22-2023, 08:58 PM   #11
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Until you gain a little experience, I wouldn't mess with solar. Wait until you have a better idea of what is going on and what your needs are.
Your first idea is a good one. Get two good batteries and add a small generator to recharge them and provide additional power. You can get 2 wet cell (flooded) batteries for around $200. No need to spend a fortune on lithium right now.
If you do decide to go solar later, you will still need a generator. Everyone I know with solar capabilities still needs a generator at times.
Happy RVing!!!
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Old 01-22-2023, 09:16 PM   #12
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State and national parks, some blm land. Electric needs are few...phone/tablet, interior lights. Probably no more than 4 or 5 days at a stretch off grid. Want to really keep it simple.
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Old 01-22-2023, 09:27 PM   #13
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Susan, Suggestion - do not spend any money on solar panels and lithium batteries until you get more experience camping. Start out camping in your backyard or at a local campground first. You have LOTS of things to learn before you start planning any long boondocking trips. Once you learn how to tow, back up, set up, level, pack etc. you can then learn about what things run on propane, vs. 12V battery vs. 115V shore power. When you finally get that figured out you will have learned about which devices your REALLY need to operate vs LIKE to operate. A/C and microwave EAT power. Furnace and 3 way fridge eat less power. Radio and lights barely eat power. Some devices run on battery, some don't. Learn all of that and learn how to manage your limited fresh, gray and black water and THEN start planning for boondocking and solar cells. By the way - for me personally, if I needed power for a long boon docking trip I'd spend $600 for a 2000W inverter generator and use it to charge my standard battery when needed.
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Old 01-22-2023, 09:30 PM   #14
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I agree with NMWildcat and bjaspud
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Old 01-23-2023, 12:06 AM   #15
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Instead of doing anything with replacing batteries or adding solar, i would recommend you spend $45:

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I just cut a hole in the top of my plastic battery box (I think it is 2 1/8) and mounted it right there with a bead of sealant around it. Took me 10 minutes.

Then camp in your driveway for a couple of nights (or anywhere there is electric hookup available). See what the monitor says your electric usage is (running on only batteries, of course), then make a decision.
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Old 01-23-2023, 09:43 AM   #16
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Usefulness of solar in/with an A-frame really depends on your camping style. There are very limited ways to park the camper if solar panels are mounted on the roof. If mounted on ground stands, the panels still need to face the sun to do any good.

With an A-frame, you can do everything but use the microwave or the air conditioning from your 12V battery and propane. With reasonable conservation, the typical Group 24 RV/Marine battery will last 2 nights without recharging, perhaps twice that if you don't use the heater.

How much of your camping will be boondocking? For how long a stay without electric power?

With our 2 A-frames, we sized our battery bank to run the A-frame 4hrs/night of actual heater on for 4 nights/5 days without recharging. Fridge food and water are also running out after 4 nights/5 days. And we usually don't stay in one site more than 5 days unless there is electric power. 2 Group 24 RV/Marine batteries will do it - but no reserve. We later switched to 2 GC-2 (golf cart) 6V batteries, which are heavier but have more reserve power for the same price.

We did test this dry camping at Twin Lakes, Colorado for 5 days in July. Nights were low 40s, days were low 80s (typical for 9800ft). Vent fan ran about 3hrs/day, heater run at night with thermostat set at 58. At the end of 5 days, battery voltage was 12.3V.

If your use case is longer without shore power, then you will have to start getting serious about generators and/or solar to recharge your batteries. If you want to run the air conditioning without shore power, you will need a 2KW or bigger generator (weighs approx 50lbs) and carry the gas to run it.

But now that we are not camping in the Rockies, air conditioning and therefore site electric becomes more critical. We simply are not interested in the noise and weight of using a generator. If camping in the heat where A/C is "essential" for comfort, we either get a site with electric (and spend our day sight seeing or playing tourist) or don't go camping. Nor am I going to put the A-frame in the open sun with panels south-facing just to recharge batteries from roof mounted solar panels.

One propane tank typically lasts us a year - but we don't cook inside. Propane gets used by the heater, and the fridge when we don't have electrical hookups. The fridge uses very little propane, the heater is the big use.

A simple voltmeter can give you an indication of the state of charge of your battery(ies) when not plugged into shore power. 12.6V fully charged, each 0.1V less is about 10% down. 12.1V is down to 50%, and it's time to recharge. Get down to 11.9V or less, and you are damaging your batteries.

Fred W
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then 2014 Rockwood A122 A-frame
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Old 01-23-2023, 04:58 PM   #17
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Thank you

We did a month worth of camping last year in blm land and in parks in Utah, az, and then through the Ozarks, up the Appalachia range, and back to new England. It was in a aframe very similar to what we bought, though much older. I take to heart everyone's advice on knowing your camper, and knowing your needs. Thank you! I think my current plan is a 100 ah lithium for about 299. While I love the idea of a solar panel, I will hold off and see how life unfolds. To quote one of you, kiss

Thoughts? Biting off more than I need? Wrong direction? We really appreciate everyone's advice and very much looking forward to getting out there.
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Old 01-23-2023, 06:35 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Susanontheroad View Post
We did a month worth of camping last year in blm land and in parks in Utah, az, and then through the Ozarks, up the Appalachia range, and back to new England. It was in a aframe very similar to what we bought, though much older. I take to heart everyone's advice on knowing your camper, and knowing your needs. Thank you! I think my current plan is a 100 ah lithium for about 299. While I love the idea of a solar panel, I will hold off and see how life unfolds. To quote one of you, kiss

Thoughts? Biting off more than I need? Wrong direction? We really appreciate everyone's advice and very much looking forward to getting out there.
Showing my age: Right on!
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Old 01-23-2023, 07:00 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Susanontheroad View Post
We just bought 2019 a122s forest river hard side. Very confused regarding battery and solar. Want to be able to be boondock, but also want to keep it simple. We are serious newbies, former bureaucrat and recovering attorney - we can't wire our way out of a cardboard box. Did a month long trip last summer in a borrowed aliner so we caught the bug.
I'm sure you will get good advice on this forum. I have been RVing for 20+ years, including several full-time, on coach #5 and I am still learning.

An excellent RV source is RVtravel.com. It is the only independent RV publication and the largest in the nation. The tech columnist replies to every email in the column or personal email. On two occasions he has done research for me. The publication is free but is supported by paid subscribers. Any monthly amount and you get additional info. I am not associated with the publication but have been a 20-year subscriber.

Welcome to the RV world where no question should remain unasked.
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Old 01-23-2023, 07:26 PM   #20
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KISS

[QUOTE= I think my current plan is a 100 ah lithium for about 299. While I love the idea of a solar panel, I will hold off and see how life unfolds. To quote one of you, kiss

Thoughts? Biting off more than I need? Wrong direction? We really appreciate everyone's advice and very much looking forward to getting out there.[/QUOTE]

One 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery should handle the limited electrical needs you described in a prior post. Now, how do you plan to keep it charged? You could get a 500 mile long extension chord but more practical solutions would either be a generator or solar. While you and most everyone here are correct in saying you should go slow, a couple panels would be cleaner and easier to haul then a generator. Again, with your limited electrical needs, a battery, a couple panels and a controller should do you fine.
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