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Old 12-27-2012, 04:27 PM   #1
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New A128S Owner -- Question about battery life

Hello everybody!
I'm picking up my new A128S tomorrow. WOOHOO!
I'm taking the wife and kids camping soon, and want opinions on how long the battery will last -- ie, should I have a backup plan. (solar? Another battery?)

We're camping for 3 nights, no electrical hookup.
It's probably going to be 50 during the day and around 30 at night.
I don't plan on using any electricity other than the lights at night, and the furnace during the day. I'm assuming fridge under propane should use minimal electricity. Am I right?

We generally like it cool, so I'm thinking around 68 during the day, and 60 at night.

Thanks in advance,
Lewis
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Old 12-27-2012, 04:40 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

The fan for the furnace is a big power hog. Running it to maintain a comfortable temperature in the camper will run the battery down in 1 day. For a 3 day trip in this weather I'd recommend 2 12V batterys and you'll still need a generator to recharge them every day.

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Old 12-27-2012, 04:46 PM   #3
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Welcome to our A-Frame forum and congrats. I got my A128S in late Aug and tested everything it had to offer, worked like a charm. The furnace in a cold night uses a lot of battery. It may last for 3 nights but make sure to turn off during the day. Bring a battery meter with you and take readings. Don't get it below 10.5V, this may damage your battery.
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Use this to get reading, works only when you are not hooked up.
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Get something like this for lights and connecting gadgets to it. Avoid using the RV lights for long time. I could watch 5 hrs TV with this power pack.
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Cost less than $200 but noisy.
If you can bring a cheap gas gen, it takes 4 hrs to fully charge the battery. With this on you could have TV, Furnace and lights on also charges the battery at the same time. Too weak for AC or heat pump

Did you get the tent? Nice to be in it when it is cold outside: The front could be closedClick image for larger version

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Check this thread out to know everything you need for the first season camping with our rig:http://www.forestriverforums.com/for...ger-27602.html

Good Luck and happy camping!

PS. Don't forget to post pics here
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Old 12-27-2012, 05:35 PM   #4
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I'd recommend not going out and spending a bunch of money on accessories until you've camped a bit and determined what you really need for your lifestyle and the type of camping you do. All the items recommended above are worthwhile for some people but much depends in your environment, what you do when camping, etc.

We have an A122 and when we are dry camping. We can typically make the original 12v battery last a long weekend without issue. 50* daytime temps are not low enough for us to consider running the furnace, and 30* at night is not a huge issue, we will use sleeping bags in the mattress and run the themostat around 55* perhaps.... And we may blast it for a few before going to bed to give the whole camper a head start. We covered the interior lights to LED right away so they sip the 12v power, and we use lanterns or other rechargeable otherwise. The fridge on propane uses no electricity so as long as you have propane you're good there.

If you already have a jumpstart battery kit, by all means bring it, it's a little insurance and could provide the little juice you might need to run the furnace fan the last night.

Solar and other advanced techniques are a larger investment and have special conditions to consider so I'd wait to see just how much dry camping you'll be doing and at what times of year. If the trips are not to ever be too far from civilization and not typically for more than 3-4 days, a dual battery setup with a portable charger you can plus into a random AC outlet is easy to do and low expense.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:43 PM   #5
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Some good advice from Rawlus and others here; I thought I'd just add our experience camping above the arctic circle last summer in our A128, having converted to dual Type 31 batteries (in place of the single Type 24 battery it came with) before we left home. Our longest dry camping without recharge was 5 nights and we might have gone a day or two longer, I just didn't want to push it. That was using the furnace each evening from about mealtime until 7 or 8 the next morning, plus our LED lights--though with 24-hour sunlight it wasn't often we needed them. We took our solar panels with us but never used them the entire 69 days. We don't own a generator.
So for us the most cost-effective power option was just converting from single to dual batteries and upgrading the battery type to heavier duty. Our pair of Type 31s cost about $180 total plus about $15 for the metal and screws to build a dual battery rack, plus the cost of two plastic battery boxes and some heavy cable to connect all that, about $20. We still have the original Type 24 battery if anyone nearby wants it, by the way...
Forum member "d-mo" first suggested the dual battery switch-out and shared pics with me of his dual battery rack. I essentially just copied from him. He may chime in with his experiences along this vein too.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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I will most likely be doing the modification thehamguy just described this coming spring. In the interim, a Coleman lantern will make an A-Frame nice and toasty prior to turning in for the night.
In the mornings, if you're feeling wimpy like I occasionally do; have the coffee pot set up the night before, then a single arm (sticking out from under the blankets/sleeping bag) with a lit match at the end of it, will get your stove going, thus starting the coffee and taking the chill off at the same time
(you may have to fiddle with your roof vent/smoke detector to get this technique down pat)
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:06 PM   #7
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As stated, with the furnace running, you'll get a day out of it.

I lot of people will use a portable Mr Heater instead of the onboard heater as it uses no power and is great in the small space of the aframe.

Long term, if you have power limits, you need either solar (to recharge the batteries during the day) or a generator.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rawlus View Post
I'd recommend not going out and spending a bunch of money on accessories until you've camped a bit and determined what you really need for your lifestyle and the type of camping you do. All the items recommended above are worthwhile for some people but much depends in your environment, what you do when camping, etc.

We have an A122 and when we are dry camping. We can typically make the original 12v battery last a long weekend without issue. 50* daytime temps are not low enough for us to consider running the furnace, and 30* at night is not a huge issue, we will use sleeping bags in the mattress and run the themostat around 55* perhaps.... And we may blast it for a few before going to bed to give the whole camper a head start. We covered the interior lights to LED right away so they sip the 12v power, and we use lanterns or other rechargeable otherwise. The fridge on propane uses no electricity so as long as you have propane you're good there.

If you already have a jumpstart battery kit, by all means bring it, it's a little insurance and could provide the little juice you might need to run the furnace fan the last night.

Solar and other advanced techniques are a larger investment and have special conditions to consider so I'd wait to see just how much dry camping you'll be doing and at what times of year. If the trips are not to ever be too far from civilization and not typically for more than 3-4 days, a dual battery setup with a portable charger you can plus into a random AC outlet is easy to do and low expense.
Great tips, I live in Bourne, and I am picking up my a122 today from Rousseau's in Lakeville. Florida within a week or two. I think most of the cg's i will be at will have water and electricity. I have an extra 12v deep cycle battery. I guess I will see what else I need when i get there.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThunderRoad View Post
As stated, with the furnace running, you'll get a day out of it.

I lot of people will use a portable Mr Heater instead of the onboard heater as it uses no power and is great in the small space of the aframe.

Long term, if you have power limits, you need either solar (to recharge the batteries during the day) or a generator.
Is a propane heater like the Mr. Heater safe in a camper? I mean what happens to the carbon monoxide fumes ?
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:16 AM   #10
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I have a portable propane heater (Buddy Heater) that I use when I tent camp. My spouse takes it when he camps in our truck camper. He pops the vent as a precaution but the unit also has a CO2 detector. Our A Frames have same detectors, just open the vent or crack a window. I love that Buddy heater! Havent had a need to use with the A Frame, as the furnace works fine for our needs (so far)
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:59 AM   #11
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Just got back from 6 nights in Yosemite, where there was snow on the ground and nighttime temps of low 20s. We were nice and toasty at night! Wen we got back to camp (see pic), I would turn on the trailer furnace. It would take the camper from 34 degrees to 55 in a few minutes. I'd let the furnace cycle on and off for about an hour until we were ready for bed. I'd then turn off the furnace, and turn the Big Buddy heater on low. Two canisters would last through the night keeping the trailer around 60. I vented both the small window (at our feet) and the ceiling vent. We had condensation on the windows in the morning, but other than that, very reasonable humidity. The trailer battery had plenty of juice to run this way all week. Note: we also don't use the trailer lights inside. We have a portable solar battery to run LED lights. Makes a big difference.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:16 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handbuilder View Post
I have a portable propane heater (Buddy Heater) that I use when I tent camp. My spouse takes it when he camps in our truck camper. He pops the vent as a precaution but the unit also has a CO2 detector. Our A Frames have same detectors, just open the vent or crack a window. I love that Buddy heater! Havent had a need to use with the A Frame, as the furnace works fine for our needs (so far)
Is the CO2 detector in our Aframe in with the LP detector? I could only see the smoke and LP detectors in my rig.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:17 PM   #13
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Hi KO777 - The Safe T Alert detector 35 series in my unit is a combination carbon monoxide and gas alarm. It detects both CO and explosive gases simultaneously (CO, Propane and Methane). The power supply is hard wired, NOT a battery like the smoke alarm...

I mistakenly said our truck camper was the same, but its not...that one is definitely battery operated but thought my husband said it was a combo "like the A frame". I cant check because he went to AZ & CA a couple weeks ago with it on his annual trip south to help both our Moms. He drives down with his construction tools and does maintenance and remodel projects for them at their request....

I would guess you have the same in yours as mine?
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:00 PM   #14
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Hey Everybody. We returned from our 3 days at City of Rocks, New Mexico. I used several different tips, and they all worked together to make sure we had power for the whole trip. I bought a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy -- runs off 1 green 1lb propane "tank." The night routine that worked was as follows:
Swapped out regular lights for LED lights.
It got down to about 30 at night.

1) Use coleman lantern for light before bed.
2) Have Mr. Heater ready to go with full tank and pilot lit.
3) Have coffee ready to go in percolator on the stove.
4) Open roof vent a little. Mostly for condensation, but preventing CO poisoning a plus!
5) Go to bed.
6) Wake up when it gets a little chilly and turn on Mr. Heater. That lasted about 4-5 hours. Probably from 12 - 5 AM
7) Wake up fully around 6:30, turn on coffee.
8) Run heater for about 5 minutes.

That was it. Worked great. Thank you to everyone for their great ideas. I think I may get one of those little 50W or 80W briefcase style solar panel setups to make sure that battery stays charged. But honestly, I think the major draw on the battery was the water pump -- mostly doing dishes.

I couldn't get the voltmeter to show me the battery voltage. I must be doing something wrong -- it kept showing 0V. Probably why I got a C in circuits.

Thanks again,
Lewis
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:20 PM   #15
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Was the meter set on a/c or d/c?



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Old 01-22-2013, 04:04 PM   #16
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Voltmeter

It was on DC. I thought the 0V indicated there was a "clear" electrical path between the two probes. I was sticking them in the two sockets of a three prong electrical socket (not the neutral)

I also tried putting the probes on the terminal heads of the battery itself. I did not disconnect the wires, which is probably the problem there.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:28 PM   #17
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Is your meter auto ranging? Placing an auto ranging meter on the battery posts, set on DC volts should give you a reading, even on a battery that appears dead.

Don't test the AC 3 prong outlets with the meter set on DC. You'll blow the fuse (and likely get a nice pop! and arc). The 3 prong outlets are AC only when plugged to shore power.

Make sure your probes are in the correct connections on the meter too.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:13 AM   #18
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I have a 2013 T12RB Flagstaff, which I haven't used yet, and I have a battery question also. I will have 30 amp service but I'm wondering what runs off the battery if I'm plugged into the electricity? I'm hoping nothing, including the radio, but scanning through all the manuals, I can't find a chapter that explains what runs off electricity and what runs off the battery when hooked to the parks power supply. If anyone has experience with the model I have, I would dearly love to hear from you. Also, does the park power supply charge the battery or is the battery only charged from the tow vehicles power?
Thanks,
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:48 AM   #19
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To make things easier to understand ... if the trailer is not plugged into shore power, everything will run on 12 volt (from your battery) except the cool cat heat exchanger/air conditioning and your fridge. In this scenario you run your fridge on propane. The hot water heaters ignition is supplied by 12 volt, and your hot water heater runs on propane.
When plugged into shore power, the converter takes over and recharges your battery, seamlessly .. meaning there is no switching involved. In this scenario you can run everything to your hearts content, with the fridge running off of the 120.
When dry camping ... which we do alot ... the fridge is switched to propane, not 12 volt, as 12 volt is for when you are hooked up to your tow vehicle.
Sounds a bit confusing at first .. but it really is a simple system. One of the reasons i purchased this trailer is because it all runs so well when camping without shore power.

d-mo
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:12 AM   #20
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And to clarify a bit further, when not plugged in to shore power the Cool Cat and microwave won't run at all, since they're 110v only, but the furnace will run, as its fan and ignition system are both 12v.

Also when not plugged in to shore power all the 110v outlets are dead. That may seem obvious, but I at first thought the power center in my trailer was an inverter, believing it would produce 110v from a 12v supply. I soon found I was wrong. It's a converter only, changing 110v into 12v for most of the appliances and lights, and shunting 110v (when on shore power) to the micro, outlets, and Cool Cat. It's also a "smart charger" for your battery then.

The charging that happens when you're hooked to the tow vehicle is very slight, not really enough to bring a dead battery all the way back up.
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