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Old 06-13-2018, 11:26 PM   #1
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Dry camping

We are fairly new at RV camping, and are going on our first dry camping trip. We have a 2017 TT Forest River Apex 191RBS with two 12V batteries, DC24MF. How long can we expect the power to last - ie, how many nights could we be out camping?
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:20 AM   #2
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If you do not run the fridge on 12 volts or use the propane space heater you should be good for 2 to 3 days per battery. In cold weather when the heater is in use, count on one day per battery before recharging.

This assumes fully charged batteries from the start.
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:43 AM   #3
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If you don't use the furnace at all and conserve your lights, 3 nights at least.

Your fridge should be 2-way, NOT 3-way, so it won't run on 12v.
It'll have to run on propane, using a little 12v power to ignite the propane.

Just realize that your batteries are just marine batteries, NOT true deep cycle batteries.

Most newbies to dry camping focus just on battery power.
Have you considered dealing with fresh water and gray/black tanks issues?
Depending on tank capacities, you may run out of FW or have full gray/black tanks.
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:47 AM   #4
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I bought a Costco 2000 watt inverter generator for $499.99. That solves all my dry camping electrical issues. If you want to run the A/C, buy a second one and run them in parallel. Parallel cord is included with each generator, as well as a 30 amp adaptor, tool kit and oil funnel.
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Old 06-14-2018, 08:56 AM   #5
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We actually went dry camping, setting up camp at 3 pm. At 10 am the CO2 detector started beeping due to low battery. We did not use much power, and used propane for hot water and the refrigerator, and turned on the furnace once when we woke up to warm up the trailer. We are arguing with the dealer - they claim that we need to upgrade to 6 volt batteries in order to go dry camping, and we disagree. Thanks for your confirmation that we are thinking correctly.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:59 AM   #6
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Also, we had brand new batteries that were fully charged for this trip.
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Old 06-14-2018, 10:51 AM   #7
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We are arguing with the dealer - they claim that we need to upgrade to 6 volt batteries in order to go dry camping, and we disagree. Thanks for your confirmation that we are thinking correctly.
Actually, I agree with your dealer.

You misunderstood my post. Your two 12v marine batteries are NOT as good as two 6v golf cart batteries.
In fact, I'm bettering they are the typical cheap dual purpose marine batteries that are nowhere near as good as the two 6v golf cart batteries.

If you had mentioned, in your first post, what the dealer was recommending, I would advised you to go for the 6v.

Suggest that you Google "the 12 Volt Side of Life"
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:07 AM   #8
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We are arguing with the dealer - they claim that we need to upgrade to 6 volt batteries in order to go dry camping, and we disagree.
What is your argument?

What is the amp-hour rating on your batteries? You can only really use 1/2 or less of that before you start to damage the batteries.

Personally, the first thing I would do if you plan on dry camping is buy a proper battery monitor like the Victron BMV-712. This will give you a true state of charge for your batteries and is pretty easy to install. It's a little expensive around $200 but knowledge is worth it.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:37 AM   #9
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also there was a post about the fridge having a heater to prevent condensation that uses 12 volt power. it talked about disabling it when dry camping. the quick was was to just unplug the wire to the light.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Kboreen View Post
We actually went dry camping, setting up camp at 3 pm. At 10 am the CO2 detector started beeping due to low battery. We did not use much power, and used propane for hot water and the refrigerator, and turned on the furnace once when we woke up to warm up the trailer. We are arguing with the dealer - they claim that we need to upgrade to 6 volt batteries in order to go dry camping, and we disagree. Thanks for your confirmation that we are thinking correctly.
Okay, we also have similar batteries. Two group 24 marine batteries. We run the refer on propane, use the furnace depending on outside temps (So sometimes it's on a LOT, phone chargers, but we are conservative with lights and other things.. We can get a full 3 days if we are conservative.

I cannot fathom only getting 19 hours out of TWO batteries. So, here's a few questions.
  1. How did you ensure the batteries were fully chared?
  2. Which charger did you use?
  3. Are you sure both batteries are hooked up?
  4. Have you EVER depleted these batteries? No matter how new they are?
  5. How many electrical devices did you use? List everything, lights, furnace, phone chargers, stereo... etc.

If you've ever depleted these batteries, they will never fully charge ever again. So even if they're new, and they were below 11 volts for a few days, there's now damage to them.

Also, using an actual voltmeter to measure how full they are is 10X more accurate than using the built-in batter meter. And if you want 100% accuracy, you'll need to check specific gravity in each cell.
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Old 06-14-2018, 01:25 PM   #11
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Thanks for the excellent advice! We had a problem with the batteries charging when we first bought the trailer. Ended up that the factory put in the incorrect 20 amp fuse instead of a 30 amp breaker. That is now remedied. So we bought new batteries just before this trip, and upgraded to the top 12 volt batteries, Interstate Batteries brand. We are going to have the shop review for phantom draw and look form short in the wiring, perhaps a staple that has pierced the wiring.
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Old 06-14-2018, 01:44 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kboreen View Post
Thanks for the excellent advice! We had a problem with the batteries charging when we first bought the trailer. Ended up that the factory put in the incorrect 20 amp fuse instead of a 30 amp breaker. That is now remedied. So we bought new batteries just before this trip, and upgraded to the top 12 volt batteries, Interstate Batteries brand. We are going to have the shop review for phantom draw and look form short in the wiring, perhaps a staple that has pierced the wiring.
Yes, If you have those batteries, you DEFINITELY have a significant phantom draw.

Let us know what you find out!
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:10 PM   #13
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Not sure what you mean by "top 12 volt batteries" but a quick search of the catalog number says they are 75AH dual use maintenance free batteries, which are not particularly suited to your application.
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:26 PM   #14
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We are arguing with the dealer - they claim that we need to upgrade to 6 volt batteries in order to go dry camping, and we disagree. Thanks for your confirmation that we are thinking correctly.
There is plenty of information about two 12 volt batteries in parallel vs two 6 volt in series. The bottom line is that the right 6 volt batteries give you a little extra amperage, but not very much. It sounds like your dealer either doesn't know much or is trying to sell you two new batteries. As far as I'm concerned, there isn't enough advantage to be gained unless you're already in the process of replacing worn out batteries.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:08 PM   #15
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Interstate marine batteries are not what I would call a "top" battery.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:38 PM   #16
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Deep dive into studying about batteries, amp hours and such. I have learned so much from studying things on the internet. Some of the biggest things you need to know is amp hours. This gives you and idea of how long a battery will last. The biggest thing this number gives you is a decent comparison with other batteries. Also be sure to look at the amp hour rate they are giving you in the specs. Some show 10 AH numbers, other show 20, or 50 or whatever. Make sure you are comparing same to same in order to get an idea of how long they will last.

Second, group 24 batteries and especially marine batteries are low end with usually, say, 75-85 ah ratings depending. To prevent permanent damage you cannot take the batter down below 50%. This means a 85 AH battery has only 42.5 AH usable.

This brings me to a volt meter. If you do a lot of dry camping, get one. You can get one cheap from your home improvement store. To go with the volt meter get the volts to percentages chart to show you how full your battery is. This chart is all over the internet. You can also buy meters to install inside the camper so that you don't have to touch the batteries to test them.

"Golf cart batteries." These are 6 volt deep cycle batteries that generally have more amp hours than many 12 volts. One thing to keep in mind, you have to hook up 2 batteries in series to get 12 volts to run the camper. When you hook up 2 batteries in series, it does not double your amp hours. Hooking up 2 200 amp hour golf cart batteries in series essentially gives you one big (in size and weight) 12 volt battery that is rated at 200 amp hours. Again you only have 100 amp hours usable which may times is more than many 12 volt batteries.

Having 2 12 volt batteries used in parallel does double your amp hours. But again you have to half the double to get your usable. You can find 2 group 27 or group 31 12 volt batteries that have more amp hours than 2 6 volts.

In searching for a battery setup, it is a balancing act of needed amp hours, weight, and cost.

All of this doesn't even get into the whole lead acid/AGM (absorbed glass mat)/lithium battery talk. BTW lithium's are way cool and the way to go by far but hoo-boy are they expensive right now. Thousands.
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:48 PM   #17
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2 Interstate marine batteries will work just fine for dry camping. Been using them for years and we boondock most of the time, for weeks at a time. We can easily run the heater all night. We recharge via generator the next day. These batteries are cheap, readily available almost everywhere, and last on avg 4.5 years for us.

Would 2 6volt be better? Slightly, but we didn't notice enough difference to definitely say they are better than 2 12v when we tried it on a previous camper.

After you dry camp a bit, you will figure out how best to get the most out of your batteries. An inline monitor helps, but not necessary. Using a multimeter works just fine to check the state of your batteries.
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:59 PM   #18
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With the OP saying they had a low battery condition after such a short period of time (19 hours?) I would question if the batteries were ever fully charged or, if they did get fully charged, did the TT sit for a week after they were charged before the trip.

It's amazing how much of a parasitic draw there is from newer TT's. On our previous TT I installed a battery cut off switch. It seems like most of the new TT's come with this switch from the factory. However, if your walk through at the dealer was like ours, all they did is tell you where the switch was and not how/when to use it.

Just my 2 cents on possible cause of the quick discharge...
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Old 06-20-2018, 12:59 PM   #19
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Thank you all for your excellent advice! We went to the dealer, and the problem was a bad battery (first time out with two new batteries). We replaced the battery and we’re going dry camping again soon and test it all out.
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Old 06-20-2018, 10:40 PM   #20
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Have fun dry camping. You should seriously consider a generator as a backup in case you use more battery capacity than anticipated.

A quiet inverter generator is preferred but a cheapo 2 stroke Harbor Freight generator which is about 800 watts is perfect to run your converter to recharge your batteries and isn't terribly loud if you use a 20 foot extension cord. We run mainly solar and the harbor freight $79 2 stroke generator is our backup in case the sun doesn't shine. Recently, we had 3 days of cloud cover and rain and our HF cheapo generator allowed us to keep our batteries topped off so we could use our 1500 watt inverter anytime.

We have a 3KW inverter generator but only take it with us when we anticipate running air conditioning which is rarely.
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