Author Topic: Camping starter info  (Read 12212 times)

7thunders

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Camping starter info
« on: February 06, 2017, 04:37:07 PM »
Ok..Yes we are new and haven't used the camper yet until spring comes but here is a few questions.

If we were to find a campsite WITHOUT electric, how would one camp ? The battery would run basic lights right? and help the propane operate  refrigerator. what else would you use as far as the electric goes...water pump, hot water heater?  Powered Jack on hitch! Canopy! Radio? Tv?   So do those that camp this way use a solar charger to keep battery charged? I am just assuming that as we travel there may be times that we won't have an electric hookup so I want to understand and know what/how to operate..

just pondering......... LoL
Rob
Rob & Judi
Northeastern Pennsylvania
16 DBS
Toyota FJ Cruiser

BeerSnob

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2017, 11:06:52 PM »
Ok..Yes we are new and haven't used the camper yet until spring comes but here is a few questions.

If we were to find a campsite WITHOUT electric, how would one camp ? The battery would run basic lights right? and help the propane operate  refrigerator. what else would you use as far as the electric goes...water pump, hot water heater?  Powered Jack on hitch! Canopy! Radio? Tv?   So do those that camp this way use a solar charger to keep battery charged? I am just assuming that as we travel there may be times that we won't have an electric hookup so I want to understand and know what/how to operate..

just pondering......... LoL
Rob

I'm barely more than a newb myself but having camped 2 seasons with a bare bones LL and just upgraded to a new 16TBS I think I can answer a couple things. We've boondocked (no hookups) a few times for up to 3 days with no problem. With our old camper we only needed power for the lights and water pump.

Check your owner's and appliance manuals but I don't think you need any power to run the fridge or water heater - just propane. I did find out on our new camper that you need battery power for the furnace ignition and blower.
Our old camper had a manual awning and I haven't yet read the manual for our power awning but I'm assuming you run it off the battery.
Obviously all your electronics will need power. Our old camper did not have any entertainment systems.
With some planning you won't need much power for the basics - jack/awning/slide/water pump/fans. You can always use flashlights to minimize using your lights. But you're out of luck (or will drain your battery) if you need climate control or entertainment I think.
I know quite a few use solar, we haven't. I've also read and assumed that you can hook up to your running vehicle to charge your camper battery.

I highly recommend testing a lot of this out in your driveway if you can. Or at a campground near home for a first run. We're lucky that our camper is in the driveway so I've been testing all the systems except water to make sure I understand them before our first outing. As soon as I can de-winterize I'll be testing that system out too. Of course our dealer showed us all was working (except water because it was already winterized) but they did it all and I don't learn anything until I do it (wrong) myself!

Good luck and happy camping! You're gonna love it!

djsamuel

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2017, 06:22:57 AM »
Ok..Yes we are new and haven't used the camper yet until spring comes but here is a few questions.

If we were to find a campsite WITHOUT electric, how would one camp ? The battery would run basic lights right? and help the propane operate  refrigerator. what else would you use as far as the electric goes...water pump, hot water heater?  Powered Jack on hitch! Canopy! Radio? Tv?   So do those that camp this way use a solar charger to keep battery charged? I am just assuming that as we travel there may be times that we won't have an electric hookup so I want to understand and know what/how to operate..

just pondering......... LoL
Rob

I'm barely more than a newb myself but having camped 2 seasons with a bare bones LL and just upgraded to a new 16TBS I think I can answer a couple things. We've boondocked (no hookups) a few times for up to 3 days with no problem. With our old camper we only needed power for the lights and water pump.

Check your owner's and appliance manuals but I don't think you need any power to run the fridge or water heater - just propane. I did find out on our new camper that you need battery power for the furnace ignition and blower.
Our old camper had a manual awning and I haven't yet read the manual for our power awning but I'm assuming you run it off the battery.
Obviously all your electronics will need power. Our old camper did not have any entertainment systems.
With some planning you won't need much power for the basics - jack/awning/slide/water pump/fans. You can always use flashlights to minimize using your lights. But you're out of luck (or will drain your battery) if you need climate control or entertainment I think.
I know quite a few use solar, we haven't. I've also read and assumed that you can hook up to your running vehicle to charge your camper battery.

I highly recommend testing a lot of this out in your driveway if you can. Or at a campground near home for a first run. We're lucky that our camper is in the driveway so I've been testing all the systems except water to make sure I understand them before our first outing. As soon as I can de-winterize I'll be testing that system out too. Of course our dealer showed us all was working (except water because it was already winterized) but they did it all and I don't learn anything until I do it (wrong) myself!

Good luck and happy camping! You're gonna love it!

Some good thoughts here, especially regarding camping in your driveway.  However, power is required to run the refrigerator and hot water heater, but only for the control system and propane ignition.  Other than that, the propane handles the rest.

Like was stated above, you can get a few days from your battery if you are not using the furnace and use everything else (lights, radio, slide, etc.) sparingly.  Some people change their battery configuration to increase capacity (such as 2 6 volt golf cart batteries in series).  Others use solar to charge, or a good inverter generator. I'm sure others with more experience boondocking will chime in.  My experience is limited to the overnight stops in rest areas/Walmarts while on our way to our destination.
2013 Camplite 21BHS

7thunders

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2017, 09:21:53 AM »
Great info ...will do some testing in driveway as well.  The dealer did show us the works as well when we picked up our 16 DBS but that was back in November so i'm sure I will "relearn" it all over and yes the water system was winterized so that will be new too. 

Yes I remember the battery will charge when hooked up to a running vehicle connection

From your experiences..can you advise how long the propane will last?  We have two tanks.

I"m anxious to get out there...as you can tell i'm sure. 

Rob & Judi
Northeastern Pennsylvania
16 DBS
Toyota FJ Cruiser

djsamuel

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 04:07:07 PM »
Great info ...will do some testing in driveway as well.  The dealer did show us the works as well when we picked up our 16 DBS but that was back in November so i'm sure I will "relearn" it all over and yes the water system was winterized so that will be new too. 

Yes I remember the battery will charge when hooked up to a running vehicle connection

From your experiences..can you advise how long the propane will last?  We have two tanks.

I"m anxious to get out there...as you can tell i'm sure.

We purchased our 21BHS in September 2013.  We only recently emptied our first tank and are now drawing from the second tank.  Now we never use the propane heater, other than testing.  The refrigerator runs on propane while traveling and then switches to electric when we hook up.  The water heater isn't used too often since we normally use the campground's showers when available.  However, we've traveled from Florida out to Arizona and Utah as well as up to Tennessee along with many trips within Florida.  So the gas can last a while.
2013 Camplite 21BHS

wakeboydb

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2017, 05:38:16 PM »
The furnace will empty the tanks reasonably quickly. We camped for two nights over New Year and kept the thermostat at a comfortable temperature and burned through 1/3 of a tank. We were running it in the day for some if the time also and used the stove a couple of times. The fridge was running on electric and the water heater was not used. I'd  figure on about a tank for every 5-7 days if running the furnace.
2017 21BHS

djsamuel

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2017, 07:27:11 PM »
The furnace will empty the tanks reasonably quickly. We camped for two nights over New Year and kept the thermostat at a comfortable temperature and burned through 1/3 of a tank. We were running it in the day for some if the time also and used the stove a couple of times. The fridge was running on electric and the water heater was not used. I'd  figure on about a tank for every 5-7 days if running the furnace.

I agree.  The furnace would be the biggest consumer of gas.  When it is cold, we use a small electric ceramic heater.  Works great.
2013 Camplite 21BHS

7thunders

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 01:30:28 PM »
Great info..thanks everyone.
Now to get this snow to melt...

Rob & Judi
Northeastern Pennsylvania
16 DBS
Toyota FJ Cruiser

DavidM

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2017, 04:01:00 PM »
We have owned our 16TBS for three camping seasons now, have camped probably 50 nights and have only had plug in power once. Here are some thoughts on how to boondock with ease:

The single battery that most of us have on our campers has about 70 amp hours of capacity. For best life you don't want to run it down below 50%, so you really have 35 amp hours of usable capacity, but an occasional dip to 80% discharged won't do too much damage.

We don't run the furnace, so with normal use of lights, water pump, fridge control electronics (more about this later), water heater start up, etc we use 10-15 amp hours each day. So we can usually go for three nights before running the battery too low.

If you need more capacity or recharging capability you have several choices:

1. Install two 6V golf cart batteries wired in series. That will up your capacity to 220 AH and let you go at least a week.

2. Install a solar panel. But we camp in shade. You can run long cables, maybe as much as 100' away from your trailer and mount a portable panel in the sun.

3. Tow the trailer someplace else. We never camp more that 3 nights in one place and 3 hours of towing will charge up the single battery so we can go another 3 nights.

4. If you want to stay in one place more than 3 nights then you can hook up your TV's battery to your trailer's battery with jumper cables and run the engine at idle for an hour. That will add enough for a day or two.

5. You can hook up a portable generator to your trailer's shore power cord and let the converter recharge the batteries. An hour of running should add a couple of days worth of power.

All of these were discussed in one place or the other on the old forum. Do a search on the aluminiumcamperforum.com which links to the old forum's archives to find a specific topic.

And finally back to the fridge. Some LL models have large fridges with two doors (one for fridge and one for the freezer) that are usually installed on the 21+' models and have a thermal element that keeps the freezer door frame from frosting up. This uses as much power in 24 hours as everything else (except the furnace). This can be disabled. See ACF or the old forum archives linked by ACF for details.

And really finally, the furnace draws a lot of power for its blower, maybe 5 amps. If you turn it on for 24 hours and it operates 1/4 of the time it will draw down your batteries in a day. We have used it for an hour before bed to take showers, etc and again in the morning for an hour to warm the unit up. That alone will draw 10 amps so we only do it if we are only staying a night or two before towing or returning home.

David
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 05:14:22 PM by DavidM »

7thunders

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2017, 06:08:29 PM »
Great info there David. thank you.  I am sure getting out there gets you this experience.  Do you have any sort of gauge that you can test your battery to determine how much life you have remaining?  I thought of course taking a spare battery just in case you use too much in #1 battery.  I"ve not done much research yet on the solar  (Zamp)  panel but would like to hear more from others on this to know just how well it works and tips on it.  I don't know how much boondocking we will do, to start i'm sure were going to make reservations at those campgrounds with electric hook up but just in case your info is valuable. 
thanks you.
Rob
Rob & Judi
Northeastern Pennsylvania
16 DBS
Toyota FJ Cruiser

chappy133

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2017, 10:53:29 PM »
I have an 80W solar panel that has kept our battery topped off for week long trips during the summer. Recommend you go with 100W minimum solar panel.
Chuck
2016 16' TBS
2013 F 150
Easton, PA

7thunders

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2017, 12:23:34 PM »
Chuck/Chappy..
what brand or type of panel do you have?
Our 16DBS is prewired for Zamp solar.  I haven't read up on this enough in the manual etc but the hookup looks similiar to a television cabel. plug............
Not sure how/where its hooked into via the power panel within...
Guess i need to go and read up on it.
Rob & Judi
Northeastern Pennsylvania
16 DBS
Toyota FJ Cruiser

DavidM

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2017, 09:58:29 AM »
Rob:

Assuming that you have removable caps on your battery, checking the specific gravity of the electrolyte with a $5-10 gauge will give you a pretty good indication of the state of charge. If you don't have caps then you almost certainly don't have a deep cycle battery and it will fail prematurely in this service.

If you don't have caps, a very rough indication of state of charge is battery voltage. Sometime during the day when you haven't used any DC appliances for an hour or so, measure the voltage at the battery terminals with a good multimeter. 12.0 volts indicates approximately 50% discharged which is as far as you routinely want to go. Google state of charge vs voltage for further details.

But don't restrict yourself to campsites with electrical hookups. US Forest Service campgrounds, most National Parks and State Parks don't have hookups but are in scenic areas and have much better spacing between campsites than RV parks with hookups.

David

barb-marv

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2017, 11:11:41 AM »
This is all such great info ........ we are just about ready to take the plunge with a 21' model - so much to learn!  -B

Stefliv

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Re: Camping starter info
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2017, 06:12:23 AM »
Hey guys what brands of solar panels do you have? Are these some plug'n'play solar panels by any chance? I'd love to use one but I'm not an electrician unfortunately :(
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