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Dry Camping for First time Next Month


millerizi

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Hello,

This is my first post and was hoping for verification on my Amps per Hour setup for dry camping. We are going on a weekend trip on our 22 foot travel trailer. We have LED light and not a lot of electronics on board.

 

Not expecting for numbers, but if my thought process makes sense, assuming the numbers are correct. I found the items on my traile that work when not plugged in and found the amps per hour they use, then calculated how may of the item I havem I learned how to do this form this site: http://www.macandchris.com/ElectricalSystemSizing.htm

 

Does the chart make sense?

Items:

Furnace- DC Amps 8, Hours Used- 3, AMPS Used- 24, AMPS per 24 hours -24

Water Pump- DC Amps 5, Hours Used -.2, AMPS Used- 1, AMPS per 24 hours -1

LED Lights- DC Amps .08, Hours Used- 2, AMPS Used- .16, AMPS per 24 hours -7

Radio- DC Amps- 1.5, Hours Used - 2, AMPS Used- 3, AMPS per 24 hours -3

 

Total AMPS Per 24 hours - 29.12

Using 2 6 v Golf Cart Batteries, total 180 AMPH, Usable AMPS 90

*** I made usable amps 90 because I believe once 50% is gone you need to recharge.

 

90 AMPS divided by 29.12 = 3.09 days before recharge.

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Sounds about right miller.

Furnace use sounds low - BUT it depends where you are, if your at 60-65 at night - extra blanket?

Any roof fans?

Figure (add) 1 amp per hour - 24 ah - for propane detector, refrigerator controls, furnace controls, misc loads

Take a pair of jumper cables, long enough to reach the truck / trailer batteries, good ones will work better than the charge line.

Get / Take a cheap digital meter - 50% SOC (State of Charge) is about 12.2 volts and the place to start using the jumpers.

 

Best of all - enjoy!!!

 

By the way - welcome to SKP's, come back and tell us how you did.

 

Mack and Chris have been at this a while and are a good starting point.

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Sounds like you're right on track and doin your homeowork. As Bill mentioned.. the parasitic draw is what'll getcha. If boondocking is going to be a regular part of your camping experience I might suggest doubling your battery bank, or providing for a reliable source to recharge. You can certainly use your rig, but the rate of return in terms of fuel is pretty steep.

 

I don't know if you've considred it, but a hundred bucks these days will get you a fairly decent solar panel that would help extend your available juice. ;)

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A catalytic heater to eliminate furnace would make all the difference in the world. Ask some questions before you buy the wrong one though ! Remember your fridg needs 12V to keep the propane going also.. Good luck and enjoy and also another big WELCOME to the forum :D

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x2 on Yarome and Jim n Sue.

 

Catalytic heaters are inexpensive, use no electricity and much less propane.

 

LEDs really cut down on electricity usage.

 

A small solar panel can keep things charged during the day. Higher voltage panels have use in more complex systems but a 12 V panel will charge your 12 V battery directly. Simplest is just a panel or two you put on the ground and adjust to solar angle.

 

Solar is a slippery slope "the more you have, the more your want", the same is true for battery storage but a second set of batteries is an inexpensive fix (notice you do have two x 6 V batteries so your available space may be filled).

 

Reed and Elaine

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  • 2 weeks later...

We found out the hard way how much power the furnace uses. Boondocking above Superior, AZ in November the temp got down to below 32 overnight so I set the thermostat at 60 degress and went to bed. In the middle of the night the fridge alarm starts flashing - no battery left! We were using the marine deep cycle that came with the trailer and using a 100watt solar panel to keep it charged up. (We have a 400 watt solar system and 420 AH battery bank with inverter to provide 110v). We bought a catalytic heater (Mr Heater) and havent had a battery problem since. Sadly the price of 100 watt sysems is much higher per watt than 200 or 250 watt systems. I have seen some advertised on E-bay for about $200 for the panels plus controller - might want to pay a bit more for a better quality controller with a meter.

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It is so great that the price of solar panels has dropped so much! Buy as big a panel as you have space for where you are going to install. In a few months I hope to replace my 3 200 w 24 volt panels. Same footprint with almost 100 watts extra per panel. That is how much they have improved over the years.

 

Safe Travels!

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StarDreamers.us

 

Hope that is three x 200 W panels instead of a 3200 W panel. Now that would be one heck of a panel LOL.

 

You are absolutely correct that the prices of the panels have dropped drastically. What will your replacement panels be? Will they be in parallel or series? Is your battery suite 24 V or do you step down to 12 V?

 

Reed and Elaine

 

Open Ranger 337RLS Roamer (34' fifth wheel

2006 Chevie 3500 diesel 4 x 4 (dualie) with 45 gallon Transfer-Flow auxiliary tank

1.4 kW solar panel suite on roof (90 W to controller)

TriStar MPPT-45 controller

8.6 kW (48 V nominal) LFP battery suite

4.0 kW Magnum PSWI

508 W Mean Well converter (48 V to 12 V)

All LED lighting (except for basement - may have to use incandescent lamps to keep pipes from freezing)

8 BTU (2.3 kW) Olympian Wave catalytic heater

1.5 kW battery charger (if we ever do use line power or the 1.0 kW Honda generator)

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What is the voltage of the 350 W panels? Our 235 W panels are 30 V. We made two templates (fancy term for a piece of cardboard but cut the same size of the panels and wandered about on the roof seeing where they might fit without getting shadowing from various protuberances on the roof (a/c, tv aerial etc). Could have easily put two more panels but decided that we have enough).

Reed and Elaine

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Yes, the templates are a good idea to avoid shadows. Also is the distance the panels are mounted off the roof. Many I see have only an inch or so offset, so they are more susceptible to shadows and will transmit a greater heat load to the roof. However if one mounts them at least 2-3 inches off the roof (more is better) they will keep the RV cooler as more cooling air can circulate under them, and the shadows cast by roof protrusions, like vents and the AC shroud will be smaller.

 

So far, the longest z brackets I have found specifically made for solar panel mounting are these 2" ones http://www.ebay.com/itm/TEKTRUM-LARGE-Z-BRACKET-SOLAR-ROOF-MOUNT-KIT-SET-4/261793034806?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D30003%26meid%3D515a6701813340519296d423f2cddae1%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D321660054130&rt=nc , but I am looking for even taller ones, perhaps 3-4", if I can find them. Ultimately, racking your panels above your AC unit would be ideal, however such a proposal would be heavy and expensive, not to mention the added drag and instability when towing.

 

In a perfect world I'd like my roof to look like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Fb0kQMwQg You could be the local "power station" for your neighbors, inverting your excess power and selling it to your neighbors via long Kill-a-watt metered extension cords. I guess one can dream.

 

Chip

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The controller can be programmed to change from and to whatever voltages with which you are working. Most battery suites are 12 V. Ours is 48 V (nominal) to lower the amperage requirement of the controller. 1400 W at (cloud edge effect momentarily yesterday) at 90 V is about 15 amps and would be 116 amps at 12 V. We get about 1300 W to battery at this would be 110 amps at 12 V and only about 27 amps at 48 V to battery.

 

Loved using the word "template", it makes it sound as if I know what I am talking about.

 

Reed and Elaine

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I guess we are oddballs since we don't have our panels mounted on the RV roof. We have been on he road for about 8 months now and have traveled from Alberta to Arizona. Experiences so far - we have enough power from our 380watts of solar. We run the microwave, watch TV 1-2 hours a night, power 4 computers. We have run the generator twice for 2 hours each time. It is a bit of a hassle to unload and set up the panels each time but it really only takes 15-20 minutes. The panels are 2.5x5 ft and weigh 40lb so I can move them fairly easily. I built a caddy on the back of the RV to hold them so they don't take up space in the basement. Last winter we spent 3 months in Yuma and I found I didn't normally need to adjust the panels once I had them set up. Batteries were on float by noon at the latest. On cloudy days I can adjust the panels to take maximum advantage of the weak sun since angle to the sun makes such a huge difference to the watts you collect. I know that mounting the panels on the roof is the norm but I can see a lot of downsides. You have to park in the sun. You panels are almost always at a low angle to the sun and so are not very efficient. If you can tilt the panels I'm guessing you have to go up on the roof to adjust them. That also means you have to park the right way facing east or west to align the panels to the sun. They are out of the way and you dont have to pull them in and out plus you generate power even when traveling but a lot of rigs I see and read about have 2-3 times the wattage I have on board which must mean a lot higher cost for panels, controller and batteries. I did a little write-up on our system at http://pjsnowbird.ca/index.php/tutorials/installation . Anyone else have their panels free standing?

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We're a bit of an oddball, too. Our 300 W array is mounted on a hinged frame that lies flat against the back of our trailer while traveling & then can be deployed at a 45 degree or horizontal when we're camping. We have been on the road for a little over 2 months but also tested our system for a couple of months at home. We are still working out a few bugs but so far so good & 300 W seems enough for our usage. But we are discussing the idea of adding a panel or two & more batteries & up grading the inverter & controller at some point. My husband is a serial tinkerer so is never completely satisfied with any thing. But it does keep him occupied & out of trouble (most of the time).

 

Oh, the reason we did not go with roof mount is that hubby is a bit disabled & climbing ladders is very hard for him. He & I together can work on projects at ground level much easier. But we still carry around that dang ladder anyway.

 

 

 

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We found out the hard way how much power the furnace uses. Boondocking above Superior, AZ in November the temp got down to below 32 overnight so I set the thermostat at 60 degress and went to bed. In the middle of the night the fridge alarm starts flashing - no battery left! We were using the marine deep cycle that came with the trailer and using a 100watt solar panel to keep it charged up. (We have a 400 watt solar system and 420 AH battery bank with inverter to provide 110v). We bought a catalytic heater (Mr Heater) and havent had a battery problem since. Sadly the price of 100 watt sysems is much higher per watt than 200 or 250 watt systems. I have seen some advertised on E-bay for about $200 for the panels plus controller - might want to pay a bit more for a better quality controller with a meter.

That reminds me of our trip to Alaska in our truck camper last summer. Up at Prudhoe Bay overnight, temps were in the 20s with a 35 mph wind. Hubby put the furnace on and started timing. It came on every 15 minutes. He says: bad news, we can't use the furnace at all. we'll have dead batteries long before morning.

The down comforter sure came in handy that night.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I went with this 120W portable solar panel to recharge my deep cycle AGM battery and it works as advertised.

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009MIPH4K

 

Tim

 

Sounds like you're right on track and doin your homeowork. As Bill mentioned.. the parasitic draw is what'll getcha. If boondocking is going to be a regular part of your camping experience I might suggest doubling your battery bank, or providing for a reliable source to recharge. You can certainly use your rig, but the rate of return in terms of fuel is pretty steep.

 

I don't know if you've considred it, but a hundred bucks these days will get you a fairly decent solar panel that would help extend your available juice. ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tom

 

Have heard of side mounted panels from a friend who uses them. This is the first time I have seen a photo of them in use. Where are you camped in the photos?

 

Thanks for sharing

 

Reed and Elaine

That was at Dinner Island Ranch Campground near Immokalee, FL. It's a small campsite managed by Florida Fish and Game.

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So glad I came across this thread!! As my ticker below shows we are preparing to go full time soon. This winter I am planning on adding solar capabilities to our RV but didn't want to put the panels on the roof for many reasons and after reading many of the forums I had not heard of anybody using the side mount or independent mount solar arrays. That is exactly what I want to do!!! Thanks for all the input and pictures...I will be re-reading all the input and going to work soon on what type of system to use. Thanks again to all who contribute!

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