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Old 07-05-2006, 03:22 PM   #1
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We just concluded our five day boondocking adventure this morning. This was the longest period we have ever drycamped in the coach but we are no strangers to hanging out on the hook in our former sailboat so it was fun to compare the two experiences.

We completely topped off the water tank and having enough water was never an issue as it turns out. in fact I think we still have about half of it left. Water conservation procedures were:

-paper plates for all meals
-brief showers every other day (but still long enough duration to feel really clean)
-never opening up faucets above a trickle unless necessary
-minimal use of the potty (you can decide what this means )
-obviously no laundry was done

We were a little draconian with our conservation but I'd rather have some water left than run out because of that last long shower I took.

Managing the batteries and electrical consumption was actually fairly easy. A feature of my Xantrex RS2000 inverter and auto gen start is that I can option it to start the generator on certain triggers like low battery voltage and I entered quiet hours so it wouldn't start in the middle of the night. It took a couple of days of playing around with the parameters until I got the genny starting and stopping automatically while keeping the batteries in fairly good shape. The final triggers/settings were:

Quiet hour start - 9 pm
Quiet hour end - 8 am
Start on low voltage if 11.3 volts for 30 seconds
Start on low voltage if 11.9 volts for 15 minutes
Stop on battery charge float status
Max run time - 5 hours

Here's how the drill went:

We identified everything that didn't need to be plugged in all the time like nite lights, coffee maker, chargers, VCR/DVD, Tivo and unplugged them and only pluged them in on an as-needed basis. I also shut off the UPS supply that powers my big tower PC when not in use.

While running on inverter, we switched everything over to propane (furnace, water heater, refrig.) We set the furnace thermostat to 73 degrees and our morning lows were usually in the high 40s or low 50s. Sometimes the furnace only cycled off and on only a few times in the early morning hours, other times it was cycling much more frequently over several hours.

The batteries would start out fairly well charged when we went to bed because we would usually run the genny in the evenings
to watch TV, run the microvave, etc. Almost every day, the auto gen start wanted to start the genny as soon a quiet hours were over at 8 am and it usually ran for three hours to fully charge the bank. We were then good for several hours of hanging out in the coach. Once we had the genny auto start at 6:30 pm and another day it auto started at 4:30 pm. It all depended on what we were doing in the coach and what was turned on.

One conclusion I came to was the three group 27 house batteries are not large enough for extended drycamping. After pulling 10 to 12 amps from the battery bank at night they were probably 50% discharged (however it is difficult to know with any accuracy). I would add an 8D AGM battery between the frame rails in front of the rear axle on a fabricated shelf. One beauty of an AGM or Gel battery is that it can be mounted in any orientation - on its side, upside down, etc. Plus you NEVER need to look at it again !!

Some of you might be thinking solar panels would be a good addition for this situation. I like solar panels and had a 50 watt panel on my sailboat. Their big drawback is the initial cost. I would rather spend $300-400 on an 8D battery and then do another five days of drycamping to see how that works out first. The Xantrex has a 100 amp charger (as I recall) and it could only pump 68 amps into my small house bank; with an 8D added, you could really use the charger to its potential.

Some numbers:

Gen begin hours: 67.9
Gen end hours: 103
Total run time for five full days (5x24 hrs) of drycamping: 35.3 hrs.
Average run time per day: 7.06 hrs.
Estimated fuel used: 14 gallons (.4 gal/hour)
Estimated fuel cost: $45
Cost of drycamp site for five days: $50 ($10/day)
Total cost of drycamp with own power generation: $95 ($19/day)

Maximum charge rate observed in bulk charge mode was 68 amps

Estimated water usage: 40 gallons (8 gal/day)

Usual electrical consumption as reported by the inverter at night was around 100 watts and about 250 watts during the day if I had my tower PC running. In the morning with the coffee pot running we would pull about 700 watts.

Hopefully all you boondockers will find at least something useful here.
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Old 07-05-2006, 03:22 PM   #2
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We just concluded our five day boondocking adventure this morning. This was the longest period we have ever drycamped in the coach but we are no strangers to hanging out on the hook in our former sailboat so it was fun to compare the two experiences.

We completely topped off the water tank and having enough water was never an issue as it turns out. in fact I think we still have about half of it left. Water conservation procedures were:

-paper plates for all meals
-brief showers every other day (but still long enough duration to feel really clean)
-never opening up faucets above a trickle unless necessary
-minimal use of the potty (you can decide what this means )
-obviously no laundry was done

We were a little draconian with our conservation but I'd rather have some water left than run out because of that last long shower I took.

Managing the batteries and electrical consumption was actually fairly easy. A feature of my Xantrex RS2000 inverter and auto gen start is that I can option it to start the generator on certain triggers like low battery voltage and I entered quiet hours so it wouldn't start in the middle of the night. It took a couple of days of playing around with the parameters until I got the genny starting and stopping automatically while keeping the batteries in fairly good shape. The final triggers/settings were:

Quiet hour start - 9 pm
Quiet hour end - 8 am
Start on low voltage if 11.3 volts for 30 seconds
Start on low voltage if 11.9 volts for 15 minutes
Stop on battery charge float status
Max run time - 5 hours

Here's how the drill went:

We identified everything that didn't need to be plugged in all the time like nite lights, coffee maker, chargers, VCR/DVD, Tivo and unplugged them and only pluged them in on an as-needed basis. I also shut off the UPS supply that powers my big tower PC when not in use.

While running on inverter, we switched everything over to propane (furnace, water heater, refrig.) We set the furnace thermostat to 73 degrees and our morning lows were usually in the high 40s or low 50s. Sometimes the furnace only cycled off and on only a few times in the early morning hours, other times it was cycling much more frequently over several hours.

The batteries would start out fairly well charged when we went to bed because we would usually run the genny in the evenings
to watch TV, run the microvave, etc. Almost every day, the auto gen start wanted to start the genny as soon a quiet hours were over at 8 am and it usually ran for three hours to fully charge the bank. We were then good for several hours of hanging out in the coach. Once we had the genny auto start at 6:30 pm and another day it auto started at 4:30 pm. It all depended on what we were doing in the coach and what was turned on.

One conclusion I came to was the three group 27 house batteries are not large enough for extended drycamping. After pulling 10 to 12 amps from the battery bank at night they were probably 50% discharged (however it is difficult to know with any accuracy). I would add an 8D AGM battery between the frame rails in front of the rear axle on a fabricated shelf. One beauty of an AGM or Gel battery is that it can be mounted in any orientation - on its side, upside down, etc. Plus you NEVER need to look at it again !!

Some of you might be thinking solar panels would be a good addition for this situation. I like solar panels and had a 50 watt panel on my sailboat. Their big drawback is the initial cost. I would rather spend $300-400 on an 8D battery and then do another five days of drycamping to see how that works out first. The Xantrex has a 100 amp charger (as I recall) and it could only pump 68 amps into my small house bank; with an 8D added, you could really use the charger to its potential.

Some numbers:

Gen begin hours: 67.9
Gen end hours: 103
Total run time for five full days (5x24 hrs) of drycamping: 35.3 hrs.
Average run time per day: 7.06 hrs.
Estimated fuel used: 14 gallons (.4 gal/hour)
Estimated fuel cost: $45
Cost of drycamp site for five days: $50 ($10/day)
Total cost of drycamp with own power generation: $95 ($19/day)

Maximum charge rate observed in bulk charge mode was 68 amps

Estimated water usage: 40 gallons (8 gal/day)

Usual electrical consumption as reported by the inverter at night was around 100 watts and about 250 watts during the day if I had my tower PC running. In the morning with the coffee pot running we would pull about 700 watts.

Hopefully all you boondockers will find at least something useful here.
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Old 07-05-2006, 05:48 PM   #3
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John
This was quite informative. My big boondocking adventures don't go much past an evening in either the Wal-Mart or Cracker Barrel parking lots.
I've had my motorhome in the driveway for the past 6 days awaiting a long weekend which begins tomorrow. I just went out to start the refrigerator to cool down and discovered that I had left the water pump on and failed to hit the battery disconnect when I left the motorhome 6 days ago...so I now have low voltage. So much for battery conservation !!

My hat's off to you for both your management of the adventure and your records for all to learn from. Enjoy the adventure.
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Old 07-05-2006, 07:07 PM   #4
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John, THANK YOU for your very informative post....

There are indeed several folks here that do a substansial amount of boondocking and hopefully they can extract some piece of your post that will help them...

Other than the occassional overnighter, I don't see us boondocking much, but it's a very popular part of RV'ing.

Thanks again.....
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Old 07-05-2006, 07:30 PM   #5
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John,

Are the group 27's you mentioned the Lifeline AGM's? Is there a reason you did not go with group 29's?

When boondocking we only turn the inverter on when we need 120-volts and then turn it back off. Uplugging the microwave and TV is impractical in our setup although onw I'm thinking we could use circuit breakers.

I log only 2-3 hours of genset time per day to keep the voltages in line. Then again when we are boondocking we don't much time in the coach except in the evenings.

I'm installing a Xaxtrex Link 20 e-Meter so I can more accurately monitor amp hours. I'll no more by the end of summer as to where it all really goes. I intend on going AGM batteries whenever these existing Interstat group 29's start misbehaving. The e-Meter will tell.

We have a couple of additional water conservation tricks to add to the list:

- Super Navy shower using washcloth and 1.5 gallon bucket in shower. Run shower head in bucket full hot (which starts out cold) until 2/3 full. Use washcloth to do most of the water work including initial rinse. Use remaining water in bucket as a rines and then a quick final rinse with shower head. You'll find you can do it in 1 to 1.5 gallons total.

- Use a plastic dish pan in the galley sink to catch any water you might use there. Use this water to flush the toilet. Side benefit is to preserve some grey water tank capacity.
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Old 07-05-2006, 07:32 PM   #6
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Bob, I may have missed it, but did you order an all electric coach?. It is informative that on an automatic starting generator, the quiet hours can be set. I am glad John had related that point. I had wondered how it could be handled to prevent the generator from coming on in the middle of the night.

In looking at the Essex ourselves this year, the dealer said a majority of their customers were electing not to utilize LP thereby saving storage space, and utilizing more things as in a residential refrigerator. No word yet as to when Winnebago will offer solely all electric rigs.
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Old 07-05-2006, 08:14 PM   #7
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by cwg:
Bob, I may have missed it, but did you order an all electric coach?.

In looking at the Essex ourselves this year, the dealer said a majority of their customers were electing not to utilize LP thereby saving storage space, </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Chuck, my coach is NOT all electric....

There is a member over on Newmar that I believe has ordered the all electric one though...With ALL the storage my coach has,I personally don't see it as an issue,but to each his own. I respect the desire of those folks that don't want LP.

Will put my hands on the new coach tomorrow....
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Old 07-05-2006, 08:54 PM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by vicsryd:
John,

Are the group 27's you mentioned the Lifeline AGM's? Is there a reason you did not go with group 29's?

When boondocking we only turn the inverter on when we need 120-volts and then turn it back off. Uplugging the microwave and TV is impractical in our setup although onw I'm thinking we could use circuit breakers. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Jon - now that you mention it they must be group 29s, I'm pretty sure Lifeline doesn't make group 31s. They are indeed Lifelines.

I'm feeling pretty stupid here because I must admit that I never considered just turning off the inverter at night instead of unplugging everything I didn't want powered. The only problem I can see with that is the furnace might not work - I don't know if the blower and thermostat/electrics/electronics is powered by 12 v or 120 v. I am too old to even think about a sleeping bag and I am not going to be cold at night, so the furnace will be on

I don't see any water issues for drycamping for up to a week or so although you have some pretty good ideas for water conservation. On one of our first sailboats with little plumbing we used a two gallon plastic garden sprayer painted black. We would set it outside after lunch and let it get nice and warm from the sun and take a shower in the evening. We could get two showers (quick showers) out of a gallon of water.
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Old 07-05-2006, 10:48 PM   #9
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by John_Canfield:
The only problem I can see with that is the furnace might not work - I don't know if the blower and thermostat/electrics/electronics is powered by 12 v or 120 v. I am too old to even think about a sleeping bag and I am not going to be cold at night, so the furnace will be on </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Furnace and thermostat are 12v
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Old 07-06-2006, 03:24 AM   #10
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Hey FrontRangeRVer.....good to see ya back posting....

How's the coach?
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Old 07-06-2006, 05:01 AM   #11
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John,

Thanks for the excellent details on dry camping.

I think the 2 things I would do differently are to add a monitor and use different batteries for the house.

I had a Link 2000 on the sail boat and used it religiously to monitor and manage battery use. The monitor someone mentioned on this thread sounds like a good tool. I am going to look into it.

Batteries - If I remember correctly, the 29's are all that will fit on the battery trays but I think I remember measuring and 4 6v AGM's will fit nicely. Then add the 8D AGM. I would check with Xantrex first though concerning charging the different size batteries from the same charger. I am not sure what would happen when it detects a full charge on the 6v batteries (wired to look like 12v's of course). I personally have just never been much of a fan for Grout 27 or 29 batteries forrunning the house. I think they are to low in AMP hours for the size and weight although I have never done a hard mathematical analysis of AMP hours:wieght & cubic footage of space.

Sounds like you had a fun adventure for the long weekend. Enjoy and stay safe.
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Old 07-06-2006, 06:16 AM   #12
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John, we just spent 5 nites at the Teknalika cg in Denali NP. No hookups and similar usage of electronics except that our inverter is off whenever tv is not on, and we had no internet. I do have 400 watts of solar panels. I put a total of 6 hours on our genset, and that was because it was mostly cloudy, but I still got a fairly decent charge from the solar. Our heater works fine without the inverter. I have all the entertainment equipment hooked to a surge protector so I only have to flip a switch to turn it all off versus unplugging everthing. We have limited internet while traveling thru Alaska so I may not respond to quickly.

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Old 07-06-2006, 08:59 AM   #13
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by jimandsue60:
John, we just spent 5 nites at the Teknalika cg in Denali NP. No hookups and similar usage of electronics except that our inverter is off whenever tv is not on, and we had no internet.Jim </div></BLOCKQUOTE>Jim - are there any restrictions about running the generator in Tek other the usual night-time quiet hours?

FrontRange .. thanks for info about the furnace being 12V. I think what we'll try is shutting off the inverter at night and seeing what happens.

Bob G: So you have gas!

Adrian: maybe the Guest or Perko battery switch would be the best deal to switch in/out another 8D. The Winnie solenoid is continuously rated so maybe there is way to use one of those to enable remote switching.

I'm real hesistant to make any 12V changes until I see that we will be doing more than the occasional boondocking.
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Old 07-06-2006, 04:54 PM   #14
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by rebelsbeach:
Hey FrontRangeRVer.....good to see ya back posting....

How's the coach? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thanks Bob! (for the shirt also)

We had a good family vacation with our MH....drove 2,800 miles round trip to Disneyland, and everything worked well...

There is a loud Popping noise from the mid chassis that I am concerned about, hence the coach is back in the shop for that...otherwise...smooth sailing...

I presume today was your delivery of your new coach!!! Look forward to hearing about that bad boy...
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