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Old 02-28-2020, 11:47 AM   #1
Winnebago Camper
 
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View/Navion Owners - How do you do boondocking?

I asked this on another forum, but thought I'd come here to find more actual owners. If you have a View or Navion, please comment on how you do boondocking. Small water tank, small propane tank, compressor fridge. That doesn't exactly scream dry-camp! But, I'm not well calibrated. How many days do you have before you have to head back to civilization to top-off? Two days? Three? More?
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Old 02-28-2020, 01:10 PM   #2
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Well I don't have a View with the DC compressor fridge but I have been looking at them and have a pretty good idea of the issues.

The fresh water capacity is 30+ gallons and we use 10 gallons a day for the two of us for cooking, clean up and showers. After three days we either will move or lug water with a 5 gallon collapsible container to refill the tank. A class C makes it fairly easy to move a couple of hundred yards to a water spigot though.

You didn't mention it but grey water capacity is just as important as fresh water since most fresh water goes into the grey water tank. We usually run out of fresh water at about the time we fill the grey water tank. We never have come close to filling the black water tank. When the grey water tank is full I either go tot the dump station or occasionally dump it at the camp site after dark. Shhh, don't tell!!! But it is no worse than dumping a bucket of soapy dish water if you were tent camping.

The propane tank is 13 gallons and with no propane being used for the fridge (it is 12V) then it will last a long time, but see DC recharging below. Running the generator will use a minimum of a half gallon of propane an hour.

DC Compressor fridge. This is the big power hog. It will use somewhere between 50 and 100 amp hours of DC daily, probably closer to 100. At the higher end this will drain the OEM Group 24 coach batteries down to 50% in one day or less. Even if you upgrade to two golf cart batteries in series you can only go at best two days.

Recharging. Two 100 watt solar panels on a sunny day can add 60-70 amp hours which will extend your 50% discharge period to 4-5 days with the GC batteries. But if the sun doesn't shine, then you will have to run the generator.

The propane generator uses 0.6 gph at half load. I would recommend upgrading the converter to 60 or 75 amps and increasing the wire size to the batteries to #1 to limit voltage drop. You will have to run the generator an hour or two each day to stay in balance. With the 13 gallon propane tank you can only do this for about 10 days or less if you are using propane for cooking.

IMHO compressor fridges are not made for boondocking. They cool better than absorption and don't have leveling issues, but they use a lot of DC and deplete your limited propane if you use the generator. I also believe that you will use less propane in an absorption fridge than you will use to run your generator on propane to make DC for your fridge. Propane generators are woefully inefficient, but hey so are absorption fridges but less so.

The diesel generator which is an option somewhat avoids these issues because diesel generators are more efficient at part load and you have the full 25 gallon chassis fuel tank, until you don't.

David
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Old 02-28-2020, 01:46 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by DavidM View Post
Well I don't have a View with the DC compressor fridge but I have been looking at them and have a pretty good idea of the issues.

The fresh water capacity is 30+ gallons and we use 10 gallons a day for the two of us for cooking, clean up and showers. After three days we either will move or lug water with a 5 gallon collapsible container to refill the tank. A class C makes it fairly easy to move a couple of hundred yards to a water spigot though.

You didn't mention it but grey water capacity is just as important as fresh water since most fresh water goes into the grey water tank. We usually run out of fresh water at about the time we fill the grey water tank. We never have come close to filling the black water tank. When the grey water tank is full I either go tot the dump station or occasionally dump it at the camp site after dark. Shhh, don't tell!!! But it is no worse than dumping a bucket of soapy dish water if you were tent camping.

The propane tank is 13 gallons and with no propane being used for the fridge (it is 12V) then it will last a long time, but see DC recharging below. Running the generator will use a minimum of a half gallon of propane an hour.

DC Compressor fridge. This is the big power hog. It will use somewhere between 50 and 100 amp hours of DC daily, probably closer to 100. At the higher end this will drain the OEM Group 24 coach batteries down to 50% in one day or less. Even if you upgrade to two golf cart batteries in series you can only go at best two days.

Recharging. Two 100 watt solar panels on a sunny day can add 60-70 amp hours which will extend your 50% discharge period to 4-5 days with the GC batteries. But if the sun doesn't shine, then you will have to run the generator.

The propane generator uses 0.6 gph at half load. I would recommend upgrading the converter to 60 or 75 amps and increasing the wire size to the batteries to #1 to limit voltage drop. You will have to run the generator an hour or two each day to stay in balance. With the 13 gallon propane tank you can only do this for about 10 days or less if you are using propane for cooking.

IMHO compressor fridges are not made for boondocking. They cool better than absorption and don't have leveling issues, but they use a lot of DC and deplete your limited propane if you use the generator. I also believe that you will use less propane in an absorption fridge than you will use to run your generator on propane to make DC for your fridge. Propane generators are woefully inefficient, but hey so are absorption fridges but less so.

The diesel generator which is an option somewhat avoids these issues because diesel generators are more efficient at part load and you have the full 25 gallon chassis fuel tank, until you don't.

David
I have a question on one thing you mentioned above ... "Propane generators are woefully inefficient, but hey so are absorption fridges but less so."

Could you please elaborate on absorption fridges being in any way inefficient? Many times I've read folks describe them as "just sipping the propane", and of course their electronic control boards don't use much battery capacity.
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Old 02-28-2020, 02:03 PM   #4
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What year view or nation are you looking at? Are you coming from a previous RV, as it should be no different than that RV. If it's your first RV that will be a whole new topic.

We average about 3 days with theb31 gallon water tank being the first to run out. That's with 2 adults and 2 kids. Shower every day, cooking, dishes, etc. Drinking water from a different source. We have lots of drycamping experience. Friend of ours have no dry camping experience and ran out of water from the first person showering. DC compressor fridge does take lots of battery but that can be correct with more solar, lithium batteries, diesel generator.
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Old 02-28-2020, 02:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil G. View Post
I have a question on one thing you mentioned above ... "Propane generators are woefully inefficient, but hey so are absorption fridges but less so."

Could you please elaborate on absorption fridges being in any way inefficient? Many times I've read folks describe them as "just sipping the propane", and of course their electronic control boards don't use much battery capacity.
I should have compared the overall efficiency of propane absorption cooling to burning propane in your generator to make power to drive a DC compressor system. My guess is that propane absorption cooling is twice as efficient as propane/genset/DC compressor cooling.

The DC Danfoss compressor fridge is about as efficient as you can get. It is 2-3 times more efficient than the Energy Star 120V fridges. It takes 3.2 amps when it is on and produces about 200 BTU/hr of cooling. That is an overall efficiency of about 150% (electrical compressor cooling almost always takes less energy to transfer heat than to make resistance heat).

The real problem is that propane generators are very inefficient, probably converting only 20% of the available energy in a gallon of propane into electrical energy. So the overall efficiency is about 30%. And it is even worse if you are running your propane generator lightly just to power the RVs DC converter.

I don't have real good numbers for how much propane that absorption cooling.takes. But I will bet its overall conversion efficiency is better than the 30% of the propane/generator/compressor system.

David
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Old 02-29-2020, 04:52 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by crah View Post
What year view or nation are you looking at? Are you coming from a previous RV, as it should be no different than that RV. If it's your first RV that will be a whole new topic.

We average about 3 days with theb31 gallon water tank being the first to run out. That's with 2 adults and 2 kids. Shower every day, cooking, dishes, etc. Drinking water from a different source. We have lots of drycamping experience. Friend of ours have no dry camping experience and ran out of water from the first person showering. DC compressor fridge does take lots of battery but that can be correct with more solar, lithium batteries, diesel generator.
I am first timer, and brief periods of dry camping is one of my considerations. Draining the tank in one shower?! I'll try not to do that! But it's just me and my wife, so we can be careful. Will likely do diesel gen and lithium batteries. I'm guess we'll be good for a few days, as long as we avoid those showers.
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Old 02-29-2020, 05:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidM View Post
Well I don't have a View with the DC compressor fridge but I have been looking at them and have a pretty good idea of the issues.

The fresh water capacity is 30+ gallons and we use 10 gallons a day for the two of us for cooking, clean up and showers. After three days we either will move or lug water with a 5 gallon collapsible container to refill the tank. A class C makes it fairly easy to move a couple of hundred yards to a water spigot though.

You didn't mention it but grey water capacity is just as important as fresh water since most fresh water goes into the grey water tank. We usually run out of fresh water at about the time we fill the grey water tank. We never have come close to filling the black water tank. When the grey water tank is full I either go tot the dump station or occasionally dump it at the camp site after dark. Shhh, don't tell!!! But it is no worse than dumping a bucket of soapy dish water if you were tent camping.

The propane tank is 13 gallons and with no propane being used for the fridge (it is 12V) then it will last a long time, but see DC recharging below. Running the generator will use a minimum of a half gallon of propane an hour.

DC Compressor fridge. This is the big power hog. It will use somewhere between 50 and 100 amp hours of DC daily, probably closer to 100. At the higher end this will drain the OEM Group 24 coach batteries down to 50% in one day or less. Even if you upgrade to two golf cart batteries in series you can only go at best two days.

Recharging. Two 100 watt solar panels on a sunny day can add 60-70 amp hours which will extend your 50% discharge period to 4-5 days with the GC batteries. But if the sun doesn't shine, then you will have to run the generator.

The propane generator uses 0.6 gph at half load. I would recommend upgrading the converter to 60 or 75 amps and increasing the wire size to the batteries to #1 to limit voltage drop. You will have to run the generator an hour or two each day to stay in balance. With the 13 gallon propane tank you can only do this for about 10 days or less if you are using propane for cooking.

IMHO compressor fridges are not made for boondocking. They cool better than absorption and don't have leveling issues, but they use a lot of DC and deplete your limited propane if you use the generator. I also believe that you will use less propane in an absorption fridge than you will use to run your generator on propane to make DC for your fridge. Propane generators are woefully inefficient, but hey so are absorption fridges but less so.

The diesel generator which is an option somewhat avoids these issues because diesel generators are more efficient at part load and you have the full 25 gallon chassis fuel tank, until you don't.

David
Thank you for the detailed reply. Very helpful information. If I can got three days on water I'd be ok with that. Some rigs have bigger thanks, but that's lot of weight. You can choose how much to fill it, however, depending on your plans.

I'm still worried about the compressor fridge and battery life, but as I'll likely do lithium batteries and a diesel gen that doesn't seem like it will be the limiting factor. Water will determine when I have to head back to town.
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Old 02-29-2020, 07:05 AM   #8
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We generally dry camp for 3 - 5 days on our 2019 View 24D . We arrive at the destination with full fresh water and empty gray and black tanks and fill the diesel fuel tank up . After day 2 , depending on sun solar recharging with 3 ,100 amp solar panels we may run the diesel generator 1 or 2 hours . Usually 1 hour in the morning and 1 in the evening if needed . Also that is a good time to use the microwave / oven , coffeepot etc. if you want . My " commander " drys her hair after her shower too . We take conservative showers and usually make it for the 5 days but have a collapsible 5 gallon water tote to add fresh water if needed . So far we have had no problems . Then when we hit the road and try to make our next stop at a full service camp ground to recharge and dump-n-fill and take " holly-wood " long showers . Our fridge is the compressor type and the hot water is the Truma instant hot water so unless it is cold and we run a lot of gas heat we never run low on propane . When the batteries need replacing I may consider up grading to lithium batteries.

Hope that helps with your decisions .
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Old 02-29-2020, 04:15 PM   #9
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We generally dry camp for 3 - 5 days on our 2019 View 24D . We arrive at the destination with full fresh water and empty gray and black tanks and fill the diesel fuel tank up . After day 2 , depending on sun solar recharging with 3 ,100 amp solar panels we may run the diesel generator 1 or 2 hours . Usually 1 hour in the morning and 1 in the evening if needed . Also that is a good time to use the microwave / oven , coffeepot etc. if you want . My " commander " drys her hair after her shower too . We take conservative showers and usually make it for the 5 days but have a collapsible 5 gallon water tote to add fresh water if needed . So far we have had no problems . Then when we hit the road and try to make our next stop at a full service camp ground to recharge and dump-n-fill and take " holly-wood " long showers . Our fridge is the compressor type and the hot water is the Truma instant hot water so unless it is cold and we run a lot of gas heat we never run low on propane . When the batteries need replacing I may consider up grading to lithium batteries.

Hope that helps with your decisions .
Thank you. That sounds similar to how we will roll. Quite doable. Nice to know people are out there making it work as I envision.
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Old 03-04-2020, 05:11 PM   #10
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I just did the Lithium conversion as I found our most limiting factor was power to run the refrigerator. The Lithiums really make all the difference! We got Two Battle Born 10012 Li batteries for our 18 ND; a bit of work but not complex as a do-it-yourself conversion. SO worthwhile for boondocking. No more concerns about running the lead-acid batteries below 12.2V, plus no maintenance and 20 lbs lighter to boot! They also charge up much faster, so we don’t need to run the generator as long. I say go for it!
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Old 03-04-2020, 05:38 PM   #11
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We have a 2016 Navion.

I'm not going to fill this response with statistics but simply tell you we can and often go 4 to 5 days dry camping. We arrive with a full tank of fresh water, empty black and gray tanks and at least 3/4 propane. Note, we do not have a compressor fridge and because we enjoy dry camping that kills the deal for us to upgrade to a new model Navion.


With that said, we do not drink the water in our fresh tank, we take a shower every 2nd or 3rd day ("sponge baths" in between). The fridge runs on propane, but doesn't seem to use much. (I know that's not an issue for you with a compressor fridge, just mentioning it for others who might have the old style fridge). We have one 100 watt solar panel with two Trojan T105 deep cycle batteries. We do not run the TV or DVD player with the inverter when dry camping. (Usually in locations we dry camp, watching TV doesn't seem necessary or desireable.)


While this may not directly apply to you, I hope others may find it useful.
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Old 03-04-2020, 07:17 PM   #12
bkg
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More to consider on the DC refrigerator

The DC refrigerator has had some tough critics.

I have the DC refrigerator and it serves my needs perfectly - yes, even with days without shore power.

I want to point out a couple items regarding refrigerators - regardless of the technolgy:
-1) what do you take along and store in your refrigerator? You might be surprised to learn that most items in a refrigerator will be perfectly fine in the higher temperature range 55 - 60 degrees. There are exceptions such as dairy products, however, produce, bottled water, cold-cuts and condiments are fine at 55 degrees. You can verify on the packaging. Dairy is fine too, it just won't have as long of a shelf life at 55 degrees versus 45 - 48. Besides, at the end of 4 day camping trip we've nearly depleted our milk.
2) what do you keep in the freezer? The freezer will freeze at higher temp settings, it just won't be rock solid. Near the end of our stay I actually raise the temp more to hasten the defrost of our remaining pre-prepared frozen meal packs.
3) the coach ambient temp also has an influence on how hard the refrigerator has to work. Boondocking, it is ideal to keep the coach temp below 80 degrees. The lower the coach ambient temp the easier the heat transfer for the refrigerator condensor and the less thermal influence on the thin refrigerator insulation.
Raising the refrigerator thermostat and moderate coach ambinet temps results in less compressor cycles, less cycles, longer lasting battery reserves.
In special situations I bring an ice chest (simlar to the Yeti) to keep stuff we need to stay cold. We go in the ice chest a lot less so the ice lasts for days.

Keeping the refrigerator at higher temp setting, using bottled water for consumption and use the shutoff valve on the shower while soaping/shaving - we have gone 4 days boondocking without depleting the batteries, running out of water, or filling up one of the waste tanks. On one boondock outing I did crank our diesel generator once to run the A/C for a couple hours on one day when it got up 90 degrees inside the coach.
I will note that the Truma water heater is a water saver too; hot right out the faucet, no water waste while waiting for the shower to warm up.
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Old 03-04-2020, 07:42 PM   #13
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We go 3 to 4 days on water taking two showers a day. Holding tanks are full in 7 days. Here are some tips to extend your time:
1. Get an oxygenic shower head. Hold the head over the toilet while waiting for hot water. This will help fill the holding tanks equally as about a half gallon of water is flushed through the pipes before hot water arrives.
2. Use paper plates. Washing dishes seems to use the most water. Use a cup of soapy water for washing and rinse with a dribble coming out of the faucet.
3. If we use the tv's, our batteries will drain in 3 or 4 days. Use the Diesel engine to recharge them. It has twice the amperage and 20 minute idling will charge use for another day.
4. I take the wife out to dinner, refill the water, and recharge my batteries. I have saved money boon docking, and don't need to be a cheapskate. Happy wife, happy life.
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Old 03-04-2020, 10:35 PM   #14
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We have a 44 gallon fresh water tank and have learned to stretch it up to 10 days. It is our weakest link in boondocking. I used to serve on a submarine and learned a long time ago how to conserve water. It can be done. If you don't have significant solar and lithium batteries, keep your evaporator refrigerator as a compressor type, even a 75 Watt one, will drain your batteries in a hurry and you'll be running your generator way too much.
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Old 03-04-2020, 11:17 PM   #15
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I do almost exactly what Buddy describes. I do not take showers every day, they are the major water users and tank filler ups. Most people really can go without a shower everyday. You can bring along dry shampoo and bathing wipe packets for emergencies. Paper plates and meals that don’t require a lot of dishes and clean up. I love using my small 3 qt instapot to make meals with generator. Meals cook quickly and in one pot to clean. I keep water in jugs or a large orange drink container for emergencies-usually the need is to flush toilet.
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Old 03-05-2020, 04:52 AM   #16
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Boon docking in a View or Navion

Some excellent discussions on this topic. So I will just add a few other points. I also have a propane generator.
1) if you are boondocking in a campground that has showers, then we do all our showers there, and have gone 8 days, and still have fresh water left.
2) I added a third solar panel, for 300 watts total, and some days have not had to run generator to charge batteries. But if you need to run it for the A/C, which I only do at end of day when I return, I have gone that same 8 days with enough propane. I also use the water heater to wash dishes.
3) if you need to fill more water and empty grey tank, my friend carries 3-5 gal water containers, and empties the grey water into those and brings them to the dump station to empty.
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Old 03-05-2020, 07:55 AM   #17
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We take Navy showers (turning water on/off), wash dishes in a dish bucket then pour water down toilet (goes to black tank which usually doesn’t fill up as fast as the grey tank), use paper plates/bowls, and have 200w solar so only run generator as needed (we have diesel genny). Our ‘15 doesn’t have the compression fridge, though, so I don’t know about the impact that has on boondocking. If you are not yet part of the Facebook View/Navion Motorhomes group you might consider joining. There are great posts on boondocking in a View/Navion by owners.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:18 AM   #18
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Thank you for all the helpful information. Sounds like it will fit my expected travel plans very well, just need some forethought and avoid extravagant wasting of water and we'll be fine.
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:55 PM   #19
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Third solar panel

Quote:
Originally Posted by rx4fishing View Post
Some excellent discussions on this topic. So I will just add a few other points. I also have a propane generator.
1) if you are boondocking in a campground that has showers, then we do all our showers there, and have gone 8 days, and still have fresh water left.
2) I added a third solar panel, for 300 watts total, and some days have not had to run generator to charge batteries. But if you need to run it for the A/C, which I only do at end of day when I return, I have gone that same 8 days with enough propane. I also use the water heater to wash dishes.
3) if you need to fill more water and empty grey tank, my friend carries 3-5 gal water containers, and empties the grey water into those and brings them to the dump station to empty.
Iím interested to know what type panel you got and how you attached it to the roof. Iím thinking about doing the same thing to my 18 ND.
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Old 03-08-2020, 01:02 PM   #20
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I used a double sided sticky tape from 3 m, and the solar panel hasnít moved an inch. There are some great videos on u tube concerning this, search and check them out. I can give you some of them but canít this second. The solar panel I used was a fexible, thin panel, about 4 lbs.
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