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Old 09-26-2020, 04:24 PM   #1
mcp
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2108DS - How to boondock

We bought a 2020 2108DS early last year and have done maybe 10 or so short 3-4 day trips always with electric hookup. We've been discussing possibly boondocking for a couple of days but really find it impossible to even start to assess requirements because nothing works off of the battery with the exception of the slide out. There is an utter lack of useful documentation from Winnebago pertaining to this or any other routine maintenance or operational task (which is a major source of discontent with me).

Anyway, I'm hoping I can get some general info from some folks here on the following:

1. How to make things run off of battery
2. What will and will not run off of battery
3. A rough idea of how long one could go on battery using only the water pump and lights (in other words using that battery power very conservatively)

One other thing I'm hoping someone can speak to has to do with the battery disconnect switch located in the cargo area (accessible from outside). I had the understanding from the dealer this cut off all battery to the trailer, but no matter how I set it the slide works (and only the slide - no lights). I'm not sure if the switch is bad or if there is some other step I am missing.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-26-2020, 04:30 PM   #2
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For about $500 you can buy a generator that will take care of all your power needs except, perhaps, the a/c unit. Will keep your batteries charged.
An easy and inexpensive solution for the occasional use.

Have fun.


https://www.harborfreight.com/electr...tor-62523.html
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Old 09-26-2020, 04:47 PM   #3
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Adding a portable quiet generator is likely the most cost effective, and easy answer for you.

The long answer is to spend thousands more to add batteries, an inverter and solar panels, etc.

Even if you spend the big bucks you’ll still need the generator as it’s tough to have enough solar to adequately charge a big battery bank.

We started with one Honda 2000i and it was great until we wanted A/C so we got a second 2000i and pared them together to have enough power to run the A/C. With this set up we’d take one generator with us when the weather was cool and both of them when we expected hot weather.

After you get the generator you’ll be all set... that is until you figure out you need a way to get more fresh water than your tank will hold. And that your grey and black tanks are filling too fast, too.
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Old 09-26-2020, 04:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcp View Post
We bought a 2020 2108DS early last year and have done maybe 10 or so short 3-4 day trips always with electric hookup. We've been discussing possibly boondocking for a couple of days but really find it impossible to even start to assess requirements because nothing works off of the battery with the exception of the slide out. !
Uh, the only items requiring shore power are the microwave, the air conditioner and the television. Everything else runs off of 12V or propane. We went for three days at Yellowstone without hookups. No generator, no solar. Just the trailer as it was when we bought it.
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Old 09-26-2020, 04:53 PM   #5
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Oh, I’m pretty sure the disconnect works on everything but the slide. That switch is for storing your RV, not to be used when you are using the RV. And “storing” means when you put the RV away in between trips.
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Old 09-26-2020, 05:02 PM   #6
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Uh, the only items requiring shore power are the microwave, the air conditioner and the television.
And the AC receptacles for chargers, DVD players, coffee makers, toaster ovens, hair dryers, CPAP if needed, and such necessities.

As to how long your batteries will last when Boondocking, there is no one answer because everyone uses their RV differently. There are just too many variables. Go for a weekend and find out for yourself.

Which is another good reason to have a portable generator with you. That way on day 2 when your batteries start to peter out you’ll have an easy way to recharge them.
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Old 09-26-2020, 05:36 PM   #7
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How much battery power do you have now? This is perhaps the most important limiting factor. If you only have one, you should definitely consider adding a second, identical or close to identical battery.

Also, thinking "camping" as opposed to "RVing" will make a big difference. This means no TV (read books or watch DVDs on your laptop if you must), keep exterior lights off, use a battery operated camping lantern, etc. Your refrigerator will be OK running on LPG. Your furnace will run your batteries down pretty quickly so, hopefully, it won't be cold. If it is, you might consider something like a "Little Buddy" heater or, better yet, an Olympian Wave catalytic heater.

As others have suggested, a generator is a good idea. Unless you go big, it won't run your A/C but will run your microwave and charge your batteries (it takes hours). You can reduce the noise your neighbors hear by making sure the exhaust points away from them.

A few years ago, I would only recommend a Honda because of the noise factor but I understand there are some quiet and efficient ones for half the price. Whatever you do, don't buy an "open frame, contractor-syle" generator. I have no experience with these but read reviews carefully, especially with respect to noise levels.

I see that the Harbor Freight generator mentioned earlier has a good Consumer Reports review, but only a 90 day warranty vs. Honda's 3-year warranty. If you get the HF generator, definitely buy the extended warranty.

Costco also has a similarly priced generator, which might be a better buy considering Costco's "no questions asked" return policy. On the other hand, if you can afford it, you can't go wrong with a Honda. Also, some credit cards will double the length of the warranty period, but I've never tested it.
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Old 09-27-2020, 05:43 AM   #8
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I appreciate all of the responses - all good stuff! However, the main issue hasn't been addressed, which is that I can't get anything to work off of battery other than the slider. Once I figure out what I can use, I can figure out how use affects battery life. Then I can determine if I can get by without a generator or solar for 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc. I was hoping someone with a 2108DS or similar model can tell me what I'm missing.

One another note, I think I've misused the term boondocking and should have said dry camping, which would be taking place at a campground. Essentially I'm trying to work toward boondocking in steps. I'm assuming I should be able to use the water pump and lights. I can't get either to work right now w/o being connected to AC.
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Old 09-27-2020, 06:22 AM   #9
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I am not sure that you have found the disconnect switch. It is usually located to the side of the entry steps and not the cargo area. The slide out is powered by the chassis battery and is independent of the coach battery and disconnect switch. So all of your symptoms point to the disconnect switch being off.

Realize that the coach batteries with the disconnect switch on, will not power the AC outlets, the microwave, etc. But almost all other functions: lights, absorption or compressor fridge, water pump, water heater, etc operate from DC power and propane and require no AC.

If you have an absorption fridge, then your basic daily DC loads are small, probably 20 Ahs. Don't know the number and size of your coach batteries, but find out their combined capacity, divide by half since you should not let them run down below 50% and divide by 20 and that will give you the maximum number of days you can dry camp.

If you have a DC compressor fridge then it is a whole different story as compressor fridges can use between 40 and 80 amp hours each day. So divide half of your battery capacity by at a minimum 60 and that is how long you can dry camp without recharging.

A small inverter generator like the Honda EU 2200 that you hook up to the shore power cord can power the converter and typically recharge as much as 45 amp hours for each hour of running

You also may be able to change out your batteries for ones with more capacity and/or add more batteries in parallel.

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Old 09-27-2020, 07:09 AM   #10
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The 2108DS is a towable and I don't think it has a disconnect switch like a MH. According to Section 6 of the Towable Operators Manual (not model-specific), it does have a main 12V circuit breaker:

"12-VOLT CIRCUIT BREAKER & RESET
In all units, 30-amp circuit breakers have been
installed to protect the trailer’s 12-volt electrical
system.
Travel trailers circuit breakers will be located
inside a covered junction box attached inside the
front cross member of the A-frame. Additional
circuit breakers may be used for slideout switch
protection.
Fifth wheel circuit breakers will be located
inside a covered fuse box attached inside the
baggage compartment with additional 30-amp
breakers for slideout protection and other 12-volt
circuits.
NOTE: Not all 30-amp circuit breakers are
equipped with the reset switch. Resets on
30-amp circuit breakers for slideout
motors are automatic reset switches."


https://winnebagoind.com/resources/m...OWABLES_US.pdf

Here's a current thread on the main breaker issue:

https://www.winnieowners.com/forums/...ng-358747.html

If resetting the main breaker doesn't help, it's time to get a multimeter and start tracing voltages, starting with the battery itself.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:55 AM   #11
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BobC nailed it. I'm sorry if we confused you with all of the other answers.
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Old 09-27-2020, 08:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidM View Post
I am not sure that you have found the disconnect switch. It is usually located to the side of the entry steps and not the cargo area. The slide out is powered by the chassis battery and is independent of the coach battery and disconnect switch. So all of your symptoms point to the disconnect switch being off.
I'm pretty sure the battery disconnect is in the cargo area - and it's broken. I've attached a couple of pictures. That the slide out is independent of the coach battery is a key bit of information as I had assumed that battery disconnect switch would completely disconnect the battery. I actually ordered a switch from Amazon yesterday which should be here today, so I'll know shortly.

I remember knocking that knob off on one of our early trips but it seemed to be fine. I see now there should be 2 tabs on the center post of that knob and one is missing. Seems like a very poor design to have that cheap plastic switch sticking out in the cargo area where it's pretty much guaranteed to get bumped. I'm going to put that in some kind of box when I replace it.

Once again, thanks to all that responded! I'll come back and update the thread with the results.
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Old 09-27-2020, 10:58 AM   #13
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If I'm understanding this thread correctly, it sounds like 100% battery isolation for storage requires BOTH (1) turning off the disconnect switch in the cargo area AND (2) turning off power to the slide at the extend/retract switch. Interesting.

To the OP: I hope the new disconnect switch solves the issue with running DC circuits via the batteries.
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Old 09-27-2020, 11:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mcp View Post
I'm pretty sure the battery disconnect is in the cargo area - and it's broken. I've attached a couple of pictures. That the slide out is independent of the coach battery is a key bit of information as I had assumed that battery disconnect switch would completely disconnect the battery. I actually ordered a switch from Amazon yesterday which should be here today, so I'll know shortly.
Wow...I can certainly see how you got so confused so fast with that happening! Still, it does seem to be to be a bit odd that the slide out and jack both work with the battery disconnect off. I can kind-of see the value of the jack so you can setup without having to hit the switch, but seriously how hard is it to open the cargo area? You need your levelers and chocks anyway (though they might be in the tow vehicle). I'd actually prefer to have the jack killed so nobody can play with it when the TT is in storage.

We just got back from 5 days of boondocking for the first time ever in our 2108DS. It went good and bad. We were out of juice on the 2nd day, but I've determined that was because out battery has somehow already gone bad. Maybe another thread is needed on that topic. But we still gimped along just fine.

I won't claim to be any kind of boondocking expert, but I believe BobC absolutely hit the nail on the head. If you are boondocking you are camping vs. "RVing" (or whatever term you want). I've tent camped for years and years and NEVER once got the hair brained idea that I wanted to have my drip coffee maker work in the morning! And yeah, you can make things work out if you must if you really don't want to be "camping", but in my opinion that's heading down the wrong rabbit hole.

Because our brains were in "camping mode" I believe if our battery was good we would have (barely) made it. The crude control panel showed we still had 1/3rd supply of fresh water left, and we only made it to 2/3rds on black and gray. We were often using external water, though, and washing dishes outside by the campfire. We did shower each day and used our own bathroom facilities the whole time, but we followed some of the boondocking tricks of catching shower water to use for the toilet, dumping any inside wash water down the toilet (i.e. black tank) and so on.

The dead battery did teach us the lesson that you are pretty much screwed without a generator, though, even if you have no intent to be "RVing". We could run the water pump (i.e. shower) with the camper jumped to the car, but it was a pain and I'm sure did the battery no good. But I decided even before we did this trip that I didn't give a rip about this battery as it's going to get replaced with a lithium pretty quick anyway.
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Old 09-27-2020, 11:17 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by backtrack15 View Post
If I'm understanding this thread correctly, it sounds like 100% battery isolation for storage requires BOTH (1) turning off the disconnect switch in the cargo area AND (2) turning off power to the slide at the extend/retract switch. Interesting.
Also, the jack has power. So if you accidentally switch the jack light on, you are going to find a pretty dead TT when you come back to storage.
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Old 09-27-2020, 01:50 PM   #16
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I just found out this morning that my slide still operates when the disconnect switch is off. Not sure why this would be but there must be a reason. I try to remember to remove the negative cable from my battery when I will not be using it for a month or more.
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Old 09-27-2020, 02:08 PM   #17
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I think it is a safety thing. The motors provide some brake action to keep the slide from opening during travel.

The negative cable disconnect is definitely the best way to be sure. I’m just lazy and try not to touch the batteries much.
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Old 09-27-2020, 04:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobC View Post
The 2108DS is a towable and I don't think it has a disconnect switch like a MH. According to Section 6 of the Towable Operators Manual (not model-specific), it does have a main 12V circuit breaker:

"12-VOLT CIRCUIT BREAKER & RESET
In all units, 30-amp circuit breakers have been
installed to protect the trailer’s 12-volt electrical
system.
Travel trailers circuit breakers will be located
inside a covered junction box attached inside the
front cross member of the A-frame. Additional
circuit breakers may be used for slideout switch
protection.
Fifth wheel circuit breakers will be located
inside a covered fuse box attached inside the
baggage compartment with additional 30-amp
breakers for slideout protection and other 12-volt
circuits.
NOTE: Not all 30-amp circuit breakers are
equipped with the reset switch. Resets on
30-amp circuit breakers for slideout
motors are automatic reset switches."


https://winnebagoind.com/resources/m...OWABLES_US.pdf

Here's a current thread on the main breaker issue:

https://www.winnieowners.com/forums/...ng-358747.html

If resetting the main breaker doesn't help, it's time to get a multimeter and start tracing voltages, starting with the battery itself.
Not all TT have the 12V circuit breaker located in a covered junction box. I just had a problem with mine and it is mounted directly to the trailers frame. It does have a removable rubber cover over it. The cover does not need to be remove red to reset it,
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Old 09-27-2020, 04:13 PM   #19
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The slide does not go through the disconnect switch, nor does the tongue jack. In fact, the tongue jack is wired directly to the battery via an inline fuse.

Here's a post with a wiring diagram that should be like the OP's. The 30A circuit breaker might be outside the junction box, not inside.

When my battery switch is on and everything that can be turned off is off (short of flipping breakers), my current draw from the batteries is almost 250ma. That includes the propane detector/alarm, the radio in standby, and any parasitic draw from the tank/battery panel, the power supply for USB and wireless charging and the power center itself.
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Old 09-27-2020, 07:25 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Old Navy View Post
When my battery switch is on and everything that can be turned off is off (short of flipping breakers), my current draw from the batteries is almost 250ma. That includes the propane detector/alarm, the radio in standby, and any parasitic draw from the tank/battery panel, the power supply for USB and wireless charging and the power center itself.
I recently measured the USB when powered but unused and recall something like 15ma. I'll check again soon and report back since I failed to write it down. I bought a couple extra for installation so this is pretty easy to do since they are sitting on my workbench right now .

I also intend to measure the radio, though I believe the model has changed recently so this info will only help so many people. I did manage to get the bugger to finally fully blank the display, but I'm not so sure if it's on or off (no kidding). Worse, when you do cut the power to the radio it will go back to defaults. What a pain. I believe a kill switch is going to get added to mine!
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