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Camping without electric hook-ups

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Dragonflygal

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Camping without electric hook-ups
« on: August 12, 2019, 06:23:04 pm »
We have never done any boondocking  We  want to learn about the process and what we need to do without electricity. Our main concern is the refrigerator.  If anyone can suggest where we can learn more about this topic we would really appreciate it.
Thank you

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jatrax

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 06:51:40 pm »
http://www.healthyrvlifestyle.com/  Boondock Bob.

Some folks on this forum do it extensively.  I have only a few times so my experience is not large.

Mostly I'll ask some questions which can be considered rhetorical or information needed by the experts to guide you.

1) Is the refrigerator gas or electric?
2) Do you have any solar panels?
3) How many and what kind of batteries do you have?
4) Do you have an EMS (energy management system) to monitor the battery state of charge?
5) Are you OK with running the generator every day or are you trying to go without?
6) How hot is it going to be?  No A/C unless you run the generator.

Our last trip was two full days and nights with no hookups.  We have two solar panels and an electric refrigerator.  We parked in full sun and had no problems getting the batteries fully charged each day.  We were down in the 75% range each morning.  That is with no furnace or A/C running.  Just minimal lights, charging the phones and laptops and the refrigerator.  We used the propane grill and stove to cook, no microwave.  The limit would have been our gray water tank in the 2552.  No problems two full days and nights, and I see no reason why we could not have made it to 5 days.

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donc13

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2019, 07:21:11 pm »
We have never done any boondocking  We  want to learn about the process and what we need to do without electricity. Our main concern is the refrigerator.  If anyone can suggest where we can learn more about this topic we would really appreciate it.
Thank you


Your message header shows you have a 2012 model 2551

That's a great start.  I have a 2015 model 2551 and boondocks a fair amount.

My best advice is:
Before you start.. How many days do you plan to be boondocking?   If only 2 or 3 not so complicated as 5 or more.

In any event, make sure you fill gas, fresh water and propane tanks.   Make sure also that you dump both black and grey tanks.

Presuming you have the Norcold refrigerator that came with your unit, it runs on propane just fine (presuming you set the mode for auto or LP) but does require 12v to control the gas valve.  Keep an eye on your coach battery voltage (I do it by turning on the inverter, even if only for a minute..to see the voltage.   NEVER let it get below 11.5v.  If it gets below 12, I prime the generator, start it and let it run several hours to fully recharge the house batteries.

You will also need the generator running for either air conditioning or microwave (or both).   But that is all you need the generator for....recharge house batteries, air conditioning or microwave.

Be careful in your grey water use (kitchen, bathroom sink and shower).. The tank is small and that will fill quickly if you aren't very careful.

Also make sure you unplug anything that is plugged into the cab 12v outlet(s)!   Do not leave the key in on or accessory position... You can drain your engine battery and it is NOT charged by the generator.

Other than the above...enjoy yourselves!
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Don and Patti

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donc13

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2019, 07:42:23 pm »
If you have the standard frig, it will switch to propane when not plugged in to electricity.  Your furnace will run on propane but the fan needs elec.  One cold night should be ok but you will have to run your engine for awhile to recharge the batteries in the morning.  The LED lights don't use much power although I'd only use what you need as you need them.  Your generator will power the A/C or the microwave but not at the same time.  This will also include any other heating (elec.) Items like the water heater.  Use the propane function for that.

The biggest learning curve for boondocking is water management.  We can go about 5 days if we are careful.  The black tank can fill up with the two of us and 5 days is the max limit.  You have to take "Navy" showers and I'd say that 4 showers is max.  Paper plates may not be very environmentally friendly but it can save on some dishwashing.  I wait until we have a sink full  and do them all at once.  Scrape all the food off first.  Depending on where you camp, it can be illegal to dump water on the ground.  Don't forget to pack out all of your trash!!!

Be polite about running your generator if you are near others.  Most folks understand if you use it to heat up dinner but don't want to get away from it all and have noise and fumes all day long.

Occasionally, I'll run across blogs of full timers that boondock most of the time but I can't remember who they are.  Sorry.  They are out there.  Look on Pinterest.

I see Don is also responding to your post now.  I guess this is the girly point of view.  It is not hard to do and saves some money  once you figure out your needs and limits.  Plan to be near a dump/water station for your first few trips.  Allstays has them listed.  Campgrounds will let you dump usually for a fee as will Pilot/Flying J stations.

Have fun!
Patti
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 07:47:41 pm by donc13 »
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Don and Patti

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2019, 11:42:49 pm »
Because the generator output is only 33 Amps you have to run it for a long time just to replace the amount of charge that the coach batteries used to start it. But the Ford alternator puts out 135 amps, so you can save your coach batteries by running the engine while starting the generator, and also while extending or retracting the slideout.

Try to park so the refrigerator side gets the most shade, since itís opposite  the awning. Use an AcuRite 00986  wireless thermometer to monitor the refrigerator and  freezer temperatures.

When dry camping in  national or state parks be aware of restricted times for running the generator. When out hiking head back to camp in time to run the air conditioner and use the microwave, but donít rely on that to keep the batteries fully charged.
If you prefer  not to rely on the inverter for monitoring the coach battery voltage, get a simple DC voltmeter that plugs into the 12 volt cigarette lighter type plug for the bedroom tv.
going where the wind goes

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donc13

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2019, 08:41:43 am »
Actually, amps is not power, volts times amps (watts) is power.  So 12v X 135A is 1620 watts of power while 120v X 33A is 3960 watts or about 2 1/2 times as much power.

Which, of course, is why the alternator in your vehicle is so much smaller than the equivalent part of the Genset.

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Don and Patti

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gandalf42

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2019, 11:26:13 am »
What you get from the converter is determined by it's amp rating i.e. 45A or 60 A etc. What the batteries see, is driven by the battery charger and it varies the volts by the stage of charging, assuming you have a multi-stage charger. The current drawn by the charging battery is a matter of the volts applied, state of charge, internal resistance and probably other "stuff" that I can't think of.

Mike & Pat Astley,

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CalCruiser

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2019, 02:00:14 pm »
What you get from the converter is determined by it's amp rating i.e. 45A or 60 A etc. What the batteries see, is driven by the battery charger and it varies the volts by the stage of charging, assuming you have a multi-stage charger. The current drawn by the charging battery is a matter of the volts applied, state of charge, internal resistance and probably other "stuff" that I can't think of.

I replaced the original Parallax 30A dumb converter with  35A Progressive Dynamics PD4635V with Charge Wizard. The battery recharge curve graphs at the bottom of this link show 90% charge times of 3 hrs at 14.4v,  or  40 hrs at 13.6v.

https://www.progressivedyn.com/rv/charge-wizard/#battery-recharge-curves

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 04:39:47 pm »
We have never done any boondocking  We  want to learn about the process and what we need to do without electricity. Our main concern is the refrigerator.  If anyone can suggest where we can learn more about this topic we would really appreciate it.
Thank you

You could use one of these to give a snap shot of what your power usage would be.

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Doneworking

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2019, 07:25:51 pm »
Dragonflygal, it would be very helpful if you told us two things:  the time of year you anticipate giving boondocking a try and what part of the country you will be giving it a try.   

My wife and I just got back from almost three weeks of boondocking  (by way of example) in the Sangre de Christo mountains of Northern New Mexico.   Nights were about 50 degrees and days were sunny and mostly high 70s.   We have solar and it kept our batteries (two golf cart sixes in series) adequately charged.   We do not have factory solar, but I added my own system.   We run our genset about thirty minutes most days.  We had 3/8 tank of propane left after almost three weeks.   We ran our refrig on LPG and used LPG for heating to take the chill off in the mornings.   We run the Ford motor daily for fifteen minutes or so to charge off it's battery and we recharge our cell phones/IPads from the truck 12v.    That also puts a bit of top charge on our batteries.   We take navy (marine) showers every day and break camp to drive into town to dump a couple of times.   Most of our cooking is outside but we do use the stove in the PC part of the time. 

We boondock most of the time and have spent a total of almost six weeks boondocking this summer in the Sangres.   We have been doing this for longer than I care to relate and have learned to live on less is more.   Perhaps the fact that we came from B World rvs helps us, but we consider our 2350 PC to be ideal for boondocking and that is the reason we bought it.   Nice size tanks and certainly big enough for us.   We do tow a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk to run around in and enjoy the Forest Service roads. 

Give boondocking a try for a few days and see how you like it.  Incidentally, my solar system (which I designed and purchased the parts online from Amazon) cost me less than $500 and makes our boondocking lifestyle possible for extended periods.

The worst thing that happens is you don't like boondocking and end up in some commercial campground.   

Paul

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Ron Dittmer

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Re: Camping without electric hook-ups
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2019, 08:56:30 am »
Hi Dragonflygal,

For a typical Phoenix Cruiser (with no solar) boondocking is not a science project.  There are some basic practices to extend your bookdocking independence.

ABOUT YOUR QUESTION WITH THE REFRIGERATOR
Set your refrigerator for propane.  For Irene and I, we mostly boondock so we set it there and leave it that way for our entire trip.  The fridge in this setting uses both propane and 12V electricity to operate so there is NEVER a reason to turn off our 12V electricity when on a trip.  I place a Post-It note over the 12V kill-all switch by the entry door as a reminder to leave it alone.  Surprisingly, the fridge uses small amounts of propane and 12V electricity to operate, so don't worry about it's energy drain on your batteries or emptying out your propane tank.  If we don't use our furnace, we can go 3 weeks without refilling our propane tank.....the fridge uses that little.

About the whole house inverter.  Keeping it off during boondocking saves a lot of battery power.  When boondocking, we utilize the inverter only to watch TV.

I am the power-management guy on our trips.  When camped for days at a time without driving the motor home, I run the generator 1 to 1.5 hours each morning to maintain the two batteries.  I use a more powerful secondary battery charger to maximize the generator run time.  But you can use the on-board system.  Just be sure to turn on the inverter/converter when the generator is running.  Missing recharging just one morning will sometimes create a power deficiency the following day, especially if we were very active in the RV the evening prior.  While the generator is running, it is then that we make full use of 110V like making coffee, run the microwave for breakfast, use a hair dryer, etc.

We enjoy camping in the fall to avoid summer heat and crowds, so we rarely use the a/c.  The sun sets earlier in the fall so in the evenings we often watch a DVD movie, read, or play a game of Scrabble together.  Having an active home for many evening hours is the reason why I run the generator most mornings when boondocking.

If using good power management practices, boondocking ends for two other primary reasons.
1) Your 55 gallon fuel tank is low preventing the use of the generator
2) You ran out of fresh water.
For us, it's always about the fresh and waste water.  When possible, we boondock near an RV dump station, I drive over, take care of things, and get right back to the camp site.

As always, before extended boondocking, make sure your gas tank is full, your propane is adequate, you have a full tank of fresh water, and your food and drink is all good.....and take your showers just prior to visiting the RV dump station so you don't consume large amounts of fresh water so quickly.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 09:24:50 am by Ron Dittmer »
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