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Old 12-20-2015, 07:45 PM   #1
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Short stay boondocking power solution?

Hi All,

Looking for some input on an idea that I have. I want to be able to boondock for 2-3 days at a time but without making the big investment in time and money on a generator or panels. As well, I am pulling a 26BH with a Ram 1500 so don't have alot of payload capacity to load up my A-frame assembly with batteries.

What I am thinking of doing is getting 2-3 AGM 12v batteries in the 100 amp hour range (each) so that I can mount them inside of my TT under a bench that is overtop of the axles so that I can keep the trailer balanced (ie not add or take away from my tongue weight). I would use a smart charger to juice them up when we are on hookup's. My thought is to add a pure-sine 1000w inverter and 30 amp wall plug (or potentially just a standard 15 amp since I know I can't use the A/C when doing this) that I can plug the trailer power cord into directly. In my mind, this would save me from all of the additional wiring work and expense (ie. transfer switch, fuses, charge controllers, solar panels, generator, etc).

So, when I am at a serviced site, I plug the trailer into the sites 30 amp service and turn on my charger for my battery bank. If I stay somewhere without electrical service, I plug the trailer power cord into the battery bank, and disconnect the battery bank charger so that it doesn't create a loop. Would this work? Again, just need it to last for a couple of nights, not for weeks...

I look forward to the feedback...
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:11 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyAjax View Post
Hi All,

Looking for some input on an idea that I have. I want to be able to boondock for 2-3 days at a time but without making the big investment in time and money on a generator or panels. As well, I am pulling a 26BH with a Ram 1500 so don't have alot of payload capacity to load up my A-frame assembly with batteries.
snip...
Here's what I did: I bought 2 new group 24, 12volt batteries at W*Mart and connected them in parallel, side-by-side, on the TT tongue. Then... wait... that's all I did!

I do have the additional battery on the tongue and maybe that's not possible for you.

Only using the 12v for lights (all LEDs) and water pump, DW and I have no problem going 4 days. At day 5 we need to dump black & gray anyway. Then we just stay in a campground with 30amp shore power for a day or two and our trailer system charges the two batteries. Then we are fully charged and ready boondock another 4 days.

It worked for us for ~100 days this year.
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:19 PM   #3
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POWER INVERTERs pull alot of DC CURRENT from your batteries.. The 1000 WATT INVERTER loaded down will draw a good 80-85AMPS DC current from your batteries.

Be sure you are in your back yard when you test all of this out. I suspect your battery bank will hit the 50% charge state in maybe an hour or two when doing this.

When I am camping off the power grid I sometimes see a solid 20-22 AMPS DC CURRENT draw from my 255AH battery bank running what we want to have on both 120VAC from an inverter and direct connected to the battery bank.. This is usually between the hours of 4PM to 11PM in the evening just before we go to bed at night.

This much current drain along with my usual 1-2AMPS parasitic drains will just get my 255AH battery down to their 50% charge state by 8AM the next morning when I have to re-charge them back up to their 90% charge state before I can use them again.

In my case a 2KW Generator is a must have item to connect my shore power cable to be able to operate the on-board smart mode converter/charger to do this procedure. To get back to the 90% charge state I have to run my 2kW right at three hours...

If you don't always get your batteries back up to their 90% charge state then the next time you use them they get to the 50% charge much quicker than normal. doing this several time will destroy your batteries...

The only way your idea would work would be very small usage of your battery setup and do alot of flashlights and candles...

Your first night may give you a false indication you are going to be all ok but it will go down hill in a big hurry if are not able to get your batteries back up to the 90% charge state before you start running off the batteries again.

Some folks thing they can get re-charged using their truck alternator for an hour or by adding a couple of solar panels. These only produce around 5-6AMPS of DC current and this is not enough to recharge your battery bank back up to its required 90% charge state. The solar panels only produce DC current when they are in the high SUN.

When I start my battery bank charging using my on-board 60AMP converter/charger I see 52-55 AMPS OD DC current being demanded by the 255AH battery bank when first hit with the 14.4VDC bulk mode charging. This will taper down to arund 8AMPS DC current demand within the first hour of charging. Then the on-board smart mode converter/charger unit will drop back to 13,6VDC and continue charging for an additional two more hours to finally get the 255AH battery bank back up to its 90% charge state. Then i can use them again. I can also only do this 50% to 90% charge state cycle for maybe 12-14 times without doing damage to the battery bank. Then I have to do a couple of full charge states which takes a good 12-13 hours of generator run run time. If I don't follow these charging rules then I will start doing damage to the expensive batteries.

We run pretty much the same items we run at electric sites with the exception of the air conditoner and high wattage microwave. This also doesn't include much use of the propane heater which has the high current 12VDC fan involved. Our 12VDC light are all LED types.

Been there done that already....

This is my routine for camping off the power grid and have been doing this on my original battery bank install since 2009. They are just now starting to not last as long when they were newer. I suspect I really should start looking for replacement batteries this coming new camping season.

I'm sure others on here will have some different ideas but this is my camping off the power grid story based on my experiences. I started with four batteries giving me 340AHs battery capacity and lost one battery right away not doing the re-charging correctly trying to use a single mode 13.6VDC charging setup. Smart mode charging solved all of these problems for me...

Roy Ken
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:22 PM   #4
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You could install one of these and not worry about switching things around.
Don

3 days on 300Ah (only 150Ah is usable) will be close... I would say maybe 2 days without a charge... but that depends on what you are using.
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:48 PM   #5
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Moving your AGM batteries in side will increase their life and efficiency. Extreme hot and cold weather charging can damage batteries so moving them inside is a sound plan. I will be doing the same. I just have not decided to go with AGM or spend the extra bucks on Lithium Ion. Getting the weight off the tongue is also of great benefit. 4 batteries would add weight but pretty much support everything you want to do. It would even support enough solar later on to make boondocking a week closer to a reality.
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Old 12-20-2015, 08:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldmanAZ View Post
Here's what I did: I bought 2 new group 24, 12volt batteries at W*Mart and connected them in parallel, side-by-side, on the TT tongue. Then... wait... that's all I did!

I do have the additional battery on the tongue and maybe that's not possible for you.

Only using the 12v for lights (all LEDs) and water pump, DW and I have no problem going 4 days. At day 5 we need to dump black & gray anyway. Then we just stay in a campground with 30amp shore power for a day or two and our trailer system charges the two batteries. Then we are fully charged and ready boondock another 4 days.

It worked for us for ~100 days this year.
This is essentially all that I am trying to do I guess - I just can't put the extra batteries on the A-frame because I am "payload challenged". Instead, I want to put the extra batteries over the trailer axles to keep it balanced. I am fine with simply running the DC items (lights, water pump, furnace) when off grid, and don't need the television or microwave or AC power for other items (ie. CPAP machines).
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TT - 2017 Jay Flight 32DSBH
TV - 2017 F150 w/HDPP (Payload = 2,241 lbs; FAWR = 3,750 lbs; RAWR = 4,800 lbs)
Previous - 2011 Jay Series 1007 (traded); 2016 Jay Flight 26BH (traded)
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Old 12-20-2015, 09:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoyBraddy View Post
POWER INVERTERs pull alot of DC CURRENT from your batteries.. The 1000 WATT INVERTER loaded down will draw a good 80-85AMPS DC current from your batteries.

Be sure you are in your back yard when you test all of this out. I suspect your battery bank will hit the 50% charge state in maybe an hour or two when doing this.

When I am camping off the power grid I sometimes see a solid 20-22 AMPS DC CURRENT draw from my 255AH battery bank running what we want to have on both 120VAC from an inverter and direct connected to the battery bank.. This is usually between the hours of 4PM to 11PM in the evening just before we go to bed at night.

This much current drain along with my usual 1-2AMPS parasitic drains will just get my 255AH battery down to their 50% charge state by 8AM the next morning when I have to re-charge them back up to their 90% charge state before I can use them again.

In my case a 2KW Generator is a must have item to connect my shore power cable to be able to operate the on-board smart mode converter/charger to do this procedure. To get back to the 90% charge state I have to run my 2kW right at three hours...

If you don't always get your batteries back up to their 90% charge state then the next time you use them they get to the 50% charge much quicker than normal. doing this several time will destroy your batteries...

The only way your idea would work would be very small usage of your battery setup and do alot of flashlights and candles...

Your first night may give you a false indication you are going to be all ok but it will go down hill in a big hurry if are not able to get your batteries back up to the 90% charge state before you start running off the batteries again.

Some folks thing they can get re-charged using their truck alternator for an hour or by adding a couple of solar panels. These only produce around 5-6AMPS of DC current and this is not enough to recharge your battery bank back up to its required 90% charge state. The solar panels only produce DC current when they are in the high SUN.

When I start my battery bank charging using my on-board 60AMP converter/charger I see 52-55 AMPS OD DC current being demanded by the 255AH battery bank when first hit with the 14.4VDC bulk mode charging. This will taper down to arund 8AMPS DC current demand within the first hour of charging. Then the on-board smart mode converter/charger unit will drop back to 13,6VDC and continue charging for an additional two more hours to finally get the 255AH battery bank back up to its 90% charge state. Then i can use them again. I can also only do this 50% to 90% charge state cycle for maybe 12-14 times without doing damage to the battery bank. Then I have to do a couple of full charge states which takes a good 12-13 hours of generator run run time. If I don't follow these charging rules then I will start doing damage to the expensive batteries.

We run pretty much the same items we run at electric sites with the exception of the air conditoner and high wattage microwave. This also doesn't include much use of the propane heater which has the high current 12VDC fan involved. Our 12VDC light are all LED types.

Been there done that already....

This is my routine for camping off the power grid and have been doing this on my original battery bank install since 2009. They are just now starting to not last as long when they were newer. I suspect I really should start looking for replacement batteries this coming new camping season.

I'm sure others on here will have some different ideas but this is my camping off the power grid story based on my experiences. I started with four batteries giving me 340AHs battery capacity and lost one battery right away not doing the re-charging correctly trying to use a single mode 13.6VDC charging setup. Smart mode charging solved all of these problems for me...

Roy Ken
I am fine with only running the DC items when off-grid (ie. no television or microwave) so could I simply introduce the new batteries and re-configure one of the leads from the A-frame battery to run to the new battery bank, and then from the new battery bank complete the circuit to the electrical panel? This would take away the need for a separate charger and inverter, and use the factory supplied charging system to do it all?
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TT - 2017 Jay Flight 32DSBH
TV - 2017 F150 w/HDPP (Payload = 2,241 lbs; FAWR = 3,750 lbs; RAWR = 4,800 lbs)
Previous - 2011 Jay Series 1007 (traded); 2016 Jay Flight 26BH (traded)
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Old 12-20-2015, 09:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Fairenatic View Post
Moving your AGM batteries in side will increase their life and efficiency. Extreme hot and cold weather charging can damage batteries so moving them inside is a sound plan. I will be doing the same. I just have not decided to go with AGM or spend the extra bucks on Lithium Ion. Getting the weight off the tongue is also of great benefit. 4 batteries would add weight but pretty much support everything you want to do. It would even support enough solar later on to make boondocking a week closer to a reality.
That is exactly along my line of reasoning. I don't want to mess around on the roof at this stage by adding permanent solar panels, worried that any portable/ground based solar panels will grow legs, and don't want to deal with the negatives of a generator (ie. gas cans, noise, restricted hours, etc). I just want to bump up my battery capacity someplace other than on the front of the trailer so that I can stay off-grid for a couple of days.

Do I even need the A-frame battery if I put the AGM's inside? Just figured that the wiring is already routed up there, but I am assuming that the factory installed charge controller and inverter are behind the electrical panel under the fridge. Can I just ditch the A-frame battery and re-run that wiring to the new battery bank inside?
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Old 12-20-2015, 09:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyAjax View Post
This is essentially all that I am trying to do I guess - I just can't put the extra batteries on the A-frame because I am "payload challenged". Instead, I want to put the extra batteries over the trailer axles to keep it balanced. I am fine with simply running the DC items (lights, water pump, furnace) when off grid, and don't need the television or microwave or AC power for other items (ie. CPAP machines).
If you need to run the furnace, you'll need to do your 'homework' on current draw and battery capacity. The furnace (fan) draws LOTS of power compared to LED lights and the water pump. There are some real pros on this site that can help with that; I'm not one of them.

With 2 batteries I can only run the furnace a couple of nights without recharging. I tried a 3rd night one time after driving a couple of hundred miles to the next boondocking site. When I stopped, the voltage looked kind of OK, but the batteries were much too low in the morning. I didn't try that a second time.
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Old 12-20-2015, 09:36 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by oldmanAZ View Post
If you need to run the furnace, you'll need to do your 'homework' on current draw and battery capacity. The furnace (fan) draws LOTS of power compared to LED lights and the water pump. There are some real pros on this site that can help with that; I'm not one of them.

With 2 batteries I can only run the furnace a couple of nights without recharging. I tried a 3rd night one time after driving a couple of hundred miles to the next boondocking site. When I stopped, the voltage looked kind of OK, but the batteries were much too low in the morning. I didn't try that a second time.
So here is my real-world scenario - we live outside of Toronto, Canada, and head down to Florida for 3-4 weeks around the end of January. It is a solid three days of driving. First day I can get down to southern West Virginia (around Beckley) where it can be cool/cold so would need the furnace. Second day, can get down to Savannah Georgia no problem, but at that time of year, the furnace may be nice to take the chill out of the air. Previously, we did this with a pop-up and took hotels for those couple of nights each way, but we were hoping that with the travel trailer, we could Wal-Camp and save that $300-400 on each trip. Granted I have to spend the money on the batteries, but I see that as an investment that lets us get our toes wet in boondocking for a few days here and there (ie. we are only about 4 hrs away from the Alleghany forest and would like to do some dispersed camping there)
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