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Old 09-06-2020, 04:35 PM   #1
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Battery Charging while Dry Camping

Our very first trip is starting this Friday. We're going to a BC Provincial Park with no hookups through Monday, so three nights.

How can we ensure we do not run low on battery power? Can we charge by running the TV while connected to the trailer, or do we have to have a solar setup?

Thanks in advance!

Grant and Fiona
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Old 09-06-2020, 04:42 PM   #2
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You can charge it while running the TV but it will be slow and probably not catch up with what you use. I am guess you do not have a generator since you did not mention that so yes, a solar set up will help and the solar experts will do doubt have some advice.



For three days, with no furnace use and rationing of the lights, and other electrical you could make it through. Two 6 volt batteries would be better and if you are planning a a lot of boon docking, you might want to be thinking about that now.
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Old 09-06-2020, 04:55 PM   #3
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You can get some charge, running the TV, but it really takes a long time.

Solar is nice if you have sun, but it takes a fair amount of investment to charge your battery(s).

When we are off the grid we tend to be electrically onservative, and can go for about 5 days. Using the furnace minimally. Probably the biggest things we do are. Turn all the ceiling lights off at the light, and turn on the wall switch. Need light, we only turn on the one or two we need. If we need heat, we turn on the furnace before bed. Turn it off. In the middle of the night if we go to the bathroom and it is cold. We turn it on for a few minutes. In the morning turn it on to take the chill out of the air. We also tend to do a baked breakfast, to use the oven to add some heat into the tt.

With practice you can go 5 days. I also have a spare deep cycle battery I sometimes bring with, and can swap out if needed.
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:14 PM   #4
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Thanks! I believe we do have two 6 volts. They are Costco Canada Golf Cart batteries, Part # 2-GCS. "Reserve capacity minutes @ 75 amps - 107".

I've picked up a basic 100W solar panel and controller (Noma MAX-100WP12) so I hope that will give us some breathing room.
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:15 PM   #5
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The panel specs are Output Amperage (amps): 5.5 A
Output Voltage (V): 18 V
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by FionaGrant View Post
Thanks! I believe we do have two 6 volts. They are Costco Canada Golf Cart batteries, Part # 2-GCS. "Reserve capacity minutes @ 75 amps - 107".

I've picked up a basic 100W solar panel and controller (Noma MAX-100WP12) so I hope that will give us some breathing room.

Three days will be nothing then just don't get carried away with high amp use like the furnace (fan) and you will be fine.
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Old 09-06-2020, 10:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by FionaGrant View Post
Our very first trip is starting this Friday. We're going to a BC Provincial Park with no hookups through Monday, so three nights.

How can we ensure we do not run low on battery power? Can we charge by running the TV while connected to the trailer, or do we have to have a solar setup?
What DC loads do you plan to use?

I have a Group 31 100Ah battery. Usable capacity is 50% of that, or 50Ah, which equals 600 Watt-hours (50Ah x 12v).

If I'm just running the water pump and LED lights, I could run off of a single charge for weeks.

In 30F weather when I'm using the furnace (and it comes on about 3 times per hour & runs for 5 minutes), I use about about 25% of the battery's usable capacity per day, so I could probably get 3 days off of a single charge.

TVs--especially modern vehicles with variable output alternators--are notoriously unreliable for providing enough regular current to the trailer for effective battery charging. Individuals seem to have to check their own vehicles to see how that trailer 12v POWER circuit is actually functioning.

A 100-watt panel will produce this average watt-hours in the States...probably less up there.
Click image for larger version

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You could estimate that, on a good, long sunny day, you might get 250Wh out of your panel. That would let me recharge approximately 33% of my usable batter capacity each day.
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Old 09-07-2020, 05:50 AM   #8
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I spend 7 nights a year dry camping at deer camp. Until this year, I always took my tent camper, fleetwood redwood highwall with a 14 foot box. Some years colder than others. Not unusual for the furnace to run all night, 7 to 8 hours. Hook up jumper cables to my 7.3 powerstroke for about 3 hours every night. 20 lb tank of propane lasts 2 nights with furnace, 2 pots coffee, and a small pot of hot water every morning. I am hoping my new 264bh stays warmer and cycles the furnace less frequently.
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Old 09-07-2020, 05:52 AM   #9
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I use my 2KW Honda Generator to recharge my big battery bank. This takes around three hours of generator runtime.

I have a good DC VOLTAGE monitor panel and if I see the 12V drop down to around 12.0VDC this tells me I am around 50% charge state on my batteries. Continuing to use the batteries at this point may do damage to them so I either quit using them or fire up my 2KW Generator to recharge them back up to their 90% charge state...

I like this to happen around 8AM in the mornings when we are doing breakfast... Great time for us for running the 2KW Generator. Once the batteries get recharged back up to their 90% charge state then we are good to go for the next day/night run off our big battery bank...





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Old 09-07-2020, 01:36 PM   #10
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Solar was the best investment I have made for my 5th wheel.
300 watts on the roof and 6v battery bank.
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Old 09-07-2020, 02:56 PM   #11
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Thanks so much to all for your help.

How do we know if we have two 12v or two 6v batteries?

The previous owner said 6v, so we assume that is correct.

Also, our new solar panel says it's for use with 12V batteries only. Does that include having a 2 6V set?

Thanks
Grant
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Old 09-07-2020, 03:47 PM   #12
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I figured the 6v/12v part. 3 cells on each battery so they are 6v.

Back to YouTube...
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Old 09-07-2020, 04:25 PM   #13
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Thanks so much to all for your help.

How do we know if we have two 12v or two 6v batteries?

The previous owner said 6v, so we assume that is correct.

Also, our new solar panel says it's for use with 12V batteries only. Does that include having a 2 6V set?

Thanks
Check the battery for labels.

If your 6V batteries are wired in serial (i.e. series)--which is probably 99.9% certain--then they effectively become a 12V battery bank. Yes, your 12V panel will work.
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Old 09-07-2020, 04:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Thanks so much to all for your help.

How do we know if we have two 12v or two 6v batteries?

The previous owner said 6v, so we assume that is correct.

Also, our new solar panel says it's for use with 12V batteries only. Does that include having a 2 6V set?

Thanks
Grant
The batteries should indicate their voltage. Better yet, use a volt meter (ALL RVERS SHOULD CARRY A VOLTMETER) and just measure right across ONE battery.

6 volt batteries will be wired in series, meaning positive to negative, and 12 volt batteries will be wired in parallel, meaning positive to positive and negative to negative.

No matter what you have in the way of batteries their output to your rig will be 12 volts. This is what you are concerned with. All charging, be it solar, generator, TV, will be 12 volt.

When I first read your post I was wondering how watching a TV would help charge your battery. Then it dawned on me that TV means tow vehicle.
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Old 09-07-2020, 04:38 PM   #15
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Ha ha! I usually use CNN to charge my batteries ��
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Old 09-07-2020, 04:38 PM   #16
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Beat me to it Jim. Never go anywhere on the road without a VOM. A small cheapy from Harbor Freight is as good as anything to check voltages and continuity.
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Old 09-07-2020, 05:52 PM   #17
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I have a 23 ft Jayco 23bhm with two 6 volt batteries and a 400 watt renogy solar system on the roof and just got back from a 6-day. camping trip and never ran out of power never got below 50%..I did run my Honda 2200 gennt for 10 minutes a day to brew my pot of coffee. . Solar brought my batteries back to 100 percent every day. I have a 300 watt pure sine inverter. Charged my phones,walkie talkies and USB fans every day . Ran a 32" TV with Dish satelitte for about 4 hours every night also. Love my solar!
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Old 09-12-2020, 02:24 PM   #18
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Hook up trailer plug to towing vehicle and run engine for hour or so.... that charges trailer batteries
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