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Old 02-16-2015, 11:27 AM   #1
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Dry Camping - Boon Docking and battery life

I know that this will come with a wide range of answers and eveyone's use will be a bit different but I thought I'd be able to get some kind of guess.

We have a 2013 Jayco Jayflight 26RKS TT, the dealer installed a Group 24 Interstate battery that I think has a 85 ah capacity. In most cases this battery would last us for years because most of our camping has been with at least water/electric hooks ups. The Battery is new in the last 6 months and has been kept charged. I am sure this battery is fine... It is one of the Marine/RV batteries Interstate offers.

Saying that I went and set up a 5 day, 4 night camping at Elkmont campground in the smokey mountains in Mid May. The campsite we choose is a "No Generator" campsite so that means Battery all the way!

Last week I changed all of the bulbs in the trailer inside (and one outside) to LED bulbs and it looks like I have dropped my draw by almost 80%. Since it is just my wife and I we will be careful and only use the lights in the area we are and turn off any-other lights ... Here is the LED lights I used to change our our incandescent bulbs. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 I am very pleased with the brightness and natural light look. I am guessing Lights won't be our biggest issue. Depending on the temperature we may not have to use the furnace much if at all. We will limit our use of the water pump turning it off when not in use. HWH is propane of course.

Depending on the answers I get I may want to use a small inverter to run our TV it looks like the TV at 120V draws about 27 watts.

I assume that putting out and pulling in the slide would be done while the trailer is connected to the truck 7 pin and the engine started. Any suggestions on the awning use? I don't think trying to do either manually is a easy option.

So my guess is that we will use the lights and try to limit the use when we can... Minimum use of the water pump. Trying to conserve the batteries the best we can.

Give this, anyone want to guess on a life of the Group 24 85ah battery?

I know that on of the best options would be to go get a couple of Trojan T105 6v batteries and put them in series (I've actually have gone out and bought 2 6v golf cart battery boxes.... but looking at the batteries I'm looking at almost $350.00 to change the batteries out... I'm not sure how much dry camping we would actually do ... but if it's the only way we can get the 5 days I just may have to splurge....

Again, I know there is lots of ways to look at this... but I thought that I'd post my set up and question because I'm sure I"M not the first "New to boon docking" user with a similar question... And I'm sure there are folks that boon Dock all the time.. that have hands on experiance with Batteries and use.

Thanks in advance for any help one could give.
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Old 02-16-2015, 11:53 AM   #2
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You've made good choices to reduce the draw, but I think you will still need a second battery equal to the one you have and also I doubt you'll be able to watch tv without being to charge up daily
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:03 PM   #3
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Your on the right path with reducing draw, but remember heat, water pumps and the water heater will draw power down. Heat being the highest drawing item on the list, and mid May in the Mountains could require it at night. Those fans can draw your current battery down to below 50% in one night.

If you have a club store and are a member by you they offer some good pricing on 6V GC batteries. You can get a pair for about just under $200.00 if you have some donors to get a core deposit from. If not that usually runs another $15 each. Trojans are the Pinnacle of the battery world and if your using them for one trip a year you better off with just the cheaper ones. I had mine for 3 years without an issue. Do spend the extra $10.00 dollars each if they have an upgraded AH version.

The inverter will draw it down fast. If you just go without an inverter and heat you will be fine for those 5-6 days with a 6V setup based on the LED mods.

Another option is to just buy a spare 12V true deep cycle battery and swap it out mid trip. Not a Marine hybrid and don't install it with the current battery since they are not the same age.

Your TV will not charge the battery fast enough. You would need to run it for 5+ hours to get from 50% discharge to about 80%. It's a slow process to say the least.
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:12 PM   #4
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Also be aware the CO/propane alarm goes-off when the battery level drops to a certain level (under voltage). Not a great thing to happen at 5:30am and with a nervous-Nellie dog who HATES beeps!
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Old 02-16-2015, 12:34 PM   #5
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I think it will be tight making it that many days on one battery. My opinion is since your current battery is only 6 mo old you would be fine to add a second battery in parallel. Being conserving with usage you could probably make it.

Something to consider is don't draw your battery down below 50%, which is about 12.0v. Doing it once is okay, but doing it often will drastically reduce the life of the battery.

Something I have been considering for boondocking is a Mr Buddy heater or something similar. They consume oxygen so you have to leave some windows cracked, but they're not supposed to generate carbon monoxide. I haven't done it yet, but thinking about it.

If you're going to do this often, consider installing some solar to recharge your batteries during the day. We added two panels last year, then went out for 11 days with no hookups. Had a full battery charge every afternoon! Only makes sense if you boondock often.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:07 PM   #6
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I really appreciate the input you folks are offering... AS for the TV, I"m not married to that, I have my Notebook and Tablet if I get bored :-)

I am kicking myself in the butt that I didn't go for a Gen site, that would have been so much easier... I may just go look and see if there are any left that I could change to.... but if not... back to the battery idea. I"m not sure how many times we would BoonDock, we have only camped with at least electric and water up to now.

I"ve tried to run some different options on batteries on price and here is what I came up with.

2 Trojan T105 6v batteries in series give about 230 Ah but the cost for them will be about $350 - 375.00 for batteries, Core, and tax.

Costco sells a Group 27 Interstate Marine/RV battery for about $90.00 + $15.00 + $115.00 I need to verify the AH on the battery at Costco, even though they are interstate they don't carry the exact battery as the Interstate store...

Interstate sells their SRM -27m Marine/RV for about $130 + 20.00 +$15 or about $165 and I've seen 10, 15 and 20% discounts depending on when I bring up the site....

I could use my current 24 for the first 2 days and then change out to the SRM-27 for the last 2 days I guess...

The reason I jumped in thought to the 27 is because the difference between the 24 and 27 is only about $10.00 and if I am changing them out rather than running them in Parallel I may as well get the larger batter, Right?

It looks like the most cost saving would be the Costco Group 27 and just change it out... I'd have about $100 bucks in it .. Vs the Trojan.... even though the Trojan would give me the deep cycle.. if I don't do a lot of boon docking (or anymore) I'm out about $200 bucks...

As for the heater, that's a good point... for the evening... we carry thermal sleeping bags that are pretty darn warm in the Trailer... always another option and chance to snuggle up :-)

What about using the slide? If at the end of the trip the batteries are low is hooking up to the 12v on the truck my best option... that should give me the power needed, correct?

Thanks folks for the comments and advice.. I really appreciate this..
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidki View Post
(lots of snips)..
Saying that I went and set up a 5 day, 4 night camping at Elkmont campground in the smokey mountains in Mid May. The campsite we choose is a "No Generator" campsite so that means Battery all the way!

Last week I changed all of the bulbs in the trailer inside (and one outside) ... Depending on the temperature we may not have to use the furnace much if at all. We will limit our use of the water pump turning it off when not in use. HWH is propane of course.

Depending on the answers I get I may want to use a small inverter to run our TV it looks like the TV at 120V draws about 27 watts.

I assume that putting out and pulling in the slide would be done while the trailer is connected to the truck 7 pin and the engine started. Any suggestions on the awning use? I don't think trying to do either manually is a easy option.

...

Give this, anyone want to guess on a life of the Group 24 85ah battery?

I know that on of the best options would be to go get a couple of Trojan T105 6v batteries ... but if it's the only way we can get the 5 days I just may have to splurge....
I'm sure you'll hear from many 12volt pros on this site... I am not one of them (yet?). Here are some initial thoughts...

You said you will be in a no generator site, but will you have a campground water tap at your site? If that is an option, your 12 volt water pump won't be an issue.

The LED bulbs are a good move.

There are 'parasitic' draws from CO detectors and sound systems you need to be aware of.

The furnace fan will draw down that one battery quickly. You may want to have a stand alone heater (like Mr. Heater Portable) ready to go just in case the nights (or early AM) are uncomfortable.

You probably won't be able to watch TV with one battery. Of course it would be a moot point if there is no TV reception at the campground.

Connecting to the TV for running the slides and awning in and out would be a good idea.

Since you have some time, search JOF and you'll find a ton of material on this topic.
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:27 PM   #8
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Don't forget the bath room building has 120VAC power - We would always see a small GP24 Interstate battery sitting in the floor there getting a quick three hour smart mode charge from a 120VAC Portable battery charger...

I would count on adding at least two 6VDC GC2 deep cycle golf cart batteries... This will give you a good 220AHs of juice and using a small 300WATT or so pure sine wave Inverter will power up your home entertainment items. Good OTA TV Reception at ELKMONT...

There are many sites at ELKMONT - surprised you didnt get a generator site...

We camp there alot with our 255AH battery bank. We also converted to LED lights and beefed up the battery system to include smart mode charging etc.

We run just about everything we want to run (except Microwave and Air Conditoner) just like we do at regular electric camp sites.

Our game plan is to run all of the 120BAV items we want to have on from an INVERTER setup and all of the 12VDC items we want direct connected to the battery battery bank. This is all planned out to reduce our battery to its 50% charge state by 8AM the next morning when we are allowed to run our trailer connected to our 2KW Honda Generator. We can re-charge our battery bank back up to its 90% charge state in a quick three hour generator run time when allowed to run the generator.

Now we are good to do all of this all over again the next day/night run off the batteries.

We always try to get the F8 camp site on the main section .
http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisi...lkmont-map.pdf


GOOGLE IMAGE Site F8 - right on the river... Very good sleeping at night...

This is us at E15 site at Elkmont... Tons of shade which drips rain for two days or more after rain storms hehe...


It does take some planning to be successful camping off the batteries - Just can't show up and it works.......

I would make a few nights dry runs at home to see what you need to do to run off the batteries.

Roy and Carolyn
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Old 02-16-2015, 01:37 PM   #9
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The first highly recommended item on your list, before attempting dry-camping is a digital display volt meter. This will give you an idea as to where you stand with your battery. You SHOULD only take your battery down to 12VDC (50% level) any farther you will be slowly killing your battery.

85Ah is the normal Interstate battery that the TT manufacture provides, but you do not have 85Ah. You only have 42.5 Ah (50%) which should bring you in the 12VDC level.

Without a method of charging, and 1 battery, your going to be very limited. The inverter is out of the question, you will only have lights and the basic CO sensor running. If you need heat, one night will pretty much bring your battery down to it knees.

The TV will get you charged, depending on the amps it is putting out, but do not expect your battery to be back at 100% charge. This may get you enough power for another night.

I could see you making it through 2 days maybe 3 max just using the lights and charging for a half hour before bed,using the TV.

If they do not allow generators, you only solution other would be SOLAR, and the smaller setups will not get you enough power back by the end of a sunny day. Or a bike with a electric generator connected to the rear wheel, naaaaw to much work.

Two T-105 batteries would be nice, but you will need additional charging power to charge them up (220Ah).

So, order a digital display volt meter, plug it into your 12VDC accessory outlet in the TT and have fun..

If you are not going to be doing a lot of dry camping, get another Interstate 85Ah battery, charge them up before you leave, run your TV for 1/2 to 1hr each day to put some charge back into them at the end of the day, watch your voltage level and have fun. This is sill a lot cheaper than going SOLAR.

Just my thoughts,

Don
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Old 02-16-2015, 02:41 PM   #10
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Thanks OldManAZ, Roy Braddy and Mustang 65 all good info I think I need to mention our upcoming trip to Elkmont ... It is at a "Dry Site" no services at all so it is going to depend on battery power for us. When we first looked for a site we probably could have got a site that allows some use of a generator, but my wife asked if we could just get one away from the Gen sites.. that probably not the right decision for us.. (my bad) but just looking at the sites we probably stuck with what we have.... No Gen!

I am on line now looking for a Digital VM for the Aux connector (the 12 cig adapter in the trailer, correct?) Any suggestions on a good one? I do have a Digital Volt meter I was just going to take with me... but if I can get one, plug it in the Cig ligher inside, that will work just fine for me. I think there are 2 such outlets, on by where the switches are and one by the Television antenna power amp.

I'm not worried about running the small inverter we have or the television I"m sure we will find plenty to do with out a television.

Does anyone know what the Amps the 7 plug trailer hook up offers? I have also read, turn the TV around and use a good pr of jumper cables and it will supply a much higher amperage for charging the battery.. but, how do other campers feel about having someone run a TV for 30+ minuets in a campground that does not allow a generator, I'd think it woudl be as irritating to folks?

120v in the bathroom? Wow, didn't even think of that.. I"d imagine one woudl have to keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't walk off.

All that I have read the Trojan approach would be the ultimate I did buy 2ea 6v battery boxes in the event I go that way.. then I thought of the changing out a 12v charged battery for swap out.. the Costco batteries are fairly cheap, they have a 1 year warranty but they are made by Interstate and I'd think they would last longer if taken care of. That is about $120.00 investment for a Group 27 which is higher than my 24 by quite a bit.

Again, Hind sight is 20/20 as they say, I should have just gone with a gen site and picked up a EU2000 and be done with it.. I could use the Gen at home and around the farm but that ship has sailed from what I see.

I know my change out of the lights will help allot, For fun I had an amp meter on the 120 volt line as I changed out the Incandescent to the LED and you could see the bit difference... the bulbs are incredibly bright and my wife and I sit on one couch when we read so that means we don't need lots of lights on while sitting there...

What does the Co sensor draw?

Running the slide out and in will be done with the TV hooked up, that's easy..I am bringing a heavy duty set of jumper cables .. I had thought of going and getting a second battery in my TV but to do it right it would be almost $500 ( at dealer) so that is out..

If I knew that I was going to be doing allot of dry camping I would not hesitant to go with the Trojan set up which is touted to be the best... but there are so many campgrounds here in the middle Tennessee area that offer full hookups we seam to just go to them...

Roy, F8 looks really nice.. I'll keep that in mind if we end up going back..

As a last resort... is there other campgrounds in that area that we may look at in the event we have to cut our time short at ElkMont? nice to have a fall back. We live in Lebanon, were not really that far from home, but once we drive that far we would like to get the use out of the trailer..

So, I'll fire this off and see what you folks have to say.
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