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Open Roads Forum  >  Public Lands, Boondocking and Dry Camping

 > Lightweight Boondocking: Batteries

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pnichols

Santa Cruz Mountains

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Posted: 02/18/12 03:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

Great innovation, but at what cost? I couldn't find any reference to sales of these batts anywhere on the Web.


The cost will be high. I've emailed the company on retail sources for these batteries and will post if I get an answer worth posting.

Note that the greatest advantage of these batteries for RV (or any) usage is thousands of cycles all the way down to 100% discharge and a 2.5 hour recharge time. FINALLY the battery designers have got it right - but probably only for the well-heeled buyer at this early point.


Phil, 2005 E450 Itasca 324V Spirit

pkunk

Questa, NM

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Posted: 02/18/12 04:25pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

pnichols wrote:

Quote:

Great innovation, but at what cost? I couldn't find any reference to sales of these batts anywhere on the Web.


The cost will be high. I've emailed the company on retail sources for these batteries and will post if I get an answer worth posting.

Note that the greatest advantage of these batteries for RV (or any) usage is thousands of cycles all the way down to 100% discharge and a 2.5 hour recharge time. FINALLY the battery designers have got it right - but probably only for the well-heeled buyer at this early point.

I figured 'high', but what a breakthrough when they're available to the masses.


1999 Coachman Mirada 34 ft.V10-F53 chassis
12ft.LR slide-2 gp31 AGM 12V @220AH


Almot

Vancouver BC

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Posted: 02/21/12 12:09am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

To the OP:

Electronics in propane fridge will be the biggest draw, IMO. 5-15 AH a day, depending on the model. In your scenario of "tent lifestyle" everything else is peanuts in comparison. Roughly, assuming 10 AH for fridge, and another 15 AH for pumps, lights and inverter for recharging AAA (or running radios etc through inverter) it's about 25 Ah a day. People boondocking on solar systems are quite energy-conscious but even they would tell you that you can't live on 25 AH a day. However, in the context of "more like a tent living" as you call it, this is possible. With 25 AH a day you need 50 AH battery to go one day, because you should not discharge it below 50%. Multiply this by number of days that you want to boondock. It should better be a deep cycle battery (not a starter type), though el cheapo hybrids called "marine" in Walmart or Costco will do, for your relatively light loads.

Eventually, to go offgrid in CA one needs a good solar system or generator. Boondocking few days at a time isn't called "going offgrid" - this is just camping out. Get enough batteries and you're OK for a few days without solar or generator.

Don't know what is a "lightweight battery", speaking of capacity 50 AH and more. IMO there is no such thing. Don't know why would anybody with a trailer need one either.

Btw, you don't need a camp stove or grill or gas lantern to go camp in places with no hookups. Existing propane stove in a trailer will be adequate for cooking. You can have a propane lantern, they aren't terribly bad, though there isn't much need - halfdecent LED lantern will last more than a week on one set of AA or AAA. Campfire you can have for fun, though, if local regulations allow.

Make sure you considered heating if it's not summer-only scenario. Otherwise all the above numbers are off. Furnace will run any battery flat in no time. There are alternatives, though - thermal blanket (or a good down duvet), catalytic heaters (don't know much about them), or cheaper non-vented heaters like Buddy (use at your own risk).

bryanl

Reno, NV

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Posted: 02/21/12 10:34am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

re: "It should better be a deep cycle battery (not a starter type), though el cheapo hybrids called "marine" in Walmart or Costco will do, for your relatively light loads."

I am still looking for someone to come up with a pertinent and useful empirical measure for what is a 'deep cycle' battery and what is not in the context of those batteries we typically buy and use in RV's.

As for the 'cheapo' -- that again does not measure up. Cost is indeed a factor in battery offerings but by far and away the largest problem with service satisfaction is in use and maintenance.

50 AH, assuming 12v, is 600 watt hours. Lead acid battery energy density by weight is very close to 22 watt hours per pound or about 12 watt hours per pound usable. The key message is that there just isn't a lot of energy storage in a lead acid battery. For a comparison, consider that typical household energy use is on the order of 30 kWh per day.

A rule of thumb is that you need sufficient battery for a weekend without any recharging. That usually means significant lifestyle adjustments because you just can't carry very much battery in an RV.


Bryan

zman-az

Northern AZ

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Posted: 02/19/12 03:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If your batteries get low just fire up the engine on the truck for 15 minutes and you will get a good recharge. I have a truck camper with 1 deepcycle battery and a 15W solar charger. I can go for 2 days and that is with the heater running (at 50* and it runs 15 cycles a night) and taking a hot shower every evening. I do shut off the master power switch on the camper during the day when I am gone, as there are items like the converter, CO2, and propane detectors that will draw some battery power. You should have no problem based on what you are telling us.





bryanl

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Posted: 02/20/12 12:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

re: "If your batteries get low just fire up the engine on the truck for 15 minutes and you will get a good recharge."

It usually isn't a good idea to run an engine for just a few minutes as a routine thing, especially for idle loads.

A battery needs hours for charging, not minutes.

re: "I figured 'high', but what a breakthrough when they're available to the masses." --- there's been a lot of these dreams over the last 50 years or so. Look at the fuel cell story, for example. While you can't rule out a breakthrough, you also can't rule out a long history of the best minds in the business trying to find one and the reasons why progress has been as it has.

I cringe when I hear someone suggest that maybe their favorite problem will advance like computers have in the last couple of decades. Computer technologies were in a startup phase. Batteries are in a mature phase. The older a technology gets, the lower the odds of a leapfrog breakthrough and the slower the developmental improvements. Than again, the rate of change even on staid old stuff is really rather incredible.

Almot

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Posted: 02/22/12 05:20pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well, it's been discussed in the past (and I agree) that there is a certain benefit in weight measure of a battery, i.e. the one that is heavier will have more "honest" capacity, closer to the stated capacity. or - the one that is heavier will last longer under the same conditions of cycling. But this is only true when comparing apples to apples, i.e. deep cycle to deep cycle or starter to starter, and watt/hours per pound of weight is not a convenient measure anyway.

Again, I don't know why would anybody worry about watt/hours (or amp/hours) per pound and try to minimize battery weight, when all it takes is a single G 27 or even G 24 battery, to spend a weekend with the OP's intended tent-like lifestyle. I used to tent out a lot few years ago, doing 15-20 days kayaking trips, and heck, all I needed for 2 weeks was half a dozen of AA and AAA batteries, to have a light and radio in the camp and GPS when paddling.

JiminDenver

Denver, Co

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Posted: 02/21/12 10:54am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

They make small deep cycle batteries. I have a 35 amp DC that we use for TV/DVD, recharging devices etc. Light loads but it keeps them off the house battery. I originally bought it for recharging RC batteries at the field. It was $10.

In the event of a failure in the house battery, the 35 amp will keep the fridge running until I can run to town for a replacement.

JinD


2011 GulfStream Amerilite 25BH
2007/2003 Ford Expedition
490w solar with dual Eco-worthy controllers.
345 ah bank.
Champion 3500/4000 w/ remote start.


Almot

Vancouver BC

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Posted: 02/21/12 12:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

bryanl wrote:


I am still looking for someone to come up with a pertinent and useful empirical measure for what is a 'deep cycle' battery and what is not in the context of those batteries we typically buy and use in RV's.

As for the 'cheapo' -- that again does not measure up. Cost is indeed a factor in battery offerings but by far and away the largest problem with service satisfaction is in use and maintenance.

It says "deep cycle" on deep cycle batteries. Good brands like Lifeline, Deka/EP, Troyan etc. Cheaper varieties may say "marine", or "all purpose", or even "deep cycle", but when it doesn't say "deep cycle" or is not a good brand than chances are it won't last long when used in deep cycle mode. You can maintain starter battery all you like, but if you use it as deep cycle it won't last long.

Quote:

Tthere just isn't a lot of energy storage in a lead acid battery. For a comparison, consider that typical household energy use is on the order of 30 kWh per day.

I think it's 1/3 of that amount in my condo. May be I'm not "a typical household". RV should not be compared to a typical household in energy consumption anyway, this isn't a home.

Quote:

A rule of thumb is that you need sufficient battery for a weekend without any recharging. That usually means significant lifestyle adjustments because you just can't carry very much battery in an RV.

With the OP intended lifestyle, which is quite different from a "shore life" or average RV life, a single Group 27 battery will be enough for a weekend. Doesn't sound like "very much battery", does it?

* This post was edited 02/21/12 12:15pm by Almot *

Cedarhill

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Posted: 02/22/12 10:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Doesn't it get to be a little lonely being essentially the only man on earth who believes there are no differences between starting and deep cycle batteries?

On a different subject, do you always carry a bathroom scale or something similar with you when you buy an RV battery so you can calculate the capacity based on weight? Wouldn't it be easier to just read the amp-hour rating on the side of the battery?

bryanl wrote:

re: "It should better be a deep cycle battery (not a starter type), though el cheapo hybrids called "marine" in Walmart or Costco will do, for your relatively light loads."

I am still looking for someone to come up with a pertinent and useful empirical measure for what is a 'deep cycle' battery and what is not in the context of those batteries we typically buy and use in RV's.

As for the 'cheapo' -- that again does not measure up. Cost is indeed a factor in battery offerings but by far and away the largest problem with service satisfaction is in use and maintenance.

50 AH, assuming 12v, is 600 watt hours. Lead acid battery energy density by weight is very close to 22 watt hours per pound or about 12 watt hours per pound usable. The key message is that there just isn't a lot of energy storage in a lead acid battery. For a comparison, consider that typical household energy use is on the order of 30 kWh per day.

A rule of thumb is that you need sufficient battery for a weekend without any recharging. That usually means significant lifestyle adjustments because you just can't carry very much battery in an RV.


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