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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Boondocking and working with no electricity

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Cmccain13

USA

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Posted: 03/15/21 09:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey all, obligatory "just started fulltiming" (class C Coachmen leprechaun 32 ft) and we have been thinking about boondocking with the weeks that we have to be away from a thousand trails campgrounds. However what is going to be difficult is that we wont have electricity. we do have a generator that runs off the gas in my gas tank. Now the question is im not sure how long i can work per day with working off the house battery for my monitor. i know the laptop battery wont last the full day so is there an alternative people use for a power source. I'm not really looking to get a solar bank and panels as of yet due to costs. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

larry cad

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Posted: 03/15/21 09:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The simple and typical way to handle that is to have an inverter on your battery to produce 120vac. Then you can run your generator to recharge the battery through the inverter (assuming it has a charge function). You don't have to run the genny 100% of the time, just long enough to recharge the battery. An added convenience feature would be to install auto-gen start which will turn on and off the generator as needed. This makes best use of what you already have.

Certainly there are other systems, but as you said, not ready for solar yet.


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theoldwizard1

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Posted: 03/15/21 09:53am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The standard "house battery" in a all Class C motor homes is barely adequate to run the lights for one night ! On top of that the standard converter/charger is far from optimal.

Anything you do is going to cost money. Your first investment should be a GOOD battery monitor like a Victron BMV-700. Now you will know at a quick glance how much power you are using and how much energy you have left in your batteries.

Second, will be better batteries. This a big problem on a Class C because there is never enough space for better batteries. The cheapest upgrade is two 6V golf cart batteries from Sam's or Costco. They will probably almost DOUBLE your run time for the same load.

If you are running a laptop, instead of plugging it into a 120VAC inverter, buy a 12VDC charger specific for that laptop. Mucj more efficient.

theoldwizard1

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Posted: 03/15/21 09:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

larry cad wrote:

The simple and typical way to handle that is to have an inverter on your battery to produce 120vac. Then you can run your generator to recharge the battery through the inverter (assuming it has a charge function).

Most inexpensive inverters do NOT have builtin charge controllers.

Stick with a "pure sine wave" inverter, regardless of what size you buy.

Rocky2

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Posted: 03/15/21 10:10am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A little off topic but having a battery pack to charge your cell phones and laptops is inexpensive insurance for essentials go dead.





smarty

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Posted: 03/15/21 10:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We boondock exclusively. You will be surprised to learn how long you will have to run you genny to charge your house battery to full every day.

time2roll

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Posted: 03/15/21 10:47am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Cmccain13 wrote:

we do have a generator that runs off the gas in my gas tank. Now the question is im not sure how long i can work per day with working off the house battery for my monitor. i know the laptop battery wont last the full day so is there an alternative people use for a power source. I'm not really looking to get a solar bank and panels as of yet due to costs. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Get a 12v DC-DC adapter for the laptop.

First step is to improve your battery charging to reduce generator run time by upgrading your converter.

Please post what battery you have now and the converter model for best suggestions at lowest price.


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valhalla360

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Posted: 03/15/21 11:15am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

smarty wrote:

We boondock exclusively. You will be surprised to learn how long you will have to run you genny to charge your house battery to full every day.


Assuming typical lead acid batteries, very true (and I bet that's what the OP has). The problem is when at 50%, you can dump quite a few amps into them but as you get up around 80%, the batteries, simply won't accept as many amps...slowly tapering down until the last 5-10% takes hours at a very slow charge rate.

That said, it's not hard or expensive to tie in an extra battery or two, largely negating the issue. Then you cycle thru 50-80% charge fairly quickly.

A bigger question as summer approaches is where will you be? If you are up in the mountains where it never gets very hot, you are golden. If you are somewhere where it gets hot, you have to figure in if you will want air/con and that isn't practical off batteries.


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Tiger4x4RV

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Posted: 03/15/21 11:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My personal solution to not having enough capacity in the RV house batteries: go partially portable. I use this for boondocking with a CPAP, but it should work for a laptop.

Buy two smallish "solar generators," which are really portable power supplies (PPS); these have built-in inverters and solar charging input ports. Add a 100W portable solar panel or "suitcase" unit. Use one PPS while the other one charges. Total cost on Amazon about $600.

No permanent changes to the RV wiring. No professional installation needed. Lightweight so my bad back can handle necessary moving of the pieces. Portable so can serve as backup in the house when not in the RV.


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Lwiddis

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Posted: 03/15/21 12:01pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

"Solar generators" are expensive, low powered. RV deep cycle batteries are much better.


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watt solar-parallel & MPPT, Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist14 yr. Army vet-11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad


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