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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > Off grid for first time, need some guidance !

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Senior Member

Joined: 11/13/2004

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Posted: 07/29/21 08:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Since you will do this for one week and not again for the future...
I would get 100watt solar panel and a MPPT charge controller. Dont use communist Amazon, eBay has everything, but do what you want. It will cost about $80 for a 100 watt panel shipped and maybe $30 or so for a controller. 200 watts is better, but maybe 100 is enough for just your one battery.

If you want heavy power useage like a furnace or fans all night then consider adding another marine battery (better to add a true deep cycle 12 v battery, but youre just setting up for 1 week). If another battery then do go 200 watts solar.

You can put the solar panel in the closet and you will always have it as emergency or the next camping trip.

This will give you minimal use. No furnace, guessing in the summer you wont need a furnace?
You can run the LED lights and the water pump just fine. The fridge will draw nill DC on propane.
Careful running fans as they will draw down your battery at night, will be ok in the day time if on solar, but turn off later in the day so panels can send all juice to charge and not to run fans.

Marine batteries are not for RV camping, they are for boats. You can get by with one if it is in good shape though. If it rains and your solar cant charge then you can just crank the car. Bigger wires going from your car alternator (or car battery) to your camper batteries is more ideal as the trailer wiring is so small it can take longer to charge than the car's systems is able to charge it. Jumper cables would do in a pinch.

Other options like generators just get more and more expensive.

Without more info thats about all i have to add.



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Posted: 07/29/21 08:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have 2 6V golf cart batteries. I can go about 3 days very easy before I need a charge. I could probably go longer but, I am just a weekend camper and I don't get out for that long. But, that is just me being frugal. Some people are not as frugal.

Watch out for "Parasitic" draws, they will drain your batteries over time. For example the radio has a memory and the propane detector. Is your smoke/carbon monoxide detector powered by small batteries or is it plumed in ??

All these little draws add up after awhile.


Rescue, Ca

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Posted: 07/29/21 08:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Boon Docker wrote:

Get a 1000 watt generator to charge your battery

What BoonDocker says....



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Posted: 07/29/21 08:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What Dodge guy says , no noise, no maintenance, no oil, no gas, & NO bothering your neighbors!!!!!


Regina, SK, Canada

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Posted: 07/29/21 09:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

200 watts with a 30 amp charge controller (for the day when you wish to increase the solar harvest).

Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, soon to have SiO2 batteries, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.



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Posted: 07/29/21 09:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Can you do an overnight campout in your driveway? Spend 24 hours using the camper just like if you were actually camping and see how much power you actually use.

I can go 14-16 days on one battery charge without dropping to 50 percent. It's all in what you want to use and what your camper requires.

As mentioned above, power jacks and awnings will use up power. Fridges with electronic control boards will also. If you use the furnace or watch tv or use a coffee maker, etc, they will all use up battery power.

For me, I keep things simple. In the motorhome, I added battery operated puck lights around the camper - this lets me use targeted lighting as needed instead of lighting up the entire camper just to read a book. I also have lanterns for outdoors so no awning lights, etc.

My fridge is old school and doesn't use electric when on propane. My water pump is on 24/7 but only kicks in when I actually run water. I use a small power pack to charge my phone, tablet, etc. I don't have a tv or microwave or coffee maker, etc.

With my trailer, it's the same as above but I turn off the water pump. It has a cassette toilet, so I don't need the pump to flush. I have a second battery for the power jack and trailer brakes. The house battery also powers the hydraulic roof lift.

A 75ah battery will do what I need. I did upgrade to a 135ah battery in the motorhome and a 85ah house battery and 35ah jack/brake battery in the trailer. I don't need solar or a generator.

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Eagle Rock, CA

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Posted: 07/29/21 10:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I installed a 250 watt system with a 30 amp controller to try a keep my two GC 2 batts up when dry camping. So far we have gone 10 consecutive days without using the genny.

We have all LED lighting, and did not use the furnace we viewed at least 3 hours of video on a tv/inverter combo that pulled about 37 watts. The controller had a happy face and read 13.8.

My chassis batt does not charge from the solar so if we we be more than sixty days of non use, I have a timer that switches the aux output from the conntroller on twice a week for an hour at noon. We've not had any drop in voltage with that timer installed.

I don't leave home without solar.

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson

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Posted: 07/29/21 10:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thx everyone, lots of useful info.

- awning and jacks at two set ups/tear downs i will now consider
- no fans, tv's,etc will be used. Only propane fridge electronics, minimal water pump, few led lights.
- i have disconnected all unnecessary parasitic power loads
- realized house has robust battery backup system, sump pump. Dry year, gamble and steal it for two weeks ?
- seriously considering buying bigger battery, also 400w panel kit. Site has thick tree canopy [emoticon]
- will give jumper idea from truck more thought, interesting.
- site rules say no noise, radios, generators. How strict will i find that ?
- I have a Honda 2000 [emoticon]
- could go for drive with gen charging in my truck bed.how long ?
- gen eco mode idle... plugged into trailer for charging is the best method ?
- is there a trick to know when the charge is done ? couple hours ?
- do i go for a drive with the generator charging in the bed of the truck, how long would that take ?

thx again for all your thoughts !

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Southern California

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Posted: 07/29/21 10:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For what it is worth, we camp for days at a time with a 120 watt portable solar panel and a group 31 deep cycle battery. We are also very frugal with electricity.

2012 Fun Finder X-139 "Boondock Style" (axle-flipped and extra insulation)
2013 Toyota Tacoma Off-Road (semi-beefy tires and components)
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Black Diamond, WA

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Posted: 07/29/21 11:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dodge guy wrote:

You can get a 200W solar kit off Amazon for around $250. Then I would get 2 matching batteries. 2 6V AGM golf cart batteries will last you awhile and offer more Ah.

And after you buy $500+ of stuff he said he’d never use again, he could buy a cheap or used genny and have something g useful that would also sell easily to recoup most of all of his cost.

OP don’t waste your time buying sunk costs that you won’t use.
And the easy button is get a generator.
I wouldn’t officially suggest buying one from Costco or somewhere and returning it after the week. But that’s an option too, lol!

2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
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