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Old 11-24-2021, 11:31 AM   #1
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Question Electricity while boon docking

We bought a 2019 Escape 21 just one year ago. This summer as RV newbies we will be camping in sites without hookups for a week or so and need some advice on electricity use. I noticed that the electrical outlets in our Escape don't work when we aren't hooked up. The fridge switches to propane. What else will work? Someone on the forum mentioned that the microwave will operate (haven't tried that yet). We have a solar panel and 2 batteries (the kind you need to add water to). Please share your tips on how to use electricity from solar while boondocking. Should we get a generator? Most campgrounds say you can't run one at night anyway due to noise.
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Old 11-24-2021, 11:54 AM   #2
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Your lights, refrigerator (on propane), furnace & water pump will work as long as your batteries are above 50% or so - they run on 12V. As to the 120V outlets & microwave, that depends on whether you had the whole house inverter installed. Without the inverter, none of the 120V stuff will work, including the microwave. The air conditioner will not run on batteries, even with an inverter.

As to needing a generator, it depends on your usage. Most will do fine with a solar panel, and a pair of 6v batteries if you don't have/use an inverter. The inverter draws a significant amount of power that you can drain the batteries. Heavy furnace use can also be a problem. If you need the microwave or air conditioner, a generator is probably a good idea.
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Old 11-24-2021, 12:03 PM   #3
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Assume you did not get the inverter. If you did buy the inverter and the transfer switch all you do is turn on the inverter at the Go Power charge center (under the dinette). If you do not have the inverter nor transfer switch none of the 120 V A.C. outlets will work. You can buy a 300 watt 12V powered inverter that plugs into a cigarette lighter adaptor, that way you can operate some A.C. powered devices.

The lights work, the fridge works, the cooktop works, the furnace works, you have a nice functioning camper but no 120V accessories will work. And that will help you conserve power. Your solar panel will have no trouble keeping up with your daily power demands.
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Old 11-26-2021, 04:23 PM   #4
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Thanks, this was helpful! We do have an inverter but didn’t know that we needed to switch it on. We are the second owners so are still on the learning curve path!
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Old 11-26-2021, 05:15 PM   #5
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On your solar controller, push and hold the lower left "AC" button for several seconds. A small "AC" icon will appear in the upper right corner of the display, indicating that the inverter is turned on. When you turn it on, it takes a minute or two for it to go through a number of startup checks before it starts sending AC power, either to all outlets or to just one depending on which inverter option your trailer has. If it has the "all outlets" option, you will see the microwave display light up when AC power comes on. And just having the inverter on, without using any AC appliances, uses some battery power so be sure to turn it off when you are not actively using it.

Heavy usage of the inverter will draw your batteries down, after a while you will get a feel for how much you can use it, and of course it will also depend on what kind of solar charging you are getting each day. With good sunshine your batteries will usually fully recharge every day. With clouds or shade, you'll need to keep an eye on your battery status and get a feel for how much battery capacity you used each day if you are in a setting where you are not getting good solar charging.

Even with limited solar you can still easily go a few days - if the weather is not too cold and you are not having to run the furnace constantly, there's not a lot else (other than inverter usage) that takes a lot of battery power. You don't want to let your batteries get below 50% or they can be permanently adversely affected and will not hold a charge as well after that.
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Old 11-26-2021, 06:43 PM   #6
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Another thing to keep in mind with your inverter is that it is 1500 watts. A 2 slice toaster draws nearly 2000 watts so you cannot run one of those. Look at the bottom of your appliances to see the wattage needed. We run a small instant pot, an instant kettle, a small vacuum cleaner, and a blender. You will be able to run your microwave for a short period. One device at a time, with an eye on battery state. On the DC side of the system we charge cell phones, tablets, and a couple fans for ventilation beyond the MaxxFan. Generally, our 2-6V lead acid batteries are recharged by noon, we like you have 1 solar panel. In hot weather we carry a generator to run our A.C. while boondocking. The AC needs around 3000 watts unless you modify it.
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Old 11-26-2021, 06:53 PM   #7
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We have the exact same setup as you do and have boondocked for several days at time and never had an issue even when we used to cook out toast and, use our drip coffeemaker in the morning for breakfast, luckily we always had some sun the following day to recharge the batteries.

That said, we have since changed our ways and rarely turn on the inverter, and, only if we want to quickly warm something up in the microwave or, use a 120V outlet. Instead, I purchased a very nice 12V 22" television which saves a lot of power when we want to watch a movie at night; also, we bought a coffee percolator and make coffee on the cooktop and, a cooktop bread toaster which works nicely for our toast.

Now, we have been able to go three cloudy days and still recharge our phones, tablets, watch some tv at night, house lights, music and our propane appliances (that time our furnace did not have to run though). However, our fridge was packed with food and it was hot so it ran a lot.
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Old 11-26-2021, 07:39 PM   #8
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Another thing to keep in mind with your inverter is that it is 1500 watts. A 2 slice toaster draws nearly 2000 watts so you cannot run one of those.
I've never seen a two-slice toaster that would pull more than 1200 watts in real use. A 2000 watt toaster would pop a 15 amp breaker typically found in older homes. That's a non-starter for most people.

I have a shunt and Victron battery monitor on my Escape 19 so I can see exactly what is going on with my power usage. One thing I did out of the gate was check a few heavy power users just to see what they would consume when running on the invertor.

Drip coffee maker - 850 watts when brewing. Once brewed, it cycles on and off to maintain heat, but I would not recomment leaving one sit off the batteries. Just brew and put it in a thermos.

Griddle - the heavy hitter. I doubt I'd really run one boondocking but I was interested and it pulled 1300 watts.

Toaster - 1100 watts.

I don't have a microwave. The only think in my trailer that you couldn't run from the invertor would be the overhead AC. And even if I had a big enough battery, the long use time of AC wouldn't really work with battery power.
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Old 11-26-2021, 09:05 PM   #9
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Related to inverters, does anyone know how much parasitic load the inverter actually draws? I sometimes forget to turn it off, without major consequence. We aren't big power users, just the microwave to warm leftovers.
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Old 11-26-2021, 10:09 PM   #10
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Another thing to keep in mind with your inverter is that it is 1500 watts. A 2 slice toaster draws nearly 2000 watts so you cannot run one of those. Look at the bottom of your appliances to see the wattage needed.
Our two slice toaster uses 58 amps an hour, according to our Victron 712 battery monitor, or about the 700 watts that's printed on the sticker. Takes 2-3 minutes to make toast.

Enjoy,

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Old 11-26-2021, 10:28 PM   #11
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Related to inverters, does anyone know how much parasitic load the inverter actually draws?
Per GoPower specs the GP-ISW1500 no load Current Draw / Powersave: ≤ 1.8 A / < 0.1 A

(click the Specifications > Operating Specs tabs at https://gpelectric.com/products/1500...wave-inverter/)
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Old 11-26-2021, 10:31 PM   #12
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Our two slice toaster uses 58 amps an hour, according to our Victron 712 battery monitor, or about the 700 watts that's printed on the sticker. Takes 2-3 minutes to make toast.

Enjoy,

Perry
Rounding up makes the math pretty easy. 60 AH would be about 1 AH per minute, so 2-3 AH to make toast. That wouldn't take much to recharge the batteries if you're in a sunny spot.
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Old 11-26-2021, 11:33 PM   #13
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Rounding up makes the math pretty easy. 60 AH would be about 1 AH per minute, so 2-3 AH to make toast. That wouldn't take much to recharge the batteries if you're in a sunny spot.
We like toast and that's why we purchased the 1500 watt inverter. We have no microwave, no electric coffee maker, no instant pot, etc, and don't desire them. Our computers, readers, and phones all charge on our five USB outlets and the batteries for our ebikes/trikes charge in our F150 when driving down the road. We're on our fourth year with our 5.0 and only missed toast, so the inverter was installed early this month.

Enjoy,

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Old 11-27-2021, 12:15 PM   #14
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If no one mentioned it before me, the "buttons" on the solar controller are capacitive and shouldn't actually be pushed. Semantics I know, but might save grief down the road...
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Old 11-27-2021, 02:32 PM   #15
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Thanks, this was helpful! We do have an inverter but didnít know that we needed to switch it on. We are the second owners so are still on the learning curve path!
Make sure you have the toggle switch on the inverter in the auto position so you can turn it on from the panel. We leave it there when we are camping so we can use the microwave and the outlets for our coffeemaker, etc. Out here in sunny Arizona it doesn't seem to have much, if any, affect on our batteries. The solar seems to keep the batteries between 98 and 100%. I was wondering if the solar controller was really working so I turned the refrigerator to DC to test it and after 6 hours the SOC was 85%. I think that is a pretty good test without having all the electrical modifications others have. We may go that route some day, but for now what came with the trailer is working for us.
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Old 11-27-2021, 07:16 PM   #16
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I too just carry a portable "300W" (really 200W sustained) inverter that I use to charge the wife's laptop, or our ebike batteries, when we're off grid for any extended time. Everythign else we need is DC and/or propane. I do hand pour filter coffee, or aeropress, using a hand grinder for the beans, we avoid camping in places/seasons where A/C would be a must, the furnace and water heater work just great on propane.

as an example, wife's laptop uses a 90W charger, and probably needs all of that 90 watts when its working full blast AND charging mostly discharged batteries concurrently... 90 watts may only be 0.75 amps at 120VAC, but its 7.5 amps at 12VDC. My ebike charger is 3 amps at 59VDC (its a 52V battery), so thats nearly 15 amps at 12VDC.
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Old 11-27-2021, 11:01 PM   #17
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I too just carry a portable "300W" (really 200W sustained) inverter that I use to charge the wife's laptop, or our ebike batteries, when we're off grid for any extended time. Everythign else we need is DC and/or propane.
We have a 2021 and went straight compressor. Hopefully it works out for us. Our old Nucamp T@b had a Norcold absorption fridge. Worked well when parked but going down the road it wasn't the greatest (would get above 40F). Apparently getting the heat/watts for the unit to work right on battery was just too much for the rest of the system. Have only used the new camper once before we had to tuck it to bed for the winter, but from what little experience I have the compressor is great except for when boondocking. Even then it's maybe 25AH per day, so I don't it's going to be a problem. We have a 190W panel plus a 100w suitcase, so a good sunny day should put that back in without too much trouble.
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Old 11-27-2021, 11:12 PM   #18
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We have a 2021 and went straight compressor. Hopefully it works out for us. Our old Nucamp T@b had a Norcold absorption fridge. Worked well when parked but going down the road it wasn't the greatest (would get above 40F). Apparently getting the heat/watts for the unit to work right on battery was just too much for the rest of the system. Have only used the new camper once before we had to tuck it to bed for the winter, but from what little experience I have the compressor is great except for when boondocking. Even then it's maybe 25AH per day, so I don't it's going to be a problem. We have a 190W panel plus a 100w suitcase, so a good sunny day should put that back in without too much trouble.
indeed, my E21's RMD8555 absorption fridge is completely fried, and my Dometic authorized service guy can't even get a date on parts from them, so I've asked him to get me a quote on a Norcold N2175 compressor fridge which should be very close to an exact fit. Once I get it, I'll verify the actual power usage, and make a decision up battery and/or solar upgrades.
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Old 11-28-2021, 06:39 AM   #19
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Hey Alan, we had a T@da before switching to fiberglass.....
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Old 11-28-2021, 09:54 AM   #20
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indeed, my E21's RMD8555 absorption fridge is completely fried, and my Dometic authorized service guy can't even get a date on parts from them, so I've asked him to get me a quote on a Norcold N2175 compressor fridge which should be very close to an exact fit. Once I get it, I'll verify the actual power usage, and make a decision up battery and/or solar upgrades.
In which case you would no longer have the option of using propane?
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