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Old 06-28-2020, 09:58 PM   #1
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Non-solar ways to charge batteries

Iíve been enjoying the recent discussion about solar panels.

Our 17A -which arrives tomorrow morning, hooray!- is solar-ready (even an inverter, LOL - we bought the inventory model with some pre-made choices) and at this time, we are not getting any solar panels. We mainly plan to camp at parks with facilities, and are OK with that limitation (yay Oregon State Parks).

Reading about the low usefulness of solar panels in cloudy or low solar angle conditions makes me not want to rush out and get some. I donít fancy the flat roof-mounted for its non-adjustable angle, nor the portables for their theft risk. My favorite sites would not be out in full sun, I prefer to be under a leafy canopy. Heck, I donít need to justify it!

My question is: if we did some more primitive camping, can we do OK for maybe a night or two starting with a fully charged battery? I expect we will charge it by being plugged in at home or coming from an electric campsite the night before. We also have a trickle charger at home that we use for the car battery at times. Are any/all of those good ways to fully charge the battery? Is it realistic to think that we can leave home with a full charge (we have the dual 6V type), go camping, spend say two or three nights at a primitive site with no electricity? Lights, fridge on propane, use of the stove and hood vent, furnace fan and roof fan (no AC) as needed.

Can anyone tell whatís the longest youíve gone (no solar) on your battery plus ample propane, especially in a 17A?
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:22 PM   #2
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I'm guessing three days without charging, but so much depends.
If the furnace is required for comfort, you will run down your battery, possibly overnight. There is no good answer that doesn't have qualifications.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:37 PM   #3
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True, true... we are very frugal at home and can be even more so if we need to be. For example our winter nighttime heater thermostat at home is set to 59įF. So I’m wondering what’s the best we can eke out if we are being very mindful. Or, say, best case: it’s summer, in the 70s F., open the windows for ventilation, and just do a little cooking and the controls for the propane fridge. Lights in the evening. Done. :-). It seems like three days on the battery is quite reasonable to expect in those kind of low-use conditions?
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:48 PM   #4
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It seems like three days on the battery is quite reasonable to expect in those kind of low-use conditions?

Only one way to find out.
I enjoy my trailer for the comfort it provides.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:58 PM   #5
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the inverter is a very heavy user of DC power, leave it off unless you absolutely need it, then only turn it on as long as you do

I can easily go a week with my dual golf cart battery setup, running the ventilation fan in the day, heater fan in the evening, water pump, and LED lighting as needed. even charging (via USB) bluetooth speakers and phones and stuff. of course, fridge and water heater on propane.
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Old 06-28-2020, 10:59 PM   #6
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My question is: if we did some more primitive camping, can we do OK for maybe a night or two starting with a fully charged battery? I expect we will charge it by being plugged in at home or coming from an electric campsite the night before. We also have a trickle charger at home that we use for the car battery at times. Are any/all of those good ways to fully charge the battery? Is it realistic to think that we can leave home with a full charge (we have the dual 6V type), go camping, spend say two or three nights at a primitive site with no electricity? Lights, fridge on propane, use of the stove and hood vent, furnace fan and roof fan (no AC) as needed.

Can anyone tell whatís the longest youíve gone (no solar) on your battery plus ample propane, especially in a 17A?
Absolutely. With fridge on propane, minimal to no inverter use, all LED lighting, prudent use of your 12V power with fully charged dual 6Vís you should be able to easily go several days with no charging. The furnace fan at 2.4A draw will add up but reasonable thermostat setting will help. Your onboard converter/charger is the best way to charge the batteries when you are plugged in and you donít have solar. Your tow vehicle should likely be looked at as maintaining your battery while traveling but not much more without modifications (i.e. DC-DC charger). A quality battery monitor like a Victron BMV-712 that shows you an accurate battery state of charge will be your friend.
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:34 PM   #7
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the inverter is a very heavy user of DC power, leave it off unless you absolutely need it, then only turn it on as long as you do

I can easily go a week with my dual golf cart battery setup, running the ventilation fan in the day, heater fan in the evening, water pump, and LED lighting as needed. even charging (via USB) bluetooth speakers and phones and stuff. of course, fridge and water heater on propane.
This is great news. Thanks! The usage you describe is exactly what we plan on. I donít expect to use the inverter at all so I will make sure it is all the way off - good info, thank you. I could imagine we might never use it. ETI had already installed it when we chose this trailer
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Old 06-28-2020, 11:41 PM   #8
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Absolutely. With fridge on propane, minimal to no inverter use, all LED lighting, prudent use of your 12V power with fully charged dual 6Vís you should be able to easily go several days with no charging. The furnace fan at 2.4A draw will add up but reasonable thermostat setting will help. Your onboard converter/charger is the best way to charge the batteries when you are plugged in and you donít have solar. Your tow vehicle should likely be looked at as maintaining your battery while traveling but not much more without modifications (i.e. DC-DC charger). A quality battery monitor like a Victron BMV-712 that shows you an accurate battery state of charge will be your friend.
Thank you for the great information. We will want to get a good battery monitor for sure, so I will look that one up.

I had read elsewhere in the forum that you have to drive hundreds of miles to top up the battery through the 7-pin connection, and a lot of our camping plans are much closer to home than that. Canít wait to start trying it out... It arrives tomorrow morning, first camping trip starts Tuesday
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:26 AM   #9
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In my 19 without solar and dual 6V flooded batteries, I often went three, even four, nights on them fully charged, and at temps around freezing at night. The furnace fan was by far the biggest draw, so we kept it off during the day, and had the thermostat set at 11-12įC. We have lots of cozy bed coverings so don't mind the cooler temps. Condensation forming below those temps really accelerated which is where we arrived at that setting.

Basically being frugal on power consumption helps a whole lot.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:36 AM   #10
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First chance after the border opens go get Escape to install solar. It is all automatic and you never have to worry again about battery use. Unless you are camping in a cave, there is always some charging occurring, even when the trailer is covered.
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Old 06-29-2020, 07:53 AM   #11
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First chance after the border opens go get Escape to install solar. It is all automatic and you never have to worry again about battery use. Unless you are camping in a cave, there is always some charging occurring, even when the trailer is covered.
This makes me laugh so hard! Tell us how you really feel Jim!

Kidding aside, I agree. Solar panels are not overrated and I love both of mine. Fully charged so early in the morning, I quit worrying about it. I get anxious over battery issues.

We do use the inverter to charge laptops mostly. What I really like is anytime after 9am (or around then) anyone can charge whatever they want using the trailer as the source because it is a power generating machine! Been in moderate shade, I did not notice any drop off.

We mostly use DC power and don't really use much of it!
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:14 PM   #12
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i carry a portable 300W inverter for charging laptops and such, it uses much less 'waste' power than a 1200W or whatever inverter
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:25 PM   #13
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They make portable RV windmills with 12 VDC generators that you could use as a backup to
solar .
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:43 PM   #14
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i carry a portable 300W inverter for charging laptops and such, it uses much less 'waste' power than a 1200W or whatever inverter

I do the same thing. The overhead DC power that is gives up in inefficiency is much smaller than a 1500 watt inverter and it saves it for big stuff. It should extend the life of the big inverter too.
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Old 06-30-2020, 04:52 PM   #15
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They make portable RV windmills with 12 VDC generators that you could use as a backup to
solar .
indeed, look for these from Marine supply places especially. its quite surprising how much power you can get from a modest sized windmill. a 1 meter (40") diameter 3-blade rotor can generate 400-500 watts in steady winds. of course on a camper you'd need to take this down and stow it for travel...
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