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Old 01-27-2017, 11:51 AM   #1
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Dry camping without a generator

We are planning a 3 night trip this year to a state park without hookups. Though it looks like we may have access to a water hookup it's not guaranteed until arrival. It'll be our first non-hookup trip with our 5th wheel, and just looking for some advice and experience from those that dry camp on occasion.

The campground has showers, toilets, spigots and a dump station. Our plan was to utilize the campground facilities 99% of the time. Likely have some water in the tanks and turn on water pumps for overnight bathroom trips for the little ones if needed. We have flashlights and battery operated lanterns to provide light.

Our battery is the standard supplied from Crossroads when we purchased the trailer new in Sep 2015. The battery is stored indoors during the winter. Should we be able to operate the fridge on the propane setting and the occasional water pump usage overnight (if even needed) with a full charge on the standard battery or should we plan to have everything off and use a cooler. We may pack the cooler as a backup anyway, but just trying to get a feel for how long that lasts for most people.
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Old 01-27-2017, 12:19 PM   #2
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Depends
Do you have LED lights ?

how's the condition of your battery and how much 'parasitic' power loss do you have ?

honestly though, three days is a long time to ask a single battery to last with even moderate use IMHO and if it goes down, you won't have a pump to flush the potty...

I've had rv's in storage the battery didn't last much longer than that (like my redwood 5'er)
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Old 01-27-2017, 12:22 PM   #3
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We have no plans to use any of the trailer lights, we will rely on flashlights and our portable light sources for lighting. Basically looking to see if the small power required for the fridge thermostat will allow us to go 3 days with the fridge on propane.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:50 PM   #4
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I think you're going to have a tough time with just one battery. Do you have time and budget to replace and upgrade that battery? Can you add two new batteries?

Even two batteries will have a tough time for three days. There are so many phantom draws in our RVs. Even just the detectors (Smoke, CO, and LP) draw a lot of power.

It's not impossible, but it will be tricky.

If you're really going to rely on flashlights and won't be using your fridge, you could switch the battery cutoff switch and completely shut off the power in your rig. That way you won't be drawing any power at all.

Think about your worst case scenario and come up with a plan. What powered items do you absolutely need and how will you use them if you kill your battery? Do you rely on power for jacks, because you won't be able to hitch up and go home if you don't have a hand crank. Ditto for your slides.

Definitely bring jumper cables.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:21 PM   #5
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I have done 4 days with one battery on a few occasions before I switched to the other battery . Before I got the second battery on the tongue ,I would bring along the battery out of my boat and switch out batteries when the first one started making the co detector beep.(sign that battery is getting low) and take the first battery along with my battery charger to the washroom, where there is usually a 110 plug outside ,and charge the batt for 4 hrs on 10a. Never had anything taken.
I had the fridge on ,used pump when needed and lights minimally.Like you said ,I also have small stick up lights that are placed on counters and tables for light. I never use the radio in the camper so i took the fuse out of it so there was no parasitic draw. You DO NOT want to totally disconnect the battery as you want the co detector to be on.
I also used a cooler for drinks ,usually outside until night time when bears look for anything that looks like a cooler.Then bring inside.
As for slides and jacks , once you hook up to your truck , they will all work ,even with a low battery. Don't expect to hook up the truck and run it for an hour and think it will charge your house battery....the wiring is to small to put a decent charge on.
As for generators...mine stays home ,I hate that noise when camping.
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Old 01-27-2017, 02:56 PM   #6
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Sorry, but I had bad batteries from the mfg on my redwood and when they went down @ the storage lot, I couldn't use my jacks to hook up the 5'er !

tried hooking up the cable to truck, but it wouldn't charge enough, so ended up taking the batteries out and bringing them home to charge...

What a absolute bother that was in a redwood with it's almost impossible to get out batteries.
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Old 01-27-2017, 03:11 PM   #7
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As for slides and jacks , once you hook up to your truck , they will all work ,even with a low battery.
An RV tech told us one time that you should always be running your truck when you put the slides in or out. We try to do that most of the time, but we ALWAYS run the truck (or have the trailer plugged into shore power) when we run the bedroom slide. It is a Schwintek slide with two motors.
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Old 01-27-2017, 03:24 PM   #8
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I believe your fridge will also draw some from the battery when operating on propane. Camp neighbors learned this the hard way when they went backcountry backpacking for four days at the North Rim and left their fridge running on propane. Returned to find the fridge off, battery drained and much spoiled food.
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Old 01-27-2017, 04:08 PM   #9
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Yes ,the newer fridges need 12v to run on propane (just assumed most new that as there are tiny lights on the panel that need power from something vs.only switches on older fridges)
And I always have truck hooked up and running while deploying slides and awning and jacks so the battery starts fully charged after we set up.
When I pick up trailer from barn,I don't even have a battery on the tongue ,and jack and all lights work when hooked to truck.
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Old 01-27-2017, 08:19 PM   #10
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Not all generators have to cost $1,000, and be a quiet inverter and be able to run an Air Conditioner. These little "picnic" generators would power your TT converter for an hour or two a day, and you'd probably find a few other uses for a little guy like this around the house. It's just over $100!
(added) I just checked the WFCO site. The 35 amp unit most of have draws 600 Watts, and the 45 amp unit drawn only 740 watts. Both within the range of this little generator.

900 Peak/700 Running Watts, 2 HP (63cc) 2 Cycle Gas Generator EPA/CARB
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Old 01-27-2017, 10:31 PM   #11
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Not all generators have to cost $1,000, and be a quiet inverter and be able to run an Air Conditioner. These little "picnic" generators would power your TT converter for an hour or two a day, and you'd probably find a few other uses for a little guy like this around the house. It's just over $100!
(added) I just checked the WFCO site. The 35 amp unit most of have draws 600 Watts, and the 45 amp unit drawn only 740 watts. Both within the range of this little generator.

900 Peak/700 Running Watts, 2 HP (63cc) 2 Cycle Gas Generator EPA/CARB
Neighbors listening to a weed whacker running next door all day, so much for a nice quiet weekend.
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Old 01-27-2017, 11:20 PM   #12
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Neighbors listening to a weed whacker running next door all day, so much for a nice quiet weekend.
I suggested an hour or two per day, to keep his battery up. If that bothers you, perhaps he could plug into your outlet, run by your inverter? Chances are, you're not going to be in a primitive (no hook-up) site. No need to be snarky.
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Old 01-27-2017, 11:32 PM   #13
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know you are trying to help and not being snarky either, but 91 decibels ?!?

"A decibel level of 85 warrants consideration for ear protection."

from Untitled Document
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Old 01-27-2017, 11:55 PM   #14
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I did check the sound level. The owner's manual says 82 Db. Hopefully, while the neighbors are gone, or several feet away, via a good length of cord.
http://manuals.harborfreight.com/man...0999/60338.pdf
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Old 01-28-2017, 08:20 AM   #15
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A generator is still a generator...they make noise that is not needed when camping with out power. If I can go 4 days with a 3 yr old battery doing what OP sugested with extra lights,any one can.
Sorry but I am a generator hater at campgrounds.
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Old 01-28-2017, 08:35 AM   #16
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I suggested an hour or two per day, to keep his battery up. If that bothers you, perhaps he could plug into your outlet, run by your inverter? Chances are, you're not going to be in a primitive (no hook-up) site. No need to be snarky.
Wasn't being snarky, YET! 91db ( which is what the link you posted says, not 82db) is TOO loud especially for a 2cycle running under a load anywhere near other campers!!!
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Old 01-29-2017, 03:09 AM   #17
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Maybe think about a small solar panel, one that could be moved around during the day. Maybe not much gain but every amp would help.
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Old 01-29-2017, 07:48 AM   #18
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We use led headlamps and we have two led lanterns. But we also bring a Honda generator. I guess you can hookup and run you truck to help charge the battery. Use least amount of lights at night.
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:45 AM   #19
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We use led headlamps and we have two led lanterns. But we also bring a Honda generator. I guess you can hookup and run you truck to help charge the battery. Use least amount of lights at night.
If you're needing a portable generator that's the one to have, you almost have to stand next to it to hear running, pricey though.
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:23 AM   #20
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Remember that if you think that running the truck with the harness hooked up will charge quickly...think again ( I have tried it for 1 hr...waste of fuel). it will take an awful long time as the wire from the truck battery to the trailer batt is small.
If you need to do this ,simply face truck to trailer and hook jumper cables directly to trailer battery .Was told that leaving tow/haul or headlights on makes alt charge stronger .
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