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Old 04-26-2018, 12:25 PM   #1
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Boondocking

Ok....after RV'ing for almost 2 years, I decided to delve into the concept of camping without shore power. I guess I have been under the assumption that I could run off the gennie during the day and run off house batteries at night. In preparation, I figured I should calculate the draw on the batteries to determine how long I could run off the batteries. Silly me - I had assumed I would have something close to shore power operational status when running off batteries. What I found was the only things operating off the batteries was the residential fridge, the tv/satellite receiver, and an outlet in the bedroom. No other appliances, no A/C, no lights. Am I missing something?
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Old 04-26-2018, 12:49 PM   #2
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Nope, when you are on batteries only the 12V system is working unless you have an inverter. Most RVs the inverter will power the residential fridge and the entertainment systems, some also power the microwave. Each varies depending on model of inverter, model of RV, model of fridge, etc. Your lights should still be working as they are 12V. Definitely not the AC.

Here is a good read on what to expect and how to plan accordingly - the "12 volt side of life." Lots of good info about how to budget your power requirements and plan your battery and solar systems accordingly.

The 12 Volt Side of Life
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:08 PM   #3
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I do have a Xantrex 1800 inverter.
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:11 PM   #4
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No matter how much power we have (or don't have...): it's still way better than sleeping on the ground in a tent.
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:15 PM   #5
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Agreed, but I would have thought I would have lights when running off the house batteries. A/C and microwave would be bonus!
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:23 PM   #6
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you should certainly have LIGHTS, they run off 12v regardless of what 'power source' you are/ or are not/ on... they use the batteries.

Air Conditioners, water heaters(electric mode), etc., aren't going to operate without the generator since they require too much amperage - the Inverter is designed to power 120v outlets and appliances that require lower power draws.

'Sometimes' larger coaches, mostly diesel models, will have all Outlets run off the Inverter, but most smaller and gas coaches do not, they are limited by the size of the Inverter, usually mainly for the residential fridge only, but sometimes another outlet and/or TV outlets.

If you want to buy an RV with 16 batteries, a 6,000w Inverter, you may be able to power an Air Conditioner, but that's quite uncommon, no matter the largest coach built.

Let the generator run off your AGS(auto gen starter), if you have one, and it can serve you well. It can even be set up to start the generator automatically when you air conditioners need to come on, or when the batteries need recharging : )
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:26 PM   #7
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Agreed, but I would have thought I would have lights when running off the house batteries. A/C and microwave would be bonus!
So no lights at all work on battery only? That is very odd.

Very few battery banks have enough juice to run A/C units for more than just a few minutes. Microwaves can be run, but the inverter needs to be sized right and have enough amp hours and overhead surge protection to draw from in the battery bank as well.
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:45 PM   #8
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No lights at all. I walked through the coach and attempted to switch on everything. Axxera radio in the cockpit works, along with the fridge, tv and an outlet in the bedroom. When the fridge is cooling I get a total battery draw of 20 amps, and drops back to 15 when it's in idle. My two 6-volt house batteries are rated at 215 AH each, and what I get from articles is that would get me a max of about 10 hours drawing 20 amps per hour. I think part of my confusion is created by reading threads where peeps are upgrading to 4 batteries, and now I'm wondering why.
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by j37genie View Post
Agreed, but I would have thought I would have lights when running off the house batteries. A/C and microwave would be bonus!
We've got some lights that run off of the batteries: just not all of them.
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Old 04-26-2018, 01:56 PM   #10
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No lights at all. I walked through the coach and attempted to switch on everything. Axxera radio in the cockpit works, along with the fridge, tv and an outlet in the bedroom. When the fridge is cooling I get a total battery draw of 20 amps, and drops back to 15 when it's in idle. My two 6-volt house batteries are rated at 215 AH each, and what I get from articles is that would get me a max of about 10 hours drawing 20 amps per hour. I think part of my confusion is created by reading threads where peeps are upgrading to 4 batteries, and now I'm wondering why.
SO... let's see if any other house battery draws are working... does the water pump work? How about the furnace? They are both 12V systems. If nothing works, I would say you have probably switched off the store/use switch. The inverter will still run since it is directly wired to the batteries, but the rest of the systems run through the relay. I assume the lights and other systems work when plugged in?
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Old 04-26-2018, 03:32 PM   #11
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That was my suggestion, the use/store switch in the store mode. On 12 volts all your lights should work, furnace, fridge, water pump, slides, leveler s if equipped,ceiling vent fans, & the radio.I might've missed some tihings. The point being other than AC & microwave you should fully self contained on battery, propane & water in your tank, if not somethings not right somewhere.
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Old 04-26-2018, 04:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by j37genie View Post
No lights at all. I walked through the coach and attempted to switch on everything. Axxera radio in the cockpit works, along with the fridge, tv and an outlet in the bedroom. When the fridge is cooling I get a total battery draw of 20 amps, and drops back to 15 when it's in idle. My two 6-volt house batteries are rated at 215 AH each, and what I get from articles is that would get me a max of about 10 hours drawing 20 amps per hour. I think part of my confusion is created by reading threads where peeps are upgrading to 4 batteries, and now I'm wondering why.
When you connect two 215 Amp-hour 6-Volt batteries in series, you end up with 215 Amp-hours at 12 Volts.

If you pull at 20 Amps (no such thing as “Amps per hour” — will just confuse you) then batteries will last about 10 hours maximum, but at typical 50% depth of discharge, they’ll realistically power you about 5 hours.

That may be why many go to 4 batteries.
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Old 04-26-2018, 04:32 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jpmihalk View Post
SO... let's see if any other house battery draws are working... does the water pump work? How about the furnace? They are both 12V systems. If nothing works, I would say you have probably switched off the store/use switch. The inverter will still run since it is directly wired to the batteries, but the rest of the systems run through the relay. I assume the lights and other systems work when plugged in?
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That was my suggestion, the use/store switch in the store mode. On 12 volts all your lights should work, furnace, fridge, water pump, slides, leveler s if equipped,ceiling vent fans, & the radio.I might've missed some tihings. The point being other than AC & microwave you should fully self contained on battery, propane & water in your tank, if not somethings not right somewhere.
There's your problem. If it is in USE position then you have an issue between the batteries and the DC buss: Either the solenoid that the USE/STORE switch controls is not working or the DC breaker suppling that solenoid has tripped; look for a flag.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:58 PM   #14
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More stuff

I opened this thread in order to show my wife that there are folks who actually boondock and live through the adventure. I am very interested in this process but she has yet to "allow" such a thing as spending the night in a deserted parking lot in the middle of "where ever". So I get on the site and she reads the thread and starts asking me about our battery situation and my only knowledge is that we have two 12 volt house batteries. Then come questions such as what is an inverter, what is a converter, what is a bus, etc. I know most of answers but lack the knowledge of how an inverter actually does its thing, for example, and the answer to her question, "If it broke, could you repair it," is obviously no. (It doesn't seen to matter that I could most likely take the house apart and put it back together just like it was). Now she is even more convinced that boondocking is not in her immediate future thus not in mine. Thanks for y'all's help!!!
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Old 08-05-2018, 05:16 PM   #15
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Her reluctance is more about "Not knowing": than anything else.
An inverter takes 12 volt DC power; and turns it into 120 volt AC

(At least that's how I understand it... )
Your house batteries will run the basic stuff that you need out in the wilds: you'll just have to run the generator once in a while to keep them charged-up.
The better and the more batteries you have: the longer they will last.... OR: the the more stuff you can get hooked up into the inverter, and be made to run!
You can augment the Battery power with Solar power... but that's an entirely different conversation!
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Old 08-05-2018, 06:28 PM   #16
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Yes, an inverter simply changes DC power to AC power for things that use standard house receptacles. The batteries provide the 12V power to the inverter and then the inverter sends 120V AC power out to the selected outlets.

We have been boondocking for a few years now and it really isn't very complicated. Once you know what is where, it becomes easy to adjust. We also added two more batteries and have solar to help keep the batteries charged in daylight so we can boondock longer without eating up gas in the generator.
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:07 PM   #17
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It also depends on where you boondock: Find a secluded spot in the middle of nowhere and spend a long weekend or just overnight at a Walmart/Cracker Barrel/etc.

Start small: the quick overnight on the way somewhere (oh hey that saved $$ by not staying at a campground, and we also saved time because we didn't have to check in, plug in, etc.).
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:17 PM   #18
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I agree: the overnight parking lot, is a great way to get started!
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:44 PM   #19
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It also depends on where you boondock: Find a secluded spot in the middle of nowhere and spend a long weekend or just overnight at a Walmart/Cracker Barrel/etc.

Start small: the quick overnight on the way somewhere (oh hey that saved $$ by not staying at a campground, and we also saved time because we didn't have to check in, plug in, etc.).
Agree! Also, if you haven't needed much from your batteries, you might want to check and know their condition before boondocking.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:27 PM   #20
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We will be stopping in Primm in a few weeks, first “free” night.
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