battery life?

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by jcrew6311, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Feb 24, 2015
    We live in Arizona and would like to take some short 1-2 day trips up to Sedona or Flagstaff this summer. We have a 690 24 deep cycle battery and will be charging it with a battery minder 2012 when not in use. I'm mostly worried about whether or not our battery will last sufficiently for us when staying 1-2 nights. We have a Fleetwood Niagara that has a 3 way fridge, microwave, burners, sink, water heater, and lights. It also has a power leveler on the front which can be used fully charged while setting up but probably won't be when tearing down. I'm just wondering if it's practical to assume the battery will last for 2 days under normal minimal use? The way I see it we will rarely use lights, can set the fridge to propane, we probably don't need a shower and if my wife wants one we could just crank the heater on just for that for maybe 15 minutes. Besides that we would just need our phones charged which could always be done in the truck. I'm wanting to try a few nights at Forest campgrounds to save some money, but just don't want to be stuck stranded without being able to lift the hitch receiver back up because of lack of power. I got say, the electric leveler is nice when everything is going perfect, but it sure is stressful when the battery is down.
     
  2. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Feb 24, 2015
    Upon thinking about it, I think all we really need the battery for would be...

    Water pump
    The trailer hitch to raise and lower
    Water heater
    Lp /co detector thingy
    Lights on fridge which I'm sure is minimal
    Possibly lights just used very sparingly for an hour in the evening

    The weather would be fine so we wouldn't really need the furnace.

    Should these items used sparingly last 1-2 days? We have 2 kids under 4 so we try for now to keep our trips short, as they become a handful in tight spaces for too long. when they're older I fully intend on doing week long trips and will worry about those when the time comes.
     
  3. mstrbill

    mstrbill Active Member

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    Mar 17, 2013
    Austin , Texas
    if's it's a highwall Niagara, then 12V is required for the Fridge control board. No 12V, fridge won't work.
     
  4. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Feb 24, 2015
    So what does that mean it will need? I'm lost mostly w all this battery stuff.
     
  5. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    You need a way to actually track the state of charge of the battery. I don't have the link on my tablet, but the 12volt side of life has a good chart (I'll add the link when I get home to my real computer). Some have added inline meters, we have a plug in meter, we had to add a 12v outlet to our 2010 popup, our 2015 TT came with one)
    With the popup, all we had were two one-bulb (LED) lights and the furnace, besides the LP detector (which will start to beep when the battery voltage gets too low, BTW). We managed 2-4 nights a couple of times before adding solar panels.
    Solar panels work great in most of the places we camp, in using AZ, CO, and UT.
    With our TT, we now have a fridge (uses 12v for controls and ignition), more lights (most are two-bulb, we seldom use more than one fixture at a time), water pump (which seems to be a power hog, we'll see how the replacement does when we get that installed), water heater (controls and ignition are 12v). We have done one dry night from time to time, but really would not like to test going much longer, especially in cold weather. Not only would we be running the furnace in cold weather, batteries have less reserve the colder it gets.
     
  6. bob barnes

    bob barnes Well-Known Member

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    Mar 26, 2017
    Try it out at home under same circumstances!
     
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  7. Strawhouse

    Strawhouse Active Member

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    Oct 4, 2015
    Muskoka, Ontario
    Great idea! I think that I'll try that too, or maybe for a couple of days on one of my upcoming trips. I'd like to be able to charge devices and use my propane heater on a non-electric site in 'Hybrid Hollow' ;) at the Vermont Rally this year. I do gave a Buddy heater as a backup, if needed. However, I'd like to install a battery gauge(?) to monitor my battery usage.

    I saw a video--I think it was by GoingNowhereFast--that showed the gauge but not how it was installed. I did a search of thread--admittedly not a thorough one--looking for more info. How easy are they to install?
     
  8. sierrapup

    sierrapup Active Member

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    Jun 19, 2016
    put the gauge directly on the battery box, 1 wire to + 1 wire to - make sure the gauge is a weather proof one 10 to 12 bucks
    amazon
     
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  9. sierrapup

    sierrapup Active Member

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    Jun 19, 2016
    get a weather proof volt gauge mount directly to the battery box. 1 wire to + 1 wire to -. very easy and you'll see it every time you walk by
     
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  10. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Mar 3, 2006
    TX
    If your fridge has a front control panel it needs 12v to open and close the gas valve.
    Don't know its consumption but it is 24/7, more when the gas valve is open but still some load when closed, a couple of days ought to be doable if the battery is in good condition.

    I'd bet it is possible to use jumper cables from a running vehicle to the battery so the front jack works when it is time to go home. Do much of this type camping and you'll want more battery capacity and/or method to recharge in the field.

    Low draw items that are used 24/7 add up like the detectors and fridge.
     
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  11. Strawhouse

    Strawhouse Active Member

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    Oct 4, 2015
    Muskoka, Ontario
    Thanks!
     
  12. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Feb 24, 2015
    Just out of curiosity, what's the point in the propane option for the fridge then if it still uses battery? And are you suggesting the propane setting uses electricity still the entire time?
     
  13. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Feb 24, 2015
    And that said, for just 2 days, I'm sure we could just use a big igloo.
     
  14. bob barnes

    bob barnes Well-Known Member

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    Mar 26, 2017
    I am trying to figure my smad out haven't got it yet but I think it works the old fashioned way no 12v as it uses all mechanical stuff to make it work better for me I should know by tues!
     
  15. jcrew6311

    jcrew6311 Member

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    Feb 24, 2015
    Also, does the fridge on propane option just use electricity while igniting or does it use it the whole time?
     
  16. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Dec 26, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    Ours is a two-way Dometic fridge. It uses a bit of power for the control board and for igniting the propane, but the draw does not seem high. The hot water tank also has controls and electric ignition, we only have it on for a couple of hours, at most, on most days. The largest users of battery power for us are the furnace and water pump. The water pump seems to have a huge draw, it has a couple of issues so we will be replacing it with a better brand before the next trip. it will be interesting to see if it is more efficient than the current one, though the next trip without power isn't until August. (We'll have power but not water at Vallecito, so will be using the pump.)
    We never thought we'd like having a refrigerator in a camper, but the one in our TT is reliable and is well worth the power it may use, given the improvement in our food supplies. We
     
  17. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Mar 3, 2006
    TX
    previously it was suggested if ya have a high wall version then the fridge used 12v all the time.
    You mention the front control panel.
    Bigger fridges, like those in TT and large PUs have a brain. Most PU fridges are operated from the outside on the back of the fridge. Larger ones have a control panel on the front where you switch from gas to 120v to possible 12v. These are more advanced and can adjust the gas flame bigger for more cooling and smaller for less based on a thermostat and 'logic'. This logic uses 12v, more when the gas valve is open and less when closed but some all the time.

    Maybe some can tell use what it uses, 1/2A seems to be in my mind or 10-12ah/day, thats 10-15% of a battery a day.

    The manuals for fridges are available, not all PUs are the same, some have fridges that use 12v 24/7!

    maybe you could share which fridge you have? compact PU fridges use no 12v when operating on propane since YOU are the thermostat and YOU adjust the flame size by turning a knob when needed like at night, they usually don't have a freezer section.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2017
  18. McFlyfi

    McFlyfi Member

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    Aug 1, 2014
    It depends on your fridge.
    It was previously asked if you had the Highwall version of the Niagara.
    The Highwall version has a motherboard controlled fridge. The older, low wall version likely does not.
    The difference:
    The Highwall version is much bigger, and does not require you pull off the outside panel to "manually" light it. You hold down the "mode" button inside the trailer, and the fridge fires up.
    How much juice from the battery does that fridge use? The Dometic in my 2010 Highwall Niagara uses about 1 amp for about 20 seconds when it fires up, then settles out at .06 amps per hour for normal function. It also has thermostatically controlled fans in the outside compartment to help exhaust warm air and keep the cooling fins cool. In warm weather, these fans kick on for about 50 seconds every 4 minutes and use .44 amps (yes, I timed and measured it, over the course of an hour in 80 degree temps), so if this is your fridge, it will use about 3-4 amps in 24 hours.

    If you have the low wall version, and have to light your fridge manually, you use no electricity at all.

    Your other electricity use, based on my Highwall Niagara:
    Water pump- 1.49 amps
    The trailer hitch to raise and lower- Unknown- I don't have one
    Water heater- Again, if it's a Highwall, the heater is a DSI heater, and uses a small amount of electricity 24/7. It uses .71 amps when actually heating water, so I turn mine on only when I'm going to need the hot water
    Lp /co detector thingy- Brand new Safe-T-Alarm uses .09 amps
    Lights on fridge which I'm sure is minimal-Probably not much, I didn't test mine
    Possibly lights just used very sparingly for an hour in the evening- Depends on the bulb. I have 3 light fixtures that have LED bulbs, and use .5 amps per fixture.
    BTW- These are amp hour usage numbers- Use the listed appliance for 1 hour and it will draw the listed number of amps from the battery. Use for 15 min, and it will draw 1/4 of the listed amps from the battery.

    My "base" usage (battery meter, fridge, Propane detector) is right around .2 amps per hour plus the fridge fans. Half an amp for 40 seconds every 4 minutes, hmm that should be about 1.3 amps per 8 hour period of warm weather during the day, so it would be around 4 amps for the full 24 hours.

    If in good shape, and fully charged, your Group 24 battery has around 70-85 amp hours, of which half are usable

    Add up the amp usage per hour, multiply by the duty cycle, and you have your answer.

    (Based on your expected usage listed above, I would think you have plenty of battery for a weekend assuming it is in good condition and fully charged prior to leaving...YMMV, JMHO, yada yada yada)
     
  19. iamgb1

    iamgb1 Member

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    Aug 23, 2016
    I wouldn't worry too much about not being able to run the electric tongue jack if you accidentally run your battery down. All you would need to do to run it in that case, is to hook the 7-pin plug into your tow vehicle, and you'll be able to run the jack on the power provided by the tow vehicle. I don't have a power tongue jack on my E3, but I do have a power roof lift and the same rules apply.
     
  20. paddykern

    paddykern Member

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    Jul 30, 2010
    Had a 2009 Coleman Santa Fe.
    Group 31 AGM Battery.
    Refrigerator could run on propane without 12VDC.
    Manual light hot water heater.
    Water pump.
    LED lights.

    First noticed that converter used some power with everything turned off.
    Installed a marine battery shut off switch.
    When not using 12VDC would shut battery down.
    Had separate switched USB charging ports for phones. Would shut off when not charging. (Another device that uses power when not doing anything).

    Battery voltage started at 12.8VDC
    Four weeks later battery at 12.4VDC.

    Only used overhead LED lights when eating, cooking or cleaning.
    Used AA Sylvania puck lights the rest of the time for reading.

    Furnace was not used, have a catalytic propane heater.

    So you can see that I tried to the extreme to conserve battery power and was successful.

    With what you plan to do I would expect that you would have no trouble for two nights.
    Use the furnace more and you may run too low on battery power.
    Never run your battery lower that 12VDC witch is about 50% discharge level.
     
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