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Old 09-12-2013, 10:18 AM   #1
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Question Boondocking Suggestions Needed

I am FINALLY going on vacation! YEAH me!

I am going up to the Upper Pennisula of Michigan next weekend to soak up the Fall beauty and do some serious hiking in the Porkies

I have a 2005 T-1950 and plan to camp in the Porkies. One camp has electric but the other is rustic. I think they have water spigots and vault potties. So the second camp is boondocking which so far I have never done. This time of the year in the U.P. Temps can fluctuate and get down in the low 50s maybe even 40 at night. I plan on boondocking 3 days

Since I do not have much time I thought that it would help to consider at a minimum ordering these three items today to get them in time

Solar tickle charge for my one battery and a heater. I plan on bring my sleeping bag and some blankets cause I know that the furnace is a big electrical and propane hog.

I do have a small LED battery lantern

Has anyone used these? What say you as to minimum requirments to boondock?

Coleman 6W Solar Battery Charger

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater

Thought I would get another lantern...

Coleman LED Classic Lantern



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Old 09-12-2013, 10:57 AM   #2
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I will add that I asume my truck will charge my battery when running because if I leave the power cord plugged in, my truck battery gets drained
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Old 09-12-2013, 01:05 PM   #3
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Hi Joan,

It sounds like your in for a great trip. I would make my first trip to a full service park and then only use what servvices I really needed. Make notes of how long battery lasts before you must plug in and charge, how long it takes to charge the battery with the truck, how long water lasts and if you really can use that "indoor" heater comfortably and how open the window needs to be to keep from suffocating yourself. It will make for a much better trip to have backup for necessities instead of having to load up and either go home or find a full service site anyway.

Good luck and have a great trip.

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Old 09-12-2013, 02:07 PM   #4
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Sounds like the Adirondacks in October!!! We always camp this way in the state campgrounds with just one ordinary battery. Your refrigerator and furnace will run on your propane--a sleeping bag will be plenty in those temps anyway. We ration our lights (miners' lights are great for reading and hands free working around outside in the dark). We use gallon containers for water from the spigot like we did with our popup to save using the pump. We use the campground showers and our bathroom at night. In our experience, three days your battery should be fine.
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:13 PM   #5
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Wife & I boondock almost exclusively in our t-1950 but we've added some things to make doing it long term easy like a generator & a portable 260 watt solar system last winter
IMHO you should be able to get by just fine for 3 days w/ very minimal extra equipment
Unless you sleep very cold even 40 deg outside should be comfy inside your rig w/ a sleeping bag & extra blankets. (Snuggling is good too so convince your significant other to go along ) As for lighting, it's very cheap & easy to convert few most used fixtures to LED & thus save lotsa power. If you're a hiker you likely have an LED headlamp in case you're caught out on trail after dark. It would make for hands free lighting back in camp & inside rig until you can convert a fixture or two
With no long deep freezing spell worries the fresh water storage in rig should be adequate. Alternatively you could use campground water if available or bring along some 5 gal jugs
Do bring along a $3 voltmeter to check charge in your battery & definitely don't trust those built in monitors. As you say disconnect elec plug from tv so you're guaranteed it'll start when time to go home
I looked @ charger you linked but have insufficient elec skills to offer an informed opinion
Have a great time !!! You'll discover how easy boondocking can be w/ all those built in conveniences & likely wanna go again real soon. Enjoy !
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Old 09-12-2013, 04:50 PM   #6
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As GKL said, LED's. They double the life of the battery. Two batteries fit the frame of my T-1950 just fine and keep them wired. The charging system works well with both. Contrary to all logic, keep a vent cracked open in cold weather to keep condensation down.
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Old 09-12-2013, 05:51 PM   #7
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"Your refrigerator and furnace will run on your propane"

I was thinking about that and had been doing a dry run in my driveway simulating boon-docking and was disappointed on the length I had electric for. Then it hit me that the furnace heat is propane fueled however the blower may be electric.

I've looked at the Mr. Heater and Mr Heater junior at Walmart and my rub with them is is no thermostat. It is all or nothing.
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Old 09-12-2013, 05:56 PM   #8
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We have boondocked quite well for 3-5 days w/o problems..if...you monitor your battery usage. The furnace isnt the only hog..the pump is a biggie. We have always used gallon milk jugs for our water usage and an empty dish detergent squeeze bottle to rinse the toilet bowl. We always carried an extra battery along..you dont HAVE to hook it into your system..we hooked an extension DH made with battery clips one end and female dc plug on the other--easier to just leave in your tow vehicle instead of lugging it around--and run the end thru a window to hook up a lamp,fan,tv,radio etc. for those extra goodies!--save the house power for your furnace. We did at one time have two batteries on the front tongue but now one does us fine with a bit of care.Unplug your TV at night unless you have an isolator or one unit can be dead in no time (ask me how I know!) Set your thermostat at just 55 at night..you will be fine..have a great trip! Wish it was me...sigh! Janalee
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:23 PM   #9
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I boondock a lot how ever mostly in the summer I have two batteries I have a 100 watt solar panel (by the way that little panel will not help you) All my lights are LED's I have a 2 gallon accumulator on the water system. I can do 6-7 days with out a recharge even from the solar. The Mr Buddy will keep you warm down to 20 it will use a 1 lb cylinder in about 6 hours you do need a window open or a vent about an 1" or so. When I camp cold I just bundle up my heater is controlled by a computer thermostat so it runs in the morning just before I get up then cooking breakfast makes enough heat to keep me warm until I have enough coffee to function. Using the solar I can use my ham radio watch TV (inverter) and not worry too much about power.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apackoftwo View Post
I will add that I asume my truck will charge my battery when running because if I leave the power cord plugged in, my truck battery gets drained
As everyone stated, unplug your truck from the trailer, otherwise the battery will go dead!

But then again if you plug it in and turn on your truck - it should bring your trailer battery back up to (almost) full charge in about 1/2 - 3/4 hours!
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poppy & Nana View Post
As everyone stated, unplug your truck from the trailer, otherwise the battery will go dead!

But then again if you plug it in and turn on your truck - it should bring your trailer battery back up to (almost) full charge in about 1/2 - 3/4 hours!
Just make sure your charge wire is proper gauge. I've seen people run to small of wire and wonder why battery isn't charging. Check all connections to be sure they are as clean as possible
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:22 AM   #12
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I see you mentioned a lantern..be aware they also use up oxygen so shouldn't be used indoors without ventilation..same goes for your stove and oven!
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:55 AM   #13
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After this 1st successful trip weaned away from hookups you'll no doubt wanna try it again. Once you're hooked on no hookups (it occurs to me that term means something very different to 20 & 30 somethings ) there are some additional items you'll want to consider.
As stated, an accumulator tank is a great idea & substantially reduces both water pump cycling & noise. Also, as stated, that 2nd battery fits perfectly on T-1950's tongue & will double your storage capacity. We did an axle flip which allows access to the roughest, rutted "roads" but in heavily forested country it's limited clearance which mostly keeps one from getting well into the backcountry. The flip really is handy in drier country where trees & they're overhanging limbs are scarce.
We don't have one as we move frequently & make an effort to limit deposits into our holding tanks, but bookdockers who stay put for long periods like their Blueboys. Along w/ a macerator pump they can double time away from dump stations or only take their TV when they do go.
However, for just the price of a 2nd battery & a few LED bulbs I think you'd have all you need to enjoy boondocking for a week or more @ a time.
Let us know how the trip goes & enjoy !
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:42 PM   #14
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Hi Joan

The Coleman LED battery powered Lateran should work well. We have 2 of them in the older florescent type. Ours Runs on 4 D batteries. We also bought one of the new single LED ones that points down and reflects up. That thing is so bright it is too bright for inside. This type if for a big area.

The 6 watt solar panel, it will not be effective enough to do much with charging your battery. Skip this item.

I do not have any experience with the Mr Buddy so cannot help on that one other than caution.

A few tips. You will need to turn into a power miser and you can be surprised at just how long you can go.

As was said, if it is going down below 50F, vent the camper, crack open a roof vent or window at night. The condensation from breathing over night is actually unbelievable. If you keep the camper sealed up tight trying to keep heat in, the walls can end up soaked. This gets worse when the camper is heated.

Power, remember to turn off the TV antenna booster. That thing will suck a lot of power left on doing nothing.

If you have not converted inside lights to LED, heads up the standard 921 light bulb that comes in the Sunlines draws a lot of power. 1.4 amps worth. Use one sparingly as needed. Do not be having 4 or 5 lights on for long periods of time with the standard bulbs. In time, buy a LED plug in replacements in the common use spots. You can run 5 to 6 LEDs for the power 1 of those 921 bulbs draw. Use the lanterns to conserve power until you get the LED some day.

The fridge on LP does not use much, it is OK but make sure if yours has a condensation heat strip between the freezer and fridge compartment it is turned off. That heat strip sucks a lot of power.

I myself pull the fuse on the back of the radio so that draw is not there. Since I do not use it camping, it is not loose to me. I do use it when at home working ont he camper but I have power then

The HOT water heater, only run it when you need it.

The furnace, the blower uses a lot of power, use it sparingly if you are on 1 battery.

Make sure the battery is fully charged before going out boondocking.

Keeping an eye on battery state of charge. As was said, you need a digital volt meter ideally with 2 decimal places. One decimal place you get you buy but 2 is better. They do not have to cost a lot either. $10 to $20 buys a good enough meter. Radio Shack use to have a small one but I no longer see it on their site. On line their smallest is $24. A Harbor Freight one will do the job if they have a store near by. A good analog meter (has a needle on it) is also OK just the better ones cost a lot and now a days digital is very cheap and reliable. If you really get into this they make a Volt Minder complete with an alarm on it but that is in the $45 range.

See here, there is a chart on the bottom of this linked page for a unloaded battery on the 12 volt column,

Trojan Battery Company

You really do not want to discharge down below 50% at lot or many times doing this. The batteries last longer if you use that as a low end target. So 12.10 volts is the low end target to drain a battery to before recharge. It is OK to recharge higher than that, just do not drain it down a lot more then the 12.1 as read in a resting state. You may dip below 12.1 when the furnace is running but it will come right back up when the furnace shuts off pending where the volt meter is located.

Before testing the battery voltage you need to have not been on a charger or connected to the truck for a good 6 to 8 hours. Then turn everything off in the camper but the fridge and measure the voltage. You are getting a true'er reading then. You can then figure out how much capacity you are using each day as you watch it drop and then how much you have left. Unless you measure it you really do not know if you have a lot left or very little.

With being a power miser and keeping and eye on things, you can do 3 days OK.

Your GM truck, yes the 7 wire receptacle on the back is live to the truck battery all the time even with the ignition off. Pull the 7 wire plug or it will drain the truck too. Many Fords and Toyota's have a relay in them. Other brands may as well, just not many of the older GM's. Don't know if they ever changed that on the new trucks.

Using the truck as charger, yes it will put a level of charge into the battery but it depends on how low the battery is to how long the truck has to run to charge the battery back up. While better than nothing a 300 plus HP engine running with the truck standing still trying to recharge a heavy drained camper battery 20 some feet way on a small wire is going to take a real long time. Remember a stand alone 12 amp charger can take 24 to 48 hours, to recharge a battery drained down.

Good luck, you will do fine. Caution: This can get addicting! The boondocking places are often nicer then the power sites.

Let us know how it went.

John
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Old 09-14-2013, 07:09 AM   #15
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Just to give you an ideal about LED's I had 13 lights in my camper with 1156 bulbs in them with all of them on I used 312 watts that's 26 amps! Switching to LED's reduced that to 24 watts! Of course I never burn them all at once but I usually only at the most 3 or 4 so I'm only using some thing like 7 watts or so one 1156 bulb uses 24 watts. All though you have no power bill with the camper if you treat it like saving money at home you can go a long time on just batteries. Your's is new enough to have electronic controlled water heater and fridge your kind of out of luck with the fridge but you can leave the water heater off and only light it maybe 20 min before you need hot water then turn it back off. Every little trick helps.
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Old 09-14-2013, 08:00 PM   #16
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Not wanting to highjack this thread but it might be good information. I see the LED lighting at Walmart. You know those light strips that are fastened to cars? anyway, I wondered if they would/could be used for accent lighting in the tt.
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Old 09-15-2013, 06:15 AM   #17
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Not wanting to highjack this thread but it might be good information. I see the LED lighting at Walmart. You know those light strips that are fastened to cars? anyway, I wondered if they would/could be used for accent lighting in the tt.
Maybe but usually there is not too much effort to save power with car lighting see if they rate the current draw.
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Old 09-15-2013, 07:03 AM   #18
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I'm sure there are different draws for different strips but one I saw was .2 draw per meter. I didn't count the number of emitters. It would seem the draw would be less than standard bulbs what ever it is. To me the problem might be how to mount and control them. Maybe more problem that it is worth.

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Old 09-15-2013, 03:11 PM   #19
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That's doable but not much light. If you have the fixtures in place the best retro fit is a surface mount board that replaces the bulb. These guys are not the cheapest but they have everything and you can use the description to look around. 30 High Power LED Rectangle PCB Lamp w/ BA9s Base | BA9s and BA7s LED Bulbs | LED Car Bulbs | Super Bright LEDs There are two types of color temperature lights being sold one is cool white the other is warm white. They are rated in degrees Kelvin or just K the higher the number the bluer the lights. Cool white is sunlight color around 6000 to 6500K and bluish the warm white is closer to normal house lighting and is around 3500K personally I find the cool white to be offensive somewhat brighter but I like the warmer yellowish color in a camper less industrial.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:25 AM   #20
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I have an older one of these and it actually works: Amazon.com: Conair Mini Pro ThermaCell Butane Curling Iron, Pink: Beauty
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