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Old 08-29-2010, 05:39 PM   #1
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First boondocking adventure

We went to a 3d archery shoot and camped overnight in a grass field. We had a blast with the camper and it really was fun. We used propane for the fridge and stove. Battery for the limited lights at night.

So for the electric only 12v items like lights run on the battery? Tried outlets and did not seem to work.

Also does that water pump draw power all the time if I leave it on? What else to watch for that could drain the battery?

First time I brought some water in tank and pumped as needed for sinks and toilet. All worked out as we only turned pump on when needed.

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Old 08-29-2010, 06:38 PM   #2
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Mark, the pump only consumes electricity when it actually runs.

The 110 vac system is pretty much totally separate from the 12vdc system for boondocking purposes so the interior and exterior lights all will work as will the radio, hot water heater (needs a little 12vdc to drive the control board), fridge on propane (also needs a bit of 12vdc to control it).

The radio draws a bit even when off. If you don't use it, pull the fuse.

The propane detector also draws constantly. Pulling the fuse on that is a personal decision. I pull mine, but won't recommend it to others.

You can reduce battery consumption by trading out some of the #921 bulbs in your interior lights for #168's or #194's. They put out less light, but use a lot less wattage.

Some folks are converting some of their interior lights to LED's. Still a bit pricey compared to incandescent bulbs, but if you dry camp a lot, it may be worth it.

We use candles quite a bit if not trying to read a book.

I also bought a three pack of LED "puck" lights. They run on a couple of AAA batteries and last a long, long time. Each one has a sticky back so they can be placed where needed; walls or ceilings. I have one in the bathroom for those late night trips...

A lot of us who dry camp quite a bit have generators. If you decide to buy one, just remember that your neighbor in the campground has to listen to it. The inexpensive noisy ones can be super annoying. Honda's 1000 or 2000 and Yamaha's are the choice of considerate campers.

Do a search on dry camping or boondocking here on SOC and you will find several discussion threads that go into great detail about this.


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Old 08-29-2010, 06:41 PM   #3
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Glad you had a good experience boon-docking.

Your battery will run anything that is 12 volt, the water pump, 12V accessory plug(cigarette lighter), 12V lights, stereo. Leaving the water pump on can be drawing current as it probably has an indicator light that lights up when pump is on, so best to turn on/off as needed.

Your receptacles in the Sunline are 110 AC and will NOT run off your battery, you must be plugged into shore power to use the receptacles.

I'm sure some of the guys will be along shortly and explain this stuff better.

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Old 08-29-2010, 07:10 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Steve Collins View Post
I also bought a three pack of LED "puck" lights. They run on a couple of AAA batteries and last a long, long time. .... I have one in the bathroom for those late night trips.....
I never thought of that but it is on my list now. I need just a little extra light for those trips ....

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Old 08-29-2010, 07:21 PM   #5
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Hi Mark

Glad your 1st boondocking experience went off well.

I’ll echo what Steve said and add some.

Heads up on the television antenna amplifier. Do not know if your year camper has the little green light next to the antenna plug but that booster eats power all the time if it is on. Regardless if the TV is on.

There is also on many of the newer fridges a heat strip that helps evaporate off excess condensation. I have yet to ever turn mine on but the heads up is, if yours has one make sure it is “off” as it is a heat strip and creating heat from 12 VDC absorbs a lot a power.

The furnace is a big draw on 12VDC. And at times it is a must but heads up is, it is one of the largest DC draws in a camper. The fan motor is what draws so much and when the battery get’s drained enough the sail switch will not make as the fan is not fast enough and shuts down the heat. So you end up with cold air blow draining your battery. I’m not saying do not use the furnace, I myself do, but the heads up is realize it is the largest draw and once used some how soon after you may need to recharge the battery.

The other real biggy is light bulbs. The standard 921 bulbs (18 watts) can draw up to 1.4amps each bulb. Which is a lot when boondocking. Yes they are bright but turning on 2 or 3 of them at a time is a big deal.

You can search up the automotive bulbs that fit in the T5 base and as the wattage goes down so does the power and so does the amount of light that comes out. See here You may have to go to a few auto parts stores to get the full battery of T5 bases to find one you can live with. You can also use the T 3 ¼’s they will fit in a T 5 base for a boondocking setup.

I have started 2 years ago slowly converting to LED. A lot of light but not a lot of power. However you start this conversion process being selective on a few lights as they do cost a lot more compared to a normal 921, 918, 908, 906, 916, 939 or even there the low power T194’s.

If you really want to get into the boondocking, battery maintenance and desulfation is key along with knowing how far to drain down a battery before recharge. Getting a volt meter on the battery is one simple way to know when you have reached the 50% drain down point to either recharge or switch out to a another battery.

I’m on the 2 battery, low power use and generator setup. It works well but I need to keep track of it. Some take this even further and go solar and can live off the sun for weeks on end. EMAM one forum members has the full solar/battery package including an inverter to make 120 VAC. I think he reported he was off the grid fro over a month here a year or so ago.

So camp on and have fun running off the grid.

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