Just returned from a week on the Sacandaga River in the southern Adirondacks of NY.
Just prior to our departure, I installed a Victron Energy BMV-700 battery
monitor in the camper. What a revelation! We have been wasting gallons of gasoline running our generator
for the maximum allowable generator
hours of 9 - 11 AM and 4 -7 PM just to make sure our batteries were topped up, because we really had no idea what the state of our battery
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With the battery monitor installed, we have a wealth of information available including battery bank voltage, amp hours used, real time current draw (or replacement) and real time power usage in watts. We found that we use so little power for lighting
and pumping water that, running the generator
for a maximum of half an hour a couple times a day to heat up meals in the microwave
, was adequate to keep the battery bank full. I also installed a battery cut-off switch so I can completely isolate the batteries from the converter. This means no more constant draw from the LP gas leak detector when we have the camper parked and in storage mode.
We also got to give our pellet logs a workout. I bought a set of them early in the spring when they were first shown on this forum. Let's see, a 40 lb. bag of pellets at the Orange Big Box store goes for $4.89. A bag of firewood at the campground entrance (certified to be obtained within a 50 mile radius and thus ash borer free) is up to $9.00.
A single bag of pellets gave us five, almost smoke-free, campfires, each lasting about 1 hour. Using a propane
torch to light them (yes, I really am that lazy) took about 10 seconds and didn't require a search for kindling. We had campfires every morning with our coffee and didn't have to put up with a smokey smudge for hours afterward and had evening campfires without having to stay up until midnight waiting for the last coals to die down. When done, we simply shook out the small amount of ash and nested the four logs back in the box for the next trip.
No more horsing the generator into the back of truck for 2 or 3 nights of dry camping
. I love being lazy.