battery life question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-31-2015, 04:26 PM   #1
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Question battery life question

About how long (days) will the battery last on my Scamp 13, using lights, furnace fan, water pump when no hookups are available/dry camping?

Do I recharge battery by hooking up to car and running engine? For how long?

Is there a way to test the life of my battery while dry camping?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-31-2015, 04:40 PM   #2
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Dry Camping

Unclear since you did not give the size of the battery you have. However, if you try and run the furnace you are not going to get more than 2 days out of the battery and discharging the battery so much is going to severely limit its life.

Charging by running the car is going to be a bad idea. First you would have to figure out a system for connecting the battery to the car battery with some resistance, otherwise, you are going to kill your car battery by connecting battery directly to battery. Yes you do this when you need to because your battery has died, but it is not good for the battery to do repeatedly since the currents involved with connecting a dead battery to a live battery are very high.

Suggestions for dry camping:

1. solar panels (30 W would make a huge difference with controller only cost me $100 and will save your battery)

2. Ditch using the internal water pump. I use a camelback resevoir in the cabinet above sink. Better pressure, uses much less water and no power required.

3. LED Lights. better light, won't kill the battery. The lights that come with the camper will kill the battery quite quickly.

4. Turn the furnace off while you sleep and bring a bigger sleeping bag. Quieter and won't kill your battery. Turn it back in the morning before you emerge from your cacoon.

5. basic math. Battery holds some number of amp hours which is stated on package. Everything requires some amount of current. Multiply usage time by current draw and compare to amp hours the battery can store. Battery should NOT be discharged more than 50% in any sort of regularity.

6. battery fullness is related to voltage and temperature. find a chart off the internet and a cheap multimeter or voltage meter to read battery voltage.
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Old 08-31-2015, 05:49 PM   #3
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Get a solar charger , at least a small one for your tow vehicle , then you will not be stranded. $25.00 will get one that will get you going once the sun comes up.If you want full power all the time a bigger solar charger will be needed - lot's of them out there.
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Old 08-31-2015, 06:49 PM   #4
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Charging your Scamps battery from the car will work OK, but it can take a while as there is a voltage drop between the car and the Scamp via the charging line. Best way is to use a pair of jumper cables to connect your cars battery to the Scamps battery. This has been common practice for RV'ers for years. Be careful about polarity. About an hour at fast idle should be enough.


If you battery isn't new it's had to guess how long it will last, but the furnace is the battery killer.


DO NOT be tempted to leave it plugged in to your TV, you will wind up with two dead batteries.


You need a digital volt meter to properly monitor your battery voltage. 12.2 Volts is 50% and you don't want to run it down much below that.
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Old 08-31-2015, 08:07 PM   #5
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battery life question

Here is a thread with a very similar question and possible answers:

Harbor Freight's 45 watt solar panel

Good luck! 😀

Ray




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Old 08-31-2015, 09:40 PM   #6
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The site The 12 Volt side of Life is a good read and will explain a lot to you as to the care of and what you can expect from your battery based on usage.

If the battery on the trailer came with it a lot of how long it will last depends on how badly it was abused by the previous owner. A battery that was allowed to fall below 50% repeatable or drained down to nothing more than a few times is probable not going to hold a charge well and may not even give you 24 hours of dry camping.

You can buy a simple 12V plug in monitor and use it on the 12V plug inside the trailer (assuming you have one) to get a quick reading of the batteries state.
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:52 PM   #7
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As with many things "it depends".

I can go all summer and never need to worry about charging my batter. We 10 day is one place this last summer and still have a lot of battery left.

The more stuff you have and use the faster it will run down. '
Furnace usage... 5 minutes in the morning to take the chill off will have little effect. I was getting about 3 days out my battery in 5 Temperatures. The warmer the less it's running.
Lights. I switched to all LED. Just running the lights I can go all summer probably. However, in the summer the longest stay is about 2 weeks then it's time to move on. In the winter, longer nights, I often stay in one place for 30 days. It's usually cold enough that I need to run the furnace a bit, so charge the battery with my 65 Watt solar panel about once a week.

No water pump or anything else.
For charging phones, computers, etc. usually use the tow, charging while visiting places of interest.

As you can see there's no definitive answer. Those that attempt a definitive answer are strictly relying on their own experiences and NOT understanding how it all works.
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
The site The 12 Volt side of Life is a good read and will explain a lot to you as to the care of and what you can expect from your battery based on usage.

If the battery on the trailer came with it a lot of how long it will last depends on how badly it was abused by the previous owner. A battery that was allowed to fall below 50% repeatable or drained down to nothing more than a few times is probable not going to hold a charge well and may not even give you 24 hours of dry camping.

You can buy a simple 12V plug in monitor and use it on the 12V plug inside the trailer (assuming you have one) to get a quick reading of the batteries state.
Here again is something to be aware of. NO simple volt meter is accurate enough to read the numbers accurately quoted on "12 volt side of life". Therefore take those numbers as approximate.
Explaination. Rule of thumb. The measuring instrument needs to be capable of 10 times the resolution of the expected measurement. That is if you expect to read 12.5 volts the meter needs to be capable of reading 12.50 volts. One more decimal place.
Another thing all digital meters no matter what their reading is only accurate to + or - 1 of the last digit. The meter reads 12.5 volts could be somewhere between 12.4 and 12.6 volts. That doesn't take into account the %accuracy listed in specification sheet. To complete the example a meter that can read 12.50 reading 12.50 volts, the actual voltage is between 12.49 and 12.51 volts.

The 12 volt plug in monitor that Carol talks about is one of those of the lesser accuracy. Therefore is gives an approximation of battery voltage. That doesn't mean they are not usable, but you need to have some understanding of the limitations.

One of the biggest mistakes made in trusting instruments you don't understand or have never had calibrated or verified by a NIST labratory.
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:13 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by KevinScamps View Post
Unclear since you did not give the size of the battery you have. However, if you try and run the furnace you are not going to get more than 2 days out of the battery and discharging the battery so much is going to severely limit its life.
...
I just want to elaborate. There are two kinds of battery life with the same name. One kind is how much time do we have 'til we are discharged, and the other is how many re-charges do we get before replacing the battery.

In order to obtain the maximum number of recharges of lead acid batteries we are told not to discharge them past 50%. Said another way: your 200 ampere-hour battery is good for 100 ampere-hours when new.
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Old 08-31-2015, 10:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post

The 12 volt plug in monitor that Carol talks about is one of those of the lesser accuracy. Therefore is gives an approximation of battery voltage. That doesn't mean they are not usable, but you need to have some understanding of the limitations.

.
Yup all true but its is but still 100x better than having nothing
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Old 09-01-2015, 08:22 AM   #11
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Next week, we will be using our Scamp without shore power for the first time in 12 years of ownership. I anticipate using only lights and the water pump. I just got a new battery for this trip. The first battery in the box in five years. I am looking forward to finding out how long I can read in the evenings.
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:40 AM   #12
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You may find this useful. It comes from the "The 12 Volt Side of Life" found here: The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

You can download a printable copy of the chart there.Good basic tutorial.

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Old 09-01-2015, 10:09 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dennis mn View Post
Next week, we will be using our Scamp without shore power for the first time in 12 years of ownership. I anticipate using only lights and the water pump. I just got a new battery for this trip. The first battery in the box in five years. I am looking forward to finding out how long I can read in the evenings.
You didn't mention it, but if you have LED lights you can read until the sun comes back up.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:35 AM   #14
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We do a lot of "Boondock" no hook-up camping. The simple solution is to buy a small, low noise "inverter" generator and use it to both charge your battery daily through the system in your travel trailer and to run your systems when the generator is in use. Schedule showers and other high power consumption activities for when you use the generator.

Some camping areas limit the number of hours and the times when generator use is allowed. This is enough time to keep everything charged if you plan accordingly.

Some generator choices might include a 1000 or 2000 watt Honda generator
or a Yahama generator of your choice (most costly of possible choices). To save some money you might select a nice quiet 2400 watt inverter generator from Harbor Freight Tools...in store or on line...@$499 it is a real value. If you want maximum power to run Air Comditioner and everything else you might consider a Champion 3,100 watt inverter unit. I own one and it is as quiet as a Honda and very reliable with a 2 year warranty with a service network. I purchased mine at a Cabelas store on sale for $749 however others have reported retail prices of as low as $699 via Internet sales. The great thing about a generator vs solar is you are not dependent on the sun shining and the ability to find a full sun campsite.
Most campgrounds pride themselves on providing shaded sites for camping comfort.
We have been doing this RV camping thing since 1985 and have always used a quiet generator. Avoid the loud "open-flame" cheaper "contractor-type" generators as they are too loud for use in any campground.

Happy Camping!
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