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Old 03-11-2009, 07:39 PM   #1
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I am thinking of dry camping in a couple of weeks here in Minnesota, but only if I will have enough battery power to run my furnace at night. Has anyone run their furnace all night, and how many nights use (if any) would I get out of a battery if charged at home on electricity for a day or two first.
My gut feeling is to not even try this, but to get a motel instead. Just thought I would ask in case it could work. Campgrounds in the area are not open yet.
Opinions appreciated. Thanks
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Old 03-11-2009, 08:23 PM   #2
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I am thinking of dry camping in a couple of weeks here in Minnesota, but only if I will have enough battery power to run my furnace at night. Has anyone run their furnace all night, and how many nights use (if any) would I get out of a battery if charged at home on electricity for a day or two first.
My gut feeling is to not even try this, but to get a motel instead. Just thought I would ask in case it could work. Campgrounds in the area are not open yet.
Opinions appreciated. Thanks

I would use the furnace only.
No fan=no power loss.
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:24 PM   #3
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I am thinking of dry camping in a couple of weeks here in Minnesota, but only if I will have enough battery power to run my furnace at night. Has anyone run their furnace all night, and how many nights use (if any) would I get out of a battery if charged at home on electricity for a day or two first.
My gut feeling is to not even try this, but to get a motel instead. Just thought I would ask in case it could work. Campgrounds in the area are not open yet.
Opinions appreciated. Thanks
Your furnace probably draws 3.5 Amps with the fan running and most of the furnaces that have fans don't have a manual fan disconnect. If you have a group 24 deep cycle battery it should provide about 80 Amp/hours of power when fully charged, but you shouldn't use more than half that because they shouldn't be discharged below 50 per cent. That gives you 40 amp/hours to play with, minus power to run lights, co detectors, water pump, radio or tv, etc. You might get away with one night. Turning the thermostat down means the furnace comes on less, and a good warm sleeping bag might allow an even lower setting. I used to be able to go two nights with our 13' Bigfoot, but now with a 16.5' trailer one night is all we expect. If we travel more than 6 hours each day the van will charge the trailer battery for another night, but if you travel less than 6 hours or stay put for a couple of days you're in trouble. If you find out the amperage draw for all your appliances and estimate the amount of time each will be used you can get a closer estimate. LED lights require 1/9 of the wattage of standard bulbs which is one place to make gains. Phantom loads on tv's and radios(lighted dials,clock, instant on feature) can be eliminated by installing an on/off switch but then you have to reset the clock every time you turn them back on. Getting an old furnace that was made before they started installing fans or using a catalytic heater has been discussed at length in the past on this forum. Solar panels and or a generator could help. If you throw enough time and money at it almost anything is possible. If possible try it out at home so you have a warm house to go to if things don't work out.
Bill
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Old 03-11-2009, 09:52 PM   #4
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...Campgrounds in the area are not open yet.
Google "winter camping in Minnesota". Several state parks have electric sites available in winter (e.g. Wild River State Park).

Good luck,

Pat
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Old 03-12-2009, 01:59 AM   #5
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A lot of heat will leak out your Trillium's slat Windows, so the furnace will have to work overtime to keep your trailer warm, and that will run your battery down faster. You might consider an alternative: Set your furnace thermostat to keep you warm for the night but fire up a Portable Buddy heater on "low" when you go to bed. The Portable Buddy puts out an amazing amount of heat for about 5 hours on a full cylinder. After that the furnace can kick in to keep you warm the rest of the night.

You'd also be well-advised to limit how much you use your lights -- a few hours with two 1156 light bulbs running will drain your battery down 25% -- or swap out the bulbs in your most-used lights with LED replacements that use 1/9th as much electricity.

Do those two things and a two or three night stay on a fresh group 24 battery sounds pretty reasonable.
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:05 AM   #6
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Karalyn,

If your talking about a Casita Spirit, your furnace is a 12,000 btu Suburban, the fan must run to operate it, there is no way to cheat. Mine draws 1.7 amps when running.

On a deep cycle battery in good condition and fully charged I can go 8-9 days on a charge with out door temps of 25 degrees in the night with 60 degree days.

If it were me in your situation, with good equipment, I would not push more than 2-3 days. Your longer run cycle times, more frequent run cycles and colder outdoor temps are a challenge...Also a colder battery would shorten the duration of an un-tethered life style in the bush. Unless you can charge the battery with the tug or generator every two days or connect to shore power you may consider the virtues of a motel and hot tub. The heater is one of the most frugal in the business amp draw wise...the cold is the problem. Also propane if the trailer is single tank equipped.

I am being admittedly conservative, my understanding is you are currently in a cold time of year.

Harry
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:18 PM   #7
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Karayln,
I don't know anything about the furnace, but I do know several of the Casino's are open year round for camping like Mystic Lake and Grand Casino Hinckley. I camped in my Scamp at Mystic Lake in November after they turned off the water. They do leave on the electricity and heated bathrooms are open. I used an electric heater. I'm not much for the Casino activities, but both listed here are near State Parks. The Old Barn Resort in Preston, MN opens April 1 for camping. A small theater company in Lanesboro uses off season Guthrie actors. Worth checking out. My suggestions unless you have your heart set on dry camping.

Brenda
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Old 03-13-2009, 09:45 PM   #8
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I am headed to Morton Mn to Jackpot Junction Casino for the Minnesota Pet Breeders two day Seminar April 3rd and 4th. at the Casino. The campground opens the following weekend (go figure!).
I can rent a room somewhere else in the area, but was hoping to camp there. Gee, I have a camper, and want to use it. I only need to sleep in it, as I will be in the casino all day both days.
This is a pet breeders seminar, and the casino is not allowing the dogs that will be used in demonstrations to even stay in the rooms.
Someone had a good idea, try camping in the back yard and see how long the furnace runs.(then pray it does so again that weekend).
I wanted an idea from others as to even if this was a practical idea. I know alot of you do dry camping, and even some camp in the colder weather. You would be the ones to know how long that battery would last to run that fan.
Yrs ago I had a pop up and the first night out (after buying it that very afternoon), the furnace only lasted until 5 AM. It was snowing. We about froze in that Starcraft pop up.
If I knew I could get 48 hours out of that furnace I would take the dogs and not worry. I would only need electricity to run the furnace, but electricity is turned on the following weekend at this casino.
I wanted to pick the brains of the experts here as to how long I might stay warm
Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:22 PM   #9
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My guess is you'll be fine if you have a good deep cycle battery. We spent 5 days in the Black Hills dry camping with our 16' Scamp where it got down to the 30's at night. We set the furnace at 55 degrees and only ran it at night. I think once during the week I connected the truck and let it idle for a half hour or so to charge the battery up a bit.

Pat
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:53 PM   #10
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Minnesota transplant to Florida, who now camps a lot in the mountains of NC and TN... Without deep cycle batteries, we got two or three days on the furnace if we were power misers (limited lights, tv, water pump, etc...), and set the furnace on minimum heat. With solar, good to go, even on snowy days, after the snow melted on the panels, we had plenty of charging power to carry us thru the high twenties at night...

We carry a little Honda 1000 to recharge the batteries if necessary. Sips gas, quiet, and hour or two will fix it all up if we need it because we've splurged on computer use or TV use to watch movies.
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Old 03-14-2009, 06:01 AM   #11
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I spent last all summer, dry campng, in my Boler.
I had 2 deep cycle batteries and a 15 watt solar panel.
Useing the heater in early may at night temps in the low 40's I would use one battery then change it and let that one charge all day with the solar panel useing the other battery the next night.
Come late September with temps dipping again into the 30's I did the same.
But this past winter with temps down to 0 and below the one battery did not keep the furnace going just one night and now I bring the Honda 1000 generator.
Gerry
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:51 AM   #12
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If you're looking for alternatives to the standard RV furnace, here's a good article:
Stay Warm With Alternative RV Heaters
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:31 AM   #13
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Hi, Kathryn. If you have the 12,000 BTU Suburban as someone suggests, then I would abandon hope of more than 6 hrs. before the battery loses just a tiny amount of juice and won't push open the sail valve on your furnace, preventing it from lighting.

We tried for 2 years to work with just the same problem (new super battery, new electronics, not using the battery for anything else, etc.), and have just removed the furnace and installed an Olympian Wav 3 catalytic furnace--easy to install and nothing needed to run except propane.


All the best!
Bruce Johnson
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Old 04-28-2009, 09:14 PM   #14
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Update,
After reading your replies, I decided to do the motel instead. I am glad I did as it got really cool and very windy that weekend. Thanks much for the replys everyone.
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