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Old 08-31-2015, 03:26 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, 03:40 PM   #2
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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, 04:49 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, 05:49 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, 07:07 PM   #5
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battery life question

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

http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/s...ad.php?t=70923

Good luck! 😀

Ray




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Old 08-31-2015, 08:40 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, 08:52 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, 09:05 PM   #8
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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, 09:13 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, 09:32 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, 07:22 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, 08:40 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, 09:09 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, 08:35 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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Old 09-02-2015, 08:43 AM   #15
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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!
Purchasing a generator could be throwing money down the drain. More and more places are banning generators. There are dry camping campgrounds that no generators are allowed. Some places the generator useage is limited to 4 hours per day. Some have no generator areas, one place just increased the number of sites that are generator free by taking away sites that allowed 4 hours a day generator use. From my view point the trend is eliminate generator usage in all public campgrounds.

For the same amount a solar system can be purchased, a very nice solar system.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:26 AM   #16
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Byron, It is evident you do not like generators (even quiet ones). Your blanket statements about campgrounds prohibiting all generator use is questionable.
Every state, and National Parks I know of all allow the use of generators if they are quiet inverter types like the ones I outlined. These parks all have hours you can operate the units (about 4-6 hours daily split between AM and PM). This policy has always been in place to provide a pleasant camping atmosphere.
Please list for the readers of this form all the state and federal campgrounds that prohibit there use. To-date I have not found any such restrictions in both National Parks or State Parks I have camped in. If there is such a "trend" I am sure your list will be a very long one.

Generators for camping also come in handy for homeowner use in the off season in the event of a power failure...another big plus for generator ownership.
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Old 09-02-2015, 09:50 AM   #17
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You didn't mention it, but if you have LED lights you can read until the sun comes back up.
Changing all your lighting over to LED does indeed go a long ways in helping to preserve battery life & owning a small headlamp for reading into the wee hours of the morning will also help to ensure you have enough power to use the furnace as well to keep the trailer nice and warm as well.

While a generator works well at recharging your battery the current issue with the long term viability of getting many years of use out of the purchase cost of a generator is that due to their increasing unpopularity, the use of them has become increasingly restricted in most of NA. In some camping areas I have been (including a couple of back county spots) the use of a generator is not permitted at all - particularly during summer months.

To give you an example of how times have changed, here in BC most of our Provincial campgrounds do not have power. As a result 10 years ago generators where common place but not so much these days as people have shifted away from generator use and switched over to solar.

Its has come to the point that generators have become so unpopular that there are folks lobbying the provincial government to outlaw the use of generators during summer months in our Provincial parks completely, unless the camper has medical equipment that requires the use of a generator to power it. It would not surprise me at all if the powers that be were to decide in the not to distant future to put such a law into place.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:11 AM   #18
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These parks all have hours you can operate the units (about 4-6 hours daily split between AM and PM). This policy has always been in place to provide a pleasant camping atmosphere.
"Always" been in place Really? Hummm then how come while I was in Yellowstone as well as Death Valley a couple of years ago the first thing I was told by the park rangers was they had "new" more restrictive hours of use of generators that we needed to be aware of? They had lots of signs up in the registration area on the topic as well.

At check in at Yellowstone a staff member went so far as to tell me when I asked about the reason for the change in generator usage that the parks were getting so much public pressure on the topic it was their opinion that the new hours of use rules were just the beginning of the end of of generator usage in National Parks.

If your wishing to disprove Byron's position (one I happen to agree with) why not call all the National and state parks yourself and ask them what their usage policies were on generators 7 years go vs what they are today.
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:11 AM   #19
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The hummmmmm of generators running in a campground is much like that old statement "I love the smell of napalm in the morning", it's just doesn't add to the camping experience.


Add to that, the generator owner is then tethered to the campsite while the generator is running, not my idea of enjoying a stay in places like Yosemite or Yellowstone where the campsite is for eating and sleeping for most of us.


As mentioned, with a bit of solar power and a pair of good sized batteries, one can get by very well without a generator.


We were out for 30 days earlier this summer and had hook-ups only twice, and that was only because those were the only spaces available near Zion & Bryce Canyon NP's. As it turns out, we almost never stay where it's even available and get along fine with our twin battery system, and without solar.


How is taking showers a high power consumption activity? Most FGRV's have fairly limited water storage and the use of a shower wand with an ON/OFF squeeze handle is more common than not to conserve both water supply as well as gray water storage space, and it also minimizes pump run time to maybe 2-3 minutes per shower. But maybe it's different in stickys.


BTW: The specs "seem" to indicate that your Champion has an "Operational Volume" of 58dB without indicating the load or distance from the source for that measurement. So, I'm taking that as being the minimum noise level. The Honda's minimum noise level is 53 dB, or about 1/2 the sound pressure at a given distance.


When it comes to generators, it seems that those that sell for less seem to know what their product is worth.....



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Old 09-02-2015, 10:25 AM   #20
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You didn't mention it, but if you have LED lights you can read until the sun comes back up.

Sometimes I do just that.
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