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Old 02-01-2021, 02:10 PM   #1
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Name: Bob
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More propane or extra battery?

I have a 1995 Bigfoot 17G with a single battery and two 5-gallon propane tanks outside the trailer on the hitch.

I mainly boondock and haven't put in a solar system yet even though I probably will.

It seems to me that a single propane tank lasts quite a long time while a single battery can run down fairly quickly.

So, I am wondering about removing one of the propane tanks and adding a second battery. If I were to do that, I would likely install 2 6-v batteries in series.

If you have made this change, please let me know how you like it.

If you haven't made this change, please share your thoughts about it.

Thanks to all in advance.
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Old 02-01-2021, 03:32 PM   #2
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Both

It sounds like you need more of both in my opinion.
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Old 02-01-2021, 04:00 PM   #3
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I vote both

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobblangley View Post
So, I am wondering about removing one of the propane tanks and adding a second battery. If I were to do that, I would likely install 2 6-v batteries in series.
On my Scamp, I have both the two LP tanks and two batteries along with a solar panel and I carry a Honda 2200 as a backup , but if you do not have the room I'd go for two batteries. A furnace fan can really drain a battery. I had some space problems and had to move some things and get rid of the crank jack. ( I have never NEEDED the Honda on the road but Have used it for short tests and microwaving left overs.)
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Old 02-01-2021, 04:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
A furnace fan can really drain a battery.

Keeping in mind that if you have no propane, your furnace fan won't be running.
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Old 02-01-2021, 04:13 PM   #5
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Dead battery first

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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Keeping in mind that if you have no propane, your furnace fan won't be running.
As built, mine could kill the battery over a weekend but not empty a tank.

I did change over to tanks with float gauges, when mine say empty, they still have some gas. The best way is to pick them up and see how heavy they are.
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Old 02-01-2021, 04:33 PM   #6
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propane lasts a long time but when your out you have no heat. solar helps with the battery issue and hooking up the car and running the car will get you emergency power. as long as you have a back-up plan you are covered. single propane tank has no immediate back up plan. if you out in the sticks and have to go get propane the next day means you freeze all night. Just depends how much your going to suffer when its cold out. take the money for a second battery and buy a quiet generator.
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Old 02-01-2021, 08:47 PM   #7
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We have 2 20lb tanks and an m31 house battery for more capacity
Stove uses no pwr, fridge uses no pwr, hot water tank very little pwr, furnace is 0.5amps so not much, the water pump is over the top and lights use some but can go days on a charge. Seems propane is in need though fridge and furnace are a must also like to have running water. Battery is 61lbs The tanks and battery are needed to get tongue weight to required 8 to 9 percent for towing but second battery would be heaver than a tank.
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Old 02-01-2021, 08:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC0GV View Post
As built, mine could kill the battery over a weekend but not empty a tank.

I did change over to tanks with float gauges, when mine say empty, they still have some gas. The best way is to pick them up and see how heavy they are.
like the tank!
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Old 02-01-2021, 09:41 PM   #9
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Try to figure out a way to add another battery and keep the two propane tanks. Get a 100 watt suitcase solar to charge those two batteries and you'll be much better off. Two batteries is pretty much the minimum for boondocking and expecting to run the heat, or having enough power for other things. And having two, means they will generally be discharged less, so they'll last longer.

I think you need another battery and a suitcase solar. Keep the two propane tanks.

You can also almost double your battery capacity, in the same space, by going to lithium. This is because they can be discharged much farther than lead acid, without damage. A 100 amp/hour lead acid has about 50 amp/hours of actual power. A 100 amp/hour lithium has about 95 amp/hours of useable power, in the same size box.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:32 AM   #10
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Maybe the front cowling on your '95 is smaller, but I was able to mount 2 form 24 batteries in my '02 along with the two propane tanks. That made for a good boondocking setup. Especially when I then added a 100w solar panel.


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Old 02-02-2021, 11:47 AM   #11
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Here is another way of looking at it -

I am pulling my trailer with a full-size pickup with an 8' bed covered with a shell so there's is plenty of room to store an extra propane tank in the truck.

I do worry a bit, though, about the smell that seems to be associated with some propane tanks.
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Old 02-02-2021, 11:49 AM   #12
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Maybe the front cowling on your '95 is smaller, but I was able to mount 2 form 24 batteries in my '02 along with the two propane tanks.
Would you mind telling me exactly where you located the batteries?

Do have any concerns about the extra weight on the tongue?

Thanks.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:24 PM   #13
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I no longer have the Bigfoot but the two batteries were mounted on a metal plate welded across the frame and directly in front of the two propane tanks. All under the cowling.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:27 PM   #14
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Sorry I don't have the details any more but I did make sure the tongue weight was within the usual recommended specs. And I never had any towing problems.
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Old 02-02-2021, 12:27 PM   #15
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Battery / Propane

I have a group 31 battery which I installed last year. This made a significant difference in the availability of power. We have two propane tanks and have an 80W solar panel mounted to the roof of the Casita 17 SD. The solar panel recharges the battery on an average day in four hours. When we have a cloudy day it can take eight hours. With the number of people camping last year, boondocking is the way to go if you want to be away from people.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:00 PM   #16
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I've never trusted either the float or pressure type gauges. Some times they work and some times they don't. Lifting the tank can give you a rough idea of content although this necessitates removing the tank from its holding device.
Pour some hot water over the side of your tank. The portion of the tank above the level of liquid propane in the tank will warm up. The portion of the tank below the level of liquid propane in the tank will remain cold. The interface between the warm and cold areas indicates the propane level inside the tank.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:17 PM   #17
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Raspy, I've been looking at the lithium batteries because of their high energy density. I boondock exclusively and often leave my unit unattended but can't leave my batteries and tanks unattended for security reasons. I wouldn't install a FLA inside my unit but lithium seems it may be an option, especially with solar panels. I don't know cost south of the border but up here lithium batteries are quite expensive. Agreed, FLA should not be discharged past 50% capacity but this isn't a factor for lithium??? Maybe when the price comes down I'll try lithium.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:25 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Mike_L View Post
I've never trusted either the float or pressure type gauges. Some times they work and some times they don't. Lifting the tank can give you a rough idea of content although this necessitates removing the tank from its holding device.
Pour some hot water over the side of your tank. The portion of the tank above the level of liquid propane in the tank will warm up. The portion of the tank below the level of liquid propane in the tank will remain cold. The interface between the warm and cold areas indicates the propane level inside the tank.

Pressure gauges only indicate pressure. It has nothing to do with the liquid level. The tank could have a few drops of liquid, or be full, and still read a normal pressure. The pressure is variable according to the temperature. The temperature is variable according to how fast the liquid is vaporizing to feed a burner, which cools it, as well as the ambient temperature. The only gauge that makes much sense is the float type, or the tank surface thermometers that read liquid level.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:28 PM   #19
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Propane has little odor so the manufacturer adds mercaptan, an odorant, so that leaks can be detected. Propane should never be stored in an enclosed containment unless it is ventilated. If you detect an odor you have a leak. Is there sufficient gas to cause an explosion, hard to say without a gas monitor. Even a slow leak can accumulate over time and over time, leaks usually get bigger, not smaller.

Propane is heavier than air and will accumulate in lower areas so concentrations can vary in different areas.
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Old 02-02-2021, 03:46 PM   #20
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Every time I head into the back country I ask myself how much propane and how much battery power I'm likely to need. I usually take twice my estimate just in case. These numbers change depending where I'm going, how long I'm staying and of course the season of the year.
I've converted to solar and LED to reduce demands.
I've often used multiple batteries but since installing the solar panels I've never had to use more than one. I have two tanks on the tongue and sometimes have to go into the second one. After a few trips these things become obvious. Until then, too much is better than not enough. Once you figure out these numbers there are several options you can select to meet your needs.
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