How long will battery last... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-25-2015, 02:11 PM   #1
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How long will battery last...

I realize the answers will be very subjective, but in general: can anyone give their best estimate of how long a fully charged battery will last when its main use is to power the furnace at night? We may use a light here & there, & the pump to the sink. We have the original Suburban furnace in our 1992 Scamp. I'm basically wondering if it will die after a few days or can last a couple weeks. Thank you!
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Old 07-25-2015, 04:48 PM   #2
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My fully charged battery powers the furnace all night.
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Old 07-25-2015, 04:49 PM   #3
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Short answer: a few days, at best.

The typical size 24 battery in our campers is rated at 80 amp hours. As the battery ages, this goes down. The typical furnace takes about 4 amps while running. Add a few amp-hours here and there for lights, water pump and other uses, and your daily electricity usage in the camper can be 20 amp hours or more.

Have a plan on what to do should your battery not be able to run the furnace, and go enjoy your camper!

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Old 07-25-2015, 04:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
My fully charged battery powers the furnace all night.
Hardy har har
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Old 07-25-2015, 04:58 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dan Meyer View Post
Short answer: a few days, at best.

The typical size 24 battery in our campers is rated at 80 amp hours. As the battery ages, this goes down. The typical furnace takes about 4 amps while running. Add a few amp-hours here and there for lights, water pump and other uses, and your daily electricity usage in the camper can be 20 amp hours or more.

Have a plan on what to do should your battery not be able to run the furnace, and go enjoy your camper!

--Dan Meyer
Thanks for your insight! Our battery is only a couple years old & rated at 101 amps. Not that that gives us much more use!
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Old 07-25-2015, 05:20 PM   #6
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What we do on really cold nights is to just add another down comforter and turn the furnace OFF. In the morning, I have the thermostat right next to the bed and sneak out a hand to turn the furnace back ON. Or you could use a programmable thermostat to do that as well.


The furnace is a power hog and, unless you have a good battery and a smart charger, one overnight may be about all you get.


As an alternative, bring lots of dogs to pile on the bed with you for that "Three Dog Night" as the Aussies say.... LOL



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Old 07-25-2015, 07:02 PM   #7
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The furnace is the biggest battery hog and the biggest propane hog on most trailers. If you are traveling, then you could set your TV up to charge while going down the road. If you travel a reasonable distance each day then you should have a fully charged battery every night.
We have a group 27 battery and we use power with impunity, including an inverter for watching DVDs.
If you are boondocking and your battery is starting to run low then you could use jumper cables for about half an hour at an idle from your TV to recharge.
We have boondocked for up to 5 days with moderate conservation of water and energy.
I would be sure and have plenty of propane and fully charged battery if you plan more than a couple nights which require heat.
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Old 07-25-2015, 07:36 PM   #8
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Thanks guys! Sounds like the general consensus is 1 mayyyybe 2 nights? I'm shocked it's so few so I'm glad I asked you vets. We will not be traveling much & basically boondocking it. Is there any concern with recharging via jumper cables from the TV? I've heard of people doing it, just not sure if it's not great for the batteries?
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Old 07-25-2015, 07:44 PM   #9
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There are propane heaters that can extend your off grid time quite a bit, such as the Olympia Wave heaters that use no electric. And solar is a great option to get a daily charge on the battery when no shore power is available.

Using jumper cables does carry some risk so its not something I would want to do regularly, and I would be sure to do so safely.. paying attention to the explosion risk from off gassing for example.

Stand by, because someone will challenge that statement.. but its a fact there is some risk under the right conditions. In fact the response will probably be that off gassing occurs when charging, so if you are not charging your battery then there is no? risk.. I'm not going to get in a discussion of the safety of using jumper cables all the time. The risk is minimal but not totally absent.. that's my last word.

EDIT: I should add that its not recommended to run the Wave heaters while sleeping.. but using the quilt / 3 dog ideas, and running in the morning when you get up works!
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:12 PM   #10
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Good thoughts Gordon. We have considered a Little Buddy heater that just runs off propane & is safe in confined spaces. We are traveling with a toddler so lack of heat becomes more of an issue than I previously would have given thought to! All your safety precautions are duly noted!!
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:22 PM   #11
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Carbon Monoxide poisoning is also more of an issue with a toddler. More than lack of heat.
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:26 PM   #12
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The way I have my trailer set up in the summer when the furnace doesn't run it will last without a recharge for about 2 months. With the furnace running in the mornings for about 5 minutes I can go almost a month. If the if the furnace needs to run more I'll have to recharge in about 2 weeks.

Now to describe my set up, All lights are LED except two CCFL lights under the overhead kitchen cabinets (CCLF bulbs are what is used in your lap top computer). The most used LED lights are modified to be 2 light levels, on the low level, which you can read by, the amount of current used is about 30 miliamps each.

The only other thing the battery runs is the furnace fan and full time propane detector.

I recently replaced the battery with a Trojan 100 amp/hour true deep cycle battery group 24.

I carry a small 50 amp/hour battery in the back of my truck, which is for recharging Kendles, computer, etc. along with running my ham radio when I use it. That one I keep charged with a 65 Watt solar panel when it gets a bit low.
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:28 PM   #13
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Carbon Monoxide poisoning is also more of an issue with a toddler. More than lack of heat.
I would say it's an issue at any age! If you are referring to the portable heaters, they are made nowadays to prevent such an issue. Thank you for your concern! We used one before & considered opening a window out of instilled fear, which became counter-productive
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:36 PM   #14
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Go for it.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:21 PM   #15
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Although we have camped in cool weather and used the furnace in the escape 19 liberally, we are also usually on the move during the day so we got a daily recharge off the tow. We decided the best way for us to operate was to install solar (150 watt). This gives us the ability to stay in no services areas as long as the water holds out. For an emergency, I'd lot rather haul a second battery than rely on a Little Buddy, I have one that I use outside when tailgating in the fall and know they are designed to shut down when an oxygen deficiency occurs but I just can't bring myself to trust that little sucker. Lots of mornings we use a cube heater to take the chill off, course you have to have AC for that.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:32 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by NedMac View Post
Good thoughts Gordon. We have considered a Little Buddy heater that just runs off propane & is safe in confined spaces. We are traveling with a toddler so lack of heat becomes more of an issue than I previously would have given thought to! All your safety precautions are duly noted!!
We have used our Little Buddy heater with good success, A one pound cylinder won't last all night on high but it will if it is turned down some.
Under most conditions it is fine, but we were retrieving a camper which had all the insulation removed. It got cold at night and we were barely warm enough on high, then we woke up freezing when it ran out of fuel in under four hours.
In an insulated trailer in milder weather it does much better.

If you want to be warm and not waste too much fuel, then make window covers (reflextix is a good choice) otherwise the cold just cascades off the windows.
Also , as counterintuitive as it sounds.... Never sleep in a heated fiberglass trailer without cracking the roof vent just a little(even a quarter inch) to carry some of the condensation out.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:39 PM   #17
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We used one before & considered opening a window out of instilled fear, which became counter-productive
You may want to read the manual that cames with them - apparently the manufactures also have fears. Or at least the fine print on all of the ones made by a couple of different popular manufactures I considered purchasing recently certainly did
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:53 PM   #18
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Condensation makes it damp and damp makes it seem colder that is for sure. I would look into a modest solar panel attach a controller to the back and a set of plugs to attach it to at the battery.


Might be talking a little over a hundred dollars. Or maybe just under. Nice to have a 100 watt or better solar set up but even a 40 or 50 watt panel can extend your camping duration. You may not get the battery back to 100% charge but if you replace even 50% of your usage and battery without solar lasts 2 days now it will last 3. Or instead of running out of power on the second day now you can go for two full nights and days.

Just because I have no idea of the knowledge level of the OP or who might read this in the future I'll mention that when plugged into power at a campground most campers will run the furnace off of a converter and keep the battery charged. So the battery won't run down at all.

Wear a stocking cap and socks to bed, good insulating covers and the certain knowledge that eskimo toddlers did not freeze. Then kick the heat on in the morning.

This may seem counter intuitive but don't over dress in bed clothes. Your body heat is what heats the space under the covers. Bundled in clothes even a down sleeping bag won't get warm. Long johns, stocking cap, dry socks and a good winter bag are what I used in a tent at -10 and while getting up to take a leak was a tribulation I slept warmly.
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Old 07-25-2015, 11:58 PM   #19
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exploding batteries....in the real world....

I have had batteries explode right in front of me TWICE (ten years apart)....both times the batteries had been completely discharged quickly (not supposed to do that to our deep cycle batteries but that is beside the point...this is what to expect when a battery explodes)

in one instance I was removing 6 six volts batteries out of a golf cart type vehicle to put them on charge and load charged batteries into the vehicle for the second half of its daily run time....I was in a hurry....I set the dead batteries on the ground, hooked up all the connecting cables to them...but in my haste i did not fully tighten all the wingnuts...then I hooked up the charger and turned it on....one of the "sort of loose" wingnuts created a spark and I heard the loudest bang I have ever heard in my life...the rest is a bit of a blurr....while I was standing there, reeling sort of....four coworkers tackled me and carried me over to a garden pond that happened to be close by....and almost drowned me in it trying to "save" me!!!...what they saw when the big bang happened was me standing there getting drenched by an upward spray of battery acid....I survived, my clothes didn't and I had a ringing in my ears for 24 hours...

the second time, I was managing a gas station when a guy in an old beater car gassed up and had a dead battery at the pumps when he went to leave...and we had a line-up at the timeno less.....I grabbed our battery on wheels with permanently attached jumper cables that we kept for such "occasions".....poppped the hood hooked up postive to positive and the neg to neg....(ok so you're never supposed to do that....always go for a ground away from the battery as you last hook-up...but I was in a hurry to get the guy out of there and this time I didn't).....and the battery blew up !!! turns out the guy had jury rigged this beater so many times that he actually had a red heavy gauge wire as a negative conductor to his battery and a black one to his positive!!!!! that spark was a good one! you get suspicious when you get two black wires to a battery..but this set-up looked "legit" at first glance...

so BIG, BIG BANG.....battery caps, if present, will shatter and fly about.....the battery itself doesn't move....it's jacket splits in a nano second and releases all the energy
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:43 AM   #20
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so BIG, BIG BANG.....battery caps, if present, will shatter and fly about.....the battery itself doesn't move....it's jacket splits in a nano second and releases all the energy[/QUOTE]

Wow.....you have an explosive history. You were lucky that your friends and pond were there.
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