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Sherritini 01-26-2017 09:20 AM

Battery Life When Boondocking
I am boondocking this weekend and need a little advice. I won't be using the frig, but would like hot water. So, I plan to use propane for hot water and making coffee in the mornings. My question is: how long can I run my Casita lights off the battery? Thanks in advance for any help/suggestions

John Linck 01-26-2017 09:44 AM

I would guess several nights with a bit of care, more if they are LEDs.

Have fun, john

Casita Greg 01-26-2017 10:05 AM

"Re-lamping" your lights with aftermarket LED's will save you a lot of power when compared to incandescent bulbs, but don't forget that your hot water heater, even on propane, will still use some of your battery's 12 VDC power for its control circuits, and to get your hot water you need to run the 12 volt water pump, which is also another power draw. Plus, you will also still have a few other small loads like the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors which consume a little power as well. And unless you pull the 12 VDC fuse, (not to be confused with turning off the 120 VAC circuit breaker,) for the fridge, you will still be using some of your battery power, because the fridge's control board is always on unless the fuse is pulled.

Enjoy your trip.

Gerry Kiernan 01-26-2017 10:31 AM

Definitely relamp your Casita with LED replacements. Also, if your fridge is a newer one, check to see if it has a freezer door seal heater to keep the door from freezing shut. This is typical on newer Dometic fridges. If it does, it runs on 12 volts, and runs constantly.It can draw your battery down in a couple of days. You can turn it off. Look for a slide switch in the top of the freezer compartment, just inside the door. Newer fridges also have a 12 volt control circuit, but it is fairly low draw. As far as I know, most propane water heaters do not draw on the battery as the controls are all mechanical. I do not know for sure about newer heaters.
Another big plus in extending your battery life is to invest in a solar panel and controller. I would suggest a minimum of 40 watts for limited use. These are better on a free standing rack that you can move about to orient toward the sun, as opposed to a roof mounted unit. Use a long extension cord, say 20 feet, so you have freedom of movement.

BARNEYCONE 01-26-2017 10:41 AM

you must pump that hot water

Casita Greg 01-26-2017 10:43 AM


Originally Posted by Gerry Kiernan (Post 624806)
As far as I know, most propane water heaters do not draw on the battery as the controls are all mechanical. I do not know for sure about newer heaters.

While a lot of the older ones were strictly mechanical, that is not true with the newer heaters. Even on propane they require 12 VDC to operate. They don't use much, but they won't work without it.

Gerry Kiernan 01-26-2017 10:46 AM


Originally Posted by BARNEYCONE (Post 624809)
you must pump that hot water

Very good point.

cmartin748 01-26-2017 11:06 AM

My water heater and my frige uhave no electronics and use zero power when boondocking.

jjohn 01-26-2017 11:08 AM

How long do you plan to boondock? We have a 16ft scamp and have been out for over 2 or 3 weeks mostly without available shore power. The longest in one location was 5 days and had no problems. We do have led lights, propane for fridge and let the furnace run on the cold nights too. Battery charged up between campgrounds driving 6 hrs or more. On longest time without power battery seemed to have at least a 50% charge.

Casita Greg 01-26-2017 11:11 AM


Originally Posted by cmartin748 (Post 624817)
My water heater and my fridge have no electronics and use zero power when boon-docking.

Your avatar doesn't say what year of trailer you have, but I'm guessing that you have an older trailer. Most all of the newer stuff is "electric dependent" to function. Something to be said for the simpler technology of the old days. It seems that the equipment manufacturers always feel the need to make things bigger and better, (read "more complicated") than they need to be.

ordjen 01-26-2017 11:22 AM

Today's RV's have so many parasitic electrical draws that it is hard to tract them all down. The simplest way to handle them is to install even a minimal solar system. This will not only increase your dry camping time, but insure that your battery remains topped off during long term idle periods.

Mike_L 01-26-2017 11:46 AM

it will depend on how much power you use. LEDs are a must. Turn off your water heater when you don't need it as the pump requires DC power. Most units will run 2 days on a good battery.

Gordon in Idaho 01-26-2017 12:24 PM

Sherri's question was: "how long can I run my Casita lights off the battery?" Making coffee can be as simple as a pot of water heated on the propane stove, filled from a jug.
Need more info for a good answer. Like how many lights, what type, what sort of battery? A modest array of LED lights can run for a very long time, powered by a decent battery.

If you're still concerned about it, you can always use a portable lantern. Candles are nice.

Have a great weekend!


Sherritini 01-26-2017 12:41 PM

As always, you all give me a lot to think about. My 2012 Casita and I will only be out three days. I will replace the bulbs today with LED's and definitely think about a solar system for longer stays. I was concerned because the last time I tried boondocking, I was running the frig, hot water, and not paying attention to how many lights I had on and lost power one and a half days in. This time I am going a little more prepared with your input and my trusty solar lamp. Thanks, again. Happy Trails! Sherri

Mary F 01-26-2017 12:48 PM

Sherritini - We always use the lights we need and turn them off when we're not actually using them, with a battery powered, fluorescent "lantern" for ambient lighting. That said, we also have a 3.1amp Solar panel, so I can't tell you how long your house battery will last. Just be very conservative, and I'm sure you will be fine. HAVE FUN!!

Mike_L 01-26-2017 01:15 PM

I spend all summer in the back country. I take a second battery and a generator but have never had to use either. I use 100 watt solar panels and they keep my battery charged just fine.

M Scott 01-26-2017 01:18 PM

I always carry a Luci inflatable solar light and a cell battery powered light. The Luci light provides adequate reading light. The Luci light is great for kayak/rafting trips, too.

Mike_L 01-26-2017 01:50 PM

Hi Marilyn, What is a Lici inflatable solar light, sound interesting?

M Scott 01-26-2017 02:15 PM

Luci Lights
The inflatable Luci light was developed to bring light to people in undeveloped regions that have no electricity...helps bring light to children trying to read. These small inflatable solar-power lights are small, collapsible and maintain a charge for a long time. I used my light on a camping trip, then inflated it several months later...still held a charge!

I gave them to my grandchildren for their backpacking trips. I attach my deflated luci light to my hat for charging during paddling, hiking, or place it on the dashboard of my car for charging. I also donated Luci lights through the above site. For backpacking, can't beat the weight!

WendyW 01-26-2017 04:30 PM

Sherritini, I live full time in my 2014 Casita 17' and have been boondocking in the Arizona desert since early November -- 2.5 months -- using only a 100 watt solar panel to charge my battery. I have LED lights and run my fridge, stove and furnace on propane. Since the furnace fan draws down the battery, I get pretty cold before I use it.

However, back to your question, once you have LED lights, you should have no trouble keeping your battery charged over a weekend. You might feel better if you had a 12v voltmeter that fits into your cigarette lighter plug. It tells you roughly how much charge you use with each thing you do (recharging my phone always shows on the voltmeter, for instance). After awhile you'll get used to how much charge each thing uses and you'll be able to relax and love on the great outdoors!


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