Jump to content

Boondocking without enough battery capacity


Recommended Posts

When boondocking, we all manage our power carefully because we all know what happens if our batteries go dead - the trailer is unusable for the most part.

How much capacity does one need?  That's a huge variable obviously.  Some folks need very little and some need a lot.  We have found that we need enough to survive that common 10 hour quiet period during the night when there's no solar or generators to help out.  Unfortunately, we have needed more than our 400Ah capacity that we have on several occasions this summer!  I know - there's other owners rolling their eyes right now thinking I'm crazy.  Needing more than 400Ah capacity doesn't happen often, but it has happened to us one too many times now.  The scenario is a hot, humid summer night where you can't sleep because of the heat and humidity.  In this case, we like to run our A/C occasionally to cool the cabin and our small dehumidifier constantly to keep the humidity / dewpoint around 60 (comfortable) - or just pack up and go home because sleep is pretty important.  🙂 In this situation we average around 40-45 Ah, so we need 400 - 450 available Ah.  Close for our batteries, but not quite.

I don't like to stay home just because it's too hot or too cold out...  or come home early from a trip for the same reason...  So I started pondering various solutions...

I contemplated upgrading to the new Lithionics 600 Ah lithiums that Oliver is now using, but they still cost nearly $5K EACH!!!  😞

I ultimately decided to use another pair of cheaper 100Ah lithium batteries that I recently purchased for the trolling motors on my boats (Ampere Time is the brand and it's been super good to me so far).  To do this I added a Renogy 20A DC to DC charger under my streetside bed right next to the batteries.  If I need to put some Ah into my main batteries during quiet hours, I just bring my Ampere Time lithiums out of my truck, put them in my basement and hook them up to my DC to DC charger before bed.  The Renogy delivers 150 out of 200 available Ah to my main batteries.  The loss is due to the inefficiency of the charger (10% loss) and I'm also running the Renogy microprocessor and fan off of the Ampere Time batteries (15% loss).  

Eventually I'm going to upgrade my LifeBlue batteries to something with more capacity - but I have literally "bought" some time to wait for prices to fall and technology to provide more capacity in a smaller footprint.

Of course one good thing may lead to another...  I'm thinking of putting a 40A Renogy DC to DC charger in the back of my truck now so I can charge my spare batteries while driving! 

All of this makes me feel like I'm catching up to @ScubaRxwith extra tricks (and things) to pack in my truck for camping trips!  🙂

 

  • Like 5

States Visited Map

2020 Elite II, Hull 688 --- 2021 Silverado 2500HD, 6.6L Duramax Diesel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As many of you know we don't Boondock and do not have a Solar System, if we did I would buy a Generator, something that would run the A/C if needed and power other things on the trailer. I guess my question here is why don't many have a Generator over Solar Power, is it the noise. The cost factor I would think is much less then Solar and the uses are many more. 

trainman

  • Like 2

Elite II, Twin Bed, Hull #489, 2019 RAM 1500, 5.7 Hemi, 4X4, Crew Cab, 5'7" bed, Towing Package, 3.92 Gears.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Trainman said:

I guess my question here is why don't many have a Generator over Solar Power, is it the noise.

Hi Trainman, 

For me, it is mostly the noise. Also having to keep fuel for the generator and the periodic maintenance. Solar definitely has it's own issues and difficulties though. I agree with you, a generator would be cheaper for me. 

Kirk

  • Like 2

Kirk and Carrie Peterson

Twin Falls, Idaho

2018 Ram 3500, 8 foot bed with overland conversion.

Elite 2 before the end of 2022!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Established primitive campgrounds that don't have electricity do have quiet hours like 10;00 PM to 8:00 AM. This is true of most National Parks in the West, they normally don't have any power available. When boondocking solo out in the woods or desert you can use a generator any time you like, even all night long. But if you have other campers close by, that isn't a good idea, or you might have somebody come visit for a heated debate, or to deliver a bullet to your generator 😉

Fortunately there are wide temperature swings where I camp and low humidity So a 100 degree day will probably get down into the 60s by the next morning. Irun the generator and AC all afternoon and into the evening long enough for the sun to drop or get shaded, then shut it off and open the windows in the middle of the night when the air has cooled a little. I would never want to boondock in sweltering humid weather.

Running your batteries all the way down and recharging counts as a full cycle. That takes a toll on their longevity, but for most Ollie owners a 3000 cycle life expectancy doesn't mean very much. For a home solar setup with daily full cycles, that is very important.

John Davies

Spokane WA

  • Like 5

"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Trainman said:

I guess my question here is why don't many have a Generator over Solar Power, is it the noise.

Batt Pack Energy - Extended Range

 Extended Range Package has 3.6 kWh of usable energy.

With an output of 4,000W (8,000W surge), it has 3,000+ cycles and a 5 hour rapid recharge to ensure you have access to clean, portable power when you need it most. The best investment in power you'll ever make, the Batt Pack Energy Extended Range will continue to perform optimally for 10-15 years with no maintenance.

Something like this, from Hybrid Power Solutions, is another option, although it is expensive. We use it primarily with our Overland rig, if we don't have a trailer with us (which we won't have until we get our E2 in December 2022). Although it is heavy, it has impressive power storage and can be fully charged in 5 hours from a 120 plug. You can also order them to use your alternator for charging or with a MC4 plug for up to 780 watts with the built in MPPT charge controller. The Batt Pack is also waterproof. 

Kirk

  • Like 3

Kirk and Carrie Peterson

Twin Falls, Idaho

2018 Ram 3500, 8 foot bed with overland conversion.

Elite 2 before the end of 2022!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Moderators

Generator noise is annoying, even the quiet inverter generators.  When we had AGMs there were only a couple of times our solar wouldn’t keep up, at Glacier and Grand Teton during some particularly dark and dreary fall days.  I fired up the generator for a few hours late afternoon to get our batteries back up to a respectable level.  We’ve had lithiums now for 18 months (300aH) and even on the cloudiest days they stay charged enough that I don’t have to worry about it.  I check the Blue Sky monitor and smile.  Solar is effortless.  Generators are work.  I can’t imagine being a serious boondocker without solar.  Mike

  • Like 5

Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

ALAZARCACOFLGAIDILKSKYLAMDMSMOMTNENVNMNYNCNDOHOKSCSDTNTXUTVAWVWYsm.jpgALAZARCACOCTDEFLGAIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...