Monday, November 14, 2016

Post-Boondocking Notes

So we survived our first boondocking or "dry camping" trip in Uma the URRV this past weekend.

The view of the sunrise as we left the national forest Sunday morning

Boondocking, or dry camping, is the name given to camping in an RV/Motorhome without having hookups for electricity, water and sewer as when one stays at an RV Park.

We'd gone to a dispersed camping location just inside the border of the Pike National Forest in Park County, CO just 8 miles or so south of the town of Jefferson.

We wanted to find out:

1.  Can our single 125 Amp Hour Deep Cycle last us through the night to provide power for keeping all our electronics charged, to include running the weBoost cellphone signal booster,  the Ubiquity WiFi Access Point, interior lights and run the refrigerator, water heater and furnace?

2.  How much propane is used?

3.  How long, given what we thought was frugal water usage, would the fresh water tank last us?



Note.  All our lights inside are LED (ten of them on draw only 1.05A and we didn't have more than say 4 on at any time).

The recently installed 600 Watt Pure Sine Inverter kept all our electronics powered/charged while drawing about 3.5 Amps.  It could even power the TV but being out in the boonies, there was no reception so we didn't use it (it rose to about 5.3A when used)  The inverter itself draws .3A with no load so one should turn it off when not using it.

The refrigerator switches automatically from electric power (when on shore power) to propane refrigeration and coach battery (DC Volts) when there's no shore power.  Stuff stayed cold and the amp draw was .68-.80 Amps.

The furnace and its associated blower fan were, as expected, the major consumer of DC electricity.  Drawing 7.1-7.3 amps when in operation.  It would cut in for about five minutes about 4-5 times an hour, kept the inside of the motorhome in the low 60s Fahrenheit and worked the whole night.

First night (after driving from home to campsite), I forgot to record start voltage, and end voltages(12 hrs on battery) as I had to troubleshoot why the car charger wasn't working....turned out to be tripped GFI circuit in the bathroom.  (1 light in control panel for battery status)

I charged the coach battery for 4 hours during the day to prepare the battery for the second night's usage.

Second night, starting at 1730 hrs with 12.86V, the battery was at 11.02V the next morning around 6:30 AM. ( agani, 1 light in control panel for battery status)

Though I am sure the 11.02 Volts still registering on the coach battery were provided a bit of recharge by just driving home, here's what it looked like to the charger's meter when I started to recharge it using house power:

As I read it, the battery is at about 25-30% charge and
the charger is pushing 10Amps at the time I took the picture.

I need to keep better records next time I go boondocking.  Bottom line though, the one deep cycle battery can provide power for one night!

Update: Per the battery manufacturer, one should only go down to 80% discharge which is about 12.17V.  By doing the above repeatedly, I am shortening the life of the battery in terms of discharge cycles.  More on this to follow.


The two nights cost us almost half of our propane supply.  We started out at the full mark and this is what the gauge reported the morning we broke camp:

The propane tank is a 56 lb tank which converts to 13.2 gallons of propane which is 80% of the 16.5 gallon capacity of the tank.  You're not supposed to exceed 80% when filling propane tanks.

Fresh Water.

We did however, run out of fresh water the last night of camping.  I have to make sure the 38 gallon fresh water tank is really full next time.  Apparently stopping the tank's fillup when I saw the idiot lights turn to Full proved premature.  Whatever was there wasn't enough even with frugal use of water for cleaning, dish washing and using the toilet.

I had been worried about overfilling and causing some seal to fail you see.  Once I got her home, I filled up the fresh water tank again, after consulting with RichardM, and lo and behold, there's an overflow drain tube when the tank is full.  Now I know.

Regardless, next time, we'll probably either carry a case of water bottles or the five gallon jug of water I bought for camping last year, as a reserve.

On Sunday morning, the fresh water tank reported empty, both the gray and black water tanks reported two lights each respectively (1/3 full).

I drained all the water lines and the fresh water tank, I'll empty the gray and black tanks tomorrow before parking her in the storage yard until the next trip.


RichardM said...

So, when is the next trip? And did you both enjoy the non-glamping experience?

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, maybe around Thanksgiving....or perhaps I might go solo for a few days into the mountains. I think we both did enjoy it.

Learning to Golf said...

Test runs are your friend. Especially when just learning the rig. Are you going to add solar to the setup?

redlegsrides said...

Solar is a possibility AZ AD but for now the ROI ain't there....

SonjaM said...

This is a fascinating topic, and it certainly depends on a more factors, such as weather, temperature and maybe a water body nearby. So there will be a lot fodder for test runs, and I am looking forward to hearing more about it.

As much as I like boon docking, given the size of the vehicle that we had at our disposal, the frequent visit of campgrounds became mandatory. The bathroom in the camper van was way too small for comfort.

redlegsrides said...

Glad the subject interests you SonjaM.

Based on results, now thinking of bypassing the onboard forced air furnace (very inefficient and uses minimum of 7A of electricity to run for the blower) and using a catalytic propane heater instead.

The catalytic uses no electricity, claimed 99% efficient in propane usage vice claims as low as 50% efficiency for onboard furnace system.

More to follow.

Trobairitz said...

It sounds as though you gained a lot of info on the trip.

I didn't realize there were so many things to consider when boon docking.

redlegsrides said...

Trobairitz, this RV phase of my riding is feeding into the OCD part of me that tends to obsess over details and fixes to perceived problems....real or not.

So it's all good! I believe I've found a solution to the power requirements issue. More to follow.

Oz said...

There is a lot to learn with RV's. Sounds like you guys had a great trip. More coming in the future I am sure.

redlegsrides said...

You can bet on it Thomas Osburn! Thanks for commenting.