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Old 10-02-2019, 09:25 AM   #1
Calbrewguy
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Boondocking with residential frudge

Just bought my first fifth wheel. It's a Montana High Country 353RL. It has a residential fridge which only runs on electric through an inverter. I have solar panels which keep the batteries topped up pretty well. I need advice on what it will take equipment wise to boondock for periods up to a couple weeks at a time. This is also my first post. I've really enjoyed reading on this site. Thanks in advance for any help you all can give me. Hope I didn't buy the wrong coach.
Randy
 
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Old 10-02-2019, 09:34 AM   #2
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We'll need to know the size of your Battery Bank, amount of Solar you have, and if you have a small generator to recharge the batteries when lack of Sun Shine.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:06 AM   #3
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Randy,

Welcome to the forum! This is a great place to learn and share.

For the electrical side of boondocking here are my recommendations:

-Determine how much electric power you want to use on a daily basis by building a power budget. There are several good sources to help with this. Here is a place to start .

-Start with your battery bank. I would not go smaller than the amp hours you decided you need for 24 hours. For lead acid or AGM batteries you never want to go below 50% of your capacity so if you plan to use 250 AH then you need a battery bank of at least 500 AH. You can also go with Lithium batteries at a much higher cost but allow you to use 80% or more of their capacity.

-Your solar should be able to recharge your battery bank with 5-6 hours of good sun.

-You will still want a generator for long periods of cloudy days or to run your a/c.

This explanation is a little oversimplified - take the time to read and study more before starting to buy or install things.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:26 AM   #4
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If all you want to do is power the fridge for boondocking then you can getaway with a relatively small inverter and adequate batteries with an appropriately sized solar array or modest generator. If you want to power more items for convenience you should really determine what your loads needs will be so you can have a target to design around.
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Old 10-03-2019, 10:49 AM   #5
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Thank you all for your quick responses! I've got some home work to doso I'll be getting back with you all. Happy comping, Randy
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Old 10-28-2019, 12:39 PM   #6
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I have the Residential Samsung refrigerator in our 2017 3721 montana. I monitor around 16 to 18 amp hours per hours at night to maintain the refrigerator. This is using my 3012 Magnum Hybrid inverter. So it is powering the whole Rv at night and has some small ghost draws. So for my conservative calculations I use 20 amp hours per hour to run the refrigerator. Yes my ice make is on also.

I see an additional 10 Amp hours per hour watching TV and LED lights at night. Plus making coffee in the morning and 10 mins microwave. We live in this full time.

I used 20 amp hour x 24 hours of no power to calculate a bare minimum for 480 amp hours for just refrigerator. So I used 30 amp hours for 24 hours for total house living. That is 720 amp hours per hour. Since lithium batteries can be drawn down 80% 900 amp hour battery was what I put in. They weighted in at 250 pounds for the three 300 amp hour batteries.

Note lead acid batteries can only be drawn 45% to 50% without doing damage.


My five 265 watt solar panels can not fully charge my batteries each day so I have a pair of Honda 2000 generators that can top off 500 amp hours in about six hours through the magnum 3012 inverter. So every other to third day I have to top off.

I did keep the small dedicated inverter for the refrigerator and use it like the propane backup for RV refrigerator.

I hope this helps. Safe Travels.

John
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Old 10-29-2019, 09:21 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by H. John Kohl View Post
I have the Residential Samsung refrigerator in our 2017 3721 montana. I monitor around 16 to 18 amp hours per hours at night to maintain the refrigerator. This is using my 3012 Magnum Hybrid inverter. So it is powering the whole Rv at night and has some small ghost draws. So for my conservative calculations I use 20 amp hours per hour to run the refrigerator. Yes my ice make is on also.

I see an additional 10 Amp hours per hour watching TV and LED lights at night. Plus making coffee in the morning and 10 mins microwave. We live in this full time.

I used 20 amp hour x 24 hours of no power to calculate a bare minimum for 480 amp hours for just refrigerator. So I used 30 amp hours for 24 hours for total house living. That is 720 amp hours per hour. Since lithium batteries can be drawn down 80% 900 amp hour battery was what I put in. They weighted in at 250 pounds for the three 300 amp hour batteries.

Note lead acid batteries can only be drawn 45% to 50% without doing damage.


My five 265 watt solar panels can not fully charge my batteries each day so I have a pair of Honda 2000 generators that can top off 500 amp hours in about six hours through the magnum 3012 inverter. So every other to third day I have to top off.

I did keep the small dedicated inverter for the refrigerator and use it like the propane backup for RV refrigerator.

I hope this helps. Safe Travels.

John
Great information there. Thank you very much.
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:06 PM   #8
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I've upgraded

Quote:
Originally Posted by Calbrewguy View Post
Just bought my first fifth wheel. It's a Montana High Country 353RL. It has a residential fridge which only runs on electric through an inverter. I have solar panels which keep the batteries topped up pretty well. I need advice on what it will take equipment wise to boondock for periods up to a couple weeks at a time. This is also my first post. I've really enjoyed reading on this site. Thanks in advance for any help you all can give me. Hope I didn't buy the wrong coach.
Randy

Since my original post I've upgraded my solar system to include 530 Watts of panels, 4 new 6V AGM (224AHr for 896 AHr total) and a new 30A solar controller. I will add a 3000W sine wave inverter. For back up I have a 4000W portable generator. My solar guy said when we add the inverter it will be whole house and we will eliminate the inverter dedicated to the fridge. One of the kind people who responded to my first post said he would leave the dedicated inverter as a backup to use as a substitute for a propane backup. Sounds good to me but I don't know if that can be done. I don't really want to trash an operable piece of equipment.
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Old 06-10-2021, 09:27 PM   #9
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Randy,

Nice setup. Your battery bank is 896 AH at 6v, running it at 12 v your AH are cut in half.

Make sure that you install a hybrid inverter such as Magnum or GoPower - it will allow you to use a smaller genny to run your a/c. Also may want to consider adding soft starts to your a/c units.
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Old 06-11-2021, 04:17 AM   #10
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I have the Fridge inverter 1000W and the whole house inverter 3000W. My battery monitor Victron 712 or a Smart Shunt tells me I am using over twice what the refrigerator draws when the house inverter is on all the time. I am glad I have both. If you do not have something to monitor the Amp Hour current draw I highly recommend it also. Battery voltage is not accurate readings. AGM batteries can only be drawn half way without doing damage so your usable amp hours is just under 450 amp hours usable. Here is a good article on battery usage and charging.
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Old 06-11-2021, 05:20 AM   #11
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Actually, I think what AZ Traveller was saying is that two 224 AH 6 volt batteries paired together to make 12 volts would only supply 224 AH @ 12 volts, not the 448 AH @ 6 volts. Amp Hours are cut in half when voltage is doubled. With that, your battery bank, wired for 12 volts, will supply 448 AH @ 12 volts, not 896 AH. With 448 AH bank and only 50% draw down, that leaves you 224 AH total usable battery. That's a lot of battery power and also a lot of weight.
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Old 06-11-2021, 09:14 AM   #12
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Randy,

Nice setup. Your battery bank is 896 AH at 6v, running it at 12 v your AH are cut in half.

Make sure that you install a hybrid inverter such as Magnum or GoPower - it will allow you to use a smaller genny to run your a/c. Also may want to consider adding soft starts to your a/c units.
Yes it will be Go Power and I will use the soft starts. Thank you.
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Old 06-11-2021, 09:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by H. John Kohl View Post
I have the Fridge inverter 1000W and the whole house inverter 3000W. My battery monitor Victron 712 or a Smart Shunt tells me I am using over twice what the refrigerator draws when the house inverter is on all the time. I am glad I have both. If you do not have something to monitor the Amp Hour current draw I highly recommend it also. Battery voltage is not accurate readings. AGM batteries can only be drawn half way without doing damage so your usable amp hours is just under 450 amp hours usable. Here is a good article on battery usage and charging.
I have a Trimetric 2030 monitor. Thanks for the info.
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Old 06-11-2021, 02:12 PM   #14
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Well, I suppose my approach would be different (IF) I had solar installed. First, before going out and purchasing a bunch of new batteries and a whole lot of equipment, try your first round of boom-docking at home in the drive way. Just test out the solar you have and the batteries you have and see what they do first. Your current set-up may work pretty good for you and you really don't need to do anything. On the other hand, it may absolutely stink.

What I'm trying to say is, before investing a bunch of money into something that may not benefit your needs (like air conditioning), test it out at home first and get a base-line of what you need.

If, then, at home you find yourself uncomfortable in the camper, you'll know which direction to go.

Personally, considering you already have solar set up, I'd invest in a generator next so the air conditioners can be run. (but that's just me).

But the first approach is to try it first and see what happens. The comfort of your own driveway gives you the opportunity to plug back in immediately if you loose too much power, the battery runs too low, or you simply cannot exist without air conditioning hooked up to AC power somewhere?

You may find (in a safe and comfortable environment) the solar panels do wonderful for keeping the battery charged, and thus keeping the refrigerator running. But maybe there might not be enough power to run something else, like slide-outs, or the stabilizer jacks by the 3rd day of not having shore power.

You may find under this arrangement, your current set-up is perfectly fine, but you would be better to invest in a generator to supplement battery charging and running the air conditioner(s).

If you are not able to do an extended drive-way camp, then go to a state park for a week-end and simply do not plug into electricity. See how well you (and your camper) does. Then you'll know for sure what's really needed.
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Old 06-11-2021, 07:49 PM   #15
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A residential fridge is a power hog for boondocking. Sell off panels that aren't at least 350 watts. Real estate on the roof is a premium and is no place for cheap panels. Next is storage. You'll need batteries that costs so much you'll feel like you are paying for power in California. After all that you'll have cold food unless you park under that nice shade tree.
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Old 06-11-2021, 09:41 PM   #16
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Excellent advice above from DS. So many simply jump right in without having a clue of what they actually need.

Montana Man - I'll take that shade tree and our Honda Genny every time.
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Old 01-21-2023, 12:29 AM   #17
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Congratulations on your new trailer with a residential refrigerator. The refrigerator is a real game changer in this summer especially if you live out west. I have had my current trailer since 2019 it to with a Samsung refrigerator. I live in Phoenix where summertime temperatures get past 115į and I may be here for the shoulder seasons but I get the hell out of town for about 5 months during the summers. During these 5 months I very seldom stay at a campground with hookups. So I think I am well educated on what it takes to boondock with a residential refrigerator.
First you do not have to make this expensive. I started with for AgM batteries that I was lucky enough to find here in Phoenix from the Mexican cartel for $50 each. I use these batteries for three 5 months seasons. They serve me well although they were extremely heavy and I was always on top of sulfation. I was always quick to make sure that my solar was going to start charging so that I would not damage them which I never did. At the same time that I put the batteries in I found 185 w solar panels for $25 each. These are Canadian solar, 46 volt open circuit panels that measure 33x66. I went ahead and bought 100 of these panels when I found them knowing that I could take a few with me on each trip and sell them on the road which I did. I installed eight of them on my roof along with two Victron 100/50 solar controllers. I use this setup for 3 years to charge my AGMs and to power my refrigerator and other items that I had wired into the factory 1000 w inverter. It served me well. Two years ago I went ahead and I upgraded everything I completely redid my power board I bought four hundred amp lithium batteries out at quartzsite from a company from shipshewana Indiana. I also bought a Victron 3000 II inverter. I came home started over from scratch with my wiring and in about 2 weeks I had everything ready to go along with the Cerbo color control panel. I've used this system now for two summers. The way I have installed my system which is completely in the original battery banks nothing overflows anywhere. I keep my original generator compartment as a compartment to store my folding chairs. Everything fits the four lithium batteries my inverter and my solar controllers all in the original left side battery compartment. I seldom look at the controller even though it is pretty color and all that my system simply works. I do look at it first thing in the morning to see where I'm at after running all night long and it's normally at about 70% charge which is fine. I have a grand total of $7,000 into my $1,400 Watts of solar, controllers, servo GX, and 3000 II inverter. I think this is a realistic value to upgrade as long as you were going to use it which I always do. I have never had my batteries go dead on me and I never think of being stingy on my power use. My system just works like it should. I do not use a DC/DC charger as my solar system puts out far more than I could ever use going down the road. If anybody has any questions feel free to call me I'll be at court site next week and I'll be at the national rally next fall
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Old 01-21-2023, 10:35 AM   #18
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That's all good information Jeff but this thread is almost 3 years old. The OP hasn't been active for some time. Have fun in Quartzite.
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Old 01-21-2023, 07:35 PM   #19
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We have a res fridge as well and boondock a lot. We see about 180 watts base load with internet routers and other items running. We have 600AH of LIFPO batteries and 4 350watt solar panels and a 3k pure sine wave whole rig inverter (Victron Multiplus II, 4) MPPT controllers and a 30 Amp truck charger). We also have a 2500 watt generator just in case. I decided to leave the 1000watt inverter for the fridge as a backup, 2 is 1, 1 is none as they say! We can run for a day with no change of lifestyle and consume 40-50% of our batteries. I am considering adding 2 more batteries because we recharge to 100% in 4-5hrs. I am not sure about running AC, I suppose I could for a few hours to take the heat out in the afternoon. Usually about 1pm the batts are charged and the AC could use the excess solar we can't store currently. So, do your power budget before purchasing your equipment. If I had to do it over, I would buy larger batteries rather than 100AH LIFPO batteries.
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