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Author Topic: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?  (Read 832 times)

jesseo715

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High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« on: July 07, 2017, 03:19:30 PM »
We're heading to Yellowstone and Glacier this month.  Both campgrounds have no hookups.  I'm wondering what the best option would be to extend battery use, since we'll be in each campground for 3-4 days. The battery will run LED lights in the morning and evening, and the slide on the camper.  The fridge, stoves, and water heater all run propane, so we're good there.

I've heard hooking up a second battery in parallel helps a lot, but I'm also wondering about generators.  They can be used in both campgrounds, though there are time limits in Yellowstone.  Would my tow vehicle be sufficient to charge the batteries each day, or should I get a generator and smart charger? 

Second issue: if the answer to the generator question is "yes," what about running them at high altitude?  Grant Village in Yellowstone is at 7,800 ft, and we'll be at similar elevation in Glacier.

We leave on the 17th, so I'm burning daylight on getting this all set up.  What's the best solution?
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL

Kevin Means

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 03:39:11 PM »
IMO The "best" solution - the most reliable - is to get a portable generator. As long as it's working correctly, it shouldn't have a problem operating in Yellowstone. I also agree with the idea of a second battery. It sounds like you've got fairly low consumption , but we always seem to use more power than we think we're going to use. A second battery really helps.

It's true that your vehicle's battery can be used to charge your RV's house-battery(s), but it's not the most efficient way of doing so. The wiring from the alternator is usually too thin to carry many amps, and it could take hours of idling to fully charge your batteries - depending on their SOC.

Kev
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marcortez

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2017, 04:58:04 PM »
A portable "suitcase" solar panel of 100W will keep the batt charged for however long you want it to, as long as the sun is shining and the panel can be placed to get that sunshine.
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jesseo715

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2017, 05:03:13 PM »
I've made an appointment to get a second battery installed. I'm seeing what my local options are for generators now. Again, any advice on altitude issues?

Also, solar was my first thought, but there's an awful lot of shade in Grant Village. I'm not sure I would get enough sun.
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Lou Schneider

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2017, 05:34:32 PM »
The best generators are the suitcase style inverter generators like the Honda 2000i.  Beware of the open frame construction site style generators - besides producing dirty power they're noisy as heck.  Not the thing you want to run in a tranquil campground.

Great Horned Owl

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2017, 06:26:24 PM »
I would opt for the generator. Generators should not be adversely affected by those altitudes

n addition to the items you mentioned. don't be surprised if you need to run the furnace at night. At both Glacier and Yellowstone, night time temperatures in the 40s, or even 30s would not be unusual, and the furnace fan uses a lot of power.

An alternative might be a ventless propane heater, that doesn't use electricity. If you go this way, be aware that the Buddy heaters, and some others have a low oxygen sensor, that will shut the heater off, often in the vicinity of 7,000' to 8,000'. The Olympian Wave series from Camco, is not affected by altitude.

Joel


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jesseo715

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2017, 06:55:07 PM »
Thanks.  We've tent camped Yellowstone before, so we know all about those cold night temps! 

As for the generators, I've seen some that say "not for use over 3000 ft."  I just read that for every 1000 ft., the generator loses about 3% of its wattage.  so I'll get about 75% efficiency, but won't hurt the generator itself?  Correct?

Here are two I'm interested in, if I can find them locally:

https://www.amazon.com/WEN-56200i-Starting-Generator-Compliant/dp/B00SMNLF4M/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=generatorset-20&linkId=45d076238aba546514eb12a7ae4c946d

https://www.amazon.com/Champion-Power-Equipment-73536i-Stackable/dp/B0041K09D8/ref=sr_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1494468133&sr=1-1&keywords=stackable+generator

Both are very quiet and lightweight.  I'm not sure how quickly they go through gas, but I'm hoping one of them will give the trailer batteries a good daily charge without having to lug extra fuel around.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 07:02:32 PM by jesseo715 »
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Great Horned Owl

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2017, 07:06:32 PM »
I have two of the Champions. They are quiet, and in the economy mode, you should be able to go three days if you are just using it to charge the batteries. You might want to carry a small (say 2 gal" tank, just so you can fetch some gas if you need to.

Be aware that those Champions are very difficult to service. I broke the starter rope on one of mine, and absolutely gave up trying to replace it. I had to take it in.

Joel
Joel & Dorothy
Retired electronics engineer. Avid photographer, paddler & birder.
2011 Silverado 2500HD, Duramax, 4x4,crew cab, 8' bed
Palomino Puma 253-FBS  27' 5th wheel
1994 19' Class B Horizon / Chevy

SkateBoard

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2017, 08:35:19 PM »
Champion has a bulletin to change the carb jet for altitudes over 4,500. Make sure you leave a window open when using any  propane heater. Anything propane will not burn efficient at higher altitudes and will produce CO2. Espar diesel heaters will not run above 5,000 without using a high altitude fuel pump.

tanglemoose

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2017, 10:58:38 PM »
We camp most of the time above 5000', we live at 5525'. People have generators every where  .. never problem with altitude... We do use solar though and live it.... have 150 watts and in fact, have not had generator out of truck...  always have for backup...  have 2 6 volt batteries .. yes Yellowstone has time restrictions but if your batteries are in good shape, you will be fine. We find water pump uses a lot of battery.  We used to fill pitcher with water by sink.... don't need to turn pump on and off... saves battery....now we just use the sun to charge!
Donna and Mark
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blw2

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2017, 06:19:43 AM »
With two good batteries, I'd think you'd be ok for just 3-4 days of only lights and limited water pump if managed
The fridge will use some amps but not many.  The killer is if you think you'll run your furnace.  Even though it's LP, the fan isn't and it will drain a battery quickly.
Sounds like you are a TT.  Are you sure your tow vehicle is hooked up to charge them, so that you show up at the CG with fully charged batteries?
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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AStravelers

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2017, 07:34:46 PM »
If you buy one of the $200-$400 very noisy generators you are going to have a lot of very mad neighbors.  Plan on spending $600 for the Westinghouse inverter generator, or $800 for the 1000 watt Honda/Yamaha.  A 1000 watt generator will charge your batteries as well as the bigger ones.

Campgrounds have a lot of shade so solar is probably not a good option.

The tow vehicle will not charge the batteries very much unless you travel 6-8 hours.  Wire size from alternator to trailer battery is to small.  If you ran #8 or #6 wire then it would do much better.

If you run the furnace a lot it really drains the battery.  Other wise LED lights and fridge uses very little power. 
Al & Sharon
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jesseo715

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2017, 11:42:55 AM »
With two good batteries, I'd think you'd be ok for just 3-4 days of only lights and limited water pump if managed
The fridge will use some amps but not many.  The killer is if you think you'll run your furnace.  Even though it's LP, the fan isn't and it will drain a battery quickly.
Sounds like you are a TT.  Are you sure your tow vehicle is hooked up to charge them, so that you show up at the CG with fully charged batteries?

Yes, our tow vehicle has recharged the batteries.  Like I said, we've done Yellowstone in a tent, so I don't think we'll need to run the furnace.  We'll have plenty of warm blankets.  Thanks for your help!
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
2010 Honda Ridgeline RTL

jesseo715

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2017, 11:46:26 AM »
If you buy one of the $200-$400 very noisy generators you are going to have a lot of very mad neighbors.  Plan on spending $600 for the Westinghouse inverter generator, or $800 for the 1000 watt Honda/Yamaha.  A 1000 watt generator will charge your batteries as well as the bigger ones.

Campgrounds have a lot of shade so solar is probably not a good option.

The tow vehicle will not charge the batteries very much unless you travel 6-8 hours.  Wire size from alternator to trailer battery is to small.  If you ran #8 or #6 wire then it would do much better.

If you run the furnace a lot it really drains the battery.  Other wise LED lights and fridge uses very little power.

That's what I'm thinking.  The inverter generators I found locally are: Ryobi Bluetooth 2300 watt, Powerhorse 2000 watt, and Generac ix 2000 watt.  I think I'll wait until after the trip to get one.
2018 Winnebago Winnie Drop 170K
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Jeff in Ferndale Wa

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2017, 11:47:19 PM »
you mention that you are looking at the WEN on Amazon

https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00SMNLF4M/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=IWGQLP33Y9Q0A&colid=10WBT01GJDOVH

Have you thought about buying it and have it shipped to the park so it's there when you arrive?

I've been looking at that same unit, just have not pulled the trigger yet.
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73Camper

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2017, 09:10:35 AM »
IMHO the genset is the only way to go. i would never leave home with out it. if you dont want to run the AC then a small 2000 watt will do you and you will need a 3000 -5000 watt if you have a large AC unit
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geofisher

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2017, 05:31:26 PM »
Make sure you leave a window open when using any  propane heater. Anything propane will not burn efficient at higher altitudes and will produce CO2.
If it burns efficiently it will produce CO2. If it doesn't it will produce CO (Carbon Monoxide) that is poisonous.

H5-Phil

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Re: High altitude dry camping: 2nd battery? Generator?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2017, 07:17:18 PM »
I've used our Honda 3000is in both Yellowstone and Glacier with no problems.  There is also a full hookup RV park at Fishing Bridge in Yellowstone.  You can use your 60Db (max) generator in the larger campgrounds throughout Yellowstone from 0800 to 2000 hrs.
Glacier has three, 2-hour periods of generator use.  There are also KOAs just outside both entrances at Glacier.


We're heading to Yellowstone and Glacier this month.  Both campgrounds have no hookups.  I'm wondering what the best option would be to extend battery use, since we'll be in each campground for 3-4 days. The battery will run LED lights in the morning and evening, and the slide on the camper.  The fridge, stoves, and water heater all run propane, so we're good there.

I've heard hooking up a second battery in parallel helps a lot, but I'm also wondering about generators.  They can be used in both campgrounds, though there are time limits in Yellowstone.  Would my tow vehicle be sufficient to charge the batteries each day, or should I get a generator and smart charger? 

Second issue: if the answer to the generator question is "yes," what about running them at high altitude?  Grant Village in Yellowstone is at 7,800 ft, and we'll be at similar elevation in Glacier.

We leave on the 17th, so I'm burning daylight on getting this all set up.  What's the best solution?
Phil & Karen with Crash, our 'guard' Dachshund
KE6HUL / KE6NYJ
2014 F-350 Diesel XLT. with Leer shell
2004 31' Alumascape TT

 

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