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Author Topic: Next question - power (electric/batteries)  (Read 358 times)

slam308

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Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« on: September 19, 2017, 07:20:50 PM »
So I know there's a generator on a MH to run lights, A/C, water pump (?) etc., but I've also seen a lot of "no generators after 10 pm".  What do you do then?  I know there are batteries, but how long do those last?  If you run them down isn't everything dead? 
I'm picturing accidentally leaving the headlights on on a car and the next morning you've got nothing.  How can you run A/C all night and maybe a light here or there to read for an hour, or run to the bathroom, flush the toilet (water pump?) without draining all your batteries?

Obviously there's a way to do this stuff or you guys wouldn't be the enthusiasts that you are.  I just need to understand how it all works.   ;D

slam308

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2017, 07:40:21 PM »
Just thought of an additional question.  Are most generators gas or diesel?  If it's gas, does it have a separate tank or does it draw off the regular engine tank? 
The brochure says it an Onan generator, but doesn't say gas or diesel.

SeilerBird

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2017, 08:17:07 PM »
So I know there's a generator on a MH to run lights, A/C, water pump (?) etc., but I've also seen a lot of "no generators after 10 pm".  What do you do then?
If you are in a park with full hookups you don't need the generator. If you are in a park without hookups then you use the power stored in your batteries until they run out. Most RVs have an inverter that transforms 12 volts DC into 110 volts AC.
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I know there are batteries, but how long do those last?  If you run them down isn't everything dead? 
How long they last depends on what you are running with them. Your A/C draws a lot of power and won't last long. Your cell phone charger uses very little power and you can run it a week on batteries. Yep, run it down and nothing works. It is recommended not to let your house batteries go below a 50% charge so you should keep power usage to a minimum when power starts dropping.
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I'm picturing accidentally leaving the headlights on on a car and the next morning you've got nothing.  How can you run A/C all night and maybe a light here or there to read for an hour, or run to the bathroom, flush the toilet (water pump?) without draining all your batteries?
You can't run the A/C all night on batteries and 99% of the time you won't need to. Yep, if you run them down then everything is dead. It is pretty hard to leave the headlights on in an RV unless you are legally blind. Most RVs have two sets of batteries, one for the house and one for the engine. There is usually a switch on the dash that allows you to parallel the two in case one dies. It is really only useful if you do leave the headlights on and kill the engine battery you can use the house battery to recharge the engine battery enough to get the engine started.

Living in a RV is extremely different than living in a house. In a house you basically have unlimited water, electricity, gas and waste removal. In an RV water, electricity, gas and waste all need to be carefully managed to live successfully. The hardest thing to learn living in an RV is how to manage all these things so that you don't run out. In a house you just never have to worry about these things and in an RV it is extremely important to worry about these things. Most newbies think that driving an RV is a huge challenge. Driving is a piece of cake compared  to energy management. I suggest doing a lot of reading on these subjects before heading out on your first trip. Camping in the driveway will help a lot and don't be afraid to ask questions.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2017, 08:53:36 PM »
Seilerbird covered the highlights.  Some rigs have a lot more (or larger) batteries than others, so there is not single answer, but generally you can tun a few lights, water pump, fridge, etc. for at least 16-24 hours and often longer.

Your question suggests that you expect to live like at your fixed house, with plenty of a/c, unlimited hot water, long showers, etc. That is practical if you have a campsite with electric, water & sewer hook-ups, but probably not otherwise.  Your RV carries a limited amount of fuel, stored electric (12v battery), and fresh water, and has a limited amount of space for waste water as well. If you plan to stay at sites without utility hook-ups, you will soon learn to be quite conservative in power and water consumption.

As for the genset fuel, it can be gasoline, diesel or propane. Whichever, it is fuel that is carried with you. For gas or diesel, it draws from the copach fuel tank. If propane, it draws from the coach onboard LP tank. You can carry extra propane bottles, though. if you have room and enough weight capacity available.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2017, 08:56:27 PM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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Larry N.

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2017, 08:59:31 PM »
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How can you run A/C all night

Most rigs won't allow the A/C to run from the batteries -- only from the generator or shore power. If they did, then you'd get a few minutes at best, as Tom says.

 
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Are most generators gas or diesel?

Some are gas, some diesel and some propane. Generally speaking if the coach engine runs from gasoline, then so does the generator, but if  the coach runs on diesel, then the generator generally runs on diesel also. There are some units that have propane to run the generator, and that could be either gas or diesel for the coach. Of course there are generally some exceptions to a general rule.

So it's coach dependent, in the end.

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The brochure says it an Onan generator, but doesn't say gas or diesel.

Probably the same as the main engine (see above).

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but I've also seen a lot of "no generators after 10 pm".  What do you do then?
As Tom says, you run from batteries. You have to carefully manage resources in the coach, whether water, sewer or electric, anytime you're not on full hookups. So after you've had to shut down the generator then you just be careful about battery use until you can start the generator the next morning (anywhere from 6-8 AM, depending on the location)

Without the draw of the larger items, your batteries should do fine to last through the night, perhaps a reading light or tow, then later a night light if you wish.

But it depends on the specific RV and its capacities, as well as the person(s) using it and how well they conserve resources.

I suggest you look through our library (button near the top of the page) and pick up a wealth of information that will help you understand a lot of things.  There's also a glossary that defines most of the unfamiliar terms, and can teach you a few things, too. Of course reading the various threads can teach you some things, too.

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John From Detroit

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2017, 08:26:20 AM »
No generators after xx PM....

Two answers:
 If you need 120 volt stuff (TV, Desktop computer, Microwave) I had a TRUE SINE WAVE in-line inverter installed in my RV. In my case it was a 2,000 watt job. ... Now you know those UPS units (Uninterrupted Power Supply) that you can get for your computer stuff?   This device works just like a UPS but without the internal battery (it uses your house batteries)  and it's way more powerful than the UPS units you get at say Best Buy, it is also designed to run for weeks on end, v/s just a few minutes.

The other option is don't use 120 volt. Furnace, lights, water pump and such all run on 12 volts

In both cases you WILL loose air conditioning.   But the Inverter runs fans real nice.

Just now my inverter is NON-Operational. so I'll be using an MSW back up to power fans only when traveling and get it fixed later.. Waiting till I'm close to the fix it guy.
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RedandSilver

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2017, 09:40:24 AM »
So I know there's a generator on a MH to run lights, A/C, water pump (?) etc., but I've also seen a lot of "no generators after 10 pm".  What do you do then?  I know there are batteries, but how long do those last?  If you run them down isn't everything dead? 
I'm picturing accidentally leaving the headlights on on a car and the next morning you've got nothing.  How can you run A/C all night and maybe a light here or there to read for an hour, or run to the bathroom, flush the toilet (water pump?) without draining all your batteries?

Obviously there's a way to do this stuff or you guys wouldn't be the enthusiasts that you are.  I just need to understand how it all works.   ;D

In one way it seems like your talking about a MH and in another is seems like your talking about a Trailer of some type.
Dead headlights on a car won't keep you from going anywhere if your towing it behind a MH but would if your towing a trailer with it.  :o

Asking how long batteries last depends first of all how many you have.  1 battery will not last as long as 4 or 6 - so that makes a big difference.
Also then comes in to play the power that each battery contains known as Amp Hours.

Then comes the size of the units - bigger RV's usually have bigger refrigerators, water heaters and microwaves to name a few things.
So there are a lot a variables - The biggest is how you use them.  Like others have said it's not like living in a house even though
it's your house on wheels.


One more thing is you MIGHT get away with running a small fan all night on batteries alone but with the AC on - I'd guess 10 minutes maybe.
That's if you had enough to start the AC off batteries at all.
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slam308

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2017, 06:01:05 PM »
It's not so much I'm picturing living like I do in my house, but I do picture sitting alone in the dark after 8 or 10 pm.  And sweating my butt off too, lol. 
I did figure out before I got back on here tonight that there are separate vehicle batteries than "house" batteries, so that help explains things. 

Generally, how insulated are RV's?  If I'm spending a long weekend in New England when it's 90 degrees and muggy, if I cool the place down before I go to bed, how likely is it to stay comfortable (I know, a relative term) without A/C?
Another relative question, how loud are the modern generators?  If you're sitting outside and it's running, can you have a normal conversation?
I can't remember which side the generator is on...

SeilerBird

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2017, 06:48:57 PM »
Generally, how insulated are RV's?
Insulation has weight so most RVs have very little insulation.
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If I'm spending a long weekend in New England when it's 90 degrees and muggy, if I cool the place down before I go to bed, how likely is it to stay comfortable (I know, a relative term) without A/C?
I live in Florida full time and generally I have a small fan next to my bed to blow on me on hot nights. However if you stay at an RV park with full hookups you can run the A/C all night long.
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Another relative question, how loud are the modern generators?
They are not exactly quiet but they are more of a noise issue for your neighbors. Listening to your neighbors gen is annoying.
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If you're sitting outside and it's running, can you have a normal conversation?
Yes
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2017, 11:05:55 AM »
RVs in general are not well insulated, and the small box is subject to rapid heat loss & gain due to its inherent design. The good news is that evenings in New England typically cool off nicely near sundown and you can open windows and use roof vent fan(s) to suck outside air through. We spent many a summer in Maine and rarely needed a/c overnight, even in August.

Whether the genset is relatively quiet or not depends greatly on the type and quality. An inverter-type genset throttles down when the load is light and is much more friendly to people. And the better brands, e.g. Honda & Yamaha, have ultra-smooth engines with very low NVH. They carry a premium price, though.  If you were thinking one of those $300-$400 contractor type gensets, it's gonna be loud and obnoxious.
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mel s

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2017, 11:28:34 AM »
Just thought of an additional question.  Are most generators gas or diesel? If it's gas, does it have a separate tank or does it draw off the regular engine tank? 
The brochure says it an Onan generator, but doesn't say gas or diesel.

slam308
Some Onan generators run on gasoline from the gas tank...some on diesel fuel from the fuel tank... some on propane from the propane tank.

SeilerBird

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 11:59:47 AM »
If the RV is a diesel then it has a diesel generator and if it is gas then it is a gas generator. They used to use propane generators many years ago but they turned out to be too inefficient. Either a gas or a diesel draws from the main tank and will not operate once the tank reaches 1/4 full for safety reasons that you don't get stuck. This is why it is intelligent to never let an RV get below a half a tank.
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Larry N.

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Re: Next question - power (electric/batteries)
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2017, 03:54:47 PM »
If the RV is a diesel then it has a diesel generator and if it is gas then it is a gas generator. They used to use propane generators many years ago but they turned out to be too inefficient. Either a gas or a diesel draws from the main tank and will not operate once the tank reaches 1/4 full for safety reasons that you don't get stuck. This is why it is intelligent to never let an RV get below a half a tank.

Propane generators aren't all gone, Tom. The Winnie View, and several other Sprinter-based units, have propane standard and diesel optional for the on-board generator. There may well be others, but these are the ones I've seen (at least up through 2016 models).
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