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Author Topic: Tips for conserving  (Read 5767 times)

cadee2c

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Tips for conserving
« on: July 04, 2015, 12:51:51 PM »
Anyone have good tips for conserving water and/or battery power?
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Mopar1973Man

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2015, 02:03:51 PM »
One way to save water is when you ready to take off boondocking make sure to load your black tank up with at least 5 gallons of water. This way when you do have to use the restroom you don't need to flush extra long amounts of water for the black tank. It's already pre-loaded with water.

As for battery power just get a small solar setup to allow your batteries to recharge during the day. Harbor frieght has a nice 45w setup that fits under most queen sized beds. As for conserving power just need to shut things off that you don't need. Like if you not going to need hot water turn it off. Even though the circuit board is small draw its a savings. Same with the water pump don't need it cycling in and out every once in awhile to build pressure. Set your furnace to lower temperature at night say 60-62* or lower if you can handle it. Change lighting over to LED's this will help a bunch. If you have a inverter like myself limit your TV watching so you don't burn through your batteries and not leave enough charge for at night. That once again depends on if you got solar our not.

You could carry a generator too to charge the batteries. Remember you'll still have to run the generator for few hours while the bulking process occurs for the batteries.

Another way to charge the batteries in a pinch is hook the trailer plug back up to the tow vehicle and allow the tow vehicle to charge the batteries. Of course with the engine running.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2015, 02:05:32 PM by Mopar1973Man »
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Moonstruck

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2015, 09:27:49 PM »
If you haven't converted you 12 volt lights to LEDs doing so can save a lot of power.
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kdbgoat

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2015, 06:07:51 AM »
Prepare and/or precook meals in foil then freeze or refrigerate as needed. Cook or reheat on grill and/or campfire. Use paper plates and disposable utensils to avoid using water for clean-up. It will seem a bit of a chore to prepare meals ahead of time, but may be worth the effort for you when you realize that you won't be working as much having to prepare meals each mealtime. Meals prepared ahead of time also save fridge and freezer space overall due to no extra packaging. That saves weight from carrying extra packaging too, though a negligible amount. Styrofoam bowls work work well for us also. Use a "cat hole" when possible when boondocking like tent campers do. Do as Mopar says and precharge your blacktank with water, add a shutoff valve or turn off water pump when flushing toilet. Use a spray bottle to spritz toilet bowl. Run shower head into a bucket while waiting waiting for hot water to arrive at shower head. Use this water for flushing. If you use a CLEAN bucket, you can warm that water on stove or campfire for washing body or dishes.
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kdbgoat

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2015, 06:11:51 AM »
Also, the water left from washing dishes and bird bathing can be used to extinguish your campfire. If more extinguishing is needed, I suppose one can drain some water from your gray tank to use for that purpose.
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Conquest2011

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2015, 07:38:35 AM »
Before you shower capture the water that normally goes down the drain, in a bucket or container of some sort, while waiting for the hot water. Re-purpose the captured water such as, rinsing dishes, watering plants, pet water, making coffee. This also, will conserve your gray tank.
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kdbgoat

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2015, 11:31:25 AM »
If using a cooler, repurpose the water from the melted ice. Fill a glass with water before brushing teeth. Use this to rinse toothbrush and mouth after brushing. Do this outside and you won't waste water rinsing sink. Use baby wipes to wash hands etc. instead of running water. On battery power, find and eliminate the parasitic loads. Don't turn off safety systems. If using an inverter, consider using two. One to power essential loads and the scond that can be switched off for the nice to have loads. Use a thermos to hold coffee etc. after being heated. Run the generator to charge batteris when heavier 120 volts loads are needed, such as microwave,  coffee pot etc. to save fuel. Only turn water heater when hot water is needed. It will heat up pretty quick with propane. If water needs heating  when running generator, switch it to 120  volts after you finish with other heavier loads. You may as well get the most out of the generator if it is running.
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2015, 12:05:46 PM »
If more extinguishing is needed, I suppose one can drain some water from your gray tank to use for that purpose.

Please don't do this -  grey water is actually pretty vile stuff containing soap, food and grease residues that are attractive to all sorts of pests and insects. 

You'll  leave a smelly, greasy mess for the next camper.

Kevin Means

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2015, 01:16:40 PM »
Here's another idea...If your RV has an inverter that must be left on (like ours, because we have a residential refrigerator), consider installing power-interrupt switches for other AC appliances. Here's why. First, I've got a Trimetric battery monitor that tells me how many amps are going into or out of the house-batteries at any given time. As a test, I monitored the changes as I unplugged different appliances and here's what I found.

Our microwave/convection oven consumes .7 amps - just plugged into the wall when it's not being used. Our living area entertainment center (TV and DVD player) consume .4 amps, even though they're turned off. So that's 1.1 amps every hour that's coming out of our battery-bank - for just those appliances, even though they aren't being used. Over 24 hours, that adds up to more than 26 amps.

Let's say you've got a 400 amp/hour (AH) capacity battery-bank and you subscribe to the 50% theory  - you can only use half your battery's AH capacity - meaning you've got 200 AH to work with. That means more than 13% of your battery-bank's AH capacity is being consumed by just those appliances - even though they're (supposedly) turned off. And don't forget to factor in the inverter's consumption... they're only about 85% efficient. It's not uncommon at all for parasitic loads to consume 25% or more of your battery-bank. That's significant when boondocking. 

Now, you could turn those appliances off with their circuit-breakers, but breakers weren't meant to be repeatedly switched on and off. A better idea is to install some appropriately rated AC switches to interrupt their power. Yes, that means you'll have some flashing clocks when you power them back up, but it's a small price to pay for what you get in return.

Kev

Note: Here's a picture of one of our disconnect switches. It's installed out of sight in a cabinet above the microwave.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2015, 01:38:05 PM by Kevin Means »
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Mopar1973Man

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2015, 03:53:42 PM »
Really good Kevin...  8)

Variation of Kevin's setup is that I added a manual transfer switch to my 120V breaker panel and wired in the inverter so I could only power up the outlets in the RV and exclude A/C and microwave oven.
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
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Old Blevins

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2015, 05:34:30 PM »
It doesn't help right now, but as we get into the cooler months I plumbed a quick-disconnect into my propane lines to run a Camco Olympian Wave catalytic heater inside.  It uses no electricity and, unless it gets really cold, I don't need to run the battery-depleting, propane-guzzling furnace.
Jim
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Mopar1973Man

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2015, 09:14:21 PM »
I'm still on the fence about a catalytic heater burning inside the RV. I really do worry about CO2 issues.
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
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Kevin Means

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2015, 12:14:02 PM »
I agree Jim. The only thing that uses propane in our motorhome are the three stove-top burners and they have, literally, never been used. All my cooking is done on the bar-b-cue outside and the previous owner (an 80 year old zillionaire) only used the coach to travel to 5 star hotels to party with his zillionaire buddies (Don't ask me to explain why). So I installed the same catalytic propane heating system we had in our previous coach - love it! Unless we're camping in near-freezing temps, it's all we need to take the edge off.  Zero power consumption and a miserly propane consumer. (And Mike, they really are indoor safe)

Kev
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Old Blevins

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2015, 12:39:42 PM »
I'm still on the fence about a catalytic heater burning inside the RV. I really do worry about CO2 issues.

I hear ya - I did a lot of research before I finally decided to go with it.  They put out less CO than open flames, but even so I'm glad to have my CO detector.  The danger from catalytic heaters is that they consume oxygen, so I am careful to keep more than the recommended amount of window/vent space open for fresh air and cross-ventilation.  They make some with automatic cutoffs triggered by oxygen sensors, but I gather they tend not to work at higher elevations and, like you, that's where I do a lot of my boondocking.  So I went with this one which doesn't have that.  I don't leave it running when I sleep, though.  I am a suspenders-and-a-belt kind of guy when it comes to safety stuff like that.
Jim
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Mopar1973Man

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2015, 07:34:33 AM »
I've got a Big Buddy heater here (portable) wouldn't that be the same?
http://www.mrheater.com/big-buddy-portable-heater.html
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
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UTTransplant

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2015, 08:07:55 AM »
I've got a Big Buddy heater here (portable) wouldn't that be the same?
http://www.mrheater.com/big-buddy-portable-heater.html
When we lived in the Midwest, we used our Mr. Buddy a lot. However we don't have good results here in the west because we generally camp at altitude. The Mr. Buddy just doesn't work reliably over 8000 foot or so. Of course that is where we need heat more often.
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Kevin Means

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2015, 10:52:23 AM »
I've got a Big Buddy heater here (portable) wouldn't that be the same?
http://www.mrheater.com/big-buddy-portable-heater.html
Yes, that is a catalytic heater. And the nice thing about that one is it gives you the option of running off those disposable propane bottles, or hooking it up directly to your propane tank. Those weren't available when I bought our Coleman heater, or I'd have bought one.

Kev
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HappyWanderer

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2015, 10:56:37 AM »
Mr. Buddy cautions against bringing a 20 pound tank indoors, so I don't do that. I use a 30 pound tank instead!

TonyDtorch

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2015, 03:16:36 PM »
I saw a Tiny Houses show on TV and they had a water conservation idea that sounded pretty good. They took the grey water and ran it to the toilet tank for flush water...I must assume it went through some kind if filter system.

I thought it was a great idea,

Out here in California water is more valuable than propane or gasoline....
« Last Edit: July 16, 2015, 03:38:18 PM by TonyDtorch »

Lou Schneider

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2015, 06:49:04 PM »
Ultra Van tried this in the 1960s.  Even with filtering using grey water in the toilet was a failure - any grey water that sat in the tank for more than a couple of days was too smelly, even after filtering.

And it's not that inexpensive - you need a second demand water pump and the filter.

TonyDtorch

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2015, 11:35:30 PM »
Ultra Van tried this in the 1960s.  Even with filtering using grey water in the toilet was a failure - any grey water that sat in the tank for more than a couple of days was too smelly, even after filtering.

And it's not that inexpensive - you need a second demand water pump and the filter.

and filtering is much better today.... so it may be pretty easy to do.

Willie1971

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2015, 11:28:55 PM »
Most people hit on it already but LED everything and use all flat screen TV's

Not sure you budget but I would invest in a solar system.  Oversize it if you can.

I have all my Tv's and sat dish plus lights and a fan on at night and only tap about 25 to 30% of my battery bank.

My 600 watt system charges the battery's back up by 1pm.  Then it goes into Idle so to speak.

After it hits 100% I then know I have 35amps to play with all the way till the sun starts to set.

That means washing clothes and microwaving can be done during the day without worrying about hitting my night time reserve.

Sadly my plan is excellent but I am down south and in the summer I have to run a small Honda 3000 genny for the conditioning when dry camping. 

The Honda burns about 1.5 gallons for 6 to 7 hours of running the AC on low. 

I would need 5 gallons of fuel for 24 hour operation if I was conservative.

In the spring and fall I run 100% off solar and the feel good is off the charts great.  Just knowing that I dont need to burn fuel to live is awesome.

Just some thoughts.

Good luck.


JiminDenver

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2015, 12:07:26 PM »
The biggest thing I can add is don't waste. Our solar gives us more power than we can use but that's because everything is set up to use as little power as possible. Water on the other hand is very limited, so we make do with navy showers and the water ran to get the hot up to the shower is caught and used again some how. A gallon of water can do a days worth of dishes if done right. We can stay out for two weeks on 60 gallons. When the weather is good we use the solar to run things that we normally would use propane for. A electric cook top, coffee maker. heating water and even the trailer all save on the propane.

greensleep

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2015, 09:39:20 AM »
On my toilet tank, instead of just a lid, I have simple system that directs all fresh water thru a tall tap and then, thru a drain, into the tank for the next flushing. I wash my hands in this water during the flushing refill of the tank and the "grey water" from my hand washing becomes my flushing water. Also have an adjustable volume valve in the tank to reduce flushing volume. Low flow, but, relatively high pressure, shower heads are available, as are aerator attachments for the kitchen tap that reduce the volume of water used to wash dishes/hands/vegetables. Rain water catchment is easy and not very time consuming if camping in wet weather. "Sun shower" systems are a cheap and easy way to have a hot shower outside and not use any electricity to bathe. A relatively small photovoltaic system (200 watt panel, 2 12volt storage batteries, small charge controller, and small inverter, using big guage wiring) can run all entertainment gear(small flat screen tv, laptop, phone charger, radio, etc.),led lighting, and fans. Solar charged flashlights, radios, and fans are now pretty cheap and functional. Using bicycles or electric assist bicycles while camped instead of always using your car/suv to run small errands and go on short distance sight-seeing excursions will reduce fuel consumption and add simple pleasure and exercise. Needless to say, fully inflated tires and conservative driving will reduce fuel needs too.
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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2015, 06:33:32 AM »
Composting toilet. 

mitch1204

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #25 on: September 01, 2015, 03:50:52 AM »
I've got a Big Buddy heater here (portable) wouldn't that be the same?
http://www.mrheater.com/big-buddy-portable-heater.html

I have the regular Buddy from Wal-Mart. I think it was $89. Best camping purchase I made. Its 4000 btu on low and 9000 btu on high. I have a dedicated 20 lb tank outside with a 8' hose feeding it. They are 99.9% efficient hence the safe carbon monoxide output. It has a low level oxygen shut off and a tip over safety shut off. They are wall mountable and require a 2' clearance from combustibles. In cold weather I can get. 5-7 day's out of a 20 lb tank depending how I use it. I very seldom use high as it has to be below 25 or so before you have to turn it up. On high you only get about 3 days out of a 20 lb tank running it nonstop. That's the down side of a Buddy is that it's not thermistatically controlled. If the temperature is about 45-50 it can run you out of your RV unless you crack some windows. If you are the thermostat then you can save money. :)

There are home wall mounted gas heaters that can be a better choice. Almost all can be converted to propane by changing the orifice fitting which is usually included. Then you'll have a thermostat.

This little gem at Lowe's I'm about to purchase to replace my Buddy which I'll move it to the garage.

http://m.lowes.com/pd/Cedar-Ridge-Hearth-10,000-BTU-Wall-or-Floor-Mount-Natural-Gas-or-Liquid-Propane-Vent-Free-Convection-Heater/3506636

HappyWanderer

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2015, 10:53:11 AM »
I have the regular Buddy from Wal-Mart. I think it was $89. Best camping purchase I made. Its 4000 btu on low and 9000 btu on high. I have a dedicated 20 lb tank outside with a 8' hose feeding it. They are 99.9% efficient hence the safe carbon monoxide output. It has a low level oxygen shut off and a tip over safety shut off.

There is no such thing as "safe" carbon monoxide output. Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless and deadly. Propane heaters should only be used in a well-ventilated area with working CO and smoke detectors. Don't rely on the low oxygen shut off for protection, CO can build to lethal levels before oxygen is depleted.

Having said all that, I do use a Buddy heater in our motorhome. I put it on the opposite end from the bedroom and leave windows open for cross ventilation. We've still had the CO alarm go off.

Wigpro

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #27 on: September 01, 2015, 11:16:32 AM »
Interesting ideas here. I have made a few changes to my unit to help conserve for when I boondock.

  • Switched all my lightbulbs to LED's - huge battery savings
  • Rebuilt my propane heater with a newer less amperage motor, dropped the amperage a bunch from the old one with bad bearings.
  • I am very limited on fresh water so I go to some extremes.
  • I carry two 7 gallon jugs of water and have a 12 volt pump system to add to the RV fill and I can take these to refill if needed when out running errands or exploring.
  • I always put 5 gallons in the black tank to save on flushing water. AND at 65 years old, with the many trips to the bathroom during the night - I do not flush and have "water" in the bowl for my morning duty! Typically I can go a full 30 days on the black tank. The grey tank about 10 days or so. Fresh water I can go about a week then put in 15 gallons and go another week or so....

You really learn to not waste with time and create your own systems and procedures to conserve.


Good Luck,
Jim
Full time traveler, fishing guide and photographer!

Travel Blog: http://captjimtravelblog.blogspot.com

Website: www.captainjimlucas.com

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Kevin Means

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #28 on: September 01, 2015, 12:58:08 PM »

You really learn to not waste with time and create your own systems and procedures to conserve.

Ain't that the truth Jim! It only takes running out of something once, when you're miles from replenishment, to learn that you need to make some changes. We love boondocking, but we had to make a few mistakes over the years before learning how to adapt to the lifestyle. An interesting thing is, we've modified our sticks-and-bricks home, and our home lifestyle, with things we've learned from boondocking (LEDs, water usage etc.) And living in San Diego, with the highest water and power rates in the country, it's been helpful.

Kev
2011 Winnebago Tour 42QD
Towing a Jeep Rubicon Unlimited LJ or an Acura MDX
RVI Brake 2, Minder TM-66 TPMS, 970 watts of solar
(Can't wait to spend more time RVing)
Lakeside, California

Mopar1973Man

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Re: Tips for conserving
« Reply #29 on: September 04, 2015, 09:47:19 AM »
Like Kevin... I'm in the middle of nowhere Idaho and tend to live the same way. Yes, our water is pumped out of a well in the ground. Now the pump requires power to do its job. So I've learn to conserve power on the solar / hydro system so when the power does go off we live very comfortable for days without power. So more or less the boondocking lifestyle is at home as well as in the RV. We never really quite doing it. Just different rules for both. I still tend to chuckle to myself reading post about needing 50 Amp service for a RV when I live off a 30 Amp service (4kw inverter @ 120 VAC) for a 2 story house.

Yes I'm very conservative minded...   ;)
Mopar1973Man (AKA: Michael Nelson) located out in the state of Idaho with...
2002 Dodge Ram 2500 5.9L Cummins Turbo Diesel
2000 Jayco Eagle FBS 296
2013 BigTex 70TV Utility Trailer

 

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