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How Long Does A Battery Last? Looking for limitations as a first-time Outback owner

#1 User is offline   Mark W 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:40 PM

Hello to All! My last post on this forum was many months ago when my wife and I were debating about purchasing a 250RS--which we have (yea!). The owner's manual that came with the trailer doesn't really describe much about the battery system, per se.

My question to all is: if I'm going to camp for four days / nights with no electrical connection from the campground, how much time can I reasonably expect my battery to last--figuring lights at night, maybe the radio / CD player, appliances in the morning, etc.? I do have a generator, which I cannot run past 12 midnight until 7 am each day, so I would be relying on the battery throughout the night--if we're up that late! Should I bring the generator knowing it is that much more weight to tote?

Sorry if this is a dumb question, but I truly am a newbie travel trailer owner. I only used a pop-up trailer for the past five years and all this is still very new to me.

Thank you all in advance for any help and advice you can provide!

--Mark in Canton, MI
Mark R. Wagner

#2 User is offline   CamperAndy 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 09:35 PM

Depends on the battery but you should always bring the generator to charge the batteries during the day. Even a basic group 24 battery will last a couple of nights of basic use.
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#3 User is offline   Mark W 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:48 PM

Thanks, CamperAndy! I figure I will bring the generator for peace of mind; I guess one good way to test it out would be to 'camp' in my driveway at home--where it doesn't matter if the battery runs out--and see how many things use up the battery in what amount of time. I know that its not good to keep draining a battery and recharging it, but it would be nice to have a good baseline to work from in all future camping outings.

Much appreciated for the reply!
Mark R. Wagner

#4 User is offline   raynardo 

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:29 PM

Be judicious with you use of the OB's lights, as they suck a lot of power. Running your furnace at night will draw a large chunk of power, too, it's not the heat but the blower that is a battery killer.

Also be careful not to discharge your battery much lower than 40% because if you do, you'll probably ruin it.

If you have a chance to use your generator to recharge your battery on a daily basis, you should be in good shape.
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#5 User is offline   duggy 

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:41 AM

I agree with the above replies. We've camped on battery in our 250RS a couple times, and with care not to leave unnecessary lights on, we've gone a couple days with no problem. Four days would be a stretch, but with a generator, you can easily top up the battery in the day, and make it through the night.
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#6 User is offline   Mark W 

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 11:12 PM

Thank you both Raynardo and Duggy! I do appreciate the great advice! I've learned oodles about my OB, but the more I know, the more I know I don't know! Still, that's why its a labor of love!

Generator use, it is then!

Thanks again!

--Mark
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#7 User is offline   KTMRacer 

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 12:00 AM

we converted our lights to led's. I have two 6V golf cart batteries. We can go 2-3 days easily if we use the furnace. heat at 50F at night to minimize furnace at night. w/o the furnace in the summer 3-4 days is pretty easy, that includes using the two vent fans as needed. We occasionally use the TV running off an inverter along with a hairdryer in the AM for a few minutes. Remember, the fridge will use some electricity even on propane, along with the radio even if it is off.

And as mentioned, the lights can be a huge power drain. When we got our 295RE, I turned on all the inside lights and the current drain was 40Amps!!!. Don't expect batteries to last very long if you are careless. With the LED conversion, if we turn on all the lights at night we want for nice bright interior lighting we are drawing less than 2Amps. Makes lights almost a non issue with reasonable care.
furnace will draw between 4 and 12A depending on the particular furnace. Exhaust fans draw between 1 and 3amps depending on fan speed.

Take 1/2 your battery AH capacity look at amp draw and time to give an idea of battery life. For regular lights figure 1A per bulb (that's 2A per dual bulb fixture). so for example turning on 6 regular dual bulb lights for 3 hours is 6x2x2= 24AH. If that was LED's it would be about 10% of the draw with regular bulbs.

Now the good news/bad news about generator to recharge. you should be able to give the batteries a good charge in a few hours every day, maybe even an hour. HOWEVER, the WFCO charger used by keystone and many other mfg is NOT known for going into the boost mode needed to charge the batteries in a few hours very readily. Some (many/most??) users, me included NEVER could get the WFCO to go into boost mode. Part was due to the WFCO design, part from the installation. IF your converter is located very close to the battery you may be lucky. Mine wasn't, there is almost a 15' run between the converter and battery. If not, instead of 55A to charge the batteries you may be limited to 10-15A. Not good news. If you plan on doing lots of dry camping, I'd verify that the WFCO converter goes into boost mode, if not, swap it out for a PD drop in replacement.

This post has been edited by KTMRacer: 22 March 2012 - 12:08 AM

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#8 User is offline   Insomniak 

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 12:41 AM

I'll second the vote for LED lights! I've swapped out most of the bulbs in our trailer and the energy savings is unbelievable. I still need to post some photos of the bulbs I used, but I've been too lazy lately. Not a cheap upgrade (about $400) but if you dry camp, it's the way to go. Just as around your house, lighting is probably the single biggest energy hog in the trailer. I can have EIGHT dual-bulb LED fixtures turned on and use about the same number of amps as ONE incandescent double-bulb fixture!
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#9 User is offline   TwoElkhounds 

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 06:21 AM

View PostInsomniak, on 22 March 2012 - 12:41 AM, said:

I'll second the vote for LED lights! I've swapped out most of the bulbs in our trailer and the energy savings is unbelievable. I still need to post some photos of the bulbs I used, but I've been too lazy lately. Not a cheap upgrade (about $400) but if you dry camp, it's the way to go. Just as around your house, lighting is probably the single biggest energy hog in the trailer. I can have EIGHT dual-bulb LED fixtures turned on and use about the same number of amps as ONE incandescent double-bulb fixture!


Another vote for LED lights. I have not done all my lights yet, but I have added one in each area of the trailer. I use these when I dry camp and keep the others off.

DAN
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#10 User is offline   raynardo 

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 04:40 PM

I have switched to LED lights and they are remarkable, giving off as much if not more light at a pleasing color temperature - just be careful what Kelvin temperature you get for your lights.

I found a supplier of the lights for 98 per bulb replacement (there are two bulbs in each lighting fixture) on eBay. Even though he charged $1.25 per bulb shipping, I still was able to replace all the interior lights in the OB for less that $50! Woo hoo Posted Image!!! Here's what I ordered: Warm White Car Interior 36 SMD LED Lamp Light Panel - put that in an eBay search to find the same.

I also purchased an 16' section of LED lights (Waterproof LED Strips 16.4', 4.8w/m, Warm Gold 3533) that has an adhesive backing that I will stick to the bottom of the metal awning tube to have permanently mounted awning lights. They run on 12v DC so I've got them running using a 0.5 amp 12v transformer that I had from some electronic piece that died, and I can also run them from a 12v battery charger that I always take with me. I haven't installed them yet, but I have hooked them up to test them and they work great - I can't wait to get them up.

I also just saw some 13 LED light fixtures at Costco that are sold as under cabinet lights. What's neat about them is they are powered by 4 AA batteries and are activated by motion. For $20 I should have purchased the package of 2, but now with my "regular" LED's I really don't need them. Just a thought for other OB'ers out there.
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#11 User is offline   Mark W 

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 09:55 AM

View PostKTMRacer, on 22 March 2012 - 01:00 AM, said:

we converted our lights to led's. I have two 6V golf cart batteries. We can go 2-3 days easily if we use the furnace. heat at 50F at night to minimize furnace at night. w/o the furnace in the summer 3-4 days is pretty easy, that includes using the two vent fans as needed. We occasionally use the TV running off an inverter along with a hairdryer in the AM for a few minutes. Remember, the fridge will use some electricity even on propane, along with the radio even if it is off.

And as mentioned, the lights can be a huge power drain. When we got our 295RE, I turned on all the inside lights and the current drain was 40Amps!!!. Don't expect batteries to last very long if you are careless. With the LED conversion, if we turn on all the lights at night we want for nice bright interior lighting we are drawing less than 2Amps. Makes lights almost a non issue with reasonable care.
furnace will draw between 4 and 12A depending on the particular furnace. Exhaust fans draw between 1 and 3amps depending on fan speed.

Take 1/2 your battery AH capacity look at amp draw and time to give an idea of battery life. For regular lights figure 1A per bulb (that's 2A per dual bulb fixture). so for example turning on 6 regular dual bulb lights for 3 hours is 6x2x2= 24AH. If that was LED's it would be about 10% of the draw with regular bulbs.

Now the good news/bad news about generator to recharge. you should be able to give the batteries a good charge in a few hours every day, maybe even an hour. HOWEVER, the WFCO charger used by keystone and many other mfg is NOT known for going into the boost mode needed to charge the batteries in a few hours very readily. Some (many/most??) users, me included NEVER could get the WFCO to go into boost mode. Part was due to the WFCO design, part from the installation. IF your converter is located very close to the battery you may be lucky. Mine wasn't, there is almost a 15' run between the converter and battery. If not, instead of 55A to charge the batteries you may be limited to 10-15A. Not good news. If you plan on doing lots of dry camping, I'd verify that the WFCO converter goes into boost mode, if not, swap it out for a PD drop in replacement.

Mark R. Wagner

#12 User is offline   Mark W 

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:18 AM

Thanks everyone for the great advice and information. Again, being brand new to the TT world, can I get an explanation--in lay terms, please!--of the concepts behind what the WFCO charger is, how it works and where is it located on say, my Outback 250RS?

Also, along related lines, I've heard about these "inverters"...again, what are these? How do they work? Where does one locate these?


Sorry for the lack of knowledge--I was a mere pop-up trailer guy before this which had VERY limited electrical capabilities.

I appreciate everyone's help and input on this issue!


Also, while I'm asking....I cannot seem to find a list of what light bulb models / types / part numbers, etc. are currently on my Outback 250RS. A call into Keystone resulted in their denial of having such a list (although upon further questioning, they admitted that their dealerships have such a list but they wouldn't give it to me).

Any way to obtain a parts manual with a list of these light bulbs that I can use to shop for LED lights? Would anyone know of how I can get a full parts catalog for all components on my Outback 250RS?


Sorry for all the questions and ignorance on this topic, but my inquiring mind wants to know!

Thanks again, All!
Mark R. Wagner

#13 User is offline   Insomniak 

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:31 AM

View PostMark W, on 23 March 2012 - 08:18 AM, said:

Thanks everyone for the great advice and information. Again, being brand new to the TT world, can I get an explanation--in lay terms, please!--of the concepts behind what the WFCO charger is, how it works and where is it located on say, my Outback 250RS?

Also, along related lines, I've heard about these "inverters"...again, what are these? How do they work? Where does one locate these?


Sorry for the lack of knowledge--I was a mere pop-up trailer guy before this which had VERY limited electrical capabilities.

I appreciate everyone's help and input on this issue!


Also, while I'm asking....I cannot seem to find a list of what light bulb models / types / part numbers, etc. are currently on my Outback 250RS. A call into Keystone resulted in their denial of having such a list (although upon further questioning, they admitted that their dealerships have such a list but they wouldn't give it to me).

Any way to obtain a parts manual with a list of these light bulbs that I can use to shop for LED lights? Would anyone know of how I can get a full parts catalog for all components on my Outback 250RS?


Sorry for all the questions and ignorance on this topic, but my inquiring mind wants to know!

Thanks again, All!

The WFCO converter / charger is simply the electronic device that converts 110 volt AC household current to 12 volt DC current. It's located in the electrical panel where you will find the electrical breakers and fuses. It charges your batteries and provides 12 volt power for your low-voltage devices like lights, water pump, etc. Most of the light bulbs in the Outback are 18 watt, 12 volt "921" wedge base bulbs, although you may have a few 1156 or 1157 bulbs as well. You can actually find these bulbs in the garden center of Home Depot or Lowe's. If you want to go LED, check out http://www.superbrightleds.com

An "inverter" is a completely different animal, in that it takes 12 volt DC battery power and changes it to 110 volt AC current to power things like coffee makers, microwave, etc. You won't have one of those in the Outback, but it's something you can add later if you decide to to do a lot of dry camping.
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#14 User is offline   Mark W 

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:38 AM

Excellent explanation, Insomniak--thank you kindly! I will check into the website you listed for some good LEDs to swap out in my trailer. Much appreciated!
Mark R. Wagner

#15 User is offline   Stan 

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 10:40 AM

View Postraynardo, on 22 March 2012 - 03:40 PM, said:

I have switched to LED lights and they are remarkable, giving off as much if not more light at a pleasing color temperature - just be careful what Kelvin temperature you get for your lights.

I found a supplier of the lights for 98 per bulb replacement (there are two bulbs in each lighting fixture) on eBay. Even though he charged $1.25 per bulb shipping, I still was able to replace all the interior lights in the OB for less that $50! Woo hoo Posted Image!!! Here's what I ordered: Warm White Car Interior 36 SMD LED Lamp Light Panel - put that in an eBay search to find the same.

I also purchased an 16' section of LED lights (Waterproof LED Strips 16.4', 4.8w/m, Warm Gold 3533) that has an adhesive backing that I will stick to the bottom of the metal awning tube to have permanently mounted awning lights. They run on 12v DC so I've got them running using a 0.5 amp 12v transformer that I had from some electronic piece that died, and I can also run them from a 12v battery charger that I always take with me. I haven't installed them yet, but I have hooked them up to test them and they work great - I can't wait to get them up.

I also just saw some 13 LED light fixtures at Costco that are sold as under cabinet lights. What's neat about them is they are powered by 4 AA batteries and are activated by motion. For $20 I should have purchased the package of 2, but now with my "regular" LED's I really don't need them. Just a thought for other OB'ers out there.


Dumb question..so you just ordred these Warm White Car Interior panels, and swapped out the lights in your OB? easy job??
Thanks
Stan & Deb

2006 29BHS
1996 Ford F250 Diesel Quad Cab 4x4, w/Towing Pkg, Equal-i-zer & Prodigy

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