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lp5151

All-Electric Coach

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We are researching coaches to upgrade to a DP. We are finding that several of them are being made "all electric." I'm not sure that an all-electric coach will work for us since we boondock for a week to 10 days at a time. We only boondock for that length of time, maybe 2 to 3 times a year. The rest of the time is spent in parks/resorts.

Does anyone have any real-time experience boondocking in an all-electric coach? I understand that the generators will auto start when the battery charge gets to low, but how often does that happen and how long will the gen run to recharge the battery banks? I realize usage, battery capacity, etc., affects the answer, but if anyone has an all-electric coach, your firsthand experience with boondocking would be helpful to me.

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I have never had the all electric problem. Here are just some of my thought when I read your post.

You would need a large group of 6 volt Batteries(4+)

Large Inverters.I have seen coaches with 2 4K inverters.

Auto start Gen. is an option when buying your new coach.

Quite time when other coaches are close by.

Always have full fuel tanks when camping. A full power load can cause the Gen to burn 1+ gal/hr of fuel.

How about some others out there. Any ideas?

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Like Herman, we don't have an all electric coach but we're getting there not by choice. Our refrigerator is unable to maintain temperature on gas so we have to run it on gas full time. I may replace the refrigerator soon but don't know if I'll stay with a gas/electric or just go straight electric. We have gas heat, water heating and gas range.

First, I would say you are likely looking at a bank of 6 to 8 6V batteries instead of the usual 2 to 4. We have 4 with a 3K inverter and they need recharging in about 6 hours when running the refrigerator. Our batteries are just a few weeks old. Our inverter has auto start - it has never worked properly. We replaced an older inverter several years ago. It had auto start and was a dream. The auto start function on that unit died after about 4 years so we replaced it with a new larger inverter. That was a mistake in this case because we have never had a properly functioning auto start with this inverter. When it works right your batteries will be kept charged with no problems. The generator starts and stops on its own.

I calculate my cost for running my 7.5 KW Onan to be about $3 per hour including fuel and maintenance. That is some really expensive electricity. I far prefer being plugged in. One day in a park, plugged in saves me about $36 in generator run time so staying in a park really pays for itself.

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We do have an all electric coach and we dry camp frequently but rarely for more than a week or so. Power is not the issue but I will usually run out of water for showers (I do conserve water a bit while dry camping but I like a long morning shower!). I compare the cost of dry camping with the cost of staying at a campground (just another day as a full-timer) and I will usually stay at a campground if there is a reasonable rate. However, if I am traveling or if I am somewhere like where I am today (the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta) I will dry camp over a campground for the most important reason. Location, Location, Location.

We do have a large battery bank of 4 - 8D Lifeline AGM batteries but with all the fun stuff I have running in the coach I still just make it through the night on the batteries. Others say they do somewhat better but it really depends upon what you still have running when you think you have everything turned off (parasitic draws) such as every TV, each computer, clocks, routers, printers, satellite receivers/DVR's, etc., etc.

With all of those things (and we have lots of them) we run our generator from dusk until we go to bed (need a generator on while cooking and to be able to turn on all the lights I like, watch TV, be on the computer.....) We then turn the generator on in the morning to charge the batteries as well as run the coffee maker and hair dryer and TV(s) and computers. In general we estimate that we run the generator about 10 hours per day. At a gallon per hour and $3 per gallon that's $30/day. That's about what it would cost at a campground (some more, some less) so make your choice accordingly. Right now we are camped at the Sandia Casino up on a hill overlooking the Balloon Fiesta field. I "could" be parked on the grounds (dry camping) for about $70/night or at the Presidential campground (full hookups) for $135/night. We have been here for 5 days (RVers are welcome! You are checked in by the casino with emergency contact info and there are dumpsters in place just for us) and the Fiesta if over tomorrow. We will move to a campground tomorrow afternoon for 2 days before we head on our way again. We will be able to dump and fill, do laundry, do a check up on the generator and be ready to head off on our next trip.

We've been doing this as full-time RVers since 2000 so if you have any additional questions please feel free to post here!

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I have another question about the appliances that have been normally propane run in the past. The electric stove tops, how efficient are they? How does one of these heat? How hot do they get and how fast to they get to temp? Is the propane stove a better appliance? It seems that if I were to have a propane tank for just the propane stove and oven, it would be easy to boondock for a week or two without running out of propane. I'm just not yet sold on an electric stove top??

I believe that the aqua-hot systems that run on diesel (water heater and furnace) appear to be fairly efficient?? The residential style frigs draw about 3 amps per hour and they appear to be pretty good according to what I've been reading????

Also, from what I've been reading, if I have a large battery bank (6 to 8 six volt batteries) and add additional solar panels (maybe 4 to 6 100+ watt panels) that should give me what I need to boondock and keep generator use to a minimum.????

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OK, I confess, I have a gas cook-top. My wife likes to cook but hate to cook on an electric cook-top. A 20# bottle of propane lasts about 1 1/2 YEARS.

Solar will reduce the amount of time you need to run the generator but you will likely still need the generator at night (maybe you can wait until dinner time instead of dusk) and since the solar doesn't help overnight you will need the generator in the morning to get the batteries back up.

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Our Fitzjohn Roadrunner was 100% electric and we never seemed to have any problems. We had a 3 burner cooktop and also used one of those plug-in casserole cookers with a top. We actually found some benifits from not having propane on board such as no restrictions about driving through tunnels, and no potential for propane leaks.

We didn't have any fancy auto start on our generator. There were a couple of times we did drain the batteries enough that we couldn't even start the generator, but on our antique Kholer generator, it had a crank start (like an old model A) for just such an occasion.

The only drawback we had was camping in cold climates in the mountains of Colorado. My dad taught skiing, and so we would spend the entire weekend at the ski area. At night we had to run the generator to keep the electric heaters going, but a couple of times, the weather created an "inversion" situation where there was no breeze and so the carbon monoxide built up around the coach. The only way we noticed was that our dogs started throwing up which woke us up to realize there was a problem. The 2nd time, my dad had tried to vent the exhause trhough a long tube away from the coach, but there was still a leak. Please be careful if you run your generator at night!

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Since heating the coach is mentioned, most all electric coaches do not use electric as the primary heat source. Our coach has a diesel fired Wabasto (others use Aqua-Hot or similar) hot water baseboard heater which will keep you warm and toasty in most any weather without the need for running the genset.

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Considering heating - The Blue Bird 450 LXI uses a Webasto system (designed by Blue Bird). It uses the engine /rad antifreeze and runs a 20 amp (12V) pump continuously even when the coach is not "calling " for heat. The engine and rad are continually held at 160- 180 degrees as a "Heat sink".

The 450 therefore cannot go from 10 pm to 7 am (required by no noise rules) without running the genset if the heat is on. Even without the Webasto, all unnecessary loads and inverters must be switched off(It has 10 x 8D s)

Ross

Since heating the coach is mentioned, most all electric coaches do not use electric as the primary heat source. Our coach has a diesel fired Wabasto (others use Aqua-Hot or similar) hot water baseboard heater which will keep you warm and toasty in most any weather without the need for running the genset.

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We have an all electric Country Coach and it works well for us dry camping or at a campground. We have 4 8D AGM batteries in very good condition and a 12,500 diesel generator. We find we run the generator about two hours a day when dry camping. Of course this changes completely if you need air conditioning. But when we don't need air conditioning we normally turn the gen on in the morning till the two alternator /chargers go from charge to float. And then if we are going to run a high amps device like cook top, microwave, or vacuum cleaner we turn on the gen. I like the all electric. I did not think I would, but it came with the used coach we bought and I really wanted the coach. Now I think not using propane is a good thing. Way less fire danger for one. Of course you end up with two inverters which can be problematical. I have had to do some service on mine.

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Bill:

I am in the process of converting my motorhome from Norcold to a residential refrigerator.

What is the Ah rating of your battery bank at 12 volts?

Also what brand refrigerator do you have?

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Bill:

I am in the process of converting my motorhome from Norcold to a residential refrigerator.

What is the Ah rating of your battery bank at 12 volts?

Also what brand refrigerator do you have?

We have LOTS of battery power but I have never understood how to figure what I have as far as AH. I have 4 huge (160#) Lifeline AGM 8-D batteries which show rated capacity of 255 AH. So, do I have 1020 AH? Since I leave all appliances, computers, internet modem, routers running 24/7 and have lots of parasitic draws such as the TV's, microwave, fans, clocks, phone chargers, etc. I can only get about 8-10 hours of use out of this battery bank. We have a GE Profile 20cf fridge with ice maker (always running) and it's about 12 years old so likely not terribly efficient.

We have been using a 2000-W modified sine wave inverter for all of these years and would go pure sine wave only if this one dies.

Good luck with your project. I see the other post with the starting details. I helped a friend make just such a change and the windshield was the easiest way to do it. We had a glass company on site, a fork lift and 4 people. The glass came out, the old fridge went out, the new fridge came in and the glass company was reinstalling the glass in less than an hour.

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We just purchased an American Revolution. We've not yet done any boondocking so I can't report on how long we can stretch our battery bank.

For information only. The American all electric coaches will come from the factory with 8 AGM batteries. The only thing you can not run off the batteries are the stove top, washer/dryer and the A/C, however, I'd probably crank up the generator if I were using the microwave as it does use a lot of power.

The electric stove top seems to work just fine. No complaints from the 'head chef'. The fridge works fine on inverter power (the Revolution comes with 2 pure sine wave inverters), but so far we've only done so while traveling.

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Do you know if you have 4-D or 8-D batteries. I suspect that if you have 8 then they are the 4-D version or some smaller golf cart sized battery. These should give you excellent performance over a reasonable period while off the grid.

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I don't know (4 vs 8D). They appear to be a 'standard' physical size. We had two weeks of use before it got put into winter hibernation.

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I don't know (4 vs 8D). They appear to be a 'standard' physical size. We had two weeks of use before it got put into winter hibernation.

OK, those would not be either 4 or 8 D (a 4D is about twice as long as a standard battery and an 8D is abouot twice as long and twice as wide) but the regular golf cart sized battery. If you can find a model number you can get the battery rating here:

http://www.lifelinebatteries.com/rvdeepcyclebatteries.php

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