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Old 07-25-2017, 12:17 AM   #1
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We have a brand new 2016 RTS. Even though the salesperson told us we could boondocks for 3 to 5 days on coach battery, we have not been able to keep battery power for more than 20 hours with ONLY the refrigerator running with ice and cold drinks in it. Is this normal?

Also, we have gotten conflicting info on whether to keep the invertor on or off when:
Charging with shore power
Driving

Please help us. We are first time owners but have not been happy as we are not even sure what to do or expect at this point. Thanks!
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Old 07-25-2017, 12:46 AM   #2
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We have a brand new 2016 RTS. Even though the salesperson told us we could boondocks for 3 to 5 days on coach battery, we have not been able to keep battery power for more than 20 hours with ONLY the refrigerator running with ice and cold drinks in it. Is this normal?
...

This is not normal.

How much battery do you have?
AGM or ecotrek?

How much solar?
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Old 07-25-2017, 01:43 AM   #3
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The build your own on the Roadtrek site shows a "100 amp" AGM battery we don't know for sure what size it is. Probably 100ah. The only option they showed was an engine generator, no Ecotrek.

It also shows a 5cf compressor frig, which will probably use upwards of 50ah per day by itself and more if it is hot out.

If the battery isn't getting fully charged, which is very likely, and is at 70-80%, and the inverter is on with it's parasitic load, I think they could be out of power in 20 hours or so.

Depending on the care the battery got while it was on the dealer lot, the battery could also have reduced capacity, making things worse.

In general, you don't want the inverter on if you aren't using AC power, but Roadtrek has done some odd stuff where the inverters need to be on for all kinds of other things, so that would be for the dealer or Roadtrek to fill in the blanks.
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Old 07-25-2017, 02:32 AM   #4
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The Roadtrek Simplicity has only one AGM ... probably a group 27 (not a group 31) and most people are having a second battery added.

I would take it to someone who can check whether the dealer killed the battery while on the lot. I've used Batteries and Bulbs...

You might need to call Roadtrek and check the set-up on your build as to when the inverter should be on or off. I only turn mine on when I am plugged in (and using 110 stuff) or if I park on the road to use the microwave for a quick lunch. Otherwise it is off when I am driving.
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Old 07-25-2017, 02:34 PM   #5
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Do you have to have the inverter on when charging or just when on shore power to use 110V? I can still charge my batteries with my inverter off on shore power with my Advanced RV.

The dealer is right in that you can boondock 3-5 days but you have to know how and conserve. I've done it on my one wet cell battery B but you have to run your generator be it Onan or second alternator or drive daily such as running into town for supplies or visiting trailheads and sight seeing. But I suspect the dealer is being a little bit grandiose.
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Old 07-25-2017, 04:45 PM   #6
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Do you have to have the inverter on when charging or just when on shore power to use 110V? I can still charge my batteries with my inverter off on shore power with my Advanced RV.

The dealer is right in that you can boondock 3-5 days but you have to know how and conserve. I've done it on my one wet cell battery B but you have to run your generator be it Onan or second alternator or drive daily such as running into town for supplies or visiting trailheads and sight seeing. But I suspect the dealer is being a little bit grandiose.
On a Roadtrek it depends on which inverter they have, the Tripplite only needs to be on when you need the inverter function but the newer Roadtrek inverters need to be on for any function to work: inverter, battery charging on shore power, or 120v pass through of shore power into the van.
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Old 07-25-2017, 09:59 PM   #7
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On a Roadtrek it depends on which inverter they have, the Tripplite only needs to be on when you need the inverter function but the newer Roadtrek inverters need to be on for any function to work: inverter, battery charging on shore power, or 120v pass through of shore power into the van.
Some designs have unpredictable consequences, the risks of which are not easily quantified. But in the case of inverters, particularly inverters that are chronically driven pedal to the metal, it's not a question of if, but when it's going to fail. In terms of their evolution, these devices are still a work in progress. That I get. But with the Roadtrek design, the consequences go beyond inconvenience. Some RV owners travel with medical equipment and without at least some 120V bailout source, they are SOL. Considering that, IMO, designing a hybrid inverter/converter/charger that permits the failure of the inverter to also disable the shore side converter/charger is a work product from someone dumber than a rock.
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Old 07-25-2017, 10:07 PM   #8
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This is normal. Refrigerators consume a lot of power.

Put your refrigerator in propane mode. It can run for weeks.
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Old 07-25-2017, 10:27 PM   #9
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This is normal. Refrigerators consume a lot of power.

Put your refrigerator in propane mode. It can run for weeks.
I think RT has switched over to 12VDC/120VAC fridges which no longer have a propane setting. Some run on 12VDC only.
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Old 07-25-2017, 10:53 PM   #10
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Some designs have unpredictable consequences, the risks of which are not easily quantified. But in the case of inverters, particularly inverters that are chronically driven pedal to the metal, it's not a question of if, but when it's going to fail. In terms of their evolution, these devices are still a work in progress. That I get. But with the Roadtrek design, the consequences go beyond inconvenience. Some RV owners travel with medical equipment and without at least some 120V bailout source, they are SOL. Considering that, IMO, designing a hybrid inverter/converter/charger that permits the failure of the inverter to also disable the shore side converter/charger is a work product from someone dumber than a rock.


Thanks for your help everyone. It sounds like we will probably need to get a generator or install solar panels if we want more boondocking days.
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:21 AM   #11
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No propane mode on a new Roadtrek? This is not progress. A giant step backward.

The refrigerator's 12 volt elements consume anywhere between 150 and 275 watts!

If you remember your high school electricity or physics class, this is a lot of electrical energy.

Don't tell us that you are also lacking a generator.

Get a large solar panel.
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:25 AM   #12
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No propane mode on a new Roadtrek? This is not progress. A giant step backward.

The refrigerator's 12 volt elements consume anywhere between 150 and 275 watts!
No. It is a giant step forward. These 12V only fridges are NOT traditional RV absorption units. Rather, they are highly-efficient compressor fridges. They work as well as a home refrigerator and aren't troubled by tilt. Many of us have them, and would NEVER go back to absorption units. They use MUCH less electricity than an absorption unit in DC mode.
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:27 AM   #13
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No propane mode on a new Roadtrek? This is not progress. A giant step backward.

The refrigerator's 12 volt elements consume anywhere between 150 and 275 watts!

If you remember your high school electricity or physics class, this is a lot of electrical energy.

Don't tell us that you are also lacking a generator.

Get a large solar panel.
It is a compressor frig, so it will be in the 56-60 watts of dc power, and probably only 30% duty cycle compared to 100% with a 3 way on dc power. It is the way of the future in the minds of many of us who have them already, and have for a while.
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Old 07-26-2017, 12:41 AM   #14
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Thanks for your help everyone. It sounds like we will probably need to get a generator or install solar panels if we want more boondocking days.

You didn't get the underhood generator option? In any event, to support a high power inverter you are going to need more battery capacity. They are pricey, but a couple of Concord GPL31XTs will provide 250ah capacity which will provide adequate inverter support for moderate use. The convention is to limit depth of discharge to 50%. Some folks adhere strictly to this rule, However, I've run Concords often to substatially higher DOD without discernible effect on long term capacity. They are the crem de la crem of deep cycle AGMs.

The fridge at 5.5 cf capacity is fairly large but they are pretty efficient and at at a 50% duty cycle, depending on ambient temp, they'll use around 50ah per day.

I'm not familiar with the Simplicity chassis layout but if you are planning to provide generator support at this point, check whether there is actually room to install an Onan. If not, the alternative (and IMO the better alternative) would be to add a Nations second alternator.
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Old 07-26-2017, 01:11 AM   #15
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Correct. We have no generator or solar panels. Sounds like we better get one or the other
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Old 07-26-2017, 01:18 AM   #16
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Correct. We have no generator or solar panels. Sounds like we better get one or the other
Do the math before you commit to solar as a solution to your problem. You might be surprised about how big a system you may need. A small solar panel is very good for battery health during outside storage, though.

A second alternator, otoh, is da bomb.
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Old 07-26-2017, 01:45 AM   #17
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Do the math before you commit to solar as a solution to your problem. You might be surprised about how big a system you may need. A small solar panel is very good for battery health during outside storage, though.

A second alternator, otoh, is da bomb.
With a single battery, having a separate alternator if likely a waste of money, unless the Promaster severely limits the amount of output that can go to the coach, which IIRC is what Sprinters do. A 100ah AGM is going to take about 40 amps max or it will get hot charging, and almost any alternator will do that.

Even doubling the battery capacity would make it close on the need for the second alternator, at 80 amps charging, but the separate one would be nice to prevent overworking the OEM, non heavy duty, type unit.

This appears to be another of the those times where the purchaser has been over promised on the van's capacity offgrid, especially since it has a large compressor frig.

As we have found, 300 watts of solar can let us be off grid essentially continuously if the sun is good, but with only one battery, the OP would not have the capacity to bridge even one cloudy day or shady site. He would need to run the van engine or get a generator.

The simplicity should just not be touted as off grid capable for much more than overnight, as the frig, some TV and dvd use, charging up some devices, etc, will take too much power, especially if the inverter is also running all the time.
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Old 07-26-2017, 03:04 AM   #18
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Look into installing a second battery. Many of the Simplicity owners are doing this...
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Old 07-26-2017, 10:20 AM   #19
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As already noted, if it only has a 100ah battery with a compressor fridge then more battery capacity is needed. Folks have been adding batteries to B vans for as long as I can remember.

Solar is great but then you'll need sun and will miss out on the pleasantness of full shade sites in the summer.

Idling your engine would be a fairly fast way to put some charge in the battery. Adding a Trimetric battery monitor would let you know when the battery is back to 90% or so then you can turn off the engine. The last 10% or so takes a long time so likely not worth idling to do it.
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Old 08-04-2017, 12:25 AM   #20
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We have a 2018 Simplicity. We had a second battery added, they are both Group 31.

We also had the dealer install a Zamp Solar package with the combiner box on the roof. I added another 100 watt Renogy panel yesterday for a whopping 260 watts of Solar. Today was mostly overcast and the charge controller said we generated close to 60 Ah. The difference in price from the Zion to the Simplicity allows us to do a lot of extra additions to the van and still save a lot of money. The Zamp stuff seems pretty low quality compared to the Renogy cables and panel. I would have preferred to do it all myself but since I didn't want to get the run around regarding warranty in the future i asked them to do it.

Before the second panel went on we would get almost three days of use before needing a charge from the under hood generator. Mind you in the 2 weeks we have had it, it has rained a lot. The generator was one of the big reasons we went with Roadtrek over Winnebago. We arent AC people we run the fan almost always. TV and DVD are 12v units so don't require the inverter to be on. Basically the only time we use the inverter is to reheat leftovers, and when we run it i usually start the van during use.

Don't have buyers remorse, it is a great van for boondocking you just have to make it work for you...sure beats all those fancy extras on the Zion that seem to keep everyone from getting much use out of there vans because they are always in the shop.
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