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Old 08-14-2017, 10:01 PM   #1
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Newbie Questions

Hi there! We just bought a 2015 Dutchmen Aerolite travel trailer. We borrowed a friend's RV for 17 days last year and had a great time, but we have never owned anything more than a tent until...well, yesterday!

We got it home, and our kids are dying to sleep in it. My husband is telling me that we cannot run the air conditioning at home as the AC is a 30 amp and can't be run from home. We also have a camping trip planned over Labor Day where we will not have hookups - believe they call it dry camping.

Can you help me out with what I can generally expect? Is there really no way to run the A/C while dry camping (or at home)? I've read that generally the battery power can get you through 2-3 days while dry camping. Is that your experience? And that if the battery starts going low, you can simply hook it up and drive around a bit to recharge.

Any tips on these questions (or otherwise) are welcome! I did attempt to search, but I almost wonder if these questions are TOO basic!!
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:01 PM   #2
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Others will jump in, I'm sure. There is an abundance of experience on this forum.

First, welcome to the world of RVing.
Second, remember the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is Attitude!

Your AC does require a 30amp AC source. That can be from shore power (the pedestal in the RV park), a 30amp RV receptacle at your house, or a 30amp receptacle on a portable generator.

The generator will also recharge your RV batteries while it's running.

Good luck.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:35 PM   #3
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I hauled my brand new 2017 Aerolite home about 16 months ago.
I didn't have a 30 amp outlet yet since that is a very unique and special outlet. (Sold at Home Depot as exactly what it is. 30 amp RV outlet)

So until I installed the 30 amp outlet, I put an adapter on my 30amp RV cable that allowed me to plug it into a normal residential 110 outlet.

The result is your RV now has NORMAL 110V service. But, is very likely to be 15-20 amps, depending on the outlets wiring and breaker.

And yes, you'll likely be able to run the AC and a few 12volt lights. But since you only have 15-20 amps available, if the AC is on, you can't do much else. The AC in your new Aerolite will use most of the amperage that residential 110volt outlet can supply.

I say plug it in, turn on the AC, and camp in the yard!!!
Have fun.

By the way, I lived in mine for a month with the 20-amp (specifically) service while I prepared my permanent utilities.
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Old 08-15-2017, 02:46 PM   #4
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I run mine a fair amount on my outside house plugs. Nothing else is on in the camper other than a few led lights, and nothing is plugged into any of the other outside plugs, it runs fine. I keep my camper plugged into the house all the time, (must run dehumidifiers down here) so I just bought a spare RV power cord and put a standard 3 prong house plug on it.

I have used adapters in the past but if you use them a lot and the connection doesn't stay super tight, they can burn up.
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Old 08-15-2017, 04:37 PM   #5
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As already mentioned, your air conditioning can run while the camper is plugged in to a typical household 15A outlet. You will need an adapter for the male end if your shore power cord to convert from a 30A to a 15A outlet. Our camper came with a small adapter like this, but I recommend getting a more robust one like this (often called a dogbone adapter). So hook your shore power cable to the camper like normal, hook the other end of the shore power cable to the referenced adapter, then plug the other end of the adapter into your household outlet. The air conditioner should work fine, although as mentioned it will draw pretty much everything that the household outlet can supply. So make sure nothing else in the camper is plugged into its 110V outlets and that nothing else is drawing from the circuit that the house outlet is on. Camper's water heater and fridge should be on gas setting if they are running, otherwise they'll be competing for the available 110V AC power.

If you want to run your air conditioner off of a generator, you will likely be following the same protocol as just mentioned. You will need a generator of sufficient capacity, likely rated at 3000 watts or more. There are ways of making it work with a slightly smaller generator, but let's save that tutorial until you're more versed in the camper.

As for your labor day weekend trip, it sounds like you're going to be without hookups. Like you said, often referred to as dry camping although that could maybe mean no water or plumbing but still have access to 110V AC electricity. But it sounds like you mean no hookups of any kind. So your camper will be self sufficient based on the water you carry with (fill the fresh water tank) and the battery capacity. Your camper likely came with one or two 12V batteries which will power your camper interior lighting, water pump, power jacks (if equipped), and exhaust fans. The camper also likely came with a propane tank or two which will be used to operate the refrigerator, water heater, and furnace. The fridge and likely the water heater will probably have the ability to operate on 110V AC electricity as well, but you won't have that available so you'll be using the gas. The furnace and fridge also require 12V power to use, and the furnace blower fan in particular will be a big drain on your 12V battery system. If you're using the furnace, then a generic rule of thumb is getting a single day's use out of a battery. So 2 batteries would be good for 2 days. This will all depend on how much 12V power you really use though. Propane use should not be much. And you're correct, if batteries get low you can just plug your trailer light connection into the tow vehicle and run the tow vehicle engine for a while. Very inefficient, but it will work.

Your camper should be plugged in when at home not in use if possible, this will keep the batteries charged. There are phantom loads that are always drawing from the battery, so a camper left unplugged will drain the battery to death over the course of several days. Owners will often disconnect the batteries or engage a disconnect switch if the camper is going to be stored without access to power. Make sure you've plugged the camper in for a couple days before you leave for your dry camping trip to make sure the batteries have fully charged. Driving will also provide some charge.
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Old 08-15-2017, 08:45 PM   #6
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With the proper adapter as mentioned your AC will run while hooked into the house. But don't try to run any other high draw items at the same time like the electric water heater, microwave, etc.


If you are truly dry camping with no electric, you will not be able to run the AC, microwave, water heater on electric, and the wall plugs will have no power. Those are all 120V items and if you can't plug the camper in, you have no 120V. The only thing you have is the items that run off 12V.


Also, trying to charge the battery by driving around a bit will not work. The rate of charge that you can get by driving around a bit is not high enough to charge the battery to any usable extent unless you are going for about a 8 hour drive. Then you might notice a slight increase in the battery level.


To start off you should be looking for sites with electric. Dry camping takes a dedicated conservation of power to get by for anything more than a day or two, and if your running the furnace, you'll probably not make it more than a day.


That's not to say you can't dry camp. I have dry camped for a week at at a time off the battery power with no recharge. That is by using only the water pump as minimally necessary (no showers), refrig, water heater on gas, and occasionally turn on a light for a minute or two.
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Old 08-15-2017, 08:55 PM   #7
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If you're going to be boondocking a lot, now's the time to invest in a good quiet inverter generator.
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Old 08-15-2017, 10:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amywiebe View Post
Hi there! We just bought a 2015 Dutchmen Aerolite travel trailer. We borrowed a friend's RV for 17 days last year and had a great time, but we have never owned anything more than a tent until...well, yesterday!

We got it home, and our kids are dying to sleep in it. My husband is telling me that we cannot run the air conditioning at home as the AC is a 30 amp and can't be run from home. We also have a camping trip planned over Labor Day where we will not have hookups - believe they call it dry camping.

Can you help me out with what I can generally expect? Is there really no way to run the A/C while dry camping (or at home)? I've read that generally the battery power can get you through 2-3 days while dry camping. Is that your experience? And that if the battery starts going low, you can simply hook it up and drive around a bit to recharge.

Any tips on these questions (or otherwise) are welcome! I did attempt to search, but I almost wonder if these questions are TOO basic!!
Hi Amy (I'm guessing on that),

I live behind the Colorado Mills shopping center. We dry camp a lot. It's out of print but I would suggest you try and find the book "Colorado Campgrounds: The 100 Best And All The Rest." It is very informative and goes into depth about facilities and activities. It also recommends specific campsites. I have found it indispensable in planning our trips. It is written by Gil Folsom who works as a salesman for Home Depot and sells windows, doors and such. If you can't find a copy of his book I have his phone number. He might know where to find one if you can't. It's really worth it to have this book. I'm retired so if you have a question you can PM me through the forum here. I could probably come over if you had a list of things to checkout or know.

It would help those answering any questions in the future if you could edit your signature with your TT type and tow vehicle if you.

Dale
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:11 PM   #9
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Thanks so much, everyone! Most helpful. We were able to get one night with air for the kids to check it out by doing just what you said - used the kitchen circuit and turned everything else off. We're also looking at just putting a 30amp source in at home.

I will figure out the signature thing soon! But just FYI that we have a 2011 Yukon Denali towing and a 2015 Dutchmen Aerolite - 24'.

Happy to be joining this crew! You are a very kind bunch.
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Old 08-19-2017, 02:08 PM   #10
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So much great information from this group. They are all spot on with the info. I put a 30 amp outside by my barn where I keep my unit so one ac will run to keep moisture out and it not getting too hot inside. I also put a 50 amp by my driveway so when the wife if loading it before we leave she will not have to endure a hot RV being in and out constantly. The same when we return and unload it. The 50 amp allows us both ac running and all the electricity we need like a vacuum cleaner, lights etc.
Dry camping as previously mentioned is a lot tougher than most think.. It requires a lot of management and may be quite difficult with children. I recommend state parks.. They are the least expensive and always beautiful.
Good luck and happy camping
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