We don’t have a connection to shore power, so we spend a lot of nights in our travel trailers. One of the favorite ways to camp is this one.
It makes us rely on our preparedness and the systems in the travel trailer that can be run off-grid, instead of always being plugged in to have every comfort of home feeling.
This boondocking is called by RVers and we are big fans. 9 days was the longest boondock trip we have had.
We had a 1-year-old baby with us on the trip and we had a generator to keep the batteries topped off.
Yes, the RV furnace will run on batteries. The heat is produced from propane and the blower fan is powered by a battery.
The typical furnace is capable of drawing about 8 Amp of power. When not connected to shore power, it is a good idea to use solar or generator power to supplement the charging of your batteries.
Many of the electronics on your camper, RV, or travel trailer are powered by the 12-volt battery system in your RV.
It is easier to explain what the system doesn’t run than it is to explain what it does run. The blower on the furnace will allow you to heat your RV while you are not on the grid.
Propane gas is used to fuel the furnace and the fan blows the heated air around your coach.
How Long Will a Heater Run on a 12 Volt Battery?
If you have the appropriate battery power, the furnace in your travel trailer will run without being hooked up to electricity.
If you have two 12v 100amp hour batteries, you should not draw down more than 50% of the capacity to get 100 hours of usable capacity.
If there is no other draw on your batteries, you can expect your heaters to run continuously for about 12 hours.
Your heating is never on 100% of the time, even though this looks like a small amount.
It only runs for 20 minutes every hour to keep your coach revved up, and it would last 37.88 hours between the time you woke up and the time you left.
It’s possible that this number isn’t accurate as you can set your thermostat back at night or turn your heat off when you’re not in your trailer or hiking.
If you look at a third scenario, you can only use the heater at night for 8 hours.
The trailer would use 108.6 Amp-hours over 5 days, using the same parameters as 20 minutes per hour.
You can see how this time can be extended greatly.
It is almost impossible to calculate how long your batteries will last because there are so many variables, such as outdoor temperature, desired indoor temperature, Amp draw of furnace motor, size of RV, insulation used in RV, solar heat gain, etc.
If you are planning on going camping over 3 days if you have 2 healthy 12 volt batteries, you should use a solar or generator to charge your batteries if you need heat. Permanent damage can be caused when you draw your batteries down past 50%.
Tips to Make Your Furnace Last Longer When Running on Batteries
When you are boondocking or not connected to shore power, there are several ways to make your heating power last longer.
This ranges from simple things such as turning your head down, to more expensive things such as installing solar.
- A night of better sleep is provided by sleeping in a cooler environment, and you gain warmth from blankets or sleeping bags while camping. If you want to save battery power, try setting your thermostat back to nighttime.
- If you are going on an adventure, make sure you don’t use battery power for your devices when you aren’t around.
- Cheap batteries that come with your RV, or that you can buy over the counter at a parts store, will usually last less than higher Amp hour batteries. Here are the batteries that have the highest Amp hour.
- Your thermostat may say that it is time for heat. When we want to save battery power from running our heater, we manually turn it on to heat the RV, after it is heated. When we are still feeling warm in our trailer, we don’t want to keep heating up when we are not warm.
- While winterizing our RV, we discovered that one of our heating ducts wasn’t hooked up. The picture was taken after it was hooked up to the Louvers. While we were getting heat out of the unit, it was also circulating heat behind our cabinets and water heating unit.
- If you want to keep your heating usage down, dial back the thermostat and wear multiple layers so you are warm.
- It is possible to get a lot of heat in the winter if you are positioned in direct sunlight. We went to our RV in storage in February when the temperature was 45 degrees and the RV was very warm.
- There may be areas where the factory skimped on your RV, we have found a few areas ourselves in our trailer such as the floor on the slide-out or under the folding part on our Murphy bed, which goes into the pass-through storage. We needed to keep our heat in and the cold out, so we bought some closed-cell foam insulation. It is possible to keep a lot of heat in with the insulation of your vent covers.
- Keeping your batteries topped off can be accomplished with some rooftop or suitcase solar. Depending on the sun, you may see 4-5 in the afternoon if you have 200-watt solar, or you may see 4-5 in the morning if you have about 200 watts solar. Depending on the conditions, you may need 4 hours of sunlight to replenish your fan if you use it for more than 2 hours per day. The solar kit has worked great and we installed it.
- When we’re out boondocking, we use our generator to keep our batteries topped off. We usually have to run it for 1-2 hours using the onboard charger to refill our batteries. We like to camp in popular campgrounds and like to enjoy the quiet outdoors, so we plan on upgrading to solar to get rid of the constant generator sound. We have a generator that is 2000 watts and can power everything.
Does RV Furnaces Contain Filters?
All of the furnaces do not have filters. Since these furnaces run on propane, and some with both propane and electric, there is no filter because it can catch fire.
You need to keep the ducts clean to keep the air flowing. To keep the ducts clean, you have to make sure items aren’t covering the floor or ceiling vent.
Many people put a trash can in front of a wall vent; it must be moved. Make sure the outside vent isn’t blocking it and clean it periodically.
Bug or spider sits in this vent many times. Spiders will block the air from the vent if they get into it. The propane could be released back into the cabin of the RV and cause a fire.
Shut the propane valve off if you ever smell it. This could be a sign of a leak or a problem. This could cause a fire, explosion, or serious health risks.
It is a good idea to have a carbon monoxide detector. It is a good idea to vacuum all vent covers in the cabin. There are vents on the ceiling and floor.
If you have a dog or cat with you, vacuuming will remove all the dust build-up and hair build-up. It’s a good idea to vacuum the furnace itself.
The unit’s vent cover is easy to remove. Don’t disturb the unit by vacuuming around it after it is removed. The unit is likely to have the same build-up of dust and hair as the cabin vents.
Always take your furnace to a licensed technician if you wish to have it pulled out, checked, and cleaned. If handled wrongly, they can be dangerous.
I`m a current Law Enforcement Officer working within the Counterterrorism Bureau in New York State. I have been Camping for over 20 years. My styles of camping include tent, car, truck, van, and RV travel trailer. I have a YouTube channel where I teach all types of camping with an entertaining method: https://youtube.com/@TheSmallsRVAdventures