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Author Topic: keeping kids warm in cold weather camping  (Read 10707 times)
campingyoyo
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« on: September 18, 2011, 05:06:42 PM »

Hi there everyone,
Hoping for a little advice. We will be going on a 3 night trip next weekend..no hookups. We have a 2002 coleman Bayside. 2 propane tanks and an old battery. From what I've read the propane tanks are more than enough to get us through 3 nights but just read that the fan on the furnace uses bat power. Is that correct? We will need to heat  for about 8 hrs a night. (twin toddlers in tow) Im thinking around 65 degrees, but it's been dropping close to 50 lately. Is the fan a big draw? What options do I have? Recently read posts about heater buddies..are those indoor propane heaters? We usually use a regular portable heater in the fall but no hookups are available this time. Any ideas?? Thanks so much.
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TNCampingDad
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2011, 05:45:33 PM »

the buddies are a good backup. but you should leave a window cracked open for venting.  they say these are safe for indoor use.  make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector. better to be safe. sorry i can't answer your battery question. i dont ever use my battery. yet?
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 06:59:05 PM by TNCampingDad » Logged

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chilipyro
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2011, 05:51:29 PM »

You must live in the South, to say that 65 degrees is cold. A couple of heavy blankets is all you need for 50-65 degree temps. A couple of these would warm their beds up before they get in (or if you only fill with warm water, they would be good to cuddle with after they go to bed):



Fleece Covered Hot Water Bottles

If you need to run your furnace at night (for us, that would be temps in the 40s), you will probably want to replace your battery - as the furnace does have a pretty good draw. But, for temps in the range you are talking about, I don't think your furnace will be cycling on enough to be worried about the battery - unless you are trying to keep the inside in the 80s. I would not use a buddy heater to keep the inside warm while you sleep, especially with toddlers inside. Even if the CO was not an issue, there is risk of fire if one of the kids gets up in the night and knocks the heater over.

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pa popper
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« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2011, 06:04:38 PM »

I was out this past weekend with a friend and his two grand daughters on Pa state forest land. The temperatures got to about 50 degrees. We used up 2 group 24 batteries that I had fully charged and serviced prior to the trip including a load test, in 2 nights of running the furnace at 65 - 70 degrees. In my popup, I used 2 buddy heaters for warmth and will be going back to them for heat in our hybrid. We keep a O2 detector on board just in case. I also plan on setting up 2 group 31 batteries in the near future just for running the furnace.

Stay warm!
Brooke
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campingyoyo
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« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2011, 06:46:30 PM »

Thanks for all the info!
 LOL. We're in Montreal not the south! We just get used to short, hot and sticky summers fast! Husband thinks 65 is freezing..kids do too. I prefer 90 but Ill take what I can get as long as there is no shoveling snow involved. WE're only going an hr away. Girls are 4 and will often get spooked in the trailer at night and coming running to our side. I think the buddies are out then, nothing on the floor is safe. I'd be worried all the time. The temp at night this time of year here is very strange. Tonight it will be 45 but in a few days it could be 65..  It's really the dampness in the trailer when it's cooler that we have an issue with. If we can just dry it out a bit (maybe mid 50's), then maybe the extra covers would be just fine. Just would like to be prepared.

pa popper: did you have anything else running on the batteries? Will group 31 make a big difference? Our bat is at least 10 yrs old and the trickle charger says it's never completely full. We usually have a hook up so never worried about it until now. Water bottles are good idea too. Tks. Have been thinking about getting two new batteries anyways...best sites are always without hook ups. If group 31 is that much better maybe I will bite the bullet now. Is it safe to bring a third propane tank... is that overkill? LOL
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austinado16
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« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2011, 07:25:13 PM »

We always dry camp and never plug in to either power or water.  Here's what's always worked for us in those temps.

-Military Casualty Blanket (aka: Sportsmans Blanket) silver side up, under DD's mattress.
-1" Memory Foam Topper ($20 at Target) on top of DD's mattress.
-We make our beds, just like we would at home; ie, soft flannel sheets, and layers of blankets.
-LED lights in the all the ceiling and porch lights (9LED warm white printed circuit boards from www.superbriteleds.com) to conserve battery power.
-$95US for a Group 27 battery from NAPA or Autozone.
-2/6/12 amp "smart" automatic battery charger by Black & Decker (similar to the Vector models) Amazon.com is your friend.  I charge the battery the day before we leave.
-The Suburban is set up to charge the battery during towing so we arrive with a fully charged battery.
-When we did use the furnace, I set the t-stat to give 65*F at the bunks.
-We got tired of the furnace keeping us awake all night and purchased an Olypian Wave 6 Catalytic heater, and that is now our primary heat source all night long.  Been using it 5 seasons.

If you haven't already done so, you might consider some amber LED navigation lights that you can leave on all night long for the DD's.  Energizer makes a nice D-cell powered flourescent lantern that has an amber LED nightlight.  It's plenty bright for our 11' long box and I don't think we've replaced the batteries in it in 5 seasons of running all night long, every time we camp.

One thing to remember about Mr. Buddy heaters, or the Wave heaters, etc.  They all have safety shut-offs, so if they even get tipped slightly, they shut off.  They also have low oxygen and CO sensors, so they'll shut off for those reasons as well.  Use them per instructions, and you're safe.  For example, the Mr. Buddy, just like the Waves, could be set up on the table.

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chilipyro
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« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2011, 03:51:31 AM »

I don't know if you are concerned with keeping the pup warm in the daytime, but a buddy heater should be plenty safe before you turn out the lights (many do say they are safe to use while sleeping too). A charged group 31 battery should be more than enough to keep your furnace going for a couple of nights (and some light daytime use too). With two group 31s (or two group 24s), you would be fine for 3 nights - or you could take your discharged battery to a gas station for recharging during the day, while you are out and about. Get a volt meter and check the battery voltage in the morning. If it is down to 12.0, it needs a recharge (and/or switching to the other battery). Get yourself a three stage battery charger (about $100) and charge your batteries to full before you leave. As austinado said, switching the lights you use the most for LEDs saves a lot of power drain. Or don't use your pup lights at all (use portable battery florescent  or LED lanterns instead). A couple of regular pup lights suck up as much of the battery as the furnace. I don't think you will need more propane, unless you are keeping the pup at sauna temps all the time. Propane refills are usually easy to find too.

There are lots of upgrades you can make to your pup, to allow it to handle colder weather more efficiently (and comfortably). Search here on popup gizmos and reflectix, and you will find some great tips. Condensation (raining from the tenting) is an issue with cooler nights, and the popup gizmos can solve that issue. Again, heavy blankets or a sleeping bag thrown on top of the bed will keep everyone toasty. Fleece hot water bottles are fantastic - we keep a set in the camper all the time (and another at home).
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pa popper
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« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2011, 03:02:28 PM »

YoYo,
We did have a water pump that we turned on only when we wanted to run water and a few lights now and then. The best thing is that kids love flashlights. Without getting technical I will say that 2 group 31 batteries will be equal to 3 group 26 batteries. Knowing this, at the rate we used batteries this past weekend, we would only get about 3 good nights. We just got our hybrid late this summer so I have some work to do in order to get more battery life because 80% of our camping is boondocking. I hope to soon change out most of our lights with LED's, but the cost of this is about $13.00 a light. I want to insulate our bed ends and use catalyst heaters, like we did in our pup. My wife is a quilter and I made my "camping quilt", so we just throw on another quilt when we get too cold.
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campingyoyo
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« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2011, 04:01:02 PM »

Great info! We never use the overhead lights, always the  Energizer lantern that austinado16 mentioned. That really is the best lantern I have ever used. We leave it on the LED all night for the girls. We hang it from the ceiling and it's great. I forgot about the pump...barely any dishes but we often rinse the girls and feet before bed. Ever since we figured out how to use the hot water last year we're kind of obsessed with it. LOL. We don't bring electronics and our Pathfinder charges as we drive. I believe the trailer has a battery meter beside the freshtank meter..anybody know how accurate those are? Checked the group 31 at our local Canadian Tire and they are going for 139$ Sound reasonable? How would you insulate the bunk ends? chilipyro; have you actually used the gizmos? I checked it out and it looks interesting but wondering if you have actually tried them. We usually don't put the heater on during the day..would that make the furnaace work harder at night? Camping quilt sounds great. I think we'll buy one new battery, be conservative with the pump and see where that gets us. Then maybe next year we can fine tune everything. Would love to lose the hookups and get to some of those great sites in the fall. Is the furnace really that loud? Casualty blanket make a big difference?
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austinado16
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« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2011, 05:01:17 PM »

Sounds like you guys are well on your way to being dry campers!

That Group 31 would be nice if you have the room to fit it.  Measure first, unless that's what you're already replacing.  Can't comment on the price, but call around and see.  Battery quality can vary, so look and feel before you buy.  The heaviest batteries have the most lead, and will be the best. 

If you guys aren't using the ceiling and porch lights, IMO, you're prime candidates for LEDs.  With the LED's you'll never again have to monitor the lighting useage.  It's actually a very nice thing.  There are several different sites that carry nice LED's.  What you want, no matter who you buy from, is "warm white" so that they give off a more normal looking light.  I prefer the printed circuit board style so that all the LED are facing down.  It makes more sense to me.....but I'm simple.  There are some good LED threads here, so give a couple of those a read.  I pay $22ea for the 9LED boards from superbriteleds.com.  There are other sites that have versions in the $15 range.

Regarding the Military Casualty Blanket (aka: Sportsmans blanket), I don't know if having it under DD's mattress makes any difference or not.  I made my own bunk end covers (what people here call Gizmos) out of the casualty blankets.  I've spent cold nights in the mountains with them on, and the same cold nights with them off......we use them for protection from full-on sun when we're not protected by forest.....and I can't say that they made the camper warmer.  I'm pretty certain that pop-ups leak air like a seive, so I'm not sure that a 1mm thick plastic tarp it slowing anything down.  Maybe if it was wrapped around me, silver side in, but I'm not sure that translates to being 3' over my head, draped over the outside of my roof.  I could be wrong through.

And no, running your furnace during the day has nothing to do with it's function at night, other than to run down your battery and propane sooner.
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pa popper
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2011, 05:04:14 PM »

YoYo,

I will use a product called Reflectix to insulate my bunk ends. Reflectix is a insulating product that comes in a roll with different widths. It is a poly sheet that is covered on both sides with a reflecting foil. It is thin, less than a half an inch, so you can cut it the shape of your windows and put it between your window canvas and your screen. This product can be bought at home centers like Lowes. I have used the Gizmos, and they work very well for keeping the heat out so I'm hoping they work as well to keep the heat in, they can't hurt and they are good for keeping your bunk ends clean. You will need to shop around for a a good price for your batteries.
It will not be hard on your furnace to let it off all day and turn it on at night. It may run a bit longer but in the long run you save a pile of battery and lp.
One other thing that I do is on day trips is, I will put a battery in the back of my truck and run a positive and negative off of the trailer electric hookup from my truck to the battery and can charge it while out, just as you do while pulling your camper. This also works well for us, I would not use this in the passenger compartment of my vehicle.
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pa popper
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« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2011, 05:13:02 PM »

Austin,

I saw your reply to YoYo and was wondering if you have the time, could you look at the LED's that I am thinking about buying. They are at this link http://www.prudentrver.com/index3.html and the light is the model W9.RV3N

Thank you for your time,
Brooke
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campingyoyo
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« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2011, 06:06:27 PM »

Austin,
Tried to check out your 22$ lights but can't find them. That website is huge. Where should I look? Lol.  Replacing a 24. What do you mean by fit? The battery box?

Reflectix sounds interesting...   especially for the summer. We camped in a heat wave this summer on an open site..we were being baked alive at 7 am!
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Sunrise camper
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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2011, 07:31:18 PM »

YoYo,

I can verify that the Reflectix works for keeping out the heat, haven't yet tried it for keeping in the heat.  We were in a full sun site in mid July with temps in the high 90's and the Reflectix definately kept the bunk ends cooler.  Might have worked better if I get off my butt and fix the miltary blanket covers for the roof.   Tongue I have used those before with success, just have to make a new set for the new hybrid.
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austinado16
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« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2011, 07:45:46 PM »

YoYo.....Batteries come in all different shapes and sizes, depending on what they're used in.  For example a Group 24 is much smaller than a Group 27, and both are smaller than a Group 31.  So before you purchase a 31, go measure one, and make sure it will fit in the battery box that your camper has.  Or, purchase a new, larger battery box that will fit that new 31, and you'll have a nice big battery that'll last you a long time.  But also, invest in a real battery charger, so that you can maintain that new battery.  You'll want to charge it once a month when not in use, and disconnect it from the camper also, when not in use.

Regarding the $22 LED boards.  Lemme go get a link and post it here.  It's in their 12vMarine area, but yeah, not a very user friendly site.

Brooke, I'll check yours out too.

BRB

Okay Brooke, I like those!  If I had those wedge type bases, I'd be buying some.  How can you go wrong at $12ea?

Here's the link to the superbrite page.  Scroll down to the "PCB Series LED Lamps" and then hit the "expand" button.  That'll bring up pictures of all versions.  Scroll down to find the type of base that your lights use, and that's how you wind up choosing these.  Mine take the 1156 base, so that's the 1156 9LED PCB.
http://www.superbrightleds.com/cgi-bin/store/index.cgi?action=DispPage&Page2Disp=%2Fother_bulbs.htm
« Last Edit: September 19, 2011, 08:08:12 PM by austinado16 » Logged
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