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Old 12-01-2014, 09:00 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 2
Absolute newbie with a battery question

Hi there! My husband and I bought a 1969 Aloha in great shape recently, for a fellow we know to live in through the winter. The guy we bought it from doesn't seem to know much about it - he bought it from an electrician, who apparently rewired it, or something.

Here's what we know: when you plug in the power to the back of the trailer, it gives electricity to the outlets that have been installed throughout, the microwave, and we *think* the water pump and the heater fan. There are two overhead lights in the main area and one in the bathroom that do NOT run off that electricity.

The previous owner made the loose suggestion that 'we might want to get a battery'. So my husband did some research and got a deep cycle battery, appropriate to our travel trailer. We installed it, and voila, the overhead lights worked! Huzzah!

Our homeless friend moved into the trailer yesterday, and though they used only one of the overhead lights for maybe a couple of hours, and the bathroom light, at this point none of them are working. They did not run the water pump or the heater, and the electric has been plugged into our house the entire time. We assumed that being plugged in would automatically charge the battery - that was what the previous owner thought, and that seemed to be the general consensus. I guess we were wrong.

Is it possible that the battery is drained already, after a few hours of one small dome light use? When you get a brand new deep cycle battery, is there some sort of voodoo magic that you need to do to it? I am obviously completely ignorant of such things, to my embarrassment, and I have been trying to understand all the information I am finding online, but I just don't.

Should the battery be charging when the rig is plugged in? Or was that a bad assumption? If not, then how do we charge it? Do we need a separate charger? I am very confused, and hopeful that you folks can patiently explain to me. Thank you so much - and I love looking at your photos. Once warm weather is back, we'll be remodeling our new baby and taking her out on the road! For now, we just need to keep this man and his wife warm and dry for the winter.

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Old 12-01-2014, 09:29 PM   #2
evereddie's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Triad NC
Posts: 66
Yes the battery should charge when plugged in. An on-board device called a converter should provide 12 power to run all of the 12 systems and also charge the battery. If you put a voltmeter on the battery terminals when the trailer is plugged in it should read around 13.5 volts. If not you have a bad converter (that's the unit that turns 110 volts to 12 volts) or a blown fuse. Can't begin to tell you where to look on that trailer. If you can't find anything in the way of a simple fix you should clip a battery charger to the battery to charge it up . It's not good to run a battery down to zero. Once charged up you could leave it there and cautiously use some of the 12 volt systems until you fix it.

Generally speaking the water pump, and heat fan should all be 12 volts.

Now, it sounds like your battery did run down rather fast and there is a whole list of things that could cause that but it also may be the battery wasn't even charged to full when you started. Considering the built in converter (charger) isn't working you should start there making it work.It is also possible that the problem with the converter is draining your battery.

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Old 12-01-2014, 09:36 PM   #3
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Thanks, a converter makes sense. Yeah, it's really hard to say how this thing was rewired. I guess we stupidly thought a brand new battery would be pretty well charged. We are on a VERY steep learning curve with this thing. I think since it is inhabited now that we will probably just remove the battery altogether, since the essentials run off the house extension. There is a circuit breaker in the bathroom, but it was not flipped to off, and when I switched it off, it shut down the outlets. What would the converter look like? Would it be closer to the battery, or closer to where the power cord plugs in? Man, I am ignorant. Sorry.
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Old 12-01-2014, 09:57 PM   #4
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Location: Triad NC
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Don't apologize for not knowing. It's a learning curve for everyone and you will get there.

The converter is not necessarily anywhere in particular. It is an electronic looking unit and should be screwed into the wall somewhere probably lower. May be hidden behind a grill looking cover. As old as this trailer is, the converter will probably be a rectangular looking box with holes or vents in it with many wires running into it. Probably a fuse visible in it's cover. Somewhere as part of the converter or near it should be fuses for the few 12 volt items. Check those. There should also be a few circuit breakers like the one you found. There should be one for the converter and it could be tripped or bad. Generally just look in every nook and cranny for anything electrical.
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Old 12-01-2014, 10:04 PM   #5
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Welcome to irv2.
Here is a link that will explain batteries, converters to charge your batteries and general wiring of a trailer plus the need of a converter plugged in to 110-120 so it can charged the battery which supply's the 12v for all the controls in the trailer.
If you do have a converter it will supply all the 12v you need for lights and control boards for water heater, water pump, fridge and lighting, it will also charge your battery.
Battery would be charge faster with a stand aline 12v battery charger than the converter will keep it fully charged for any power outages you might have with out the 110 service.
98KSCA, 99MACA, 03 KSCA-3740- 8.1 Chev-- ALLISON Trans, now in good hands
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:11 PM   #6
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Join Date: May 2014
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Common Sence tells me that if you have a few items that only work when the battery is connected then either the original wiring is a bit messed up or the electrician may need to take a refresher course. The only things I would think require the battery to be in place and charged is the slideouts and the electric hitch if you have one. I say this becuase the amount of current required to move the slideouts and the hitch are a bit much for the convertor to be trying to muster up without tripping or overheating. the fact that the battery seems to be not charging when connected to house current could mean the wiring was not done right or you have a fuse or two tripped or maybe back in 69 trailers weren't hooked up that way.... I would be interested to know when you figure it out what it was or how you fixed it.

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