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Old 06-04-2014, 04:03 PM   #1
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Battery power question

Hi y'all-

Since we bought our new to us TT, we have been cleaning it and making any basic modification that were needed. Removing things the previous owner had and adding our own things. One things I can't seem to figure out is the battery power. Our previous rig had a panel which we used to see how strong/weak our battery was. That has spoiled us. This TT doesn't have anything of that nature so I'm stumped. I have a digital multimeter but I can't figure out how to use that. Plus, if I understand what I have rad so far, that will only tell me how many volts I have in the battery and not necessarily how strong it is....right. I also have a little black and decker battery charger that was given to me but that doesn't say much either. It's been parked in out driveway and today a beeping sound occurred and I found on the floor a carbon monoxide panel and it also says low voltage if the light is red. Aha! Plugged into shore power and it went off after a couple minutes. So now we know when it's really low :/ but how in the world will be know when it's fully charged? Don't want to burn them up.

We have a little Layton Skyline if that helps at all...
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:17 PM   #2
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If you use the multimeter to check the voltage on the battery make sure you do not have the battery connected or you will see a reading that is the charging voltage. You could make sure you do not have it plugged into shore power, you are not charging with a battery charger or solar cells. The best way it just disconnect the negative lead to the battery, then use the multimeter to check the voltage. Voltage should be 12.6.

To test the load ability of a battery you need a load tester. It is much cheaper to just take your battery to Walmart and have them test it :-)

Here is a video on how to test a battery

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Old 06-04-2014, 04:23 PM   #3
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Measuring voltage can tell you much about the state of your battery. Voltage drops as battery is discharged. If you have a power outlet (cigarette lighter socket) you could use a plug in meter like this:

Amazon.com : Mini LED Display Digital Car Voltmeter 12V/24V Vehicle Voltage Gauge : Automotive Electronic Security Products : Automotive

You can also search on eBay for 12 voltmeters. Any meter will run the battery down if left on, you'd need to put a push button to turn it on to read.

Your battery state of charge can be interpreted using this chart:

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Old 06-05-2014, 08:02 AM   #4
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How about this item: Equus - Products - 3721 Battery Monitorâ„¢ - Diagnostics Made Easy

The only thing I can't seem to find out or understand is can this be plugged in all the time? We have a cigarette style plug in the TT next to the cable connection. Previous owners left a small fan with that connection and assumed that's what they used it for.

Bflinn- thanks for posting that chart.

Thanks all.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:53 AM   #5
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I use this and it works well.

Digital Voltmeter | VoltMinder.com
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:27 AM   #6
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The panel meter is next to useless since it reads the converter when you are plugged in and reads low when you are are not plugged in.

VECTOR and others make 12 volt system monitors that simply plug into any 12 volt convience outlet.. WIre (Via a small fuse 10 amp or so) a 12 volt acc outlet DIRECTLY to the battery.. Not through the fuse panel. PUt it in a place you like and then plug in one of these monitors.

12 Volt Battery/Alternator Tester

Amazon.com: Vector VEC008 Digital LCD Voltmeter, 12 Volt: Automotive
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:46 AM   #7
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Ramsky... I had been reading over your thread and I just completed a solar project on my rig. I was offered a battery monitor that is easy to install and cost efficient. It is the Midnite Battery Capacity Meter. I have found...that to be an excellent and useful tool at simplifying my guess as to how the battery system is doing.

MidNite Solar Inc. Renewable Energy System Electrical Components and E-Panels
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:04 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramsky View Post
How about this item: Equus - Products - 3721 Battery Monitorâ„¢ - Diagnostics Made Easy

The only thing I can't seem to find out or understand is can this be plugged in all the time? We have a cigarette style plug in the TT next to the cable connection. Previous owners left a small fan with that connection and assumed that's what they used it for.

Bflinn- thanks for posting that chart.

Thanks all.
You really can't leave on all the time, it is a current draw and will deplete battery. As you've seen, there are many meters/monitors you can use to assess battery level. I tried to show an inexpensive one. (<$4) If you go to Ebay you could get a nice rectangular LED voltmeter display and add a momentary on push button. Hardwired into your 12 v system, it would look like part of the trailer and still free your power socket for the fan. It might cost ~$10 for meter, switch, and shipping, but if you look, some include a thermometer. DIY and you've got something to show and brag about.

12 volt meter | eBay
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:07 AM   #9
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Everyone's responses are helpful so thanks for that.

I am very mechanically inclined but electricity eludes me completely. We may get someone to hard wire a panel for us as I am not going to try that on my own by any means.

Until we are able to go somewhere to get that done, I was looking for an easy simple alternative. The choice of stores around here is extremely limited as well.

Alright, going to surf the web for a guide to show me how to use this gadget I have.. A digital multimeter sperry DM4400 A. No instruction manual to be found. :( for those of you who have posted utube videos - thanks but many are difficult unless they are very visually easy to follow. I cannot hear. Unfortunately the transcriptions are often god awful.
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:37 AM   #10
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With your multimeter set on DC volts in a range that includes 12 v. Touch black probe to negative (the ground wire attached to the outer rim of a cigarette lighter socket) and the red probe to the positive (center of lighter socket)

If you use those same sources of (+) and (-), you could buy 2 components and a bit of wire and hook up a meter. Radio Shack would also have all these instead of Ebay, you don't have to use exact same switch, any two pole, momentary on switch will work.

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