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Old 04-15-2013, 06:28 PM   #1
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battery question after initial trip

Hi,

My family headed out this past weekend for our first camping trip with new truck and trailer. We went to a nice wooded spot first and setup for dry camping, but ran low on battery juice for the next night. Most likely due to furnace use as it was still quite cold. The next night we headed to a full hook-up spot, and faired much better.

We dropped from 12v to 11v the first night in 2.5hours, and I killed the furnace halfway through the night, expecting the battery might suffer and not allow another night. I suspect it would have been close, but I am now told that plugging into my house to charge it the night before we left, only would have charged it to 85% through the converter.

I'm looking into a Battery charger, and wondering if this would be good:
Noco Genius G3500 Smart Battery Charger | Canadian Tire

Also, is ok to just leave the battery on the TT and charge the night before a trip? or should I be bringing it in after each trip?

Thanks!
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:24 PM   #2
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Your experience isn't unusual. 1 little battery like is installed on many trailers is simply not enough to power the furnace, lights, pump, etc. for more than about one night. Most campers who camp without hook-ups frequently upgrade to multiple batteries and many add solar panels or generators to recharge them.
There's no reason to remove the battery from the RV to charge it if yo have a good built in charger. A good one would be one that has a 3 stage charging sequence: a bulk voltage of just over 14 volts, an absorb stage, and a float stage of around 13.2 or so volts.
Unfortunately, many RVs, especially older ones come with basic single stage chargers that don't fully charge batteries.
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:44 PM   #3
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Your experience isn't unusual. 1 little battery like is installed on many trailers is simply not enough to power the furnace, lights, pump, etc. for more than about one night. Most campers who camp without hook-ups frequently upgrade to multiple batteries and many add solar panels or generators to recharge them.
There's no reason to remove the battery from the RV to charge it if yo have a good built in charger. A good one would be one that has a 3 stage charging sequence: a bulk voltage of just over 14 volts, an absorb stage, and a float stage of around 13.2 or so volts.
Unfortunately, many RVs, especially older ones come with basic single stage chargers that don't fully charge batteries.
Thanks for the response. My TT is a 2013 model, but the sales guy told me after our trip that, the built in converter would only charge to 85% after I made mention of my experience. How can I find out for sure what kind of built-in charger I have and find out if it's a 1 or 3 stage unit?

I figure I'll need to upgrade at least 2 things, just not sure what those 2 things should be. (battery charger, LED light bulbs, golf cart batteries, solar panel, generator) Not sure which way to go.
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Old 04-15-2013, 08:48 PM   #4
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Find the make and model of your converter in the trailer and look it up online for the specs. Most modern trailers have a decent 3 stage charging converter and don't need any thing else to achieve full battery charge. If you post the make and model of your trailer maybe some else here has the same and can let you know.

As far as dry camping I wrote blog post on how we do it so far without investing in solar yet. Maybe you can get some pointers from my experince.

Cheers Ray
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Old 04-15-2013, 11:20 PM   #5
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Find the make and model of your converter in the trailer and look it up online for the specs. Most modern trailers have a decent 3 stage charging converter and don't need any thing else to achieve full battery charge. If you post the make and model of your trailer maybe some else here has the same and can let you know.

As far as dry camping I wrote blog post on how we do it so far without investing in solar yet. Maybe you can get some pointers from my experince.

Cheers Ray
Thanks Ray. I'll have a look for the brand, but the manual didn't list it specifically. I read your blog. very cool! That one pic looking into to the valley/river is amazing!

Also, didn't realize LED's would be so expensive. ouch!
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Old 04-16-2013, 01:13 AM   #6
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While your converter should charge your battery all the way, it probably will take more than overnight to do so. I run a pair of 210 amp hour 6V golf cart batteries and it takes my converter (WFCO 55 amps, a lot of trailers come with this charger) over 24 hours to bring them up to charged from a typical trip. While the converter can put out 55 amps, the battery bank only accepts about 5-10 amps when the converter is in absorption mode.

I can get 2-3 days out of my battery bank in the cold weather without doing much conservation effort, but I have about 4 times the capacity of a typical group 24 12v battery. If I'm just running the fridge and a couple of lights I can go almost a week before needing to charge my 2GC batteries. I pack a couple of extra charged batteries when I dry camp and swap them out when the main ones get low.

It is also much better for your battery to be fully charged as soon as you get home- don't wait until your next outing to charge it. Lead acid batteries do not like to be stored without a full charge on them, it ruins the plates. If you can't park your trailer where you can plug it in for a few days to get the batteries fully charged, by all means remove the batteries and charge them at home with a good deep cycle charger.
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Old 04-16-2013, 06:52 AM   #7
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The furnace will use quite a bit from your battery. You might want to consider a Big Buddy heater to use when you need a small amount of heat overnight. A second battery would of course nearly double your time on 12V.
I can't imagine what your salesman was talking about. If the convertor in your camper will only bring the battery to 85% then it is broken. Of course it is designed to bring it to 100% charge.
If you use lights, use as few as possible. I swapped out some of the bulbs for LEDs for when we are on 12V. I can use 4 of them for less current than one incandescent.
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Old 04-16-2013, 09:11 PM   #8
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Again, thanks for the replies and info!

I checked on the brand/model of my Power Converter, and its a WFCO 8955PEC
Power CentersWF-8955PEC, WF-8955 55 Amp Power Center

Looks like it's a 3 stage charger, so am I ok with no additional battery charger?

Perhaps I should buy better batteries and LED bulbs then? thoughts?
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Old 04-17-2013, 10:38 AM   #9
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Again, thanks for the replies and info!

I checked on the brand/model of my Power Converter, and its a WFCO 8955PEC
Power CentersWF-8955PEC, WF-8955 55 Amp Power Center

Looks like it's a 3 stage charger, so am I ok with no additional battery charger?

Perhaps I should buy better batteries and LED bulbs then? thoughts?
That's the model that is in my trailer and I've used it full time for 2 years, no extra battery charger. LED Bulbs are a really good idea and will save a lot of juice. The furnace is the big energy user though, you will notice a big difference dry camping in warmer weather.

Even with 2 big six volt golf cart type batteries a cold ,near freezing, night can draw them down. My wife likes lots of heat.

You might look into the Mr Buddy type heater if you don't use solar or a generator to recharge.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:06 PM   #10
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You might look into the Mr Buddy type heater if you don't use solar or a generator to recharge.
Ray, can you paste a link to the model you have?

thanks.
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Old 04-18-2013, 08:30 PM   #11
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I just bought a new trailer. It nirmally comes with a group 24 battery. The cost difference between the small group 24 deep cycle and a group 29 deep cycle was only $24. I talked the dealer into installing the group 29 battery.

Fyi - normal 12v deep cycle batteries come in group 24, 27, and 29.

A group 29 I hope will run the furnace much better (longer) than the normal group 24.

Check your battery group. You might want buy a group 29 battery and larger battery box.
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Old 04-19-2013, 09:43 AM   #12
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Ray, can you paste a link to the model you have?

thanks.
I don`t use one myself, my wife has a propane phobia, even though the main furnace is propane, I have a tough time convincing her to let me get a portable one. So I get to run the generator more to charge up the batteries so she can use the big furnace at night.


But talking to other boondockers the Mr. Buddy brand seems to be a popular choice.
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:58 AM   #13
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Google mr heater. They are everywhere. I have the Big Buddy for boondocking and it is great. Has 2 grids and a fan. Uses no power from the camper. I use my extend-a-stay and use the big tank.
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Old 04-23-2013, 01:43 AM   #14
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I use Mr. Buddy in our trailer, the smaller one. Our trailer is 26' and it heats it up fairly quick. One bottle lasts about 6 hours, high when first on, then we turn it down. I would not run it at night, get more blankets or a warmer sleeping bag. I went to two 6 volt batteries and would not go back to 12 volt batteries. I have thought about LED lights, I didn't see the upside because of the cost..... We dry camp a lot and we conserve, in over 10 years the only time we have lost power was due to bad batteries, the refrigerator stopped working but we still had lights and the water pump.
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