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Old 01-25-2019, 06:32 PM   #1
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Do you use your alternator to charge your travel trailer batteries?

In an RV you can easily use your alternator to charge the batteries as the wire run would be short. However, it would seem to be much more difficult to use the Tow vehicle alternator to charge a travel trailer. I understand that you might get some trickle charge across the wiring harness set up for trailer lights but the gauge would be way too small to get much. Do people fashion thick gauge wire/cable across the hitch point to try and charge the trailer battery? It seems like that would be risky.
Thoughts?
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:50 PM   #2
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A cheap set of jumper cables would do the trick.
Happy Glamping.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:55 PM   #3
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One could use cable ends like what is used on forklift chargers, and the right sized cable...
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Old 01-26-2019, 08:36 AM   #4
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pin #4 on tow vehicle 7 way plug is charging connection. On my ford I had to install a relay as per owners manual. It is under hood in fuse box. Any time I tow I am charging my batteries. Maybe I misunderstood your question but I can plug in when I am dry camping and use my truck to charge my batteries.
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:34 AM   #5
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pin #4 on tow vehicle 7 way plug is charging connection. On my ford I had to install a relay as per owners manual. It is under hood in fuse box. Any time I tow I am charging my batteries. Maybe I misunderstood your question but I can plug in when I am dry camping and use my truck to charge my batteries.


Thanks for input. I was aware that you get some charging for battery through the 7 way plug but was under the impression that this would be very little as the gauge of the wire in 7 pin plug and length of wire would only deliver a small amount of charge. Am I wrong about that?
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:37 AM   #6
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Thanks for input. I was aware that you get some charging for battery through the 7 way plug but was under the impression that this would be very little as the gauge of the wire in 7 pin plug and length of wire would only deliver a small amount of charge. Am I wrong about that?
YES
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Old 01-26-2019, 12:26 PM   #7
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YES


Sorry but when you wrote Yes did you mean I am wrong about the 7 pin connector not providing much charge? Can the 7 pin connector provide a lot of charge?
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Old 01-26-2019, 01:27 PM   #8
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Sorry but when you wrote Yes did you mean I am wrong about the 7 pin connector not providing much charge? Can the 7 pin connector provide a lot of charge?
The 7 pin plug wiring is best left to be basically a trickle charge while you are driving.
Are you wanting to use your tow vehicle to power your RV while camped? For example to run an inverter so you can use 120 volt appliances?
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Old 01-26-2019, 02:08 PM   #9
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Thanks for input. I was aware that you get some charging for battery through the 7 way plug but was under the impression that this would be very little as the gauge of the wire in 7 pin plug and length of wire would only deliver a small amount of charge. Am I wrong about that?


Yes I believe you are incorrect assuming all Harness wire gauge is the same, they are not. Typically the ground and factory tow harness charge wire is a heavier gauge. I believe 10g on my Ram. Even my old 97Chev had a heavier charge and ground for towing.
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:16 PM   #10
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If I didnt have 360 watts of solar that is on all the time(during sunlight) then I would probably beef up my wiring.
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Old 01-27-2019, 08:59 AM   #11
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I've recently been reading about doing this with our trailer and came across this video from Australia..
It seems that they have been doing this sort of thing for years and have developed a couple of helpful devices.. They suggest using voltage sensitive relay on 2006 and older vehicles and a DC to DC charger for newer vehicles. These protect the tow vehicle battery and provide charging to the trailer batteries. The dual input chargers they describe also include a solar input, pretty cool actually.

Another company, RedArc makes these too and they distribute them in North America.

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Old 01-27-2019, 09:39 AM   #12
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Lstyles-

You should be able to find out the gauge of wire used in the truck.

It's possible to buy umbilical cable that has 10 AWG for the charge line and ground. Here is an example.

You can run 10 AWG wire (or larger) from the trailer tongue to the battery bank, if it's not there already. This junction box is a way to neaten up the wiring on the trailer tongue.

Use this calculator to estimate how much current you can push over the wiring between the truck and trailer batteries.

Remember to put a fuse that is small enough to protect the smallest wire in the circuit within a foot or so of the trailer battery. I assume a truck with a factory-supplied charge line will be fused at the truck battery- but you need to check on your truck. If it doesn't, then that end needs a fuse, too.

Ten amps of charge current may not sound like much, but it's better than nothing (in my opinion).

On another topic: You should add a "signature" to your profile. It contains whatever info you want; most people put info about their RV there, so they don't have to type it into each message. Instructions for adding a signature are here.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:00 AM   #13
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How about a cheap 900W generator hooked up to a battery charger? It would be be cheaper on fuel cost and keep from premature wearing out your expensive RV/car alternator.

Vehicle alternators were designed to keep up with power usage during normal vehicle operations at driving speed RPM.s. Alternators were not designed to charge low batteries, especially at idle RPM's.
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:08 AM   #14
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I have a 1000 watt inverter generator that runs the on-board charger in my trailer very well. About the size of a bowling ball bag and very quiet, cost $200 off Amazon. Charges much faster than the charge line while driving which basically just keeps up with the parasitic loads from the radio, fridge, smoke detectors etc. Not worth the effort to beef up the charging circuit in my opinion as the improvement will be tiny. Just to great a distance for a DC connection. That's why power lines are AC, much less line loss.
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