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Old 05-12-2012, 09:00 PM   #1
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Newbie electric/battery/propane question

can't get lights and fridge etc. to trun on. Microwave works, but doesn't look like anything else does.
Connected to campsite power. propane tanks were empty (full now) and battery is dead
refilled tanks, but battery won't take a charge.
Do I need the battery to get the electric to kick on?? convertor?
I don't understand the relationship between AC, DC and propane
How do I get my AC to run lights and fridge etc. ???

Thanks for any assistance


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Old 05-12-2012, 09:07 PM   #2
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Should have a panel with circuit breakers for 110v and auto type fuses for 12v. The converter changes 110v to 12v to run all the 12v things. Look around and find your converter. Mine is an older model and has it under the seat by the table.

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Old 05-12-2012, 09:19 PM   #3
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You need 12v to run the fridge, water heater, A/C because they use 12v controllers. What type RV do you have? You might have a converter, it can be under the fridge, bed, or some other place, usually close to the breaker panels. Converters also usually have their own fuses, you have to search all sides of the box when you find it.

Good luck!

Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:19 PM   #4
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Thanks for replying.
I will try to find the converter,
Can you please explain what the battery's role is?
just trying to understand this trailer better

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Old 05-12-2012, 09:22 PM   #5
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I have a /02 Mallard travel trailer
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:44 PM   #6
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Battery is for lights, fans, water and waste tank monitors, controller on fridge to switch from 120v AC and ignite LP gas. Your thermostat is 12v for furnace and A/C. Water heater uses 12v to ignite LP gas. Battery also might power electric brakes and/or 'breakaway' emergency brake if trailer is disconnected from tow vehicle. If you don't have a converter, invest in a good battery charger that you can plug in when you connect to shore power to maintain battery.

Bob & Donna
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:54 PM   #7
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Hi Tak,

This stuff can be overwhelming, I'll give it a crack (let's see how bad I am at this )
Basically, the generator produces 115 VAC, the same type of power that your home runs on. Some appliances in your RV run on this directly (microwave, AC, and maybe some other stuff like TV and so on)

Some equipment runs on 12 VDC, like lighting, water pump, the very basics, this is where your battery comes in. The battery powers these 12 VDC items so you don't constantly have to run your generator.

The generator charges your batteries and provides power directly to the 12VDC through a convertor and a charge controller (this is where I usually get lost, I understand this stuff peachy keen for large scale power plants and aircraft but much less for RV's). The convertor basically takes the 115 VAC from the generator and creates 12 VDC to run your 12 VDC appliances mentioned before. The charge controller applies a charging voltage to your batteries while the generator is running so they're charged and ready to go when you're not running your generator.

Now, to add to the mix, instead of running your generator you can also simply plug your rig into "shore power" which is basically plugging yourself into the grid for your 115 VAC needs and the plugging in serves the same function as running your generator. The RV has a transfer switch in it (usually automatic, but sometimes not, don't ask...) and this makes it so that your generator does not accidentally back feed the grid, which will cause reality as we know it to unravel. (apparently)

Now, lastly, the propane. propane is used to light your stove, oven, run your heater and your fridge. it has nothing to do with electric power, but the whole fridge thing makes it confusing. Think of the fridge this way, most chillers require heat to drive the cooling cycle, your RV fridge operates on the same principle as very large AC and chilling units.

I hope this helps!

The Dutchman
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:05 AM   #8
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Some RV trailers are set up so that you have to have a good battery installed or none of the 12 volt stuff will work. The converter converts the 120 volt power to 12 volt, but that 12 volt wire goes only to the battery charger circuit. It will charge the battery, but won't run anything unless you have a good batttery to accept the charge then pass the juice on to any 12-volt stuff such as furnace fan, refrigerator control valve (that controls whether the reefer runs on elec or gas or both), most of the lights in the trailer, sterio, elec/gas water heater control, etc.

RV batteries take a lot of abuse, and are often discharged below what is good for ordinary automotive batteries. That sounds like what happened to your battery(ies). So I replace the stock RV battery with a high-priced marine/rv battery at the first sign of any battery problems. Then I'm good to go for a coupla years without battery problems. My marine battery of choice is the Optima Blue Top, around $200 each at Sam's Club, more at Autozone or direct from Optima:
Optima Blue Top
Grumpy ole man with over 50 years towing experience. Now my heaviest trailer is a 7,000-pound enclosed cargo trailer, RV is a 5,600 pound Skyline Nomad Joey 196S, and my tow vehicle is a 2012 F-150 3.5L EcoBoost SuperCrew.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:39 PM   #9
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Don't forget the switch some trailers have under the battery that disconnects the battery from the whole system. If all else fails go back to the basics and look for your voltage. (at the battery, then further down the line until you loose it. then I think your problem will be very close. a fuse or a breaker) Good luck, and welcome to the group.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:56 PM   #10
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Also, simple thing, the GFI plugs by the water source. Kitchen or bathroom.

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