Extreme Newbie - Battery/Electrical Advice needed

Discussion in 'Wiring' started by jessMN, Jun 3, 2019.

  1. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    I spent the weekend trying to figure out how the electrical system in my PUP (1996 StarCraft Venture 1706) works and getting specifics down - I think I have the basics but I still have a little confusion and need some advice.
    This is what my PUP has:
    -Magnetek 6612 Converter
    -Everstart U1-7, 230 Cold Cranking Amp battery

    My research has told me that
    1. I cannot charge my battery using the shore power as my converter model sucks
    2. the ceiling lights are on battery power only
    3. I need a 3 stage battery charger to charge the battery, apparently. (Or solar?)

    At some point I will probably replace the converter but its not going to happen in the next 2 weeks before our first trip. I found this and was wondering if its a decent option for now. If so, would that come with a plug for charging it? There isn't one in the picture.
    I also found this but I'm not sure if that would fully charge the battery, since its called a 'maintainer'.
    And How do I charge the battery in the meantime? Jump it with my car? It's dead, though it was partially charged when we picked up the camper 2 weeks ago (the guy said he charged it for a little bit so he could show us that it worked but I didn't think to ask how he charged it).

    I know I have a lot to learn about PUPs but am hoping we can get through this trip alive. Luckily we will have shore power at least (and we tested...the outlets all work on shore power) :)

    TIA,
    Jess
     
  2. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    Generally your lights will be powered from either the battery or shore power.
    The battery will charge in transit if your TV has the proper wiring, but it's best to fully charge with a regular battery charger.
    That battery appears to be pretty small, as in probably too small to do much more than power lights for a day or two.

    Your learning curve will be steep here. I suspect a larger battery will be needed. My only suggestion is to just start using it and you will quickly figure out what you need and what you don't.

    I run a group 27B interstate battery. Standard inverter with no charger. LED lights. I can get several days with no charging AND using the furnace pretty heavily. If I just needed lights, that 27B would last a couple weeks with no charging.
     
  3. NMroamer

    NMroamer Active Member

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    A stand alone battery charger is all I ever used for years. That way you can use shore power or a generator and will know that your battery is charged. NOCO makes a good charger. Mine is 7.2 amp.
     
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  4. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    The lights did not work on shore power, but they worked when we picked up the camper and the battery was partially charged. They are LED so at least they aren't too terrible with sucking power.
    I thought the battery was kinda small, but I figured Id see how it worked for the trip and figure out from there.
    I don't believe my battery will charge in transit either - I only have a 4 pin harness, and I thought I read that you need a 6 or 7 pin for charging purposes. (though I could be wrong. I read a lot of stuff and was getting confused lol)
     
  5. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    Why 7.2 amp? I know there's math involved, but cliff notes would be great :)
     
  6. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    There should be a switch on your converter panel marked something like "CONV--OFF--BATT" When the switch is in the BATT position the lights should work off of the battery, when in the CONV position the lights should work off of shore power and the battery is completely disconnected.

    Neither of the chargers you listed will give you a fast charge but if hooked up first thing and left to run the entire weekend either should keep the battery charged enough to use. But if the CONV setting on the converter works you don't really need it.

    The battery has a finite amount of amperage available, referred to as "amp hours" or in some cases "reserve capacity." If you have incandescent lights in your camper each bulb uses 1.5+ amps for each hour that it is lit, which is subtracted from the batteries total. A battery charger simply pushes amps back into the battery, and a 7.2 amp charger will replace those amps more than twice as fast as a 3 amp charger.

    http://marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm is a good read to give you a basic understanding.
     
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  7. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    I looked up your battery on line and saw that it's a lawn tractor battery. You probably want to stick with the 3 amp charger, or less, for that. If you're planning to do any off grid camping you will definitely want to upgrade, but that is another discussion. Enjoy your trip.
     
  8. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    Thank you for the explanation!
     
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  9. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

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    Replacing the converter isn’t hard. I’ve done it on my last two campers. I suggest a WFCO 8700 series. I used the 8740 on both my campers.

    You can get a good deep cycle group 29 battery for a reasonable price. I use a Walmart branded one made by Johnson controls. It’s now 6years old and working fine I can go quite a long time without needing to charge it. I keep it on a float charger when not camping.

    Yes you need a 7 pin to charge driving down the road. It’s not a fast charge either.
     
  10. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

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    To begin with, your battery is a lawn mower battery. Just enough to satisfy the requirement for an emergency brake system. You want a minimum of a group 24. A 7.2 amp charger is ok for the current battery, but not for a larger one. And your battery will not charge from the TV with only the 4 pin plug
     
  11. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    Thanks for the advice! I'm not worried about it being hard to do, right now I'm trying to reign in the money I have spent outfitting this thing (hoses, extension cords, etc etc). Plus there's a leak in the roof somewhere that I need to figure out how to fix first. Hopefully a little later this summer I'll be OK with a few hundred for a new battery and converter
     
  12. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    mag6600.jpg
    switch to 'conv' prosition for converter power.

    since an 80-100ah battery is common, I'd suggest a 10A battery charger.
     
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  13. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    This is my own personal opinion about upgrading your converter. If your current converter is functional and will power your lights when hooked to shore power there is no likely benefit. Unless you have a fridge that you want to run on 12 volt while towing or a power lift that works off of the battery you really have no need to charge the battery when camped with shore power. The converter will power your 12 volt lights and a water pump if you have one. The converter does nothing, is completely out of the loop, when dry camping without shore power. Until you want to attempt dry camping you don't even need a battery unless you have trailer brakes. Which by the way I would recommend, again, another discussion.

    The best converters are a poor substitution for a stand alone battery charger, their function is to power the lights and 12 volt appliances in your camper and their charging algorithms are suited more to powering incandescent lights than battery charging.

    If your converter is functional, and you would like to attempt dry camping you would be better off to spend that money on a battery upgrade. Get the best battery bank you can afford within the tongue weight limits of your tow vehicle. A good, well maintained G27 or G31 battery will provide you with power for longer than a weekend and with conservative use maybe up to a week.
     
  14. Spridle

    Spridle Active Member

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    I concur with Steve P. The converter is about the last thing I'd spend money on, given your situation.

    Battery chargers are a bit of a religion. You can get by with just about anything, but the good ones that will maximize the life of the battery are stupid expensive. http://www.batteryminders.com/products/

    I would research and properly wire the TV for a 7 pin connector as well, when you have time. Properly wired with heavy gauge, you can get quite a bit of charging to the trailer battery. If my trip is going to be 5 hours or so, I don't even worry about charging up the battery between trips.
     
  15. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    Thanks, since we are going to be on shore power for our upcoming trip in a week and a half, and do not have a water pump, fridge or brakes (which I agree, i should install), it seems like the only things purely on battery are the LED lights ... I'm not so worried about changing things out right this second. The lights do not work on Shore power (we tested). I'm still trying to wrap my head around what is on battery and what works with shore power. I had no idea that everything doesn't work with either/or!

    This has all been great information to file away for possible upgrades if/when we decide to boondock.
     
  16. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    At this point I'm not going to change my wiring for my car - I'm towing with my corolla (and yes the trailer is light enough for that!) My next vehicle will most likely be an SUV and at that point I will definitely make sure that the wiring supports charging the battery! I picked up a cheap battery charger/maintainer and will use that for the time being. Still blows my mind that the converter doesn't charge the battery :)
    I'm learning a lot this week.
     
  17. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member

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    The lights work on battery but not on shore power?
    Flipping the 3 way switch didn't work?
    LEDs are sensitive to polarity. You can try pulling one of the fixtures and reversing the wires, or if you have the newer flat bayonet style bulbs you can just pull the bulb out and reverse it.
     
  18. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    Correct. We flipped the switch in the converter between battery and converter and they definitely did not work at all if not on battery (and even on battery only flashed a little cuz my battery is dead) The previous owners said they replaced the lights with the LEDs so maybe they did something weird.
    Luckily we have one more weekend to pull it out and work on it/test things before the trip. (I live in a townhome and we can't park campers in our parking spots, only in the garage so I have to pull it out every weekend to set it up and work on it for a day. Ugh)
     
  19. theseus

    theseus Centerville, OH

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    If you’re going to be on shore power you could put regular bulbs back in. Those are cheap and less sensitive to power polarity.
     
  20. jessMN

    jessMN Member

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    I'll have to look when I go out this weekend but I believe they replaced the whole fixture, so I couldn't just replace the bulbs. However I will check to see if they are wired correctly
     

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