Battery charges while driving?

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by laualau, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. laualau

    laualau New Member

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    My friend mentioned that the battery will charge while I am driving? Is this true? I have a 1997 Coleman/Fleetwood Sunridge. And also, will the refrigerator work off of the battery?
     
  2. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    Only true if you paid the extra money to have a battery charge line wired up in the TV to the battery charge pin on the 7 pin connector.
     
  3. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    Yep, tenttrailer speaks the truth. You need a 6 pin or 7 pin plug and socket for the camper. Either one will give you the 12v accessory wire that will charge your pup's battery from the tow vehicle's alternator. The only difference is that the 7 pin socket has a space for a reverse light wire. If you don't have backup lights on the camper, you don't need a 7 pin plug and socket.

    You would need to make sure your vehicle has a tow package installed and/or make sure it's got a battery isolator. Running a fridge on 12v will drain your pup battery in a matter of hours and without an isolator, can drain the tow vehicle's battery as well.

    Yes, you can run your fridge off of 12v power while in tow but unless it's really hot out or you're going on a big trip, there's no real need as long as the fridge is pre-cooled (using 120v shore power or propane) and stocked with pre-chilled groceries. Pre-cool the fridge, stock it with groceries, let it cool down to operating temperatures again and hit the trail. If it's not hot and sunny outside, you'll be good for an hour or two.

    BTW, if it's legal to tow with an open propane cylinder in your area (and it most likely is), you can run the fridge on propane as well. Be sure to check the burner every once in a while to make sure it hasn't snuffed out at highway speeds and remember to shut it off if you're refueling, driving across bridges or through tunnels.
     
  4. laualau

    laualau New Member

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    I bought the camper used so how do I know if this extra feature was purchased? I just bought this camper so I'm just trying to play around with things and figure them out before I hit the road in 10 days. I was able to confirm that the fridge is a working fridge by plugging the camper into an outlet and switching the fridge to the proper setting. I was also able to switch the fridge to "gas" and light the igniter successfully. But how do I know if the fridge works with that? Do I just have to let it run for a few hours and see if the fridge gets cool? There's an outlet in the compartment where the fridge controls are, which has the actual plug for the fridge. When the propane is hooked up, should this outlet work?
     
  5. RobertGreenlee

    RobertGreenlee Member

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    Probably pretty easy to figure out if you have a volt meter. Connect your tow vehicle to the camper and while monitoring the volts on the batter start the TV. If the charge line is there you will see the volts go up. If you have a 7 pin connector on your TV then chances are its already wired to do this. The downside is they probably ran a small wire providing the charge and if you are running the fridge on battery it will not be able to keep up with that tiny wire. Hence the recommendation to run a heavy duty wire from the battery or other proper location to the connector.

    We personally just tow with the fridge running on propane and don't have any issues. If you are only traveling an hour or two and plan on having power at the camp site then try it once with the fridge on battery to and check the battery after you arrive. Let it stabilize for about 30 min before checking the volts to get a accurate reading. Only do this if you have a means to charge the battery back up at the camp site.
     
  6. laualau

    laualau New Member

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    Right now, my RV has the 7 round hook up with electric brakes, and my TV only has the 4 flat. I bought an adapter that has to be wired in, but I don't think I'll be able to use the electric brakes so I highly doubt I'll be able to charge the battery. Right?
     
  7. WingShot

    WingShot New Member

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    If your trailer is equipped with trailer brakes they are required by law to be functional (in most States).

    You are right. Without a 6 or 7 pin male connector on the TV you will not be able to control the trailer brakes or charge the 12V battery. You need to get the TV rewired for at least a 6 pin.

    4 Pin: running lights, left turn/brake, right turn/brake, ground
    6 Pin adds: brake controller, 12V battery charge
    7 Pin adds: trailer reverse lights

    You probably don't have reverse lights on the trailer, so might not need a 7 pin.
     
  8. capy235co

    capy235co Member

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    Time to add a brake controller and a 7 pin connector to your tow vehicle. Very inexpensive to do and liability and legally a necessity.

    Just do it the right way....
     
  9. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    By "extra feature", I'm assuming you're referring to the battery isolator? If so, many vehicles will have it built in but it only gets enabled when a towing package (hitch, trailer plug socket, perhaps a brake controller, and the trailer plug socket wiring, etc.) are installed. If your tow vehicle came with a factory tow package, chances are you may already have the isolator. Check your owner's manual, it'll tell you where to look or call your mechanic, they'll be able to tell you what you've got and what you need.

    Great, so you're 2/3 of the way to using your fridge in all three modes.

    There should be a thin red rocker switch on the control panel at the back of the fridge labelled "12V". Flicking that on will run the fridge off the battery.

    https://youtu.be/Ao_R-y5pTlE

    If the fridge is already cold and all you want to do is test out 12 volt functionality, you might want to turn it off and let it sit until it warms up to room temperature then turn on the 12v switch and crank up the temperature dial.

    12v mode is the least efficient of the three modes. You can use it to hold the fridge's temperature once it's already cooled down but don't expect miracles if it's really hot out and because it uses so much 12v power, it's best not to use it unless you have to.

    The outlet in the fridge compartment is 120 volt and is only "live" when you're plugged into shore power. It won't provide any power if the camper's converter is running off the battery.
     
  10. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

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    Since your camper has a 7 pin you NEED to have a corresponding 7 pin put on your tow vehicle and you SHOULD make sure they wire at least a 10 gauge or larger line from the power source to the #4 pin on the 7 pin that they install. This will be the charging line for the battery. To say it charges the battery is probably an overstatement but it does provide sufficient charge to allow you to operate refrig. on DC power without killing the camper battery.
     
  11. laualau

    laualau New Member

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    Thank you, I was unaware of this. So the adapter that I bought to turn the 7 round to 4 flat will not allow the electric brakes on the RV to work, correct? My TV did not come with a tow package.
     
  12. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    Correct you need two more wires added added to teh 7 pin connector, and if the camper has backup lights I would add a third wire for backup lights. One wire for the elec brakes and one for the battery charge wire. You will also need to buy a brake controller for the ecel brakes to work. I went with the Tekonsha Primus IQ Trailer Brake Controller. I think it's the best value one out there.

    This extra thing to charge the battery from TV is added to you tow vehicle. The camper should be set up with the wire already. Some people just had a resetting fuse and some add the isolator. If you op for only the resetting fuse, just remember to disconnect the 7 pin connector when not traveling or you could discharge your tow vehicle battery.
     
  13. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    If you're interested, this thread shows how to install trailer brakes, adjust them, convert the 4 pin flat plug to a 7 pin round plug and install a brake controller with links to tons of helpful videos. It'll answer a lot of questions in short order.

    http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?topic=87374
     
  14. JeffC

    JeffC New Member

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    Your pup is over 2000 pounds which puts it in the "needs trailer brakes" category. All the 7pin mods will be on the TV side.

    Jeff
     
  15. laualau

    laualau New Member

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    Thank you everyone. I am looking into having my TV wired for a 7 pin (or 7 round, I think it's the same). This is such a helpful blog!
     
  16. 64osby

    64osby Member

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    This is dependent on the state. In the OP's state of NY, any trailer over 1000# is required to have brakes. In my state of Michigan any trailer over 3000# are required to have brakes. These weights are for an unloaded trailer. (Info pulled from state web sites, trailering laws)

    My '94 Starcraft doesn't have breaks and weighs over 2000# but under 3000#. I'm legal in Michigan but not in New York.
     
  17. JeffC

    JeffC New Member

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    Thanks. I was commenting to the OP on NY as that is where they are. Legal or not I would recommend brakes on anything over 2000, particularly with smaller TVs.
     
  18. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    If your are handy, there are lots of youtubes, also etrailer has some very good videos, maybe even one for your TV.
     

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