Battery not charging on DC power from tow vehicle

Discussion in 'General Camping Discussion Forum' started by SoxFan904, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Hello,

    I wanted to share an issue I seem to be having with my camper battery not charging when it is plugged into the car.

    This past weekend I went on a camping trip where we did not have any electrical or water hook ups. I ran the refrigerator on propane all weekend, worked great. Weused the battery a good amount for running the water pump and the lights in the camper .

    I have a charge indicator on the camper battery and it said 75% when we left the campground on Sunday.

    I switched the camper to batterysee when I hooked it up to the car it was about an hour and 20 minute ride home so in the car off for about 10 minutes while we stop to get sandwiches for lunch.

    When I got home and put the camper up it took about 20 minutes from when the car was off until I got the camper put up. In the camper was off I turned on the lights inside the camper and they were very dim and the propane detector beeped consistently because it had low-voltage. Even though the camper was hooked up to the car it looks like the refrigerator drain the battery significantly, in the car did not provide constant power and/ or charge the battery.

    I do not believe this was an issue when we were driving to our campsite because I had had it out electricity for the past week and it was cold enough where the refrigerator did not have to turn on.

    Long story sure what would be the problem causing the car not to charge the battery? I bought a 7 way extension cable, so that the next time we go camping without utilities I can charge and/or run the camper off the car if we choose to.

    I have checked all the fuses and tested all the blades and everything seems to have power. Could it be that the refrigerator is 18 years old and just eating up power quicker than the car can charge it?

    The battery was at about 12% when I got home.

    Any comments or advice would be much appreciated as the camper work very well without utilities and the battery lasted a very long time, so we would like to do more camping at state parks.
     
  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,448
    Likes Received:
    2,273
    Joined:
    May 31, 2018
    Location:
    Nj
    I haven't went anywhere with my pop up yet, but from what I read the fridge will drain the battery quickly. A lot of people run with the propane on when traveling, just make sure to shut it off before entering tunnels, etc where it's prohibited.
     
  3. Fless

    Fless Active Member

    Messages:
    940
    Likes Received:
    191
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2012
    Location:
    Colorado
    @SoxFan904,

    How well your TV charges the battery will depend a lot on its alternator and how much reserve capacity it has going down the road. It will also depend on how heavy of a wire you have to send 12vDC back to the trailer. I had no trouble with my '04 Tahoe running the fridge on DC while traveling, but it has a hefty charge wire and a heavy duty alternator. You may find it best to run on LP instead if the flame will stay lighted.

    Never leave the fridge running on DC when the TV is stopped; that can drain your TV battery quickly and keep it from cranking the engine to start.
    _
     
    xxxapache likes this.
  4. Paul in Nanaimo

    Paul in Nanaimo Member

    Messages:
    50
    Likes Received:
    18
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2017
    You have been given some points to consider.
    To determine how well the battery is charging you can hook the tow vehicle up and run the motor. Use a volt meter on the trailer battery, holding the leads on the posts. The meter should read 14 to 15 volts, if not you are not getting a good charge.
     
  5. p

    p Active Member

    Messages:
    531
    Likes Received:
    119
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    For 6 bucks you can buy a small digital volt meter to permanently hook up to the trailer. Then when you plug it in...you can see if its is charging and its current state.

    Also...you need to drive a lot of hours to recharge your abtter from your tow vehicle. Lots of hours!

    The tow vehicle will basically maintain your charge when running the fridge. I run the propane when towing. Some don't like this idea.

    Good luck.

    p.s. by a batter charger
     
    xxxapache likes this.
  6. p

    p Active Member

    Messages:
    531
    Likes Received:
    119
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
  7. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,663
    Likes Received:
    907
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2011
    Location:
    Elkins WV area
    A fridge will not drain a battery when traveling..if the battery is getting power from the TV....I would start by checking voltages when hooked to the TV. since you say everything on the TV has power.
    did you check to see if the battery was getting power from the TV? Check at the battery
     
  8. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

    Messages:
    15,185
    Likes Received:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Waterford, Ct
    You do have to check the voltage coming from the TV(tow vehicle). It has to wired, and if factory wired may need a relay and fuse to complete the circuit.
    I personally never had a TV that would charge a battery fully, usually just a couple of amps. The battery of the TV controls the TV charging circuit ...... so the camper battery, (in my case) got some charge but not a lot.
     
  9. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017

    Yeah I prefer battery when I am driving, its safer. I just figured with the car running it would charge the battery.

    I bought an extension to test.
     
  10. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Yes I only switch it when I unhook the electricity to tow it, so for 10-15 min and then the car is on.

    You bring up a good point, I have a 7way connector and the wire to the camper is pretty thick.

    I am towing the camper on a 2015 Dodge Journey SE. good size engine and altinator.

    What I did is bought a 50 foot 7-way extension cable so that I can plug the camper into the car while on battery and test. See what/how it does while thr car is on and off.
     
  11. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Ok, I will do that. If I am not getting a good charge, what would cause that?
     
  12. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    I see what you are saying so it was the timing? I unhooked ac power and thr camper was on battery for 30 min with the fridge while we hooked up. Then started rhe car and drove an hour, then set up camp, another 15-20 min on battery before the electric was plugged in. So you are saying that hour drive was not long enough to charge? He lights were very dim when we got to thr site.

    Doesnt the car aupply the camper with DC power as the electrical does on aC? Are they not the same concept?
     
  13. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Ok I will do that with a volt meter. I replaced the head on my 7 way connector but I can do it again.

    I will test the battery this week.
     
  14. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Hrrrmm ok. This makes sense somewhat. So when my camper is hooked up to the TV thr battery is “charging” only?

    My understanding was thar the when its hooked up to the TV the “DC” power would supply the camper along with powering it. So the fridge, water pump...lights all run on DC and if hooked up to the TV should run off of it. Sounds like that is not the case?

    I live in Connecticut and I think towing with propane is illegal but I’ll have to look it up
     
  15. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,296
    Likes Received:
    945
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2012
    Location:
    Northwestern New Jersey
    The way you describe it I would say you were not charging the battery on the way home. Not all vehicles are set for this automatically as you were told.
     
  16. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017

    See attached for the cable I bought, so I can “run” the camper from the car while camping with no hookups
     

    Attached Files:

  17. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Ok thats what it sounds like. I can verify this with a volt meter I assume?

    If the 7way connector on my vehicle is from the factory, how can I verify if its set to charge? I can look at the fuse panel?
     
  18. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

    Messages:
    15,185
    Likes Received:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    Waterford, Ct
    Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 11.22.16 AM.png With a voltmeter + RED lead you should have 12 volts at the 1 o'clock terminal and with the black lead connected to ground or the seven o'clock terminal.
    All that said it would help if we knew the year make and model of the truck.
     
  19. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,270
    Likes Received:
    1,657
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2012
    Location:
    WI
    Most vehicles, even those factory equipped with a 7-way harness, do not have a 12 volt supply to the trailer, same as the trailer brake. Just because there's a pin, doesn't mean it is wired. Check it as Raycfe suggested.
     
  20. SoxFan904

    SoxFan904 New Member

    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2017
    Thank you, I will try that today. Do You think I need the car running or just aux to test?

    I have a 2015 Dodge Journey SE with the tow package. 7way plug is factory from Dodge.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.