Do I have to have a battery??

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by Enigmacamper, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    We are looking at a popup to pull with our Subaru Outback. Dry weight is about 1,500 but should stay under 2,000 loaded up, or very close. The Outback's tow rating is 2,700lbs with 200lb tongue weight.

    Anyway, we do not want a battery if we can avoid it, we plan to power the camper with heavy duty extension cords straight from campground power, house or generator to AC/Fridge etc. with only engaging the trailer's actual electrical system rarely and planning on it only when attached to power, not off-grid anyway. It may be worth mentioning as well that the model we are considering is the Aliner Scout which has no propane system, all electric.

    The trailer is equipped standard with electric brakes and would have a wired break controller.

    My question is, does the battery do anything key that I would need it for attaching my trailer's electrical system to a power pole or generator (in those rare cases)? I can't imagine it would serve any purpose when using extension cords and bypassing the trailer's electric system. I know it is for working the emergency breakaway brakes should the trailer come separated from the TV but is that it's only job and if so am I required to have it?

    I had read if your rig is under 3,000lbs you don't need trailer brakes at all (breakaway or otherwise) but I'm not sure if that's a national standard, up to date or what. Obviously I want the trailer brakes hooked up but I'm not sure how necessary the battery is if it's only for the emergency release with such a small trailer. I live in Illinois if that's helpful.

    Thank you so much!!!
     
  2. JPBar

    JPBar Well-Known Member

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  3. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    If the trailer has brakes, the law requires that they be functional. To be functional in a breakaway situation a battery is required.
     
  4. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Well-Known Member

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    In the scenario you describe you have no need for a battery. You are correct that you would need a battery if you end up with a Pup with electric brakes. My guess is the camper you're looking at doesn't have brakes so you won't need to worry about that.

    With that out of the way, why wouldn't you plug the Pup into shore power if available? [:)C]
     
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  5. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    This popup does have electric brakes but I *think* the battery only is there for the breakaway brakes. Since my camper wouldn't be required to even have brakes (in most states) even though I want to use the electric brakes I don't know if the breakaway is necessary.
     
  6. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    If the trailer doesn't require brakes by law but has them they must be functional? I've been trying to read different states laws but have not found that yet, can you explain what I'm missing?

    Also do all electric brakes come standard with a breakaway?
     
  7. kcsa75

    kcsa75 Well-Known Member

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    1. For a definitive answer regarding the breakaway switch, I would check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state where you live or where the Pup will be registered.

    2. I don't know if all electric brakes include a breakaway switch, but would suspect that most do. Having said that, when I first bought our TT, I forgot to connect the breakaway a couple times and had no problem. So if you choose to, you can run without a battery and likely still have brakes. [:)C]
     
  8. shuang2

    shuang2 Well-Known Member

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    Some people do not have battery on their camper.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017
  9. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    I definitely want the electric brakes. If my understanding is correct they are powered off of the car's power, it is just the breakaway switch that is powered off the battery should the trailer detach. Do I have it wrong?

    ETA sorry, I thought you had asked about if the car could stop the camper. :)
     
  10. shuang2

    shuang2 Well-Known Member

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    You are right! I try to delete my WRONG reply -- no luck!
     
  11. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

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    You can buy a small battery to operate the breakaway system. My inderstanding is as long as it is more than 8amps it is sufficient.
     
  12. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    In my State if the trailer is equipped with Electric Brakes you are required to have a working BREAKWAY SWITCH installed and functional if you are going to be pulling the trailer over PUBLIC ROADWAYs... This does not necessarily mean the Battery has to be the trailer battery. My BRAKE module on each wheel pulls 3AMPS DC Current when 12VDC is applied. One Axle would require 6AMPS - dual axles would be 12AMPS. My neighbor has a long utility trailer that he pulls over public roadways that has a small battery installed on the trailer tongue area just for the emergency braking.

    My State also has required Annual Inspections and in my case I have seen them test the electric brakes.

    There is also the DOT Safety laws for towed trailers to deal with. This is big time for the commercial world but applies to all trailers including non-commercial Utility and RV Trailers that meet a certain weight requirements.

    There is also your Trailer Insurance to think about. If your run-away trailer is involved with property damage or worse yet where your run-away trailer has caused death or long term injuries and it was found you had a non working trailer break-away setup might give the Insurance Company a way out of not providing coverage. Guess who pays then...

    Also be mindful the whole nature of the RV Trailer is to provide a Camping environment for using both Shore Power and Non Shore Power setups. The trailers are wired for 12VDC to support the very basic essential functions of lights - cooking and heating on gas where propane tanks and a battery is all you need to do this with. This is a basics diagram of the 30 AMP RV Wiring Configuration showing the 120VAC and 12DC Power Distribution that most trailers follow... Also note the CO DETECTOR is operated from the 12VDC side which would mean during a power failure event you would not have PROPANE FUMES ALARM protection without an installed battery.

    [​IMG]
    Google Image

    I have been at a couple of camp grounds when their commercial power has failed. So neat to see the trailer interior lights still working haha... Kinda falls under the age old idea if it is there USE IT...

    These comments are submitted for your information only based on my personal experiences... I certainly do not have any expertise or authority in these DOT SAFETY Matters. Of course it's your trailer so do what you want to do. I suspect no one is going to be coming knocking on your door to see what is working or not. IN my case I just want to satisfy the local laws when I am on the public roadways and during the Safety Inspections as required by my state licensing requirements.

    I would check with your local DMV office and Insurance agent to get the most recent information for these functioning DOT SAFETY FEATURES matters...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
     
  13. nhlakes

    nhlakes Well-Known Member

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    Enigma,

    If I understand correctly, you are looking at an Aliner Scout with electric brakes and a battery, and you are asking us whether or not the battery is needed JUST for the break-away switch.

    It is unlikely any of us can answer that conclusively since we do not know what year/options are on that Scout, whether or not it has a converter, 12V lights inside or out, what a prior owner may have done, etc..

    If it you have seen it and it comes with a full-size battery (not the small break-away battery that Jpbar linked to) then it likely has a more extensive 12V system and you would likely benefit from the keeping the 12V battery present.

    I suggest you ask the owner/dealer these questions. If it is advertised online, provide us with a link to the unit so we can attempt to gain more information.
     
  14. f5moab

    f5moab Retired from the Federal Government

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    A lot depends on where you travel as well as where you live. Idaho required brakes on a trailer of an unladen weight of 1500 pounds or more, and that includes a breakaway function. Talking with an ISP trooper I know, they do not randomly stop travel trailers so long as obvious safety equipment is working (such as lights) and it appears to be hooked up correctly when they can actually notice. However, no brakes on a trailer over 1500 pounds COULD come into play in an accident by attorneys.
    This is the law...
    (3) Every trailer or semitrailer of an unladen weight of one thousand five hundred (1,500) pounds or more when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with brakes adequate to control the movement of and to stop and hold the vehicle and be designed to be applied by the driver of the towing motor vehicle from its cab. The brakes shall be designed and so connected that in case of an accidental breakaway of the towed vehicle, the brakes shall be automatically applied.

    There is also a separate statute on the requirement for all trailers over 1500 lbs, sold in Idaho, to be equipped with brakes. And when I moved to ID with the trailer, the officer who did the VIN inspection did "ask" if the trailer had brakes and marked it on the form that I signed.
     
  15. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

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    also for any 12 v DC items inside, the battery has more amps than the converter, and gives a more stable voltage, where as coming from the converter the voltage might not be as clean or stable and could interfere with some DC electronic items.
     
  16. Customer

    Customer Well-Known Member

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    Whether or not you are required to have brakes, if you do have them then they are required to work or you are subject to citation for defective equipment.

    The breakaway system is a required part of an electric brake system.

    Also, keep in mind that if you are looking at brochure dry weight of 1,500#, it will be closer to 2,000# in reality. Then you add water, food, and gear.

    My Aliner Sport was 1,100 brochure dry weight. The actual empty trailer was almost 1,500#. Very common situation for all RV brands.
     
  17. Rusty2192

    Rusty2192 Well-Known Member

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  18. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Thank you for such a thorough comment! What state do you live in? I believe in my state (Illinois), trailers over 3,000lbs must have brakes and over 5,000lbs must have a breakaway (I could be wrong about that second point) but I would not be close to either of these at likely under 2,000lbs fully loaded. Most trailers this small I don't think usually have brakes at all, perhaps a call to the DMV would clear it up. But then I'm confused about what happens when you cross state lines? From what I can find, the states we'd be most often likely to go through have the same or similar standards except Tennessee, I suppose I could add the battery when we know we would plan to be going through Tennessee?

    Haha, I understand my not wanting to power the Pup is probably confusing. We do not want to plug in the Pup and employ the converter etc. at all. All we want is the ability to have an extension cord from camp power to the AC and fridge/maybe plug in a few things to charge. The dealer has offered to install ports for us in the sides to run a cord(s) through. There is no propane system to require a battery, no water pumps and no three-way fridge (electric only) the only DC running things in the camper to my knowledge are the fan, lights and probably CO detector. We do not need the fan or lights and while I'm assuming the CO detector will also run on battery I think we would install a second completely battery run co/smoke detector just to be sure. You are correct if the power went out we would either have no power or have to move on if the weather was too oppressive.
     
  19. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    Sorry I should have specified, we are currently looking at a new model, 2018 Scout. With the parks package (sink, faucet runs from city water pressure only, no tank and no pump...and dorm fridge basically) and AC added...and possibly off-road package as I think our driveway might be too steep without it.
    Unless I am missing something important, we do not seem to require the battery for the trailer since we don't intend to plug the Pup in or use the DC elements at all (lights, fan), so it would only be for the breakaway switch...again unless I'm missing something. I've never had a camper before and I'm a girl who doesn't like learning about electricity so I could easily be overlooking something important :).
     
  20. Enigmacamper

    Enigmacamper Active Member

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    I for sure want to comply with whatever applicable laws there are. I think I saw that Idaho has much more stringent laws than most states. But I don't think we'd make it that far west very often. Could a battery be added just when going through states that require them?
    Interesting, so you're saying it's a defective equipment issue instead of a weight requirement issue. What do people do who modify their systems in one way or another? If you have a propane system but seal it off and don't use it are you subject to fine because the system you aren't required to have isn't working?
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2017

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