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Old 02-09-2010, 01:37 PM   #1
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Dry Camping battery charge question...

Are there any concerns with leaving the battery connected to the trailer electrical system while charging the battery using a generator and smart battery charger directly connected to battery terminals. My smart charger has a quick disconnect cable that allows the charger to be quickly connected and disconnected through the quick connect part of the cable that is permanently mounted to the battery terminals, so I do not want to have to disconnect the main cables which feed the trailer dc system. (Hope this question is not too convaluted and confusing )

...VTX-Al
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Old 02-09-2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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Well its a little convoluted.... I charge using the generator plugged into the camper. The camper converter then charges the battery. I would be a little wary to keep the generator hooked to the camper and run a battery charger... I kind of think it should be one or the other... if that all makes sense. Does it matter though... I don't really know the answer to that.
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Old 02-09-2010, 03:18 PM   #3
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I've used a generator to power a fast charger that
was clipped to the battery while still connected to the trailer.
In fact, I've plugged the trailer into the generator so the onboard
power center was charging AND I connected my fast charger
to the battery AT THE SAME TIME.

This is because my fast charger is 25 amps but I wanted to boost
my 2 batteries ASAP so I could shut off my "cheap" noisy generator.
Was able to get slightly over 30 amps into the batteries
using both chargers at once.

YMMV.
If you do this and smoke your charger or power center sorry about
that. It worked for me on 2 occasions but you try it at your
own risk.

NOTE- if you use a generator to charge your battery be sure
the "condensation" switch is OFF on your fridge.
That switch turns on a heater in between the fresh food
door and the freezer door. You don't want that sucker
on while on gen power. I don't think it's on while on
battery power but I'm not sure. We leave ours off
all the time. My fridge barely gets cold enough as it is
without having a HEATER on in there!!

ALSO- switch the refer to manual GAS only.
Otherwise it will automatically switch to AC mode
while the generator is running and suck a lot of your
gen power that you need to charge with.
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Old 02-09-2010, 06:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveqvs View Post
Well its a little convoluted.... I charge using the generator plugged into the camper. The camper converter then charges the battery. I would be a little wary to keep the generator hooked to the camper and run a battery charger... I kind of think it should be one or the other... if that all makes sense. Does it matter though... I don't really know the answer to that.
Yes, this has been my normal practice in the past and it usually only takes about an hour or so or generator time for the convertor to re-charge the battery. However, having just obtained a new smart charger was wondering what is best way to utilize it. I wasn't planning on plugging the generator directly to the trailer shore power input ---- just to the battery alone via the smart charger.

...VTX-AL
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Old 02-09-2010, 08:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTX Al View Post
Yes, this has been my normal practice in the past and it usually only takes about an hour or so or generator time for the convertor to re-charge the battery. However, having just obtained a new smart charger was wondering what is best way to utilize it. I wasn't planning on plugging the generator directly to the trailer shore power input ---- just to the battery alone via the smart charger.

...VTX-AL
AL,

I've never had a problem using a normal charger with the converter in the past however the new smart chargers can be fooled by the converter. Since the converter is putting out anywhere from 13-14 volts the charger "sees" the voltage and think that the batteries are already charged and will shut off or cut back their output prematurely. If you are going to use the smart charger I would turn off the converter. I think the smart chargers out there will do a much better job anyway of charging the batteries correctly than the converter will do. I would not worry about damaging the converter, never seen or heard of it happening by using a charger with them on.
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Old 02-09-2010, 11:32 PM   #6
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Your converter is probably capable of 30 amps, maybe more. How many amps will you smart charger do? For the shortest generator run time, let the biggest one win. My guess would be the converter, leave the smart charger off unless you are going to be connected to electricity for a couple of days. If your trailer is fairly new, the converter is probably a "smart charger" anyway. I would not use both at the same time, as one may fool the other one. If you want minimum generator time, use the charger with the most output, and watch the water level in your battery, and fast repeated charging tends to boil the water off. Also don't let you battery get too dead. Good luck.
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Old 02-10-2010, 07:40 AM   #7
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My onboard power center will start out charging heavily but
after about 10 minutes it cuts way back even though the
batteries are still weak.
For this reason I use a separate automatic fast charger that
keeps pumping out the amps until the batteries are at 3/4
charge then it starts reducing the amps.
I used a clamp on amp meter to test the output of my generator
and found I was getting 5 to 7 amps more out of the genny
with both the trailer plugged in and the fast charger clipped on.
Charging like this is rare for me, maybe 2 or 3 times a year
but if I'm in the boonies and going to be there a few days
after my first charge, I'll use what ever means I can to get er done
as fast as possible and shut the genny off.
I don't like the noise of it any more than you would!
YMMV.

Also I can't stress enough to be sure your fridge is on manual gas
mode. AC mode is a power hog unless you've got a 2 Kw genny
and 50 amp service in your trailer.

KyDan
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:14 AM   #8
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Thanks.... appreciate everyone's input !!

...VTX-Al
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
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Also I can't stress enough to be sure your fridge is on manual gasmode. AC mode is a power hog unless you've got a 2 Kw genny
and 50 amp service in your trailer.

KyDan
Amen to that Dan. I didn't know how much they drew until I installed the inverter and it's digital readout panel. The panel shows how many amps of AC power the unit is putting out at any given time and when the fridge and the ice cube maker (another power hog) were on it was drawing a lot of amps.
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:19 PM   #10
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I've charged my Roo battery while it's been connected to the trailer without any problems....with one exception.

One time, I had connected my smart charger to the battery (while the battery was connected to the trailer) and plugged the charger into the extension cord and it went through it's charge cycle like it always does...no problem. Well, I forgot that i had the trailer plugged in to the garage at the same time and when i disconnected everything, I didn't have any power inside. No lights, radio, nothing...so I crawled under the trailer to check the wiring from the battery to the converter and found that I had a small 12 volt circuit breaker tied in between the battery and the converter. It was mounted on the frame in between the propane tanks and the battery and when I took it off and tied the two wires together (as a test), everything worked fine inside. I replaced the circuit breaker and now everything is fine again. So, just something to think about...I'm not positive if that's common among all travel trailers...my popup didn't have one, but the Roo did.

Here's reference to the post I put up back then if anyone is interested. circuit breaker question
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