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Old 06-01-2016, 10:40 AM   #1
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Trailer battery charged by vehicle?

Sorry, to ask such a basic question and perhaps this has been covered in other threads. I just purchased an 07 Rockwood tent trailer and newly wired a 7 pin harness to 99 chevy truck with brake controller. All lights and brake controller work fine. However, I have not checked whether trailer battery is being charged thru truck alternator. We want to use 12V frig while driving and I was thinking the truck alternator could maintain the trailer battery while it works to cool frig on the road.

Any advice for how to check this? Many thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 06-01-2016, 10:55 AM   #2
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Have a volt meter.
Start your truck and go to the 7-point plug. touch the red probe to the '12 volt power' pin and the black probe to the 'ground' pin. Do you have 12 volts? then the battery should be charging to the camper unless there are other issues down the line from the 7-point plug.

https://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx
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Old 06-01-2016, 11:02 AM   #3
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As long as the battery is charged and you don't run much else off the battery a fully charged battery will run a fridge for days.

To the actual question, yes your truck will "charge" the battery while it is connected. I used quotes around charge because this isn't like a quick or rapid charge but rather a trickle charge.
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Old 06-01-2016, 12:24 PM   #4
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As long as the battery is charged and you don't run much else off the battery a fully charged battery will run a fridge for days.
Everybody forgets that popups with 3 way refrigerators don't work the same way. The 12V side doesn't control a board, it powers a heating element. It'll suck a battery to nothing in several hours if it's not hooked up to a tow vehicle to maintain it.
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:22 PM   #5
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Everybody forgets that popups with 3 way refrigerators don't work the same way. The 12V side doesn't control a board, it powers a heating element. It'll suck a battery to nothing in several hours if it's not hooked up to a tow vehicle to maintain it.
I did forget that, thanks for the clarification.

A side note, I have not used a 3 way ever, is it the same as a 2 way (110 and LP) with the option to use 12V as the "3rd way"? I assume this is the case.

Is the 12V just so you don't have to run LP while driving as an option to keep it cool?

After thinking about this I can see it draining the bat really fast if not hooked up to the TV.
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Old 06-01-2016, 01:29 PM   #6
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When we had the slide in for our 72 El Camino and put in a 3 way frig, I also put in 2 giant combine batteries and when parked, the frig would drain both in a matter of 4 hrs. Would maintain while driving. Finally wised up and would switch it over to propane or 110V as soon as we stopped.
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:09 PM   #7
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I did forget that, thanks for the clarification.

A side note, I have not used a 3 way ever, is it the same as a 2 way (110 and LP) with the option to use 12V as the "3rd way"? I assume this is the case.

Is the 12V just so you don't have to run LP while driving as an option to keep it cool?

After thinking about this I can see it draining the bat really fast if not hooked up to the TV.
That's correct. The only ones I've ever seen have three separate systems with no electronic control. Mine had a sparker ignition button thingy (that's the technical term) and a knob to hold down for the gas pilot and switches for 110 and 12 plus a big sign that said not to use them at the same time. I always cooled it down on gas then switched to 110. Flipped it to 12V right before we left and turned it off when we got where we were going. I never had problems draining batteries when parked for an hour eating lunch or something.
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Old 06-01-2016, 03:38 PM   #8
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That's correct. The only ones I've ever seen have three separate systems with no electronic control. Mine had a sparker ignition button thingy (that's the technical term) and a knob to hold down for the gas pilot and switches for 110 and 12 plus a big sign that said not to use them at the same time. I always cooled it down on gas then switched to 110. Flipped it to 12V right before we left and turned it off when we got where we were going. I never had problems draining batteries when parked for an hour eating lunch or something.
Oh ok, got it now, please disregard my first post then. I appreciate the lesson.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:00 PM   #9
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No worries. The thing is, you usually only see three way refrigerators below 2.2 cubic feet or so, I'm guessing because of the amount of 12V it would need to cool a larger unit. The result is that, unless someone has or has had a popup or similar, they've probably never encountered one.
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Old 06-01-2016, 04:01 PM   #10
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As stated you can check it with a meter. One of my past Gmc's was not wired but my current Ford is and will charge.

But why not run it on propane we did when we had a 3 way in the past. I didn't like the possibility of forgetting to switch over etc. And with such a heavy draw if anything went wrong it would leave you stranded. Maybe I am paranoid but I felt better running on propane.
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