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Old 03-24-2014, 12:47 AM   #1
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Dead Battery

We just came back from a nice over-nighter to the nearby CA Gold Rush Country. We switched from tenting to an A-Frame camper last year to get more convenience - like running water - and to enjoy things like reading or playing cards in the camper due to the fact that we had light! But not this trip. On our last previous trip -in January - we had full-hook ups and everything worked fine. After that, the battery was in the garage, on the Battery Tender. On Wednesday, I installed it and connected shore power to use to cool down the fridge. Everything (water pump, radio, lights and so on) seemed to work as expected.

We headed out Saturday a.m. and I switched the fridge to 12v. When we got to the campsite, which had no hook-ups, I turned on the water pump. After a day of adventuring around, we returned for dinner and as the sun went down, turned on the lights above the table. They glowed orange and eventually went out altogether. Also discovered that the cd player does not like low voltage and we had to revert to our tent camping skills to wash dishes - by lantern light! Today when we came home I put my voltmeter on the battery (after removing it) and got a reading of 2 volts. This battery is as dead as they get. I bought this trailer in May of 2013, so the battery was, I assume, new then.

So... anyone have an opinion on whether this is typical for a battery on this type of vehicle? Ideas for avoiding a repeat of this (other than always camping where hook-ups are available). Thanks in advance for your experience and advice.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:33 AM   #2
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try not running your fridge on 12 volt, it doesnt work very well. using the propane when your not on shore power is the way to go, also your fridge needs 10.5 volts to run on propane, hope this helps.
les
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:26 AM   #3
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Yep, your mistake was running it on 12v.
That should only be used while driving, so it can stay cool without running it on propane.
Once you're dry camping, you need to switch to propane.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:30 AM   #4
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The battery that you get from the dealer is not usually a true deep cycle battery, but a multiple purpose battery, which does not give the best performance as far as reserve capacity goes. As the others have stated, try to never run any appliance off the battery because it will drain your reserve very quickly. It helps to monitor the battery with a multi-meter or remote battery monitor panel installed inside the camper and never allow it to drop below about 12v.

Keep an eye on your power consumption, then adjust your battery (or batteries) to allow you to always have about %50 of your capacity at the end of a trip. If you use a lot of battery power you might consider getting true deep cycle batteries as a replacement since this battery has been damaged and may not be able to be saved.

There are a couple of good 12v power sites on the 'web that can explain quite about all the details, but knowing how much power you may need and relying on propane whenever possible for appliances will help you get the most out of your dry camping experience.

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Old 03-24-2014, 11:32 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
Yep, your mistake was running it on 12v.
That should only be used while driving, so it can stay cool without running it on propane. Once you're dry camping, you need to switch to propane.
Thanks for your thoughts. I guess I didn't make it clear that that's what I did. The fridge was only on 12v for a couple of hrs. during the drive up. So 120vac at home, 12vdc on the road, propane for the duration of our stay.

The thing that surprised me that the battery was on a trickle charger/maintainer for a couple of weeks prior to the trip, and indicated that the battery was fully charged. Then it was installed while I the rig was connected to "shore power" which should have kept it charged since there was no significant load. Yet the battery failed at the campsite when the only things that were "on" were the water pump (which we'd not used for more than 5-8 sec. to get some water for the dogs.), the radio - which was on for about 10 min. or so and the light over the table.

So it doesn't seem likely that the failure was a direct result of running the refrigerator...
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Old 03-24-2014, 11:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mherte View Post
Thanks for your thoughts. I guess I didn't make it clear that that's what I did. The fridge was only on 12v for a couple of hrs. during the drive up. So 120vac at home, 12vdc on the road, propane for the duration of our stay.

The thing that surprised me that the battery was on a trickle charger/maintainer for a couple of weeks prior to the trip, and indicated that the battery was fully charged. Then it was installed while I the rig was connected to "shore power" which should have kept it charged since there was no significant load. Yet the battery failed at the campsite when the only things that were "on" were the water pump (which we'd not used for more than 5-8 sec. to get some water for the dogs.), the radio - which was on for about 10 min. or so and the light over the table.

So it doesn't seem likely that the failure was a direct result of running the refrigerator...
I'd have your battery "load" tested.

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Old 03-24-2014, 12:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by f1100turbo View Post
I'd have your battery "load" tested.
Yep, it sounds like you have internal damage/failed cell/etc. You may be able to get it replaced under the warranty if you take it to an authorized vendor of that brand.

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Old 03-24-2014, 12:40 PM   #8
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First check the electrolyte level in your battery, should be above lead plates but below bottom of fill hole. If low add distilled water to proper level then put on charge for 24 hours. If you don't feel comfortable doing this, then get it checked by someone else as mentioned above.
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Old 03-24-2014, 12:51 PM   #9
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My first trailer had a 3 way power fridge.
I found that even tho my truck did have battery voltage to the trailer
thru the trailer plug- my 3 way fridge used so much power on 12v
mode that it would partially drain my trailer battery on the way
to the camp ground.
I'd leave home with full battery and get to the camp ground with half
charge!!
Once I discovered that I never used 12v or DC mode again.
I used LP mode on the road and at the CG and had no more problems.

I wonder if you have the same issue?
If your truck is not connected to the trailer thru the plug then the
fridge will completely drain your trailer battery in just a couple hours
on DC mode!!
This is why most RV refers no longer come with 3 way power.
DC just didn't work that well.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:03 PM   #10
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It is easy for the battery to get drained while driving if there is a sizable voltage drop over the run of the wireing form the TV to the fridge. Once I measured volts at a fridge on a previous camper and TV at ~8 volts. When I reattached the battery while still connected to the running TV the volts went up, so it was obviously drawing the battery down. If you plan on driving with the fridge on 12V it is a good idea to put on a battery disconnect switch, but do it in a way that allows the breakaway switch to be charged.
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