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Old 04-04-2018, 12:24 AM   #1
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120V AC On Batteries

Hey everybody, I went camping last weekend and found out that I can't watch tv in my 2018 21DS unless I am hooked up to a generator or shore power. Also, the AC outlets did not work for me when I tried plugging my phone in. Is this true that AC doesnt work when not plugged in? What is the point of a converter of that's the case? Should I take this in to the dealer and have them fix it so I get power to those plugs? Thanks in advance! Sorry if in the wrong place!
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:40 AM   #2
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The converter is more of a battery charger and replacement for the battery when on shore power.

You need an INverter to be able to “make” 120v electricity from your 12v battery. Trailers don’t often come the factory with a built-in inverter and, if they do, they’re often limited to just 1-2 outlets (usually for a residential fridge).
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ependydad View Post
The converter is more of a battery charger and replacement for the battery when on shore power.

You need an INverter to be able to “make” 120v electricity from your 12v battery. Trailers don’t often come the factory with a built-in inverter and, if they do, they’re often limited to just 1-2 outlets (usually for a residential fridge).
DOH! That's what I get for thinking this late... How am I able to watch a movie at night in a campground that has no hookups and doesnt allow a generator? Do I get an inverter and plug the tv into it? It kinda seems stupid to me that you would not be able to use a tv when boondocking.
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Old 04-04-2018, 01:00 AM   #4
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Suggest that you do some reading in the Forum library.
There are numerous files that can teach you how RV systems work, including the two different electrical systems.

All RVs come with CONverters, few come with INverters.

Usually only some Motorhomes and a few 5th wheels come with factory INverters.

Did someone tell you that the outlets worked on 12v battery power.?
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Old 04-04-2018, 01:14 AM   #5
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The below is a copy and paste of useful information, and I usually recommend it to those just starting out. Some of it, you may already know, or may not be applicable to your particular RV. You will be able to filter out what pertains to your situation or not. I would suggest you read the electric threads and energy management first, and then the converter thread. This will help explain your different electrical systems of your RV, and how they operate...as well as what the converter does. The very first link will explain what operates off what system.

You can just peruse at your leisure as you get to know your RV:

Basic electric:

Basic RV Electricity - RV Information (RV Maintenance)

RV Electric

Your very important converter:

Converter or Inverter (they are different)

RV Converters and Amp Draw - RV Information (RV Maintenance)

Installing a dedicated 30 amp RV outlet at home (Make sure you understand it's 120 volts ONLY):

How to wire a RV 30 amp outlet

12 volt DC:

12 Volt DC Circuit Breaker with Manual Reset

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1)

Suburban water heater (if applicable to your RV):

Suburban's electric switch and much more

Suburban Water Heater Video Guides

Water Heater bypass/crossover valves:

NO (OR LUKEWARM) HOT WATER -Please read first

And the newest additions to help understand what constitutes a true full cylinder in refilling vs exchanging propane cylinders... as well as how the automatic propane changeover regulator works:

Propane Cylinders (Refilling vs Exchanging)

Propane automatic changeover regulator

Inverters and residential refrigerators in RV's:

http://rveducation101.com/articles/rvinverters.pdf

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Old 04-04-2018, 01:20 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by dangrega33 View Post
DOH! That's what I get for thinking this late... How am I able to watch a movie at night in a campground that has no hookups and doesnt allow a generator? Do I get an inverter and plug the tv into it? It kinda seems stupid to me that you would not be able to use a tv when boondocking.
Yup, it's stupid. It always cracks me up when manufacturers market smaller "backcountry" trailers with ACs and TVs needing 120V.
If you want to keep your TV an inverter is the way to go. Quick and dirty would be a smaller one that plugs into the 12V outlet that typically is somewhere close to the TV. A better solution would be upgraded batteries and a larger one installed permanently.
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Old 04-04-2018, 02:41 AM   #7
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Yup, it's stupid. It always cracks me up when manufacturers market smaller "backcountry" trailers with ACs and TVs needing 120V.
If you want to keep your TV an inverter is the way to go. Quick and dirty would be a smaller one that plugs into the 12V outlet that typically is somewhere close to the TV. A better solution would be upgraded batteries and a larger one installed permanently.
The Flagstaff 21DS is NOT marketed as a "backcountry" trailer.

The E-Pro/Geo Pro, Yes.
The NOBO, Yes.

But not a Flagstaff Microlite!
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:55 AM   #8
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One solution if you want to watch television when not hooked up to shore power or running a generator is to purchase a 12 volt tv. My Forester has 3 of them and if we pull in to a rest area and want to watch tv for a few minutes while eating lunch it is nice to have. I have seen a couple of them pop up for sale in the classified section. Here is one listed for $175 and is still available:

New 24" Furrion TV for sale.

Jensen and Furrion make them, just to name a couple. A new 24" Furrion runs about $250 at Adventure RV and a 32" Jensen $380 from Amazon. Of course you would need to have a 12 volt outlet handy or for less then $15 buy a 12v extension cord and just plug it in to your existing 12 volt receptacle.

https://www.amazon.com/Jensen-Heavy-.../dp/B06XSSQSNL

Furrion 24 inch HD LED TV with Universal Remote (FEHS24T8A) - $25..

https://www.amazon.com/Cigarette-Lig...xtension+cable
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:44 AM   #9
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Inverters require power to change 12V into 120V , so the batteries will last 5-15% longer with a DC TV and no inverter.

Inverters require heavy DC cables to feed them , and make heat while operating.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:26 AM   #10
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I’d say look for a 12v TV (television). The cost of the inverter plus battery needs, and wiring costs, will be significantly more than going with the 12v TV.
The INverter will convert 12v DC to 110AC, then inside the TV, it will convert the 110AC back to electronics voltage in DC (voltage depends on model). Just save all the conversion losses with the 12v TV. IMO
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:47 AM   #11
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I have a new 21DS as well that I will be taking out for this first time this weekend, I thought of this same issue as I like to fall asleep to a TV. I purchased a 150w inverter that plugs into the DC outlet and hoping this will be enough to power the TV. I am going to wait and test it out while I'm camping, fingers crossed.
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Old 04-04-2018, 10:52 AM   #12
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I concur with the above posts about just getting a 12v TV, but you don't need to specifically get the Jensen and Furrion ones that are targeted for RVs. We picked up a cheap 32" Insignia from Best Buy that runs on 12v. It's not marketed as such, but does work. Just go look for ones that uses an external power brick, then check the output voltage of the brick (or the input voltage on the back of the TV) and you'll probably find a bunch are actually 12v that are way cheaper than the 12v marketed ones.
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Old 04-04-2018, 11:06 AM   #13
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Not, the OP also asked about plugging his phone in. For that, you'll need USB outlets and to wire them up to the 12v system.

Something like this works:
https://www.amazon.com/BlueFire-Upgr...2%3A2661618011

Basically, it's most efficient to use 12v connections when possible.

When not possible, you'll need to use an inverter.

But, bear in mind- the more you use without shore power, the quicker you'll go through your battery. The batteries provided by dealers are usually quite small in capacity.

And lastly, if you're regularly going without shore power and running on battery power- I strongly suggest a battery monitor so you know exactly what your state of charge is. My personal preference is the Victron BMV-700 or 712.
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Old 04-04-2018, 12:15 PM   #14
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Need Inverter

I had the same problem for my front TV. I bought a 300 watt inverter but the TV doesn't work when the inverter is plugged into the coach's 12 volt plug. This plug has voltage and charges electronics fine, but not enough power for the TV. The inverter (and TV) work fine when plugged into the cigarette lighter on the dash. I'm going to need to rewire the coach plug with heavier wire and fused appropriately. So yes you need an inverter but research where you will be able to connect the 12 volt side.
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Old 04-04-2018, 01:45 PM   #15
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Echoing many other comments...and adding:

There's no free lunch. Batteries are relatively pathetic power storage devices. Most 120 volt devices use huge amounts of power if the source is the tiny supply in batteries.

If your rig does not have a "residential" (120 volts only) fridge, it's unlikely that it is equipped with a battery bank that can support much use of 120 volt appliances.

Here's a great calculator that will help you.
https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/ele...alculator.html

Plug in some numbers. Let's say your TV draws 500 watts (an estimate for illustration). 500 watts at 12 volts (remember it's the battery supplying the power) equals a MINIMUM of 41 AMPS of continuous power draw. You'll soon see that this is a LOT of power.

Now, for discussion, let's assume your rig is equipped with TWO group 27 12 volt batteries in parallel. Each battery is rated to deliver about 100 AMP HOURS. So, great you think. I have 200 AMP HOURS. Not so fast. IN VERY ROUND NUMBERS, the batteries will truly deliver about one half of that. So now you are down to 100 AMP HOURS - without ruining your batteries. Gulp!

So, HOW MUCH TV do you watch? Really? Just one hour? Probably not. But run the TV for an hour and almost half of your battery's capacity is consumed. The more typical 2 hours will leave you with about 10 AMP hours remaining to run the furnace, fridge igniter, hot water heater igniter, lights, water pump, and, and, and. Uh oh!

Now about that furnace. My little furnace in my PUP draws 5 amps. Let's assume a 50% duty cycle on a cold night (it's a tent after all). So, let's say 8 1/2 hours of sleep time...30 minutes to take the chill off the camper and 8 hours of sleeping. At 50% duty cycle, that's 4 1/4 hours at 5 amps per hour (amp hours) which comes to, simple math, 21.25 amp hours. Wait! I only had 10 in reserve. And that's assuming everything's perfectly efficient. There are parasitic losses such as the co/propane detector, some damned heater in the fridge door, and that crudded up connection on your battery.

And that assumes you start the evening with FULL, FULL, FULL batteries. If you don't have solar and/or a good generator, unlikely.

What do you do? Well, spend a ton of money on a bigger battery bank. The gold standard for getting started is: 4 x 6 volt golf cart batteries wired in series/parallel. Drop $600 on batteries, another $100 or more on rewiring the battery bank and putting in the necessary supports for 4 batteries, and sacrifice the space those batteries occupy...and you're good to go. 4 x 6-volt golf cart batteries will give you roughly 250 USABLE amp hours...more or less. All you battery zealots, don't quote me...this is basic.

Then comes the inverter...let's say 1000 watts so you have some options on what you can run. Someone here reported that a 300 watt inverter wouldn't run their TV...I didn't just pull 500 watts out of thin air. With wire, time, and installation, perhaps $150 +/-. The good news is that most inverters come with USB charging ports built in. Locate the inverter somewhere close to your TV, and you're set. But don't think about running the microwave or other big draw appliances on this thing. If you pull 1000 watts thru the inverter, that's about 85 AMPS (allowing for inverter inefficiencies). Even with 4 x 6 volt golf cart batteries, you'll quickly be pushing the limits with such profligate use of power. And be sure to turn off the inverter when you're not using it. Otherwise it will impose significant parasitic losses on your system. 3 amps an hour continuously for 24 hours adds up to 72 AMP HOURS!! For nothing.

Next, if you're doing this, you'll probably want solar. Who wants to listen to a generator grinding away for endless hours while you charge your batteries? If your converter supplies 50 amps of charging power (that's quite a lot), and you burn through 250 amp hours in your fancy golf cart battery bank, how long will it take to charge the batteries? Yes, you're the winner: 5 hours of running the generator. Sounds like camping to me.

So...back to solar. With a huge battery bank and insatiable demand for power, you'll need about 400 watts of solar generation capacity - more or less. Figure $500 or so to get the basics. I have the single-panel version of this kit, but the charge controller can handle 3 more panels. Extra panels are about $110 each (+/-), and then there's all the other "stuff" to get it installed...assuming DIY. Hire it done and double the price.

So, about the cost of lunch and that very nice calculator that figures your "power bill"... Consider a good book, rechargeable tablets for the kids, and, just maybe, a 12-volt TV...the smaller the better, because they use less power.

And then there's always the campfire. It IS camping after all.

P.S. consider charging USB devices from the cigarette lighter in your tow vehicle (or if a motor home drawing from the starting battery via that source). Phones and such use very small amounts of power--a few amp hours each, and if you're not foolish about it, you can charge several phones/devices, and your starting battery won't notice. Start the vehicle in the morning and let it idle a bit, and the alternator will top off the battery. A good cigarette lighter adapter is about $20. If you goof up, use your generator (and the 12-volt connector) to charge your starting battery....I've never needed to do that.
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Old 04-04-2018, 05:57 PM   #16
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Man, that’s some seriously inefficient TV to gobble 500w and 41 amps. An 8cu Norcold 12v / 110v compressor fridge only uses 3.2ah on 12v and .4 amp on AC. I can run a Mac desktop, router, and HP printer for over an hour on my little UPS backup power with a little 12v battery in it about the size of a motorcycle battery.

On YouTube, there was some testing of various battery configurations in RV’s. The test involved turning on every light, the fantastic fan, and the stereo. On a single 12v battery, it lasted something like 6-7 hrs before hitting 50%.

Just looked up a Jensen 19” 12v 1080p and it uses 1.96 amp. The Jensen 32” 12v 1080p uses 3.17 amp.
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Old 04-04-2018, 06:36 PM   #17
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I see the aggravation from the OP's point of view... you kinda' expect to be able to do a 'few things' when not 'on the grid'... BUT,

manufacturers reach a point at which the monetary value of an RV is not able to sustain all the 'systems' that might give everyone what they 'expect', such as Inverters. As someone else said, without a residential fridge in your coach, it's very doubtful that any manufacturer is going to provide an Inverter, or even more than a single battery, which is really only for the few 12v items within your coach.

now, an easy idea is to purchase a simple Power Inverter from wallyworld, or auto parts stores. It not only has a 120v outlet, or two, but a USB port, or two, AND it can attach directly to your battery, not thru a 12v 'cigarette' style outlet that might not be designed to pass thru that much power. You can run an extension cord to your tv from the inverter, if it is not close to your battery area.

also, for some general clarifications of some 'systems':

- your 12v Battery(s), or 6v batteries in parallel/series combination: provides 12v power to your 12v items within your coach, such as lights, fans, etc., but NOT to your outlets, as they are 120v.

- Converter: what most RVs, of any size or sort, have on board. It takes 120v power, when you are 'plugged in', and changes in down to 12v to power your items within your coach. This is to keep these from drawing from your battery(s) during that time.

- Charger: allows for your battery(s) to be charged from either Shore Power or Generator.

- Inverter: takes BATTERY power and changes it up to 120v power to all your OUTLETS, just as if you were plugged into Shore Power(the 'grid'), or on the generator.

- Generator: a loud engine that turns and creates 120v power, and uses fuel to do it : )


enjoy!
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Old 04-05-2018, 12:29 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dangrega33 View Post
DOH! That's what I get for thinking this late... How am I able to watch a movie at night in a campground that has no hookups and doesnt allow a generator? Do I get an inverter and plug the tv into it? It kinda seems stupid to me that you would not be able to use a tv when boondocking.
There are 12v tv/DVD players readily available, but there was a size limitation on many. Camping world sells several Jensen TV's that run 12 volt but pricy.

My solution was Samsung TVs with external power supplies like a laptop. The 26 inch is a 14.7 v power supply but I cut the line off and run it straight off battery. I have a 12v to 14.5 volt stepup device but since it works, I haven't changed it yet.

For the living room I got a Samsung 32 whose power supply is 19.7v. For that one I got a 12v dc to 19.7 v converter of adequate amp rating off eBay for about $14 with free shipping from China. Took a week and works fine.

Solar charger by day and TV by night

TVs from Costco. The 26 @$159 and the 32, a smart TVs that I can cast to from phone for Netflix etc was about $259. Loving it.

Inverters are great and I have a 2000 Watt puresine that will run anything but the ac. It's great but psw has only about 80 % actual efficiency and mine consumes 1-2 amps just turned on so we use it carefully. TVs run at lower draw, direct. Still haven't found a 12v solution for Direct TV so that has it's own 300 Watt inverter. The rest of tv viewing is straghi off the battery. Monitor the batteries and I never run them below 12.0 volts but most nights my fully charged by solar golf cart batteries never drop below 12.4 or 12.5 overnight.

Good luck. Tom
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Old 04-05-2018, 03:22 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by dangrega33 View Post
Hey everybody, I went camping last weekend and found out that I can't watch tv in my 2018 21DS unless I am hooked up to a generator or shore power.
Get one of these. Your sound system and antenna boost are on the 12V system so all you need is to power the telly itself. This little inverter will do the job (if you have a 12V outlet).
No need to buy something expensive or go through complicated rewires. Plug and p[lay.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Enjoy TV off the grid.
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Old 04-05-2018, 09:57 PM   #20
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Get one of these. Your sound system and antenna boost are on the 12V system so all you need is to power the telly itself. This little inverter will do the job (if you have a 12V outlet).
No need to buy something expensive or go through complicated rewires. Plug and p[lay.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Enjoy TV off the grid.


Maybe. I had a cheap 300W modified sign wave inverter and my 42” TV wouldn’t run on it. I think the wires to the 12v plug were just puny.

I originally could run my CPAP off of it but in later years of the camper, I had to put be inverter in the truck and run an extension cord.

Personally, I find it’s so easy to install a small inverter and then backfeed the camper- that’s my recommendation for a very simplistic setup.
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