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Old 04-17-2011, 12:11 PM   #1
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Dry Camping

I've been researching previous threads for information on installing additional batteries on my tt, a Rockwood Minilite 2306. It appears that the best bet for drycamping for more than three days would be to install two 6v golf cart batteries, but at considerably greater expense compared to purchasing an additional 12v deep cycle battery. Each 6v battery is capable of 180 to 220 amp hours compared to the 12v which is rated 70-85 AH. The wiring is also different for connecting them in series.

I only plan to dry camp perhaps two or three times a year. Because the budget is very tight these days thanks to an economic downsizing, I am opting for the cheaper 12v battery with the consequence of being extra careful with the electric output while drycamping. I have become fully aware of the dangers of draining a 12v deepcell battery which would lead to failure and costly replacement. So, this begs several questions: does it make better sense to buy two 6v batteries and keep the 12v charged and handy in case the 6v batteries are depleted? What brand of battery, whether 6v or 12v, do you recommend, and what have you paid for the brand that you prefer?

I bought my tt at RVW, and it came with a 12v deepcell from a company called Worldwide Battery. Not to be a cynic, but I assume this is not a high quality battery. Thanks in advance for your comments and insight.

Greg
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Old 04-17-2011, 12:29 PM   #2
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since you don't dry camp often, i recommend waiting till the OEM one dies, which might not be far away.

with the 2 12v's, they have to be exact same size and specs.
then you can buy two matcing 6v or 12v batteries to put on their.

i dry camp almost 100% of the time and i went with two 12v's for a number of reasons.
the 6v's were taller and i have clearance issues with my electric tongue jack.
if one 12v goes bad, i can still get by with the other one, this is not true with 6v's. you lose one, you have no power.
i have a Honda 2000, so i can recharge whenever and the extra reserve that a 6v has, isn't that much longer.
the 6v cost a lot more than a 12v and is heavier.

when these die out, maybe i'll look into 6v but i have been very happy with the 2 12v's. we can go 5-6 days without recharging unless we use the furnace a lot.
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Old 04-17-2011, 09:08 PM   #3
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We often dry camp - just returned from the past three days. On our 2304 we opted for two 12v - which was configured at purchase from RVW, also. The first night out our heater ran quite a bit, and I was a bit worried- but as it turned out there was no reason to be. We don't have a generator and try our best to keep lights to a minimum (haven't put in the led's yet), and have had no problems. I also have a solar panel that I usually will put up. Once, in our prior 2104 with one 12v battery, we ran out of juice on the third day of very chilly, overcast weather in November. So far in our new unit, two 12v's have been just fine...

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Old 04-17-2011, 10:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
with the 2 12v's, they have to be exact same size and specs.
AND age. They need to be replaced in pairs so their actual (versus predicted capacity) is as close to identical as you can get. The sronger one will always try to charge the weaker one and internal resistance will give less predicted life.

My advice is the same as the others. Use the one you have until fiances improve and you can get a good pair of Trojan Deep Discharge 12 volt batteries. Try NOT to get "Dual Purpose" batteries.

If you have the room for them two J185H-AC 12V Batteries will give you 450 Amp Hours. These are TRUE deep cycle batteries. (Tall at 15Lx7Wx14 5/8H) (440 reserve minute each) Pricey at http://www.staabbattery.com/product/TR-J185H.html

Could be worse though: http://www.staabbattery.com/product/...GPL-8DA-L.html at $614 each...

If not, two SCS225 12 Volt batteries will give you 260 Amp Hours

If cost is still too high, check out a pair of 27TMX 12 Volts at 210 Amp Hours

Trojan Battery Company

http://www.trojanbattery.com/pdf/TRJ...RVSS0310Lr.pdf
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Old 04-17-2011, 10:25 PM   #5
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I have two Trojan SCS225s in parallel, which Lou mentioned. I am very satisfied with them. You would have no problem going three or four nights with them. However, they probably aren't any cheaper than 6 volts.
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Old 04-18-2011, 07:28 AM   #6
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Greg, this is a popular topic and lots of folks have
strong opinions on it.....

Here's what I did.
I do NOT claim my way is great but it's been working
for me for going on 7 years.
(Had my previous trailer 4 years with just basic 12v
batteries.)

I bought my current trailer in Feb of 08.
It came from the dealer with a 12v interstate battery.
I went to Sam's club and bought another 12v
"marine/deep cycle" that is the same size. Group 24.
It was not exactly the same brand.

I've dry camped nearly a dozen times since then.
Some times just 3 or 4 days. A couple times for
6 or 7 days. I've run them down to the point where
the water pump sounds tired and lights dim considerably
when the pump comes on a few times.
It's recommended to not discharge them below half
if at all possible. I have done more than half a few
times.
As far as I can tell they are still working OK for me.
We dry camped last fall for 6 nights.
We watched TV a little.
We used our furnace a few cycles each night.
I re-charged them using my little Honda on the morning
of the 5th day.

I dry camped near the north rim of the grand canyon
in a national forest CG with no hookups for 6 days
last June. We didn't use the furnace but did run the
maxxair fan on low a few hours.
I did not charge at all that stop because our pump was
still sounding OK and I knew the next stop had
hookups.

We have only a couple LED bulbs.
One in the bathroom fixture and one over the sofa.
We use these when we're conserving electricity.
You can remove one incandescent bulb from any
of your over head lights that you normally use
and cut your power usage in half that way.

I'm just trying to say 12v batteries are NOT as good
as 6 v deep cycle but they will get the job done
if you don't expect too much.
(They aren't as worthless as some folks make them
sound........)

I was in your shoes, I had one 12v and didn't expect
to dry camp a lot. I bought a 2nd 12v which was similar
but not exactly the same and I've been satisfied for
going on 3 seasons.
YMMV.
My 2˘
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Old 04-18-2011, 07:35 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the benefit of your experience. This is good info. I will have to digest and consider the options based on the amount of drycamping we will actually do. At present, I don't see that we will be DCing more than two weekends a year, but that could change. Thanks again.
Greg
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gkconfer View Post
Thanks everyone for the benefit of your experience. This is good info. I will have to digest and consider the options based on the amount of drycamping we will actually do. At present, I don't see that we will be DCing more than two weekends a year, but that could change. Thanks again.
Greg
A second similar 12VDC battery would most likely be just fine for you as Dan said. If you find you are "off the grid" for more than a few days a year and you have a high "Tech" threshold (Satellite TV, computers, big screen TV) while on battery power, you can revisit this thread for options.
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Old 04-20-2011, 09:06 AM   #9
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One additional thing to keep in mind, no matter which way you go with your battery set up, is to get yourself a good charger. The "charger" you most likely have in your TT is just a trickle charger and will not do your battery any good in the long run. A 3 stage charger is needed to properly charge a battery. This will make the battery last longer both in charge and life. I have a Schumacher that I got a Walmart for less than $50. It has worked well for me.

Dead batteries are no fun especially when it is cold out.
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Old 04-20-2011, 10:39 AM   #10
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Here's another ˘heap option.
I use a battery tender Jr to keep my trailer batteries
topped up when it's sitting stored at home.

These little charger/maintainers are automatic and will
keep your batteries topped up without boiling the water
away.
Folks use them all the time for things that are stored
like RVs, boats, motorcycles, lawn tractors in the off season.

There is a little motorcycle shop that has online catalog
in Shelbyville KY that sells the battery tender Jr for
$20 bucks including shipping.
This is the best price on the web period.
Battery Tender Junior

I have 3 and swear by them, (not AT them! )
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Old 04-20-2011, 11:11 AM   #11
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If and when you do decide to get new batteries, I would go with the 6 volts. The camping we do is much different than yours, we dry camp about 70 days a year. I have run my Trojan T105 6 volts for 8 years through 2 different trailers and they are now getting to the point where I have to change them. I do have 3 100 watt solar panals keeping the 6 battries charged, as well as an inverter/charger that will start the genset if the battry power gets to low, it has only started the gense once about 4 years ago, we had been dry camping and it was overcast and rain for 11 days, it was cold enough to run both furnaces at night and we did watch the TV (36" plasma) 3 or 4 hrs a night (because it was raining) on the 10th night, power finally dropped below 11.2 volts in the battries and it started the genset. These battries have amasing capacity, I need new ones this year and I am buying new 6 volt Trojan T105's.
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:13 PM   #12
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I camp 2 or 3 times a year dry as well, and I just added a second Interstate 12v deep cycle to mine, and I use one until it starts to die, then switch the wires to the other for the remainder of the trip. I also do have a 3500 watt generator, but seldom ever need it. Randy
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:22 PM   #13
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I camp 2 or 3 times a year dry as well, and I just added a second Interstate 12v deep cycle to mine, and I use one until it starts to die, then switch the wires to the other for the remainder of the trip. I also do have a 3500 watt generator, but seldom ever need it. Randy
Thanks for this. It begs the question, though: is it better to have the batteries connected with leads, in the case of the 12v deepcycle battery positive to positive and negative to negative, or is it better to run one battery until low, then switch the wires to the fresh battery? And what gauge connector wire is appropriate for 12v dc batteries?

Logically, I assume that wiring in series would be advantageous since both batteries will charge at the same time and rate. Then again, you know what happens when one assumes.....
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:33 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Gkconfer View Post
Thanks for this. It begs the question, though: is it better to have the batteries connected with leads, in the case of the 12v deepcycle battery positive to positive and negative to negative, or is it better to run one battery until low, then switch the wires to the fresh battery? And what gauge connector wire is appropriate for 12v dc batteries?

Logically, I assume that wiring in series would be advantageous since both batteries will charge at the same time and rate. Then again, you know what happens when one assumes.....

You do not want to wire 2 12 volt batteries in series....that would give you 24 volts.

You need to wire the 2 12 volt batteries positive to positive, negative to negative. Ideally, the positive to the trailer would come off of 1 battery, and the negative to the trailer comes off of the 2nd battery.
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:42 PM   #15
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Thanks Mtnguy and good catch. I should have said parallel and not series...big difference. I also found the answer to one question regarding proper wire gauge. For the 12v dc, it looks as though 2 gauge is the right choice for a 12" to 18" wire.
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:45 PM   #16
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You do not want to wire 2 12 volt batteries in series....that would give you 24 volts.

You need to wire the 2 12 volt batteries positive to positive, negative to negative. Ideally, the positive to the trailer would come off of 1 battery, and the negative to the trailer comes off of the 2nd battery.
Mtnguy, any chance that a picture of this wiring setup can be found on the site? I looked but didn't find one. Thanks
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:31 PM   #17
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Here you go

The first is two 6 volt in series. The second is 2 12's in parallel.
NOTE: In the 12 volt example, the Ground is NOT on the same battery as the Positive. That keeps current flow through both batteries equal, assuming both batteries are of the same age and recharge status.
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:58 PM   #18
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I camp 2 or 3 times a year dry as well, and I just added a second Interstate 12v deep cycle to mine, and I use one until it starts to die, then switch the wires to the other for the remainder of the trip. I also do have a 3500 watt generator, but seldom ever need it. Randy
Just curious, don't you have room to put both in the system or is there another reason you lug around a second battery not put it in the circuit permanently?
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:27 PM   #19
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Another option for having two 12v batteries, as I do, is to use a battery switch. I picked one up fairly cheaply and mounted it to the TT frame right behind the two batteries on the tongue. With this switch, you hook both batteries to the switch, along with connections to the TT, and then can select battery 1, battery 2, both, or neither (off). Serves the same purpose as 08flagvlite, but also allows you to easily disconnect the batteries so they don't discharge when not in use.
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Old 04-21-2011, 05:33 PM   #20
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Another option for having two 12v batteries, as I do, is to use a battery switch. I picked one up fairly cheaply and mounted it to the TT frame right behind the two batteries on the tongue. With this switch, you hook both batteries to the switch, along with connections to the TT, and then can select battery 1, battery 2, both, or neither (off). Serves the same purpose as 08flagvlite, but also allows you to easily disconnect the batteries so they don't discharge when not in use.
This is exactly how my 5th wheel battery bank is set up.
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