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Old 03-04-2011, 10:50 PM   #1
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Do an AC power outlets work off battery?

Hi Guys,
I'm new to the RV world and am picking up a 2604 next week in Ohio. My question is: Do any of the AC outlets work when you are running off the battery? I know it has power converter so I'm thinking that they might. I just want to use them to charge my laptop and phones. I will be driving it from Ohio to Texas hoping that it doesn't snow and dry camping (rest stops) during the evenings. So at night I want to use my laptop and keep my battery charged. If they don't work then I will buy a converter for the truck and charge it during the day; but don't want to waste my money on a converter if I don't need to. Also is it alright to drive with a full tank of fresh water? I'll need it to take showers after a long day of driving? Any other suggestions for the trip?
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:02 PM   #2
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Chances are not. Most RV'S only have chargers to charge battery. You will need a power invertor to be able to power up 110V devices. That takes 12v to 110v. Being you just want laptop and phones you can just get a 150 watt power invertor. I recommed 400 watt just in case. Usually they are about 30 to 50 bucks when said and done.

It is fine to drive with a full tank of water. It is just extra weight you have to pull. 8.33 pounds per gallon worth of weight. I would say pull some just in case you want to use some water for bathroom break or cook a quick meal. Take the rv out and dry camp for a weekend. Then you will truley know what you need and what you dont. Make a list , do much much research like you started. o BTW welcome to the forum
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:50 PM   #3
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no, the AC outlets only work if you have shore power or a generator.
your trailer will have a CONVERTER, not an INVERTER.

the converter will take AC and turn it into DC, for the lights and other 12v items. it will also use the shore power to recharge the batteries.
an inverter takes 12v battery power and turns it into 110v AC power.
as far as carrying water, unless you're near your tow max, should be no problem.
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Old 03-05-2011, 12:11 AM   #4
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thanks for advice

I plan to do just that when I get the RV home. Going to set it up at the lake just a mile from the home. First I'll do full hook up for a few days then I'll then I'll go dry. That should allow me to get it set up for some trips. Plan to take it to some national parks next year and will most likely go dry. I'm going to go ahead and buy an inverter for the truck and will go ahead and fill the fresh water tank. Will need to take some quick showers at night. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 03-05-2011, 07:36 AM   #5
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I am sure you meant buy and inverter for the camper; not the truck.

The inverter will need to be connected to the house battery in the camper; not the starting battery in the truck.

Starting batteries are designed to give up all their charge in one or two blasts of power to start your truck. Thin plates with lots of surface area. They discharge and recharge quickly and at high amps.

House batteries are designed to give up their charge at a much slower rate; but over a LONG time. Thick honeycomb plates that release and take power much more slowly.

Look for a 1000-1500 watt inverter. Anything more is a waste since you will destroy your house battery trying to pull that many amps out of your house battery.

Watch your wire sizes. Make SURE your 12 Volt DC cables are big enough to handle the current load of the inverter you choose. You could easily pull 200 amps continuously through a large one.

Most house batteries being shipped now are 75 amp hour ones. That means that at 20 amps draw; they will last 20 hours to dead. For maximum life you should never use more than 30 percent of the available amps without charging it back up. Most deep discharge batteries are only designed to go from full to empty (full cycles) about 200 times before they are ruined.
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Old 03-05-2011, 08:17 AM   #6
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Actually I was thinking I would get an inverter for the truck. I thought that I would charge the computer while I'm driving, but that way I would only have a few hours of use from the computer battery. Your way I would be able to use it for a longer period, but I don't want to risk running the camper battery down. I would think that it should not be a problem if I hit the road the next day. A days worth of driving should get it charged back up. I'm still a bit confused about the amperage on the inverter. Why would I want more than a 400 amp inverter as scubieman recommended?
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:07 AM   #7
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If all you want out of your inverter is to charge your cell phone and computer, a 400 watt inverter should be fine. I have one of those in the truck just for that purpose. A 400 watt inverter will deliver 3.25 amps or so at 120 volts. The iPad uses about 0.5 amps to power the AC Charger when charging. Our Gateway Laptop needs 1.6 amps to use the AC power pack.

Make SURE the 12 volt outlet you select is the one the cigar lighter plugs into and not a lower amperage "accessory" outlet. The accessory outlets in some vehicles are very limited on their amps. You might even consider a hardwire run from the battery with an inline fuse.

For the camper; something more substantial might be in order if you or your spouse wants to watch 120 AC TV while you charge the computer and phones.
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:12 AM   #8
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...Most house batteries being shipped now are 75 amp hour ones. That means that at 20 amps draw; they will last 20 hours to dead...
Lou, I don't believe you have that quite right. A 20 hour Amp Hour Rating is the amps the battery can supply at a continuous rate for a 20 hour period (the battery being dead - not a good thing). So a 75 AH battery can deliver a constant 3.75 amps for 20 hours. In my case, I have a 260 AH rating so they can provide a constant 13 amps for 20 hours.

Reserve capacity is how long a battery will last at a particular amp usage. In my case I have a 450 min capacity @ 25 amps, so drawing 25 amps they would last 450 minutes. Again this is to complete discharge which is not a good thing.
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:21 AM   #9
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Additionally you seem confused by watts and amps. Watts is power and amps are current.

Watts can be calculated by multiplying volts times amps.

Our Gateway power supply requires 1.6 amps at 120 volts AC to charge the battery in the laptop. 120x1.6 = about 200 watts just for the laptop.

Add the iPad AC power supply requires .45 amps at 120 volts to charge it.
120x 0.45 = about 55 watts.
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Old 03-05-2011, 09:27 AM   #10
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Thanks Glenn, you are right; of course. Thanks for catching my "mis-spoke" It even happens to politicians I heard. It is early and I need more coffee.

Your clarification makes the case for a larger bank when boondocking on inverter even stronger.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:00 AM   #11
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Glad to help, just my little 5% contribution added to your 95% to make this the great forum it is. Have a great day!
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:19 AM   #12
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You have certainly answered my question. I'm going to pick up my camper this Wednesday in Ohio. For that trip I'm going to pick up a 400 amp inverter to plug into the cigarette lighter. For the longer term I'm going to look into a 1500 amp inverter that I would wire to my battery in the RV. Thanks so much for your help.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:51 AM   #13
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Glad to help, just my little 5% contribution added to your 95% to make this the great forum it is. Have a great day!
Totally not true; but thanks for the thought. There are many awesome contributors here. Most FAR more knowledgeable than me. I just have "availability" since I have no other life.

Most of what I know I learned here. The rest were from mistakes; some cheap; some very expensive. I hope some of what I learned can be used to prevent (or limit) others from learning the hard way.
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:01 AM   #14
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I use the Sears Die Hard 1150 booster/power pack. It has 12v and 120 volt outlets, keeps our laptops and cell phones fully charged, and has battery booster in case your truck battery goes dead.
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Old 03-05-2011, 01:19 PM   #15
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you could simply buy the dc chargers for each. there is (guess they still do it) have a dc outlet by the tv. why waste the energy up converting to ac then down converting to dc? the computer, u may have to. my laptop power supply is capable of ~80 watts out (19 V and 4.3 A). i have a 17" screen. the one from a few yrs ago required much more (abt 2X+) and a 15" screen

carrying water, i'll give u a left field answer that actually happened to me. i always ran dry or near dry. one day i pulled into a full hook up rv park in Nebraska (there were aliens on the water tower...should have tipped me off) and they lost the water well abt an hr later. i carry abt 10 or so gal of water now. i use it more to flush the toilet while on the road.
the weight consideration, if ur close to a limit, is a valid one. don't ever believe u will see it on ur gas millage.
as already stated, watts=volts X amps. that balance will exist on each side of the inverter. you will also get a small loss that will be consumed by the inverter.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:18 PM   #16
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I'll look for that DC outlet when I pick it up. Does it look like a cigarette lighter outlet?
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:18 PM   #17
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:37 PM   #18
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I'll look for that DC outlet when I pick it up. Does it look like a cigarette lighter outlet?

Yes it does, ours is located next to the queen bed in front (passenger side), kind of hard to see unless you bend down to look under the shirt closet
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Old 03-05-2011, 11:00 PM   #19
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the only one that i have is part of the tv ant outlet.
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:28 AM   #20
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They like to hide these things don't they. I can't wait to see if I can find my water filter.
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