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Old 07-01-2020, 08:56 PM   #1
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First trip ever with Pop Up - Battery issue

So I just returned from our first trip with our Rockwood Premier 2317G. Drove two hours to Mikisew Provincial Park in the Muskokas, north of Toronto.

We are used to tent camping, so we booked an unserviced site and planned to use minimal battery power (water pump and maybe overhead lights if necessary). So I cooled the Dometic fridge by plugging into shore power at home the night before the trip. Upon departure, I switched over from AC to 12V DC to keep the fridge cold (tow vehicle alternator is hooked up to battery). Upon arrival at the campground I switched over to propane for the fridge, and lit the hot water heater.

At this point my understanding is that the only electrical draw should be the LP Gas detector (CCI Controls Pre Tell 22) and the water pump as it works to fill the hot water tank from the newly filled potable water tank. After only a few hours and not a ton of water pump, I noticed that the red (orange?) light on the LP Gas detector which indicates "Fault - Low Voltage" was lighting up when the water pump was running. It got to the point where the green "Operating" light would go out while the red one was lit up, but when the water pump load was removed the green light would go on.

So I was expecting and hoping that my Motomaster Nautilus Group 24 Starting & Deep Cycle Marine/RV battery could handle the 4-5 days of off-grid camping with just water pump and a small amount of (LED) overhead dome lighting.

The trailer was purchased used last year, it's a 2010, but the battery was new within a year of 2019. I did not check electrolyte levels nor battery voltage prior to leaving. I emailed the battery vendor and asked for a copy of the user manual so I can service it.

While on the trip I ordered a multimeter which I used upon return home to see that the battery is measuring high 12.xxs when plugged into shore power, and mid 12.xx when not plugged in. I also notice that with the multimeter held on to the battery, the voltage drops by 1/100th ever few seconds as it's being measured. Is that normal?

I did bring along a small 10W solar panel for topping up the battery, but I have no idea if it had a positive effect since like I said I didn't have the multimeter during the trip.

Any info or opinions is appreciated!


Thanks,
Tom
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:09 PM   #2
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Did you check the 7-pin connector socket for charging current from the alternator? If you didn't have the factory tow package, it may not be providing any current or a fuse/relay is missing.
You didn't run the furnace at all?
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:15 PM   #3
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Did you check the 7-pin connector socket for charging current from the alternator? If you didn't have the factory tow package, it may not be providing any current or a fuse/relay is missing.
You didn't run the furnace at all?

No, I didn't. How do I check for charging current?

And no on the furnace since it's been pretty warm here for the last few weeks. Hot water heater and fridge were both running on propane once the trailer was parked in the campsite.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:16 PM   #4
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Modern rvís are tough on batteries.

Smoke alarms, CO detectors, radios, and the fridge use 12 volts. 1-2 amps per hour. I would assume your battery should be good for some of a day. You can only use 50% of its available amps per day. So check the batteries rating. 20 hour rating as I remember. My guess is less than 80 amps. A 24.

A 100 watt solar panel on a good day produces about 25 amps to charge the battery. Likely your Minimum consumption per day. 10 watts is of little value.

Thus likely you need a bigger battery and a serious solar collector, or plug in.

Voltage on batteries. Read the voltmeter. 12.6 is a full charge. 12.0 is, you have discharged the battery too much, recharge now. 12.xxx means nothing.

Battery charge must be read several hours after the charger is turned off. Otherwise you are reading the charger voltage. Or the residual voltage. Not true voltage.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
but the battery was new within a year of 2019. I did not check electrolyte levels nor battery voltage prior to leaving. I emailed the battery vendor and asked for a copy of the user manual so I can service it.
Your group 24 battery probably does not have enough capacity for 4-5 days... look to a group 27 or even a group 31, or two golf cart batteries in series...

Servicing a battery is not rocket science and after having bought batteries for over 50 years I have never received a manual with one.

You probably should have looked at the electrolyte level ( filled to bottom of split ring with DISTILLED water (only). Your battery connection to the tow vehicle can only provide minimal charge power to the battery (negligible).

Your 10 watt solar charger is not adequate as it will only give you less than 1 amp of power IF in full sun... again negligible... look to a 100 watt panel if you want to start getting anything usable.

Quote:
return home to see that the battery is measuring high 12.xxs when plugged into shore power, and mid 12.xx when not plugged in. I also notice that with the multimeter held on to the battery, the voltage drops by 1/100th ever few seconds as it's being measured. Is that normal?
When properly charging the battery should measure about 13.2, and when fully charged and not connected to anything ( pull off one cable from post) it should be at least 12.7 volts after having set for several hours after being charged AND not used. Losing a hundredth every few seconds is not so good... tells me that the battery may need water, or needs replaced.

Lots of battery information if you google lead-acid battery information...
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:23 PM   #6
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Modern rv’s are tough on batteries.

Smoke alarms, CO detectors, radios, and the fridge use 12 volts. 1-2 amps per hour. I would assume your battery should be good for some of a day. You can only use 50% of its available amps per day. So check the batteries rating. 20 hour rating as I remember. My guess is less than 80 amps. A 24.

A 100 watt solar panel on a good day produces about 25 amps to charge the battery. Likely your Minimum consumption per day. 10 watts is of little value.

Thus likely you need a bigger battery and a serious solar collector, or plug in.

Voltage on batteries. Read the voltmeter. 12.6 is a full charge. 12.0 is, you have discharged the battery too much, recharge now. 12.xxx means nothing.

Battery charge must be read several hours after the charger is turned off. Otherwise you are reading the charger voltage. Or the residual voltage. Not true voltage.

Yes I should have mentioned: 675 Marine Cranking Amps/ 120 Reserve Capacity minutes/ 65 Amp Hours (20 Hour).


When I said 12.xx I meant that to the right of the decimal was high (70s, 80s) when plugged into shore power but middling (60s) when unplugged.

Acknowledged on the timeline for voltage testing. I'll check it again tomorrow morning.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:25 PM   #7
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TVís do little to charge batteries. I have tested mine. Next to nothing from my 220 hd truck alternator. 12.8 volts or so. Expect nothing.

Line loss. 12 volt wire is notorious about voltage drop. It is a long way from the alternator to the rv battery.

Assumes you have a 7 wire harness on the TV.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:31 PM   #8
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Your group 24 battery probably does not have enough capacity for 4-5 days... look to a group 27 or even a group 31, or two golf cart batteries in series...

Servicing a battery is not rocket science and after having bought batteries for over 50 years I have never received a manual with one.

You probably should have looked at the electrolyte level ( filled to bottom of split ring with DISTILLED water (only). Your battery connection to the tow vehicle can only provide minimal charge power to the battery (negligible).

Your 10 watt solar charger is not adequate as it will only give you less than 1 amp of power IF in full sun... again negligible... look to a 100 watt panel if you want to start getting anything usable.



When properly charging the battery should measure about 13.2, and when fully charged and not connected to anything ( pull off one cable from post) it should be at least 12.7 volts after having set for several hours after being charged AND not used. Losing a hundredth every few seconds is not so good... tells me that the battery may need water, or needs replaced.

Lots of battery information if you google lead-acid battery information...

Thank you for the battery/solar panel info. I am looking at a 170W panel on Amazon, though the issue with relying on that for off-grid camping is I need to be parked in the sun, but that isn't conducive to camping with napping-aged twin toddlers in a trailer that does not have A/C.
So does plugging into shore power charge the battery better than the alternator as it goes through the trailer's converter?


I will def check out the electrolytes tomorrow, I just wanted to know exactly where the level should be for that particular make/model.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:35 PM   #9
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Assumes you have a 7 wire harness on the TV.
yes. 7 wire harness was installed by a mechanic coworker just a couple weeks ago.
So the question is then, should I not rely on my fridge to run off 12V during the drive to the campground?


Kind of sucks if I have to do the cooler-fridge transfer upon set up. Cooler food takes up beverage space!
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:39 PM   #10
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On shore power you should see 13.6-13.4 at the battery. Running refer off 12v while traveling will pretty much wipe out half of your battery amperage. We run propane for refer on the road.
Pumping 6? Gallons from your fresh tank into the water heater will further use up a fair amount of juice.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:39 PM   #11
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Your battery has 65/2 or 32.5 amps available. Likely will not last 24 hours. Discharging below 50% damages the battery. To quote Ernst Tubbs, driving nails in my coffin.

Discharging much below 50% often can easily kill a battery in a year.

Lots to learn.

Charging voltage of 12.7 ish indicates a voltmeter reading wrong or you are reading the tv charging, means you are getting nothing. 13.1 is sort of a converters minimum. Trickle charge.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:47 PM   #12
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On shore power you should see 13.6-13.4 at the battery. Running refer off 12v while traveling will pretty much wipe out half of your battery amperage. We run propane for refer on the road.
Pumping 6? Gallons from your fresh tank into the water heater will further use up a fair amount of juice.

It's safe to run the propane fridge while driving?
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:49 PM   #13
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Run it on propane when you're traveling. You might have to check to see if it stays lit and make a little baffle if it doesn't. Your tow vehicle will contribute almost nothing to your trailer battery. The voltage will be too low and the run too long.
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Old 07-01-2020, 09:51 PM   #14
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It's safe to run the propane fridge while driving?
It's controversial, but I say yes. Turn it off when you get gas.
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Old 07-01-2020, 10:16 PM   #15
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1. Your charging voltage when plugged into shore power is too low. As MtBiker stated you should be reading 13.0-13.2 for a trickle charge when the battery is fully charged, 13.4 to 13.6 when the battery is charging from a discharged state. The better converters, such as from Progressive Dynamics will even have a boost charging mode which runs at 14.4 volts. Therefore I would look at an issue with your converter and/or the wiring between the battery and converter - you don't seem to be getting much battery charging occurring when plugged into shore power.

2. Take the battery to any auto parts and have it tested. You might have a bad cell.

3. As far as the refer... I run mine on 12 volts while connected to the tow vehicle. I know my 7-pin aux power pin is connected straight to my tow vehicle battery, and therefore the alternator. I'm pretty sure I'm breaking even when travelling - not charging the batteries much, but enough to supply the refer with 12 volts. But you would have to check for voltage at your 7-pin connector aux power pin.

4. A 10 watt solar panel is just plain worthless, to be honest. You need at least 100 watt and I would suggest 200 watt as a minimum.

5. I would upgrading the battery to a true deep cycle battery or 2x 6 volt golf cart batteries.
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Old 07-01-2020, 10:54 PM   #16
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There are suit-case style solar chargers that you can walk out into the sun while still parked in the shade and attach via a wire to the battery.

I just saw at Costco Coleman brand 100 watt solar cells with 8.5 amp controllers for something over $100... see below picture for the higher priced delivered version.

Quote:
I just wanted to know exactly where the level should be for that particular make/model.
All batteries have fill holes that have a split-ring arrangement at the depth you should fill with distilled water. A little more will not hurt.

All RV's have parasitic loads that will pull power from a battery even if everything is turned off. Easy to disconnect a power lead from one post of the battery or purchase a power-disconnect switch that installs on one battery post to make sure there is NO power draw when in storage.

I pack the fridge with cold stuff including frozen water bottles before leaving and it will stay plenty cold for 24 hours while driving... I never power my fridge while driving.
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Old 07-01-2020, 11:26 PM   #17
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Your issue is a group24 battery and using the fridge on DC.

You may have made it 2-3 days with the group24 battery with minimal usage (water pump and water heater and some LEDs and normal parasitic draws) if you had not drained the battery running the fridge on DC. Most RVs stopped putting DC fridges in them because of this. You may need to disconnect the heating strip on the fridge if you have one (guessing you don't). Run propane on the fridge on the road and when camping.

Fridge aside If you ever need the furnace you will not make it through the night with that group 24 battery though because of the fan. You will want to look into upgrading it at some point or use propane heaters.

You really should not drain a lead acid battery lower than 50% or you are doing damage to it and lowering capacity. Every now and then is ok but frequent usage will make the battery short lived.

You have some options.
Renology suitcase 200w panel runs a few hundred. They only work when the sun shines well and really will top you off.
A few 6v golf cart batteries are about the same price and will give you 115 usable AH (230 total) compared to 35 usable (70 total) on the Group24.
If you didnt damage your battery and it's new you can run another group24 and get to 70 usable AH or buy a group 27 or group 31 to replace it and get to the 95AH total (47 usable).
An inverter generator will charge your batteries. You would only need a 2000W model unless you run the AC. These range from $400 for HF predator to $1100 for Honda. You can usually only run these during specific hours depending on the campground and you will want to be there to do it or your generator will run away. They work in the rain as long as you have gas and they can allow you to run a hair dryer or coffee maker in the morning if you desire.

One or several of these are options you will need to figure out based on your actual electrical usage.

The other option is camp where you have power. Sites are more expensive but in most cases only a few bucks a night.

Congrats on the camper and good luck!
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Old 07-02-2020, 12:31 AM   #18
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In a popup, even a newer one, your demands are not as high as everyone is letting on.
A proper battery monitor will give you all the info you need on your power situation.
I used to boondock 6 days at a time 2 -3 times a year in an rpod172t with a single group 24 using its furnace at times on cooler nights without any trouble. I also assumed though on my first trip that my tv was supplying power to keep up with the draw from the 3 way fridge. I was wrong. It drew the battery down and had to recharge.

Make sure that the trailer aux fuse is installed in your tow vehicle (from factory this fuse is not installed - mine was in a bag in glovebox). Even installed, your fridge is drawing more that your vehicle can supply through that light gauge wire.

Not sure how long your drive is, but you could turn off fridge for short time. One isnít supposed to run on propane down the road, but more people do than you may think. Most campers do not have 3 way with 12v like you do.

As for a few lights, propane sensor, and the water pump with likely a 10 gallon tank, your single battery should take you through the week as well.
I canít imagine you needing 200w of solar or dual6v for a popup camper unless you plan on staying off grid for some time.

Get that battery fully charged (12hrs) and or tested and replace it with new if it doesnít pass a load test.

Happy camping!
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Old 07-02-2020, 10:20 AM   #19
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A 10 Watt solar panel may not have a diode installed to prevent becoming a load when the sun does not shine. Minor consideration, but if you are trying to squeeze the max camping time out of a battery.
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Old 07-02-2020, 03:00 PM   #20
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Tons of answers here, so I'm sure I'll repeat:

DO NOT RUN YOUR FRIDGE ON 12-VOLTS.
The fridge uses heat to make cold. Heat takes a ton of energy. You have a tiny amount of energy in the RV battery. And your tow vehicle obviously is not supplying enough for the fridge.

Easy answer: Run the fridge on propane. Cool the fridge at home, and the NIGHT BEFORE DEPARTURE switch over to propane. Ensure that everything is working right.
Also note that you may need to PRIME the propane system by running your cook stove or furnace for a few seconds to ensure the fridge is getting propane.

But who the hell wants to open the camper to run the stove? What a pain in the ass. Since most new PUPS have an aux propane outlet for a grill or similar, there's your answer. Hookup something to that port...usually near the rear of the rig...and run it for a few seconds until you have a steady flame. THEN AND ONLY THEN ignite the fridge on propane. If you try to run the fridge on propane when the lines aren't primed, the safety interlocks on the fridge will give up before the propane gets there. If the fridge sensors don't detect flame right away, the whole thing will go into fault mode. Your 2010 PUP may not have an aux port for propane, but priming is essential.

Yes, some fridges will go out when going down the road. Most do not. If the fridge goes out, and you're only traveling 3 hours or so, nothing bad will happen. Your fridge will be a pre-cooled, well insulated, COOLER. Your food will be fine. You'll discover that your fridge had "faulted" and is not cooling. Just reset it. I suspect you'll arrive and the fridge will be running just fine.
My PUP had no issues running the fridge on propane on the road. My new hardside is the same...no problems.

Managing energy is the biggest challenge when boondocking. As it turns out, your little group 24 marine battery on the tongue has about 35 usable amp hours of energy. And I'd bet that you have a power winch to raise the roof...a huge energy suck. Got a bigger battery? Whoop Whoop...you might have all of 100 amp hours if you have god's own battery bank on the tongue of that rig.

A 5 gallon tank (4.5 gallons) of propane contains about 410,000 BTU which converts to 120,000 watts/hr. 120,000 watts at 12 volts equals 10,000 amp hours...yes 10,000. If you have two propane tanks, that's the equivalent of 20,000 amp hours or the equivalent of 571 of your puny batteries.

Batteries ain't made to run fridges, and your tow vehicle - a Honda minivan - very likely can't supply all the power your fridge needs when running, so your battery gets sucked dry driving down the road. BEEN THERE, DONE THAT. That's the trip when I broke down and bought a generator to save my sorry ass from similar dumb mistakes.

Run the fridge on 120 volts when shore power is available, and run it on propane when it's not. There's no time that 12 volts makes sense unless you're prepared to recharge with a generator once you reach your destination.

A little fun with math:
https://www.rapidtables.com/convert/...U_to_Watt.html
https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/ele...alculator.html

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