New to the lifestyle, question about batteries - Fiberglass RV

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Old 09-09-2010, 09:37 PM   #1
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Trailer: Northern Lite 16' FG Trailer
Posts: 7
New to the lifestyle, question about batteries

Hi all,
I'll been reading for a couple of years but not been posting. My wife and I purchased a new Northern Lite 16' trailer a year and a half ago. We got a good deal and used it 3 nights on the way home from where we purchased it, in Duncan on Vancouver Island in BC. Our tow vehicle is a 2009 Tacoma with v6 4x4 and towing package. It pulls the (16' on paper, but i'm guessing deleting the significant tongue length, its more like 13-14') very easily so my initial experience has been good. We live in a rented apartment so it was necessary to rent a storage space at a nearby lot, but that was a nightmare for me, as a noobie to towing. The space was small, slightly sloped, and the room for parking it was extremely minimal. After initially putting it there (at which time a group of young people screamed and swore at me for taking too long to park it) we avoided it like the plague. Fast forward a year and I found a new place with much larger spaces and lots of room to maneuver. We've used it for 5 nights this summer and are planning a two week excursion to Banff and Jasper AB.

The first night we camped in it this summer, the battery was dead, after driving 2.5hrs to our local haunt, Manning Park. We had a truck and camper in the past and when we drove up to Manning, our rv battery was fully charged and lasted 4 or more nights, even in the cold, so we expected the same result with the truck alternator charging the trailer battery all the way there. Ok, so now we understand that will not be happening with our present tv and trailer setup . We bought a Yamaha 2000is generator and went to the trailer to try it out. We started the generator and plugged the trailer's landline into the 110v outlet on the yamaha. I let it run for an hour and then the next day another hour. The inside display showed we now had a partial charge, so I figured we were good to go and would be able to run the gen for an hour each day in our campsite to recharge. We left the trailer for a week before our next trip and the power was depleted by the trailer's gas sensors etc. I had expected that and we partially charged the battery again at the campsite, as planned. We didn't need to use anything other than a couple of lights late at night (we went to observe a meteor shower). Ok, thats fine but we have no idea whether or not the battery is damaged by sitting for a year and being totally discharged or if we can charge it fully and be fine for our trip, which will include cold nights and the use of our furnace motor.

We don't anticipate having a plug-in site. We will be camped on the Icefields parkway between Banff and Jasper.

Last week I purchased a proper battery charger and plan on hooking that up to the battery at the storage facility and power it from the generator to charge the battery fully, I hope. Apparently the battery charger will run 16v or so for the first while to more quickly charge the battery. Have any of you had any experience with this? If you have to keep the trailer at a storage facility and live in an apartment, what do you do? I'm not sure I like the idea of bringing the lead acid battery home to charge in our apartment...maybe one of those non-liquid filled batteries might work? Any suggestions? Would you bring an rv battery into your apartment and charge it on your balcony, for instance? Thanks in advance for any insight any of you may have for me! .

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Old 09-09-2010, 10:40 PM   #2
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Roy in TO's Avatar
Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Posts: 4,960
Short and sweet options,
-Get the truck and trailer wired to charge while towing.
-I'd get a battery box and fully charge on the balcony in the meantime.
-Consider solar if you have sunlight in your storage area and or where you camp
(search for solar by peterh)

Here is a recent solar thread to start on:
Harbor Freight Solar on Sale till 4/4

There are some good threads on batteries and charging with many outside links.

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Old 09-10-2010, 02:00 AM   #3
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Escape 13 ft 2010 ('Ladybug') / 2003 Subaru Forester/ 2012 Toyota Highlander
British Columbia
Posts: 387
Some things that occur to me:
1. check the condition of the battery -- fluid levels and specific gravity in each cell with a hydrometer -- what is the initial condition of the battery?
2. check the wiring setup from the tow vehicle -- is the battery charging while you are towing
3. try charging the battery with the battery charger -- if the battery charger is an "intelligent charger" it may bring it up to full charge
4. check the load on the battery when the trailer is not connected to the charger or vehicle -- you will need an ammeter to do this -- there might be a power drain you do not know about

We park our trailer on a pad in our yard and leave it connected to power all the time and the battery seems to be properly maintained by the converter. When we are driving the connection to the tow vehicle seems to maintain the battery and handle the load from the fridge, and also seems to bring the battery up to charge if we have been boondocking.

Brian & Maria
2010 Escape 13 "Ladybug"|2003 Subaru Forester|2012 Toyota Highlander
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Old 09-10-2010, 02:04 PM   #4
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Trailer: Northern Lite 16' FG Trailer
Posts: 7
Thanks so much for the good suggestions . I will attempt to bring the battery up to our apartment in the plastic case and then try charging with the charger, which is an "intelligent charger". I will pick up some distilled water to top up the fluids, in case they are low. Solar is something i'd like to do eventually. My only concern is that I would not want to put any holes in the roof to attach the panel(s). I have heard of a "super tape" from 3m that should be able to hold it without holes...anyone tried that? Thanks again for the comments! Hopefully we'll have some good photos of the rig in it's proper surroundings soon
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Old 09-10-2010, 02:34 PM   #5
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Name: Roy
Trailer: 1972 boler American and 1979 Trillium 4500
Posts: 4,960
When stored, you can set the solar up inside the trailer. When camping you can MacGuyver the solar output to a 7 pin female and leave the panels outside.
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