Battery setup: is it safe? How to charge? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-21-2014, 08:44 PM   #1
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Name: Emilie
Trailer: Boler
Oregon
Posts: 18
Battery setup: is it safe? How to charge?

Hi everyone,

I just got my very first trailer. It's a 1975 Honey Boler and it's awesome! Super excited.

I'm a complete novice at this, so please bear with me. It came with a 12v battery that is currently inside the Boler, under the front bench. I believe it's just a regular car battery. The guy at the RV store told me it was dangerous for it to be inside, but I'm pretty sure that's how the previous owners had been using it.

The previous owners gave me a solar charger and said that they would take the battery out and charge it on a picnic table. Well, I'm in Oregon and there isn't much sun. Also, I'm full-timing it, and the idea of taking the battery out every day to charge it sounds kind of annoying.

My questions are:

1. Is simply having the battery inside under the seat safe? Will my dog and I die of poisoning or will it start a fire just sitting in there?

2. If it is unsafe, should I remove the battery from the Boler and put it outside or in the garage or somewhere else? Or would removing the alligator clips and/or not using the batter-powered lights and fan be enough?

3. How should I charge this thing? I'm in my friend's backyard right now and plugged into electric. Someone suggested that I use a trickle charger overnight and just plug it into the AC outlet in my trailer. That seems like it might be dangerous though...

Again, I know these are super basic questions, but I'm learning here. Any advice would be most appreciated!

Thanks,
Emilie
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Old 10-21-2014, 09:52 PM   #2
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Name: Charlie Y
Trailer: Escape 21 - Felicity
Oregon
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Welcome to Eggland from Hillsboro, Oregon. Having your battery inside is normal on many trailer brands, however, it needs to be in a vented space so when gas fumes are generated when charging, they are vented to the outside of the trailer. Usually the battery will be in a box with a vent hose to the outside, or a closed compartment with a vent hole in the wall of the trailer.

Solar works fairly well in Oregon, even on cloudy days. I have a roof panel and a monitor that shows real-time how many amps are going in.

Charlie Y
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Old 10-21-2014, 10:45 PM   #3
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Name: Dave & Paula Brown
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Welcome to the FGRV forum-family. You could have your battery relocated on the tongue of the trailer like Scamp and many other manufacturers do, IF your battery box isn't vented to the outside. My 2nd choice would be to change out your regular lead-acid battery to an AGM sealed battery, as it "vents" much less hydrogen gas than your current battery.
Dave & Paula
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Old 10-22-2014, 10:28 AM   #4
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Name: Emilie
Trailer: Boler
Oregon
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Thanks so much for the replies.

So it sounds as though there isn't much immediate danger as long as I'm not charging it inside, is that right?

But I should look into either relocating it to the tongue or getting an AGM sealed battery.

The solar idea does sound interesting. Right now the solar charger they gave me is small and portable, but I bet it could be attached right to the outside of the Boler somehow.
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Old 10-22-2014, 10:44 AM   #5
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Name: Charlie Y
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Oregon
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For a small charger some just rig up a connector to charge through their trailer cable that connects to the tow vehicle. Use a meter to make sure you find where the +/- contacts are on it.

Charlie Y
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Old 10-22-2014, 11:23 AM   #6
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Name: Carol
Trailer: 22' Airstream Formerly 16' Scamp
British Columbia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilie W. View Post
Thanks so much for the replies.

So it sounds as though there isn't much immediate danger as long as I'm not charging it inside, is that right?

But I should look into either relocating it to the tongue or getting an AGM sealed battery.

The solar idea does sound interesting. Right now the solar charger they gave me is small and portable, but I bet it could be attached right to the outside of the Boler somehow.
As far as the battery that is not venting in an enclosed place only being dangerous when charging - not so. It is equally as dangerous when it is being used by the trailer to run your lights etc. Some of the old Bolers had special vented battery boxes others just had outside vents on the hatch it was located in.. hard to know what you may have without pictures.

As far as AGM battery's not needing venting goes I strongly suggest you read the battery manufactures installation instructions in that regard.... there seems to be a fair bit of misinformation out there in that regard.

Lots of info to be found regarding solar here - use the search option at the top of the page and use the BOTTOM Google option to search the site. If you wire your solar controller to the battery and run a wire out for hooking up the solar panel you should not have to remove a battery from the trailer in order to use solar. How well it does for your situation may depend a great deal on who much power you are using and the size of the panel. If you are wishing to reduce your power consumption the first thing you may want to do is change your lights out to LED's. I use solar here in BC and often in Washington and other locations with far less sun than Oregon. :-)
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Old 10-22-2014, 12:25 PM   #7
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 13
California
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For my solar set-up I put in a trolling motor socket and and plug into my trailer. Once its wired in you can plug in your solar system at will and place your panels where ever you want to. You could also use your car charge line if you have a charge line for the battery when you tow with your car. Then you would just use another car socket wired into your solar charge line and plug your trailer into that to charge. It all depends on what you already have in your trailer and where you want to get to. I urge you to get your battery set up properly in a sealed and properly vented battery box whether its inside your trailer or outside. Its much better than breathing battery fumes or risking the event of a battery rupture not to say the chiropractor bills from lifting a battery and slinging it about in an awkward space every other day. Good luck and have fun in your new to you trailer.
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Old 10-22-2014, 01:29 PM   #8
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Name: lyle
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Michigan
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I keep an AGM battery in a compartment under the dinnete seat along with it's solar controller and other electronics. The compartment has a vent in the dinnete seat to the interior of the trailer. I've been doing this for many years now (at one time 2 AGMs). No problems. I wouldn't do this with a lead-acid battery though.
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Old 10-22-2014, 06:38 PM   #9
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Trailer: Scamp
Minnesota
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The short answer is that under some charging conditions, batteries produce hydrogen gas. They also contain dilute sulfuric acid and lead; both can be somewhat dangerous to you and your trailer under certain circumstances.

The long answer may be found here: http://batteryuniversity.com/

-- Dan Meyer
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:10 PM   #10
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Name: Brian
Trailer: 1990 16 ft Casita DLX #6
Colorado
Posts: 45
I mounted a battery box on the tongue. It has a with a 3 stage charger (that is what you should use) and a solar panel connection so I don't have to open the box to charge the battery. I never have to remove the battery and makes checking the fluid levels much easier.
Some mods of 1990 Casita
(photo #4)
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:22 PM   #11
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Trailer: 1974 Boler 1300 - 2014 Escape 19'
Alberta
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It has kind of been answered throughout this post but a car type or RV (deep cycle) lead acid battery should NEVER be mounted inside the trailer unless it is in a sealed and vented battery box, or separately sealed battery area isolated from the interior of the trailer. As mentioned a lead acid battery charging and discharging (Basically any time it is being used) produces hydrogen gas which is extremely flammable (think explosive like the hindenburg). If this hydrogen gas is ignited the resulting explosion sprays sulfuric acid everywhere ( I have witnessed battery explosions and would never want anyone here to have one in their FGRV)

Here is an example of a vented sealed battery box
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Old 10-23-2014, 10:44 PM   #12
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Name: Emilie
Trailer: Boler
Oregon
Posts: 18
Thanks for all of the information. Suffice to say, you guys have completely freaked me out. But that's ok.

Since I'm almost always going to have an electric plug-in, one of my friends suggested that I get rid of the battery altogether and get a transformer like this. Then I can run everything off of electric. And if I happen to need to be off-grid, I can get a generator. Any thoughts on this setup?
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Old 10-23-2014, 11:06 PM   #13
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Name: Brian
Trailer: 1990 16 ft Casita DLX #6
Colorado
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Why not properly set up your battery? It's way cheaper and quite unlike generators. They have no operating hour restrictions in campgrounds. You don't have to feed batteries gas and they are low maintenance.
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Old 10-24-2014, 07:46 AM   #14
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Name: Bob
Trailer: 1973 Hunter Compact II
California
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Depending on always being able to run a generator when boon docking is a death march.
As you will learn, there more camp sites without power than with and almost all campgrounds will have very limited generator hours.

Add to that, a "Sound level legal" generator, will set you back about $600-1000

I have looked high and low for years for a documented report of a spontaneous hydrogen explosion in any RV with a vented battery enclosure and have yet to find one. As mentioned, just be sure your battery compartment is properly vented or you use a vented battery box as shown above.
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