Battery thoughts/help! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-02-2015, 09:52 AM   #1
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Name: Jenny
Trailer: 2010 Scamp 16 with front bath
Tennessee
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Battery thoughts/help!

Hello everyone!

My husband and I purchased our 2012 Scamper 13 in 2013. It had only been used a few times prior to our purchase of it and we have used it pretty much every month since we've had it except for December-January. We have always been connected to shore power (so far) and so haven't had to rely on our battery being charged. We store the Scamp outside in a storage facility when not in use. Full disclosure: neither one of us has given a whole lot of thought to battery maintenance - up to this point.

Before and after every trip, when not hooked up to either shore power or the TV, I turn on the outside light to check if the battery is charged/has power. The outside light turned on before I spent a week in Florida, but when I returned the light did not work. Plug the Scamp into the TV and it worked. So, I concluded at that point that the battery was probably dead.

After reading through a lot of information on this forum about battery care and causes of dead batteries I have some questions, formed some conclusions, and arrived at a plan of action which I'm hoping someone with more battery smarts than me will either correct, embellish or confirm:

Conclusion:

1.I have the basic converter that came with the Scamp, and being attached to shore power for an entire week in Florida, coupled with shoddy maintenance over the last three years, 'boiled' my battery and killed it. Does this sound like a reasonable explanation?

2.I purchased a volt meter after reading the posts in this forum to test the battery. I was expecting a reading of 12.2 but instead it read around 10.4. Does this mean a) my battery is deader than dead? b) my volt meter isn't working correctly or c) user error?

Plan of action:

1.I need some type of 'charge wizard' in my power converter that regulates the charge coming into the battery, such as Progressive Dynamics (PD4045KV) Mighty Mini 45 Amp AC/DC Distribution Panel with Built-In Charge Wizard. However, I already have an AC/DC distribution Panel so I don't think I'd need another one. Is there some type of 'charge wizard' I could add to my current power converter or does the whole set up need to be replaced?

2.Over winter, I should remove the battery, store it in my garage with a 'trickle charge' device attached to it.Someday I would like to boondock and have solar panels hooked up to my battery to keep the charge. I have read about some people keeping up a 'trickle charge' on a winter battery using solar panels. Is this doable for me or it is above my battery pay-grade at this point, so to speak? The less devices I have to purchase, the better, but I don't want purchase a new battery only to kill it during the winter.
3.I need to add distilled water to the battery as needed!

Any other thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Jenny
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Old 09-02-2015, 10:24 AM   #2
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Name: Jenny
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So, I just read this response so I guess that answers plan of action #1. http://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/s...d.php?p=539426



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Old 09-02-2015, 11:58 AM   #3
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So, I just read this response so I guess that answers plan of action #1. Never a thought - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV



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Let us know how it worked out. Good luck, Carl.
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:19 PM   #4
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I would HIGHLY recommend this small charger. Look at the warranty if you're wondering about the quality. I just ordered 4 of these a few months back from Amazon delivered to my door at $22 a piece!! The "Wizard" is nice but is installed in the camper and your camper has to be plugged in all the time. I almost bought one but I wanted it separate.

I have this Battery Tender hooked up to my Scamp and it has its own plug and is totally separate from my converter/Scamp cord. I do not unhook anything on the battery and all works well. They come with a harness that screws onto your existing batt. lugs. All you have to do is plug in the charger and I can do so without even removing the battery cover. The neat thing with this charger is, you can move it around if necessary.

Here's a link to the battery maintainer I speak of:
021-0123
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScamperGirl View Post
Hello everyone!

My husband and I purchased our 2012 Scamper 13 in 2013. It had only been used a few times prior to our purchase of it and we have used it pretty much every month since we've had it except for December-January. We have always been connected to shore power (so far) and so haven't had to rely on our battery being charged. We store the Scamp outside in a storage facility when not in use. Full disclosure: neither one of us has given a whole lot of thought to battery maintenance - up to this point.

Before and after every trip, when not hooked up to either shore power or the TV, I turn on the outside light to check if the battery is charged/has power. The outside light turned on before I spent a week in Florida, but when I returned the light did not work. Plug the Scamp into the TV and it worked. So, I concluded at that point that the battery was probably dead.

After reading through a lot of information on this forum about battery care and causes of dead batteries I have some questions, formed some conclusions, and arrived at a plan of action which I'm hoping someone with more battery smarts than me will either correct, embellish or confirm:

Conclusion:

1.I have the basic converter that came with the Scamp, and being attached to shore power for an entire week in Florida, coupled with shoddy maintenance over the last three years, 'boiled' my battery and killed it. Does this sound like a reasonable explanation?

2.I purchased a volt meter after reading the posts in this forum to test the battery. I was expecting a reading of 12.2 but instead it read around 10.4. Does this mean a) my battery is deader than dead? b) my volt meter isn't working correctly or c) user error?

Plan of action:

1.I need some type of 'charge wizard' in my power converter that regulates the charge coming into the battery, such as Progressive Dynamics (PD4045KV) Mighty Mini 45 Amp AC/DC Distribution Panel with Built-In Charge Wizard. However, I already have an AC/DC distribution Panel so I don't think I'd need another one. Is there some type of 'charge wizard' I could add to my current power converter or does the whole set up need to be replaced?

2.Over winter, I should remove the battery, store it in my garage with a 'trickle charge' device attached to it.Someday I would like to boondock and have solar panels hooked up to my battery to keep the charge. I have read about some people keeping up a 'trickle charge' on a winter battery using solar panels. Is this doable for me or it is above my battery pay-grade at this point, so to speak? The less devices I have to purchase, the better, but I don't want purchase a new battery only to kill it during the winter.
3.I need to add distilled water to the battery as needed!

Any other thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Jenny

The first thing to do is verify that the meter is close to accurate. Many aren't and that causes a lot phantom problems. You can check quite easily my measuring voltage on the tow battery. It won't be very accurate but you know if it reads quite low that it could be a problem.
Another way to check your meter, it's important to have accurate measuring instruments, is go to a battery store and ask them to compare it with a calibrated meter.
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:25 PM   #6
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There's many things that can cause a battery to be run down. One is there a charge line from the tow to trailer to charge the battery while traveling. Two is converter turned on and the trailer plugged in. If the light worked and apparently charged before you left the battery and the converter might be ok.

This is another one of those case where that you might be better off going to an RV or trailer shop to have it all checked out. Could be cheaper than spending money for new converter, and new battery only find out the fuse in tow for the charge line is blown.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:13 PM   #7
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Batteries die from neglect or lack pf use too. You may just have a bad battery. A 2012 trailer with the original battery might just have a bad battery. You can take your battery to Sears or Autozone and they will test it for free. I've personally had RV batteries that were only a year old and were shot. I would get the battery tested for starters.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jack L View Post
Batteries die from neglect or lack pf use too. You may just have a bad battery. A 2012 trailer with the original battery might just have a bad battery. You can take your battery to Sears or Autozone and they will test it for free. I've personally had RV batteries that were only a year old and were shot. I would get the battery tested for starters.
That's not a bad point. But, I'm wondering why not have the whole charging system including the battery checked.
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Old 09-02-2015, 05:42 PM   #9
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Charge line should never be connected directly to TV battery! Use a relay which powers the charge line only when TV's engine is running. How else???
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:02 PM   #10
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You have 2 problems bad battery. At 10 volts time to replace it. It will just make trouble for you down the road. Its 4 years old and heavily abused it may take a charge maybe not. May give 400 amp hours may only give you 50. Its up to you if its worth the hassle.

2nd problem with an offsite storage you will have a battery issue all the time if you don't take the battery home and keep it charged or mount a solar panel and controller to your trailer to keep the trailer battery up while its sitting on the storage lot. This is especially important when you arrive home and park the trailer and the battery isn't fully charged yet.

You can add a battery disconnect switch so you don't have parasitic battery loss from items like the propane detector when your not using your trailer.

Charge wizards work well if your trailer is plugged in when you have 120 volts ac. You can add this to your current system panel if you don't already have it. It wont help you in your storage lot. It will help you if you camp in campgrounds with 120 volts ac.

You need to check your trailer and tug wiring and see if it is properly wired to charge the battery while you are traveling down the highway.
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:18 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sokhapkin View Post
Charge line should never be connected directly to TV battery! Use a relay which powers the charge line only when TV's engine is running. How else???
Shoulds and oughts.... My Dodge Dakota with charge line doesn't have a relay. It's connected through a 30 amp fuse directly to the trailer. The Dakota has a factory tow package.

FYI --- A relay is just another failure point that can ruin a trip. How do know. My previous tow had a relay put in. It lasted about 1.5 years, then on trip, battery didn't charge between campgrounds. Second spot after about 3 days at was mostly without battery. A hundred+ bucks later it was replaced. That one lasted a bit longer.


I have seen at least one trailer that didn't have a battery on it. For lights at night it had to be connected to the tow. A relay wouldn't be any help there.
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sokhapkin View Post
Charge line should never be connected directly to TV battery! Use a relay which powers the charge line only when TV's engine is running. How else???
Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Shoulds and oughts.... My Dodge Dakota with charge line doesn't have a relay. It's connected through a 30 amp fuse directly to the trailer.
My rig is just like Byron's. The word NEVER is seldom the right choice. Notice I did not say that is is never the right choice

The purpose of the relay is to prevent the trailer from draining the tugs battery when the tug is not running. Unplugging the trailer from the tug works just as well as the relay, until you forgot for too long and draw too much power from the tug. The you are stranded. Always carry good quality jumper cables and know how to safely use them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
...

FYI --- A relay is just another failure point that can ruin a trip. How do know. My previous tow had a relay put in. It lasted about 1.5 years, then on trip, battery didn't charge between campgrounds. Second spot after about 3 days at was mostly without battery. A hundred+ bucks later it was replaced. That one lasted a bit longer.
...
Well, IMHO its better to have a dead trailer battery than a dead tug battery, so the relay is a good idea. Still I chose to forgo it, at least for now.
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Old 09-03-2015, 07:22 AM   #13
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Name: Jenny
Trailer: 2010 Scamp 16 with front bath
Tennessee
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Thank you all so much for your responses!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
The first thing to do is verify that the meter is close to accurate. Many aren't and that causes a lot phantom problems. You can check quite easily my measuring voltage on the tow battery.
This is a great idea. I tested my TV battery and it showed 12.64 so I guess my meter is reading correctly. One thing i did notice was that, because I expected a result greater than 12.2, I kept fiddling with the probes until I hit the 'sweet spot' on the battery posts. I'm not sure if I had the probes placed correctly when I checked my Scamp battery (that would be Conclusion 2c - user error ). I plan to retest the Scamp battery tonight.

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Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
Its up to you if its worth the hassle.
Agreed....and I don't want to buy another battery until I get a handle on the maintenance of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
2nd problem with an offsite storage you will have a battery issue all the time if you don't take the battery home and keep it charged or mount a solar panel and controller to your trailer to keep the trailer battery up while its sitting on the storage lot. This is especially important when you arrive home and park the trailer and the battery isn't fully charged yet.
This is my favorite option as I want to use solar at some point in the future but I can't guarantee that the sun would shine on my panels enough to trickle-charge the battery, especially in winter. This is probably a stupid question but do the panels have to be in direct sunlight? Or is a day's worth of ambient light enough to maintain a trickle charge to the battery?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
You can add a battery disconnect switch so you don't have parasitic battery loss from items like the propane detector when your not using your trailer.
I understand the concept but I think this is waaaay above my pay grade right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
You need to check your trailer and tug wiring and see if it is properly wired to charge the battery while you are traveling down the highway.
How do I check this other than by testing the battery before a trip and then re-testing once we arrive?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
Charge wizards work well if your trailer is plugged in when you have 120 volts ac. You can add this to your current system panel if you don't already have it. It wont help you in your storage lot. It will help you if you camp in campgrounds with 120 volts ac.
Steve, yes, this makes sense. So this particular charge wizard hooks up to the converter but won't connect directly to the battery? For example, I wouldn't be able to bring my battery home with me after every camping trip and hook it up to this particular charge wizard at home, correct?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
I have this Battery Tender hooked up to my Scamp and it has its own plug and is totally separate from my converter/Scamp cord. I do not unhook anything on the battery and all works well. They come with a harness that screws onto your existing batt. lugs. All you have to do is plug in the charger and I can do so without even removing the battery cover. The neat thing with this charger is, you can move it around if necessary.

Here's a link to the battery maintainer I speak of:
021-0123
Darral, could you explain a little bit about what it actually does? It is simply a charge wizard that hooks directly to the battery so you can bring your battery home with you and it will trickle charge and also protect from overcharge? How does it protect your battery when you are connected to shore power?

It almost sounds like I need the converter charge wizard in place to protect my battery when connected to shore power and the battery tender (or, even better, solar) to trickle-charge and protect my battery when I'm not out Scamping.
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Old 09-03-2015, 08:02 AM   #14
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When you are hooked to "Shore power", you're generally using lights, chargers, vent fans, pumps etc. That's where your converter comes in to supply voltage for those. Your battery acts as a "buffer" more or less. NOW, if you NEVER run any 12v devices, then yes, you stand a chance of "over charging" on the battery but I would think it would take awhile to do it. You may have a good idea of installing the batt. wizard if you're going to be long-term camping. For me? It's 4-5 days at the most 3-4 times a year. IF you choose the Wizard, you may bypass the Batt. Tender as it will be redundant.

As far as operation, they charge the battery to "full". Then their job is to "maintain" a safe voltage that will keep the battery topped but not with a perpetual damaging "trickle" charge. I also have a Battery Minder that "desulfates". It's considerably more money.

If I were you, I would go to their websites and study up a bit (including the Wizard on Progressive Dynamic- if that's your converter brand) and it will greatly help you understand "Smart chargers". DO NOT use a cheap battery charger as it will do no more..possibly worse...damage than your converter without a maintaining mode!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScamperGirl View Post
Thank you all so much for your responses!

Darral, could you explain a little bit about what it actually does? It is simply a charge wizard that hooks directly to the battery so you can bring your battery home with you and it will trickle charge and also protect from overcharge? How does it protect your battery when you are connected to shore power?

It almost sounds like I need the converter charge wizard in place to protect my battery when connected to shore power and the battery tender (or, even better, solar) to trickle-charge and protect my battery when I'm not out Scamping.
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Old 09-04-2015, 06:38 AM   #15
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On my old 1990 Suburban I have a small solar panel on the dash and plugged into the cigarette lighter plug (hot all the time) to keep the battery charged.
So far it has worked pretty good at keeping up with the parasitic losses on the system.
The panel is small enough to not boil out the water in the battery and big enough to keep up.
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Old 09-04-2015, 07:00 AM   #16
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Name: Jenny
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So I tested my battery again last night, to make sure my initial readings weren't due to user error, and at 10.0 I do think the battery is dead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
IF you choose the Wizard, you may bypass the Batt. Tender as it will be redundant.
These devices do perform the same function. However, as I understand it, the Wizard connects to the converter itself and helps protect the battery when hooked up to shore power. In other words, the power coming into the battery, by way of the converter, is through the Scamp black electrical plug-in cord. On the other hand, the battery tender connects directly to the battery and gets its power from a 110 outlet using it's own cord (or an extension cord), bypassing the converter and not using the Scamp black electrical plug-in cord. Is this correct?

Thanks again for everyone's input so far!
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Old 09-04-2015, 08:23 AM   #17
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Jenny, you posted some REALLY good questions. I went to Progressive Dynamics' site and couldnt find the answers that I wanted so I called them and talked with a tech.

The Wizard is basically a "gate" when hooked to shore power and you're using DC appliances etc. If it sees a high-amp draw such as the Fantastic fan, lights etc, it will let the converter pass the amount of amps needed (up to whatever your converter is rated- mine is 30A). At this point, the battery is not supplying the power- the converter is.

Once the draw drops off, the Wizard is back into monitoring the battery and will do what it needs to maintain it. If the battery has dropped the voltage, the Wizard make kick the converter into "Boost" mode to bring the battery back...then to "Normal" then finally to "Storage" mode to maintain. But you will NOT hurt anything with the Wizard installed when you're on shore power and camping. This was not clear in the instructions and description of the Wizard on their site.

On the OTHER hand; back to the Battery Tender and Battery Minder. They explicitly tell you to NOT have the charger(s) hooked up when you're drawing from the battery....because unlike the Wizard, it has no source to provide 10-15A etc should you require it from the battery. Not sure what would happen but I wont try it. I HAVE bumped my fan on a time or two and maybe a light when needed just for a few minutes. Never hurt my Tender.

All-in-all, I would say if you're camping 50-75% of the year, you'd be alot better off with the Wizard....and I would purchase one myself. But in my case, the Tender is working for me.

So, you've brought up some interesting questions and had me digging and finding out answers I've wondered about for a long time. Take care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScamperGirl View Post
So I tested my battery again last night, to make sure my initial readings weren't due to user error, and at 10.0 I do think the battery is dead.



These devices do perform the same function. However, as I understand it, the Wizard connects to the converter itself and helps protect the battery when hooked up to shore power. In other words, the power coming into the battery, by way of the converter, is through the Scamp black electrical plug-in cord. On the other hand, the battery tender connects directly to the battery and gets its power from a 110 outlet using it's own cord (or an extension cord), bypassing the converter and not using the Scamp black electrical plug-in cord. Is this correct?

Thanks again for everyone's input so far!
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Old 09-08-2015, 11:14 AM   #18
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Trailer: 2010 Scamp 16 with front bath
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Jenny, you posted some REALLY good questions. I went to Progressive Dynamics' site and couldnt find the answers that I wanted so I called them and talked with a tech.
Wow, you certainly went above and beyond to the nth degree! Thanks for all of the valuable info!

Looks like at the very least I should get the Wizard for when I'm camping with hookups, and some type of 'minder' for maintaining a charge during the winter.


Quote:
Originally Posted by stevebaz View Post
You need to check your trailer and tug wiring and see if it is properly wired to charge the battery while you are traveling down the highway.
In my scenario, when not attached to the TV, none of the lights work. When attached to the 7-pin connection on the TV, the lights work. Are you saying that the lights could work but the battery not be charging (assuming I had a good battery)? Is this something I can test with my new battery tester?

Thanks!
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Old 09-08-2015, 01:15 PM   #19
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Tennessee
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If you want to leave your Scamp plugged in all the time, with the Wizard, you wont need another "maintainer/charger". That's up to you. You can use one of the 15A adapters if you wanted to plug it in and leave it. I have a 120v plug under my carport.

At this point, it's just a matter of preference for you. I like keeping my plug out of the weather personally...and technically it IS out being under the carport. But again, that's why I use the Battery Tender. Remember though, I only camp 3-4 times a year at 3-5 days at a time max. So therefore, I dont worry about my battery being overcharged by the converter. Besides, my battery is going on 6 yo so I think that is a pretty good track record for my method of madness.

[QUOTE=ScamperGirl;547045]Wow, you certainly went above and beyond to the nth degree! Thanks for all of the valuable info!

Looks like at the very least I should get the Wizard for when I'm camping with hookups, and some type of 'minder' for maintaining a charge during the winter.
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Old 09-08-2015, 02:01 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
If you want to leave your Scamp plugged in all the time, with the Wizard, you wont need another "maintainer/charger". .
I would love to keep my Scamp at home but alas, my HOA doesn't allow campers in the driveway and I can't store it in the garage (AC unit on top). So, for me, perhaps in between outings but especially in the winter, I'll have to bring the battery home with me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darral T. View Post
Besides, my battery is going on 6 yo so I think that is a pretty good track record for my method of madness.
.
You are doing something right! That's why I want to learn what to do before buying a new one!
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