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Thread: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

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    Senior Member oldelmer1's Avatar
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    Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    I believe this has been discussed before, but here goes again


    After two g for 6 hours today, I checked the voltage on the batteries and
    they were down to 11.9v. I've checked my ram 3500 and
    I have power on the correct pin for recharging the battery.

    I was talking to a friend who toads his car behind his motorhome
    And he uses one of these for his road.

    http://www.brakebuddy.com/phone/towe...y-charger.html

    Do any of you think this would work for charging g the camper batteries
    while driving down the road.
    Tom & Sharon
    2016 Landmark Orlando
    2016 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW
    Aisin Trans, 373 rear, 900 Ft - Tq
    Heartland Owners Club # 3675

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    Senior Member Oregon_Camper's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Problem is your residential refrigerator is using ~3x what your truck is putting in.

    Now...your truck could be different, but most have a very very small gauge wire running back to 7-pin plug. Small gauge wire = Low Amps. You just can't get enough amp down that wire.

    You can do one of the follow:

    1 - Directly wire in a new thicker gauge wire to battery.
    2 - Buy Lithium batteries and drive 6+ hours a day and never worry...as you will have 13.6v all the way down to ~10% charge....but they are ~$1,000 a piece
    3 - Install ~200 watts of solar on the roof, combined with a nice MPPT controller and you'll be good (assuming you drive during the day & you're not a vampire driving at night )

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    Moderator danemayer's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    There doesn't seem to be much in the way of explanation of what the device does. But I have to wonder why it would be any different from power coming across the existing umbilical.

    Do you know the battery voltage at the beginning of the day?

    If this is something that used to be better, it may be that your batteries aren't holding a full charge. After disconnecting shore power, wait about 15 minutes before connecting the truck, and then take a voltage reading. The 15 minutes is to let any "surface charge" wear off. Keeping the truck disconnected will make sure you're not reading the result of a charge from the truck.

    A fully charged battery will read 12.6V or very close.

    Even at that, if the batteries are more than 2 years old, you might want to take them to an auto shop or service location to have them load tested.

    And of course, make sure the water level hasn't dropped, leaving 1 or more cells low.


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    Senior Member Flick's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Quote Originally Posted by oldelmer1 View Post
    I believe this has been discussed before, but here goes again


    After two g for 6 hours today, I checked the voltage on the batteries and
    they were down to 11.9v. I've checked my ram 3500 and
    I have power on the correct pin for recharging the battery.

    I was talking to a friend who toads his car behind his motorhome
    And he uses one of these for his road.

    http://www.brakebuddy.com/phone/towe...y-charger.html

    Do any of you think this would work for charging g the camper batteries
    while driving down the road.
    Looking at the specs for the brake buddy, I don’t believe that it will do what you want. It says it will maintain a charge but won’t charge a battery if it’s dead which leads me to think that any rv that has any amp draw won’t allow it to keep up. It’s meant for, as you said, maintaining a charge in a vehicle you’re towing. Your truck should do a better job than the brake buddy. What’s been suggested in another post would be the best route. However, I reckon they’re cheap enough to gamble on it that it perhaps might work.
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Your invertor is drawing between 20-25 amps 12 volt, when the refridgerator is running. Your Ram has a 10ga 30amp wire and fuse feeding your trailer. If it is warm out, your refridgerator is running, more. The charge line is barely keeping up with the invertor, let alone charging the batteries.
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    Senior Member SNOKING's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Three issues:

    1. Wire size
    2. Distance
    3. When the truck batteries are charged up the voltage level comes down to low to "create" much of a charge to the trailer. Number one and two above do not load the trucks system enough for the alternator to raise the voltage.

    Solution would be more amp hours in the trailers battery bank or the solar noted above^. Increase wire size really does not help solve the issue, as you still will not get the trucks alternator to raise the voltage enough to charge much.

    At 11.9 the batteries are nearly fully discharged. This is not good for battery life. It is much better to work in the up half of available amp hours. Attached is my spread sheet for 2x110 amp hr 12V batteries in parallel. Spread sheet is available to anyone that wants it. You plug on battery bank amp hrs in cell I-2 and it does the math. Chris

    State of Charge Sealed or Flooded Lead Acid battery voltage Gel battery voltage AGM battery voltage
    100% 12.70+ 12.85+ 12.80+
    75% 12.40 12.65 12.60
    50% 12.20 12.35 12.30
    25% 12.00 12.00 12.00
    0% 11.80 11.80 11.80


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    Moderator danemayer's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Quote Originally Posted by SNOKING View Post
    Three issues:


    3. When the truck batteries are charged up the voltage level comes down to low to "create" much of a charge to the trailer. Number one and two above do not load the trucks system enough for the alternator to raise the voltage.
    I'm curious about this. On my RAM and on the previous GMC, I'm pretty sure that every time I ever checked the info console while the engine was running, it showed alternator output at about 14V.

    Have Ford, GM, and RAM started using variable output alternators? Do you know when and whether they all do?


    Dan and Ann Mayer & fur baby Callie the Rally Dog
    2011 Landmark Rushmore
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    • Goodyear G114 17.5" tires
    • RV Comfort Systems Cheap Heat
    • MorRyde 33x90 Sliding Cargo Tray
    • Torklift Glowstep Revolution Aluminum Steps & Dirt Destroyer

    2014 RAM 3500 Laramie
    • Cummins 6.7 Diesel, AISIN Transmission
    • 4x4, Long box, Crew Cab, DRW 3.73
    • Sailun Terramax A/T 4S, 235/80R -17. 5 Tires
    • Hensley BD3 TrailerSaver Hitch
    • Garmin RV760 GPS


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    Senior Member wdk450's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    I hope you have taken voltage readings on the trailer batteries with no shorepower and first the truck disconnected, and then with the truck connected through the umbilical cable and motor running. The 2nd reading should be higher, and reflect the truck's charging voltage. My older RAM had a 25 amp fuse on the charging line that kept blowing with my rig. I installed a 20 amp self resetting circuit breaker in the charging line at the trailer's connection to the umbilical cable, so that the trailer's charging draw shouldn't blow the truck's charging fuse.

    The MOST IMPORTANT FUNCTION OF THE TRUCK'S TRAILER CHARGING CIRCUIT IS TO PROVIDE CHARGING CURRENT TO THE TRAILER'S BATTERIES FOR ACTIVATION OF THE TRAILER'S ELECTRICAL BRAKES IN THE EVENT OF A TRAILER DISCONNECT FROM THE TRUCK, VIA THE EMERGENCY DISCONNECT LANYARD SWITCH. Low batteries in the trailer make this emergency system less effective.
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    Senior Member oldelmer1's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Dan, my RAM also shows 14 Volts.

    WDK450, I will check the voltage after I disconnect the AV power and wait a few minutes before taking a reading, then connect up the truck and take another reading and post it on here.
    Tom & Sharon
    2016 Landmark Orlando
    2016 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW
    Aisin Trans, 373 rear, 900 Ft - Tq
    Heartland Owners Club # 3675

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    Senior Member SNOKING's Avatar
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    Re: Charging camper batteries while driving down the road

    Quote Originally Posted by danemayer View Post
    I'm curious about this. On my RAM and on the previous GMC, I'm pretty sure that every time I ever checked the info console while the engine was running, it showed alternator output at about 14V.

    Have Ford, GM, and RAM started using variable output alternators? Do you know when and whether they all do?
    RAM voltage is not a real measurement. Computer generated more like a idiot light than a meter. If the output of the alternator only work at a fixed rate it and could charge a low battery, then it would damage it after it was recharge by over charging it. In newer RAM's voltage is sensed at the passenger side battery, the ECM looks at battery temp and outside temp. BTW 13.8 is considered float voltage in smart chargers, where a wet cell battery does not loose excessive fluid. As far as I know charge rate is still controlled by voltage. It all goes back to ohm's law. E=IR
    2015 RAM 3500 4x4 Laramie SB - Deep Cherry Red over Silver - Her name is "Cherry"
    2017 BH3575el "Big Guy" 2019 Laredo 225MK "Little Guy" (our WA/AZ commuter trailer)
    Snowbird location: Site 413 Canyon Vistas RV Resort, Gold Canyon, Az
    Sunbird location: Camp Dailey 33F3 / Summer Camp 24F3(Parking and Guests), Lake Connor Park, Lake Stevens, Wa


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