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Old 11-28-2019, 11:50 AM   #1
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Battery Charger

I do not boondock very much, but when I have I see my 12V battery discharge overnight running just a few lights and furnace fan. I'd like to check with others here that have knowledge of using an external 10 amp battery charger. Is it necesary to disconnect the trailer wires from the battery first or is it OK to charge with everything still connected. Thanks

What I have done in past is to disconnect negative side of battery. The charger I have seems to charge somewhat faster than trailer provided charger. Trouble is trailer is completely without power/lights at that point.
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Old 11-28-2019, 12:44 PM   #2
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When your trailer is connected there are some things that are using the power at the same time you are trying to charge the battery therefore it will take longer to charge the battery. It doesn't hurt anything to leave the trailer connected while you charge the battery.
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Old 11-28-2019, 02:45 PM   #3
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Perfectly fine to hook up an external battery charger without disconnecting any cables. It could also help supply power to accessories that happen to be in use at the time.

Years ago I would hook up a 15 amp external charger to my camper battery which would help charge the battery when I ran the camper's generator. The built-in charger was not very powerful. Between the two chargers, the battery recharged better.
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Old 12-04-2019, 03:10 PM   #4
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An external 10Amp charger will charge the battery without disconnecting anything. In fact, most external chargers have aligator clips.


But don't leave it connected and turned on, most external chargers do not have the ability to switch from bulk charge to float charge.
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Old 12-04-2019, 04:34 PM   #5
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I am a little confused by your post in that if you are boondocking, you would not have 120V so how would you run the battery charger? Are you running the charger off of the generator? Depending upon conditions that can be dangerous for sleeping with CO2 seeping back into the rig.

We drycamp/boondock often and the secret is really more batteries whether it be 6v or 12v. With 2 6v batteries and running the genny in the morning for coffee, microwave and then doing the same for a few hours in the evening while cooking we camp for 10-14 days with no power issues.

On cold nights you will need to set the thermostat to upper 50-lower 60s to avoid the furnace fan running all night. That is the biggest draw on a battery. You do need to keep warm air going to the underbelly if in freezing temps, but can supplement indoor heat with a "Bigbuddy" or similar. We camped, and hunted in temps down to 10 F with little problem.

I ran for may years with 2 6volt golf cart batteries but recently changed to 3-12 volt AGM which gives about the same amp hours, without the danger of having a battery drop out and leaving me with one six volt battery to run a 12 volt system.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:12 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of your responses. They sure answer my question and will help me out. I do have a generator that I will use to run the external charger. Some of the places I have seen before only allow generator use for a couple of hours in the morning and then again a couple more at night. House charger was not sufficient to recharge much in that limited time. I hoping running the external charger will help enough to get by for a few days.
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Old 12-05-2019, 10:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MnBob View Post
I do not boondock very much, but when I have I see my 12V battery discharge overnight running just a few lights and furnace fan.
If you have completely drained down the battery multiple times, you could have a capacity/storage issue. These batteries don't like being fully discharged, and that will permanently hurt them. This could be why it doesn't last all night.

Some suggestions, if it's one battery, get it load tested to see if it's still OK, Second, add additional batteries so you have the capacity to make it through the night. Most deep cycle batteries should only be discharged 50%.
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Old 12-05-2019, 01:26 PM   #8
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Perfectly fine to hook up an external battery charger without disconnecting any cables. It could also help supply power to accessories that happen to be in use at the time.

Years ago I would hook up a 15 amp external charger to my camper battery which would help charge the battery when I ran the camper's generator. The built-in charger was not very powerful. Between the two chargers, the battery recharged better.
Keep in mind that years ago, most chargers were "dumb" chargers. With the new "smart" chargers (possibly including your trailer's converter) they check voltage and supply power as needed. If your trailer's converter is charging at 13.8 V, 14.4 V, or whatever, the 10-amp charger may not even try to charge the battery because the 10-amp charger will see the 13.8+ voltage.

I don't think you're going to hurt anything, but I also don't think you're going to get the result you're looking for. Test it out at home before you go if you can.

If your trailer's converter is the original WFCO, you would be well served to upgrade it with a better converter. There is a lot written about this subject on this board. The short of it is that WFCO converters rarely if ever charge at a high rate even when your battery is discharged. Progressive Dynamics sells good converters (other folks like other brands, too) that would safely charge your battery much more quickly.

I like this model:
Progressive Dynamics PD4645V Inteli-Power 4600 Series Converter/Charger with Charge Wizard - 45 Amp
by Amazon.com
Learn more: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002OR2FIW..._cAv6DbMNQ5JJM
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Old 12-06-2019, 05:17 AM   #9
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To clarify... is it better to use an external 10 amp charger with the inverter generator, or to plug the trailer into the generator and let the onboard converter do the charging? I've done it both ways and seem to get the battery charged either way.
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Old 12-06-2019, 09:37 AM   #10
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If your converter has a higher capacity than 10 amps I would just go with that. My Greyhawk has a 60 amp converter which does a real good job on my 2 parallel 12 volts.

I recently helped my son upgrade his toy hauler converter. We went from 30 amps to 100 amps because he was running 3 batteries in parallel. Before the upgrade the old converter would never really do a good job of recharging.
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Old 12-06-2019, 10:42 AM   #11
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Have you considered getting a second 12v battery and wire it up in parallel? It will greatly increase your times between charging. Also if you don't already have them, install LED lights as that will help cut down on battery draw when in use.
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Old 12-06-2019, 10:42 AM   #12
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To clarify... is it better to use an external 10 amp charger with the inverter generator, or to plug the trailer into the generator and let the onboard converter do the charging? I've done it both ways and seem to get the battery charged either way.
It's not a function of the type of charger, it's more about how depleted the batteries are and how much time they will be plugged into the charger. A 10 amp, 5 amp, trickle charger, will all charge the batteries back up.

Just the lower output ones will take longer. If running only a short time on the Genny is the situation, you'll want a higher output charger.
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Old 12-06-2019, 10:51 AM   #13
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To clarify... is it better to use an external 10 amp charger with the inverter generator, or to plug the trailer into the generator and let the onboard converter do the charging? I've done it both ways and seem to get the battery charged either way.
It *should* be better to plug the trailer into the generator and use the on-board converter to do the charging. However, WFCO converters are known to not charge at their stated or designed capacity as installed by the trailer manufacturers.

Which would be better for you depends on a lot of factors including how far your converter is from your battery in "wire feet," what size wire Jayco used for that run, and, on the other side of the comparison, what 10-amp charger you have.

If I were in your shoes and doing a fair amount of boon-docking, I'd install a PD converter in the WFCO box and be done. PD converters are not perfect, but they work better than WFCO for the vast majority of people needing their batteries to charge while running a generator.
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Old 12-06-2019, 02:28 PM   #14
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Your onboard converter is most likely much better than any external 10amp charger. It is probably a 20 to 30amp charger but as mentioned above it might not be going into bulk mode and charging at its stated rate.

A group 24 battery has 70-80 amp hours of capacity if you are draining the battery at night it will take over 7 hours of generator run time to charge it back up at 10 amps. You really need 30 to 40 amps of bulk charging to recharge a dead battery on a generator. But if you are draining your battery and you have done that a few times you probably need a new battery. Draining the battery below 50% charge or 12volts severely shortens the battery life and capacity.

A proper battery monitor will likely pay for itself if it saves one battery from an early death.
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Old 12-06-2019, 03:31 PM   #15
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I will get the model # off the converter tomorrow. Thanks
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Old 12-11-2019, 01:57 PM   #16
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Have you thought of getting a solar panel? They will charge all day with no noise. Mine folds up easy to set up.
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Old 12-11-2019, 02:56 PM   #17
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Your 2017 Jayco probably has a quality onboard converter/charger w/3 stage charging. My 2010 Jayco Starcraft Travelstar 245RBS has an IOTA DLS45 converter/charger to which I added the optional IQ4 Smart Charge Module to provide 3 stage charging (bulk, absorption, and float stage charging). It's the "float" stage the provides a full, deep charge.

Your issue may be with a low amp hour (capacity) battery(s) or an undercharged or damaged battery(s). I have 2 6V 230AH golf cart batteries mounted in series on the reach.
I keep my trailer plugged in all the time while storing over the winter. The onboard charger keeps them fully charged and well maintained.

If you store your trailer without keeping the battery charged, it will become weak or (unless you disconnect the negative terminal), be drawn down to 0% by any perisitic load, damaging the battery. So, when you head out on a trip, your truck will charge the trailer battery somewhat, but it's not nearly enough to fully charge a weak battery.

I recommend you check the model/capacity/features of your onboard converter/charger and have the condition of your battery(s) checked. If the battery(s) have a low amp hour (AH) rating, consider upgrading. In any event, you do not need an external battery charger.

Cheers,

Glenn
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Old 12-14-2019, 09:19 PM   #18
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Lots of good advice from others here, so consider this a ditto on some good comments and a twist on some of these ideas. This is a bit of a book. Bear with me.

I'm a veteran boondocker, and with a 100 watt solar panel and a single group 24, and frugal power consumption, I can go indefinitely without shore power. I have a genny that I use for about 15 minutes in the morning and in the evening to run 120 volt appliances (micro and coffee maker), and during that time I get a tiny bit of charge in the morning, but virtually nothing in the evening, because the solar tops off the battery during the day. The situation you describe does not make sense....it's an indication that something is wrong.

You're boondocking, so as others said, you need a generator or an inverter on your TV (tow vehicle) to supply 120 volts if you plan to use a regular battery charger. Once you get to that point why not just plug your rig into the generator and allow the converter/charger do the job? It's a better charger.

Adding a second charger in parallel (alligator clamps to the battery terminals) is OK. It's no different than jump starting your car, having it start, and having your car's charging system charge the battery simultaneously with the other car thru the jumper cables. In fact, solar works the same way. You just connect the output of the solar charge controller straight to the battery in parallel with the converter/charger.
But, with that said, your converter charger will feed the battery about as quickly as the battery can take it. So there's no real benefit to putting two chargers in parallel. Batteries also self regulate charging...they only accept so much at a time.

Now, what's the problem with your system?
~ Others point to a bad battery. I tend to agree. 2017 is a pretty new rig to have a bad battery, but they do fail, especially if abused. Abused means draining it dead before recharging. Doing this once or twice will cost you a year or more off the life of the battery. Making a regular practice of using too much capacity will kill the battery very quickly.
As someone said, a typical group 24...the "free" battery dealers routinely install...has a capacity of 70 to 80 amp hours (AH). You get to use half. Let's keep it simple and say you get to use 40 AH, then you must recharge.
I'll come back to this later and talk about how you can plan around power consumption. A new battery will perform as it should, and with FRUGAL use of power, you should be able to get a couple of days out of it. But frugal means FRUGAL. You need to understand your loads: lights, furnace, water pump, spark ignition for hot water heater and fridge, exhaust fans, parasitic draws (see below). You CAN'T run the lights like you're in an RV park. Furnaces are power hogs, so use it carefully...not all evening.

Even with solar, we use a propane mantle lantern (heat and light) and LED battery powered lanterns for light. Period. We take the removable faceplate off our stereo to eliminate drain from the LED display. We do NOT use the outside lights...again flashlights and LED lanterns. Since our PUP (former camper) was just a glorified tent, and since we camp in the Rockies at about 8500 feet, it's cold at night. We save the power for the furnace. Our furnace consumed 5 amps when running and on a cold night it ran on about a 50% duty cycle. So to heat the camper for 8 hours, it ran 4 hours, at 5 amps per hour, equaling 20 amp hours all by itself. The other 35 or so was split between all other uses. A water pump doesn't run long but it pulls 7.5 amps minimum. And so on.

A 12 volt group 24 is not a good option unless you have solar. More on that later.

~ Your converter/charger could have gone bad. It happens rarely, but it happens. If your converter isn't charging properly, your battery will end up going dead. But the WFCO brand equipment in your rig is pretty cheap. Don't be alarmed. Replace it and the battery it ruined, and you're good as new.

~ UNLIKELY, BUT you MIGHT have one or several "parasitic" draws on your battery that shouldn't be there. Some must be there. The CO/propane detector is a notorious parasitic draw that you can't live without. But it should only consume about 3 amp hours per day. Others include all those LED panels on the entertainment system, pilot light on the TV, and so on. But, is there something else? Get a multimeter. You need one and they are cheap....$20 for a good one. Set your multimeter to DC AMPS. Disconnect from shore power. Turn off everything that can be switched off in the rig, then disconnect the negative cable on the battery and use the multimeter to "jumper between the black cable and the negative terminal on the battery. The multimeter should show a tiny amount of current. Documentation for your CO/Propane detector will tell you the draw, and you can assume the stereo display might account for .25 amp or less. If you are showing 2 or 3 amps of draw with "everything off", understand that this is 2 or 3 amp hours every hour 24 hours a day. 2 amps would mean 48 amp hours of parasitic draw, which is more than the battery can safely deliver! That means something is on that should not be on. If that's the case, you must hunt it down and find out why it's on.

~ Downright battery abuse is another option...unlikely because you are aware, but I'll mention it. You must regularly top off your battery cells with distilled water. Once the plates are exposed, the battery will be ruined in short order. I check the levels in my battery about every 3 weeks or so.
Buy distilled water and a turkey baster at the supermarket. Fill with distilled water, and use the turkey baster to add the water to the cells.

~ Corrosion: The crud that builds up on battery terminals and cables is insidious. You clean it with wire brushes, a high concentration baking soda/water solution (and clear water to flush) and an old toothbrush to scrub. You prevent it with battery terminal grease or other methods. BUT ONE OF THE MORE INSIDIOUS types of corrosion is in the clamp-on quick connect terminals clamped onto battery cables. If you have one or more terminals that are all crudded up inside the crimp on, you may be wise to clip them off and replace with new ones from the local hardware store. Be sure the new wire end is nice and shiny clean. One bad connection can wreak havoc with both charging and consumption. And unlike your car, when you turn the key and you just get a click, cruddy and bad terminals are quiet about the problems they cause. You must be fastidious in your efforts to keep your electrical connections clean in and around the battery box.
AND THAT INCLUDES ANY GROUND WIRES THAT ARE SCREWED TO THE FRAME. A bad connection at the frame can bugger everything, and in MANY cases, the wiring diagram includes using the frame as part of the wiring circuit.

CHAPTER 2 (sorry, this is a book).

So you wanna boondock? Generators are wonderful for 120 volt power for a few minutes. Generators suck when you need to listen to them all day. As others said, the way charging systems work, "BULK" charging at high amps happens for a brief period, then the WFCO (and other brands) of chargers kick down to a lower rate of charge. The result is that to replace 35 amp hours, you'll need to run the genny for 6 to 8 hours a day. What fun!!

If you're serious about boondocking, you need solar. I mentioned that I got by with a single 100 watt panel and a single group 24. And with that I was able to use an inverter to power a 120 volt electric blanket for 15 minutes to take the chill off our bed. To be clear, a 360 watt electric blanket sucks 30 amps at 12 volts. But 1/4 hour of use meant I was consuming about 8 amp hours...one of the other uses mentioned above. Not using the lights let us warm the bed.

On my new rig, I'm installing a 400 watt Renology solar kit and two 6-volt Trojan golf cart batteries in series. The battery bank has a 225 amp hour capacity, and I get to use about 115 amp hours of that. Almost triple the capacity of my pathetic little group 24. Our new rig has more bells and whistles, including an electric awning, the main slide, and so on. The furnace is bigger. We plan to indulge in using the lights. And we'll still prewarm the bed with the electric blanket. This new system will handle that kind of load.

Windy Nation and Renology are both reliable brands. My Renology kit:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

If you don't want the golf cart batteries, you can buy two group 27 12-volts and run them in parallel. That should give you about 80 to 85 amp hours of USABLE capacity...more than double what you have now.

From there, you could add a small inverter for 120 volt power during quiet hours, but, like my use, you must be VERY careful how much you draw thru an inverter, because they absolutely inhale power at staggering rates.

And one more thing. That cute stereo/entertainment system built into your rig sucks power relentlessly. Those pretty LEDs never give up. I'm pulling mine out of the face plate and installing a switch in the power line to ensure it shuts off 100%. 120 volt TVs only have parasitic draws on live outlets, but the trend today is 12 volt TVs. Pull the plug. If you want entertainment, feel free to turn it on and calculate the load. But it shouldn't be draining your battery when you're not using it.

One last thing. How do you know how much power things use? Simple math. Everything in your rig has an owner's manual with power specs. The specs will include either watts or amps for all items - both 12 and 120 volts.
When boondocking, only the 12 volt items count, but they ALL count.

This calculator can help: https://www.rapidtables.com/calc/ele...alculator.html
Current is what matters. Amps...add up to amp hours....the most important number. Convert watts to amps with the calculator...using 12 volts. Always 12 volts, because that's your power source.
If you get an inverter and run a 120 volt appliance thru the inverter, it's still drawing from 12 volts, so always plug 12 volts into the calculator.
Example: my electric blanket is rated at 360 watts. Enter 360 watts and 12 volts and you get 30 amps.

Boondocking is the best camping. To boondock you must start with enough battery and enough charging capacity and then know your loads. And, of course, you equipment must be in working order.
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