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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  General Q&A

 > How to: Battery Disconnect

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jerem0621

Tennessee

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Posted: 06/06/13 08:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A common problem for RV'ers (not just TT owners) is a low or a dead battery. The reason for this is parasitic power drain. A single light left on can obviously drain the battery quickly but there are things in our RV's that pull some power all the time. A few examples could be your radio, power inverter, gas detector, smoke detector, etc, etc, etc..

One method to remedy this issue is to leave your RV plugged in to a power source (if you have an onboard battery charger) or leave your battery on a trickle charger. However, for many of us we have to leave our RV at a storage facility, or parked away from the house without a plausible way to leave the rig plugged up.

One simple method is to install a battery disconnector, as the topic of this post, I will show you how I installed a battery disconnector on my deep cycle battery. I had previously fully charged it after I found it dead (again) after fully charging it and reinstalling it on the trailer.

Kudos go to this forum for educating me about parasitic power drain and turning me on to a "battery disconnector".

Ok, first things first, Start with a fully charged deep cycle battery. (these things take a LONG time to charge from dead. )



Then pick up a battery disconnector. I got mine from Wal-Mart in the automotive section for less than $5.00.



I also picked these Coated Marine Battery Terminals up for about $4.00 at Wal-Mart. More on them in a few moments.



Install the battery terminal protectors that come with the Marine Battery Terminals



Now, Install the battery disconnector on the NEGATIVE terminal. Then I installed the black Marine Battery Terminal on the battery disconnector. I have it pointing down to fit in my battery box, You can position this any way you need to to fit your situation.



Fit your battery in your battery box. Notice that I also installed the Red Marine battery terminal? I did this because I wanted to use the wing nut for my wires, yeah, I know.. but I had it so what the heck right. In this picture the red connector is pointing to the left. After I got through with pics I moved it to point forward so the battery box lid would fit.



Now, remove your wing nuts and install your negative cables to the black Marine Battery Terminal. Attach your positive wires to the red Marine battery terminal, reinstall the Wing Nuts.



Now, test that you have a complete circuit. I tested the light on my tongue jack. Everything works!!!!



Congrats, you have successfully installed your battery disconnector. Your Deep Cycle battery thanks you. Now, Remove the green knob from the battery disconnector and you have disconnected your battery from the system. When you need to use your TT again, simply reinstall the green knob and your battery will be connected again and you will have full power. ( don't lose the green knob!!)



Oh, yeah, I think I used a 1/2 crescent wrench for the install. Super simple. You may have to use different parts depending on how your wires connect to your battery. You can get the parts for pretty much any need at Wal-Mart or any automotive section etc.

I know that this is a simple install but for those who don't know about these neat little disconnectors I hope you got a little from it.

Thanks!

Jeremiah


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spike99

North America

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Posted: 06/06/13 08:28pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

.

The green knob battery switch that you installed on the battery post will "cut" power to everything. Including your TT's emergency break-away switch. No problem if your trailer is sitting within storage. But... If you tow your trailer and FORGET to turn your battery switch to ON (or its ON and a bad connection), your trailer will have NO emergency break-away brakes. This is very dangerous to everyone on the road and its illegal.

Suggest removing the green knob battery switch and installing an in-line switch. And for your TT's break away switch, run its wiring to "always hot" side of the manual switch. Or better yet, run this critical wire to the battery post.

For a picture of "proper way", surf below picture.




If wondering, I installed a manual battery switch on my boat using the same above diagram as well. The manual switch cuts power to its motor, dash and lights. Its bulge pump with its own auto switch is connected directly to the battery post. Thus, its bulge pump continues to work - regardless if battery switch is ON or OFF.

jerem0621

Tennessee

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Posted: 06/06/13 08:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for sharing your elegant system. Studying it, I like it.

I have an absolute failsafe method to insure that my green knob is reinstalled before I pull. Its called a "power tongue jack" Power is cut to everything including the power tongue jack. I can't hitch without power to my tongue jack.

Yes, It is prudent to insure that the power is connected to the braking system. A reminder on the tongue jack, dashboard, tag on the 7-pin connector etc. is necessary if one has a manual jack.

A dead battery is illegal no matter what. It is prudent for the owner to make sure it is charged and ready to act.

I agree, that there must be something in place to insure that the battery is live and powering the emergency braking system before pulling. However, this is a requirement with or without a battery disconnect.

Thanks for sharing the alternative method

Jeremiah

* This post was edited 06/06/13 08:55pm by jerem0621 *

69 Avion

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Posted: 06/06/13 09:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I used a large battery switch that is made for two batteries. You can choose, OFF, Battery 1, Battery 2, or BOTH. It is easy to run the power to the brake switch from either battery, but not both unless you use diodes, which is overkill.


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beemerphile1

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Posted: 06/07/13 06:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Really bad idea putting the disconnect on the negative. It is inevitable that sometime, somewhere, someone will tow the trailer with a nonfunctional emergency braking system.

Anyone reading this should do it the safe way and put the disconnect in the positive line and connect the breakaway directly to the battery.


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CincyGus

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Posted: 06/07/13 06:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

beemerphile1 wrote:

Really bad idea putting the disconnect on the negative. It is inevitable that sometime, somewhere, someone will tow the trailer with a nonfunctional emergency braking system.

Anyone reading this should do it the safe way and put the disconnect in the positive line and connect the breakaway directly to the battery.


I see nothing wrong with wiring the breakaway directly if that makes anyone feel better but since he has a power jack and can not hook to his trailer without power, I don't see how it can be inevitable that it WILL be towed without EBS. Seems a bit overstated to me.

Unless he's going to install the green knob, hook to the trailer then remove the green knob, there is NO chance his implementation will cause a problem with the EBS.

There is also no reason that I have ever found that it makes any difference if the disconnect is installed on the negative or positive. If there is one, please enlighten us. How does doing one or the other improve or hurt the situation?


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jerem0621

Tennessee

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Posted: 06/07/13 07:37am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the comments. The instructions on the disconnect said to install it on the negative terminal.

I know there is a more elegant way to do this... But this method is effective. I may direct wire the break away system directly to the battery.

I found some nice waterproof disconnectors with a knob last night. 30-60$ depending on what you want. I think that would be a cleaner install. I probably will do that in the near future and make it look cleaner. Plus I won't have to open the battery box to activate the kill switch.

Thanks for the tips, keep them coming. When I go for the cleaner install ill document it here if you all are interested.

Thanks!

Jeremiah

JN_B

Calgary, Alberta

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Posted: 06/07/13 08:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

beemerphile1 wrote:

Really bad idea putting the disconnect on the negative. It is inevitable that sometime, somewhere, someone will tow the trailer with a nonfunctional emergency braking system.


Maybe I'm wrong, but if my brake controller senses an incomplete loop it doesn't work. The first thing I do when I pull out of the site is push the brake to make sure they're working (or at least getting power).

Back OT, I'm planning on doing this soon, as my battery box is not easy to open, and I'm getting sick of doing that, I just need to find a good place to locate the cutoff switch (out of sight)..


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coolbreeze01

Redding, Ca

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Posted: 06/07/13 09:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The disconnect is a good thing, use it often. Came OE on my TT.


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beemerphile1

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Posted: 06/07/13 10:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JN_B, I am talking about the emergency breakaway system which functions if the trailer is disconnected from the tow vehicle. It has nothing to do with a brake controller.

jerem0621, if you try to direct wire the breakaway system to the battery you will quickly discover why the disconnect on the negative won't work.

Someday, someone, somewhere will turn the disconnect after the trailer is hitched and tow with a non-functioning breakaway system. Current owner, next owner, your brother-in-law, somebody will do it. Why not be safe from the get-go? It is a simple change that could save lives.

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