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 > charging of 2 camper batteries with truck alternator?

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Frank Mehaffey

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Posted: 09/30/18 03:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I have a 2013 Livin Lite 10' TC with 2 deep cycle batteries installed. I'm confused and/or confounded by the posts in different forums about charging the camper batteries with the tow vehicle.

The vehicle is a 2012 F250 with the camper package. I have 14.13 v coming out of the 7 pin receiver at the bumper. My camper has a PD 4000 Power Control Center which has a micro processor to provide 3 different charging levels. Boost for 14.4 v if the battery is low, 13.6 v for normal charging, and 13.2 if it is in storage.

At this time, we have no need for a generator with the appliances we use. We did have the original (1) camper battery poop out after about 8 hours of the furnace fan, in a 10 degree overnight truck stop while on the road. The next night, I left the truck on until midnight, which worked out fine. When we got home, I installed a second deep cycle battery, and it has provided more than enough power for the fan overnight for almost 2 nights. All our lights are LED's.

I have a 150 v alternator in the 250, and was wondering how long it takes for the truck electrical system to recharge the 2 batteries I have installed in the TC, and if I should have my dealer install a heavier gage wire from the truck camper plug to the PD4000 and if I should have someone check the wire from the charger relay in the truck to the plug in the back, to make sure it is heavy enough.

For the last 3 years, everything works fine, but I have been reading up on power/charging systems, and how the truck alternator should not be used to recharge depleted camper batteries. If we do some primitive camping in the future, I would like not to need a portable Honda to recharge the TC batteries, but just run the truck for the time necessary to recharge. I have a battery meter installed in the camper, so I know what I have in the batteries.

I am looking for advice on the advisability of charging the tc batteries while on the road or at a primitive campsite with the truck charging system exclusively. Or do I need a beefed up charging system. Some forums said to run jumpers from the truck battery to the camper battery. That sounds kinda strange to me, but that is why I am asking.

Lwiddis

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Posted: 09/30/18 03:38pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Running the truck for two hours plus to charge the batteries is wasteful IMO. The absorption phase takes forever. Get a solar system. Beefing up your truck charging wire just gets you through the bulk phase faster.


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dave17352

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Posted: 09/30/18 03:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I would put a heavy gauge wire to your batteries. Of course how every your ground is run needs to be just as heavy.
It doesn't have to involve your converter charger. Put a solenoid in on the hot wire so it is only connected when the ignition is on. I am sure there is this or that about charging completely dead batteries from your alternator but I personally would not be concerned. Actually you shouldn't discharge your house batteries lower than 12 volts or you will severely shorten their life in the first place.

How you would go about this is all about the umbilical on the camper now and how heavy those wires are. If they are nice and heavy gauge then you just need heavy gauge to your plug in. If not you will need to bypass the umbilical.

Now a good way to keep your batteries charged is solar and that is way cool but takes some work. But I love my solar I installed on my TC JMHO


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Frank Mehaffey

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Posted: 09/30/18 04:20pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If I understand you about the solenoid on the hot truck wire, I have no power in that truck side plug when the truck is not running. I think that solenoid is part of the camper package. I am waiting for Christmas and Santa (my wife) to put a 140w system on the roof! I am having a compressor put in for my air bags in a few weeks, and I will ask the installer to check the charging line. Thank you for the reply!

Optimistic Paranoid

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Posted: 09/30/18 04:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Knowing the voltage is nice, but I think the real question is how many AMPS are flowing back to the house batteries?

I'm sort of under the impression that the engine computer monitors the state of charge of the starting battery, and cuts back the alternator output to prevent over charging IT.

It would also be nice, for the purposes of this discussion, if we had some idea how many amp hours we needed to replace in the house batteries.

time2roll

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Posted: 09/30/18 04:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Frank Mehaffey wrote:

For the last 3 years, everything works fine, but I have been reading up on power/charging systems, and how the truck alternator should not be used to recharge depleted camper batteries. If we do some primitive camping in the future, I would like not to need a portable Honda to recharge the TC batteries, but just run the truck for the time necessary to recharge. I have a battery meter installed in the camper, so I know what I have in the batteries.
Charging with the alternator is fine in all conditions. The convenience of charging while in transit is the best part.

As for just letting the engine idle it may take a long time to get a decent charge back in the battery. How many amps does the battery meter show that you are getting? 30+ is great, 20 is adequate and <10 is going to take all day. Many people only get a slow charge and don't want to idle the vehicle 6 hours to get 60 amp hours back in the battery. So they get a small generator and upgrade the converter if needed to get 40+ amps going into the battery. If you are parked in the sun much consider 200+ watts of solar to minimize running the engine or a generator.


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DWeikert

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Posted: 09/30/18 04:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Pretty sure your PD 4000 is a converter meaning it only charges the battery when plugged into shore power. The voltage on the 12v pin is what is applied to the camper batteries. Using the truck to charge the batteries works fine, provided you don't have any other significant 12v loads in the camper, like running the fridge on 12v. The current driving the other loads causes a voltage to be dropped across the charging wire, limiting the voltage applied to the camper batteries. Hence the recommendation for a heavy gauge charge wire in the truck. The larger the wire the less voltage will be dropped at the same current. Provided you don't have other heavy loads, the existing wiring will work fine. Initially you'll have higher current going into the camper batteries and that will cause a voltage drop across the lead meaning you won't have the full 14.13 at the battery terminal, but as the battery takes a charge the charge current will drop causing the voltage dropped by the charging wire to decrease, bringing the battery voltage up.

There's nothing wrong with charging the camper batteries off the truck's alternator, but be advised that, at idle, your alternator isn't going to be putting out the full 150 amps. This makes it difficult to give you an estimate how long it would take.

++ on the solar suggestion.

* This post was edited 09/30/18 04:43pm by DWeikert *


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Bill & Kate

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Posted: 09/30/18 05:47pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

As others have said, the hot wire in the trailer wiring harness is intended to allow the TV keep the trailer batteries "topped off" during transit. As you have assumed, the wiring is not really heaving enough to allow enough amps to quickly change a depleted battery. An easy fix is to move the truck up near the trailer, and use a set of jumper cables from the truck battery to the trailer battery(ies). Yes, the truck has to be running, and as said, above idle is better to get full output from the alternator.


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theoldwizard1

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Posted: 09/30/18 06:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Frank Mehaffey wrote:


The vehicle is a 2012 F250 with the camper package. I have 14.13 v coming out of the 7 pin receiver at the bumper. My camper has a PD 4000 Power Control Center which has a micro processor to provide 3 different charging levels. Boost for 14.4 v if the battery is low, 13.6 v for normal charging, and 13.2 if it is in storage.

Just so that everyone one knows, those output voltages from your PD 4000 only applies when the converter is plug into 120VAC

Frank Mehaffey wrote:

I have a 150(A) alternator in the 250, and was wondering how long it takes for the truck electrical system to recharge the 2 batteries I have installed in the TC, and if I should have my dealer install a heavier gauge wire from the truck camper plug to the PD4000 ...

A heavier gauge wire from the alternator to the trailer batteries will not hurt, but it will NOT solve you charge while driving problem. More info below.

Frank Mehaffey wrote:

... but I have been reading up on power/charging systems, and how the truck alternator should not be used to recharge depleted camper batteries. If we do some primitive camping in the future, I would like not to need a portable Honda to recharge the TC batteries, but just run the truck for the time necessary to recharge.
.
.
.
I am looking for advice on the advisability of charging the tc batteries while on the road or at a primitive campsite with the truck charging system exclusively.

Here is the deal. Any vehicle built in the past 10-15 years has a "smart" charging system. These smart charging systems turn the voltage DOWN after the engine has been running for awhile. Even though you might have read 14.14V on pin 7, I promise it will NOT stay at that voltage. Get a multi-meter and hook it to the camper batteries with the engine off and the converter NOT plugged into 120VAC. Now start the engine, let it warm up and then have someone hold the enegine speed at about 2000 rpm for several minutes. Now check the voltage at the camper batteries. I doubt that it will be above 13.5V.

The best solution for charging "on the go" is found in this pst - DC-DC battery charging


Your PD 4000 will do a "better" job of charging those batteries when you get home, so plug into 120VAC and leave it plugged in for 24-48 hours.

Frank Mehaffey

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Posted: 09/30/18 08:34pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

First of all, thank you to everyone. Ok, this is what I am taking away from all your help.

1. the PD 4000 is only for charging the camper batteries when I am plugged into shore power.

2. my truck connection is for just topping off the camper batteries, and is not meant to charge them quickly and not to be depended on for normal camper charging if not plugged into shore power.

3. The other alternatives are using solar power to charge the batteries during the day to supplement the topping off of the batteries, or using a generator.

5. Using long jumper cable from truck battery to camper battery. Question, if this is being done, should the 7 pin connector be disconnected?

5. The Old Wizard 1's recommendation from the DC-DC battery charging past forum entry about using a
CTEK D250SA or D250S to charge a drained battery, sends more 12v power back to the camper batteries while driving or fast idling. This is my leading candidate for a solution at this time of my "education". If I am traveling with full batteries in the camper, would there be a way to disable that system or is it built to do that when the camper batteries are full? Will the smart charging system that the old wizard mentioned in new trucks interfere with a CTEK unit?

Thank you for all your help.

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