Battery Help Needed

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

LoneWolf65

New member
Joined
Dec 6, 2022
Posts
3
Location
USA
New to owning a travel trailer and have no idea about the battery.

Purchased a nice used travel trailer but it did not have a battery. I have it in a fixed location on AC power but haven't been able to get the hot water heater to work. After watching many troubleshooting videos I saw one explaining the switch needs 12v to send a signal to another part that starts the ac side of the water heater.

I was under the assumption that the travel trailer had a converter that would convert the AC power to this needed DC power but after hours of reading beginning to wonder if I am wrong. I have noticed many say regardless if you are on shore power or not you should still have a battery.

So if I need a battery how do I decide which one to purchase? This is a 33 foot travel trailer hooked to shore power and will most likely not move for a very long time.
 

SpencerPJ

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Posts
4,510
Location
Midwest
I'd go get a deep cycle battery from the local walmart, or autostore. Size, measure your box and get one that will fit (y), bigger the better. Some converters play nice without a battery some do not.
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
5,076
Location
Former fulltimer, Mesquite, TX
I was under the assumption that the travel trailer had a converter that would convert the AC power to this needed DC power but after hours of reading beginning to wonder if I am wrong.
You are not wrong about that, assuming that it works. It would help if we knew the year, make, and model of the travel trailer but here is information that applies to the vast majority of them.

First of all, do the lights in the RV work? What about the furnace? Does it have an RV type refrigerator and is it working? All of those require a supply of 12V direct current and so if they are working then the 120V-alternating current to 12V direct current converter must be working since you have no battery. If you should go out and get a battery and install it, that battery will only last for a short time and then be discharged if your RV's converter is not working.

To be certain that we give accurate advice on your water heater we need to know the make and model of the water heater. Also, do you have propane to the RV and is the stove top working as it should? If you come back and answer some of these questions, we have a lot of members here who, like myself have many years of RV experience and who will be happy to help you but RVs are like automobiles in that they are not all the same and they don't all have the same equipment or work exactly the same way.
 

Ray-IN

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 16, 2014
Posts
1,613
Location
North America-somewhere
You need the largest physical size your battery holder will accommodate that also has the needed ampere capacity. First you must decide on the type of battery you want. That is determined by your onboard charger's abilities. Is it approved for Lithium battery charging, or only AGM or Lead-acid; which is the standard battery type and requires monthly attention to insure battery cell liquid level never falls below the plates to prevent ruining the battery.
AGM are maintenance-free, no need to check liquid level.
Lithium batteries have their quirks and are generally not recommended unless you dry camp for extended periods.
 

LoneWolf65

New member
Joined
Dec 6, 2022
Posts
3
Location
USA
You are not wrong about that, assuming that it works. It would help if we knew the year, make, and model of the travel trailer but here is information that applies to the vast majority of them.

First of all, do the lights in the RV work? What about the furnace? Does it have an RV type refrigerator and is it working? All of those require a supply of 12V direct current and so if they are working then the 120V-alternating current to 12V direct current converter must be working since you have no battery. If you should go out and get a battery and install it, that battery will only last for a short time and then be discharged if your RV's converter is not working.

To be certain that we give accurate advice on your water heater we need to know the make and model of the water heater. Also, do you have propane to the RV and is the stove top working as it should? If you come back and answer some of these questions, we have a lot of members here who, like myself have many years of RV experience and who will be happy to help you but RVs are like automobiles in that they are not all the same and they don't all have the same equipment or work exactly the same way.

It is a 2010 brookside 302fks.

Lights, awnings, slides, and refrigerator all work.

It only has gas hear from what I can tell and I have no gas hooked up so that is not working.

The water heater model is GC10a-4e.

2022-12-06_19-25-07.png
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
5,076
Location
Former fulltimer, Mesquite, TX
Lights, awnings, slides, and refrigerator all work.
That tells me that the 120V to 12V converter is working so the addition of a battery will not resolve the problem with the water heater.
It only has gas hear from what I can tell and I have no gas hooked up so that is not working.
The reason that I asked was that I was going to have you try it on propane. The propane would be supplied by a pair of portable bottles, probably mounted on the tongue of the trailer. There are probably 2 of them or should be and they would need to be filled and have the valves open to the pressure regulator. You will need propane if you wish to use the cookstove and furnace.
The water heater model is GC10a-4e.
That makes it an Atwood, gas/electric combination unit. As I look at the schematic found on page 25 of the Atwood Service Manual the gas and electric do share a common thermostat and control circuit board. In case you do not have one, the Atwood Owner's Manual can also be downloaded.
 

gwinger

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Posts
381
Location
Natrona Hts PA
If you have the remote switch on electric the internal heating element should be powered. You can check for 1120 volts across the element connections. if it does have power, the heating element may be bad. If the water heater was turned on without water in it, it would burn out the element. Also, check the breaker for the water heater.
 

Isaac-1

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Posts
6,721
Location
SW Louisiana
Some 120V to 12V converters will work without a battery, but some need a battery to correctly regulate the 12V output voltage. Safe bet is you need a deep cycle battery, though if you are always going to be somewhere with 120V power available, you can get away with a basic Group 27 or Group 29 marine dual use battery from Wal-Mart for under $100
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
5,076
Location
Former fulltimer, Mesquite, TX
Yes everything else appears to be working fine.
That proves that you do have 12V power. Have you examined the owner's manual that I posted a link to? It might also help if you would post a picture of the controls for your water heater as those are not all the same for the water heater that you have.
 

RRR

Well-known member
Joined
May 20, 2018
Posts
366
Location
Beaverton, Oregon
Call me slow but why does he need to spend the extra for a deep cycle battery? The OP states "This is a 33 foot travel trailer hooked to shore power and will most likely not move for a very long time."

Wouldn't any battery work for his needs?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
78,181
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
As has been explained. your RV does have a 12v converter/charger and therefore does not require a battery as long as it is connected to external 120v power (aka "shore power"). Installing at least a modest 12v "deep cycle" battery would maintain power in the event shore power fails or you have to disconnect to move it, but it's not the solution to your water heater needs.

If you are near-always connected to shore power, there is little point in spending $$ on a top-line AGM or lithium battery (unless money is no object!). A relatively inexpensive Group 24 size 12v "marine-RV deep cycle" would give you some back up power when needed.

I've written an article of 12v battery choices for your RV that may help - it tries to avoid more than the bare minimum of battery tech talk. It's in this sites Resources area at RVForum - Choosing a battery
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
78,181
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
Purchased a nice used travel trailer but it did not have a battery. I have it in a fixed location on AC power but haven't been able to get the hot water heater to work.
Your Atwood heater can heat water using either its propane burner or an electric heat element. Or both at the same time, if you want faster heating. Somewhere in the trailer you have on/off switches for each of those. The standard switch looks like the attached photo, but some trailer makers install their own switches.

Both of these are 12v switches which activate a function on the water heater itself. The gas switch tells the heater circuit board to start the gas burner, while the electric mode switch closes a relay that brings 120v power to the electric heat element. The 120v power comes direct to the heater from a dedicated circuit breaker in your RV - the wall switch merely enables the path to the heater element. The red light on the switch panel (if present) indicates a failure in the gas heating subsystem.

You need to find the switches and try both gas & electric mode water heating. Tell us what happens.
 

Attachments

  • atwood -switch.png
    atwood -switch.png
    82.2 KB · Views: 1

Isaac-1

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Posts
6,721
Location
SW Louisiana
Call me slow but why does he need to spend the extra for a deep cycle battery? The OP states "This is a 33 foot travel trailer hooked to shore power and will most likely not move for a very long time."

Wouldn't any battery work for his needs?
Sure any automotive battery would work, but why not spend that extra $10-$20 and get a basic marine deep cycle instead of a starting battery.
 

Lou Schneider

Site Team
Joined
Mar 14, 2005
Posts
12,267
Some water heaters have an additional on-off switch on the outside panel. Make sure this isn't turned off - it's so you can make sure the power is disconnected before working on the unit.
 

SpencerPJ

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Posts
4,510
Location
Midwest
On first recommendation, and still stand by it, we did not know all his 12vDC stuff was working :cautious:. I do feel a battery, and 12vDC is best for backup. And has the OP given the water heater a chance to heat, like several hours or overnight? Has the OP disconnected the 2 wires to the heater element and tested it with a meter? If it ever was turned on without water, I'm certain the element will be toast. That is where and how I would proceed, check the element.
 

gwinger

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Posts
381
Location
Natrona Hts PA
Sure any automotive battery would work, but why not spend that extra $10-$20 and get a basic marine deep cycle instead of a starting battery.

Where can you get a true deep cycle battery for $20 more than an automotive battery?
You can get a marine/rv battery but it is not a true deep cycle.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RRR

Isaac-1

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Posts
6,721
Location
SW Louisiana
Top Bottom