Trailer without Batteries?

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kevthor

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Mar 21, 2019
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Hi All!

First off, thank you for this forum. I am very new to the trailer world and I have learnt a lot by reading many of these posts. Here is my situation. Last fall I purchased a 2008 Pilgrim 310RBDS. My intention is to not travel with it and just park it on my lot. When I purchased and was viewing it, I'm 99% sure the guy didn't have any batteries hooked up (they are supposed to be on the tongue of the trailer, right?), and had it only hooked it up to shore power. He told me that "for some reason" when the trailer is first plugged in, it would take 10-15 minutes before the 12v lights etc would work. Over the time of getting the trailer ready to move, I witnessed this myself, but after 10-15 minutes 12v lights etc worked fine. Once I moved the trailer to my lot, and plugged into shore power, 110v worked fine but 12v lights were VERY dim, it had enough power to push out the slide outs (very slowly) but didn't have enough power to pull the slides back in. This was late fall and I needed to get the slide outs in, so I jumped a truck battery (with booster cables) to the battery cables on the tongue of the trailer and that lit up the lights fully and I was able to pull in the slide outs.

So now my questions (sorry for the long post):

1) I don't plan on using batteries since the trailer will be stationary on my lot. Is this OK?
2) From the research I've done, I feel it is my power converter that is failing and it's not converting enough power to 12v. Does this seem reasonable?
3) If #2 seems correct, does anyone know what make/model of power converter would be in my trailer so I can order a replacement? Or do I need to look at the power converter in my trailer to get the make/model? If I need to look at mine, does anyone know where I would find it in my make/model of trailer?

Thanks in advance!!

-Kevin
 

Gizmo100

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Welcome to the RV Forum Kevin

I'm a little confused as to why the converter would take anytime what so ever to power the lights. You may be correct about it going out.
The easiest way to find the converter is to trace the battery wires or trace the feed lines feeding the 12 volt fuses.

In my case the converter is right behind the circuit breaker/fuse panel
 

kevthor

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Mar 21, 2019
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Thanks for the reply but the 12v wires at the tongue of the trailer feed into the underbelly of trailer where I can't see where they go. I haven't tried to trace the feed lines on the 12v fuses but if I recall correctly that is all hidden in the circuit breaker/fuse panel.
 

Gizmo100

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kevthor said:
Thanks for the reply but the 12v wires at the tongue of the trailer feed into the underbelly of trailer where I can't see where they go. I haven't tried to trace the feed lines on the 12v fuses but if I recall correctly that is all hidden in the circuit breaker/fuse panel.

I wouldn't be surprised if your converter is right behind that panel. I had to remove the panel cover and shine a light back behind  there to see the converter.

You could also get a volt reading off the feed lines at the fuse panel.

One other note ...Make sure the positive battery cable is not grounding out to the frame. Sometimes when a battery is not connected the cable is just ignored.
 

John From Detroit

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If there is make and model info and a number of amps on the fuse/breaker panel door.  Shoot us a photo or type the info in.

I can think of some reasons why it might take a while for the lights to come on but I'd rather not speculate in public till I know what converter you have.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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If your main power panel has both 120v breakers and 12v fuses, you have an integrated load center and converter/charger. Get the make & model of that unit to identify the converter.

If the 12v fuses are in a separate panel, you probably have a deck-mount converter/charger somewhere and need to find that to identify.
 

grashley

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Welcome to the Forum!

I question why a converter needs to "warm up".  Something does not sound right.
If the camper is parked, no battery is required.  The converter provides needed 12V power.  If you tow it ANYWHERE, a battery is needed for the break away brakes.
You can check converter output on your fuse (12 V) panel by checking the input wires.  You should have 13.6V or more.
Converters hide in many places.  Mine is directly behind my power panel.  The panel must be pulled out to access it.  Once you find it, you may want to take a picture of the top or end of the unit to capture model numbers in a less back breaking manner.  I replaced mine last fall.  The biggest problem was getting to the unit.
 

kevthor

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Mar 21, 2019
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Thanks for the replies guys. I took a drive to the trailer even though there is still snow on the ground. :) I took off the panel of the circuit/fuse box and I believe the inverter is directly underneath the panel box. Attached are some photos.
 

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kdbgoat

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Sorry, there's no inverter there. That's a converter. In the RV world, converter's take 120 volts AC and convert it to 12 volts (nom) DC. Inverters take 12 DC and invert it to 120 volts AC. Some folks use the terms incorrectly and some use the terms interchangeably. This can really confuse people trying to help. Where it really gets confusing is some inverters have a 12 volt charging section.

With all that said,  #3 son had a bunkhouse trailer, and according to the manufacturer of his converter, a battery wasn't required for use, but his 12 volt system would act very stupid without a battery. Even a battery with a bad cell would even things out. Dumb stuff like the furnace wouldn't stop running until a light was turned on. Everything worked correctly when a battery was in place.
 

0949er

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My only comment is towing it from wherever you buy it to your house put a battery on and test the emergency brake system. It requires 12VDC to operate. This obviously is a worst case scenario but something at least worth thinking about. During the haul home you should install a battery for that reason alone.
 

Ernie n Tara

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Ft Myers, FL
In addition to providing power, the battery acts to filter out ac noise that may be carried on the DC battery output. That ac  component can raise hell with control electronics.

Ernie
 

lynnmor

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May 14, 2013
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Did you check the output at the converter to rule out wiring issues beyond?

Personally, I would install a cheap battery for those infrequent times that there is a power failure.  Keeping the fridge operating is a good reason for a battery especially if you are away for days at a time.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Agree with Ernie about the filtering effect of a battery, but modern solid state converter/chargers generally don't produce any AC on the DC output side. With the older ferro-magnetic technology, AC ripple was a common problem.  I'll bet it still happens sometimes, though, as witnessed by kdbgoat's #3 son.
 

IBTripping

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And, you can get an extremely low priced battery from Walmart. Did I say "low priced," I meant cheap both in price and quality. But, it will work well for your situation.
 

kevthor

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Mar 21, 2019
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Hey Guys,

Thanks for the replies. As you can tell, I'm quite new to all of this so I will outline exactly what I've done/tried with the results. I'm still looking for help as I'm baffled. :) I went out and bought an RV battery and brought it out to the lake. I also bought a voltage meter (even though I don't exactly know how to use it). I hooked up the voltage meter to the battery without any load on it, and turned the meter setting to "1000 DCV" setting (see pic1.jpg) The display read 12 so I assumed the battery was outputting 12V. I then:

1) I plugged the trailer into shore power. All 120v plugs etc worked fine. No 12V lights or slideouts would work.
2) I hooked up the battery and the 12V lights and slideouts started to work but they wouldn't work fully. IE: the lights were sometimes dim and sometimes they would cut out completely for a few seconds and they go on again, etc. While this was happening there was a loud clicking noise coming from the belly of the trailer right above this panel box (see pic2.jpg). You can see the red/white wires that run to the tongue of trailer where the battery is.
3) I left the battery plugged in for a couple of hours with quite a few lights on in the trailer, over these 2 hours I would continue to test the voltage with the meter (like I did above, not sure if my procedure was correct), and it did dip down to 11. The guy at the battery store told me the battery should jump to 13-14 when plugged into shore power indicating it is being charged but to me it appeared as if I was draining the battery.
4) After a few hours of having the battery plugged in, I disconnected it completely and the 12v lights continued to work (albeit I think they were dimmer than they should be). With the battery disconnected, that loud clicking noise went away. But if I turned on a certain amount of 12v lights, I could hear the fan on the converter turn on and it would stay on as long as I had that amount of lights on, the second I turned off the 3rd or 4th light the fan would stop.
5) Near the end of my time at the trailer I noticed this gauge on the wall (see pic3.jpg). Notice that it is reading the battery is 2/3 charged? This is without my battery connected! Could there possibly be a different battery somewhere else? I have searched high and low in the trailer and cannot find any other batteries. I turned on the furnace to see if that would work and the battery level indicator dropped to "E". I turned off the furnace and left it for about 30 minutes and the battery indicated jumped back to 2/3.

Sorry for the lengthy post but I did want to clearly outline everything I've done.

Please let me know what you think.

Thanks,
Kevin

 

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