Tech Tips

Tech tips by Peter Hotz

The first four segments will deal with electrical TRUTHS and MYTHS in nature.

  1. When towing my trailer down the road my tow vehicle will "charge" my trailer battery.

MYTH:  Actually, your tow vehicle doesn't know there's another battery in your trailer only that there is a 12V load of some sort.  Look under your tow vehicles hood and find the charge line from your tow vehicle's alternator to it's battery. It is a very heavy cable capable of handling very high amperage, 60A or more.  The so called"charge line" from your vehicles battery to the 7 pin connector at the back is in relation a very small wire, carrying only a few amps.  Your tow vehicle will supply 12V at low amps to the trailer should the trailer battery be dead to help put the slide in for example or to help supplement the 12V usage on board the trailer when traveling as in the case of running your refrigerator on 12V.  The tow vehicle sees this "charge line" as just another 12V outlet, similar to a cigarette lighter.  There are in fact only two effect ways to charge your battery on board your trailer. That is by either plugging the trailer power cord into a 110Voutlet so that your on-board converter chargers the battery or by removing the battery and putting it on a true "battery charger". The latter is the quickest but your converter will do a good job as well.  It will just take longer. 

For questions about this or any other topic please email me at peter@adventurervctr.com

 

 

  1. Putting two 12V batteries together in parallel will give me more duration (reserve capacity).

TRUTH:  Firstly, let's review the "type" of battery that you should be using. A 12v battery for RV applications should be different than what we use for our cars.  We are not concerned with CCA (cold cranking amps) but more so with "reserve capacity".  A good battery will have at least 120 minutes of reserve capacity at a 25A draw for a series 24 battery.  Series 27, 31 batteries can have up to 210minutes.  By putting two of these batteries together in parallel we can DOUBLE the reserve capacity.  The only trouble that we run into is that even with brand new batteries they are never exactly the same voltage.  If one is 12.5v and the other is 12.52v they will try to balance each other off on a continual basis and if one develops a fault it will kill the other.  Another option is to use two 6v batteries in "series". By joining them this way we create 12v. A typical golf cart battery has approximately 480 minutes of reserve capacity.  They don't double up because of the series configuration but still provide substantially greater reserve capacity than the 12v batteries.  The other bonus is they don't try to balance each other off.  As a result we get much better life and performance.

For questions about this or any other topic please email me at peter@adventurervctr.com

 

 

3.  If we keep tripping the breaker at the park post, there is something wrong with my trailer.

MYTH:  Your trailer is a small house.  Most modern houses have either 100amp or 200amp service.  Modern trailers have 15amp, 30amp or 50amp service panels.  You may have, depending upon your trailer,some appliances (microwave, A/C, refrigerator, water heater), lighting, outlets,ceiling fans etc. that are 125V but most other electrical equipment will be 12Vbased running from your converter (when plugged in to park power) or your battery if not.  If you are tripping the park breaker you are consuming too much 125V power for what the park can supply you. That means that you will need to be slightly more conservative with respect to your 125V usage. If you think that every appliance etc. requires power.  This adds up.  If we use the formula: Amps(A)= Watts/Volts(V) we can add up the power being used.  Most appliances will give you the power usage in watts.  Thus if an A/C unit requires13A and a toaster requires 5A and so on you can see that if you are running the A/C, a coffee pot, the water heater on 125V, the refrigerator on 125V, a toaster, a hair dryer etc. that we can use more that the 30amps from the park.  Being more selective and maybe running your refrigerator and water heater from propane will allow you to run more and not keep tripping the breaker.

For questions about this or any other topic please email me at peter@adventurervctr.com

 

 

4.  Converters, Generators and Inverters all produce 125V power.

MYTH:  Power in a trailer is relatively simple but can become complicated when we don???t understand what these items do. 

Most modern trailers, as discussed in a previous article incorporate a converter into the power panel to provide 12V power to the necessary components. Remember, the 3 items that require 125V are the microwave, A/C and general outlets.  The converter supplies 12V to most other equipment plus charges the battery. It DOES NOT supply 125V. 

An ???inverter??? makes 125V FROM12V, the ???opposite??? of a converter. These are becoming more common in RV???s, boats and cars as we take 125Vequipment, i.e. laptops, TV???s etc.. with us on the road or water where 125V is not typically available.  An inverter can require a fairly substantial battery bank to supply the inverter should a microwave etc. wish to be run.  This is usually the downfall of the inverter. 

A generator can produce BOTH 12Vand 125V IF the generator is an inverter style generator where the generator starts by producing 12V and then ???inverts??? it up to 125V.  This is a much cleaner way to produce power over a standard generator, is less noisy, better on fuel but can be quite a bit more expensive.  Whatever the need, if you have questions regarding anything to do with power you can email Peter at:peter@adventurervctr.com.

 

 

Tech tips by Peter Hotz

The second of four segment swill deal with PLUMBING tips in nature.

  1.  

  The first of my plumbing segments will be around the first way to get water to the trailer and all that goes with it.  Most modern trailers have an on board tank that you can fill.  They will vary incapacity but average between 25-45 US gallons. There is typically a vent tube that allows for air to escape while the tank fills.  Once the tank is full water will typically pour back out of the fill tube all over your shoes if you aren???t paying attention.  Thus you know that the tank is full.  This can be verified by using the monitor panel.  If you trailer is not equipped as such, wet shoes will have to do. In order to supply water to the trailer you will have to turn the pump on.  This is usually, but not always,part of the monitor panel.  Once the pump  is on it will supply water at about 3 GPM (gallons per minute) and at about 35PSI.  The pump will pressurize the lines and then stop.  If it continues to run you are either out of water, the pump is defective, a tap is on somewhere or a large leak is spewing water.  Listen closely to see if it is running constantly as a large leak is BAD, especially inside of the trailer!  By leaving the pump on when you are camping and by paying attention you can help diagnose when and if you ever develop a leak as the pump will come on periodically.  Remember however to turn the pump off when you leave the trailer as Murphy???s law dictates that the large (BAD) leak will develop when you are not there.  For questions regarding this or any other topic please feel free to email me at peter@adventurervctr.com.

 

The second of four segments will deal with PLUMBING tips in nature.

2.

  In my last article I spoke of one way to provide water to the trailer. A second way and becoming the more popular one is to use what is typically called the???city water??? connection.  This is a connection on the outside of the trailer that allows for a garden hose connection from it to a supply tap.  This connection enters the trailer and joins the exact same line that the tank and pump feed to but comes in after the pump, thus no need to turn the pump on and it does NOT fill the tank.  A few things to note when using this system.  First,the water pressure at the tap is what you will get inside of the trailer, thus if the supply has low pressure you will in turn have low pressure.  This can be annoying but not detrimental.  The larger concern if the pressure is too high, above 60 psi. Every trailer that leaves our shop is tested to hold 60psi.  If the pressure at the park exceeds this you can create leaks.  Remember, leaks are BAD!  By using a water pressure regulator you can avoid this.  Remember also to turn the supply tap off when you leave the trailer.  The one point that has plagued many a camper is that if there is a very small leak in the supply system you may never know because it is a silent leak which may result  in rotten floors or a nasty mould problem.  Use the tank and pump system periodically to assist in determining if you have leaks to help avoid this.  For questions regarding this or any other topic please feel free to email me at peter@adventurervctr.com

 

The second of four segments will deal with PLUMBING tips in nature.

3.  Once we supply water to the trailer it is then discharged into what we term ???effluent??? tanks.  These will typically be ???gray??? and ???black???water tanks.  The gray water tank/s are for dirty soapy water typically from the kitchen, bathroom sink and shower.  The black water tank holds the toilet effluent.  We don???t usually encounter too many problems with the gray water tank/s other than the gate valve that holds the effluent back can sometimes develop issues from getting food debris jammed in the seals.  Food rinds/peelings such as carrot, potatoes etc. can become jammed in the rubber seals thus not allowing for a seal between the blade and the seals.  You will get a few cups of smelly kitchen water at the discharge pipe if this is happening.  The valve can be cleaned but is easiest if we eliminate the problem in the first place. The black water tank is the real trouble though.  The sensors that tell us if the tank if full can give us false readings if either toilet paper or human waste hangs up on them.  For toilet paper, PLEASE, PLEASE,PLEASE use the proper marine/RV toilet paper. It breaks down readily and does not foul sensors.  Even ONE ply regular paper has a lot of chemicals and recycled paper in it that resists breaking down and will foul your sensors.  It isn???t that I want to sell you toilet paper, buy it at Walmart for that matter, just use the proper paper.  Using a good chemical will ensure that the odor remains under control and that the solids will be broken down fora problem free discharge. For questions regarding this or any other topic please feel free to email me at peter@adventurervctr.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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