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 > How does my trailer work?

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vermont_blue

Colorado

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Posted: 11/17/10 09:56am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just purchased my first RV. It is a Travel Trailer with bunks and a slide. I will not do the walk through until I pick it up in March. So I’m left wondering;

  • How does the slide work? Does the battery provide the power to slide it out? Does the camper need to be plugged in to be able to open the slide?

  • How long do the batteries last? If I'm dry camping how long will my trailer's lighting work? Will I need to burn candles or battery operated lanterns?

  • What about the outlets inside the trailer? Can my wife use her blow dryer from home? Or will she need a special hair dryer?

  • What about a blender to make some fancy drinks! Do I need to get a special blender or can I use the one from home?

  • What about the propane tanks? How do I know when they're about out? I'd hate to be out camping and they go out.

  • What's the deal with the fridge! It seems it can run off battery, propane and or electricity, wow! When do I use which setting? Do I run it off propane on my way there to save the batteries or vice versa?

  • Does my TV charge the batteries while I'm on the road? If so, how! Or do I need to charge the batteries at home?

  • Can I plug my trailer into an outlet at home? The highest I have is 20 amps, is this enough? Do I need an adapter?


I am so NEW to all of this, as you can tell! I've never camped in a trailer, always a tent. Have a trailer now but have lots of questions! Your input is much appreciated. Vermont_Blue.

beemerphile1

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Posted: 11/17/10 10:13am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

vermont_blue wrote:



1 How does the slide work? Does the battery provide the power to slide it out? Does the camper need to be plugged in to be able to open the slide?

2 How long do the batteries last? If I'm dry camping how long will my trailer's lighting work? Will I need to burn candles or battery operated lanterns?

3 What about the outlets inside the trailer? Can my wife use her blow dryer from home? Or will she need a special hair dryer?

4 What about a blender to make some fancy drinks! Do I need to get a special blender or can I use the one from home?

5 What about the propane tanks? How do I know when they're about out? I'd hate to be out camping and they go out.

6 What's the deal with the fridge! It seems it can run off battery, propane and or electricity, wow! When do I use which setting? Do I run it off propane on my way there to save the batteries or vice versa?

7 Does my TV charge the batteries while I'm on the road? If so, how! Or do I need to charge the batteries at home?

8 Can I plug my trailer into an outlet at home? The highest I have is 20 amps, is this enough? Do I need an adapter?


It would be better if you slow down and ask questions one at a time but I'll take a stab at some. The best thing for you to do is spend a lot of time regularly reading the posts on here, you'll learn most of the needed answers.

1 Don't have a slide but do know some are electric only and some are hydraulic.

2 Much more info is needed. What battery, how many batteries, what will you be using? The furnace fan is the largest draw.

3 If connected to shore power, you can use the same appliances as at home.

4 See answer to no. 3. Be aware that the 120 volt electrical system will only function when connected to shore power.

5 You may have an auto changeover valve that will indicate when it switches, if not you can add one. I have two tanks and use one at a time. If the one empties, I manually switch to the second, and make a mental note to refill the first.

6 The 12 volt refrigerator power is only to be used while traveling. Electric (120 volt) when connected to shore power. LP gas when dry camping.

7 Maybe, depends on how your TV is wired. Your converter charges the battery when connected to shore power.

8 Yes, pick up an adapter at your local RV store or even Walmart.

If you ask one question at a time and give detailed info on your equipment you will get more detailed answers. Also some if not all of the above questions should be answered in your RV's manual.


...a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have...
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LAdams

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Posted: 11/17/10 10:46am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Vermont_blue

I will answer your questions in order...



# How does the slide work? Does the battery provide the power to slide it out? Does the camper need to be plugged in to be able to open the slide?

Most slides in trailers are electric although I have seen a few hydraulic units. Assuming you have an electric slide the battery does provide power for the slide. The camper does NOT need to be plugged in for it to work but the battery must be fully charged for optimal operation. I try to keep shore power plugged in while operating my slide at campgrounds.

# How long do the batteries last? If I'm dry camping how long will my trailer's lighting work? Will I need to burn candles or battery operated lanterns?

That depends on what type battery(s) you have and how much power you use. If you do a lot of dry camping (no shore power) you might consider changing your light fixtures to LED's which draw a lot less power. Look at this article - it will answer a lot of your 12 volt (battery) questions. http://www.marxrv.com/12volt/12volt.htm

# What about the outlets inside the trailer? Can my wife use her blow dryer from home? Or will she need a special hair dryer?

She can use her home air dryer without any issues assuming you are plugged into 30 amp shore power at the campground. Just be aware that you only have 30 amps available and a decent hairdryer will consume about half of that capacity

# What about a blender to make some fancy drinks! Do I need to get a special blender or can I use the one from home?

same answer as above. You can use any 115 volt appliance you use at home assuming you are plugged into 30 amp shore power or are using a generator that will provide enough power to adequately power the device in question

# What about the propane tanks? How do I know when they're about out? I'd hate to be out camping and they go out.

most trailers today are equipped with automatic changeover regulators. While this is convenient, I prefer to keep only one of my propane tanks open at a time. Then when I run out on that tank, I switch over to the other tank and have the empty filled as soon as possible. There are remote devices available to tell you when one tank is empty but I don't use that device. As I remember, it's a bit pricey.

# What's the deal with the fridge! It seems it can run off battery, propane and or electricity, wow! When do I use which setting? Do I run it off propane on my way there to save the batteries or vice versa?

most RV refrigerators today will run off propane or shore power (115vac) but both methods require 12 volts for the control board in the fridge to operate. Some refrigerators will indeed run off 12 volts to power the heating element but they draw considerable current from the 12 volt source and usually are only used when actually traveling down the road with the tow vehicle alternator recharging that TT storage battery. To be honest, I haven't seen a 12 volt fridge in quite a while. Whether you run on propane or AC power is up to you. I will typically run off 115 volt AC while in camp if it is available. If I'm dry camping I'll then run the fridge off propane. I also run the fridge on propane while actually driving. Please note that the this method usually is quite controversial as to the safety aspects but a lot of us do it. Regarding saving the battery, read the article I referenced - that will answer your questions

# Does my TV charge the batteries while I'm on the road? If so, how! Or do I need to charge the batteries at home?

If your tow vehicle has the charge wire installed in the 7 pin umbilical connector, then the TT battery will charge as you travel. At home, your battery will be charged by the on-board converter in the TT if you are plugged into shore power (115VAC). Usually, charging from the tow vehicle while traveling is NOT as efficient as charging from shore power...

# Can I plug my trailer into an outlet at home? The highest I have is 20 amps, is this enough? Do I need an adapter?

yes you can plug into a 20 amp outlet. You will need and 30/20 or 30/15 adapter... It can be had at any RV store, Wal-Mart, etc. 20 amps will be enough to run lights, converter, etc. 20 amp service will be marginal if you intend to run the Air Conditioning (or any other high current appliance) - depends on the length of your extension cord and what gauge it is and the voltage drop due to cord length and wire gauge of extension cord. Many of us have wired our storage area for 30 amp service so we can run our rigs without restriction... It's worth mentioning here that if your TT is not plugged in to shore power at home or storage yard, parasitic current draw from various things inside the TT like the propane alarm, stereo radio, etc., will draw down the TT battery fairly quickly - a few days... If your not plugged in at home or at your storage yard, a battery disconnect switch would be a good idea to prevent complete discharge of the TT battery


Good Luck with your new TT and welcome to the RV.Net Forums

Les


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TXiceman

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Posted: 11/17/10 10:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Believe it or not, ther is a book...RVing for Dumbies. Get it and read it.

Ken


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RRinNFla

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Posted: 11/17/10 10:42am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You will find the answers to a lot of your questions in the Beginning RV forum.

A lot of your questions were about electrical power. There are basically two power distribution systems on a towable RV. The 12V DC system which runs directly off of the house batteries, and the 120V AC system which runs from "shore power". Most of the electrical basics you need for camping run from the 12V system (lights, water pump, slides, furnace fan). In order to operate the microwave or other 120V appliances (blender, hair dryer, television), you need to be connected to "shore power" using the 30 amp cord, or you have to have an inverter which converts 12v DC power to 120V AC. The other things you need for camping will run from propane (refrigerator, stove, water heater). The refirgerator (and often the water heater) will run from both propane and shore power. Most RVers, when connected to shore power, prefer to run the refrigerator and water heater off of the shore power they are paying for anyway, rather than using up their propane. When you are connected to shore power, the converter recharges your batteries, but the 12v system is still running from batteries.

In your walk-through, make sure they show you how the reefer and water heater work on all possible options.

To answer some of your other questions: When dry camping in temperate climate and you are just using lights and the water pump, you should be able to camp for a couple of days on a single 12v battery system. If you need to camp longer you can add a second battery in parallel. If you add an inverter and start running household applicances, you will likely drain your batteries very quickly. You can do some research and find some charts which can give you the more exact information.

Usually your TV will charge the battery while towing through the 7-pin connector.

Most slides run off the 12v system, but have a manual option.

Some advice, make a list of questions for the walk-through. It will all make more sense when you see it done.


Richard

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HappyTrails2U2

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Posted: 11/17/10 11:28am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LAdams wrote:



# What about the propane tanks? How do I know when they're about out? I'd hate to be out camping and they go out.

most trailers today are equipped with automatic changeover regulators. While this is convenient, I prefer to keep only one of my propane tanks open at a time. Then when I run out on that tank, I switch over to the other tank and have the empty filled as soon as possible. There are remote devices available to tell you when one tank is empty but I don't use that device. As I remember, it's a bit pricey.


That's not a very good way of doing it. When you run out of propane it'll be in the middle of the night when it happens and you'll have get dressed and to go outside and switch over to the other tank.

All you have to do is look at the tanks once every 4 or 5 days to see if the center dot has turned red on the auto regulator. When it does you remove it and refill the tank and replace it. Then you turn the pointer over to the other tank and wait for it to turn red again and do it all over. That way there's no problems with lighting the furnace or hot water heater due to air being in the line from a tank running out of propane. Plus you never run out in the middle of the night that way or right in the middle of taking a shower on a cold morning.


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LAdams

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Posted: 11/17/10 06:07pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Happy Trails 2 U 2 wrote:

That's not a very good way of doing it. When you run out of propane it'll be in the middle of the night when it happens and you'll have get dressed and to go outside and switch over to the other tank.



Your entitled to your opinion, I'm entitled to mine... Personally, I don't think running to my tanks every 3 or 4 days is a good way to do it and I've been doing it my way for over 25 years of RV'ing...

Besides that, if my propane runs out in the middle of the night, I'll turn on my electric fireplace - I've never had to go out and switch tanks in the middle of the night...

Your wording of your reply leaves something to be desired - you could have been a bit more diplomatic!!! It's a good thing I'm thick skinned from moderating this forum or I may have taken offense !!!

Les

mudmanrv

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Posted: 11/17/10 02:29pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One thing no one mentioned, and I'm not sure how feasible it is as of yet - but for storage draw that one mentioned above, you can always mount a solar panel to the roof, or even just setup leaning against the TT and connect to the battery ... this will at least give it a daily dose of charge to overcome the alarms and clock on the radio that keep a constant draw... as for the tow vehicle charging - as mentioned about yet - but make sure it's 7-pin as 6-pin will not charge, but will power electric brakes. all depends on the wiring being properly setup. most newer cars have all the necessary wire there, just add the end you need, and make sure to hook up or add the fuse for the charge feed ... my 2000 blazer was that way. 7 wire harness - no end. untaped the bundle - added a 6-pin (i had a popup with no battery) all I had to do then was add the blue wire to the fuse box (which was already there but disconnected so as not to cause a short) ... and run the brake controller signal wire. done.

read the forums - it's a great past time thing to do ... if you have a friend with a TT - have them do a walk around with you as well ... never hurts to ask, and you will always keep learning ... also - and this is my last thing -
start making a checklist - as a "newbie" you inadvertanly try to pull away from a camp site with the stabilizer jacks down, or the tv antenna up, or the power cord is 2 feet short of reaching, etc... make a checklist - save yourself some humiliating moments - happy camping!

RUFFSTUFF

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Posted: 11/17/10 03:19pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

MARCH? Seriously?!?


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RV-Inspector

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Posted: 11/17/10 01:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It sounds like most of your questions have been taken care of, I just wanted to comment on the slideout question. Regardless of electric or Hydraulic they both need 12v power, if it is fully electic the amp draw tends to be less around 20 to 30 amps and will work with a battery that isn't fully charged. If it is hydraulic it will draw 60 to 90 amps and your battery will need to be charged better unless you are plugged in. If you are off grid camping (no power) keep your unit plugged into the tow vehicle when you are trying to run the slideout this will help. Hydraulic slides will work much faster than electric and tend to be less maint...electic slides are not as powerfull so the adjustments are more critical to make it work properly.

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