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Open Roads Forum  >  Class B - Camping Van Conversions  >  DIY

 > Needing help, evacuated, battery dead

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Woodsie8*

pnw

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Posted: 09/12/20 07:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sorry, longer post;
I am in Oregon with fires. No electricity for 5 days now. Used generator on RV chassis to run freezers in my home for 3 days (about 4 hrs a day) via extension cords. RV house battery went dead and now can’t fire up generator. Water pump, lights, etc, won’t come on.
Now investigating the following option without going overboard.

1) Another free standing generator for home freezers when there is a power outage. Seems over kill if I can plug into RV and use RV generator but obviously that only worked for 3 days, because nothing to keep RV house battery charged.
2) Solar panel on RV, to keep RV battery charged (to fire up generator) but will it be enough charge to run things in RV and start generator, to either boon-dock or plug in home freezer in outage?
3) Some kind of fully charged portable 12V battery charger that I can attach to house deep cell battery to replenish it and then recharge it with cigarette lighter d/c connection (chassis battery) with rig running
4) I am older, not sure if I can pull start a generator and if I get an electric start, I will still need electricity to keep it’s internal battery charged.
5) The only things I need to keep going in the house is the frig and deep freeze. I can go without the water heater. If in the winter, it would be nice to have heat but I could go into RV with propane heater but not sure if it needs battery.


It seems crazy to buy another generator when I have one in the RV, but if I need to use battery for more than 3 days, that did not work.

What would be the wisest choice? I have a 20’ RV, not a lot of room to haul another generator. May take a long time to charge one of those battery chargers with a cigarette lighter d/c connection.

FRUSTRATED BECAUSE I managed to keep food frozen and stay in the RV for 3 days without a problem. Now probably will have to toss food, dumping water in toilet to flush, and using my little solar lights to get around at night with.

Furthermore, let’s say this doesn’t have anything to do with freezers and I want to boon-dock longer than 3 days. Is there a reasonable solution that I can both keep freezers going in a power outage and boon-dock for an extended period Of time?
Thanks for your thoughts!

rexlion

Broken Arrow OK

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Posted: 09/12/20 07:59pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sounds like you have a Class A, B, or C (some time of motor home). What about your starter battery on the RV? If you start your engine, it should begin to recharge the 'house' battery via the converter. Or, just to get you going again, are there any neighbors who can give your battery a jump?

A solar panel of about 100W, if you can get decent sun (not too smoky), should keep a typical house battery charged. I'm also wondering whether the generator, once it's running, could power a battery charger (the kind you'd plug into shore power) besides your freezers.


Mike G.
--for now, using a cargo trailer for camping--
Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. --Benjamin Franklin
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Lwiddis

Camping near Pearsonville, CA

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Posted: 09/12/20 08:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

“2) Solar panel on RV, to keep RV battery charged (to fire up generator) but will it be enough charge to run things in RV and start generator, to either boon-dock or plug in home freezer in outage?”

“Running things” needs a battery or batteries....amp hours. Recharging batteries from solar panels requires adequate solar watts. Standard is one solar watt per battery amp hour. More if in a shady area.


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time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 09/12/20 08:39pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The generator should be connected to an on-board charging system to maintain the RV battery. Possibly that system has failed. A portable battery charger would work.
Solar might be of little help if you have smoke in the air.


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Woodsie8*

pnw

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Posted: 09/12/20 09:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

time2roll wrote:

The generator should be connected to an on-board charging system to maintain the RV battery. Possibly that system has failed. A portable battery charger would work.
Solar might be of little help if you have smoke in the air.


I am wondering if I was using more juice than generator was making. Would I put the battery charger in the house battery? I don’t have one that does not need plugged in but fir the future.

Woodsie8*

pnw

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Posted: 09/12/20 09:17pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

time2roll wrote:

The generator should be connected to an on-board charging system to maintain the RV battery. Possibly that system has failed. A portable battery charger would work.
Solar might be of little help if you have smoke in the air.


I have a “B”., with a Onan generator.

ndrorder

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Posted: 09/12/20 09:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Double check that the main battery switch is on.

Not sure what was being used when the generator was off that drained the battery, but the rv furnace is a notorious power hog and will drain a battery in short order. Best to run the generator when using the furnace.

Run the rv to charge the house battery. Driving to refuel the rv will speed the charging process.

If the rv has a boost to start switch, disconnect the negative on the house battery (be sure it doesn't touch the positive), start the rv, and have someone push the boost switch while trying to start the generator. Once the generator has started, reconnect the negative to the house battery.

If no boost switch, disconnect negative from house battery (be sure it doesn't touch the positive), start the rv, run jumper cable from rv battery to house battery, start generator, and reconnect negative once generator is running. If the jumper cables are too short, move the rv battery closer to the house battery. Try starting the generator without the rv running.

Once generator is running, measure the voltage at the house battery. If it is more than 13.2V, the converter is working and the battery should be charging. If the battery isn't taking a charge, battery may be bad.

If the voltage is less than 13.2, there are lots of things to check. Quicker option would be to use a portable battery charger to charge the house battery when the generator runs. Be sure to have plenty of fuel as the battery may take several hours to a day to recharge using a portable charger.

Diagnose the charging issue once the generator is running.

Or, buy a new house battery and a portable charger. Swap the new battery for the house battery. Start the generator and diagnose the charging issue. Portable charger can be used to keep at least one of the house batteries topped up while the generator runs.

Keep a voltage meter handy. Once the house battery is down to 12.2V resting voltage (1/2 empty) find a way to recharge it.


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Cliff
2011 Four Winds Chateau 23U

Woodsie8*

pnw

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Posted: 09/12/20 09:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So, the two extension cords, I ran from 2 outlets on the outside of RV to freezers. My inside plugs do not work if I am not plugged into shore power or the generator is not on, so I made an assumption that the two outside outlets did not work when I turned off generator. So I did not unplug the extension cords outside. Could that have drained my battery? I didn’t even think of that, since my interior plugs don’t work without generator or shore power. I have to use d/c outlets only. I thought if I ran the generator 3-4 hrs a day, it would keep freezers froze and trickle charge battery.

ndrorder

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Posted: 09/12/20 09:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The 120V that the generator produces is different and separate from the 12V battery system. If too much is plugged in while the generator is running, the circuit breaker on the generator would trip stopping all power to the plugs even though the generator continued to run.

A portable battery charger can be plugged in and used while the generator is running to charge a battery.

RambleOnNW

Pacific Northwest

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Posted: 09/12/20 09:27pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Can you start the engine, then start the generator from the 12V supplied by the engine alternator?

Sounds like your house battery is bad or your converter is bad and not charging the house battery.


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