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Open Roads Forum  >  Travel Trailers  >  Small TT's

 > Which battery for small travel trailer

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Scottishman

Jackson, Wy

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Posted: 08/01/21 08:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My wife and I have a FR Palonini 132FD. 16' LOA.

We use it for two three-week trips every fall and spring - and occasional camping in between.

We tow it with a Toyota Tacoma, and have a 100W solar panel on the roof, plus a spare 80W 'briefcase' solar panel

I always have problems keeping batteries charged and kill them. So this time I purchased a AmpereTime solid-state 200Ah Nickel/cadmium battery.
It's an awesome battery that is good for 2000cycles and will last many years - but the issue is that it needs 14.6V for charging and neither the tow vehicle, the camper converter on shore power (13.63V) or my solar panels will deliver that kind of oomph.

So I'm faced with spending a bundle on any of the solutions and that just seems like overkill. So I think I should return it and start over again - regrettably.

My question is - what's the best deep-cycle battery for this small camper, considering the type of use. We are VERY careful with power usage - just the fridge control panel; heater fan when in use; and occasional LED lights. Thank you

NamMedevac 70

Reno

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Posted: 08/01/21 08:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

FYI This info may be of benefit to others if not the OP

I have for many years used regular 12 volt wet cell or AGM batteries plus deep cycle that I bought from Sams or Auto supply stores on my 28 foot TT. Just one and on road trips the truck kept the battery charged up quite well. I always used shore power when available and with no shore power I used only minimum appliances very sparingly and got along with propane stove and lanterns. Since I had room I carried a spare battery and later small inverter 2000W firman generator with an exide battery charger if needed to charge the bat including deep cycle. I use to use the red top (starting), yellow or blue deep cycle bats from Sam but I heard they changed manufactures with quality deterioration. For a while i had a Champion 3500W but it was much more than I needed and too heavy.

My firman gets 8 to 9 hours on one gallon in econ quite mode and I have been told these 2000W gennys will power one roof top AC. Most RV parks and public campgrounds have quite hours when one cannot run the genny. I have no experience with solar but many others have. I now only boondock for short periods of time.

* This post was edited 08/01/21 08:59pm by NamMedevac 70 *

deltabravo

Spokane, WA

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Posted: 08/01/21 09:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Scottishman wrote:

My question is - what's the best deep-cycle battery for this small camper,


Most TTs have a group 24 sized battery box. I'd get a group 24 AGM battery, or upgrade to TWO.


The factory installed converter / chargers in RVs are not much more than a power supply. You'd benefit greatly from installing a nice 2 stage charger, or even an inverter/charger combo unit.

I recently installed a Victron DC to DC Charger to upgrade my truck to RV charging capabilities.


2009 Silverado 3500HD Dually, D/A, CCLB 4x4 (bought new 8/30/09)
2018 Arctic Fox 992 with an Onan 2500i "quiet" model generator

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 08/02/21 02:50am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Scottishman wrote:

I always have problems keeping batteries charged and kill them. So this time I purchased a AmpereTime solid-state 200Ah Nickel/cadmium battery.
It's an awesome battery that is good for 2000cycles and will last many years - but the issue is that it needs 14.6V for charging and neither the tow vehicle, the camper converter on shore power (13.63V) or my solar panels will deliver that kind of oomph.

First, I believe that is a LiFePO4 battery. Yes it needs higher voltage to properly charge.

Invest in a new converter and solar charge controller.

mr_andyj

Georgia

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Posted: 08/02/21 08:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LiFe?? Nicad are not ideal for camping...

You can get solar charge controllers that have adjustable output. That 100w solar panel puts out 18.x volts and your charge controller drops that down to 13.x. I have one I can program any voltage I want to go to the battery.
OR
Get a DC to DC charger where you can either program or get your 14.6 volts. This will help coming from the vehicle alternator.
You might need another 100 watt panel if you go off-grid for days at a time. All depends on how much power you use.
OR both because you need control from the panel and control from the vehicle.

theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 08/02/21 08:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mr_andyj wrote:

LiFe?? Nicad are not ideal for camping...

Ampere time does not sell NiCad batteries.

Lwiddis

Monterey, California

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Posted: 08/02/21 11:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your panels watts are inadequate but they should be delivering high enough voltage. It is your controller that is lowering the voltage IMO.

Does your new Nickel/cadmium battery have a memory issue?


Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, 300 watt solar-parallel & MPPT, Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist14 yr. Army vet-11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad


toedtoes

California

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Posted: 08/02/21 11:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

deltabravo wrote:

Scottishman wrote:

My question is - what's the best deep-cycle battery for this small camper,


Most TTs have a group 24 sized battery box. I'd get a group 24 AGM battery, or upgrade to TWO.


The factory installed converter / chargers in RVs are not much more than a power supply. You'd benefit greatly from installing a nice 2 stage charger, or even an inverter/charger combo unit.

I recently installed a Victron DC to DC Charger to upgrade my truck to RV charging capabilities.


Check the battery size - I was able to fit a Vtech 85ah agm battery in my box. For the difference in price, you could get a quality 3-stage converter too.


1975 American Clipper RV with Dodge 360 (photo in profile)
1998 American Clipper Fold n Roll Folding Trailer
Both born in Morgan Hill, CA to Irv Perch (Daddy of the Aristocrat trailers)

Scottishman

Jackson, Wy

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Posted: 08/02/21 02:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you for such swift and helpful responses: Nammedevac70; Deltabravo; theoldwizard1; Toedtoes - I will address each answer in order but first - duh - why did I write Nickel-Cadmium when the battery is Lithium Ion.

Overall, our camper is worth about $8K. This battery cost $800, and to upgrade charging from tow vehicle, A/C hookup, or solar, or generator - is all significantly more - which I hadn't planned for. We never hook up while camping even for three weeks.

1) Nammedevac70: Thanks - I'm definitely thinking 'less is more'. We never hook-up and I'm not a generator user and I don't have room for one plus fuel.. We live in a sunny part of the country and I'd rather upgrade my solar. It's perfectly reasonable to go into 'preserve' mode and use power very sparingly. I'll consider your battery suggestion - our closest Sam is over two hours away...

2) Deltabravo - Thanks. I'm not limited by battery size box as I've changed that before to accommodate two 6V golf-cart batteries before. (Extremely heavy esp. for a tiny camper) Your DC to DC is an excellent suggestion - which I'll probably follow-up on. As for changing converter to inverter etc. - that requires cabinetry removal and wiring know-how - a project I'd probably mess-up - so not for now.

3) Oldwizard1 - Sorry - that was a mistake - please see note above. A new converter would require cabinetry removal and wiring expertise - which I don't have - so better to stay away from that. I do have a solar controller on each panel which I use.

4) Mrandyj - I have different sized battery boxes or can change to suit the right battery(s) Sorry - I made a mistake about the battery - see notes above. You're right it's LiFe If I can get away with one (really good) battery - I'll try that first and go into 'preserve' mode with electrics. Right-on with your suggestions about DC to DC and variable output controller - I'll do those things right away.

5) Toedtoes. Thank you - very helpful. Your suggestions are backed-up by above advice from others and please see my responses which address yours too

toedtoes

California

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Posted: 08/02/21 03:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If you don't change your converter to a smart one, I would get a good quality trickle charger and make sure you have a battery cutoff switch. That way when it's home, you can isolate the battery and keep it on trickle charge.

Did your prior batteries last the 3-day weekends on one charge? If not, how far short did they fall on your highest and lowest energy output trips?

I would aim for a battery(s) that can handle at least your lowest output weekend without recharging - so no furnace use. If you can get more, great, but set that as your minimum if at all possible.

I personally like the AGMs - it's just one thing I don't have to think about. I had good luck with the Optima Blue Top battery. It lasted in my clipper until the thieves stole it and f'd up everything. The battery was about 7 years old.

This time, because I needed new batteries in the trailer also, I went with the vtechs. Less expensive and same size. We will see how they last in comparison.

Lifeline agm are the most recommended AGM by folks here.

Flooded batteries are cheaper, but you need to remember to check them regularly. Sam's club and Costco batteries seem to get the most reference here.

A lifeline GPL-31T battery will run you about $400. That gives you 105ah. With the other $400, you could get a good trickle charger and pump up your solar a bit.

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