How to Conserve 12-Volt Power When Boondocking

Whether you call it boondocking, dry camping, or “getting off the grid”, camping without an electrical connection requires some planning and preparation if you plan on staying out even a short period of time. Without a 120-volt electrical connection, you’ll be relying on your house batteries and will not be able to recharge them normally with an on-board converter. There are ways to recharge the batteries using solar power, portable or on-board generator, or starting up the engine and using the engine alternator. However, it’s better to first understand the function of your batteries, and find ways to extend their charge.

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Deep Cycle Batteries

Deep cycle batteries are basically a fuel tank for the 12-volt system. We start by understanding amp hours available from our typical batteries. Amp hours are the amount of time our batteries will provide a charge at a certain draw known as amperage. Here are the typical amp hours for batteries at a 25 amp draw:

Group 24: 140 minutes

Group 27: 175 minutes

This means you only have about 2.5 hours of usage drawing 25 amps on a Group 24, or just about 3 hours on a group 27. In a 12-volt system adding a second battery parallel (positive to positive) will double the amp hours. However, connecting two 6-volt batteries in series (negative to positive) will give you 12-volts, but does not double the amp hours!

AGM Batteries

Even Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries give the same or slightly less amp hours for the corresponding group rating! The advantage of AGM is they are less likely to sulfate, therefore lasting longer. They are also maintenance free, and can be installed sideways in tight compartments. To get higher amp hours you will need to add more batteries. There are some AGM battery companies, such as Lifeline, that offer a higher capacity AGM with 330 amp hours on a 12-volt or 692 on a 6-volt, but you would still need two and these are much higher prices!

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Battery Condition

Once you understand what kind of batteries you are using, you need to determine the condition of your batteries. Lead acid batteries require a multi-stage charge every month that creates a high voltage “boil” for a specified amount of time and then an equalizing and float stage. Most RV owners simply plug the unit in and leave them thinking the on-board converter keeps them conditioned. Not so! Battery sulfation is a big problem in the RV industry and most batteries are not operating anywhere near their rated capacity. So if you have batteries rated at 175 minutes for a 25 amp draw and they are sulfated and only providing 60% capacity you only have 105 minutes. It’s important to get your batteries tested and tested correctly. A digital tester is not the answer, the only way to truly test battery capacity is to charge them up and test with a 25 amp draw machine and document the time it takes to bring them down.

One product on the market that helps condition batteries is the Battery Minder available online at www.batteryminder.com or from your local dealer. This product sends high impact waves into the battery and breaks up the sulfation and will extend the life of your batteries as well as the available amp hours.

Drawing Power

Lastly, it is important to figure out what is drawing power from your batteries. Typical 12-volt components are interior lights, water pump, vent fans, and any appliance that is running on LP as they will draw battery power to open and close the gas valve and other operations. A refrigerator with an icemaker usually uses 12-volt power to heat the tray before ejecting the cubes. Smaller inverters will draw power from the battery to run the TV and DVD player. Larger inverters will draw a lot of power to run a residential refrigerator and other appliances. You can spend a lot of time trying to calculate the amp draw from each appliance and how much time each gets used every day. However, a basic understanding of good battery capacity and what are the “energy hogs” is easier.

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Tips for Conserving 12-Volt Power

Now that you know the basics, we’ve got some other tips on how to maximize your power efficiency when camping!

1. Change your routine! Adjust your activities according to natural light, read during the day, go to bed earlier, and get up earlier when natural light is available.

2. Use more portable, rechargeable, solar lights. There are several products on the market for solar LED string lights for outside, rechargeable puck lights for inside, and lanterns. Instead of sitting inside reading, eating, or playing games, go outside and use the campfire light, portable lanterns, and LED string lights. It’s all free power!

3. If you are camping on colder temperatures, invest in a portable catalytic heater that runs off a small bottle gas canister. This provides safe supplemental heat without CO2 gassing and extends the propane and 12-volt power.

4. Change to LED bulbs. Incandescent bulbs used in the older light fixtures draw 1.5 amp, halogens about 1 amp. The newer LED bulbs draw about .01 amp (ten times less)! And they provide better light so you don’t have to have as many on!

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5. Use the campfire or grill as much as possible. Make coffee with an old fashioned percolator or French Press, you’ll love the taste! Heat water to wash dishes, and cook as much as possible on the campfire.

6. If you are using an inverter to charge accessories such as cell phones and laptops, unplug then after they are charged. An empty cord will still draw power if plugged into an outlet.

7. Charge all electronic accessories such as cell phones and laptops from the automotive battery system while driving.

8. Manage heat and cool temperature the old fashioned way! Open windows for cross ventilation, utilize shade from trees, determine the cool mornings and hot afternoon and park accordingly.

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With a better understanding of your battery capacity, proper maintenance, and these tips on conserving 12-volt power, you will be able to extend your boondocking, dry camping, or off the grid experience for a much longer time.

Discussion
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106 Responses to “How to Conserve 12-Volt Power When Boondocking”
  1. Glenn

    RV Make: Monaco, RV Model: Camelot, RV Year: 2008, Brand: Step

    My step when finished going in makes a banging/rapping noise for about 5 seconds then stops works fine any concern or fix ? I looked underneath and greased etc.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Glenn. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to provide assistance with your step issue. Typically when an electric step retracts all the way and the motor continues with any type of grinding or banging noises, it means a few of the teeth on the gear are either rounded off, or broken. I would suggest taking off the housing and look closely at the gear for signs of wear. It will work for a while, but will probably wear out more teeth and get worse.

      Reply
  2. Wade

    RV Make: Tiffin, RV Model: Allegro bus, RV Year: 2003, Brand: Xantrex, Model Number: 81-2022-12

    Inverter not fully working

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Wade. We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your RV?

      Reply
  3. JOHNE

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Itasca Horizon, RV Year: 2003

    Pull out pantry is jammed. Seems to have either an article or shelf is wedged against the wall separating it from the pantry and the refrigerator. Have used molding, cardboard box sideshow no avail. Pantry moved about an inch from fully closed to can’t go further because of the mystery jammed position.

    Reply
    • Dennis

      RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Pace Arrow Vision, RV Year: 1998, Brand: Fleetwood, Model Number: 98 Pace Arrow Vision

      Hi Johne, Every once in a while a small item “jumps” the rail and gets behind the pull out. A flash light and tool retriever usually works.

      Reply
  4. Bill

    RV Make: Forest river , RV Model: Berkshire , RV Year: 2016

    Are there nickel hydroxide batteries available for the RV industry…at a reasonable price?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Bill. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery question. I have not seen or heard of anyone using or even testing the Nickel-Metal Hydroxide batteries as the are still mostly being used in the electric cars? There are some companies offering the Lithium-Ion batteries but it is limited due to the cost. It all depends on how much dry camping you do and the need for battery power. If you do limited dry camping and maintain your lead acid batteries properly, they are usually sufficient.

      Reply
      • Bob

        RV Make: Outback

        I use mine as a “portable” workshop at craft shows. At some generators are not allowed during show hours. Lithium Ion with solar panels is the only way to go.

        Reply
  5. EdPeck

    RV Make: R-vision, RV Model: Ç-19 highbread, RV Year: 2002

    Thanks for the info you are putting out in these videos and e-mails. Again THANH YOU.

    Reply
  6. JOHN MCCURDY

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: minnie tag along, RV Year: 2014

    What is a group 24 / group 27 battery? I have never heard of them. What does it mean? How do you know the difference when you buy a battery? which is best for the money?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi John. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery question. The “Group” number such as 24 and 27 depicts the power size of the battery or amp hours available. The Group 27 will give you more battery capacity before needing to be recharged than the Group 24 which is important if you are dry camping, meaning not connected to an electrical source. When you are connected to electricity, the converter recharges the batteries and addition battery capacity is not required.
      The battery will usually have the label of a 24 or 27, however you should look for the amp hour rating to verify.

      Reply
      • SueH

        RV Make: R Vision, RV Model: Trail Cruiser Hybrid, RV Year: 2003

        Where is the amp hour rating located. I know my two batteries are “24”s but not sure where to find the amp hour.

        Reply
        • Customer Service

          Hi Sue. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your amp hour question. Usually the battery manufacturer has a sticker or stamped AH rating on the top of the battery? If you can give me the brand name and year, we should be able to find the rating. If it’s a group 24 you are probably down in the 75-80 range. Some just give you a minutes at 25 amp draw which is typically 130-140 minutes which doesn’t seem like much, however you are very seldom going to draw 25 amps while dry camping!

          Reply
  7. H V Bryant

    RV Make: Foretravel, RV Model: unihomea, RV Year: 1992, Brand: Dometic, Model Number: unknown

    why is their a cutoff valve below the pressure regulator? on the main gas line from the LP tank, operated by a 12 volt soliadoid cutoff valve, yet I am only able to get 11.55 volts to it, but when I take it off and use a 12 volt battery to it, the valve works fine. please help if you can

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your pressure regulator issue. To provide more specific information on your system I need to know the make, model, and year of your RV and does it have one or two tanks? Most gas solenoids will operate down to 10.5 volts like the furnace and refrigerator, although they are smaller valves. Your stand alone battery is probably at 12.6 Volts if it’s fully charged so maybe your valve is weak. If we can find the brand of valve we should be able to get a recommended Ohm reading and see if it’s the problem?

      Reply
  8. Richard Hannah

    RV Make: Fleetwood Northwest Edition, RV Model: Prowler LS 29J, RV Year: 2003

    Are there any Owner/User guides for this front bed room/rear living room with an extra large slide out.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Richard. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with your owners manual question. Are you looking for the owner’s manual for just the slide room mechanism/s or the entire coach? In either case we need the make, model, and year of the RV and should be able to point you in the right direction. If it’s a Lippert Components Inc slide mechanism, you can get a copy of the slide mechanism at: http://www.lci1.com

      Reply
  9. Scott O'Brien

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Brave d21, RV Year: 1976

    Where would i find the led replacement bulbs for my winnie? Ive looked all over and cant find them!! Thank you for your help…Scott

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Scott. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with your LED bulb search. I would recommend M4LED.com, they have a complete offering of the good LED bulbs and a good price. They will also take the time to find the right bulb on the phone if needed. Type in passport5 in the code and get a discount as well.

      Reply
  10. Douglas

    RV Make: National RV, RV Model: Tropi-cal LX, RV Year: 2005, Brand: Xantrex, Model Number: Freedom 458

    Equalize procedure–should I be using this procedure every 2 months when connected to external AC power? Should I be turning off my air conditioners, refrigerator and DC lights during equalizing procedure–for up to 8 hours according to the manual?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Douglas. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with your battery charging question. For lead acid batteries it is recommended you conduct a multi-stage charge every 30 days which is a high impact charge to start that boils the batteries, then goes into a float and equalizing stage. Most on-board chargers do not have this feature, rather just a continuous charge that allows the batteries to sulfate. The larger inverters do have this, and Progressive Dynamics has a new converter that will also conduct this multi-stage charge. Another option is to use a Battery Minder which puts out high impact wave and conditions the batteries.
      Check out the videos on this and look for the product at Northern Tool.

      Reply
  11. hawkins

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: pace arrow 35', RV Year: 2004

    Excellent, maybe best info of all

    Reply
  12. patrick

    RV Make: holiday rambler, RV Model: traveler 30pbs, RV Year: 2003

    I have a 2000 watt inverter and (4) 6volt deep cycle batteries- would I be better off going with (agm batteries or stay with the 4 wet cells that came with the coach? great article much improvement on content of video!!

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Patrick. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with
      your battery question. If you have a 2000 watt inverter, it should have a multi-stage battery charger that would condition your 4 lead acid batteries and keep them in great shape. AGM batteries require less maintenance, but come in the same group ranges so they don’t provide more power or longer lasting if both batteries are in the same state, rather they seem to last longer over the years.

      Reply
  13. John

    RV Make: GeorgieBoy, RV Model: CruiseAir, RV Year: 2000

    I was having some interior work done on my unit and was told that I needed house batteries. I had 2- 12V batteries that they replaced with 2- 6V batteries in series without telling me. They told me this was a better setup. Is this a better setup?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, John. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery question. Whether two 6-volt batteries connected in series is better than one 12-volt battery is as old an argument as Ford vs Chevy! Typically the arguing sides are not comparing comparable batteries! The manufacturers that install the 6-volt batteries connected in series do so because these batteries are true deep cycle and have superior plates, welds, and overall performance. Too often companies that are trying to save money go for the cheapest 12-volt battery available and sometimes you’ll find marine/rv batteries which just won’t last. A misconception in the RV industry is that hooking up two 6-volt batteries in series will give you twice as much Amp Hours. Not True, it gives you twice the volts (12) no more amp hours. From what I’ve seen, dealerships that carry mostly brands with 6-volt systems tend to like to replace everything with 6-volt as they have a better track record. Another consideration is maintenance and storage. Both versions need to have a multi-stage charge once a month that boils the acid breaking up sulfate and then an equalizing and float charge. Unless you have a very large inverter, this doesn’t happen and batteries start to sulfate in 3-4 weeks, even if the unit is plugged in all the time! Combine that with the cheaper 12-volt batteries with thinner plates and other issues and you can see why they get a bad wrap. Now back to the dealership…when you connect two 12-volt batteries parallel, positive to negative, you stay at 12-volts but now double your Amp Hours. Since your dealer elected to install the 6-volt system, you paid for two batteries at about the same price and cut your Amp Hours in half! If you don’t do a lot of dry camping, you don’t need the added Amp Hours and the longevity of the better 6-volt will supply peck performance for a longer time. Probably a good idea to have a visit with the Service Manager to ask why the switch, what they use for 12-volt batteries, and what the price and Amp Hours difference would be for good 12-volt deep cycle batteries?

      Reply
  14. David Ozanne

    RV Make: itasca, southwind, bounder, RV Model: Wind cruiser, RV Year: 1987, 1985, 1986

    In item 4, an LED does not draw 1/10 the power. It draws 1/100 the power.(.01)

    Reply
  15. Larry

    RV Make: Winnebago View, RV Model: View, RV Year: 2013

    Removing batteries at winterization, and putting on a float charger, Good idea or not?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Larry. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery storage question. Removing your batteries and putting them on a trickle charge is a step in the right direction, however they will still start to sulfate in as little as 2-3 weeks. Lead acid batteries need to have a multi-stage charge every 30 days which is a high impact charge which breaks up sulfation, an absorption or equalizing charge, and then a float charge. This will not happen unless you have a very expensive battery charger. I’m a big fan of the Battery Minder which sends high impact waves to break up sulfation and conditions the batteries. Well worth the investment, visit http://www.batteryminder.com or go to http://www.northerntool.com

      Reply
  16. phillip Jones

    RV Make: fleetwood, RV Year: 87, Brand: pace arrow

    My inverter not working kills batterys
    Can find any place i can check wiring need to find a shop manual

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Phillip. We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your RV?

      Reply
  17. Roger

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Freedom Elite 22FE, RV Year: 2017

    Why is the space between cab and front bunk left open on a class c and how do you keep it clean?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Roger. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with your Class C question. Are you referring to the outside area between the top of the Ford cab and the bottom side of the bunk? Over the years I have seen some models with a molded cap or cover around them, however since there is some movement in that “joint”, the material tends to bend and crack. Cleaning should be done with a mild detergent like Dawn dish soap.

      Reply
  18. arthur zucker

    RV Make: flagstaff, RV Model: shamrock 23s, RV Year: 2015

    I use 2 #24 batteries in parallel when dry camping.Would I gain any advantage by also wiring in parallel a #27 battery (from my old trailer) to my new battery setup ??

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Arthur. Thanks for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery question. You can increase the Amp Hours of your 12-volt deep cycle system by adding the group 27 battery (parallel) if your battery is in good condition! If it’s sulfated and not operating at 80% capacity, it will drain the other two so make sure you get it tested.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Ray. We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your RV?

      Reply
  19. Susannah

    RV Make: Winnebago, RV Model: Adventurer, RV Year: 2005, Brand: Domestic refrigorator

    The rubber insulation on the lower doors (2 freezer. & 2 refrigerator) is starting to tear. The small thin portion of the insultion….?… is it possible to replace this insulation? If not, other than buying new doors, is there a fix). Thanks… Refrig helping the AC…

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Susannah. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your refrigerator gasket. You should be able to replace just the rubber gasket? Have your make, model, and serial number handy and contact either Norcold or Dometic for assistance. You’ll probably have to purchase from a dealer, but it would be good to know what you are looking for. Norcold service center is: 800.444.7210
      Dometic is: 800-544-4881

      Reply
  20. Tim

    RV Make: Keystone, RV Model: 3500RE, RV Year: 2012

    Can 2/12 volt battery’s be included in my 2/6 volt deep cell set up. The 2/6 volt batterys can’t bring in hydraulic slides without doing it in stages as battery’s drop load.
    This is the 2nd request for this info

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Tim. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your battery capacity issue. One misconception about 6-volt batteries and AGM is that most people think they are more powerful batteries and will double capacity…not true. Connecting two 6-volt batteries in series creates a 12-volt system but still only provides the 138 amp capacity. AGM batteries are not necessarily higher capacity as they come in the same Group sizes as lead acid. The advantage of AGM is they require less maintenance and over time, hold better capacity as they do not sulfate as fast and as much. Putting in 2 more 12-volt deep cycle batteries might help the problem in the short term, but will sulfate faster especially if your converter/charger recognizes the AGM batteries as it will charge differently in some cases. You did not mention they type of rig, Trailer or Motorized, but one thing you might want to try is turning on the engine battery if motorized as this will help boost the house batteries in most cases? If it’s a trailer, connect to your tow vehicle and start it which should also provide a charge through the engine alternator. Otherwise I would recommend adding 2 more 6-volt AGM batteries but maybe go up one more group size? Also, you did not indicate the type/brand of battery? If you are not using Optima, Lifeline, Trojan, or US Battery, I doubt you are getting the actual rated capacity? Bargain brand batteries have thinner plates, and a whole host of issues, fine if you plug in all the time! Last thing, have someone check the amp draw of the slide mechanism motor to make sure it’s not working to hard? If the motor is getting weak, the room is binding, or there is too much weight, it will draw more amps than intended and the batteries can’t handle the draw?

      Reply
      • Albert Catino

        RV Make: gmc, RV Model: jimmy coach, RV Year: 1979, Brand: Dometic, Model Number: RM2620R

        Could you give me a ball park estimate of the amp draw on a small domestic fridge cooler. Thank you.

        Reply
  21. Richard

    RV Make: Tiffin, RV Model: Allegro Bus, RV Year: 2009

    When I shut off the generator, the fridge does not stay on. The battery indicator shows plenty of charge, Where should I start troubleshooting?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Richard. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your refrigerator issue. Depending on the make and model, it should have an automatic switch that goes to LP if the 120-volt source is stopped. The switch on your refrigerator typically would be labeled Auto and the other side would be LP or Gas? When you shut off the generator, do you hear the refrigerator trying to start on LP? It would be a clicking sound of the spark ignitor trying to light. I would start at the distribution center to verify the 12-volt fuse is good, then check the module board in the back of the refrigerator for the glass type 12-volt fuse and verify you have 12-volts going to the system. Even with the battery indicator, use a multi-meter to assure you have at least 11-volts.

      Reply
  22. Gary Tushar

    RV Make: Damon, RV Model: Intruder 375, RV Year: 20004

    I recently winterized my RV, everything went well. However, when I ran the water in my bathroom very little anti-freeze came out of the toilet & shower and just drips out of the sink. Pink ran out with good pressure out of the low point, outside shower and kitchen sink. I bypassed the water heater and left the plug out of the water heater drain. The water heater is very close to the bathroom. Is there a vacuum or something that may have been created? Any suggestions on how to resolve this issue?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Gary. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your winterizing question. There should not be a vacuum as the fresh water is a closed system to keep pressure in the lines from the water pump or city water fill. To provide more specific information we need to know how you are winterizing, putting RV antifreeze in the fresh water tank or do you have a winterizing valve with a hose that goes into a gallon jug of antifreeze? Since you are getting good pressure out of the low points, it shouldn’t make a difference, but we always start from point A. If you are using the tank, make sure there is at least 8 gallons of RV antifreeze in the tank so you are not getting air mixed with the antifreeze. If you are using a winterizing valve, make sure all connections are tight, and you keep up with the demand! If you are turning on a faucet inside the coach and waiting for “pink” you don’t see the gallon jug is empty and you get air! Since you are pumping the RV antifreeze thru the lines by the onboard water pump, you won’t get a blast or “spurt” when there is air in the line since it’s fairly low pressure.

      The second thing to look for is a water line drain valve that might be open somewhere in the system which should be visible by water underneath the rig. And finally, make sure you start by opening the closest faucet to the pump first and close each faucet as you go along.

      Reply
  23. CHARLES

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Bounder 39r, RV Year: 2002

    My coach batteries charge when the generator is running or on shore power, but not while the engine is running. The alternator is charging the vehicle batteries, but I thought they would charge the 6 volt batteries too? I was thinking they were suppose to charge with the engine running too. If so is it possible I have a bad fuse somewhere? What do you think? Thanks, Chuck

    Reply
    • CHARLES

      I found the answer to my question. The 6 volt coach batteries also charge when the engine is running, however you need to have your inverter turned on.

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Charles. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your charging issue. Since you did not give the make, model, and year of your RV we can not determine if your model has the charge feature while you are driving. For most motorhomes, they have a battery isolation management system that has a switch on the dash and will charge the house batteries via the engine alternator while driving. You can also provide a jump start from the house batteries to the engine battery using the momentary switch. If you have a trailer, the 7 pin plug has a charging feature as well. To verify, connect a voltmeter to the house battery which should read 12.6 volts if fully charged. Start the engine of your motorhome or tow vehicle plugged into the RV and see if the voltage rises to 14 or more volts.

      Reply
  24. Chuck

    RV Make: Fleetwood, RV Model: Bounder 39r, RV Year: 2002

    Does the battery minder that keeps 12 volt batteries in good shape work on the 6 volt coach batteries also. The batteries are set up to supply 12 volts. There are four 6 volt batteries and two 12 volt for the engine

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Chuck. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club and the opportunity to assist with your Battery Minder question. Yes, the Battery Minder will condition your 6-volt batteries as they are connected in series meaning positive to negative to create two 12-volt pairs.

      Reply
      • CHARLES

        RV Make: Bounder, RV Model: 39R, RV Year: 2002

        Sorry I didn’t mention I have a 2002 Bounder 39R with 300 hp turbo Cummins engine. I think I found my answer. My 6 volts batteries will charge with the engine running if the inverter is turned on. I have a 1000 Watt inverter built in.

        Reply
  25. Richard

    RV Make: Tiffin, RV Model: Allegro Bus, RV Year: 2009

    How do I choose a battery charger, for my house batteries which are 6-12volt? Can a single hookup to one battery, charge all six??

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Richard. This is a very popular question as most RV owners have trouble with their batteries until they find out about how to properly charge them. Many people think just staying connected to an electrical source and constantly having the batteries charged is the best. Lead acid, deep cycle batteries need to be “cycled”, having them plugged in all the time will create sulfation and the batteries will not be able to store as much power. The battery companies recommend using a multi-stage charger that boils the acid to break up the sulfation, then goes into an equalizing and float charge. If you do not have a very large inverter with this feature, you are not able to properly charge your batteries. One of the best product I have come across is the Battery Minder which sends high impact waves into the battery, therefore no gassing due to boiling and they claim to extend the life of your batteries by 200 cycles! That’s 2-3 years in an average RV. You can visit their site at http://www.batteryminder.com however I would suggest purchasing from Northern Tool as they have the best price. They have the single battery minder on sale for $19.95 this week and others at this site: http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/category_batteryminder

      Reply
  26. Jeff

    RV Make: coachmen , RV Model: mirada kb35, RV Year: 2016

    i added one large solar panel to my roof, i run a house fridge and am hoping to have enough power from the batteries to go with out starting my gen set. the fridge is an 18 cu in with ice maker that came with the unit. the one panel does not keep the batteries charged, do i need more batteries or another panel?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Jeff. Thank you for visiting the RV Repair Club site and the opportunity to assist with your refrigerator and solar power question. You indicated your refrigerator is 18 cubic feet, however the largest 4 door models are only 12 cubic feet so I believe you have an 8 cubic foot model? In either case, one battery and one solar panel will not be sufficient to run either one, plus the amount of time/power you get out of your battery depends on the percent of capacity it still has. Most lead acid batteries will sulfate if not charged properly which is a multistage charge that boils the acid initially to break up the sulfation and then goes into a equalizing and bulk stage charge. If you do not have a large inverter, this is not getting done and you will not get the true benefit from your batteries. I suggest a Battery Minder that sends high impact waves into the battery rather than boiling them and adding another battery or more to the system. Visit Go Power at http://www.gpelectric.com and download their power calculator which will help get the right amount of battery power and number of solar panels you require.

      Reply
  27. John

    RV Make: Gulfstream, RV Model: Sunvoyager, RV Year: 1996

    I was wondering if anybody has a diagram of the best way to wire 4- 6v batteries for the most efficiency? I have seen more than one way to do it and am totally confused. Any help on this concern would be greatly appreciated..

    Reply
      • Tom

        RV Make: National, RV Model: Surf Side, RV Year: 2006

        I’d like to see this answer also. Please email me the info.

        Reply
        • Customer Service

          Hello Tom,

          I have forwarded the email to you.

          Thanks,
          Becky RVRC Video Membership

          Reply
  28. Roger

    RV Make: Heartland, RV Model: Sundance XLT, RV Year: 2017

    While dry camping the co2 indicator starting beeping within 5 minutes of turning on the furnace. Does not happen when plug into Electric outlet. How can this be avoided?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Roger. Are you sure it’s the CO2 detector? This is usually located in the ceiling and powered from a 9 volt or other battery not the coach battery? The LP leak detector is usually powered by the house battery and will “chirp” when the house batteries get below 11 volts. If it does not happen when connected to shoreline power, then your batteries are probably below 10.5 volts and this would signal the alarm as you would be just using the batteries and not getting voltage from the converter.

      Reply
  29. Rickie

    RV Make: 5th wheel , RV Model: Cedar creek , RV Year: 2014

    Changing light bulbs in bedroom

    Reply
  30. Allen

    RV Make: Forest River, RV Model: Georgetown , RV Year: 2008

    I have too much play in my steering wheel. How can I tighten it up?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi, Allen. We would be happy to assist you; we just need some more information. What is the make/model/year of your RV?

      Reply
  31. Stephen

    RV Make: Jayco, RV Model: Melbourne , RV Year: 2011

    Fantastic Fan-Wife wants to run it above her bed all night. I say no way,am I right?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Stephen. The Fantastic fan vent draws about 1.4 amps so if you are doing a long boondocking stay, it will draw some from the battery. However, if you have solar panels it will be replenished fast. If she is looking for fresh air only, consider opening a window and a rechargeable fan. If she is looking for the hum or noise of a fan, there are several battery operated sleeping devices to look at.
      Thanks
      Dave-RVRC

      Reply
  32. MIKE

    RV Make: COACHMEN, RV Model: LEPRECHAN, RV Year: 2013, Brand: NORCOLD, Model Number: N611RT

    My fridge works fine when plugged in outlet with full power. When running on propane it does not cool or freeze. When using generator sometimes it cools sometimes not. I was wondering if the rv battery (original) does not have power to run unit like you mentioned in this article about power draws. If so the what might cause generator when on no cause it to run the way it should? any help would be appreciated. thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Mike,

      If your refrigerator cools on 120-volt campground power and not on the LP mode, I would start by opening the outside vent and cleaning the burner assembly and flue. There are several good videos on troubleshooting refrigerators on the LP mode on the sight. The generator issue is puzzling as this should provide the same power to the distribution center as the shore power? It might be the generator is not running properly and providing full 120-volt power and the heating element in your refrigerator is not getting to operating temps? You would need to have someone verify the power coming into the distribution center from the generator and it would also be a good idea to verify the 120-volt power coming to the refrigerator when running on the generator?

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      We’d love to have you be a part of our community. We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips. We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first year membership.

      http://go.rvrepairclub.com/C8824

      Reply
  33. Frank quigley

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Chateaux, RV Year: 2016

    I recently added 3 160watt solar panels and 4 6volt batteries. What can I do to make the batteries last longer?

    Reply
  34. Dennis Pelaez

    RV Make: Dynamax, RV Model: Rb24, RV Year: 2015

    No mention of lithium in “EXTENDING BATTERY LIFE”? when boondocking?

    Reply
  35. Steven Herling Sr

    RV Make: Jayco, RV Model: Whitehawk, RV Year: 2016

    Keeping my trailer plugged into shore power, and a trickle charger on the battery, will this damage any thing.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Steven,

      If you have your rig plugged into shore power, the converter is charging the batteries so having a trickle charger on it as well just adds another 2 amp charge which just wastes electricity. Plus most trailer converters just dump a charge to the batteries when they drop below 10.5-volts and don’t actually condition them to prevent sulfation. The proper way to charge deep cycle batteries is to use a multi-stage charger which starts with a high voltage charge breaking up the sulfation, then goes into an equalizing and float charge. Just leaving it plugged in is not the best answer. Rather than purchasing a very expensive multi-stage charger, or an expensive inverter with this feature, I would recommend getting a Battery Minder from Northern Tool which sends high impact waves into the batteries and they claim it will extend the life of your batteries by 200 cycles which could be 2-3 years!

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  36. Dennis Pelaez

    RV Make: Dynamax, RV Model: Rb24, RV Year: 2015

    Not relevant to my solar set up with lithium batteries. Why was lithium not even mentioned?

    Reply
  37. Peter Aceves

    RV Make: Gulf Stream, RV Model: Yellowstone, RV Year: 1999

    I have two 12 volt battery’s also a one panel solar system want to conver to 4 –6 volt battery what do you recommend

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Peter,

      First you need to verify you have enough room for the 4 batteries? Then you will need to connect two batteries in series, meaning a wire from one positive terminal to the negative of the second battery. This will give you one 12-volt battery bank. Do this again for the other two batteries. Now you have two 12-volt battery banks that need to be connected parallel, which means positive to positive, negative to negative and a lead going from the positive post to the distribution center and the negative post to ground.
      My next question is why? Four 6-volt batteries connected in series and then in parallel do not provide any more amp hours than two 12-volt batteries if you have the same group such as group 24, 27, etc? Connecting two 6-volt batteries does not double the amp hours, just the voltage. What a 6-volt gives you is more plates with two batteries and typically a longer life span, but twice the cost! The problem with 12-volt batteries is there are a bunch of really cheap deep cycle batteries being marketed as Marine/RV batteries and the plates inside are thinner, welds are very thin and don’t hold up, and bottom line, they don’t last as long as they sulfate and short out faster.
      I would recommend looking at US Battery for either 12-volt or 6-volt batteries as they make a remarkable battery. You can visit them here: http://usbattery.com/
      They are mainly on the west coast so you might be forced to go with another brand in which case I would recommend Lifeline which has more distribution around the country. http://lifelinebatteries.com/

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  38. BARRY MORRISON

    RV Make: Keystone, RV Model: 3160 RL, RV Year: 2016

    IS LEAVING RV PLUGGED IN ALL THE TIME BAD IF YOU ARE NOT REALLY USING IT ON A DAILY BASIS I ONLY HAVE A SINGLE BATTERY AND AM CURIOUS THANKS BARRY

    Reply
  39. Tony

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: ACE, RV Year: 2015

    I have a 4000 watt Onan generator which got damaged on a recent trip from over-usage, and incorrect maintenance. A new generator and installation costs about $5,000. Is there a less expensive way to fix this issue?
    Thank You

    Reply
  40. jack poole

    RV Model: southwind, RV Year: 1999

    I allways worry about the slide out not working how can I get it back in manually ?

    Reply
  41. John Rogers

    RV Make: Coachman, RV Model: Catalina, RV Year: 1995

    How often should I plug my camper in to shore power when not in use to keep the deep cycle batteries fully charged and how often should I run my gas generator, and for how long, to keep it functioning and working properly?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello John,

      It depends on the type of converter/charger you have. If you have a large inverter/charger it will provide a multi-stage charge and condition the batteries automatically and should be left plugged in all the time. If you have a traditional converter/charger, it will just sense a low battery and dump a large charge in periodically which will cause the batteries to sulfate between the plates, so even if you plugged the unit in twice a month you would need to let it stay plugged in for at least 24 hours but it’s not conditioning your batteries. The best thing to do is use a Battery Minder from Northern Tool. If you have access to 120-volt power, unplug the rig and plug an extension cord into the Battery Minder and leave it. It will send high impact waves in the battery or batteries and condition them. If you do not have 120-volt power, get the solar panel version if you have access to sunlight.
      The generator should be started and run under load for 30 minutes once a month to reduce varnish in the carb and lubricate the seals.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  42. jim d

    RV Make: r-vision, RV Model: cs243, RV Year: 2005

    a tire blowout at speed blew off my tire fairing on passenger side and the cover for the waste line is missing. cant find any number at r-vision to buy the new parts. can anyone help with info???

    Reply
  43. Will Cooper

    RV Make: Ford, RV Model: Class C, RV Year: 2003

    How many 12 volt can you put together

    Reply
  44. Dennis

    RV Make: Georgies Boy, RV Model: Cruise Master, RV Year: 2002

    How do you recharge batteries using the on board generator?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Dennis,

      Charging the house batteries with an on-board generator works the same as if you were plugged into a campground source. The generator and campground source provide 120-volt, 30 amp power to the distribution center where you have circuit breakers for the 120-volt appliances such as the roof air conditioner, microwave and others. It also supplies 120-volt power to a converter either on the distribution center or to a separate converter which provides a charge to the 12-volt batteries, usually at a rate of about 14.5 Volts at initial charging and then adjusts.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  45. Brucce

    RV Make: THOR, RV Model: OUTLAW (Toyhauler), RV Year: 2008

    On a recent trip, using a 30 AMP from the site, the front AC and the microwave would not work. Rear AC was fine as all other appliances were. However, using the generator, the microwave worked fine but the front AC still did not work?

    Reply
  46. Kim

    RV Make: Evergreen, RV Model: Sun Valley, RV Year: 2016

    How do you boondocks with a CPAP machine?

    Reply
  47. mickey varnado

    RV Make: keystone, RV Model: passport, RV Year: 2015, Brand: Go Power, Model Number: 120 watt portable solar kit

    1500 w pure sine wave DC to AC power inverter& the solar kit. How do I bring produce power?

    Reply
  48. Piero

    RV Make: Tiffin, RV Model: allegro bus 45OP, RV Year: 2017

    I have 3 160 watts panels and 6 6volt batteries how can I make the batteries last longer. Should I exchange them with 12volt?

    Reply
  49. Benny

    RV Make: winnebago , RV Model: 2000 Sundancer, RV Year: 2000

    12 volt cut off will not turn on.

    Reply
  50. Steven

    RV Make: Thor, RV Model: Palazzo, RV Year: 2013

    My front bed that lowers down won’t operate. It has power to it but won’t work.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Steven,

      To provide more specific troubleshooting information we need the make, model, and year of your RV.

      Thanks,
      Becky RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  51. John

    RV Make: Forest River Berkshire, RV Model: 360QS, RV Year: 2008

    I need the diagram for a 4-6volt battery system and the hookups for the inverter to the battery syatem

    Reply
  52. Elaine

    RV Make: PleasureWay, RV Model: Plateau, RV Year: 2017

    First timers dry camping. We have lithium ion batteries, propane and solar. Can we use solar to heat water for coffee in the AM since we can’t use generator til 10:00 AM? Or can we just use the battery briefly. Also at nite, can we just use battery power to run our TV and VCR. We’ll run Propane while we’re driving to campsite to cool refrigerator, which runs on electric, propane and generator. Many thanks from a rank beginner.
    Can we

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Elaine,

      Welcome to the wonderful world of dry camping and thanks for the questions.
      #1
      Solar panels only provide a 12-volt DC charge for the house batteries so to heat water for coffee, you would need an inverter that would take 12-volt DC power and provide 120-volt power to an outlet that you could plug a coffee maker into.

      There are several ways to make coffee while camping without using any battery power or propane, starting with the old “Cowboy” method. Take a regular tin pot and put the coffee grounds in water and set it on the fire. In about 4-5 minutes take it off and let it sit for a couple of minutes to cool down and let the coffee settle to the bottom. Pretty simple, but not all the coffee settle to the bottom. I’ve also tried the egg shells in the pot and it wasn’t for me!
      Another method is the old style manual percolator whether it’s metal or glass. When the water starts to boil, it rises up the tube and drips over the grounds in a basket. This keeps the grounds separated and is easier to clean.

      The French Press is a similar method to the Cowboy although the screened “press” separates the coffee from the water. Only leave the press on the fire for about 2-3 minutes.

      There are several types of pour over methods which all start with boiling the water in a separate vessel and pouring the hot water over grounds that are in a filter either single cup or larger.

      #2

      You can run the TV on the house battery by using an inverter going to the 120-volt outlet. A TV takes very little power and those Lithium Ion batteries will provide power for a long time. I do have one question?… You are planning to use a VCR? My grand daughters don’t even know what that is!

      #3

      I would not suggest traveling down the road using propane for the refrigerator. Although not a legal issue, traveling with the propane system on is more of a safety issue. Propane lines are made of soft copper and usually routed along the floor at the sidewall. Any minor accident with a road sign or construction could easily rupture a line and would introduce propane into the rig with the refrigerator having an open flame. Also, by law you can not enter a filling station with an open flame which means you need to stop before every fill and shut down the system. Our test show that bringing the refrigerator down to operating temperature and shutting off the system, the refrigerator will maintain 40 degrees for over 6 hours!

      Since you are a Gold member I would suggest checking out the videos on the refrigerator demonstration and the blogs on boondocking which is the same as dry camping. And make sure you keep us informed on your adventures!

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  53. Michael

    RV Make: Starcraft , RV Model: 2500RKS, RV Year: 2006

    Which tv/dvd would use less battery. A 12v RV tv or a 110v tv using a 150W portable 12/120 power inverter? I need two tv’s bedroom/living area and am try to choose the best way for boondocking. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Michael,

      I would go with the more efficient new 120-volt LED flat screens with an
      inverter as they draw very little power and you can get a much
      bigger/better TV for less money! Use a 100 w solar panel and you
      should be fine, although you would need to calculate what other 12-volt
      items are drawing power to accurately get the correct size for your power
      needs.

      Thanks,
      David RVRC Video Membership

      Reply
  54. Kerry harris

    RV Make: alfa, RV Model: seeyou, RV Year: 2005, Brand: xantrex, Model Number: freedom 458

    on the xantrex freedom inverter basic remote, the lights flash all the time that indicate what the charge of the batteries. Is these common? It has not done these before. Cane you help?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello Kerry,

      Sometimes the remote goes into an “unstable” condition and gets confused. Xantrex recommends unplugging the telephone or data cable on the back of the unit for 30 seconds or more. Otherwise power the entire unit down and unplug the cable for 5 minutes and it should reset.

      Thanks,

      David
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  55. Jane

    RV Make: Ford, RV Model: Jamboree MTR H, RV Year: 1989

    Is the generator hooked up to the battery by neg to neg & pos to pos or neg to pos & pos to neg? Just got this older model MTR home

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Jane,

      The generator is not directly connected to the house battery system,
      rather supplies power to the distribution center and converter which
      charges the house batteries just like plugging the unit into shoreline
      power. If your rig has 12-volt batteries, then they would be
      connected parallel which is positive to positive, negative to
      negative. If you have 6-volt batteries, they would be connected in
      series which is positive to negative giving you a 12-volt bank and if you
      have 4, the two banks would then be connected in parallel.

      Hope this helps,

      David
      RVRC Video Membership

      Reply