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Very basic electrical question

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  • Very basic electrical question

    Hello new friends,

    I have a very basic question about the battery and electrical system on my new (to me) home built Freedom Flyer.
    Junior came with a marine battery, and with an outlet to bring in power with an extension cord.
    Does the battery charge when the trailer is plugged into external power?
    There is some electrical equipment built into the galley, but I don't what it all is yet.
    Should I be leaving the power plugged in so the battery stays charged?
    The trailer is stored under a tarp outside for the winter.
    Should I bring the battery inside to protect it for the winter?
    I am in central Illinois, and we have real winter here.
    New to this, so clueless, and appreciate your patience and help.


  • #2
    Many campers use a unit that distributes the AC and DC needed to power the RV. These units ( like the ones produced by WFCO) have a built in charger for you battery. If your camper has a built in volt meter or if you have access to a volt meter you could see if the battery voltage steps up when you plug into AC. This would indicate that there is a charger wired into your electrical system. Just remember to make sure all fuses are good and breakers turned on for the test. If your charger is a three state charger then you are probably good to leave it plugged in as these type shouldn’t overcharge your battery. I myself have my trailer stored in the garage (in the south) and only plug in prior to a trip so that the charger can top off the batteries. Regarding bringing in the battery, I know that cold can sure suck the capacity out of a battery. I believe that you loose about 20% of a lead acid battery’s capacity at freezing temperatures. I don’t believe that the cold harms the life of a battery but I may defer this to some of my northern Tearjerkers.


    • #3
      Hi Gretchen - Great question. Yes, if you can, bring your battery inside where it is warmer. That will be the best for its life and longevity. Also if you need to set it on a cement floor, at least place the battery on an insulator of some-kind (aka: cardboard, towel, piece of wood). Just by setting your lead acid battery on a cold floor it will suck life out of it. I would also be a little weary of leaving the battery plugged in 100% of the time, unless you have another appliance or something to drain it a little (even with a three state charger) you can overcharge it and it will start to loose water. Just make sure you top off the water in the battery with good distilled water.
      I unfortunately have 'cooked' several lead acid batteries in my time and they can get expensive and a hassle to replace. Basically I left mine plugged in and didn't check my water level for several months (winter) and in the spring I had most of the water cooked out of the battery. :-( It wouldn't hold much of a charge after that. I had killed another battery. I have now installed a battery disconnect switch as well.
      Fast forward many years and YouTube is a fantastic tool, there are several videos on how to bring a battery back to life if that does happen to you. Or just disconnect it and take it inside. :-) In my humble opinion.


      • #4
        Hi Rick and Kreg,

        Thanks for answering and for your advice. I brought Junior home just in time to tuck her in under a tarp before it got cold here in Illinois. I haven't had an opportunity to examine what kind of electrical equipment is installed, so I apologize for not knowing more about my own trailer. Can't wait until spring to get out there and get to work! In the meantime, I have plugged her in to household current for a week or two, hoping for a warm day so I can go out and investigate. I remember seeing a fuse box and some sort of blue electrical box in a cabinet in the galley, so hopefully I can tell if the battery is charged and/or charging. It it is not too complicated, I will remove the battery and bring it inside until spring. It is enclosed in a plastic case.

        Thanks again!