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 > Charging motorhome batteries with a solar trickle charger

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All Who Wander...

Florence, KY

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Posted: 02/03/18 08:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have a 31' 2000 Fleetwood Class C motorhome. We put a cover over it to store it over the winter, but that has covered our built-in solar charger. As a result, all of the batteries are dying. We have purchased a solar trickle charger that we attached through the cigarette lighter and it seems to be charging the actual truck battery but not the living quarters batteries. Our rv has the battery disconnect. Right now it is off. Do we need to turn on the disconnect to charge the living quarter batteries? Has anyone encountered this situation? This is the first year that we have covered the rv.

DrewE

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Posted: 02/03/18 09:05pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The simplest solution would probably be to have a separate panel/trickle charger for the house battery. The two batteries are isolated when the engine isn't running, disconnect switch on or off. (That might technically be a bit of a simplification depending on the exact setup and kind of isolator involved, but it's conceptually close enough for what you're asking regardless.)

I suppose another perfectly reasonable solution is to just not cover the RV for the winter. I don't cover mine.





MDKMDK

Canada

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Posted: 02/03/18 09:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No. Enabling the coach batteries won't help by itself, because the 12V cigarette outlet your trickle charger is plugged into only connects to the chassis battery, as you mentioned it was charging it.
If there are any other 12V cigarette lighter outlets back in the coach that you know run off the coach batteries, then enable the battery disconnect, and plug a second trickle charger into one of them. That should charge the coach batteries, if they aren't too far gone.

Or, you could plug your shore power cord into 120VAC and use the converter charger to charge the house batteries, but if your circa 2000 unit has the original converter/charger, it probably isn't a smart charger, and would probably overcharge your coach batteries. Do you know if your converter/charger was ever upgraded with a smart (3 way) charger?

Or as Drew suggested, pull the cover off. Or cut a hole in it big enough to let some sun hit the panel.


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memtb

Wyoming

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Posted: 02/04/18 09:03am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I’m assuming that you do not have access to “shore power”, If that is the case.... I think that I would get a “second” solar charger and connect directly to the coach batteries.


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PartyOf Five

Wheaton, IL

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Posted: 02/04/18 12:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When we bought our RV new to us, they gave a solar charger and the cigarette plug was somehow rigged to allow power to go back into the chassis battery. When we had an electrical problem and took it to the Ford dealer, they removed all the wiring and fuses that were jumped together explaining that that was the cause. After that I haven't used the solar charger, but if this is a common practice and the cigarette lighter does successfully charge the battery then I would love to you. Sorry to piggyback on this question but I didn't realize this may be common practice and thought it was a one-off that the previous owner had done.


Da Moose - 2001 Dutchman 31' on E450

DrewE

Vermont

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Posted: 02/04/18 01:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Typically on the Ford E series chassis, the cigarette lighter socket is live all the time (with the key off), so there's no special wiring to do to use one of those little solar maintainers. This is pretty easy to check with any sort of a lighter accessory; if it works with the key off/out, the charger will also work.

All Who Wander...

Florence, KY

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Posted: 02/04/18 05:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks everyone for the ideas. We are thinking of cutting a hole in the cover as the easiest solution. Until then, just running the engine for a while to charge everything.

Harvey51

Alberta

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Posted: 02/05/18 11:16pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Disconnect the house batteries. Check voltage once a month and charge if voltage is below 12.5, using the converter (reconnect), regular charger or trickle charger (for a much longer time).


2004 E350 Adventurer (Canadian) 20 footer - Alberta, Canada
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D.E.Bishop

Eagle Rock, CA

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Posted: 02/05/18 11:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I just hooked my Deltran Solar Trickle Charger to the house batteries with cable clamps. When I run the generator every month, I take the rig for a little run. Not long or far but just to circulate all the fluids and move all the rotating parts and that keeps the chassis battery charged.

You could buy a latching relay and wire it in parallel to the chassis battery.

My battery disconnect is a latching relay that is operated by a single pole double momentary throw switch. Kind of expensive but it would work.

Easier to run the engine at the same time you exercise the generator.

By the way, this is on the back of my rig.

[image]


"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson

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77rollalong

Brighton Ontario

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Posted: 02/06/18 07:24am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

i had the chassis battery in ours go dead a couple of weeks ago, while the house battery was fine. as an interm i have jumpered the two together, and put a solar charger on the chassis battery, and left the rv plugged in to keep them both charged. been thinking of putting in another relay to connect both batterys together only when its plugged into 110v shore power

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