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Old 04-02-2015, 07:22 PM   #1
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Fridge on battery while towing

Correction:
I mentioned in a thread not long ago that when I had the tow vehicle running and hooked up to the trailer the solar controller did NOT output anything leaving a deficit when traveling with the fridge on battery, I was incorrect.

Apr 2 at noon, clear skies.
Bogart TM-2035-RV Battery Monitor
Flat roof mounted Grape 160 watt solar

8555 Fridge on battery. 13.8 - 14.1 amp deficit, varied a bit over time.

Fridge on battery, F150 connected and idling, no solar. 1.6 amp deficit per meter. Tow/Haul made no change.

Fridge on battery, F150 connected and idling, 160w solar producing, 3.4 amp surplus. Batteries that were at about 90% charge, surplus charging batteries

Fridge on battery, solar only, 7.8 amp deficit.

The 2 times I tried it, after an 8 or 9 hour days travel last Oct I had a 20 amp deficit with the single 160 watt panel with the fridge on battery.
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:28 PM   #2
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What would you predict if using the smaller 95 watt panel? also do you have dual 6ers? I need to add another panel and I'm thinking a 50 watt unit should be adequate to bring it to 145 watts. What do you think?
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Old 04-02-2015, 08:01 PM   #3
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One other variable Bob, turn on your lights as in night time towing and see what the output is from the F150 to the trailer. And with the trailer lights on, is there still a surplus without solar?
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Old 04-02-2015, 08:03 PM   #4
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I have the dual 6v batteries.

As far as how much solar is needed to run on batteries when traveling. It's hard to say, there are variables. Trucks output, time of day you travel, weather, stops, and so forth.

In my case the 160 was not enough for the long days travel at the time of year the days are short, which is when we prefer to travel. Plus we make a lot of stops, lunch, gas, way too many bathroom stops. I'd need to provide another 20 amps a day, roughly another 100 watt panel. Or run off the propane for the last couple hours.

I'd guess the 50 watt panel will not be enough, but it's nothing but a guess. Be nice to know the output of your Ram. If you have room I'd go bigger.
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Old 04-02-2015, 08:14 PM   #5
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I'm going to Tennessee in 2 weeks at night, so I'm going to test it then since I now have the Zamp set up with dual 6ers I can watch on my smartphone what is going on.
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:01 AM   #6
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"Fridge on battery, F150 connected and idling, no solar. 1.6 amp deficit per meter. Tow/Haul made no change."

So if I understand correctly, this says the 8555 will not run on 12V while towing without a net loss in battery charge without some pretty significant help from solar? At least for your tow vehicle? I'm assuming large gauge wiring in the charge and ground lines and all the other things we know that we need. I generally tow with the fridge on propane, but have been toying with the idea of running on 12V in case some sort of draft problem is causing the rather poor cooling while towing, even in mild weather.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post
"Fridge on battery, F150 connected and idling, no solar. 1.6 amp deficit per meter. Tow/Haul made no change."

So if I understand correctly, this says the 8555 will not run on 12V while towing without a net loss in battery charge without some pretty significant help from solar? At least for your tow vehicle? I'm assuming large gauge wiring in the charge and ground lines and all the other things we know that we need. I generally tow with the fridge on propane, but have been toying with the idea of running on 12V in case some sort of draft problem is causing the rather poor cooling while towing, even in mild weather.
Correct, even with the 160 W solar we lost about 20A a day for an 8-9 hour drive roughly 7am-3pm through the midwest.

All pertinent cables were replaced with 6 awg before the trip. Now mostly 1/0 and 2 awg. Existing solar should be able to keep up if you only traveled during the high sun hours and limit stops.

FYI, running on 12v made no difference in the poor cooling of the fridge, that's why I tried it. Propane and 12v both failed to cool well at about 85 degrees.
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:54 AM   #8
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Needed to know if the tow vehicle adequately recharged trailer battery if the fridge were running off battery power while on the road. Here are my results from a recent trip, 1,121 total miles.

Dometic RM8551 fridge performance set to battery power, 3 dots, while towing with Silverado 1500 in “tow mode”. Mean outside temperatures low sixties. A digital thermometer remote sensor was monitoring inside fridge. My two 6 volt trailer batteries never dropped below 12.53 volts and the fridge never went higher than 42 degrees F.

Conclusion: In tow mode truck alternator kicked it up a notch, produced sufficient voltage to recharge/replace lost energy when fridge power source set to battery. Using [propane] while driving therefore not necessary to keep fridge cold.
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:17 PM   #9
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I bet we're seeing the difference in current requirements for the two sizes of fridge. I'm disappointed that the 8555 needs more current than I can probably get from tow vehicle, but I'm not surprised that the cooling is no better. Nothing new there. In talking with Kountry Kamper, I get the impression that he does better on 12V than propane while towing, but again, he has the smaller fridge.
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:19 PM   #10
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In addition I think the replacement RMD 8555 model draws even more 12v power. Anyone know?
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:31 PM   #11
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Does the size of the alternator on the tow make much difference? I know if you have big wiring, 10 gauge or less, on the tow vehicle it would help, just never understood how alternator size fits in the mix.

It appears that the tow mode on Myron's vehicle kicks up the what? Alternator perhaps? Is that a correct assumption?

On the Escape 21 that run to the batteries from the alternator must be close to 40 feet, the way the crow flies. I believe the charge wire on the female side 7 pin Bargman connector is 10 gauge, I would be surprised if factory installed wire on the tow is that large.
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:09 PM   #12
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About the same distance for the 5.0 TA, don't know what gauge the wires are on the trailer or the truck.

Jim, RML 8555 is 170 watts, RMD 8555 is 170 watts according to the specs at Dometics web site.
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:17 PM   #13
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Wow, 40 feet at low voltage, high current DC is a long way! That gets me thinking....I wonder what gauge wire ETI runs to the 12V element on the fridges. It wouldn't play into battery charging, of course, but it could matter in terms of voltage available at the 12V heating element and related fridge performance.
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:53 PM   #14
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Just read the chapter for towing in my truck owners manual. It says, "...if charging a remote battery press the Tow/Haul Mode button at the end of the shift lever. This will boost the vehicle system voltage and properly charge the battery. A second way to boost the vehicle system... (if you don't have a Tow/Haul Mode) ...is turn on the headlamps."

So governing transmission braking on a grade is not the sole benefit of using the tow/haul mode.
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Old 04-03-2015, 02:03 PM   #15
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Tow/Haul made no difference on the F150, will try the lights when I get a chance.
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Old 04-03-2015, 02:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Does the size of the alternator on the tow make much difference? I know if you have big wiring, 10 gauge or less, on the tow vehicle it would help, just never understood how alternator size fits in the mix.
Modern alternators have huge capacity, so it no longer matters to trailer charging.

Quote:
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It appears that the tow mode on Myron's vehicle kicks up the what? Alternator perhaps? Is that a correct assumption?
The regulator - which controls the alternator's operation - is being directed to aim for a higher voltage in tow/haul mode in Myron's Silverado.

For an analogy, it is like cruise control (the regulator) being set to a higher speed (higher voltage) and controlling the engine output (the alternator output) as required to achieve the new target.
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Old 04-03-2015, 09:49 PM   #17
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Jim - I'd like to echo Bob's opinion that another 50W panel won't be enough. I have 195W of roof-mounted panels, and after a day of towing with the fridge on 12V, I can't fully recharge my two 6V batteries the next day, at least at this time of year. If you get a 100W portable panel so you can aim it, you might do better.
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Old 04-04-2015, 09:08 AM   #18
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Mike,
Why doesn't your tow vehicle alternator make up the difference? Bob's numbers indicate a shortage of approximately 2 a/h while hooked up and a surplus of 3 a/h with the solar while hooked up?

With 14 a/h at 100% run time over 12 hours day time means 168 consumed less 120 replaced by alternator or a negative 48 draw down. Same for the night, or about 100 a/h shortage for the dual 6 volts over 24 hours. What solar would I need for 8 hours of sun to replenish that. Plus, I will not be driving 24 hours, when I stop I can switch to propane, so the shortage should be about 1/2 or about 50 a/h. Thus I'd need about 150 watts over 8 hours to make up that difference. These are my calculations and maybe wrong? Any thoughts or ideas?
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Mike,
Why doesn't your tow vehicle alternator make up the difference?
...
I'm just going from my own experience; I haven't done any calculations. At idle my Tacoma will charge the trailer's batteries at a rate of 400 milliamps, not very much. I don't know how much it charges at highway speeds, say at 2000 rpm, because it would take one person to rev the engine and another to watch the trailer's battery monitor, and I forgot to try this. As the AM Solar people pointed out to me, the alternator is at one end of one vehicle and the trailer batteries are at the other end of it, so that's almost 40 feet of wiring the current has to travel.

My typical travel day involves five hours of towing. The fridge puts a 14 amp draw on the batteries during this period minus the charge from the alternator, which I don't know (see above). The real issue is recharging the batteries afterward with the solar panel(s). The farther you get from the summer solstice the more difficult this becomes with fixed, roof-mounted panels. Last May I didn't notice a problem. But during a trip last fall and on my current trip I definitely notice the difference. If you buy a portable panel that you can aim, a 50W panel might be sufficient, but I would opt for something bigger, just based on my own experience so far.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:23 AM   #20
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I almost always tow with the fridge on propane. I don't think I have ever tried the fridge on 12V, and cannot imagine a scenario where I would need to do so. With the fridge running on propane, my batteries are in no danger of becoming depleted when travelling, and through the combination of charge wire from the tow vehicle and the solar panels, I normally have full battery power when I get to my destination.
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