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Old 05-29-2015, 05:24 PM   #1
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400 watt tailgate outlet

Can a tailgate plug (400 watt outlet) on vehicles be used as a "generator" to top up batteries on cloudy, or any other, days?
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Old 05-29-2015, 08:31 PM   #2
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Sure can; my Tacoma has one and I use it for my tankless air compressor when I need to.
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:25 PM   #3
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Can a tailgate plug (400 watt outlet) on vehicles be used as a "generator" to top up batteries on cloudy, or any other, days?
Do keep some of the numbers in mind.

400 Watts of AC will require at least 30 amps from your Tacoma battery.
Then, the AC will be going to a converter that might loose 20% when going back to 14.x charging volts.

It will work, but it will be hard on your car battery.

Consider this option: Buy a nice sine-wave 1000W inverter, hook it up with short jumper cables to your car battery - while the motor is running. Run the AC to the Escape to charge the battery. Its a crude generator of sorts but you can use the new inverter to run a hair dryer, coffee pot, etc. when not being used as a battery charger. Also, in theory, you could use the same system while driving to supply 110V to the refrigerator. (For reasons unknown to anybody, Toyota says to not use more than 150 Watts AC from the tailgate plug while driving.)

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Old 05-29-2015, 10:28 PM   #4
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Presumably the idea is to use an AC outlet, which is run by an inverter built into the tug, to power a battery charger or the trailer's converter to charge the trailer battery.

If the tug's engine is running, it's a very large engine-driven generator to produce a couple dozen amps of charging current.
If the tug's engine is not running, it's a somewhat inefficient transfer of energy from the tug's battery to the larger battery of the trailer.

Neither is great, but both scenarios work to some extent.
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Old 05-29-2015, 10:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Presumably the idea is to use an AC outlet, which is run by an inverter built into the tug, to power a battery charger or the trailer's converter to charge the trailer battery.

If the tug's engine is running ...
That's the key. The Toyota manual for my 2014 says to use the built-in 110v inverter in the 150 Watt position when the engine is running. Extremely odd, but I am not the only one to question this. Its a frequent topic in the Toyota forums.

150 Watts is the same power as the current Escape solar panel. You can expect about 9 or 10 amps into the battery.

As you say - "inefficient" at best.

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Old 05-29-2015, 11:05 PM   #6
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The Toyota manual for my 2014 says to use the built-in 110v inverter in the 150 Watt position when the engine is running. Extremely odd, but I am not the only one to question this.
Interesting - there must be a reason, but it certainly isn't obvious!

The only relevant difference between when the engine is running and when it is not that occurs to me is the voltage: running voltage will be 13 volts or more, while not running will be less than 13 volts. I don't know why Toyota would want less power to be used when the DC supply voltage is higher; also, if this mode switching is needed, why wouldn't it be designed to occur automatically?
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:54 PM   #7
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The Toyota manual for my 2014 says to use the built-in 110v inverter in the 150 Watt position when the engine is running. Extremely odd, but I am not the only one to question this.

That IS odd indeed. Everything I've read about them says they limit themselves to 150 watts when the vehicle shifts out of park. Otherwise they're 400. There are a number of how to articles and videos on how to modify it so it always produces 400 watts even when driving.
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Old 05-30-2015, 12:33 AM   #8
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I run mine on 400 setting when in park for my air compressor and it works fine.
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Old 05-30-2015, 06:24 PM   #9
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Can a tailgate plug (400 watt outlet) on vehicles be used as a "generator" to top up batteries on cloudy, or any other, days?
Let's see if I got this right:
So, with the engine of the tug running, I could use an extension cord from my 400 watt outlet that's at my tailgate and plug it into my trailers power cord and that could top up my trailers batteries?
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:36 PM   #10
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So, with the engine of the tug running, I could use an extension cord from my 400 watt outlet that's at my tailgate and plug it into my trailers power cord and that could top up my trailers batteries?
Yes... maybe.

Since the low-power mode seems to go with driving, not just having the engine running, you would have 400 watts available while idling in Park - that's enough for at a battery charger running at 20 amps output.

If the converter needs more than 400 watts (which seems likely in bulk charge mode but maybe not at the end of the charge cycle), the inverter's output voltage will presumably drop, and the converter would not likely work properly. The only obvious way around that is to use a separate battery charger instead, set to a 20 amp charge or less.
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:47 PM   #11
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If you are going to run the engine why not just use jumper cables - battery to battery - and charge from the alternator?
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Old 05-30-2015, 08:17 PM   #12
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If you are going to run the engine why not just use jumper cables - battery to battery - and charge from the alternator?
Is that the better solution?
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:07 PM   #13
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400 watt tailgate outlet

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Mac View Post
Is that the better solution?

Don't really know, but if you have a good gauge short length pair of jumper cables, then I'd say probably yes-- since it's a direct connection it's more efficient.
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:35 PM   #14
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Jumper cables would be efficient, in that little power would be lost in them, but the tug's system voltage will be what the tug needs... not necessarily what the trailer battery needs. If the trailer battery is very low and you need more in it, that would be fine; if you really are trying to "top off" the trailer battery, that may not happen.
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Old 05-30-2015, 10:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Jumper cables would be efficient, in that little power would be lost in them, but the tug's system voltage will be what the tug needs... not necessarily what the trailer battery needs. If the trailer battery is very low and you need more in it, that would be fine; if you really are trying to "top off" the trailer battery, that may not happen.
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Old 05-30-2015, 11:12 PM   #16
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Thanks guys!
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Old 07-13-2015, 12:16 PM   #17
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I used my Tacoma's 400 watt tailgate plug to top up the two 12 volt batteries in my trailer by using an extension cord. With my Tacoma idling, my batteries topped up to 100 percent with 13.6 amps (as seen on my Go Power meter). The fridge went directly to AC mode while on tailgate power. We spent 10 days under a rather thick canopy of trees so the solar panel was little to no good. Running the Tacoma for an hour, I must admit, is less fuel efficient than a Honda 2000 generator but I believe the truck is quieter than a generator and I saved myself $1300.00.
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:30 AM   #18
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I used my Tacoma's 400 watt tailgate plug to top up the two 12 volt batteries in my trailer by using an extension cord. With my Tacoma idling, my batteries topped up to 100 percent with 13.6 amps (as seen on my Go Power meter).
The 13.6 is volts. It is the voltage that the batteries are charged by. If you put a voltmeter on your trucks cigarette lighter socket while it was running it woud be the same. (within a couple of tenths of a volt.)
You can simply run an extension from your truck cigarette lighter socket to a trailer cigarette lighter or make a cable that plugs into your cigarette lighter at one end and a female socket at the other end to attach to your trailers power/brakes plug.
My solar panel was never installed onto my camper for the reason that, yes, we try to park in the shade. I had it on a 40 foot cable so that I could put it in the sun. It was a 50 watt panel and easily topped up my batteries every day. Except in winter it could not keep up with the furnace usage.
The fan in the furnace used an inordinate amount of power (amperage) compared to any other fan I've seen of that size.
If you are going to run your truck I believe the 12volt to 12volt is the most efficient
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Old 07-21-2015, 10:58 AM   #19
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Thanks jxoco, I knew that (13.6 v not amps) and by the time I reread my post the edit was timed out.
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Old 07-21-2015, 11:08 AM   #20
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My son has a Tacoma, I'd love one.
Maybe someday, a good used one for me.....
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