Battery discharges while towing? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 07-29-2014, 10:27 PM   #1
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Battery discharges while towing?

Lindy and I decided to take the Lark out for a couple of days before we part with it. Picked it up from the storage facility yesterday, drove home and parked in front of the house. Turned the fridge on propane to cool. Drove to Father Hennipin state park this afternoon. About two hours. Batteries were almost dead.

The only thing different from previous trips is we have a new tow vehicle -- a Highlander, with an after market 7 pin connector & brake controller. The brake controller works fine. The lights work fine. Do you think they could have hooked the connector up so it discharges the battery rather than charges it?
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:38 PM   #2
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Probably a really dumb response (I'm a newbie), but are you sure you didn't have the fridge set to battery rather than gas ? My understanding is that it remembers the last setting you had unless switched over manually ? Maybe the battery draw from the fridge is greater than the recharge rate while driving ?
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Old 07-29-2014, 10:52 PM   #3
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Yup. Sure the fridge was set on 'auto'. Which does either propane or 110volt AC. But that was my first guess, too
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:23 PM   #4
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Had a similar battery problem after returning from AZ in March. Drove almost 500 miles the first day then 150 the second. Unhooked and discovered my batteries still hadn't recovered after 24 hours of charging with extension cord. They had become low on our last day of camping. After topping up batteries with distilled water and charging another 24 hours I had no more problems. From what little I understand about electrical, the distance of the charge wire from the car's battery is a factor in the efficiency /ability of the car being able to charge a low battery. Another reason to go solar.
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:32 PM   #5
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The batteries were near 100% before we started all this, at least according to the go power controller. So I am not so much worried about a failure to charge as I am about something actively discharging the battery while towing
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:37 PM   #6
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I'm not sure how well your batteries were charged to begin with. Did you check their starting voltage?

With a new tug the first thing that I'd check is that there is 12 volt output at the tug's 7 pin connector. That's a nominal 12 volt of course, with the tug's engine running the output at the pin should be closer to 14 volts. If that's OK then I'd start looking at battery condition etc.

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Old 07-29-2014, 11:45 PM   #7
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Check to make sure the connections on the battery posts are tight. I had a similar problem 2 years ago and the connections had loosened up over time. It may not be the solution for your problem but it might be worth a quick look.

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Old 07-30-2014, 12:02 AM   #8
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First outing of the year to Glacier NP. Had the batteries inside all winter on the trickle charger. First afternoon, solar controller is giving me dotted lines and the Maxx Fan turns off when I turn the water pump on. Quick consult with ETI...(thanks btw!). Checked water level in batteries and it was below the top of the plates. 60 miles from a store and distilled water. Check with the camp host and one of the other campers just happens to have a gallon for her husband's CPAP machine. Home run! Add water and connect two wires that I missed in the front box. Everything works and Glacier is fabulous. Fridge also seemed to hold temp better this year on battery power than propane while driving. Charge levels weren't as high as I'm used to seeing and I wonder if the solar panels are dirty.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:02 AM   #9
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Does your Highlander have the factory tow package? The tow package includes a higher output alternator (150 amps) which meets the electrical needs of the Highlander and the trailer's battery.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeonW View Post
The batteries were near 100% before we started all this, at least according to the go power controller. So I am not so much worried about a failure to charge as I am about something actively discharging the battery while towing
The state of charge on the GoPower controller probably just indicates that the solar panel is charging the battery, not that the battery is fully charged, since the controller's estimate is based only on the voltage it sees. You said that you just took your trailer out of storage and then drove for a few hours. That would not be enough time for the battery to reach full charge.

You can get a more accurate idea of the real state of charge of the battery if you read the GoPower controller indication a few hours after dark or a few hours before dawn making sure that there is no load on the battery.

A better solution would be to get a more sophisticated battery monitor such as a Trimetric which will keep track of the energy going in and out of the battery.

Another solution would be to connect your trailer's battery up to a smart multi-stage battery charger after you bring it out of storage so that you know it is fully charged before taking off on a trip. The trailer's converter can charge the battery when you are plugged into external power but it can take several days to get the battery up to a full charge since it charges at such a low rate.

There has been quite a bit of discussion on this topic! See Converter question
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