Charging battery while driving
When I go on longer trips I expected that my truck (Toyota Tacoma) would charge my camper battery while driving but found that the battery would typically be dead by the end of the second day. Only thing using power is my portable refrigerator. Just wondering if the battery is supposed to recharge when hooked up to the truck and I'm driving. Or do I have an electrical connection issue.
My current work-around is to run an electric cord from the left rear underneath to the back of the truck where I have a 120V plug. This does charge the battery but is a pain to hook up each time. I also have a solar solution when I'm at a campsite for more than a day. But my typical trips are round trip from LA to Portland a few times a year. When I get to Portland my battery is dead unless I use my workaround.
I have a 2016 5-wide that has a WFCO WF-8725 power converter installed to control the battery. Any info would be appreciated.
@roylewis I assume you have checked the fuse going to the battery, and are using a seven-pin connection. And some have a battery shut-off that needs to be on to charge. Other than those, I don't know. Shouldn't need long trips, most of mine are not all that far.
Also, I do not know how much your fridge uses. I use an ice cooler. They used to say you should unplug from tow vehicle so you don't run your car battery down, but I have no idea if that would happen. I usually unplug just to be safe, when I get parked. But yes, it should charge on the road.
The fuse is just outside the battery, not far. I take various fuses in my tool bag, although have not needed yet.
@wildcat Thanks. Yes, seven pin connector. I will check for a blown fuse.
If I plug the fridge into the truck while traveling I still only get one night of battery usage after plugging in the fridge at the campsite. I expected that if I plug the fridge into the truck for the next part of the drive that the battery will be full again the next night. But it doesn't last the next night so I know its not charging on the drive.
I will check the fuse. The battery does charge when the camper is plugged into the house (120V supply) so I know its being charged. It just doesn't charge while driving.
It's good to know that it SHOULD be charging so I can look for the issue. I do unplug the truck at the campsite just so I know I'm not possibly draining the truck battery while camping.
Thanks for the info.
@roylewis I don't think you said what year it is. Later models had the battery shut-off mounted on the tongue. I know one time I forgot to turn it on, and it did not charge while driving. And I don't remember if it charged at home while turned off because I've left it on. My clock stays on, and I have a small dehumidifier going in there at home. Someone said it varies, and I suppose it could because changes got made all the time at Pleasant Valley. So, if the fuse is ok, it could still be possible.
My trailer doesn't get used more than three days at a time usually, because the dog wants to go home, and I don't bother with hooking up even if electric is there. But I don't use any electric appliances. I've got a Jackery 500 to recharge phone, etc. With or without the Jackery, I never ran the battery down. I've got one of those little 12 volt plug in things that tells me how the battery is doing, they are cheap. I usually forget to use it. My battery is six years old, so I'm probably on borrowed time.
Hope it's a simple fix.
I am definitely not mechanically nor electrically inclined. During my last trip back to Mississippi from San Diego, the battery on my 2012 5-wide stopped holding a charge. Never had a problem before but it is a 9 years old now. The electrical on the trailer does work when I'm driving, plugged in at home, or plugged in at campground. Any ideas?? First time (now at 75 years old) I've checked into a Little Guy forum. Any hints at all appreciated.
Jim Caldwell, Spring Valley, Ca., AKA Mississippi Slim
I'm no expert either. I assume you have read the above posts. How old is the battery? My battery is a marine deep cycle battery that is six years old, and it could probably go bad any time.
Find out if it is the battery first. I use a thing like these:
I assume you have a 12 volt receptacle somewhere in the trailer, like inside or in the galley? If not, that will not help. I had a 2015 and have a 2016 which has them. An automotive store should have them.
If it isn't the battery, check that little fuse that is in or near the battery box and replace it with a new one like it.
@mississippislim The tester I listed above, I keep mine with the trailer on trips and just check the battery once in a while when I think of it. You don't want it to get too low.
@wildcat Thanks, just ordered the tester you recommended. My battery is now 10 years old and maybe on its way out, too. I just changed the 30 amp fuse on the fusebox in my galley and plugged the trailer in to house current. We'll see what happens. If that doesn't work, I'll check with the tester, then to Rick's RV service here in San Diego. They've been good for me.
My battery has wooden panels surrounding it with a sliding (up) piece covering it from inside the camper. but it's stopped by a bolt about an inch up.
Thanks, my friend, I've been traveling with my camper for 9 years now, but I'm only a basic, basic mechanic. In reality, I'm a user, not a fixer! LOL
PS, I'm on my 3rd set of tires on my Little Guy (Best buy I ever made)
Now that I think about it, maybe I let the battery go too low and may not be able to work anymore.
The receptacle looks like where you plug in a cigarette lighter, or any 12 volt plug. Like I have a 12 volt blanket I plug into it and 12 volt rechargers and such. That is where you will plug in your tester also.
My fuse box inside the trailer (behind a little brown door) has fuses of different colors. There are 05, 15, 30 fuses. I carry extras with me in case one goes bad while on the road. You can get little boxes with some of everything in them. Be careful with the little brown door to open it up, as the little catch can break off. I think the fuse by the battery is a 30.
Picture of fuse box attached with fuses on the right. But there should ALSO be a fuse up by the battery, in a very little plastic sort-of box, inline, very small. Your battery cover sounds home-made. On my 2015, the fuse was just outside the battery box. The 2016, I think it is inside because I don't see it right now. I assume yours is like that, but I've never seen an older model.
Duh!!!!!!! I should know that. There's two one inside the trailer and one above the fuse box. The battery cover isn't home made, but original to the trailer, bought new in late 2012. I think the Little Guys were made by the Amish people so it was installed by them or the manufacturer. I'll see what changing the 30 amp battery fuse from the fuse panel does, then maybe look for the other "on battery" fuse. Tough since I'm not as limber as I used to be...(smile)
Yep, that picture you attached is exactly what I have. Hope the outside fuse works.
Again, thanks for your advice.
12 volt blanket?? Might be something I need to look for. I've woke up more than a few times (like the Rocky Mountains) with frost on the camper. And at the Grand Canyon years ago, it was so cold over night that my diabetes meter refused to work!!
Well, the fuse is cheap, so that could be lucky. But sounds like pretty old battery.
Will do another post for 12 volt blanket for search purposes.
@wildcat Great news!! Late yesterday, I did two things. I flipped both back panel breakers off then on again. I also replaced the 30 amp fuse on the "battery" label, again on the back panel. I then plugged the trailer electrical to my home plug in the garage and let it see if it could charge up and hold the charge.
I unplugged it this morning and the electrical stayed on. So I checked again an hour later and, lo and behold, the battery still worked, at least for now!! I'll leave it unplugged until later in the day and see what happens.
But it looks like I may be lucky!!
AKA Mississippi Slim
Thanks for all your advice.