Batteries to run caravan

Submitted: Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 21:27
ThreadID: 14502 Views:2240 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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We have just bought a new caravan and are looking for advice on what sort of battery backup to get (for use when not at powered site).

Should we get a battery installed in the caravan (2004 Jayco Heritage - already has a spot to place one) or rely on a dual battery system in Nissan Patrol (we don't have one yet - but once again has a spot for one.)

We are travelling around Oz but will be mainly staying in van parks.

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Reply By: Member - Roachie SA- Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 21:54

Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 21:54
IMHO you would be best advised to have a separate fridge in the van. Suggest you steer clear of Deep Cycle batteries as they tend to not get proper charging from alternator and are really designed for things like scooters and motorised wheel chairs. You will need to run heavy cabling from your patrol's electricals (suggest it be off the 2nd battery you intend to install in there) using a fusible link and an Anderson Plug to connect the patrol to the van.
With the vehicle, a dual battery will be a great asset if you will be running a fridge, radio etc. You only need a relatively simple solenoid system to isolate the 2nd battery.
Check the archives; there has been heaps written about this previously.
Good luck
AnswerID: 67044

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie SA- Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 14:01

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 14:01
Just re-read my above response and realise I've stuffed up the 1st sentence......I've said "separate fridge in the van".....Meant to say "seaparate battery in the van"....sorry; old age I'm afraid to say.LOL
FollowupID: 327848

Reply By: mr diamond - Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 22:09

Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 22:09
gday biggy.
i use a delcor marine battery
not quite a deep cycle but 80 amps
we use it in our camper to run fridge.
we use it as a starter battery in the cars.
now using it at work as a jumper battery(4 months)countless recharges
and is still as strong today(takes full charge) as it was 2.5 years ago.
and being a marine battery they dont mind sitting around doing nothing.
pretty sure its a delcor m27.
AnswerID: 67046

Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 23:09

Thursday, Jul 08, 2004 at 23:09
Hi Biggy,

I'm going against the flow here, but reckon you should use a deep cycle battery in the van.

I run dual batteries in my Patrol (aux=severe service truck & farm) but a deep cycle 115Ahr in the van. My patrol batteries are used for all the normal stuff + winching, so there they need to be able to supply high amps in a short time. But my van battery only runs the light and fridge so a deep cycle is more appropriate here as it doesn't ever need to supply high amps quick.

But you need to have a proper charging system to fully charge the deep cycle. I have a "smart" charger for 240V charging, but only run big cables to supply from the Patrol. The Patrol will never fully charge the deep cycle, but as I am not away from 240V for extended periods the 12V is more than adequate for the times involved.

However, if you were to be away from 240V for extended periods, I suggest you use something like the Arrid twin charge. These increase the 12v from the vehicle to a proper charging voltage (~13.8V) to ensure a full charge. But these units are around $200 and IMHO I would invest in a proper 240V smart charger before a Arrid unit (like I have :)

One other thing, how is your van wired? Mine is such that all lighting is 12V and I need a battery just to turn lights on and run the fridge (compressor - not gas). If yours is 240V lighting and a gas fridge, do you need a 12V battery? If all you need 12V for is to power the gas fridge while driving, then big cables from the vehicle may be cheaper option (should have a dual battery system regardless IMHO).


AnswerID: 67055

Follow Up By: Rosscoe - Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 09:14

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 09:14
G'day Captain,
I've been wrestling with ideas about improving the charge level of my caravan mounted deep cycle battery.
My budget, as yet, won't run to solar panels and a solar regulator, so I'm looking at things I can do to get a better charging regime from the vehicles alternator/voltage regulator/dual battery system.
How do you find the Arrid Twin Charge unit? Does it actually get higher level of charge into the battery? They now cost about $300.00 and there other solid state devices I've seen at Jaycar that cliam to boost the voltage for < $50.00.


FollowupID: 327829

Follow Up By: Flash - Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 09:16

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 09:16
I endorse what Captain has said here 100%.
I have a deep cycle in my van, AND one in my Patrol. Both are nudging four years and still going strong.
If you run a TOTALLY separate wire from the alternator to the battery for charging, whilst any load (eg: frig) comes off a separate circuit whilst driving, then you'll gat damn close to 100% charge. Then with the occasional good top-up from 240volt or solar and you're home and hosed.
BTW heavy discharge, heat, and vibration are the biggest battery killers. Reduce or eliminate those three as much as possible & charge ASAP after discharge and you'll get long life from your batteries.
FollowupID: 327830

Follow Up By: Member - Captain (WA) - Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 13:07

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 13:07
Hi Rosscoe,

Hi haven't gt the Arrid twin charge yet, I still use heavy cables from the patrol. My original post did not make that clear, sorry. But I have looked at buying it, just need to get it approved by SWMBO.

From my research, it works very well but is limited to a maximum of 15A charge. Depending on how flat the battery is, it will take several hours to charge fully. This is fine if say driving all day and then bush camping for a night or two.

But it is limiting if stationary for many days and simply want to start the vehicle to charge the battery. A direct connection to the alternator would be better in this case as you would get much higher amps into the battery in a shorter time, but probably only to 80% charge capacity due to the lower voltage (solar is perfect here - if its sunny!)

I suppose it all depends on the type of camping you do and how long you are away from 240V for. I have the Bainbridge smart charger and while it is pricey, it does an excellent job of fully charging the battery and also keeping it topped up when the van is not in use. My camping is such that typically I am not away from 240V for more than a few days, so the incomplete charging for that time period is not critical. At least I can top the battery up relatively quickly via the vehicle to keep my fridge and lights running after several days.


FollowupID: 327845

Follow Up By: Rosscoe - Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 13:24

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 13:24
Thanks Captain,

Sounds like we have similar needs. With the van battery fully charged before I leave home, I can get 3 nights for lights, music, water pump, a bit of TV news or the footy. The van fridge is on gas and the second battery in the car runs the Engel. I'm embarking on a big trip late August and won't always have acess to 240V AC so I'll see how I go. Probably won't stop more than 2 days in any one spot without AC power.
FollowupID: 327846

Reply By: vanaway - Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 09:36

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 09:36
We run a deep cycle in the Jayco as well. Your Jayco is wired, as you know, so the battery is trickle charged whenever you are on 240v.

You can also run an anderson plug from the car - we don't. We have a dual system in the car and the deep cycle which is charged a van parks or at home.

I am told that if you maximise use of bush camping you get a better experience whist saving considerable funds on your way around the block.

We tried bush camping without the van battery for a while - but ended up adding the battery. Havng to keep the car attached for lights (and stove/HWS ignition) when camping is a pain. If staying a few days and moving aound you have to re-connect every time you come back to the van. (only leave van when others we have met and sussed out are around)

AnswerID: 67090

Reply By: Magnus - Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 17:05

Friday, Jul 09, 2004 at 17:05
Hi Biggy,

Would go for a battery in the van and a good automatic or three stage charger for the battery.

As you will be on 240 volt most of the time, you can charge you van battery easily to cater for the few times you do not stay in a park.

There are some nice places to stay that are not in van parks and still have some ammenities and you will certaunly want to try those. That is where you will need your 12 volt system.

Alternarively you can go for a solar panel to replace the small amt of battery power you will be using. A good solar panel, say 40 watt panel, will be more trhan enough to top up your battery if all you are using is lights and the fridge is on gas.

IF YOUR FRIDGE IS NOT GAS, that's a different ball game altogether and a look at the forum archives will provide heaps of advice on that subject. (Caps to emphasise, not shout)

Have fun and enjoy the trip and the planning for it



AnswerID: 67132

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