Oliver | Luxury Fiberglass Travel Trailers, Campers & RVs › Forums › OLIVER CAMPERS › Mechanical & Technical Tips › Battery placement
- July 13, 2010 at 2:21 am #12407
Hello to all,
Please forgive me for not being sure whether I should continue about batteries under the solar thread.
I have had a question for a very long time and maybe somebody could answer. Since the battery box is sooo small, would it be possible and is it advisable to move the batteries, install long red and black cables, and locate the batteries on the tongue’s generator metal basket? My hesitation if it can even be done is that the batteries would be close to the propane tanks. I am still in the hoping for AGM batteries mood. Locating the batteries in the generator basket would allow me more flexibility on having 3 larger batteries. I appreciate pros and cons, yeas or neas. The knowledge shared on this forum and the other fiberglass trailer forums is wonderful. Thanks for your help. Jam49July 13, 2010 at 3:21 am #17930
The logistics (and expense) of moving your batteries (and running new wires) would not be (in my opinion) worth it.
My friend has a Casita with only one battery, and does fine. She keeps up with us, drycamping for days on end, with little dependence on the generator or shore power. (However, she’s a converted tent camper, and used to surviving on little or zero electrical power.)
We have two 12volt deep cycle batteries…probably the same type of batteries that you have. We installed solar and are still using the same batteries. We could run (in a very careful and miserly fashion) for three to five days, before solar, on two batteries. The Oliver battery case is actually much larger than most trailers in its class.
A couple of questions:
Do you run an inverter to power a lot of 110 appliances (hair dryer, coffee pot, etc. ?)
Do you plan to, or do you currently dry camp for more than four days at a time?
In your usual camping climate, do you need to use the furnace a lot? (That was, and still is, the biggest power gobbler in our trailer… camping in the mountains in spring or fall, with temps falling below freezing at night… the furnace fan robs a lot of amps.)
Have you had problems with your batteries running low on voltage?
With normal batteries, it’s really important to monitor water in the cells, and to keep them charged. Keep an eye on them, and recharge before they’re deeply discharged. (We try to check our water level every 3 months…) Also, it’s important to check your battery clamps each trip to make sure that your batteries are secure before traveling. We know this because twice, we’ve neglected to do this, and wound up with batteries bouncing around, and losing fluid in the process.
Another thing… adding two to three batteries to the tongue of an Oliver would significantly increase the tongue weight, possibly to the point of affecting your towing experience. Our tongue weight is currently about 375#… adding 2-3 batteries that close to the tongue could potentially exceed the limit of your safe tongue weight and affect the towing capabilities of your vehicle. The trailer is designed for the weight of the batteries to be in the compartment, not the tongue.
AGM batteries are more expensive, and are also great for the folks who use their trailers a lot, or full time. We’re not yet convinced that we need to spend a lot of money on replacement batteries, since we got two and a half years service on relatively inexpensive (walmart) batteries. We use our trailer three to five months a year, but not usually continuously.
Deep cycle batteries (ordinary or AGM) for trailers are not like car starting batteries. They will not (usually) quit on you all of a sudden… You’re not trying to start a vehicle, just run some small loads. You don’t need cranking ability, you need amp hours. If they did fail… there is normally a Walmart always nearby or some other source for batteries…
It’s probably a good investment to purchase a battery tester (8 to 15 dollars) so that you can check how the cells of your battery are actually working. Dry cells, or dead cells, can cause shorts that will leave your system dead in the water. In our experience, the most common cause of premature battery failure is lack of fluid, both in the Oliver and in the boat.
I’m sure people with more knowledge and experience will chime in here. We hope this helps, at least a little.
2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4
2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12July 13, 2010 at 3:29 am #17931
By the way, I appreciate you starting a new thread.
A note on our original request for information in the solar thread: After testing our batteries that had, indeed, bounced around again for 650 miles or so, loose, we found the batteries to still be in fair to good condition. Our real problem was caused by a loose connection in a wire to our solar controller. The vibrations of bouncing around for 25,000 miles had wiggled a connection loose. Paul found it, repaired it, and we’re back in business. We had originally thought our original equipment batteries were finally failing. They’re not, and we’re keeping the same old batteries till we need to replace them.
2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4
2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12July 13, 2010 at 5:41 am #17932
A few quick thoughts:
As SeaDawg mentioned, your tongue weight will go up at least by the weight of the batteries, probably more because you are simultaneously removing weight from behind the axle. Depending on your tow vehicle, that could be a big issue.
If you are running an inverter, there will be limitations on how far you can separate the batteries from the inverter, check the inverter’s manual. You will also need heavy cable for an inverter which will add even more weight, be expensive, and hard to route through the Oliver’s available spaces.
The last point is an issue even if you are only running DC loads. To get from the tongue to the bench storage, you have to get around the bathroom and its associated plumbing. My recommendation would be to see if this is even possible before you go ahead with your plans as it may not be.
I wouldn’t have much concern about the batteries being near the propane tanks as long as you’re properly fusing the cables on the battery side to deal with a potential short. You’ll also want to run the cables through some kind of conduit until they’re inside the trailer chassis to give them protection from abrasion, rocks, etc.
Are you really running out of battery capacity? The Oliver will easily accommodate 220AH in the standard battery box. Having built a few solar-electric systems, my experience is that it is much cheaper and easier to increase efficiency and reduce power consumption than it is to increase power generation and storage.July 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm #17934
A few quick thoughts:
To get from the tongue to the bench storage, you have to get around the bathroom and its associated plumbing. My recommendation would be to see if this is even possible before you go ahead with your plans as it may not be.
I’m not sure that I think that moving the batteries is a grand idea, but gaining access to this area is relatively easy to do. First you have to remove the insert below the sink in the bathroom. Just cut around it with a utility knife and it will pull out. Be careful of the wires going to the switch that is mounted in the insert. Then you will have to use some sort of caulk to put it back. Once out, you can get to where all the wiring enters the shell. Now admittedly I’ve only done it with 12 gauge wire and not the monster cables that would be required to re-route the batteries but you snake the cables under the the toilet area (i.e. nightmare ) I can see many potential difficulties and much expense here. I’d consider a small generator.
Steve, Tali and the dogs: Reacher, Lucy and Rocky plus our beloved Storm and Maggie (both waiting at the Rainbow Bridge) 2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0026 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, HULL NUMBER: 0050 2017 Silverado High Country 2500HD Diesel 4x4July 14, 2010 at 2:22 am #17935
I knew I would get great answers from this forum! For now I only plug into shore power when I go camping with the grandkids. Not that I won’t go boondocking when the opportunity arises but for now I’ll be happy with the camping I am able to do.
I don’t keep the battery plugged in anymore while parked at the house so this has eliminated me having to frequently add distilled water and I use the red switch to kill the batteries until I do need them. I do check the batteries regulary and for now all is well .
The idea of solar power and AGM or is it AMG? batteries is totally appealing to me even though I don’t NEED
either right now.
Many thanks for the wonderful explanations. Each of your answers has convinced me all is well with my original battery setup and that for now even though what I think I WANT is not necessarily what I NEED!
Now on to the next question!!!
I sorta understand but not totally why 6 volt parallel? battery connections is totally sufficient instead of using 12 volt batteries but that is for another thread. I sure don’t wanna wear out my welcome at the
BRAIN TANK.July 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm #17936
Asking good questions will never wear out your welcome here. And I’m sure you’re not the only one who is benefiting from the answers from the guys here who have spent a lot of time on research for their setups. I know I’ve learned a lot from them.
2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4
2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12July 15, 2010 at 6:18 pm #17937
I sorta understand but not totally why 6 volt parallel? battery connections is totally sufficient instead of using 12 volt batteries
Actually, the 6v batteries need to be in series; a pair of 12v batteries would be in parallel.
The major difference between the two configurations is that 6v batteries usually means "golf cart" batteries, which are designed to take repeated deep discharge with less damage than conventional "RV/Marine" 12v batteries. The 6v cells are the most economical configuration available of the deep discharge batteries because they’re manufactured in large quantity.
That’s for flooded cells. When it comes to AGM batteries it gets more complicated, and I’m a little bit out of my depth.
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