No battery but needing one

Discussion in 'Power - Site Power/Batteries/Generators/Solar' started by Kamping Kay, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. mpking

    mpking Well-Known Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Raynham, MA
    HI @Kamping Kay

    Let's start over..

    Definition of Terms:
    Inverter = Takes DC, makes AC
    Converter = Takes AC, Makes DC.

    Your camper has a Converter built in (The AC plug thingie). It takes 120 AC, and makes 12 Volts DC.

    You have stated you want to buy a Battery (12V DC Output), and a Inverter (12V DC input to 120Volt AC output), to connect to your converter (120Volt AC input, 12Volt output).

    What someone should have said to you, Your converter should have unused wires on the back of it, that allow you to connect a battery directly to it. The Inverter is unnecessary.
    MrBroctoon, Orchid and giadiep like this.
  2. giadiep

    giadiep Active Member

    Sep 5, 2015
    Syracuse, NY
    Building on what @mpking said:

    If your trailer has lights inside already, which work when you plug the trailer into an outlet at home, then you already have a converter.
    A converter takes the house current which is AC and "converts" it to DC.
    A battery is already DC. So if you connect a battery to your converter, then the battery will supply DC current to your lights inside the popup. Depending on the age of the converter, it may charge the battery when you plug the popup into an outlet at home.

    However, a battery will not supply electricity to any outlets in your pup, which are AC. These outlets are supplied directly by whatever you plug the popup into at home or an electrical post while you are camping.

    If you want to use things that run off of AC (a toaster is a good example), then you will need a source of AC power. You could use an inverter to supply AC power, because that takes DC and "inverts" it to AC. But it will run the battery down very quickly.

    But you have some options:
    1. charge your phones in your tow vehicle using USB plugs
    2. some popups have cigarette style plugs, which are DC and work off the battery, which you can plug in a USB plug to charge your phone
    3. if your kid's electronic device has a USB style plug, see 1 & 2 above
    4. if your popup has ceiling lights, they should work off the battery because they are DC

    Now, if your popup does not have a converter:
    1. get a converter and a battery, which allows for the options listed above
    2. stick with your inverter that you purchased, but feed it from a running tow vehicle
    3. return the inverter and purchase a small "inverter" generator which will supply you with both AC and DC
    MrBroctoon, Orchid and Kamping Kay like this.
  3. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2012
    Northwestern New Jersey
    Your conclusions are in error. No one said you shouldn't have power just that the way you wanted to do it was not a very good idea.
    kitphantom, Orchid and Kamping Kay like this.
  4. Kamping Kay

    Kamping Kay New Member

    May 19, 2018
    Castro Valley, CA

    This make more sense. I have no idea what I’m doing and trying to understand. There is a converter I believe in my pop, under one of the benches where the table is, if my memory serves me correctly it’s on the same side as the water holding tank. We can’t find wires or a way to connect the battery on the outside of the trailer like I’ve seen on here. The only exterior wires are for the brake lights ect.
    My cousin believe these should be other ones.
    I thought I needed the inverter to run from the battery to the trailer.

    I’m so confused by all this and I’m usually not so lost. I keep seeing solar tickers connected to battery on trailers to keep the battery from dying and that’s all I want.
  5. joet

    joet Well-Known Member

    Mar 16, 2011
    Elkins WV area
    If you could post a picture of the converter, showing model numbers we could figure out what and where the wiring to the battery is
  6. Kamping Kay

    Kamping Kay New Member

    May 19, 2018
    Castro Valley, CA
    This is the only picture and best I have for right now. How y’all can figure it out.

    Attached Files:

  7. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2012
    FWIW, some of the older campers had a spot for a battery under a bench (usually next to or behind the converter)....
  8. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
    Kay, you should be able to add a battery and wire into the existing 'system' to power the lights and pump.
    The battery will not power the regular house outlets.

    Here is a pic that shows how a battery could be wired to your converter usually via a short red wire on the back of the converter, it is often wired all the way to the trailer tongue to the trailer/vehicle connector and dealers splice into this postive to connect to the battery. The negative side of the battery usually goes to the frame as a common. The pic shows blue (fuse) and yellow (splice), it does not show the negative to frame.


    Your ole converter will not have the ability to charge a battery, it may have a switch on the front to switch from CONV/OFF/BATT.
    Orchid and neighbormike like this.
  9. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2012
    Northwestern New Jersey
    You will not keep the battery charged with a solar panel under the conditions you propose.
    Since you actually do have a converter what raybird said is your best option.
    It appears that you are insistent on using the inverter.
  10. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2018
    As you are new to all this, I would suggest that you take the trailer to a shop and have them hook up the battery.

    For what you want to power, all you need is a battery and a usb/12v outlet.

    It may be that the wires to connect the battery were removed (previous owners do a lot of weird things). In that case, the shop can add the proper wiring and install a usb/12v outlet for you. This will allow you to run your camper lights and charge your cell phone, etc.

    By going to a shop, you will ensure it's done correctly right from the beginning. Then, start reading up on RV electrical systems so you can troubleshoot/repair down the road as needed.

    The problem with hooking up through an inverter externally is that the inverter uses a lot of battery power to invert the 12v electricity to 120v electricity. This means that your battery will run down far quicker than if you have it hooked up through the converter.
  11. Kamping Kay

    Kamping Kay New Member

    May 19, 2018
    Castro Valley, CA
    No not insistent on using as I’ve already got it packaged up for returning.
    Orchid and Sjm9911 like this.
  12. tombiasi

    tombiasi Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2012
    Northwestern New Jersey
    Good, you wont need it. Sometimes, OK often, you won't get a direct answer to your question because the original premise is faulty.
    You can learn a lot here.
  13. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Never feel stupid. This is my 4th pop-up, and I've had other trailers. I have no idea how all this works. I have a battery on my pup, that I've had for many years, and have no clue if it's hooked up, or even if it works or not.

    Since we always camp with hook-ups, I've never had the need to know. The only thing that depends on our battery is the break away switch for the brakes. I do have solid, securely attached chains, so not overly concerned about that. Maybe I'll put it on my list of things to learn about.

    Don't give up! There is a huge learning curve with any RV, and especially pop ups. It will all come together and everyone here will help you as much as they can.

    You may need a deep cycle battery. I have heard that term before.
    Sjm9911 likes this.
  14. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

    Oct 3, 2007
    Waterford, Ct
    Please bear with us ...... we are trying to help.

    If I may, I would like to ask a couple of questions ....... please.
    1. Year make and model of your camper? Someone here may have the same one and that will be a big help.
    2. When camping what would you like to have power for. EX. water pump, lights, radio, charge phones, etc.?
    3. If you had a working household type outlet in your camper what would you use it for?
    4. You said that your converter is under a dinette seat. Can you lift the cushion and see the wires or a cover over the wires?
    5. What does the trailer socket on your tow vehicle look like? A flat connector with 4 wires or a larger round one with a plastic door?

    We can offer some simple cost effective suggestions.

    And lastly the inverter you bought..... you could install it in your tow vehicle but the tow vehicle should be running to keep the battery from going dead. The inverter would be great if you were building a cabin in the woods and needed to run some power tools. But even then a gas or propane powered generator would be better.

    Again please bear with us ........
    Orchid and neighbormike like this.
  15. MrBroctoon

    MrBroctoon New Member

    Jun 8, 2018
    Thanks for asking the question Kamping Kay! I had the same question and was told I needed an inverter. mpking and giadiep really provided some excellent info. I also really appreciated the joke from Orchid.
    Good question and I'm glad you kept going with it. Thanks!
  16. cahillprc2

    cahillprc2 Member

    Sep 2, 2011
    Catonsville, Md
    Based on your picture, it looks likes a very old converter. So it might not have the ability to charge the battery when you are plugged in to regular home or camp power. Either way they aren't very good recharging 12V batteries. Since you will be relying entirely on a 12V battery for all your power. As someone already mentioned you will want a Marine or Deep Cycle battery. They are different from a normal car battery which is designed to put out a large amount of power (cold cranking amps) for a very short time just to start your car. Deep cycle batteries are designed to put out a lower amount of power e.g. 20 Amps continuously for 55 or more hours depending on the size of the battery. Many people who camp for several days or more use a solar panel and charge controller to recharge the battery because a deep cycle battery should never be discharged more than 80%. If it is discharged more than that it will greatly shorten the batteries lifespan. Most who use a solar panel usually use a 100 Amp Solar Panel; less than that would take several hours to recharge the battery. however keeping the solar panel connected to the battery will allow you to "top it off" after each use. You should be fine with a group 24 size deep cycle battery for just lights, water pump, water heater, and USB devices. There is a very good thread here called the "12 Volt Side of Life" that provides a very good explanation of all of this. For your USB devices you can install one or more 12V car type outlets (the round kind) which are available at most Walmarts. For a temporary fix they make a long 12V extension cord that you can get at any auto parts store that you could run from your cars cigarette outlet back to the camper and then add something in the camper later. I'll try to send pictures of what I'm talking about shortly got to go to a doctors appt now.
  17. Shaman1

    Shaman1 Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2011
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
    Did you get your battery/power problem solved? Did you go camping as planned?
  18. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Well-Known Member

    May 23, 2018
    South Carolina
    If anyone plans on using an inverter to charge electronics, it should be a "pure sine wave", not a "modified sine wave". Some electronics are more sensitive to the sine wave profile than others.

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