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Comments for RV Electricity Newsletter by Mike Sokol – What’s new, you?

  • For your new newsletter:
    Solar/Wind: How and what to use when; how to regulate, monitor and interconnect with AC and batteries in a travel trailer; and ESPECIALLY interested in solar used properly to charge the battery during storage.
    Tools: What is best to have when…
    Power Control Systems: good, bad and the ugly
    Looking forward to following your newsletter.

  • Currently, have a solar array on my 5er and would be interested in learning about wind systems for my 5er and my house. I found a lot of the Provincial parks in Ontario Canada aren’t ideal for solar as the sites are generally sun blocking with lots of trees. Adding wind would most likely be enough to keep my battery bank topped up.

  • Mike
    I have been reading about buck and boost transformers to either raise or (in rare cases lower) pedestal voltage. I understand they can cost substantially less than the autoformer system.
    Can you explain and provide drawing on how it works and can be set up.


  • Mike,

    From time to time I have to troubleshoot an electrical or electronic device with a large capacitor. I learned from my dad MANY years ago how to discharge a TV capacitor for the high voltage picture tube which resulted in a huge “pop” when I shorted the capacitor to the chassis. Probably not the smartest thing to do now with sensitive electronic controls involved!

    How do you recommend discharging the capacitor on an RV air conditioner or even a residential microwave so that when working on it, I don’t become the discharge path and zap myself, causing me to flinch and injure myself and scare the cat?

  • I have an old Air 404 wind generator sitting in my shop for over 20 years now, unused. The problem is figuring out how to set it up so it it’s mobile and easy to put up and take down. Everyone who has ever mounted one on the trailer ladder says it vibrates and makes unacceptable noise. So here it sits waiting for a great idea . . .

  • Mike,

    Retired aerospace engineer here. I can build satellites, but don’t ask me how my RV electrical system works.

    Over the last 6 years of RVing, here are some of the things that I’ve spent countless hours researching. I’m sure others have had the same questions.

    – How to check out a campground pedestal to be sure it won’t fry your RV.
    – How to buy a surge protector with remote display that does the above for you.
    – How to install said surge protector (and not kill myself).
    – What to look for in a new inverter/charger.
    – How to install a new inverter/charger (and not kill myself).
    – Configuring my inverter/charger for best performance.
    – Batteries — what in the heck is equalization, and do I need to do it?
    – Autoformers. Huh? Some kind of articulating kids toy, or useful?
    – How to safely install an A/C hard start kit
    – Upgrading to LEDs — kinds, sources, and expectations.
    – Troubleshooting inoperative systems
    – Identifying chassis vs house problems.
    – Advanced upgrades — how to add a load-shedding/power control system.
    – Solar. Types of equipment? How much do I need? Installing so that I don’t kill myself (is there a theme here?).
    – Wind. Same as above.

    Looking forward to your newsletter!

  • Mike
    I’m thinking of adding a suitcase size standing wave reactor to power my processing rack .
    Would you have any idea how to shield it so my Lexicon doesn’t hum along with the music?

    JUST KIDDING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Congrats on the newsletter gig !

    (That other OSM , popeye )

  • So Mike… we travel with a 4th generation Ram Pickup and our 5th wheel trailer..

    The Ram’s ECM controls the charging voltage and at any given time the trucks batteries are no more charged than 85%…. and I’ve found they never need water…. modern technology for sure…

    Now add the demand of trying to keeps charged several healthy RV batteries on a system that more often than not, never exceeds 13.9 to 14.1 volts and its impossible… often, checking the RV batteries with a digital meter after a days of driving find their state of charge at 75 to 80%…

    So we have moved from the factory wiring harness and installed a separate 8 gauge wire, w/40 amp fuse directly to the trailer connector and have added a suitable ground wire.. the trailer has been modified as well… but with the long run, connections and the darn ECM keeping the voltage low I still don’t see the trailer batteries improving or ending with a full charge after a days drive… (6 to 7 hours)

    Voltage drop tests on both the + and – side of the DC circuit have shown all connections are good with no underlying problems…

    Using ohms law, and size of my battery bank, it just won’t work… I need more current, and of course that means a higher charging voltage…

    BTW the vehicle alternator is rated at 175 amps and from what I can see or test, it never exceeds about 50 amps after a cold engine start at 10* F.

    So I’ve found a buck boost for DC circuits but dang their pricey…. in the $300 range… but it will allow for an adjustable output…. with a 12 to 15 VDC input I can have a 14.2 to 14.4 volt (50 amps max output) output to fully charge my batteries while traveling..

    My bank of batteries, new again this fall, can easily absorb a 45 amp @ 14.2 volts charge rate during the day… and I’m guessing will never cause the battery bank to warm up….

    So on those cold nights where the furnace cycles a lot…Maybe some TV, C-Pap machine or other demands, we’d like start the evening with fully charged batteries….

    I guess my question is…. is there a more simpler way, of course I can start the gen set for a few hours and the trailer converter will do part of this job.

    One of my buddies suggests that I install several solar panels for constant charging but at this time I’m not interested in that option….

    I’ve reread my thoughts, I hope I’ve expressed them correctly for your understanding and maybe a suggestion or two..

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