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Improvising with a battery charger


Last Sunday we started a trip out to the Big Bend area. My wife and I have lived almost all of our life in the great state of Texas but neither one of us had ever been to the Big Bend National Park. Therefore we decided that going there should be something that we do before our clocks ran down. Since I have also had a desire to go see the “Marfa Lights”, we thought that we could incorporate a trip there as well as several other sights in the Alpine, TX area before going down to Big Bend National Park.

Our first stop was in Junction, TX at the North Llano River RV Park. This is the very first RV park that we ever stayed in when we purchased our first RV about 12 years ago. We have been here many times since then and it is a natural place for an overnight when traveling down Interstate 10. We arrived in Junction around 5pm and got everything setup. After the sun went down, we naturally turned the lights on. Shortly after doing so my wife asked me if I thought the lights were dimmer than usual. At first I said no, but then thought that they were a little dim. I got up and checked the electrical panel and noticed that the battery was almost dead. Rather than go through my thought process, I’ll simply say that the converter that powers the lights when the battery is disconnected and chargers the battery when it is connected had tripped it’s breaker and was dead. A little trouble shooting confirmed that it was dead.

Without the converter and without a charged battery, the 12 volt lights would not work. My first thought, since I’ve never had this happen, was that we would have to abort the trip and go home for repairs. Then I remembered that my friend Warren Petkovsek had submitted a tech tip for the website that dealt with this very problem. All I needed was a battery charger hooked to the battery and the lights would work as the battery charged. As it turned out, I had a small 1 amp battery charger that I used to charge my deer feeder batteries. I hooked it up and it did supply a trickle charge to the battery.

Since we had arrived in Junction on a Saturday my repair facility would be closed until Monday. I wanted to talk with them before I went to the Big Bend area, which is a very sparsely populated area and miles from anything. Therefore we stayed in Junction until Monday morning. We were ready to depart when I called and found out that using a battery charger to temporarily replace the converter was not an unusual thing to do. I was told to press on and come in for repair when the trip was over. I have since talked with several people who have used a battery charger to help finish a trip.

With a feeling of relief that we would have 12 volt lights and most importantly a refrigerator, we headed west for Alpine, Texas. We stopped in Fort Stockton at the Walmart so I could get a better battery charger. I bought one of the 10 amp smart chargers that auto detects the battery and shuts off when the battery is fully charged. We also bought an additional 110 volt lamp so that we could save on using the 12 volt lights.

Bottom line is, sometimes you have to improvise when camping even if you are in a large RV.

Battery Charger

This is my battery charger setup. Worked great!

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