Truck Camper Magazine Blog

Battery Power to the People

This week’s Question of the Week was, “How many batteries does your truck camper have, and do you want more?”

“I enjoyed reading about the new products from Torklift.  In March of 2011, I installed a second battery in my camper.  With two onboard batteries I am good to go for approximately fifteen days of dry camping.  That is staying in one spot and not running the truck or the generator. 

Keep in mind that I do all my cooking outside and most of my camping is done from late Spring to early Fall.  I do read for a few hours in the evening and/or listen to the radio, but these two functions do not draw a lot of juice nor does the water pump.  I did however have my cell phone plugged into an auxiliary outlet on my truck.  That pulled more amps then what I was aware of.  It’s always good to learn new things. 

I am a fanatic when it comes to checking my water, power, and grey/black levels.  I do that three to four times a day. 

I currently have two deep cycle batteries; Interstate 550 cca (6/10) and a Exide Stowaway 400 cca (3/11).  I remove both batteries before the first freeze and store them inside.  I do not use a trickle charge on them during this time. 

I have a 2008 Arctic Fox 811 that will hold a double battery in the battery compartment.  Now, if someone would come up with a quiet running onboard generator that would really grab my attention!” – Sue S., Michigan

“Four batteries with solar are okay for us.” – Skip Jennett

“We have a Host Tahoe 10.5 and the battery storage area holds two Group 27 batteries.  I’ve also hooked up two additional Group 27 batteries that I place in the truck bed just in front of the wheel wells. I’ve electrically connected all four batteries so that they are charged together and used for power as a group.  This arrangement has worked well for providing plenty of power for extended outings. 

The downside is that the placement of the batteries in the truck bed leaves little room for error when it comes to loading the camper.  These batteries are in battery boxes which does protect them.  The bottom line is that the camper has to be equally spaced side to side in order to not hit one of the battery boxes.  As soon as there is a Torklift HiddenPower for my truck I’m definitely moving those batteries!” – Dave Riddle

“Very timely.  We just upgraded our converter/charger and two new Group 27 AGM batteries.  This gives us enough juice for our truck camping style.  We can easily stay off the grid for four to five days without recharging at all.  We have gone for an entire month with no hook-ups when traveling and just charging from the truck.  When ski camping, we will bring a generator as our power requirements increase due to the need for heat.” – Bill Tex

“The camper we have came with two wet cell Group 24 batteries.  They did not have enough power to lift the camper, run the slide, and operate monitoring and normal lighting and refrigerator function of our Arctic Fox 1150B. 

I added two Optima gel cell Group 36 batteries sitting in the space front and back of the fender well on the drivers side of our one ton Chevy dually truck.  I also have a 55 watt solar panel on the roof to recharge during the daylight hours.  This helped with the power drain, but still did not accommodate the lifting and lowering needs that can only be accomplished by the camper mounted batteries. 

I replaced the Group 24 wet cell batteries with Optima gel cell Group 24 batteries, as the compartment size would not allow for bigger batteries.  This gives us the power that we need, if we are frugal with TV, satellite, hair dryer and lighting use.  We also need the sunshine that Colorado provides to keep the level where we don’t worry about the power. 

I use a 600W inverter to run 110v components.  The supplemental gel cell batteries in the truck bed are connected directly to the camper mounted battery posts in parallel.  I use a quick connect cable connector from a power winch system, so there is no line drain or heat from quick discharge use such as lifting or slide applications of power.  It is my belief that multiple 6 volt gel cell truck batteries run in series for 12 volt application would give greater storage and longer use application, but I have not invested in that change.” – Marv Krueger

“We have two Group 24 AGM batteries and 250-watts of solar with a Blue Sky 25A MPPT charge controller and monitor.  Our batteries are usually still 90% full in the morning, even after a couple hours of watching satellite television the night before in our 2012 Lance 1181.  We have all LED lighting and turn off our phantom ghost loads when we aren’t needing power.  We charge with 10-14 amps depending on full-sun angles.” – David and Sheila Knapp, full-timing in our Lance 1181

“My Eagle Cap 950 has one Group 31.  For summer camping, it is enough power for a whole weekend.  For winter camping with the heater running, I have to run the generator daily to recharge it.  I plan on putting in a Olympian Wave-3 Heater to allow me to not run the generator in the winter.  Given the option, I would rather have two Group 31s as my previous camper had that configuration and could make it through a two night weekend.  I should note that most of my winter camping is Arizona desert where it only gets down to the twenties at night so my heater requirement isn’t as high as people in other areas.” – Leonard K. Pennock

“I have four batteries on my 2002 Bigfoot.  They are 6 volt high capacity.” – Randall Rice

“My truck camper has four Interstate lead acid Group 27 Batteries.  At this point, I believe I have enough batteries on hand in the camper.” – Paul E. Foster, Jr.

“I have a 2012 Nothern Lite 10-2, which has two battery compartments.  The dealer sold it to me with two Group 24 Interstate batteries which had about 55 Amp hours each.  Having only dry camped for four days with them, they still seemed okay.  That’s probably because of the LED lights and propane refrigerator option.

However, I upgraded the batteries to two Group 31 Diehard Platinum AGM batteries.  They are maintenance free, okay with vibration and, most of all, increased Amp hours to 100 Ah per battery.  So I went from 110 Ah to 200Ah, and went from having check on batteries and adding water to now being maintenance free.  These new Diehard batteries are heavier at 75 pounds each.  If I add solar panel charger, I should be able to dry camp for an extended period of time.

By the way, battery recharging, the electric system, and the typical time batteries could provide were important factors to me in buying a truck camper. You asked a very relevant question for us readers.  I thoroughly enjoy your magazine!” – Nelson Ludlow, Washington

“My Lance dealer installed two Group 24 Interstate deep cycle batteries, the same size as my old fishing trolling motor batteries in my boat.  When the electric trolling motor batteries die, the newer camper batteries will get moved.  Then I can install the largest deep cycle batteries that will fit in my camper’s battery box.” – Philip Tron

“I have one battery, a Group 31 Trojan SCS 225 that generally provides the power I need.  I have a 50 watt solar panel to help charge the battery when boondocking. 

The problem comes when boondocking for a long period in cold weather while running the furnace.  I haven’t run out of power because we conserve.  I would like to be able to run a bigger television, and more electronic, and electrical gear.  My ideal would be to have two Group 31 batteries powered by at least 200 watts of solar.  When I buy my next camper, that is what I plan on getting.  I won’t buy a camper that doesn’t have room for two Group 31 batteries.” – John Bull

“I use one Group 27, 12 volt, deep cycle/starting battery which, so far, has been adequate for a few days of camping without recharge.  This amount of time will decline as the battery ages.  The only power draw is the LED bulbs in two of my interior lamps and whatever my Dometic fridge takes. 

When I am traveling, the camper battery is recharged via a battery isolator in the truck charging circuit.  In cases where multiple batteries of the truck and camper are charged at the same time, battery isolators prevent overcharging by automatically switching the charging current on and off between batteries. 

When the camper is stored in the winter, I connect a 2-15 amp charger on the 2 amp setting which keeps the battery at a float charge around 13.25 volts.  To maintain the life of a lead acid battery, it is important to keep level of the electrolyte above the plates by adding water when necessary and to keep the tops of batteries clean to prevent parasitic drains.  In operation, if the batteries are gassing or very warm to the touch, they are over charging.

Battery gases are explosive.  Be careful not to cause any sparks around a battery that is gassing and wait until the battery has cooled before removing any connections.” – Grant Smith, British Columbia

“I use two Group 27 deep cycle batteries.  We are mostly boondocking at lakes and rivers in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, with occasional Fall, Winter, and Spring trips on Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean beaches.  I have enough for what I like to do. 

We usually run on one battery, with the second in the battery compartment, not connected except when needed.  Usually one fully charged battery is adequate for three to six days depending on temperature, the second battery is there for a backup, such as leaving the refrigerator on automatic instead of LP, leaving a porch light on, etc.  A few minutes driving is usually enough to get an additional charge if needed.” – Paul Riley


“Yes, I have plenty of power for my Wolf Creek 850.  I never run out.  I have two 6v Lifeline AGM batteries which provide 220 amp hours of service.  I keep them charged with my 240 watt solar power system.  AGMs require no maintenance and can be mounted on their side as seen in my picture.” – Michael Smith (aka Mello Mike)

“We have two 6 Volt AGM Lifeline GPL-4CT batteries for over five years.  We can usually dry camp for four or five days if we are conservative with our electric use. 

Recently we have been changing some of our lights to LEDs to save energy.  In the future, I would like to add one or two solar panels.  They will help when we dry camp during the winter months using the gas furnace.” – Art and Mabel Davidson, New York

“Unfortunately, my new truck camper came with a Group 24 marine “Starting/Deep Cycle dual combination battery” which is truly the wrong application for total deep cycle use.  We are not starting anything automotive thus a true deep cycle would have given me more reserve minutes at a 25 amp draw.  I explained this to the truck camper manufacturer and was told that the true deep cycle was more money.  So I suggested that they give the buyer a choice to pay more for more power and the correct battery for deep cycle use.  The marine starting/deep cycle would be a great application for a small boat that requires starting and deep cycle use but not for a true deep cycle application needed in RV use. 

So I replaced that incorrect battery with a Group 31 sealed gel type battery, which is costly but never a need for any maintenance whatsoever.  There is no gassing to create corrosion on the terminals and totally sealed so no water is needed. 

Of course, I had to change the battery box to fit the larger Group 31.  Then I extended from each terminal with a #10 copper wire to protrude out the openings on the box so I could check the state of charge with a voltmeter and I could also charge the battery without the hassle of opening the battery box to top off the charge.  Of course you must put a protector on the positive wire that protrudes for checking and charging when not in use.  Also it’s easy to use my generator to charge the battery when needed.” – Bob Robinson, Florida/Pennsylvania

“There are two 6 volt AGM batteries in my Lance truck camper.” – Gary Gade

“My Lance camper came with one Group 31 battery.  For the first five years, I struggled to keep the battery charged even with a 50 Watt solar panel and a generator.  Long cold nights were nightmares worrying about discharging the battery. 

A couple of years ago, I added another battery of the same size on a jerry-rigged set up next to the wheel well in the bed of the truck.  The result was only marginal improvement.

Last year, I added an 80 Watt solar panel and replaced all my inside incandescent lights with LEDs.  This year I have boondocked for days at a time without a worry.  The battery stays charged all day and through the night.  It was well worth the expense of the additional solar panel and the LED replacements.” – Larry Routt

“I have four Lifeline GPL-27 100AH AGM batteries.  You wonder why I have so much AH capacity?  Well, I didn’t want to have to deal with leveling or longer term boiler corrosion and other issues with the industry standard gas absorption refrigerators.  So, in my 2011 Host Everest, I had installed a NovaCool marine 12v/110v compressor refrigerator. 

To charge the batteries I have two 190 Watt panels with a Blue Sky Controller and a Prosine 2000 for inverting (for DTV, Bose, and ham radio electronics) and charging when on shore power.  Of course there is always the generator in case of prolonged low sunshine. 

After a year, I have had no power issues.  Then again, I live in middle of the United States where the sun shines a whole lot more than it does in some areas of the country.  The only leveling concern I have is not being so off I roll into the bedroom wall at night.” – Ken Sanders, Kansas

“Our Bigfoot 10.6E has one Interstate Group 27 battery.  With good conservation tactics, and the 50 Watt solar panel, it works for us.  I have installed a marine battery switch so I can access the truck batteries if needed.  We generally travel versus stay in one spot and usually dry camp.  Two 6 Volt batteries could be in the future.” – Dave Miller

“We have four Audio Force AF1100 AGM batteries.  They are Group 31, I think.  They’re a performance audio battery 110 Amp Hour.  We have 450 watts of solar panels to keep them charged.  We also have a 1800 watt sine wave inverter for most of our 120v needs.  We could always use more, but I don’t know where I’d put them.  I don’t like having them on the truck because when we take the camper off the truck, so go the batteries.  The AGM batteries are great because there is no maintenance, and you can install them in places you can’t with others because of venting.  We also have a generator, but don’t need with this set-up most of the time.” – Bruce and Joan Moses, Washington

“None.  My popup camper now has LED lighting, electric water pump, a catalytic heater plus a furnace, and a small refrigerator that requires no electricity.  All my power comes from the truck battery.  When the camper was new fluorescent lights were used and that was satisfactory, but that has now been replaced with LED fixtures.  The camper was purchased new thirteen years ago and has had extensive use.  I have never had a  problem with the truck battery, but I use the best battery that will fit in the stock mounting.” – Ralph Anderson, Arizona

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