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Old 04-28-2012, 08:12 AM
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Battery capabilities for caravanning

I have a gorgeous JGC Laredo on order, which will be used extensively for towing a 21ft van. As I'm new to this sort of towing, I'm researching as much as possible to (hopefully) ensure that I have everything in place so I don't find myself in a tricky situation.

Given the fridge in the van will operate via the Jeep's battery during towing and there's always the possibility that I could get sidetracked and forget to switch the fridge over to gas, or I've stopped for a quick break, which then extends into a longer stop, and ultimately the Jeep's battery is drained and it won't start. As such, I'm wondering if this could happen or if there is a mechanism that stops the draw on the battery when it reaches a critical level. Alternatively, is it necessary (or even possible) to have a second battery installed, with the main battery isolated for start-up, and the secondary battery used for the other requirements.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated! WW
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:12 PM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

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Originally Posted by WendysWheels View Post
I have a gorgeous JGC Laredo on order, which will be used extensively for towing a 21ft van. As I'm new to this sort of towing, I'm researching as much as possible to (hopefully) ensure that I have everything in place so I don't find myself in a tricky situation.

Given the fridge in the van will operate via the Jeep's battery during towing and there's always the possibility that I could get sidetracked and forget to switch the fridge over to gas, or I've stopped for a quick break, which then extends into a longer stop, and ultimately the Jeep's battery is drained and it won't start. As such, I'm wondering if this could happen or if there is a mechanism that stops the draw on the battery when it reaches a critical level. Alternatively, is it necessary (or even possible) to have a second battery installed, with the main battery isolated for start-up, and the secondary battery used for the other requirements.

Any thoughts would be much appreciated! WW
The JGC does;t have any protection against any load flattening the battery, and it will certainly happen at some time (as you predicted) if you feed the van fridge directly from the starting battery.

For your application the usual method is to fit a quality battery isolator (Google is your friend, and any good auto electrician can fit) to the main battery. It will provide protection to your starting battery and provide the necessary van feed power via heavy cabling and an Anderson plug.
There are also motion sensing switches available that will cut power when you stop.
For more research and lots of information from Aus go here: http://caravanersforum.com/
and ask your question or simply search. There is also a topic on the WK2 with 75 pages of posts, some covering exactly what you are working on.
Good luck
John
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:41 PM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Thank you kindly, John. I was speaking with the caravan dealers on the weekend about this issue, and they advised that as I have solar on my van, it will look after the fridge even when I'm driving, backed by trickle power from my Jeep and, when the Jeep is turned off, it will no longer provide power. The fridge or van's power system (can't recall which) apparently manages this and changes the power source if the vehicle's engine shuts off. So much to learn! However, given your advice regarding the lack of protection, I will enquire into the isolater - that makes sense to me. Even if the fridge/van does handle that swap over, there's always the chance something could go wrong there and drain the Jeep's battery and I sure don't want to end up stuck somewhere. There's also the possibility that I'll eventually invest in an Engel that will be carried in the boot, and that will definitely draw from the battery. Better safe than sorry! Cheers, Wendy
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Old 04-30-2012, 11:43 PM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

John, sorry to bother you. Just realised you have the Mpoar towbar. The dealers that I'm going through advised they only fit the Hayman Reese towbar, yet I've seen Mopar mentioned a number of times during my research in various forums. If you don't mind, could I ask if you specifically chose Mopar over HR and, if so, if there was a reason for this? Thanks, WW.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:24 AM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Wendy,
What type, and size caravan you getting
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:26 AM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

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Originally Posted by WendysWheels View Post
John, sorry to bother you. Just realised you have the Mpoar towbar. The dealers that I'm going through advised they only fit the Hayman Reese towbar, yet I've seen Mopar mentioned a number of times during my research in various forums. If you don't mind, could I ask if you specifically chose Mopar over HR and, if so, if there was a reason for this? Thanks, WW.
Mopar is the brand of Chrysler genuine parts.......my bar and wiring was fitted by the dealer specifically because I wanted warranty on the package and particularly the wiring. (actually the Mopar bar is made by Bestbars in NZ, seems a nice solid unit).
I researched HR here locally because they have a great reputation however 2 installers I approached did not give me confidence in the wiring side and actually really didn't want the job, based on past experience with Canbus equipped (the type of wiring system and control on the Jeep) vehicles. I was advised the dealer had to flash the computer to recognise the trailer wiring so that was also an influence.
It seems a bit strange your dealer wouldn't offer a Mopar bar - surely that would provide a greater markup return to them?? Anyway if the dealer is fitting the bar and wiring you should have no issues with either.
It was around the same price for the Mopar bar against the HR prices I got so the decision was easy.
We are just back from a 5,500k loop with the van to Vic and the Jeep performed brilliantly.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:41 AM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Thanks for that, John. I'm really glad to hear your Jeep performed so well. So far I haven't come across any real concerns - all feedback and reviews have been positive, except for several that related to issues that Jeep has since resolved.

However, a very experienced family friend wasn't too complimentary when he heard that I'd ordered a Jeep. This obviously worried me as he's been driving rigs and vans for 40-odd years and can park on a 5c piece - he's just incredible and is a walking Google for anything vehicular. However, it's too late now to change my mind and, in any case, I fell for the Jeep hook, line and sinker once I finally saw them in the flesh, so I'm hoping that my instincts are correct! WW.

Hey there, allypally! I have a 21ft Jayco Sterling with ensuite, slide-out bed and lounge. ATM not set in stone as I've only just signed off the plans (build starts later this month I believe), but it will be approx 2.8 or 2.9 tonne. As such, the 3.5 tonne towing capacity of the JGC fit the bill with a little left over for good measure!
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Old 05-01-2012, 05:59 AM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Welcome Wendy. I'm not a vanner but I imagine with that size rig you will need an electric brake controller as well.

here's a thread to get you started... Electric Trailer Brakes

Also don't worry about your friend. The problem with know it alls - they think they do and stop learning or close their mind to alternatives - I would never have bought a jeep before this one. One thing that closed the deal for me is I have a friend who has had two (also towing a van similar to yours) and has now ordered a WK2.

Enjoy and don't forget to post pics when you get it.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:10 AM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Thanks, Mendo. I'm having the towing kit installed as part of the purchase. Dealer advised they will only use Hayman Reese towbars and, as the dealer is handling this, I would expect they would update the software to ensure it's all working correctly prior to delivery. One of the features I did look into before even test driving, was the availability of the anti-sway feature, so I'm comfortable that this safety feature is part of the package I'll receive. I also checked with the dealer that the electric brake will be installed and we discussed the location of this prior to talking money. I've read some posts about poor performance following after-market towbar installations, and I think they call it reflashing of the program sorted out the problems. To be sure I don't have that issue and the work is undertaken correctly, I've had all the items I'm looking for included as part of the purchase. I suspect it's costing me more, but knowing it's handled properly is worth it given I'll be travelling on my own.

Spoke to the dealer this afternoon about the dual battery, and was advised the battery is actually installed under one of the seats and he's not sure where a second battery could be installed if I wished to have another. I've not heard before of a battery that's not installed in the engine bay. While I'm not hugely experienced with vehicles, is this the case with the JGC? Also, if this is the case, can the battery isolator arrangement that John mentioned, still be used? Is it safe to house a battery under a seat?

One last item that's causing me a little concern is the delivery timeframe. When I ordered (about a week ago and a half ago), I was advised delivery is up to 8 weeks, but hopefully will be sooner. While this is cutting it very fine, with delivery of my van scheduled for just under 2 weeks later, I can see from many posts on this forum that people have been waiting 4 or more months for delivery. I've asked my dealer for the order number so that I can track progress, but all I've rec'd back is that they don't have the number as yet. Is there reason for me to be concerned, or have the delivery times vastly improved over the last couple of months? Wendy
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Old 05-01-2012, 04:34 PM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

The battery under the right hand seat is a newer type; here's more info:
http://www.wk2jeeps.com/wk2_battery.htm

As for a second battery, other members made some posts about this some time ago, and it can be done, but may be beyond your dealer's comfort zone. I expect a trailering shop could help you out.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:08 PM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Thanks, Cherodude. There's always something new isn't there?! Not entirely comfy with the battery being under the seat after reading the info in the link, but not much I can do about it. Guess it must be reasonably safe if this layout has been approved for Aust. Would have expected if there was reason for concern it would be in the engine bay with the firewall between 'danger zone' and people in case of an accident.

Little concerned too that replacing these batteries may be more costly than standard, and more difficult to come by. Any thoughts?

Might leave the second battery for now as won't be heading to truly remote areas for at least the first 6 months with my Jeep. In that time, I'd hope to have developed a pretty good understanding of my Jeep's capabilities and requirements, and will have spent countless hours chatting with other 4WDers and caravaners.

Cherodude, do you know whether the isolator arrangement that John mentioned, can still be used? I figure if I can ensure that I don't run the battery down to zip, then that's a pretty good option.

Thanks for your help, W.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:54 PM
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Re: Battery capabilities for caravanning

Wendy. A Factory order takes between 4 and 6 months. The diesel Laredo is very popular and assuming you didn't order any factory options there will be unsold GCs already in transit so if you have been allocated one of those 8 weeks is reasonable.
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