Are Secondary Batteries Right for You?

Today’s RVs are more decked out with charge-hungry appliances than ever before; people are hauling around refrigerators, TVs, blenders, washer/dryers, and all kinds of other technological tools that never knew the nomadic lifestyle until very recently. How do they supply the necessary power for all this stuff? Originally people would sap the precious energy from their car’s starting battery, but now the needed power is so substantial that people would quickly drain the starting battery completely.

The solution? Purchase an auxiliary battery that can be charged using your car’s alternator. ¬†Although you may have never heard of it, the alternator is the your car battery’s right hand man, and they are a package deal.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

The alternator is named in reference to the term alternating current (AC). They are generally installed near the front of the engine and are driven by the crankshaft, and create AC power through electromagnetism, which is then channeled into the battery so it can provide voltage to run your car’s electrical components.

An automotive charging system is actually made up of three major parts consisting of the battery, the alternator, and the voltage regulator. The alternator helps the battery to generate power for services like the lights in your dashboard and the power that comes from your cigarette lighter when you plug in a phone-charging adaptor.

Back to alternating currents: your car battery emits direct current (DC) power, which isn’t as powerful or far-reaching as alternating current power. The alternator uses diodes to convert AC power to DC power so that your car battery can use it.

Ok great, so how do you use it to charge your auxiliary battery? First off, you have to find the right sized auxiliary battery; generally it’s recommended to find the largest one that can fit in your engine so that it can provide the most possible power while also lasting for the longest possible time.

So you get one of those, and then you buy a battery isolator, which is a device that allows your car’s alternator to recharge the auxiliary battery while protecting your car’s starting battery from discharging. Without this, you’re likely to discharge energy from both batteries at once which can eventually leave you in a situation in which your car won’t start and you have no way to power your cell phone or any other appliance to be used in that emergency situation.

battery isolatorBattery isolators are generally made of solenoid, which is a coil wound into a tightly packed helix so that it can create a nearly uniform magnetic field. There are many ways to operate the battery isolators, and the most highly recommended tends to be the VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay). VSR battery isolators can sense what level of voltage implies that your car is on and what level implies its off and automatically links the batteries for charging purposes when your car is on and isolates your auxiliary battery when the car is off, keeping you from accidentally draining your starting battery.

With the proper equipment, you can charge your auxiliary battery just as you drive along, and with no risk to your car’s function.

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