RV Books

Proven & Unbiased Information from Collyn Rivers

♦ caravans ♦ motorhomes ♦ camper trailers ♦ solar ♦

Cover of Caravan and Motorhome Electrics by Collyn RiversCover of Why Caravans Roll Over by Collyn RiversCover of How to Choose and Buy an RV by Collyn RiversCover of The Caravan and Motorhome Book by Collyn RiversCover of Solar That Really Works by Collyn RiversCover of Solar Success by Collyn Rivers

Search our catalog of exclusive RV articles

CMBCoverSmall

For 2 days only The Caravan & Motorhome Book* will be available for FREE!

The Kindle version will be available from Amazon on the 23rd and 24th of October to download for free.  RVBooks will continue to make the Kindle version of our books available for free from time to time.

Click the button below to reach The Caravan & Motorhome Book on the Kindle Store.

*In the US and Canada caravans are known as travel trailers.
Note: A "Kindle Day" runs from 12:01am to 12:59pm Pacific Standard Time in the USA. Check the time in Los Angeles to see when it starts and ends for you.

Between 1959 and 1961 Collyn Rivers and Antony Fleming drove a Bedford QLR off-road truck twice the length and breadth of Africa studying road surface conditions.

A 43 minute film about their adventure, produced and narrated by Antony Fleming, has been viewed on YouTube more than 1.6 million  times!

Picture from Africa journey. Caravan and Motorhome Electrics by Collyn Rivers

To view the film, and also read Collyn's telling of the tale, just click the button below.

Africa 

Cover of the Camper Trailer Book by Collyn Rivers

The Camper Trailer Book.  Free!

Not currently available as an eBook or paperback, RV Books is publishing The Camper Trailer Book on this site.  Every week new sections will be released until the complete, fully revised, version is available.

Read It Here

Solar Success

Cover of Solar Success by Collyn Rivers

Collyn Rivers is the author of Solar Success. Previously only available on a different website (solarbooks.com.au),  you'll now find this book and a large selection of exclusive articles by Collyn Rivers dealing with the intricacies of setting up and using solar power to run your home, cabin, caravan or motorhome.  Over the next few weeks all of the content from Collyn's second site will be brought over to RV Books to provide a more comprehensive coverage of a wider range of topics. 

Solar Success

Featured article

Electrical converters in RVs – they’re unsuitable for free-camping

by Collyn Rivers - Updated 2020

Electrical Converters in RVs

Electrical converters in RVs supply 12 volts from 230-volt power. They work well from 230 volts, but not for long-term camping. Here's how to fix the problem.

Electrical converters in RVs supply 12 volts dc from 230 volts ac in Australia/NZ, and most of Europe. These converters are intended for RV rental users, private owners for casual use, and those spending most nights in caravan parks. Their purpose, says one maker, is to ‘provide a dc power system, with optional battery backup’. Another maker describes that backup as 'emergency power'.

The ‘battery backup’ has limited capacity. It is likewise intended for limited or occasional use. Where 230 volts is available, lights and appliances are powered directly from the converter. The battery is used only when 230 volts ac is not there. converter setc e1401860681979

Typical up-market converter. Pic: setek.com

Electrical converters in RVs - unsuitable for free-camping

Electrical converters in RVs work well and reliably for their intended usage. That usage does not extend to free camping for more than one night. Nor do vendors suggest otherwise.

If the RV has LEDs, and uses only appliances originally installed, it should cope with one overnight stay. But rarely two. The vehicle must be driven for some hours the following day. And/or recharged every second night. This is best done from a 230 volt supply via a high output mains battery charger.

Free camping usage however requires a system run from the RV’s alternator, solar or a generator-charged battery. It uses 230 volts only to recharge batteries fast.

Limited charging

Most electrical converters in RVs charge batteries slowly. They do so because their output is typically only 13.65 volts. This is far too low for quick, let alone deep, charging. This is usually made clear in makers’ literature. One advises a deeply discharged 120 Ah battery so charged may ‘take 10 hours to attain 80% charge'. Plus 'a further 10 hours to fully charge.’

Another advises that charging that same size battery ‘requires up to 70 hours’. Overnight usage away from 230-volt power typically discharges such battery/s by 60%-70%. The inbuilt charging system precludes fully re-charging the following night (assuming 230-volt power). This, say, vendors, safeguards the battery from being overcharged. But no high-quality charging system overcharges batteries anyway.

The above is openly revealed in converter specifications. Only buyers with technical understanding are likely to understand the implications.

RV vendors may explain how to use the system. They rarely advise, however, that usage does not include extended free-camping. The converter instruction manual is not always given to the buyer anyway.

Voltage Drop Problems

The original electrical converter cannot be modified. Replacements that charge at higher voltage also charge faster. That, however, can only partially assist.

The limitation is that most converters produce 13.6-13.65 volts. Lighting and appliances, however, need 11.8 to 12.7 volts. Converters are intended for RV owners having 230 volts most of the time. That 13.6-13.65 volts thus enables makers to use cable far thinner than needed when running from a 12-volt battery. As a result, part or all of that RV’s related cable deliberately drops up to one volt. That's fine on 230 volts. But not when battery powered.

At least 80% of all RVs globally have these converters. In the USA it's a probable 95%. Most RVs using such converters have that lightweight cabling: it's much cheaper.

Replacing the converter

Electrical converters in RVs work well for their intended usage. They do not work well for extended free camping. If free camping is in mind there is little choice but to replace them.

Replacing the converter by a high-quality battery charger and dc-dc alternator charging assists. But if the RV has lightweight wiring, some needs upgrading. This includes all charging circuit and battery cabling, fridge cabling (essential), and the water pumps. If LEDs are not fitted, change whatever is. As LEDs draw far less current, the existing cable is fine.

Increasing battery capacity (alone) is pointless. The converter’s charging is inadequate for any purpose other than intended.

A high-quality battery charger charges the battery much faster. The appliances (particularly any compressor fridge), however, will not work as intended unless that cabling is upgraded.

With decent wiring in place a good solution is to install a battery management system. These include the 100% recommended dc-dc alternator charging, plus solar regulation. Many have also a 15-40 amp multi-phase charger. Plus energy monitoring.

You can alternatively use separate units. These may be a dc-dc alternator charger, and a serious multi-stage 110/2130 volts battery charger. Buy all from the same vendor to ensure they are 100% compatible.

LiFePO4 batteries assist

LifePO4 batteries in RVs produce from a typical 13.1 volts to about 12.9 volts. Whilst lightweight cabling imposes a voltage drop, that 13.1-12.9 volts is much higher than with other types of battery. These batteries also charge to at least 80% from 13.65 volts. They do so, however, very slowly. It's better by far to scrap the converter and install a high-quality charger.

For the technically minded

A typical converter works much as shown below. Most are 110/12 volt or 230/12 volt transformers. The have a full-wave bridge rectifier and possibly smoothing capacitance.

Some include a direct 12-volt input. As shown that ‘input’, however, is a few centimetres of wire plus a diode (to prevent reverse flow). That diode nevertheless introduces up to 0.6-volt drop. This reduces alternator charging to snail’s pace. Converter 230-12 volts

Typical basic converter. Pic: Copyright rvbooks.com.au

Most converters float the battery across that 13.60-13.65 volts output. They do so via a sensor, that typically limits float current to 0.8-1.5 amps. An override enables charging at higher current if the battery drops below a typical 10.5 volts). It so however at that unregulated 13.65 or so volts. This is not nearly enough for deep and rapid charging.

A few converters include multi-phase charging, but usually via fixed voltages for bulk, absorption and floating. They do not supply the constant current required for an effective bulk cycle.

Electrical converters in RVs - further information

See also Article Charge Batteries Faster and Deeper. It relates specifically to using converters for purposes for which they are not intended.

This subject is covered in depth in the author’s best selling book Caravan & Motorhome Electrics. It also covered (re solar) in Solar That Really Works (for cabins and RVs), and Solar Success (for home and property systems). My other books are the all-new Caravan & Motorhome Book and the Camper Trailer Book. For information about the author please Click on Bio.

These books have helped tens of thousands worldwide to make the right decisions. Any one of them will save you many times its cost.

Recently updated articles

Electric Vehicle Batteries

The market for quickly-rechargeable, light and compact batteries is huge. One or another battery will eventually evolve. When it does, electric-only vehicles are likely to have a range unthinkable using fossil-fuels. Moreover, in the meantime, hybrids are an excellent compromise. Furthermore, see also Electric Vehicles – Hybrids.

read more

Electric Vehicle Home Charging

Many existing home grid-connect solar systems have excess capacity outside peak periods. Solar energy fed in during the day can be re-drawn during off-peak periods, for much the same price, to charge an electric car. This is because many grid networks have excess capacity outside peak periods. Furthermore, such charging extends battery life: all dislike ongoing deep discharges.

read more

Electric Vehicle Motors

Updated 2020 Electric vehicle motors AC/DC Electric vehicle motors use one or other of the two main kinds of electricity: alternating current and direct current. Both are effective as electric vehicle motors. Alternating Current (AC) is where electric current...

read more

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Globally, there is move to electric vehicles. Apart from minor rubber tyre particles they are virtually emission free.They are also about 80% efficient. If, however, their electricity is from fossil-fuelled power stations, their emissions are similar to year 2020 petrol-fuelled (or hybrid) vehicles.

read more

Articles by Category

Electrical (general)
Batteries & Battery Charging
General
Travel
The Camper Trailer Book

Want to find out more? Our books cover all these topics and a lot more. 

Cover of How to Choose and Buy an RV by Collyn Rivers

Whether you’re buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider. How to Choose and Buy an RV breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you’ve found is right for you.

learn more

Cover of Solar That Really Works by Collyn RiversSolar That Really Works! explains every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes.

learn more

Cover of Caravan and Motorhome Electrics by Collyn RiversCaravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

learn more

Cover of The Caravan and Motorhome Book by Collyn RiversThe Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage.

learn more

Cover of Why Caravans Roll Over by Collyn RiversCaravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here. Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.
learn more

Cover of Solar Success by Collyn RiversSolar Success explains how to design and build home and property systems that ensures affordable solar success first and every time.

 

learn more

Cover of How to Choose and Buy an RV by Collyn RiversWhether you're buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider.  This book breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you've found is right for you. It's technically sound and comprehensive so that you can proceed with complete confidence.  How to Choose and Buy an RV is the ultimate guide for those times when you want to, well, choose and buy an RV.

learn more

Cover of Why Caravans Roll Over by Collyn RiversCaravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here.  Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.

learn more

 

Cover of Caravan and Motorhome Electrics by Collyn RiversCaravan & Motorhome Electrics is the totally rewritten successor to the original globally selling Motorhome Electrics. The book's content now also covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

learn more

 

Cover of Solar Success by Collyn RiversSolar Success explains how to design and build home and property systems that ensures affordable solar success first and every time.

learn more

 

Cover of The Caravan and Motorhome Book by Collyn RiversThe Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage. Like all of Collyn Rivers' books it is technically sound yet written in plain English.

learn more

 

Cover of Solar That Really Works by Collyn RiversSolar That Really Works! explains, in clear English, every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. It is up-to-date, valid globally and technically accurate. It is clear, concise and easy to follow without sacrificing important detail.

learn more

 

How to Choose and Buy an RV

This is Collyn Rivers' newest book.  Building on his years of experience and extensive knowledge of engineering and all things caravan and RV, this is the book you need with you when shopping for an RV.

Caravan & Motorhome Electrics

Collyn Rivers has done it again! – if you need to know anything about motorhome electrics, then this book is for you... Collyn must be, without doubt, the foremost authority in Australia on this subject.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)

Why Caravans Roll Over....and How to Prevent It​

Should be compulsory reading for everyone involved with Caravans: Design / Engineering, Marketing, Journalism (print & electronic), Regulations, Inspections, Driver-Training, Caravan Clubs, Towing and Modifications.

Colin Young

Founder and CEO, Caravan Council of Australia

Solar that Really Works!

Collyn is an accomplished engineer who knows how to design and build successful systems. It is refreshing to see practical advice written in plain language when there is so little solar information around. . . this is an essential text . . . you won’t find a better guide.

Alan T. Gray

Earth Garden Magazine

The Caravan & Motorhome Book

Without doubt, this is the best book we have ever read . . . it will be treasured, and read on a regular basis.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)