Trailer Power Options | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

Trailer Power Options

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jcmorgan31

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My original plan for my trailer was to install a deep cycle battery and connect it to my lights, outlets, water pump, water heater, etc. My wife and I were going down a rabbit hole of options and ran across the Ecoflow River system. It's a little pricey, but offers the ability to do a whole lot of things with it outside of overlanding. If you aren't familiar, it is a "solar generator" or portable power station. Basically a big lithium batter with a lot of connection ports built in, a built in AC convertor and the ability to be recharged via solar, car 12v or AC.

Having very little experience with this, i wanted to ask for some opinions. I was thinking that I could still wire my trailer's DC accessories to a switch panel and run a cable from the switch panel to a location where the Ecoflow unit could be secured and leave that cable with a 12v cigarette lighter male end on it. When we were using the trailer, I could sit the ecoflow in its place, plug in the cord and power my trailer with it. When the power went out at home, I could pull the Ecoflow and use it around the house.

Does anyone see any issue with cabling a trailer this way?
 

TahoePPV

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This isn’t a whole lot different than many others do with similar hardware in their rigs. You should be golden.
 
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Billiebob

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Sounds expensive but there are many ways to do this without spending a fortune. This is 100 year old technology. Just using new expensive components.

Anytime you buy plud and paly you pay for the convenience and packaging.
I'm not sure there is enough power to power anything at home tho.
 

jcmorgan31

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Sounds expensive but there are many ways to do this without spending a fortune. This is 100 year old technology. Just using new expensive components.

Anytime you buy plud and paly you pay for the convenience and packaging.
I'm not sure there is enough power to power anything at home tho.
I really wasn't looking for opinions on what everyone's think is expensive. Just if it could be plugged into a trailer's existing wiring with the cigarette lighter output. Now, if you really have seen "many ways" to have portable power without "spending a fortune" I'd be interested in those specifics (although I'm surprised I didn't see these options during my research).

Also, I don't believe your comment about this being "old technology" is really accurate. Lithium batteries in this application seem to be fairly new. This one charges 100% on AC power in under 2 hours, solar in 6 hours. Built in AC converter. This isn't old tech wrapped in a pretty package.

Powered this guys 20 year old fridge for 10 hours.
 

reaver

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While these solar generators are great for certain use cases, they have their limitations.

While they're great for situations where you'd like to have power away from your rig (trailer in this case), if you have the space for a permanent battery, that's almost always going to be a better option. There are a few reasons why.

1. Cost - compared to a standalone 2nd battery, they are always going to be more expensive. You can get a decent quality Lifepo4 battery for between 500 and 750 for 100 AH. Lifepo4 has a much longer charge life than lithium as well. Add a charger with built in solar, shore, etc, plus fuse block, wire, switches and ports, and you're probably looking at about a grand. This amount of capacity with a lithium power station would be between $1500 to $2000 (1200Wh is about 100Ah).

2. Output - 12v accessories are limited to the ports you have on the power station. I'm not saying you can't get creative by figuring out how to feed a fuse block with it), and almost always limited to 10-15A per port.

3. Inverter - how many watts do you really need? I have a 400w inverter in my rig, and that's sufficient for everything I need. 12v accessories are going to be a better choice for the vehicle, as you don't lose efficiency in converting 12v to 120v.

I hope that makes sense. I just woke up, so if it doesn't, please let me know. Basically, I'd say for a trailer, it's better to build a hard mounted standalone electrical system that's specifically designed for what you want to do.
 

smritte

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The ones I just looked at were pretty well priced. If you build that station yourself, your actually going to spend more money.
All in all, you need to ask yourself, how much power do you need? You didn't mention what your requirements are.

For me, having a portable station isn't a bad thing, I do on the other hand prefer my trailers to have permanent mounted batteries. As was mentioned, how much can you draw from the 12v outlet? I didn't notice if it had Anderson connectors. If it did, or had something other than an accessory port, that would make it work very well. You don't want your main output to be something that can rattle loose.

One thing I got away from on my trailers was 110 volt items. Everything is 12v or USB. I don't need an inverter. I have a single group 24 lead acid battery (90 ah) and 120 watts of solar. My 60qt fridge is my biggest draw, lights, chargers and water pump are minimal. I can go almost 2 days on the battery if my solar is shaded. Ill be adding in another battery just because.

One thing you mentioned was being able to use it for other things. That's a plus. If you had a 25qt, 12v fridge to throw in the car and go for a picnic or over nighter, the portable unit would rock.

As I mentioned, if it were mine, it would need something like an anderson connector to feed my trailer.
 
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M Rose

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My original plan for my trailer was to install a deep cycle battery and connect it to my lights, outlets, water pump, water heater, etc. My wife and I were going down a rabbit hole of options and ran across the Ecoflow River system. It's a little pricey, but offers the ability to do a whole lot of things with it outside of overlanding. If you aren't familiar, it is a "solar generator" or portable power station. Basically a big lithium batter with a lot of connection ports built in, a built in AC convertor and the ability to be recharged via solar, car 12v or AC.

Having very little experience with this, i wanted to ask for some opinions. I was thinking that I could still wire my trailer's DC accessories to a switch panel and run a cable from the switch panel to a location where the Ecoflow unit could be secured and leave that cable with a 12v cigarette lighter male end on it. When we were using the trailer, I could sit the ecoflow in its place, plug in the cord and power my trailer with it. When the power went out at home, I could pull the Ecoflow and use it around the house.

Does anyone see any issue with cabling a trailer this way?
According to DIY Solar with Will Prowse he had a lot of problems with the unit. If you’re not familiar with Solar Generators, I highly recommend watching his reviews… he shoots square from the hip.

Video reviews by DIY Solar on the Ecoflow River Pro

Personally I’m with @reaver, you will get a better system building it yourself.
 

reaver

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I'm not saying lithium power stations are bad units (hell, I have two of them). They most certainly have their uses. I use one to power my fridge in my Xterra, as I don't have room for a second hard mounted battery. The other powers the caps in the tent. I also use them to charge camera batteries, and they can be charged using my 120w solar panel. It's worked pretty well so far, especially since adding an online voltage stabilizer between the fridge and the power station.

That being said, if you have the room for it, a hard mounted setup is going to be more robust.

Also, Will's videos are awesome, and highly recommend.
 
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jcmorgan31

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I watched plenty of reviews. I don't part with my money too easily. The blue handled units he is reviewing are some of the earliest kick starter units that were sent out as much for testing as anything else. They did have a lot of issues. I don't think I've seen a bad review with the production models (black or gray handles). That being said, I'm still researching.

I honestly probably won't use the trailer all that much. By the time I put a solar system with a fixed battery in the trailer, I'll be probably be $500 + deep. To me, that's expensive for something I'll only use a dozen times a year and can't use for anything else.


This guy had a pretty good review.
 

KonzaLander

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@jcmorgan31 - There is no reason one of those battery devices could not power your trailer via the 12v outlet...
...however, I will echo @smritte concern preferring an Anderson Powerpole connection on the battery to supply power to the trailer.

It looks like the Ecoflow only has a standard 'cigarette lighter' style socket on the unit. In my opinion this would not provide a reliable connection to the trailers power system, especially while underway. Trailers generally ride rougher than the vehicle and I know my fridge's old 'cigarette lighter' style plug would rattle out of the socket in the back of my Land Cruiser. An Anderson Powerpole connection would still allow the battery to be portable but would provide a secure and electrically efficient connection to the trailers power system. You could buy the Ecoflow and then replace the 12v socket with an Anderson Powerpole plug if you are bold enough to open up a brand new battery.

What sort of accessories are you wanting to power on the trailer?
 

jcmorgan31

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Orleans, IN, USA
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@jcmorgan31 - There is no reason one of those battery devices could not power your trailer via the 12v outlet...
...however, I will echo @smritte concern preferring an Anderson Powerpole connection on the battery to supply power to the trailer.

It looks like the Ecoflow only has a standard 'cigarette lighter' style socket on the unit. In my opinion this would not provide a reliable connection to the trailers power system, especially while underway. Trailers generally ride rougher than the vehicle and I know my fridge's old 'cigarette lighter' style plug would rattle out of the socket in the back of my Land Cruiser. An Anderson Powerpole connection would still allow the battery to be portable but would provide a secure and electrically efficient connection to the trailers power system. You could buy the Ecoflow and then replace the 12v socket with an Anderson Powerpole plug if you are bold enough to open up a brand new battery.

What sort of accessories are you wanting to power on the trailer?

Thanks for the input.

We are just getting into this so we really don' t know what all we will think we "need", if you know what I mean. I've ordered some switches and some lights for under the awning and inside the trailer. Will probably get a small water tank and a water pump. Considering either an electric or propane on demand water heater. Maybe an electric blanket when its cold out. Nothing at the moment like a fridge that would need to be plugged in while the trailer is being pulled down the road.

The Ecoflow has the cigarette lighter outlet which is 10 amp. It also has a couple of DC5521 which is a 2.5mm port rated at 3 amps. I do see a DC5521 to Anderson adapter, but i don't know the holding power of the 2.5mm plug and its only 3 amps.
 

dchurch

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Start by adding up the total load of each device on your system. Remember that things like pumps and compressors have a much higher load than rated during startup. Now check the rating of your sol-gen connection port to see if it is within safe limits. If that checks okay consider the wire size running from the connection plug. Calculate the wire size required for the length of run to various devices in your system (voltage drop).

I know the battery within our Bluetti could handle the load of our trailer. But it certainly could not handle it through the 12v lighter style plug connector. No way. Not even close. Even if that port could handle it, the plug would need 10 gauge wire running from it, lol.

Yes, the system could be devided into a series of branch circuits to be connected one at a time during use. But it would still require 14 gauge wire for something like our light bar circuit.

But, if your stay within the limitations there is no reason you can't power a trailer, cabin or home with the right sol-gen.

Personally, I would buy a good LiFePO4 to power my trailer. They are well designed for that use. I could pull it out to run other devices if the need was there.