How & When to Use the Battery Disconnect Switch on a Travel Trailer

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Many people own RVs (recreational vehicles), also called travel trailers, but not all owners use the vehicles on a consistent basis. Travel trailers tend to be stored for long periods of time on an owner's property or in a storage facility until vacation time arrives. However, the travel trailer's battery may drain over the storage period, rendering the trailer powerless. Luckily, battery disconnect switches are available for preventing this battery drainage.

Battery Disconnect Switch Use

A battery disconnect switch is usually installed on a travel trailer to prevent battery drainage. Although travel trailers do not use a battery for powering an engine, the trailer uses a battery, or set of batteries, for powering auxiliary power, like lighting and appliances. During trailer storage periods, any electrical devices plugged into outlets can slowly drain the connected battery's power, even if the device is switched off. The device acts as a load on the battery, slowly trickling power from the battery to the device until the battery is completely drained. A battery disconnect switch creates a separation between the connected battery and the device, effectively blocking any current flow and preserving battery power.

Travel Trailers And Batteries

Each travel trailer is towed behind a vehicle since they do not have a separate engine for propelling forward. Many consumers choose this type of trailer because the towing vehicle can disconnect from the trailer for driving around a vacation area. However, the travel trailer does not have a typical engine battery connected with an alternator, which would provide recharging for the battery. Battery disconnect switches are especially helpful for travel trailers since they preserve a charged battery's power without the help from an engine's alternator.

Battery Disconnect Switch Installation

Installing a battery disconnect switch onto a travel trailer is a relatively simple procedure. The positive side of the switch should attach directly to the battery's positive side. The switches' negative side should attach to a fuse or circuit breaker for electrical surge prevention. Some installations attach the switch to the battery's negative side, but this connection process has not been verified by qualified electricians.

Switch Variations

Some switches have different features, including switching to another battery bank. This switch disconnects one battery and activates another without stopping the power supply to appliances. This feature prevents a temporary power loss to appliances in use when switching battery sources. Another switch variation comes with a key. Removing the key activates the battery disconnect switch, blocking current flow. The key is especially helpful when the travel trailer is in storage. No mischievous person can activate the switch without the key.