Pop-Up Camper Battery: Tent Trailer Battery Install Guide

Even pop-up campers need power. They may not have a motor but some components inside the pop-up do. Those appliances and luxuries need the right kind of battery to power them. All you have to do is find the right battery that will last you a long time.

Of all the different types of batteries and brands, the one that brings you your money’s worth is the flooded battery. While it does emit some gases, it can last a long time with the right maintenance. Other batteries have charging issues or cost a lot to buy.

To learn more about the battery you need for your pop-up camper just continue to read our article. It has that information and other important data you need to know about. Take a few minutes to get up to speed on pop-up battery issues.

Do Pop-up Campers Have Batteries?


This is an interesting question as many pop-up campers do not have the same amenities that travel trailers and other RVs have. But they do have some components, like lights, that need power.

In most cases, pop-up campers do come with a plug so you can hook up to shore power and your worries are over. However, if you dry camp, there is no shore power and you will need a battery and electrical system to power what features require electricity.

If you are buying new or used, make sure to check that the battery is included. Sometimes it is and to the chagrin of some owners, sometimes it isn’t. Then check to see if the battery you do get is charged or has not run out of life.

Batteries do have a shelf life and they may not work after 5 to 7 years no matter how much you charge them. If you get a bad or no battery, you will need to go out and buy one so you have power at night.

Does a pop-up camper need a battery?

This is another good question and the answer depends on the type of pop-up camper you own. Some pop-ups are very basic in design and have little to no power components in them at all. Even their pop-up riser mechanism is run on manual power, not electricity.

In these cases, especially when you do not have a fridge or heater, your camper probably does not need a battery. Unless you are going to install components that need electrical power, you can get by with alternative light sources, stoves, and fridges.

Those pop-up campers that come with a lot of electrically powered components will need a battery, especially if you are not plugging into shore power. having the right battery will save you a lot of trouble and keep everyone happy.

The right battery can be one of three groups: The AGM or gel type, a lithium-Ion, or the flooded battery. Each one of these types of batteries has its pros and cons and the one you use will depend on a few key factors.

What Kind Of Battery Does a Pop-up Camper Use?

As we started to say, a pop-up camper needs one of three types of batteries to get all of its components to work properly. The key factors involved will be the size of your camper, the number of amenities or features that need electrical power, and your budget.

This style of camper is like all the other RVs and travel trailers made for recreational use. They need a 12-volt car battery to work, and so does the pop-up camper. Some people go for the AGM or gel-type battery because they are virtually maintenance-free.

They are also sealed so that no gasses escape and they tend to charge faster than the other two types. Then some people opt for the lithium-Ion model because they are lighter, last for a long time, and can also be charged quickly.

The flooded battery tends to be the cheapest one of all. The Lithium-Ion model is the most expensive. But it does need some maintenance. Most people seem to recommend the deep cycle model as it seems to start the components a lot better.

Pop-up Camper Battery Size


This is not a difficult question to answer. You will need the 12-volt battery and if you are going with the deep cycle, you want one of the batteries in the groups 24, 27, or 31 range. There will be other group sizes that will work but some pop-up campers have battery boxes that fit only 1 size.

You will have to measure your battery box to make sure you get the right one. Of course, you can go smaller than the battery box but going larger is not really a good option. Unless you want to replace the battery box at the same time.

When you buy a new battery box, make sure it will fit on the tongue without causing you any problems. Then some people go with a marine battery with the same group numbers, so you do have some flexibility. This flexibility helps you get a better price when you make your purchase.

If you go with an AGM or gel-type battery, you also have to buy a special battery charger. The wrong charger can cause damage to the battery.

How Long Does The Battery Last In a Pop-up Camper?

If you are talking hours of use before needing a recharge, then that time length is up to you. The amount of power you will get will depend on how many components you use that require electricity.

Also, the battery will tell you that it will last so many amp-hours before needing a recharge. Standard batteries usually need to be recharged after 20-amp hours. If a battery can deliver 5 amps over 20 hours then it is called a 100 amp hour battery.

The group size will tell you how many amp-hours you will get if you do not read it on the label. A deep cycle group 24 battery will be a 75 to 80 amp hour model and a group 27 battery will be in the 85 to 110 amp hour range.

If you need the information in simple English, good batteries can last up to 50 hours or 2 to 3 days under good management. This is depending on your use, of course.

But, if you are talking years of service, not only will your usage be a factor but the number of recharges, etc., will also determine how many years you get out of the battery.

Some people say a good deep cycle battery can last up to 8 years, other batteries may not last that long as some owners only get 6 out of the non-deep cycle batteries they bought. other owners are known to get 1 or 2 years out of a battery.

That short lifespan may be because those owners are full-time campers and use their batteries every night all year long.

How Does The Battery Charge on a Pop-up Camper?

There is supposed to be a built-in battery charging station on your pop-up camper. While this is a nice feature, the problem is that the newer batteries need special battery chargers or you ruin the battery.

For a deep cycle battery, you will need a 3-stage battery charger/converter. Plus, before you recharge the battery, you will need to use a lot of its stored-up energy first. But this is not the only battery that needs a special charger.

The AGM or gel-type batteries also use a special charger to regain their power. This special charging has to go slow or you may ruin the electrolytes inside of the battery. Then this charger needs to be automatic as over-charging can also damage the unit.

Standard flooded batteries do not have these worries unless they have been improved over the years and tweaks made. Just about any battery charging system should work on this option and make sure you get the power you need quickly.

Adding a Battery To a Pop-up Camper


This is a difficult task if your pop-up is wired for 120 volt AC shore power only. When your pop-up is wired this way, you are pretty limited to where you can camp unless you have an alternative for lights, cooking, heating, and so on.

The biggest problem when adding the battery will be your trailer lights and appliances are wired for 120 only. The 12-volt battery is not going to power them. To add battery power, you would have to rewire the whole camper.

If your pop-up already has a converter and your lights and appliances are runoff of that converter, then adding a battery is simple and easy to do. You just need to switch power sources and you are good to go. The lights and appliances are already wired for 12-volt sources.

You can install a battery and an inverter to run your camper but that may not always be enough power to handle some of the bigger appliances and you may be relegated to powering just lights and the water pump.

Pop-up Camper Battery Location

Generally, you will find the battery box located on the tongue of your pop-up camper. If you are running propane, then it should be right next to the propane tank. That is the common and easiest access point for owners.

But with manufacturers who are always looking for unique hiding places for different components and wiring, etc., the battery box may be located in some interesting spots. One such spot may be under the couch or bench seat.

Another spot may be in the outside storage compartment if you have one or an inside one. The location will be up to the design and size of your pop-up and the whim of the manufacturer.

You can check the diagrams in your owner’s manual if they have them, and you should be able to find where your battery box is hiding. That is if you do not see it on the tongue when you are looking over the camper before you buy it.

Pop-up Camper Battery Setup

The original setup may simply be one 12-volt battery that is wired to the different appliances and lights. It is simple, easy to maintain, and fix and gets the job done. However, different owners tend to modify their systems and they use different setups depending on how much power they want.

For example, some owners parallel 2 6-volt batteries. It is said you get better power this way but they also say these are harder to find and replace when on the road. That is what they say, not us.

Then some owners go with a parallel 12-volt system. Their thinking is ‘twice the power, twice the fun.’ To do this you need equal length wires running from positive to positive and negative to negative terminals.

The equal lengths help keep an even charge and preserve battery life. You will want a removable fuse to cut down on any power drain when the battery is not in use.

Pop-up Camper Battery Wiring


When it comes to pop-up campers, the wiring is fairly simple. You have fewer components to power thus you have fewer wires to work with. But you still have to get the wiring correct when you need to replace broken or frayed wires.

A diagram does help a lot. For the Coleman Fleetwood models between 1992 to 96, this link takes you to several diagrams that should help you. For the Rockwood brand, you can go to this link. It has other diagrams there as well that you might find helpful during your ownership of a Rockwood pop-up camper.

Then for other brands of pop-up trailers, you can try this link. It has a few different diagrams that should help you fix or replace wires in your model. All of these websites should help you and if they don’t type in your brand and model of the pop-up camper and see what website will help you.

Pop-up Camper Battery Breaker

For almost every Coleman/Fleetwood camper made by those two companies, the breaker size is a 40-amp model. Those pop-up models that only have a furnace and a water pump to work usually only use a 15-amp breaker.

The size of breaker will depend on the number of electrical appliances your battery has to operate. You can get camper breakers in the 20, 25 to 30 amp sizes. If you are not sure, talk to a camper specialist who knows his stuff.

If you do not like working around electricity, this is a great way to get the right parts and the right person to add the breaker in for you. The good news is that if you buy the part yourself, they are not really that expensive.

The price you pay will be determined by the store you go to. Shop around to make sure you are getting a top-quality bre4aker for a low price.

Replacing The Battery In a Pop up Camper

This is where you need to get comfortable working around electricity and electrical items. If you are not worried about this issue, then it won’t take you long to replace the battery.

All you have to do is buy the right model to fit your pop-up camper. Then you disconnect the leads from the old battery terminals. It does not matter if those leads touch as the source of the power is gone.

Next, you pull the old battery out and replace it with your new ones. At this stage, you need to be careful as you do not want to cross the wires and connect them to the wrong terminal.

Make sure you place the new battery in the same position as the old one with the terminals in the same spots. Then watch your leads and reconnect them to the new battery. Test your new connection to make sure you did not cross the terminals and short out your system.

Tent Trailer Battery Hook Up


This is normally a simple procedure but it gets complicated when the color of the wires is changed on you. When you have a black and a white wire leading off into your tent trailer, then the black wire is the positive one and the white is negative.

Make sure you double-check so you do not cross wire and short out your system. However, when a red wire is present with a black one, the black wire is the negative wire and the red is positive. That would be just like your car battery set up.

When it comes to batteries, red is always positive. There are no changes to that system unless someone messes up pretty badly. If you see a red, black, and white wire, the red is still positive, the black is negative and the white wire grounds to the chassis.

Pop-up Camper Battery Not Working

There are many sources for this problem. One is that the battery is out of power. You may have forgotten to keep track of your usage or hook it up to the charging station and used up all the power in your daily activities.

Or the fuse is blown or the breaker was tripped for some reason. Always start with the simple problems first as they are usually the most common sources for battery problems.

If those are not the source of the issue, then check your terminal connections. If they are loose, the battery cannot send power to the components. Or you may have a loose wire connection somewhere along the line.

That source means you have to spend time tracking down those loose wires or connections and tighten them up. Finally, it could be that your battery’s lifespan has expired and you need to get a new battery. It happens.

Pop-up Camper Battery Not Charging


The place to start will be at your battery charging station. Make sure you did not cross the leads and hook positive to negative and vice versa. If your connections are okay, check to see if your battery charger is plugged in or is broken.

Either of those two issues will stop your battery from charging. Next, check the leads from the battery charger. If they are loose or not grounded properly, the battery will not charge. if it does, it might be at a very slow rate.

Finally, check your battery. It may be too old to accept new charges and will need to be replaced with a new one. Batteries do not have an unlimited lifespan and they will die in up to 8 years more or less.

Pop-up Camper Battery Draining

This usually happens when the battery is not being used yet you left several components turned on or connected and they are drawing power from the battery. Many electrical devices can draw electricity even when not turned on.

Another scenario is when you use too many appliances or electrical devices without recharging the battery. As you know the appliances will draw as much power as they can until the battery dies.

Then, if you do not fully charge your battery, the unit will not deliver as many amp-hours and will die sooner than you expected. Always make sure to fully charge the battery.

If you deplete the battery below its voltage cut-off point the battery can be damaged and not work right.

Some Final Words

Pop-up campers are generally for those who have small families, want to economize, or like smaller RV units. But even if you downsize to a pop-up camper that does not mean you have to do without.

Just get the right battery for your model, have it wired correctly, and watch your electrical use between charges or shore power connections. That way, you will always have the power you need when you need it.

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