Beware of battery-draining phantom loads

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By Russ and Tiña De Maris

batteriesPhantom loads are electrical connections to your batteries that continually draw power, however small.

Loads that are run off the house batteries will not be a problem as they are slight and since you will be charging your house batteries with solar panels or a wind turbine, generator, or by running your engine to keep up with the drain of boondocking, these phantom loads are inconsequential.

The problem is with those phantom loads connected to your starter battery, such as the dashboard clock radio, or anything else that is powered by the starter battery. Most wind and solar systems do not also charge the starter battery, so you would have to set up a separate solar trickle charger to handle phantom loads on your starter battery if they became a problem.

Investigate what they are and shut them down when boondocking. It won’t matter for a couple of days, but if you are an efficient boondocker and stay out for a long time without starting your main engine, you could end up with a dead starter batter.

You would have to consult your owner’s manual to determine what these loads are. It is also a good idea to check your starter battery’s voltage occasionally to verify that there are no loads sucking juice out of it that you hadn’t discovered.

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Jack Legault

There is a device, Trik L Start, that I found on Amazon that charges the engine battery from the house batteries through a jumper cable. Costs around $45